Lawn Mower Maintenance & Winter Storage Checklist | TruGreen

Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist for Winter Storage

By TruGreen December 20, 2023
Lawn mower on healthy turf

Lawn Mower Maintenance Checklist for Winter Storage

Lawn mower care may be something you spend little time thinking about (that is, until your mower stops working). However, proper lawn mower maintenance is essential if you want your investment (mowers are pricey!) to pay off season after season. And a key aspect of maintenance is properly winterizing your lawn mower — in other words, preparing it for winter storage. While winterizing isn’t difficult or time-consuming, failing to do it could leave you with a faulty lawn mower when it is time to start mowing again in the Spring. Here, we’ll explain why winterizing your mower is important and teach you lawn mower storage best practices so your grass-cutting can resume uninterrupted come spring. Read on for all the details.

Why Is Lawn Mower Maintenance Important?

You wouldn’t drive your car with bald tires or worn-out brake pads: at best, doing so is likely to give you an uncomfortable ride. At worst, it’s downright unsafe. The same can be said for your lawn mower. Maintenance is essential because it helps ensure that your lawn mower is running as it should — which is important from a lawn care standpoint and a safety standpoint. 

One of the most basic aspects of proper lawn mower maintenance is ensuring the blades are sharp. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly, whereas dull blades essentially shred it. As such, mowing your lawn with dull blades can damage it — negatively affecting its appearance and making it more vulnerable to disease, which can be challenging to control. 

There is also the safety aspect. Electric mowers and those that run on gas could pose a safety hazard if not properly maintained. Faulty wires, for example, can spark or even catch fire, while old gas may clog up the mower’s piping and overheat the engine when it runs. Neither situation is ideal — for you or your mower.

Year-Round Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

Before we dive into winterizing your lawn mower, here are some general, year-round mower maintenance tips we suggest keeping in mind:

  • Keep the blades sharp: As mentioned above, dull blades can do more harm to your grass than good. Keep your blades sharp, and replace them if they become dented, bent, chipped or cracked.
  • Check your tire pressure: If your lawn mower has tires inflated with air (versus solid rubber or plastic tires), check their pressure each time you use your mower. Uneven tires can lead to an uneven cut and place extra strain on your lawn, since flat tires require more force to push.
  • Change the oil regularly: Oil changes aren’t just necessary for your car — they’re also important for your lawn mower. Oil helps lubricate all the moving parts inside your mower’s engine, and sufficient lubrication helps ensure your mower doesn’t overheat. Keep in mind that different mowers have different oil requirements; fill only as much as your specific model requires.
  • Replace the spark plug annually: Sometimes, lawn mower servicing includes replacing your mower’s spark plug (which provides the electric spark needed for the mower’s engine to run well). Generally, spark plugs should be changed after 100 hours of use, or about once a year. If you’re unsure how to replace your spark plug, consult your user manual or contact your lawn mower’s manufacturer.
  • Clean or replace the air filter: Your mower’s air filter helps ensure dirt, dust and other damaging debris doesn’t get sucked into your mower’s engine. As such, cleaning or replacing the air filter in your lawn mower is important to help keep your mower running smoothly.

If you are not up for servicing your lawn mower yourself, consider bringing your mower to a lawn mower repair shop. In addition to repairing lawn mowers, most reputable shops can also perform regular lawn mower tune-ups to keep your machinery in good shape.

How to Prepare Your Lawn Mower for Winter

Unless you live in a climate that’s warm year-round, you’ll need to winterize your lawn mower before the cold sets in. The process, however, depends on what type of lawn mower you have. 

Winter prep for electric mowers — in other words, those with an electric motor — is simple. You’ll just want to make sure the blades are sharp and the mower is clean before you store it for the winter. Make sure to read the manual before storing your electric mower. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to remove the battery and store it indoors with approximately 40% battery life left. However, some lithium-ion batteries will need a mid-season charge so be sure to check the owner’s manual. Gas-powered walk-behind and riding mowers are a bit different, however. Here’s how you should prepare your gas-powered lawn mower for winter storage:

Clean the Deck Thoroughly

When you mow your lawn, grass clippings may accumulate underneath the lawn mower and on the blades, on the underside part of the mower called the “deck.” Leaving these clippings on the deck for an extended period of time can cause your mower’s deck and blades to rust, and can impact its ability to discharge or mulch grass clippings efficiently, leading to clumps of grass being left on the lawn. Cleaning your lawn mower deck thoroughly before storing it away for the winter can help minimize the risk of rust damage. 

As for how to clean your lawn mower, first, make sure it’s completely powered off. Then, turn your mower on its side (for gas-powered mowers, be sure the carburetor is on the top side of the mower) and scrape as much accumulated debris as possible with a stiff-bladed paint scraper. Then blast the deck with warm water. You can use a bristle brush to scrub off any stuck-on debris manually. Once you’ve finished cleaning the mower’s deck, dry it thoroughly — any residual moisture might result in rust damage.

Remove and Stabilize the Fuel

One of the most important things to do before stashing your mower away for the winter is to remove the fuel. Fuel left in your lawn mower’s engine over the winter will become stale, resulting in (sometimes serious) damage to your carburetor. Removing the fuel is especially critical if you store your mower inside, as it poses a potential fire risk.

Remove fuel in the gas tank using a suction device or by tipping the gas tank over a collection pan. Put the removed gas into a gasoline can and add a fuel stabilizer. These fuel stabilizers (which are available at most home improvement stores) help prevent the fuel from becoming stale and absorbing moisture.

Store in a Clean, Dry Place

Once you’ve finished prepping your lawn mower for winter, find a clean, dry place indoors to store it, and if possible, cover it with a waterproof tarp.

Keep Your Lawn in Great Shape Throughout the Seasons

While regular mowing with a properly-functioning lawn mower can help keep your turf looking neat and healthy, it’s only one aspect of lawn care. TruGreen® can handle the rest. Our tailored lawn care plans are backed by science-driven expertise and customized to address your lawn’s specific needs. Whether you’re looking for lawn care maintenance or want a year-round, all-encompassing plan for your outdoor living space, we’re here to help — guaranteed.Compare our plans and get started on your lawn care journey today.


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