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4 mistakes I won’t make mowing this year

Ysbrand Cosijn/iStock/Thinkstock isolated tree
BAD COMBINATION: Trees and lawn mowers don’t mix. Even if there were only one tree standing alone where I was mowing, I could probably manage to hit it!
Front Porch: Mowing season is a great time to get fresh air and relax — as long as you don’t do dumb things!

The grass is greening up. That means mowing season is almost here. And if you enjoy clearing your head for a couple of hours riding on the lawn mower like I do, that’s a good thing. But it only works if you’re smart enough to keep your lawn mower out of harm’s way.

Here are four things I will do this year based on last year’s mistakes.

1. Make a pledge to not mow on Friday the 13th! Last year, I mowed grass on Friday the 13th. I told you about it. That column in the July issue ended with me thinking I heard an unusual noise before deciding I had just imagined it and everything was alright.

Well, everything wasn’t alright. Eventually the sound came back with a vengeance. Then the belt came off the deck. This was a 1-year-old green tractor, folks. I bought it so belts wouldn’t come off. I hate it when belts come off.

2. Spray weeds and grass on gravelly areas instead of mowing them. Point 1 brings me to Point 2. The noise I heard on Friday the 13th and the belt coming off later were connected. A few small rocks had collected under safety guards on the deck and wedged themselves under the pulley just right to mess with the belt. Finally, one kicked the belt off.

These small rocks looked suspiciously like pieces of gravel from the driveway at the barn. Weeds and grass grow through it where we don’t drive much, so I had always mowed over it.

No more! My wife, Carla, had a revelation. Why don't I spray those areas so I don't have to mow them? I did that in late July last year. I will spray as soon as weeds and grass poke through this year.  

3. Don’t remove the deck without reading the instructions first. This goes back to points 1 and 2. If I hadn’t mowed over gravel on Friday the 13th, I wouldn’t have needed to take the deck off to replace the mower belt. I hate taking decks off. I hate putting them back on even more. Ever pinch a finger trying to get a new belt over pulleys and get everything lined up right?

I botched putting the deck back on so bad that I couldn’t get the mower going again. Something was out of whack. No, I hadn’t read the manual. Befuddled, I called the dealer to come get it. It came back ready to go. The repair guys probably had a good laugh — some idiot didn’t know how to put his deck back on correctly!

4. Watch out for trees! Some things are too big to mow over. Trees are one of them. Honestly, I was daydreaming and didn’t see the low-hanging limb while mowing around fruit trees. I was more worried about hanging on to my hat than watching where I was going.

The mower started up a tree. That didn’t end well. It cracked the hood on one side. Fortunately, hoods on green lawn tractors today come in three pieces. Unfortunately, replacing just one piece runs up a $330 bill. I should have let the hat fall off! Or as Carla says, maybe I should have paid more attention to trimming the limbs. I will trim higher this year!

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