If you are fortunate enough to have a home or property with a nice front lawn or grassy backyard, you’ll want it looking nice with evenly cut and manicured grass, flower beds, and a clean walkway. There is nothing as appealing as a beautifully cut and manicured lawn.
When the growing season begins at the beginning of spring, it is time to pull weeds, to fill in any of your lawn’s bare spots, to fertilize, to aerate, to water, and naturally, to mow your lawn.
The weekend is the perfect time to pull out the tools, the supplies, and of course, the lawnmower to get things started. So, after you have raked, cleared, cleaned, and whatnot, it is time to cut the grass.
You begin when the horror of all horrors strikes. You realize that your riding lawnmower, the one that you paid so much money for, cuts your grass at two different heights. On one side your grass is higher, and on the other side, the grass is cut lower.
A flood of emotions begins…panic, frustration, irritation, followed by the question “What do I do now?” Fear not! Don’t panic! The solution may prove to be quite simple.
The primary task needs to be to identify the reason for uneven cutting. The great thing about all this is that many of these problems can be cleared up quite easily in a DIY fashion.
What Causes a Riding Lawn Mower to Cut Uneven
There are several reasons that could be behind your lawnmower failing to cut your lawn evenly.
Blade Conditions: For cutting to be done efficiently, the blades on your lawnmower should be sharp. Before doing anything else you need to inspect the condition of the mower’s blades.
Did you sharpen the mower’s blades before storing it or the winter? If not, it is wise to sharpen them before beginning to mow. If you sharpen the blades and they seem to dull immediately, then you probably need to replace them with new blades and must need to balance the mower blade.
Blade Inspection: Below are the steps of blade inspections…1. To perform an inspection of the blades, wear PPE gloves and disconnect the sparkplug for safety reasons. 2. You need to access the underneath part of your mower. 3. Remove any grass or debris that you find underneath. Now inspect the blades. 4. If you see an uneven blade edge with nicks, or a dull blade, sharpen. If the blade dulls quickly, replace it following the indications in the manufacturer’s owner’s instruction booklet for your model of lawnmower.
Synchronization of Blades: It is important that the blades are parallel to cut all the grass in the maximum clearance range. You will need to control that the blades are cutting at the same length sideways.
If it appears not to be so, position them in a straight line to reach the maximum area. If this does not correct the cutting, remove the blades and reinstall them.
Worn Out Deck Pulleys and Blade Belts: If the blade belt appears to be in bad shape, it may be preventing the blades from spinning correctly. You will need a new one.
Also, deck pulleys, when worn out can cause unwanted blade vibration. These too will need replacement.
A Spindle Problem
If the spindle where the blades mount is loose or perhaps bent, it can cause an uneven cut. If the spindle appears to be loose, proceed to tighten it.
A bent spindle, on the other hand, will need replacement.
Mower Deck Level
Another possibility is the level of your lawnmower deck. Your operating manual will give instructions as to how to adjust a deck level for your brand of mower. It is important that the mower deck is set to the level that the manufacturer of your mower recommends. Did you by chance forget?
The deck may not be maintaining the recommended manufacturing deck level because it mows over bumps, yard debris, or stones.
The deck may also not have the correct recommended deck level if you have already replaced mower blades. During replacement, the deck level may have been disturbed.
If this is the problem, you will need to measure the tip of the front blade’s height down to the ground and then measure again the back blade tip’s distance to the ground.
Read your owner’s manual for the allowable differences in height between your rear and front and adjust the deck height accordingly.
Also, the deck’s height is easy to adjust by regulating the height of the wheels of your riding lawnmower.
The Pressure of Your Mower’s Tires
If wheels have varying heights, the cut will be uneven. Initially, using a tire pressure gauge, verify if each of your tires is correctly inflated per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Every single wheel will need to be regulated, and you will be able to verify this with the use of a level tool. This is a commonplace problem that is responsible for uneven cutting as well as for scalping areas in a lawn. Once there is scalping, the only remedy is new grass growth.
Yard debris, grass, plastic, or the likes may build up and remain under the mower’s deck. This can happen easily in wet conditions like after rain, or lawn watering.
Clean the underside of your mower and free it from any type of debris build-up. Now try cutting again to see if the cut is still uneven.
If your mower deck shows damage, such as bending, it will require replacement.
If your mower’s engine is not running up to speed, this can cause uneven cutting. Your mower may need an engine tune-up, to replace a sparkplug, or clean or replace an air filter or carburetor.
Anything that negatively influences the performance of your lawnmower’s engine can affect the mower’s cutting performance.
- Speed can cause cutting stripes on your lawn. Try slowing down and verify if the cutting improves.
- Sharp turns will cause an uneven cut. You need to overlap your cutting enough with wide turns to cut every grass blade.
A Final Thought
All sorts of normal yard material can contribute to the deterioration of your lawnmower’s blades. This can include stones, gravel, twigs, toys, the dog’s bone, and debris in general.
Throughout your mowing season, do keep an eye out for blade damage or degradation due to normal yard debris. If the blades are dulling quickly, it is better to replace them to achieve a better quality of cut.
Also, avoid trying to cut your entire lawn or yard in a single mowing. It is inevitable that grass and debris will accumulate underneath the mower’s deck. This accumulation can contribute to an uneven cut or even worse, to the creation of patches in your lawn.
It is typical for this to happen on the right-hand side of lawnmowers due to the direction in which blades turn. If you cut with several passages over your lawn and limit your cutting to one inch per cutting passage, you can prevent this.
A well-cut lawn is aesthetically beautiful and contributes to property value. Riding lawnmower maintenance and a bit of mowing technique can help you achieve a beautifully cared-for lawn and yard.