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What causes a lawn mower to cut uneven?

An uneven cut is a common problem in lawn mowers. It can be caused by a malfunction in your machinery. There are a lot of reasons behind this problem; no single component is responsible for it, so it’s best to inspect your self propelled lawn mowers for any concerns.

However, troubleshooting lawn mowers can be a tedious task.

But, fret not!

We have prepared an easy-to-understand guide for you to help in diagnosing and repairing your mower.

PRO TIP: Safety first!

Before inspecting or doing any repairs on your mower, make sure to take necessary safety precautions first. Here is a list of what to do before putting your hands on your mower:

    • Wear gloves to protect hands from any injuries.
    • Your working area should be flat.
    • Turn off your mower’s engine, and make sure to remove the key from the ignition. Do not, at any cost, work on a powered mower.
    • Read the owner’s manual before beginning repair to understand your mower better.

Uneven Patterns: Cause and Repair

What kind of uneven cut is it?

Before starting to take apart components from your equipment, you have to take note of the cut pattern to narrow in on the problem area. Some uneven patterns have a really easy fix, but others might need component repairs. So, here are five (5) uneven patterns to look out for, including tips and instructions on how to fix problematic mowers that create them.

Streaking

Photo from Jacks

When your lawn mower leaves thin strips of uncut grass, this is called streaking. This can be caused by two factors: damaged and poorly maintained mower blades or error in operating the mower. It is important to determine which of the two causes the problem, but the latter doesn’t call for a mechanical fix.

Streaking caused by operator’s erroneous use of the mower can be fixed by taking note of the following measures:

  • Overlap cutting rows to avoid skipping some areas.
  • Turning decreases the cutting width of the mower; extended overlapping is a must when turning, so the blades will not miss cutting any grass.
  • Slow engine speed can sometimes cause uneven cutting. Remember to mow your lawn in full throttle all the time.
  • Slow down. Mower decks tend to bounce and hit the ground when the mower is being used too fast; this causes the mower to skip some patches.
  • Lastly, check the mower deck’s condition. Mower decks can be plugged up with grass. If that is the case, you have to clean up the mower. A clogged deck can also result to uneven cuts during mowing.

But if problems persist even after carrying out preventive measures listed above, then the issue is coming from your mower blades. Inspect the blades for the following concerns:

Dull or unsharpened mower blades – It’s common knowledge that dull mower blades can greatly affect the performance of your mower. To repair it, you have to sharpen your blades.

Worn out mower blades – If your mower blades are too worn out to carry out the task, it’s time to replace them.

Stepped Cutting

Photo from Jacks

Stepped Cutting is a pattern with unusually sharp and uneven ridges on your lawn. Mowers that leave trails like this usually has damaged or maladjusted mower decks, problematic mower blades, and poorly inflated tires.

 

Uneven Cutting

Photo from Jacks

Uneven Cutting is characterized by wavy, smooth, and irregular trough on the surface of your lawn. Like stepped cutting, this concern usually results from maladjustment or damage in the mower’s deck.

How to solve concerns both causing stepped and uneven cuttings?

Inspect your mower deck and blades for any issues. Here is how you can solve common problems from these areas:

Poorly installed / inflated tires – Chances are ridges form because of unbalanced tires. Inspect your tires, and make sure they are properly installed or inflated.

Maladjusted deck – Misalignment in the mower deck can also be one cause. In that case, you can just simply level the deck.

Damaged deck shell – Inspect your deck shell for any damage; replace them if needed.

Loose and bent mower spindle – Loose or bent mower spindle will need replacing.

Poorly installed mower blades – Proper installation of the mower blades is a must; if there is misalignment in the mower blades, carefully re-install them.

Maladjusted deck – Misalignment in the mower deck can also be one cause. In that case, you can just simply level the deck.

Damaged deck shell – Inspect your deck shell for any damage; replace them if needed.

Loose and bent mower spindle – Loose or bent mower spindle will need replacing.

Scalping

Photo from Jacks

 

Scalping happens when the mower deck hits the ground. It is commonly caused by maladjusted mower decks, uneven lawns, or error in operating the mower.

Suspecting that scalping is caused by uneven lawns and operator errors? Here’s what you should do:

Uneven lawns – roll and level your lawn

Fast ground speed – Mow slowly. Mower decks tend to bounce and hit the ground when the mower is being used too fast.

But if you suspect that the problem is not resulting from operator errors and bumpy lawns, here is what you have to check and fix:

Low cutting height on mower deck – If the cutting height of your mower deck is set pretty low, raise it.

Maladjusted deck – Misalignment in the mower deck can also be one cause. In that case, you can just simply level the deck.

Uneven tires – Inspect your tires, and make sure they are properly inflated.

 

Stingers

Photo from Jacks

 

Sparse sections of uncut grass left behind after mowing is called Stingers. Oftentimes, it is caused by operator error, damaged blades, or a plugged deck.

To fix these problems, use the guide below:

Fast ground speed – Mow slowly. Mower decks tend to bounce and hit the ground when the mower is being used too fast.

Slow engine speed – Always mow at full throttle. Slow engine speed can cause odd cutting patterns.

Grass-plugged mower deck – Mower decks can be plugged up with grass. If that is the case, you have to clean up the mower. A clogged deck can also result to uneven cuts during mowing.

Dull or unsharpened mower blades – It’s common knowledge that dull mower blades can greatly affect the performance of your mower. To repair it, you have to sharpen your blades.

Worn out mower blades – If your mower blades are too worn out to carry out the task, it’s time to replace them.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Uneven Cutting

Q: Can I mow my lawn again to fix uneven cutting?  

A: Before mowing your lawn again, you have to make sure that you have already identified and fixed the problem in your lawn mower. If you try to mow without repairing the problem first, your lawn will end up in a worse condition. Next, there are certain guidelines in mowing. You have to consider if your grass is long enough to get another mowing.

 

Q: How do I fix uneven cuts on my lawn?

A: The best way to fix an uneven cut on your lawn is to grow it out before you mow again. This will give your turf enough time to achieve its mowing height. But if you badly need a quick fix for your lawn, you can try raising your deck before mowing. This can fix areas in your lawn that are unusually higher / longer than other parts.

 

Q: How do I level my lawn?

A: Before leveling your lawn, you have to classify what kind of uneven lawn is it. There are two types of unleveled lawn: Low Spots and Mounds. In case of low spots, you can easily level it by topdressing – a process wherein you add soil in craters on your lawn. But if you have mounds of soil on your lawn, you might need to remove these mounds or rake it off.

 

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