An English garden looks even more appealing when a lush, well-manicured lawn surrounds it. It is relatively easy to maintain a compact patch with a push mower, but a more expansive lawn requires a lawn tractor for maintenance. Although some people prefer to have professional landscapers handle this aspect of maintaining their properties, many others prefer to handle it on their own. Riding around on a lawn tractor on a bright summer day and taking in the scent of fresh-cut grass can be a very pleasant experience indeed. Lawn tractors are complex pieces of machinery though, so users should understand how to operate them in a safe manner and one that achieves optimum manicuring of a lawn. This information on how to safely and effectively use a lawn tractor helps buyers find lawn tractors that will be able to safely cut their lawns to perfection.
A Few Words About Safety
Before operating a lawn tractor for the first time, users should be aware of a few important points that will help them use their lawn tractors safely. Serious injuries can result from negligence around a lawn tractor, but by following a few basic rules, users can make sure they avoid harm. Only adults should use lawn tractors and avoid carrying passengers during operation. It is important to stay clear of moving blades and to avoid touching hot mufflers and exhaust systems. The blades can also throw objects that may hurt bystanders. Lawn tractors can also tip over if used on steep slopes and injuries can result from colliding with large objects. Bearing these points in mind will help users safely operate their lawn tractors.
Preparing to Use a Lawn Tractor
It is important to prepare before using a lawn tractor. This section describes the preparation process, including getting to the tractor if operating it for the first time, performing a safety and maintenance check, and inspecting the area to be cut. Preparation is important to keeping the lawn tractor in tip-top shape so that it can give a lawn the best cut possible.
Get to Know the Tractor
Those operating a lawn tractor for the first time will want to take time to get to know their tractors before starting them. Most lawn tractor seats are adjustable, first adjust the seat in order to be able to reach all of the controls and depress any pedals. After adjusting the seat, sit in it and have a look at all of the controls. There should be an ignition, a steering wheel, levers or dials to lift the mower, a lever to shift gears or control motion if the tractor has automatic gears, a throttle, a choke (some models combine the throttle and choke), a clutch, a brake pedal (some models have a dual clutch/brake system), and possibly a clutch engagement system. Lawn tractors with automatic gears have a free-wheel control, often located at the back of the tractor, that allows users to push the tractor when the engine is not running.
Safety and Maintenance Check
It is important to perform a safety and maintenance check before using a lawn tractor. A description of the points for a standard safety and maintenance checks is below.
Start by checking the oil level. A lawn tractor will last longer if the oil container always has plenty of clean oil in it. It is possible to measure the oil with a dipstick that is integrated into the container cap, and the tractor’s manual should give specifications for the oil level, weight, and viscosity.
After checking the oil, make sure there is enough petrol. Many lawn tractors use regular unleaded petrol, but users can check the manuals for their tractors to confirm the petrol specifications. The petrol in the tank should be no more than a month old, though it is possible to extend its life to 60 days by adding fuel stabiliser to it. If the tractor requires more petrol, add it while the tractor is outside and make sure the engine is not running.
Before cutting the grass, check the pressure of the lawn tractor’s tyres. The manual should give the specifications for the proper tyre pressure. The correct pressure and even pressure between the right and left tyres will help ensure an even cut of the grass.
Adjusting the mower deck is also important to achieving and even cut. Use a ruler or tape measure to ensure that both sides of the deck’s bottom are the same height above a level surface. However, the front of the mower deck should be 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch lower than the back.
Different types of grass are meant to be cut to different lengths, so adjust the height of the mower deck according to the specifications for common British lawn grasses in the table below.
3/4 to 1-1/2 inches
1 inch to 2 inches
1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches for fine, 2 to 3 inches for tall
1/4 to 1 inch
1-1/2 to 2 inches
The owner’s manual for a lawn tractor should provide instruction on how to adjust the mower deck to these heights.
Inspect Area to Be Cut
After performing a maintenance check and making any necessary adjustments, inspect the area to be cut. Check the grass to see if it is wet or dry. It is easiest to achieve the best possible cut when the grass is dry. Remove any large objects from the lawn, such as toys and large branches and rocks. Make sure children are not present on the lawn. Lastly, trim any low-hanging branches to ensure that they are not in the path of the tractor.
Starting a Lawn Tractor
Once the lawn is ready to be cut, it is time to start the lawn tractor. This section describes the process of starting a lawn tractor in advance of using it to mow a lawn. It is important to start the tractor in a ventilated area and operators should not use their lawn tractors if they have taken any medications that impair them.
Set the Parking Brake and Disengage the Cutting Blades
Start by setting the parking brake and disengaging the cutting blades. The method of setting the parking brake may vary from model to model, but generally the operator can depress the clutch/pedal and pull the parking brake lever into the park position to set the brake. If there is an electric clutch switch, push it in to disengage the blades. If there is a lever instead, put it in the disengage position
Set the Gear and Choke
After setting the parking brake and disengaging the cutting blades, put the motion control lever or gear shift into neutral. If the throttle and choke are on the same control, push that control into full throttle. If they are separate, put the throttle in full and push the choke control outwards.
Ignite the Engine and Warm It
The engine is now ready for ignition. Turn the ignition to start the engine. Run it for a couple second and then push the choke back in and reduce the throttle to half. Finally, let the engine warm for a few minutes so that it can provide enough horsepower to the blades for cutting.
Operating a Lawn Tractor
Once the engine is warmed up, it is time to cut the grass. This section describes the process of operating a lawn tractor, including testing the brakes and operator presence system, engaging the blades for cutting, shifting gears, cutting grass on slopes, managing the grass clippings, and stopping the lawn tractor after use.
Test Brakes and Operator Presence System
Put the throttle back to full, push the choke back out, and drive the lawn tractor out to the lawn to test the brakes by depressing the brake pedal. Next, test the operator presence system if the lawn tractor has one. When the operator takes his or weight off of the seat, the tractor should cease operation. Test it by putting the tractor in neutral gear, releasing the clutch, and rising up from the seat. The engine should cease. Test it again by setting the parking brake, reducing the throttle to half, engaging the mowing blades, and rising up off the seat. The engine should cease again.
After testing the operator presence system, re-engage the blades and turn the throttle back to full. Lower the mowing deck to the proper cutting height and the tractor should be ready to mow.
Use the gear shift system to put the lawn tractor into drive. It is possible to adjust the speed of the tractor by switching gears on manual gearboxes or moving the lever on automatic gearboxes. The optimum tractor speed depends on how tall, thick, or dry the grass is. Make sure to keep the engine in full throttle for optimum blade performance.
Cutting on Slopes
It is important to mention here that some slopes may be too steep for lawn tractor use. As long as a slope is less than 15 degrees, it should be safe to operate a lawn tractor on it. Some lawn tractors come with an instrument for measuring slopes, so an operator should use it if he or she is unsure about a slope’s angle.
Even on low-angle slopes, it is best to drive the tractor in a slow gear up and down the slope rather than alongside it. Operators should also avoid turning lawn tractors on the slope and should never put the tractor in neutral and coast down a slope. Following these basic guidelines will help ensure safe operation of a lawn tractor on a slope.
The options for managing grass clippings are dispersion, mulching, or bagging. Some lawn tractors include a mulching feature while others can accommodate a mulching attachment. Others cannot mulch or bag clippings. Dispersion spreads the clippings around the lawn as the tractor mows it. The clippings then decompose, albeit a bit slowly. A mulcher cuts and re-cuts the clippings a few times and redistributes them onto the lawn, where they decompose quickly into the soil, providing extra nutrients for the lawn. It is much more effective to mulch dry grass than wet grass. Bag attachments generally have an indicator that lets the operator know when the bag is close to full and ready to have its contents disposed.
To stop a manual-gear tractor, apply the brake. For automatic-gear tractors, put them into neutral gear first, depress the brake pedal, and set the parking brake. For either kind of lawn tractor, bring the throttle back down to half, turn the blades off, and shut down the motor by turning the ignition off. Remove the keys from the ignition and the lawn tractor should be ready to rest until it is time to mow the lawn again.
How to Buy a Lawn Tractor on eBay
It is possible to buy lawn tractors from local or online home and garden equipment shops. Buying online can yield some good bargains on lawn tractors, though shipping can be a significant cost if the seller is located far from the buyer. eBay is one website with a sizable collection of lawn tractors for sale. To search the site for lawn tractors, go to the home page, enter the term "lawn tractor" into the search bar, and click Search. The results will include both lawn tractors and lawn tractor parts, so you can narrow your search by using a more descriptive term instead, such as "ride-on lawn tractor".
Once you have your search results, you can filter for sellers within a certain distance from you by specifying the number of miles from your postcode. Choosing to buy from sellers who are close-by can reduce shipping costs and times. It may even be possible to arrange an in-person pick-up with a local seller.
Although using a lawn tractor to cut one’s own lawn can be a very pleasant experience, it can also be a traumatic one if done improperly. There is an array of ways to compromise one’s own safety and others’ while using a lawn tractor. It can also be frustrating to cut the grass with a lawn tractor and end up with unsatisfactory results. This guide has instructed on how to use a lawn tractor safely and effectively. It has covered important points about safety and preparation in addition to describing the process of operating a lawn tractor. Understanding these points and procedures is important for anyone who wants to effectively manicure his or her lawn without putting himself, herself, or others at risk. It is possible to buy powerful lawn tractors on eBay and by following the information in this guide, readers can be sure to get the most out of the tractors they buy on the site.