The appeal of a ride-on mower is almost self-evident. When used on a small plot of land, the ride-on mower drastically reduces the time spent landscaping, and for large plots of land, the ride-on mower is almost essential for even the most basic landscaping duties. Beyond the time-saving aspect, there is something to be said for the effort saved, as well.
When using a ride-on mower, buyers should keep several important things in mind. The steps to take before using a ride-on mower include reading the manual, clearing the area of debris, and donning the appropriate attire. For the actual act of mowing, operators should maintain the appropriate blade deck height, be mindful of hills and slopes, and only mow in appropriate conditions. Finally, operators must perform regular maintenance that includes regularly checking the tires, the blades, and the engine.
Typically, a ride-on lawn mower is purchased from a large home improvement store or a gardening store, and while these stores are certainly acceptable options, buyers can save themselves time and money by using online auction sites, such as eBay, to purchase their ride-on mowers.
Before Using a Ride-On Mower
There are a number of steps to take before even climbing in the seat of a ride-on mower. The recommended safety and precautionary steps before getting on the machine go a long way in making sure that the use and operation of the ride-on mower is as efficient and safe as it can possibly be.
Every ride-on lawn mower is different from the next. While many mowers from the same manufacturer share certain characteristics, there is no guarantee that a specific model is identical in operation to any previous or subsequent model. In fact, it is changes in functionality or quality that usually prompt the release of a new model.
It benefits the wise owner to read the owners’ manual for a new ride-on lawn mower, from the introduction all the way through to the final pages. Reading the manual may seem tedious, especially when users are itching to get their hands on a brand new machine, but the benefits of fully understanding the mower and its capabilities are worth the delay.
Sticks, Stones, and Other Hazards
Although some large, commercially available ride-on mowers have made this less of a problem, it is always beneficial to examine the area to be mowed before getting on the machine. For safety purposes, the entire area should be cleared of any large sticks, rocks, obstacles, and debris before proceeding. In rural areas, this often means removing sticks and stones. However, in more urban areas, additional hazards may also be a problem. Special care should be given to removing trash. Tin or aluminium cans are especially hazardous if thrown. Children’s toys also have a way of making their way onto lawns.
The objective of all this debris clearing is simple. If a ride-on mower’s blades catch a rock, stick, or other piece of debris just right, the object could be thrown at a dangerous, even potentially lethal, velocity in a random direction. Another point to be aware of when performing a preliminary sweep of the mowing area is whether any navigational hazards are present, such as holes, trenches, or exceptionally challenging hills and slopes. Being aware of these geographical features can prevent dangerous tipping or pitching when the operator is mowing.
The user’s attire is important, from the soles of the shoes to the top of the head. When operating a ride-on lawn mower, work boots are preferable because they offer protection and coverage that extends past the ankles. A durable, denim pair of jeans prevents any errant twigs or pebbles from scratching the legs. The shirt that is worn is less relevant, but any shirt, jacket, or coat should not hang down the back or sides of the ride-on mower.
Gloves prevent the rider’s hands from getting blisters while turning and steering the ride-on mower for extended periods of time. Safety glasses are an absolute must, and a cap to keep the sun from beating down on the head is usually a pleasant addition to a user’s ensemble. If the rider is concerned with inhaling dust, pollen, or other allergens, a mask or bandana can be worn, as well. All of these clothing items are optional, and it is up to the operator’s discretion what to wear, but users are strongly encouraged to follow the recommended safety guidelines for the appropriate attire.
Operating a Ride-On Mower
Once the user has made the necessary preparations, the mower can be started according to the manufacturer’s instructions in the owners’ manual. When mowing, there are a few things to keep in mind. Maintaining an appropriate blade height is important and may take some practice to master, but rules for navigating hills and only mowing during appropriate conditions should be fairly easy to follow.
Blade Deck Height
As simple as it may seem to some people, determining the proper blade height may take some trial and error. The blade height should start as far off the ground as it can be raised and then be gradually lowered until the grass is cut to the desired length. Starting high and gradually reducing the height prevents mishaps and can save a lawn from being unintentionally tilled.
Hills and Slopes
It is of paramount importance that users understand that almost all ride-on mowers should tackle hills or slopes in the same way: straight on. When an incline is encountered, an operator should drive straight up or down the incline, never at an angle. Tipping a ride-on mower too far to either the left or right can risk a dangerous fall or even a roll. Particularly steep inclines that cannot be safely navigated straight on should not be attempted on a ride-on mower.
Appropriate Mowing Conditions
As simple as it may sound, mowing should only be done during daylight hours and in relatively dry weather. Limited visibility at night can create hazards, and excessive moisture inhibits the mowing process in many different ways.
Maintenance of a Ride-On Mower
A ride-on mower has more in common with an automobile than most other lawn maintenance equipment, which means that it has a number of important systems that require regular maintenance. Performing these relatively simple maintenance procedures ensures a ride-on mower continues to operate as intended for the duration of its use. These steps also help ensure the continued safety of anyone using the ride-on mower.
The owners’ manual has a comprehensive list of regular maintenance that should be performed on the mower. All regular maintenance should be done with the engine off, and most maintenance should be completed with the mower’s blades locked, if possible.
For most owners, the only necessary maintenance that has to be done on the tires of a ride-on mower is simple checks for damage and air pressure. The specifications for proper inflation are referenced in the owners’ manual or on the tires themselves. Over very long periods of time, the tires may wear out and need replacing.
Blades, Belts, and the Deck
One of the easiest and most effective steps that can be taken to help preserve mowing power is to keep the blades, the belts, and the deck of the lawn mower clean. This can be as simple as brushing or sweeping off the areas after each use, but it also extends to occasionally checking the blades and belts for wear and replacing them when necessary.
A petrol burning engine features many of the same maintenance features as a car engine. Oil needs to be changed, parts need to be lubricated, and spark plugs need to be changed.
Purchasing a Ride-On Mower on eBay
When searching for a ride-on mower on eBay, you can use eBay’s built-in categories to maximise the efficiency of your search. You can start by searching for "ride-on mower" and then using the category and filter links to focus the results on a selection of mowers that interests you. Notable filters in the ride-on mower category include brand and condition.
Making the distinction between used and new mowers is important. While a used mower can save you a great deal of money, the listed condition of the mower should be thoroughly reviewed, as some sellers are selling their ride-on mowers to be used as spare parts. When in doubt, do not hesitate to ask the seller questions to get clarification.
As with any eBay purchase, review the seller’s feedback rating and pay close attention to the shipping terms and conditions. When purchasing a ride-on mower on eBay, it should also be noted that because of the bulk and weight of mowers, many sellers only offer a local pick up option.
Owning a ride-on lawn mower can be a rewarding experience for the person in charge of landscaping. By reducing the time and energy spent mowing, a ride-on mower allows owners to do other things with hours in the day that would have been spent mowing. Using a ride-on mower is simple when the operation instructions are followed, despite the large number of moving parts and the complexity of the myriad systems. The basic operations of different types of ride-on mowers are clearly laid out in the various owners’ manuals.
Whether a ride-on mower is purchased at a home improvement or gardening store or online at an auction site like eBay, buyers can reap the many benefits of ownership. As long as the proper steps are followed for operating and maintaining a ride-on mower, it is likely to be a valuable addition to a gardening shed for many years.