Mowing the LawnSpring is here, and that means it’s time to break the lawnmower out of the shed so you can tackle your weekly lawn trimming duties. You can’t just expect the slumbering powerhouse to perform at its best after being stowed away for the winter season. But with a little TLC and a few ingredients, your mower can be back to feeling like you just bought it.

Now is the best time to perform annual maintenance such as changing the oil, replacing the air filter, or swapping in a new spark plug to ensure a fast start every time you go to mow the lawn. Refer to your mower’s manual for specifications and a step-by-step guide on how to perform these maintenance tasks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, ask your local hardware store to recommend a service shop that will handle it for you. These few simple tasks can keep your mower running smoothly for years to come, so don’t skip out on these vital, yet easily overlooked maintenance steps.

In addition to maintaining your mowers engine, it’s a good idea to check to see if the mower blade needs sharpening or replacement. Keeping the blade sharp and balanced is the key to having a lawn that looks the best it can. Dull blades cause grass leaves to tear, leaving a slight off-color hue throughout the lawn. Plus, it stresses the individual grass plants, forcing all of their energy into repair these tears, rather than growing the strong roots needed to survive hot summers and cold winter seasons. Sharpening blades can also be performed at home or by a specialist, but the home lawn enthusiast is likely better suited to either replace the blade entirely, or let a professional handle the sharpening.

To further strengthen the roots of your grass, never cut more than 1/3rd of the total length of the grass at any given mowing. Doing so causes too much stress on the grass plants, and takes away from root development. If your grass has become overgrown, set your mower to the highest setting for one mowing, then lower it to reach the 1/3rd trim each subsequent moving, until you reach the desired height. For most grass types, you don’t want to mow the grass to less than three inches in height to encourage root growth, which can help to prevent disease and pests from invading your lawn.

Stick with these few tips early on in the season, and keep up with regular mowings and before you know it, your lawn will look like the turf at your favorite ball park or golf course.