How to Turn On a Lawn Mower: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners?

The warm sun is shining, the birds are singing, and your lawn is begging for a trim. You grab your trusty lawn mower, but then you’re met with a daunting question: how do I even turn this thing on? Don’t worry, this guide will take you through the process of starting your lawn mower, whether it’s gas-powered or electric, ensuring a smooth and successful mowing experience. We’ll cover everything from safety precautions to specific steps for both types of mowers, so you can confidently tackle your yard with ease.

A Quick Overview

Turning on a lawn mower is a fairly straightforward process, but understanding the basic steps and safety precautions is essential. This article will outline the general steps involved in starting both gas-powered and electric lawn mowers. We will also delve into some troubleshooting tips for common starting issues and offer guidance on choosing the right type of mower for your needs.

Preparing for the Start: Safety First

Before you even think about pulling a cord or flipping a switch, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Here’s a checklist of essential precautions:

Safety Equipment: A Must-Have

  • Safety glasses: Protect your eyes from flying debris.
  • Hearing protection: Loud engines can damage your hearing over time.
  • Sturdy shoes: Protect your feet from potential hazards.
  • Gloves: Protect your hands while handling the mower.

Essential Pre-Start Checks

  • Fuel level: Make sure you have enough fuel for your mowing session.
  • Oil level: Check the oil level for gas-powered mowers and ensure it’s within the recommended range.
  • Clear the area: Remove any obstacles like toys, branches, or rocks from the mowing path.
  • Clean the blade: Make sure the blade is sharp and clean for a smooth cut.
  • Secure the blades: Engage the blade brake or disengage the clutch before starting the mower.

Starting a Gas-Powered Lawn Mower: The Classic Approach

Gas-powered mowers are the most common type, known for their power and ability to handle larger lawns. Here’s how to start one safely:

1. Prime the Engine

  • Locate the primer bulb: It’s usually a small, red bulb on the carburetor.
  • Pump the primer bulb: Press the bulb a few times to fill the carburetor with fuel.
  • The number of pumps: Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended number of pumps.

2. Turn the Choke On

  • Choke control: This lever restricts air flow, helping the engine start more easily.
  • Locate the choke lever: It’s usually a lever or button on the handle.
  • Choke position: Move the choke to the “on” or “choke” position.

3. Start the Engine

  • Locate the starter cord: It’s typically attached to a recoil mechanism on the engine.
  • Pull the cord slowly: First, pull the cord a few inches to loosen the spring.
  • Pull the cord firmly: Then, pull the cord with a quick, strong motion.
  • Keep pulling: If the engine doesn’t start, repeat the pull a few times.

4. Turn the Choke Off

  • Once the engine runs: The engine should start to sputter and then run smoothly.
  • Gradually open the choke: Slowly move the choke lever to the “off” or “run” position.
  • Let the engine warm up: Give the engine a few minutes to idle and warm up before engaging the blades.

Starting an Electric Lawn Mower: Simple and Convenient

Electric lawn mowers offer a quieter and more eco-friendly alternative to gas-powered mowers. The starting process is much simpler:

1. Check the Battery Charge

  • Ensure the battery is charged: Make sure the battery is fully charged or has enough juice for the mowing session.
  • Charging time: The charging time varies depending on the battery type and mower model.
  • Battery indicator: Most electric mowers have a battery indicator to show the remaining charge.

2. Engage the Safety Switch

  • Safety switch location: It’s usually on the handle, often requiring you to press a button or flip a switch to engage it.
  • Safety mechanism: This switch prevents accidental starts and ensures your safety.
  • Switch on: Once the safety switch is engaged, you’re ready to start the mower.

3. Turn On the Power

  • Locate the power switch: It’s typically a button or lever on the handle.
  • Press the power switch: Press and hold the power switch to start the motor.
  • The motor starts: The motor will start running immediately and you can begin mowing.

Troubleshooting Common Starting Issues

Even with the best intentions, your lawn mower might throw you a curveball. Here are some common starting issues and their potential solutions:

1. The Engine Won’t Start

  • Check the fuel: Ensure there’s enough fuel and that the fuel is fresh.
  • Inspect the spark plug: Check if the spark plug is clean and properly connected.
  • Verify the air filter: Ensure the air filter isn’t clogged.
  • Look for obstructions: Make sure the air intake isn’t blocked.
  • Try a new spark plug: If you suspect a faulty spark plug, replace it with a new one.

2. The Engine Starts But Dies Quickly

  • Check the choke: Ensure the choke is in the correct position.
  • Look for air leaks: Check for any air leaks in the fuel lines or carburetor.
  • Verify the fuel filter: Make sure the fuel filter isn’t clogged.
  • Clean the carburetor: If the carburetor is dirty, clean it with carburetor cleaner.

3. The Engine Runs Rough

  • Check the air filter: A dirty air filter can cause rough running.
  • Inspect the spark plug: Make sure the spark plug is clean and has the correct gap.
  • Verify the fuel: Ensure the fuel is fresh and of good quality.
  • Clean the carburetor: A dirty carburetor can cause rough running.

Choosing the Right Lawn Mower for Your Needs

Before you even start the engine, you need to ensure you’ve chosen the right lawn mower for your needs. Here are some key factors to consider:

1. Lawn Size

  • Small lawns: Electric mowers are perfect for smaller lawns, offering convenience and noise reduction.
  • Large lawns: Gas-powered mowers offer more power and longer run times, ideal for larger lawns.

2. Terrain

  • Flat lawns: Most lawn mowers can handle flat lawns.
  • Uneven or hilly lawns: Consider a mower with larger wheels and a more powerful engine for uneven terrain.

3. Noise Levels

  • Electric mowers: Electric mowers are quieter than gas-powered mowers, making them great for residential neighborhoods.
  • Gas-powered mowers: Gas-powered mowers can be louder, especially when running at high speeds.

4. Maintenance Requirements

  • Electric mowers: Electric mowers require minimal maintenance, primarily battery charging.
  • Gas-powered mowers: Gas-powered mowers require regular maintenance, such as oil changes and air filter cleaning.

A Final Word on Lawn Mower Safety

Remember, safety is paramount when operating a lawn mower. Always wear appropriate safety gear, never start the mower with the blades engaged, and be mindful of your surroundings. Follow these steps and you’ll be mowing your lawn like a pro in no time.


Q1: What type of lawn mower should I use?

There are three main types of lawn mowers: rotary, reel, and robotic. Rotary mowers are the most common and are suitable for most lawns. Reel mowers are best for short grass and offer a more precise cut. Robotic mowers are ideal for larger lawns and require little maintenance. The best type of lawn mower for you will depend on your lawn’s size, grass type, and your budget.

Q2: What safety precautions should I take when using a lawn mower?

It’s crucial to prioritize safety when operating a lawn mower. Always wear sturdy shoes and long pants, and avoid loose clothing that could get caught in the blades. Before starting the mower, make sure the area is clear of debris, toys, and pets. Never mow on steep slopes, and be mindful of the direction of the blades to prevent injury.

Q3: How do I choose the right cutting height?

The optimal cutting height for your lawn depends on the type of grass and your personal preference. Typically, most lawns benefit from a cutting height of 2-3 inches. Cutting too low can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to disease. Adjusting the cutting height on your mower is usually done by a lever or knob located near the wheels.

Q4: How often should I mow my lawn?

The frequency of mowing depends on the growth rate of your grass, which is influenced by factors like weather and season. In general, mowing once a week is sufficient for most lawns. However, if your grass grows quickly, you may need to mow more frequently.

Q5: What should I do if my lawn mower won’t start?

Several factors can prevent your lawn mower from starting. First, check the fuel level and ensure the spark plug is clean and properly connected. If your mower is electric, make sure the battery is charged. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to consult a qualified mechanic for repairs.

Q6: What kind of fuel should I use in my lawn mower?

Most gas-powered lawn mowers use gasoline mixed with two-cycle oil. The recommended ratio of gasoline to oil is usually 50:1 or 25:1, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. Always use fresh fuel and avoid using fuel that is more than 30 days old.

Q7: How do I maintain my lawn mower?

Proper maintenance is essential for keeping your lawn mower running smoothly. Regularly clean the mower deck, replace the spark plug, and check the air filter. Sharpen the blades at least once a year to ensure a clean cut and prevent scalping. Following these simple maintenance steps will help you enjoy a long life out of your lawn mower.

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