How to Start a Lawn Mower: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a lawn mower may seem like a simple task, but for those who have never done it before, it can be quite daunting. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a first-time homeowner with a new lawn mower, knowing how to start your machine safely and efficiently is crucial. Did you know that lawn mowers are responsible for thousands of injuries every year? In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were over 80,000 lawn mower-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2019 alone. That’s why it’s essential to prepare properly and follow the right steps when starting your lawn mower. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to start your lawn mower safely and with confidence.


Starting a lawn mower may seem like a simple task, but it’s important to understand the proper steps and precautions needed to ensure a safe and efficient operation. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about starting a lawn mower.

Whether you’re using a cord pull or electric start mower, we’ll cover each method step-by-step. We’ll also discuss essential preparation tasks such as checking the oil level and fuel tank, cleaning the mower, and ensuring safety measures are in place.

Additionally, we’ll provide valuable insights on maintaining your lawn mower after use, including tips on adjusting the cutting height, mowing techniques, and post-use care. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to safely operate your lawn mower and maintain a healthy, vibrant lawn.

Step 1: Preparation

Check the Oil Level and Fuel Tank

Check the Oil Level and Fuel Tank

Before starting your lawn mower, it’s essential to check the oil level and fuel tank to ensure smooth and efficient operation. Proper maintenance of these two components is critical for the longevity and optimal performance of your lawn mower.

Checking the Oil Level

The first thing you need to do is locate the oil dipstick on your lawn mower. Remove it and wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel before inserting it back into the engine. Once you pull it out again, you’ll be able to see where the oil level is at. There should be two markings on the dipstick – one for the minimum and one for the maximum. Ideally, the oil level should be between these two marks.

If the oil level is low, add the appropriate type and amount of oil recommended by the manufacturer. It’s important to use the right type of oil for your lawn mower to avoid damage to the engine. Refer to the owner’s manual for specific instructions on the type and amount of oil required for your machine.

Remember to check the oil level regularly and change the oil at least once per season or as recommended by the manufacturer. Neglecting to maintain your lawn mower’s oil can lead to engine problems and costly repairs.

Checking the Fuel Tank

Next, you need to check the fuel level in your lawn mower’s tank. Make sure the tank is filled with fresh gasoline that’s been mixed with the appropriate amount of oil if necessary. Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions on fuel and oil ratios.

It’s also important to inspect the fuel tank for any leaks or damage that may cause issues during operation. Ensure that the fuel cap is securely tightened as well to prevent any spillage or debris from entering the fuel system.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure your lawn mower is properly maintained and ready to use whenever you need it. Keeping up with regular maintenance and inspections will help extend the life of your lawn mower and provide you with a healthy, lush lawn all season long.

Clean the Lawn Mower

Clean the Lawn Mower

Cleaning your lawn mower is an essential part of its overall maintenance. Regular cleaning not only helps in keeping the machine running smoothly but also prolongs its lifespan. In this section, we will discuss the importance of cleaning a lawn mower and the steps involved in the process.

Importance of Cleaning a Lawn Mower

A lawn mower is exposed to various elements like grass clippings, mud, dust, and debris during its operation. Over time, these elements accumulate on the machine’s surface, clogging the air filter and reducing its performance. The buildup can also lead to rust and corrosion, which can damage the engine and other critical components of the mower.

Regular cleaning of the lawn mower helps to prevent the accumulation of these elements and keeps the machine running efficiently. It also helps to identify any damages or issues with the equipment that may require immediate attention.

Steps Involved in Cleaning a Lawn Mower

Cleaning a lawn mower is a simple process that involves the following steps:

  1. Disconnect the spark plug wire to ensure safety.
  2. Remove any grass or debris stuck in the blades and the underside of the lawn mower using a brush or scraper.
  3. Use a hose to clean the top and bottom of the mower deck, being careful not to get water into the engine or electrical components.
  4. Scrub the wheels, handles, and other accessories with soap and water to remove dirt and grime.
  5. Wipe down the machine’s surface with a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture.

It is important to note that one should never use a pressure washer to clean the lawn mower as it can damage the engine and other parts of the machine.


Cleaning your lawn mower is an essential part of its overall maintenance. By following these simple steps, you can keep your mower running efficiently and prolong its lifespan. Remember to always disconnect the spark plug wire before starting the cleaning process and never use a pressure washer to clean the machine.

Ensure Safety Measures

When it comes to starting a lawn mower, safety should be your top priority. It’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure that you don’t injure yourself or anyone else while operating a lawn mower. Here are some essential safety measures you should always keep in mind:

Protective Gear

Protective gear is an essential part of lawn mower safety. You should always wear protective gear such as eye protection, ear protection, gloves, and sturdy shoes while operating a lawn mower. These items can protect you from flying debris, loud noise, and other potential hazards.

Lawn Mower Safety

Before starting your lawn mower, make sure to inspect it for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Check the blades, engine, fuel tank, and oil level to ensure that everything is in good working condition. Additionally, never operate a lawn mower near children or pets, and always keep the machine away from water.

Other Safety Measures

There are several other safety measures you can take to ensure that you’re staying safe while using a lawn mower. For example, make sure to read the owner’s manual before operating the machine, and make sure to follow all instructions carefully. Additionally, never remove safety guards or shields from the mower, as these can protect you from potential dangers.

By taking these safety measures seriously, you can reduce the risk of injury or accidents while operating a lawn mower. Remember to always prioritize safety and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you.

Step 2: Starting the Lawn Mower

Starting a Cord Pull Lawn Mower

Starting a Cord Pull Lawn Mower

If you own a cord pull lawn mower, it’s essential to know how to start it properly. While starting a lawn mower may seem straightforward, there are several factors to consider, especially if your mower has a cord pull. In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps to start your cord pull lawn mower and provide some troubleshooting tips.

Step 1: Preparation
Before starting your lawn mower, ensure that it’s on a level surface and the fuel tank is full. Check the oil level and add more if necessary. Next, inspect the spark plug and air filter. If they’re dirty or damaged, clean or replace them. Finally, wear proper protective gear, such as goggles and gloves.

Step 2: Starting the Mower
To start a cord pull lawn mower, follow these steps:

  1. Engage the brake and push down the throttle control.
  2. Locate the primer bulb and press it three times.
  3. Ensure that the choke is in the “on” position.
  4. Grasp the cord handle and pull it firmly to start the engine.
  5. If the mower doesn’t start, repeat the above steps.

Troubleshooting Tips
If your cord pull lawn mower still won’t start, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the fuel level and add more if necessary.
  • Clean the spark plug or replace it if it’s damaged.
  • Check the air filter and clean or replace it if needed.
  • Adjust the carburetor settings if the engine is flooding.
  • Check the flywheel key and replace it if it’s sheared off.

In conclusion, starting a cord pull lawn mower requires preparation and attention to detail. By following the steps above and using our troubleshooting tips, you can ensure that your lawn mower starts every time. Remember to wear protective gear and perform regular maintenance to keep your lawn mower in top condition.

Starting an Electric Start Lawn Mower

Starting an Electric Start Lawn Mower

If you have an electric start lawn mower, starting it can be quick and easy. Unlike cord pull mowers, you won’t need to pull the cord repeatedly until the engine starts. Instead, you can use a simple push button to turn on the ignition. However, this type of lawn mower does require some battery maintenance to ensure it starts every time you need it.

Checking the Battery

The battery is the main component that powers the electric start system. It’s important to check the battery regularly to ensure it’s charged and in good condition. Before starting your lawn mower, make sure to check the battery level indicator. If it’s low, you may need to charge the battery using a battery charger.

Charging the Battery

Charging the battery is simple and can be done with a battery charger. Connect the charger to the battery, making sure to connect the red cable to the positive terminal and the black cable to the negative terminal. Once connected, turn on the charger and let it charge the battery for several hours until it’s fully charged.


If you’re having trouble starting your electric start lawn mower, there are a few things you can check. First, make sure the battery is fully charged. If the battery is not charged, the electric start system won’t work. Second, check the battery connections, ensuring they’re clean and free of corrosion. Finally, check the starter motor, which is responsible for turning the engine over. A faulty starter motor can prevent the lawn mower from starting.

In conclusion, an electric start lawn mower is a convenient option for those who want to avoid the hassle of pulling a cord to start their lawn mower. However, it’s important to maintain the battery and troubleshoot any issues that arise to ensure the lawn mower starts every time you need it.

Using a Primer Bulb

Using a Primer Bulb

A primer bulb is a component in many lawn mowers that helps to deliver fuel to the carburetor. It is especially useful when starting the mower, particularly if the engine is cold. The primer bulb works by drawing fuel from the gas tank and sending it through a small hose to the carburetor.

When using a primer bulb, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Typically, you’ll need to press the bulb several times before attempting to start the engine. This will ensure that enough fuel is delivered to the carburetor to allow the engine to start.

One of the main benefits of using a primer bulb is that it can make starting the lawn mower much easier, especially if the engine is cold. Cold engines can be difficult to start, as the fuel may not vaporize properly and the spark plug may not ignite the fuel mixture easily. By using a primer bulb, you can help to ensure that the engine receives enough fuel to start, even in colder temperatures.

It’s also important to note that overusing the primer bulb can flood the engine with fuel, which can cause other problems. If the engine doesn’t start after a few attempts, try waiting for a minute or two to let the excess fuel evaporate before trying again.

In summary, using a primer bulb can be an effective way to start your lawn mower, especially in colder temperatures when the engine might otherwise struggle to start. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and avoid overusing the primer bulb. With these tips in mind, you should be able to start your lawn mower quickly and easily every time.

Step 3: After Starting

Adjusting the Cutting Height

Adjusting the Cutting Height

Adjusting the cutting height of your lawn mower is essential to ensure that you get the best results from your mowing. The cutting height refers to the length of the grass blades left after mowing, and it plays a crucial role in lawn maintenance. In this section, we’ll discuss how to adjust the cutting height of your lawn mower to achieve healthy and attractive lawns.

Why is Cutting Height Important?

The cutting height determines the amount of sunlight that reaches the grass. Shorter grass blades receive more sunlight, which can lead to faster evaporation of moisture from the soil and cause the grass to dry out quickly. On the other hand, longer grass blades provide shade to the soil, which helps to conserve moisture and protect the roots from heat stress. Therefore, the right cutting height is crucial for maintaining a healthy lawn.

How to Adjust the Cutting Height of Your Lawn Mower

Most modern lawn mowers have adjustable cutting heights that allow you to set the desired length of grass blades. Here’s how to adjust the cutting height of your lawn mower:

  1. Locate the cutting height adjustment lever or knob on your lawn mower. It’s usually located on the side or rear of the mower.

  2. Check the owner’s manual to determine the recommended cutting height for your lawn type. Different types of grass require different cutting heights. For example, warm-season grasses like Bermuda and St. Augustine should be cut at 1-2 inches, while cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass and fescue should be cut at 2-3 inches.

  3. Turn the adjustment lever or knob to raise or lower the deck of the lawn mower until the blades reach the desired height. Most lawn mowers have a scale marked with numbers that correspond to the different cutting heights.

  4. Start the lawn mower and make a pass over a small section of the lawn to check if the blades are at the desired height. If not, adjust the lever or knob accordingly.

Tips for Cutting Your Lawn to the Right Height

  • Avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass blade at once as this can cause stress to the grass and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases.
  • Mow your lawn when the grass is dry to prevent clumping and uneven cuts.
  • Keep the blades of your lawn mower sharp. Dull blades tear the grass instead of cutting it cleanly, which can lead to ragged edges and an increased risk of disease.
  • Vary your mowing pattern to prevent soil compaction and give your lawn a striped appearance.

By following these tips, you can achieve the perfect cutting height for your lawn and maintain a healthy and attractive yard.

Mowing Techniques

Mowing Techniques

Mowing your lawn is not just about running the mower over the grass. There are some mowing techniques that can make your lawn look better and healthier. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your lawn mower:

Striping the Lawn

One of the most popular and visually appealing mowing techniques is striping the lawn. This technique involves mowing the grass in alternate directions, creating stripes that run parallel to each other. This gives your lawn a neat and professional appearance.

To create stripes, start by mowing your lawn in one direction. Then, turn the mower around and mow in the opposite direction, perpendicular to the first pass. Continue alternating the direction with each pass until you have covered the entire lawn.

Striping is more than just an aesthetic choice. It can also help to promote healthy grass growth. By mowing in different directions, you prevent the grass from bending in one direction, which could lead to uneven growth.

Turning the Mower

Turning the mower may seem like a simple task, but it can actually have a big impact on the health of your lawn. When you turn your mower, be sure to lift the blades off the ground to avoid damaging the grass.

If you have a push mower, you can simply tilt the mower back while turning. If you have a riding mower, you will need to disengage the blades while turning. This will prevent the blades from cutting into the grass as you turn.

Other Mowing Techniques

In addition to striping and turning, there are other mowing techniques that can benefit your lawn. For example, you may want to consider mulching your grass clippings instead of bagging them. This can provide valuable nutrients to your lawn and reduce the amount of yard waste you generate.

You may also want to experiment with different cutting heights. Cutting your grass too short can cause stress and damage to the grass, while cutting it too long can create a breeding ground for pests and diseases. Aim to cut no more than one-third of the blade length at a time.

In conclusion, mastering mowing techniques like striping and turning can help you achieve a beautiful and healthy lawn. By taking the time to learn these techniques and implement them into your mowing routine, you can elevate your lawn care game and impress your neighbors.

Lawn Mower Maintenance After Use

Lawn Mower Maintenance After Use

Maintaining your lawn mower after use is just as important as preparing it for use. Proper post-use care can help extend the life of your machine and keep it running smoothly for years to come. Here are some key steps you should take after using your lawn mower:

Clean Your Lawn Mower

Cleaning your lawn mower after each use is critical to its longevity. Grass clippings, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on the underside of the mower deck, causing corrosion or rust. Use a hose or pressure washer to remove any buildup from the blades, deck, and wheels. Be sure to dry off the mower before storing it to prevent moisture damage.

Check the Oil Level

It’s also important to check the oil level in your lawn mower after use. Running the mower with low oil can cause severe engine damage and shorten the lifespan of the machine. Wait a few minutes after turning off the mower to allow the oil to settle, then remove the dipstick to check the oil level. If the oil is low, add fresh oil to bring it up to the recommended level.

Empty the Fuel Tank

Leaving fuel in your lawn mower for an extended period can cause varnish buildup, which can clog the carburetor and other components. It’s best to empty the fuel tank after each use and run the mower until it stalls to remove any remaining fuel from the system. Alternatively, you can add a stabilizer to the fuel to prolong its shelf life.

Store Your Lawn Mower Properly

Storing your lawn mower correctly is crucial to maintaining its performance. Keep it in a dry, covered area to protect it from the elements. For gas-powered mowers, store them upright to prevent fuel leakage. Remove the battery and store it in a cool, dry place if you have an electric start mower.

In conclusion, proper post-use care is essential to keep your lawn mower running smoothly for years. By following these steps, you can help prevent damage and extend the lifespan of your machine.


In conclusion, starting a lawn mower may seem like a daunting task, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can become a quick and easy routine. We hope this guide has provided you with helpful insights on how to start your lawn mower safely and efficiently.

Remember to always prioritize safety by wearing the necessary protective gear and following the manufacturer’s instructions. Regular maintenance such as checking the oil level and fuel tank, cleaning the lawn mower, and storing it properly can also contribute to its longevity and performance.

When it comes to starting the lawn mower, be sure to follow the proper techniques for cord pull, electric start, and primer bulb options. After starting, adjust the cutting height and use proper mowing techniques to achieve a healthy and visually appealing lawn.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you’ll be able to start your lawn mower confidently and enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained lawn. Happy mowing!
Starting a lawn mower is a seemingly simple task, but it requires proper preparation and safety measures to ensure efficient and effective operation. By checking the oil level and fuel tank, cleaning the lawn mower, and using protective gear, you can minimize the risk of accidents and extend the lifespan of your equipment. Additionally, understanding how to start a cord pull or electric start lawn mower and adjusting the cutting height and mowing technique can lead to a healthy, lush lawn. Remember to perform post-use maintenance and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for optimal performance. With the tips provided in this guide, we hope that you feel confident in starting and operating your lawn mower. Happy mowing!

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