This is a Hammer

Get Ready for Spring

We’re finally into March, and for most of the country, that means the start of a welcome change from a cold and difficult winter. As the snow melts and the temperature warms, it’s time to start getting ready for the growing season that’s about to begin.

In the northern part of the country, it’s unlikely that the lawn is ready for mowing. But homeowners here need to start unpacking and preparing lawn-care equipment for use. This is a good time to bring the hedge trimmers, saws, rakes and other tools down from their pegs. Wipe off excess oil and dust from the handles and clean dirt or rust spots from the metal blades or tines. Sharpen trimmer and lawnmower blades using a metal rasp, or take them to a hardware store or service that will sharpen them for you.

Bring out the lawnmower and prepare it for its first use. In the fall, you should have removed or emptied the gas tank, removed the spark plug, and removed the mower blades for cleaning and storage; now it’s time to put those back on.

Start by installing the blades and brushing away old grass cuttings and dirt from the underside of the mower, then turn the mower upright and fill the tank with fresh gasoline or the correct gas-oil mixture. Install the spark plug. Roll the mower outside, prime the motor (either using a priming button if it has one, or by tugging the starter cord twice), and start the lawnmower. Run it for a few minutes, testing the throttle and other settings, then shut it down and store it in an accessible place, ready to mow the lawn.

In more southerly states, new grass should already be visible, if not yet ready to mow. Now is the time to de-thatch the lawn, if needed, to allow that new growth more air and light. Any bare spots should be re-sodded, sprigged or de-thatched and re-seeded. Protect newly seeded areas from birds by setting low stakes around the spot and crisscrossing the area with string, or tying strips of cloth to the stakes to keep them away.

Once the danger of hard frost has passed, shrubs and small trees that were wrapped in burlap over the winter can be unwrapped. Any bulbs that were planted or went dormant in the fall, such as tulips, will begin showing green shoots soon. Trees are beginning to bud and bloom, so avoid pruning them until the leaves are fully open.
Spring can be an incredibly busy time for homeowners, so prepare your lawn-care tools now in order to hit the ground running.

HOME TIP: Lost your lawnmower guide or operating manual? These are usually available online at the manufacturer’s website and can be downloaded for free.

Send your questions or comments to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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