Lawn Care Solve Common Mowing Problems

Published on March 6th, 2015 | by Jacks

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How to Solve Common Mowing Problems

Are there strips of uncut grass left behind by the mower after you are done mowing?

Are there sharp ridges left in the lawn surface?

Mowing problems can be frustrating when you can’t figure out the cause behind them. These guidelines can teach you how to fix common mowing problems that you may be experiencing.

This information is only provided as a general guideline. Consult your owner’s manual on specific recommendations for the power equipment you are using.

Streaking

How to solve common mowing problems

Streaking is when thin strips of uncut grass are left behind the mower. Streaking is usually caused by operator error or poor blade maintenance.

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Blades are not sharp

Sharpen your blades

Blades are worn down too far

Replace your blades

Engine speed is too slow

Always mow at full throttle

Ground speed is too fast

Slow down

Deck is plugged with grass

Clean out the mower

Not overlapping cutting rows enough

Overlap your cutting rows

Not overlapping enough when turning

When turning your effective cutting width decreases – overlap more.

Stepped Cutting

stepped cut

Stepped cutting is sharp ridges left in the lawn surface. Stepped cutting is usually caused by mower deck damage, mower blade, or misadjustment.
damage.

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Deck is not leveled correctly

Level the deck correctly

Tires are not properly installed

Check and inflate tires

Blades are damaged

Replace the blades

Deck shell is damaged

Repair or replace the deck

Mower spindle is bent or loose

Repair or replace the spindle

Blades are installed incorrectly

Reinstall the blades correctly

Uneven Cutting

uneven cut

Uneven cutting is wavy or smooth troughs in the lawn surface. Uneven cutting is usually caused by mower deck damage or misadjustment.

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Deck is not leveled correctly

Level the deck correctly

Blades are dull or worn

Sharpen or replace the blades

Blades are damaged

Replace the blades

Deck is clogged with grass clippings

Clean out the deck

Deck shell is damaged

Repair or replace the deck

Mower spindle is bent or loose

Repair or replace the spindle

Blades are installed incorrectly

Reinstall the blades correctly

Scalping

scalping

Scalping is when the mower deck comes close to or hits the ground. Scalping can be caused by the mower deck misadjustment, unevenness in the lawn, or by mower deck bouncing due to the ground speed being too fast.

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Lawn in uneven or bumpy

Roll or level the lawn

Mower deck cutting height is set too low

Raise cutting height

Ground speed is too fast

Slow down

Deck is not leveled correctly

Correctly level the deck

Tire pressure is uneven

Check and inflate the tires

Stingers

stingers

Stingers are sparse patches of uncut grass left behind the mower. Stingers are usually caused by operator error or poor blade maintenance.

CAUSE

SOLUTION

Blades are not sharp or are nicked

Sharpen your blades

Blades are worn down too far

Replace your blades

Engine speed is too slow

Always mow at full throttle

Ground speed is too fast

Slow down

Deck is plugged with grass

Clean out the mower

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About the Author

Jack's Small Engines has been providing parts for outdoor power equipment online since 1997. We also run a service center for outdoor power equipment like riding mowers, snow blowers, generators, chainsaws, and just about anything else.





24 Responses to How to Solve Common Mowing Problems

  1. Lucas giles says:

    My lawn mower is cutting uneven and scalping the ground, also while mowing there was some smoke coming out but only every once and a whole mostly in high grass

    • Hi Lucas,

      From the sound of it, your cutting height may be too low.

      Mowing in high grass puts a lot of strain on your mower’s engine and blades and can cause it to do some crazy things.

      Most mowers have a max cutting height of 4″, if your grass is much higher than this, consider taking a string trimmer to the overgrown areas before mowing.

      Also be sure to only take 1/3 of the blade off each time you mow until you get it to the desired length, trying to cut too much off at once can clog up your mower deck, causing an uneven cut.

      Additionally, make sure you aren’t going too fast, if you hit a bump at a higher speed you are more likely to scalp the ground.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Anita says:

    My zero turn mower leaves strips that aren’t cut on the left side of the mower, the strips are about 5′ wide, I keep have to go over it again to get it all cut!!

    • Hi Anita!

      Be sure that you are overlapping your rows enough to be sure that you get all of grass mowed in one pass. Also remember that when you are turning, it is easy to underestimate how much overlap you should do, so just overlap a little more than you would originally think you should.

      Grass clippings can clog up your deck, be sure that your deck is clean to be sure this isn’t the culprit.

      Another thing you can try is getting your blades sharpened and reinstalling them, or even getting new blades!

      I hope this helps you take care of those pesky streaks!

  3. larry bookout says:

    i put a new deck belt on my cub cadet z-force 50 and the blades now turn slow

    • Hi Larry,

      You might want to check some of the mechanical components that the belt works with. The belt may not be tight enough, you could need a new tension spring, spindle, or even pullies.

      Check out these components and the belt tension and hopefully the problem will be obvious!

  4. Gary says:

    I have correctly installed blades and I get most of these erros

    • Hi Gary,

      You may want to check to be sure that your deck is level (how to level your deck should be able to be found in your operators manual).

      The sharpness and condition of the blades is also very important, check this out, if you have new blades, this should not be the issue.

      If you hit something previously and damaged a former set of blades, you could have bent the blade spindle or bent/damaged the deck. Be sure to check these things over.

      Also be sure that you are mowing at an appropriate speed as going too fast can cause a lot of the above mentioned problems.

      If none of this seems to be the problem, consulting your owners manual for proper operation may be another good option.

      I hope this helps! Happy Mowing!

  5. Gail Cook says:

    How can I keep the grass from making “corn rows”, rows of mowed grass in a line? I took the mulcher cover off and no improvement.

    • Ronnie Ivy says:

      Did you ever figure out the problem? I am having the same issue and can’t figure it out. If you see this reply please correspond. Thanks.

  6. kevin hensley says:

    My mower is leaving strips of grass on the left hand blade and also it looks like it is slightly “humped”. I have slowed down, leveled the deck, and took the deck apart to see if the spindle and/ or housing was bent, the measurement is different from tip to tip on that blade. The bearing seems fine in that spindle and everything measures fine, could the shaft be bent internally?

  7. Jake says:

    It seems like anytime I turn the wheel the left side of my mower cuts higher then the right. Any other time, while cutting in straight lines it cuts even as can be. Thoughts?

    • Brandon Tuer says:

      It could be a number of things. It’s possible that something is bent/loose/worn. I would start by inspecting your deck for things like bad adjustment, bent/worn blades, worn/loose bearings and spindles. Uneven tire pressure is also a common cause of uneven cutting.

  8. charles says:

    why do I get a lot of grass clippings on top of my mower deck around spindles when I mulch

  9. H.g. Hall says:

    My scag tiger cub loses power when mowing at full throttled

  10. Roy says:

    I had a bent deck on my toro timer saver mower. I have had it worked on threee different times. Grass still comes out of the front of the deck covering the top of the mower deck and me with grass. I do have a mulch kit on the mower. Can you off any help?

    • Brandon Tuer says:

      Check the tire pressure and make sure the deck is properly leveled as well. Seems like they would have checked those things if you had it worked on but it might be a start.

  11. Donnie Rowland says:

    Hi Brandon I have a Cub cadet LT 1045 3 blades. my center blade does not cut well in thick grass, it’s like it’s dragging and not cutting. What should I do? thank you for your feedback.

    • Brandon Tuer says:

      First thing I would check is the blade itself to make sure it’s sharp and installed properly. If everything about the blade checks out, could be a belt issue. Also could be that the deck is clogged up with grass. Clean it out if that’s the case. Let me know if you find anything out.

  12. chris says:

    my john deer la105 is messed up but I don’t know what exactly. it is cutting evenly as long as I am not turning. When I turn it is cutting unevenly. the tire pressures are even.

  13. Robert Wolfe says:

    Thank You, Thank you, Thank you. you are the only website I visited about mowing problems that answered my question about my problem…..Streaking. Didnt know it was called that….

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