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How to Safely Transport Lawn Equipment

This comprehensive guide will outline safety regulations for transporting lawn equipment, particularly loading and unloading on trailers, while encompassing checklists and tests to run on the hardware before using it post-transport. Of course, when one thinks of “lawn equipment,” visions of the seminal lawn mower are primarily conjured up, but while moving a small push mower or lawn equipment to a new home across town can be easy, safe transportation of garden and lawn tractors is more challenging.


If you plan to do it yourself, you’ll need a suitable moving truck or trailer, heavy-duty ramps, extra help, have safety precautions in place and a little knowhow – hopefully the latter through this guide. Moving, in general, can be difficult, stressful and dangerous, even though it often comes down to a few simple steps; indeed, during the moving process, a plethora of twisted ankles, banged shins and smashed fingers are common, so when you throw gas and electric-powered machines with spinning steel blades into the mix, things can get downright deadly.


I. Ensure the Trailer is Hitched Properly to the Truck


The first step when safely transporting lawn equipment has to do with making sure a trailer is hitched properly to whatever truck you’re using. Operating trucks or truck-trailer combos stuffed to the gills with landscaping materials and equipment encompasses a plethora of potential hazards for not only members of the crew, but those with whom they share the road. Neglect via overloading or not properly securing materials, equipment and even plants in a trailer or pickup bed can result in serious injuries and, in extreme cases, fatalities.


What’s more, it is important to take into account the types of quantities of materials to be carried and the company’s unloading/loading methods. From our experience, options in the landscape industry run the proverbial gamut from small pickup trucks to the aforementioned truck-trailer fusions capable of hauling up to 80,000 pounds; skate-side beds (which offer side loading/unloading) and roll-off systems (which allow truck beds to be changed to transport different items) are popular with many gardening enterprises.


Before loading equipment, a trailer must be hitched to the vehicle, and as such, knowing the right size ball for the coupler on the trailer is essential (a coupler is the device connecting the vehicle hitch to the trailer, thus the fit must be ideal). Normally, this information can be obtained by looking at the coupler itself; once the trailer is hooked to the hitch, it is essential to make sure everything is pinned and latched onto the ball before any loading.



I-A. Know the Weight Limits


Moisture content in materials affects their weight, which in turn impacts gross vehicle weights and loading/unloading equipment. For example: a tractor loader or skid-steer capable of handling a pallet of dry sod could tip forward when raising a pallet of sod that's wet. Furthermore, it is important to ensure trailers and trucks do not exceed gross vehicle weight limits, as this can yield significant fines and create numerous safety hazards. In addition to concerns regarding safety, repeated overloading causes excessive wear and tear on multiple truck/trailer components – studs responsible for holding tires in place could crack and axles could break, both of which could cause accidents.


I-B. Have the Proper Fittings and Hitch


We touched on this in the introduction area a bit, but it’s a major factor when it comes to ensuring a trailer is properly hitched to a vehicle. There are several different components needed for towing any type of trailer, with the towing system made up of the vehicle, trailer and the equipment used to connect them.


Here are the elements that comprise a garden variety towing hookup system:


Trailer Hitch (Receiver Hitches and Tow Hitches are included in this category)

Ball Mount and Ball Hitch

Trailer Ball and Hitch Ball

Hitch Pin and Hitch Lock

Trailer Coupler

Safety Chain

Trailer Wiring Harness

Tow Vehicle



Choosing the best trailer hitch (and fittings) for a vehicle transporting lawn equipment is actually simpler than many think; this is because most hitches are vehicle-specific, allowing the end user to signify the year, make, model and style to find the exact hitch needed. From there, it’s a matter of choosing the right receiver size and, if desired, visual look to complement a business or lifestyle.


II. Prep the Mower


A lawn mower can be moved with ease and confidence if the appropriate precautions are taken into consideration and implemented. Consider the following five useful tips for packing and moving such a piece of hardware:


Prepare the lawn mower by turning off the engine, disconnecting the spark plug, emptying the fuel tank, cleaning the mower deck, inspecting the blades and checking the oil for any signs of damage.

Use proper lifting techniques to prevent injuries and strains.

Pack the mower by wrapping each individual item in a blanket.

Be aware of surroundings.

Use safety gear.


II-A. Drain the Mower Fluid


The very first thing that really should be done when moving a mower is to drain its gas and oil tanks completely and transfer both those fluids into appropriate containers.


II-B. Remove the Blades


For safety reasons, the mower’s blades need to be removed before it’s loaded up for transport, with extra caution suggested while handling the blades to avoid injuries. Thick gloves should be used while removing the cutting elements, after which the original protective covers should be placed over the sharp blades to secure them.


II-C. Disconnect Spark Plug


One of the final steps in preparing a lawn mower for transport is to disconnect its spark plug so that it can’t accidentally be started during the move; even with its gas siphoned, a lawn mower can still be started in some cases because of the fuel fumes built up in the tank.


II-D. Secure Loose Parts


If necessary, use zip ties or another type of fastener device to secure any loose parts until they are ready to be reinstalled on the mower after transport; doing so will ensure that they don’t get lost or damaged accidentally during the move.



III. Loading a Mower


Anyone who’s seen the lawn mower loading fail videos on YouTube knows loading lawn tractors and riding mowers into the bed of a truck or trailer can be dangerous if not done properly. Safe loading is a delicate marriage that requires pairing the correct ramp for a specific lawn mower, situation and truck/trailer height.


III-A. Don’t Back it Onto the Trailer; Dive it Forward


It’s all about balance – the load should always be balanced, with the majority of the weight above the trailer’s axel(s) and around 15-percent of the weight on the trailer’s tongue. Never back a mower onto a trailer under any circumstances; always drive forward when loading. Due to the fact that the hood on the device opens from back to front, it matters what direction the trailer is parked (the goal here is for the driving pressure of the wind to push the hood down as opposed to possibly causing it to lift and tear off while traveling down the road).


III-B. Raise the Mower Deck Up all the Way


To prepare a mower for loading, the mower deck should be raised up as far as it will go and set in “transport mode.” This will aid in keeping the machine's underside from scraping as it’s loaded and unloaded from the trailer. Once raised, the loading process can begin.


III-C & D. Put Into “Transport Mode” and Go Slow


As we just mentioned above, a mower deck should be put into “transport mode” – when advancing onto the trailer, it is recommended to engage at a slow pace to avoid excessive jostling and added stress on the vehicle to which the trailer is hitched. It is also recommended to pause for a moment before getting off (after the loading process) to ensure the trailer settles and ceases movement.


IV. Tying Down


During the tying down phase/process, the vehicle and trailer need to be positioned so that they are on a flat and level surface. Placing wood blocks under the wheels of the trailer can be used as an extra precaution, if desired, and the mower deck should be raised to the highest point before the unit is slowly driven up the ramp onto the trailer bed toward the front of the trailer (covered in previous sections of the guide).


Even a seemingly minor error can have major consequences when transporting any piece of equipment. It is more than understandable that everyone values their equipment, and that’s precisely why we put this guide together, so the utmost peace of mind can be experienced while transporting.



IV-A. Use Ratchet Straps


Attach a ratchet strap onto the mower axle and secure it to the corners of the trailer, repeating the process with the straps at all four corners; check tension on all straps to tie up any loose ends.


IV-B. Secure the Hooks to the Frame of the Trailer


Should an area on the machine to mount hooks not be readily identified, a suitable alternative option is to loop them around the mower axle – to this end, it is recommended to loop the strap around the axle before feeding the end through the hook to make a loop, followed by feeding the same end through the ratchet for tie-down. Once the hooking points are established, all other hooks should be secured accordingly.


IV-C. Secure the Slack of the Ropes


Because we recommend using straps for tying down the mower, it is important to note that all variations are not created equal. Straps with a tension system relying on a tight pull and rubbery surface to grip onto the strap should be avoided; a safe amount of tension isn't achieved this way, nor will it keep the mower from jostling around or coming loose during transport.


Pull the free end of the webbing to remove any slack between the hooks, and tighten any remaining slack by raising and lowering the handle assembly in a pumping motion (webbing wrapping around the axle should be visible).


In Summary


Whether moving to a new home, relocating equipment or shipping a lawn mower to a client, hauling the equipment needs specific instruction. Fortunately, you have this guide to offer reliable transport information to save you time, money and, hopefully, visits to the ER.


To summarize what’s been covered above, the top things to remember when preparing lawn equipment for transport include:


Draining all liquids and cleaning up the mower before transport

Removing all blades and other attachments

Using a trailer for hauling a riding mower


Tying down the mower using specific straps and other hardware

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Lawn Mower Repair and Maintenance: Tips To Extend the Lifespan of Your Lawn Mower

If you own a lawn mower, you know how much time they save you on yard work — but you may not know how much maintaining them can also save you in the long run. While newer lawn mowers last longer, if you want to get the most from your investment, it’s necessary to maintain your mower and avoid any problems. With that in mind, here are some lawn mower repair and maintenance tips that you should know.

Sharpen the Blade

A dull blade will tear your grass, resulting in brown difficult-to-repair patches. Sharper blades result in a clean cut that promotes healthy growth. You should sharpen your blades at least once a season or more often if you notice the quality of your mow declining. The best way to sharpen is with a file or grinder for lawn mower blades.

Change the Oil

One of the most important things you can do to extend your lawn mower's lifespan is to change the oil often. Most manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 50 hours or once a season, whichever comes first. If you use your mower a lot, you may need to change the oil more often.

Check for Blown Fuses

Another way to keep your lawn mower running is to check the fuse box often. Look for any blown fuses and replace them as soon as possible. Checking fuses will help prevent damage to your lawn mower and keep it running. If the engine is hard to start up or cuts out when it does start, the problem could be the spark plug.

Replace Spark Plugs on an Engine

Replacing spark plugs is another important thing you can do to keep your lawn mower engine running well. It's a simple process that only takes a few minutes, but it can make a big difference in how your engine runs. Remove the old plug from the engine. Use a wrench to turn it counterclockwise, and pull it out with your fingers. Clean any corrosion off the threads before screwing in the new plug by applying some WD-40 or other oil. Then, screw it until tight by turning clockwise with a wrench.

Clean the Deck

Over time, your lawn mower's deck will become caked with grass, dirt, and debris. This buildup can lead to rusting and decreased performance. Remove any grass or debris buildup. Then, use a garden hose or pressure washer to remove any remaining dirt. Finally, apply a thin layer of oil to the deck to protect it from future corrosion.

Change the Air Filter

A clean air filter keeps the engine clean and improves gas mileage. Replace air filters every 25 hours or at least once a year, whichever comes first. The lawn mower service manual will include instructions on changing your air filter. Use only genuine parts from the manufacturer when replacing your air filter.