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Preparing your Lawn for Winter

11/8/2019 6:00:00 AM

​​Tips for helping grass survive cold w​eath​er

How to prepare your lawn for winterIt’s not welcome news, but it’s inevitable: winter IS coming. To put that into perspective, it’s only about six more Saturdays until the northern regions of the United States and Canada start seeing snowflakes. And if the long-term 2019 / 2020 winter forecast for the United States is anything like the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting, it’s going to be a doozy. Cold and snowy is the fate that awaits, and after intense summer sun, heavier foot traffic, too much or too little water and invasions by weeds, pests diseases and fungi, welcoming winter is like beating a lawn when it’s already down.

Fortunately, autumn’s allows lawns to recover. Less-abrasive, hot temperatures often favor top growth and root strength among cool-season grass breeds that grow in the United States’ midsection and into Canada. Additionally, this period is a great time for you to grab a pumpkin spice latte, put on some flannel and work outdoors comfortably to prepare your lawn for the long, cold winter. But why is it so important right now?

Why it’s important to​​ prepare your lawn for winter

Your lawn is no use when it’s brown or covered by a blanket of snow, but a lawn’s transition to fall and winter is one of the most critical seasonal changes to its health. Preparing it for dormancy by checking the following items off your lawn care list today will help it bounce to life more quickly and grow healthier when spring returns.

Steps for preparing you​​​r lawn for winter

​​​​1. Mitigating chances for snow mold​​​​

Thatch is the layer of ​dead grass that falls to the soil bed. Some thatch is good, especially for winter insulation, but lawns overrun with thatch are prone to winter injury. Thatch shelters disease-causing organisms like snow mol​d. Snow mold occurs when excessive moisture (from snow) gets trapped in a lawn bed and creates a fungus. Like other harmful fungi and bacteria, snow mold can kill grass and leave behind large brown patches and can be a source for disappointment when spring brings life back to the rest of the lawn. However, as with many lawn issues, there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of snow mold – one being dethatching.

Dethatching is pulling the layers of dead grass from a lawn bed. This can be done in one of two ways: raking is a cost-effective measure in reducing thatch from a lawn bed, but depending on the size of your lawn, this could take several hours. For faster results, look into renting or buying a dethatcher, which is almost like a powered rake. A dethatcher uses thin, flailing tines to pull thatch from lawn beds quickly.

Though using a dethatcher will save hours and hours of time, homeowners should be aware that inexperienced use of a dethatcher could do more harm than good. Aggressive dethatching could remove too much thatch from a lawn bed, leaving it less insulated for winter’s cold temperatures. If you’re not comfortable using a dethatcher, hire a professional in your area.

In addition to helping reduce the potential for snow mold, dethatching helps lawn soils breathe better, promoting stro​nger roots​ and helping grass survive winter more effectively. 

Homeowners can also aerate their lawns to help avoid snow mold. Core aeration pulls cylindrical plugs out of the lawn, loosening the soil and stirring up the microorganisms that help break up thatch.

Aeration also has benefits beyond preventing snow mold and the spread of lawn fungi. In nearly every region of the country, fall is prime time for core aeration because fall is also the best time to seed a lawn. Seeding and aeration together is the most effective for growing new grass. See step 9 for more information. Additionally, aeration relieves soil compaction resulting from lawn mowers, foot traffic and even just the weight of the soil. The more compact the soil is, the harder it is for water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. Lawns that go years without aeration are bound to become overcome with weeds, which fare better in compact soil than grass does.

2. ​Improv​​ing soil pH

A soil’s pH level is its measure of acidity or alkalinity, and if it’s within its pH range of 6.5 to 7.0, which is in the slightly acidic to neutral range, its chances of surviving winter are much stronger.

Testing your lawn's pH level can be done on your own with a kit from a gardening store. Test your soil by taking three to five soil samples from about 4 – 6 inches below the soil surface in different areas of your lawn. Remove the grass so you're sampling soil only. Mix the dirt together and spread around on a disposable surface so it can dry out over a 24-hour period and test according to the instructions of your kit.

If the soil is too acidic (pH 0 – 6), add wood ash to your lawn. If the soil is too basic (pH 8 – 14), add sphagnum peat to your lawn. Just be aware that it may require some tilling to fully incorporate the sphagnum peat into the soil and for it to take effect. Another option is to add fine mulch and compost to your lawn.

3. ​Eliminate weeds before winter

​​​How to remove weeds

Steps can be taken before and during the winter to help prevent weeds next spring. An interesting fact about weeds and cold weather is that weed control is more effective in the fall. When perennial weeds feel winter approaching, they move their food storage from their leaves to their roots. So, as you shower those weeds with an herbicide or vinegar spray, they move their own poison to their central nervous system – their roots – which kills them more effectively.

If you live in a region with warm-season grasses, which grow in the midsection of the United States and south, continue mowing to help stifle weed growth. Though that grass is less tolerant to cooler temperatures and will go dormant when temperatures start falling below 55 degrees on a consistent basis, winter weeds will continue growing. Though it may seem silly to cut over grass that’s approaching its dormancy stage, weeds in warm-season grasses can’t survive repeated cuttings.

Mow the weeds at the same height you would normally cut grass to eradicate those pests from your lawn. For best results, mow with a bagger to help prevent the weed spores from spreading throughout your lawn and germinating in other places.

4. Remove Leaves Before Snowfall

So what if leaves cover the grass? Leaves are just organic material and it doesn’t matter if they’re raked or not, right? Well, there’s actually purpose in raking leaves from a yard beyond aesthetics. It’s for the health of your lawn.

Why raking leaves is important

Leaves block sunlight, smother the grass and prevent moisture from evaporating from a lawn. If fallen leaves aren’t just depriving your lawn from sunlight, they’re also creating an environment that promotes lawn disease. This can be especially impactful in regions with snow, because as with excessive thatch, leaves can trap snow’s moisture and cause disease and fungi like snow mold.

Raking leaves is a good start and allows you to balance hours sitting on the couch watching Saturday college football, Sunday professional football… and some more football on Thursday and Monday nights. However, if your schedule is busy enough and you’d rather exchange hours of chores with hours of more free time for yourself and your family, consider one of the following options:

Mulching kits for leaves
This is by far the fastest way to clear leaves from a yard. Installing a mulching kit to your Ariens zero turn lawn mower recycles those leaves into tiny pieces of mulch that allow your lawn to breathe while absorbing the nutrients released by those leaves when broken down. Zero turn mulching kits for Ariens lawn mowers are available at an authorized, local Ariens dealer or online at the Ariens parts and accessories website.

Click here to learn more about zero turn mulching kits from a blog post we wrote earlier this year.

Lawn mower baggers for leaves
Compared to using a rake, bagging leaves is once again a much faster solution, but has some tradeoffs with mulching. Bagging will take a bit more time than mulching because the leaves will need to be dumped somewhere on your property, the curb or at a local dump site. However, the benefit of a bagger over mulching is that they’ll wipe lawns clean of leaves and leave them in pristine shape for an extended entertainment season. As an added bonus, you can dump your bagger in two piles to cushion each backyard football end zone for healthy and safe family fun.

Best lawn mower bagger

5.​ Fertilize

Added strength from fertilizer can help your lawn weather a long winter, but there's more to it than simply picking up a bag of fertilizer at your local hardware store or nursery and spreading it across your lawn. The most important things to do before applying any fertilizer or nutrients to your grass is understanding your grass type and knowing the pH level, or level of acidity / alkalinity, in your soil. Fertilizer isn't a one-size-fits-all product. There's different types for different conditions, and if you get it wrong, you could do more harm than good to your lawn.

Know Your Grass Ty​pe

Click the linked heading to read the blog we published earlier this year about grass types, including their classifications as warm or cool-season grasses. This is important to know before fertilizing because different grass types take different types of fertilizer. For instance, cool-season grasses like Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial Ryegrass and Fescue breeds require nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Some organic options include bone meal, blood meal or manure. Warm-season grasses actually won't need extra fertilizer to make it through winter. A better option is to wait until warmer weather comes back before spreading nutrient-rich organic compost on those grasses.

Test Your Grass

​​​Applying any nutrient to your lawn without knowing its pH level is like playing Russian roulette with your lawn. As we talked about in step 2, soils have varying levels of acidity or alkalinity. With just a soil test kit from your local hardware store, you can find that measurement and learn which fertilizers will work best with your lawn.

6. Keep off the grass!​

For the first time ever, there might be some sense behind the scolding from your cranky neighbors. Grass is much more vulnerable in it’s dormant state, and while it may seem harmless, consider your grass’ short, brown and uninviting appearance as your own queue to keep off the grass. Even if the ground is completely frozen in northern regions and think it’s impossible to hurt it in that state, it’s still possible.

Dormant grass has none of that elasticity that it did when it was warm. Step on it in the warm months and it’ll spring back to life. Step on it during its dormant period in the fall or winter and it could break – requiring extra recovery time in the spring, meaning it stays brown longer as the healthier areas turn green faster.

Even if the grass is completely snow-covered, diversify your walking paths across the yard. Trekking over the same locations compacts the soils in that area, restricting the ability for the roots to absorb water and nutrients come springtime. Help discourage others from walking across your lawn and harming it by keeping your driveway and sidewalks clear of snowfall. Find your snow-clearing solution by viewing the complete Ariens snow blower lineup at

​7. Remove annual plants

Annuals die every year, and if left behind, these dead plants become luxury condos for lawn- and garden-killing insects to thrive and reproduce. Before winter starts, pull up the dead plants entirely – including their roots. Remnants can be discarded in the trash, or better, in your compost pile.​​​

8. Mulch the perennials

Like grass, other perennials in your yard might appear to be dying when cold weather moves in, but they’re merely going dormant. Be confident that they’ll return again to brighten your yard in the spring, even if they’re trimmed down to the surface level. Trimming dormant perennial vegetation is actually suggested because it helps keep its roots intact through the winter.

If your lawn is blanketed with insulating snow in the winter, perennials should survive into next season. If there’s little to no snow cover in your region, consider protecting the perennials with two or three inches of mulch, such as shredded leaves or pine needles.​

9. Remove items from y​our yard

So many of us are guilty of it. Storage space in the garage runs slim and we’re forced to keep junk in the yard. Even as sunlight hours quickly disappear, grass that’s covered by junk and other objects can go brown and die in just a few days. And when spring brings everything to life next year, those spaces will be left in the dust – demanding time and money spent to correct the issue that was 100 percent avoidable.

​​10. Fixing bare spots in your lawn

Fall isn’t too late to think about overseeding, which is filling in bare spots of your lawn with grass seed. In fact, fall is one of the best times for cool-season grasses in the midsection of the United States and north, to grow and thrive. By overseeding now, you’ll help ensure a full-lush appearance in your lawn when spring returns.

To improve the effectiveness of overseeding, sprinkle grass seed around your yard right after aeration. When grass seed falls into holes created by aeration, they sprout more effectively.

If you liked these tips and want to share them with your friends, copy the web link to the Ariens blog and include it in a post from your Facebook profile.

What Snow Blower Should I Buy?

11/1/2019 5:00:00 AM

How do you choose which snow blower is right for you? Maybe you only need something for a small clearing with lighter snowfalls, or maybe you need a snow blower to clear large areas in a region that receives apocalyptic blizzards. Whatever your case, you can​ find small snow blowers for clearing decks, roofs and narrow spaces, or bigger snow blowers for clearing large spaces or multip​le driv​eways at Ariens retailers and dealerships.

Small snow blowers for c​ompact areas

Not all snow blowers are large, heavy machines. Single stage snow blowers are compact and lighter, making them ideal for clearing decks, narrow areas and even flat rooftops. But don’t think that means they’re limited. Single-stage snow blowers can also clear large areas with lighter snowfall amounts up to six inches very effectively.

In the Ariens® single stage lineup, there's a choice of the Path-Pro® for homeowners, or the Professional 21 commercial single stage.

Arien​s Path-Pro Series

​The Ariens Path-Pro single stage is very popular small snow blower for homeowners. Within its 21-inch clearing witdth are two auger paddles that both ingest snow and throw it out of its manually adjustable or remote-operated discharge chute.  The rubber paddles scrape clean to the surface and drive the unit forward. As the paddles contact the clearing surface, they pull the unit forward and into more snow. To make a new path, lightly push down on the handlebars, pivot the unit about its maneuverable wheels, lower the unit and continue clearing.

Path-Pro is also easy for homeowners who are new to using outdoor power equipment. With the recoil start or electric start options and a light 97-pound profile, Path-Pro is a snow blower that's easy for anyone of any experience level to start and operate. Path-Pro's handlebars can be folded forward for compact storage and the unit comes with the Ariens 3-year limited warranty.

  • ​136 & 128cc engine options
  • Spring-loaded scraper bar
  • Large, semi-penumatic tires
  • Folding handlebars for storage​
Single stage snow blower

Ariens Professional ​​21 Series​

Within the Ariens single stage snow blower family is another option for commercial landscapers. The Ariens Professional 21 single stage snow blower was designed completely around the needs of contractors clearing snowfalls in small areas at multiple properties, several times per season. Its 21-inch clearing width is reinforced with an all-steel constructed housing that protects its other components in heavy use and transportation. Outfitted with high-wear paddles, the Ariens Professional 21 can power through multiple properties, clearing all the way down to the surface without needing frequent paddle replacement. To help ensure more effective clearing, the Professional 21 is equipped with a spring-loaded scraper bar that stays in contact with the clearing surface even as the bar wears.

Some of the most attractive features on this commercial single stage is its open engine area for fast and easy access to maintenance points, as well as a specially designed handlebar. The design of the smart-lift handlebars are shaped to make single-person loading and unloading onto a truck bed quick and effortless.

  • High-wear paddles
  • Remote chute option
  • All-steel construction
  • Easily accessible engine
  • Smart lift handlebars for easy, single-person loading onto a truck bed

 ​Commercial single stage snow blower

Click here t​o learn more about the ​​Ariens Professional 21.

​​Popular snow blo​​wers ​​​of 2019

Need a snow blower for moderate snowfalls? If you live anywhere within North America’s snow belt, a medium sized snow blower may be your answer. As Mother Nature has showed in the past, heavy snowfalls of greater than six inches or more can fall as far south as Kentucky, Oklahoma, Virginia and New Mexico. Remember last year? A freak blizzard can happen anywhere, and it sure is nice to be prepared for it.

​Though there is no definition for a midsize snow blower, industry standard for a mid size snow thrower would be somewhere in the range of a two stage snow blower with a clearing width from 20 to 30 inches. With housing heights up to 23 inches, these machines are built to confront winter’s hardest punches.

Click here to learn more about two-stage snow blowers.

Like single-stage snow blowers, two-stage snow blowers are built for varying needs. Whether you’re clearing an alleyway in Chicago, a long driveway in suburban New Haven, Connecticut, or a steep path in Banff, Alberta, the Ariens Sno-Thro® lineup has a machine that’s sized right and spec’d with features to fit your driveway.

Let's use the Chicago scenario. Digging out a car parked on the street after the snow plow passes is nearly impossible. Cars are already parked bumper to bumper on both sides of the street and the snow plow creates one lane through the middle – pushing snow as high as your driver's side window and barracading your transportation. Not to mention, you'll need to move your car within 24 hours to avoid a $75 fine.

In densly populated areas like Chicago, Boston or New York, space becomes extremely limited after an 8-inch snowfall, followed by another 10 inches. That's why the Ariens Classic or Compact snow blowers are best for those areas. With housing widths as narrow as 20 inches, but the height and power to redirect snow across the street, the Ariens Classic and Compact models are the best snow blowers for the big city. 

Ariens Classic​ Snow Blower

Classic is your baseline two-stage snow blower, but that doesn't mean it's cheap. The Ariens Classic is built with the same engineering, parts and all-steel construction as in the larger models. Its cast aluminum auger gearcase features an industry-leading top-filled design to help ensure no oil leaks are the last thing you'll need to worry about. Powered by a time-tested and reliable Ariens AX 208cc engine, the Ariens Classic's serrated augers and three-blade impeller chew through snow and toss it distances of up to 40 feet.

  • All-steel construction
  • Limited 3-year warranty
  • Top-filled cast aluminum gearcase
  • 208cc Ariens AX engine

Click here to learn more about the Ariens Classic series.

Ariens Compact Snow Blower

The Ariens Compact two stage snow blower series is much like the Classic, but with more options and some feature upgrades. Whereas the Classic is only available with a 24-inch housing width, the Ariens Compact offers clearing widths of 20 inches, 24 inches and a track-driven option with a 24-inch housing. The Ariens Compact snow blower also features 15-inch directional tires for superior grip and handling, and an 11-inch auger / 12-inch impeller diameter combination to process up to 59 tons of snow per hour.

Chute controls positioned in the dashboard and a standard halogen head light give operators convenience at any time of the day. Pull both the auger drive and wheel drive clutch levers, keep your hand on the wheel drive clutch but release the auger clutch and your Ariens snow blower continues driving forward and throwing snow. This dual-handle interlock feature, standard on all Ariens two-stage models, allows users to keep working while controlling the direction and height of the snow discharge comfortably with a free hand.

  • 15-inch directional tires
  • Halogen headlamp
  • 20-inch and 24-inch housing width options
  • 223cc Ariens AX engine
  • Dual-handle interlock

Compact snow blower

Click here to lear​n more about the Ariens Compa​ct series.

​​Ariens Deluxe Snow Blower

The Ariens Deluxe series is the best selling snow blower model of the best selling snow blower brand for a reason. For both homeowners and professionals, it provides a variety of options at price points of varying budgets. Numerous 24, 28 and 30-inch-wide models with engine sizes from 254 to 306 cubic centimeters gives all different types users with diverse needs access the advantages of the technology in the Ariens Deluxe. For example, Ariens' exclusive Auto-Turn™ drive system for easier turning trims time from maneuvering a snow blower and puts it back into time for yourself and your family. Opt for the super-high-output model and you throw even farther and faster with Deluxe's 14-inch auger / impeller combo.

  • 24, 28 and 30-inch clearing width options
  • 16-inch directional tires
  • Auto-Turn steering
  • EFI engine option
  • Super-high-output option
  • 14-inch auger and impeller diameters
Deluxe snow blower

Click here to learn more about the Ariens Deluxe.

​Ariens EFI sno​​w blower models

​​​Deluxe is the first model in the Ariens lineup that uses Ariens EZ-Launch EFI​ technology. EFI, which means electronic fuel injection, has been commonplace in the auto industry for years, but Ariens was the first to introduce it to snow blowers in 2016. Electronic fuel injection replaces the need for a carburetor, meaning there's no more priming or choking the engine. Simply turn ​the key, set the throttle and either pull start or use a power cord to use its electric starter. Besides fuel savings, constant power delivery and less chance for the fuel clogs to occur, EFI systems work especially well in high altitudes, making these Ariens models the best snow blowers for the mountains. Atmospheric pressure differences in high elevations, like in Denver, for instance, don't affect EFI-powered units. With Ariens EFI, there's a consistent power delivery through 5,280 feet and beyond.

Click here to learn mor​e about Ariens EFI.

​Ariens Platinum​​ sn​​ow blower

​The Ariens Platinum is like the Deluxe's big brother. Built on the same chassis with the same housing options, Platinum is everything homeowners love about the Deluxe plus a few upgrades. Every model in the Platinum lineup is euipped with a SHO, or super-high-output engine, giving it the ability to process anywhere from 73 to 83 (depending on housing width) tons of snow per hour. While the extra power is welcome for anyone who lives in regions with moderate to heavy snowfalls, the upgrades in the Quick-Turn­™ chute control and standard heated hand grips give users a better user experience and added comfort.

  • ​Available in 24, 28 or 30-inch clearing widths
  • Quick-Turn chute control
  • Heated hand grips standard
  • All models equipped with SHO engines
  • RapidTrak™ option available
  • EFI option available
Platinum snow blower

Learn more about the Ariens Platinum here.

Ari​​ens RapidTrak™

Track drive systems are nothing new. They've been offered by Ariens and other brands for users clearing steep surfaces like on hills, snow piles and in the mountains for years. The difference in RapidTrak is its patentend technology of an adjustable rear wheel, making it possible to transition between ​one of its three drive modes: track mode, wheel mode and dig-in mode. Utilize unmatched stability on steep hills and slippery surfaces in track mode, access the maneuverability of wheel mode when extra grip isn't needed and dig into packed snow by pitching the auger housing downward with dig-in mode. Additionally, RapidTrak's drive speed is just as fast as a wheel model, meaning you don't need to compromise clearing speed for enhanced stability.

Learn more about the Ariens RapidTrak here.

Biggest snow blo​wers of 2019

When clearing very large areas, a slightly larger housing and engine combination makes a big difference. Consider this. If a larger snow blower can process snow just 10 minutes faster per job than another snow blower and there's 12 jobs to complete, that's two hours saved – meaning either more time for yourself, or more capacity to do more jobs.

Ariens ​Professional Series

​Even though "professional" is in its name, the Ariens Professional series of snow blowers is an attractive sell to homeowners and contractors alike. These models, ranging from 28, 32 or 36 inches in clearing width, are the heavy arsenal of the Ariens snow blower lineup and we didn't pull any punches from them. Each is loaded with premium features like Quick-Turn chute control, robust handlebars, and heated hand grips. They're built to take on the big jobs, and that's why the wheel-driven models in the lineup come with 16 inch directional tires and a 16-inch auger diameter. The professional series expects big snow, and that's why each comes equipped with a 420cc engine and a pair of drift cutters capable of knocking down snow piles reaching higher than their 23.5-inch housing heights.

Ariens Professional models are also available in EFI and RapidTrak configurations, and a coveted hydrostatic transmission. Hydro snow blowers allow users to change drive speed without the need to stop. Pull both the drive and auger clutch levers to engage the dual-handle interlock feature and use your free hand to speed up or slow down – without stopping.

  • 16-inch directional tires
  • 16-inch auger diameter
  • Robust handlebars​
  • 28, 32 and 36-inch clearing options
  • EFI options available
  • RapidTrak options available
  • Hydrostatic drive available
Professional snow blower

Click here to learn more about the Ariens Professiona​l series.

The snow blower lineup this winter is extensive, and it might seem tough or intimidating to figure out what's best for your driveway. There's no specific science or calculation that can determine exactly what you need, especially with weather as volatile as it is, but we got close with our snow blower selector tool.​ For personal help, visit your local Ariens dealer.​​

How to Store Your Lawn Mower for Winter

10/31/2019 5:00:00 AM

​Instructions for wi​​nterizin​g a zero turn mower

I​t’s that time of year again. Time to pack our lawn tractors and zero turn lawn mowers away for the winter. New homeowners or those new to outdoor power ​​equipment might not know much about fuel systems or gasoline engines, and that’s OK. We’re covering the what you need to do before putting your lawn mower into storage, why it’s important and how to do it.

​​Stabili​​ze th​​​​​​​e gasoli​​ne in the tank

Stabilizing ​​​your lawn mower fuel is the most important task to complete before putting your lawn mower into storage. If your mower sits idle longer than 2 weeks​ and it’s powered by gasoline or diesel, you’ll need to add fuel stabilizer. It sounds complex, but it’s very easy.

Why do I need to ​​s​tabilize gas in my lawn mower?
​Think of gasoline as fresh fruit. A mango is great after it’s been plucked from a tree and for a few days after, but it doesn’t take long for it to go bad. Same goes for gasoline. When gasoline is exposed to the air, it oxidizes and deteriorates. This makes it more difficult to ignite and, if left long enough, it could eventually render into a thick, jelly-like substance that becomes both useless and problematic. 

The same happens to the fuel in a lawn mower tank and throughout the fuel system when left untreated for long periods of time. When that fuel g​oes bad, it’s costly for more than one reason. Even the slightest amount of bad, gummed up fuel can clog the fuel lines and the super-tiny hole in the carburetor jet.

Lawn mower fuel clogs

When this happens, it chokes the fuel flow and blocks it from reaching the engine, preventing the engine from starting or running.

How do I stabilize gas​​ in my lawn mower?
Stabilizing fuel correctly requires attention to a few easy-to-follow instructions. You can​’t simply pour an entire packet or an entire bottle of fuel stabilizer into a gasoline tank and call it finished. Refer to your operator’s and engine manuals for details on your lawn mower, but most zero turn mowers follow these simple steps:

  1. ​​​Determine ho​​​​​w long it’s been since the fuel in your lawn mower tank was purchased. 

Gasoline goes bad in as little as two weeks, and that clock starts ticking as so​on as it’s pumped at the gas station. And ​no matter what you try adding to old fuel, gasoline cannot be rejuvenated and brought back to a stable state if it has already gone bad. ​

If the fuel ​in y​​our lawn mower tank was pumped more than two weeks ago, either drain it and dispose of it responsibly, or use it up completely.

  1. Add Fuel ​Sta​​bilizer

If the gasoline is fresh or less than two weeks old, add a quality fuel stabilizer to the tank according to the instructions on the stabilizer packet or bottle. The amount of fuel stabilizer to be added depends on the amount of fuel left in the tank. Estimate the amount of fuel in the tank, look for the stabilizer-to-gasoline ratio instructions on the stabilizer packet or container and calculate how much stabilizer needs to be added.

​If old gasoline was drained from the fuel system, there could still be fuel residue in the carburetor, fuel lines and tank. If that’s the case, add some fresh fuel to the tank and stabilize it to help pr​event the residue from going bad and creating a clog.

  1. Start the engine a​​nd run the mower.

Starting the engine allows the stabilizer to fully incorporate with the fuel in the tank and the fuel lines. Be sure to wait long enough for that fuel to run through the fuel system. This only takes about five to 10 minutes, but it’s critical to allow the engine enough time to cycle the treated gasoline through the entire fuel system. After enough time has passed with the engine running, close the fuel tank valve, if equipped, and allo​w the engine to “run dry” and stop on its own. Then, turn the ignition key to the off position and remove it from the unit.​

​C​​onnect a battery t​​​ender to the battery

Life spans of batteries in cars and outdoor power equipment shorten when not used for lo​​ng periods of time. This includes your zero turn lawn mower or tractor battery while it’s sitting in storage.

When ​​not in use for extended periods, batteries can discharge and lose their charge capacity. To keep your battery in good health for next season, connect the battery to a battery tender or trickle charger.

  • A trickle charger applies a constant, weak charge to the battery and will keep it fully charged through the offseason.
  • Battery tenders charge a battery, stop charging once the battery reaches a full charge, and will start charging again once the battery drops below a certain voltage.

Both options are good solutions for maintaining your mower's battery. Some resources suggest a battery tender is a better choice because a constant ch​​arge from a trickle charger can potentially damage a battery. In any case, give your battery attention while it’s being stored. If you choose, the battery can be removed from the unit and charged in an area close to an outlet.

Not su​re where to start? Check out our video on how to correctly disconnect a battery from a zero turn lawn mower.

​​Change lawn ​mower o​​​il and oil filter

Oil changes aren’t technically required before putting a lawn mower into storage. Oil left for a year or two won’t deteriorate or gel like gasoline,​ nor will it clog any narrow passages, so the system doesn’t need to be drained or treated. However, it’s extremely important to change your lawn mower oil and its oil filter at least once per year, or according to the maintenance intervals outlined in the engine manual for the unit.

How to change lawn mower oil

Oil changes are easy to perform, inexpensive, don’t take much time and are extremely crucia​​l to the health of your engine.

Why do I need to change​​​​​​ the oil in my lawn mower?

A lawn mower engine is a mower’s power plant. Without it, grass doesn’t get cut. And without regular oil changes, major malfunctions could occ​​ur long before the engine’s life cycle is over, costing you unnecessary repair bills and frustration.​

The metal parts inside an engine moving at thousands of revolutions per minute have friction, and friction is the enemy. Not only does friction wear those delicate parts (very slowly and over time, of course), friction​​​ also creates heat, and heat is bad for an engine. Over time, heat from engine combustion and friction deteriorates the lubricating values of its oil – making it less effective at protecting an engine.

Oil degradation and contamination is unavoidable regardless of its use in light, norm​​al or extreme conditions, which is why it’s important to perform oil changes regularly. Running an engine with dirty or degraded oil can damage it. Changing oil regularly strengthens reliability, ensures strong performance and protects your investment.

Steps for Chang​​​ing Oil i​n a Zero Turn Lawn Mower

  1. Remove the engine oil drain plug and allow the used oil to drain into a container. Use a funnel if necessary.

  2. Once drained, reinstall the drain plug and tighten to the specification in the engine manual.

  3. Remove the oil filter, allow the oil to drain from the filter and dispose the filter.

  4. Dip the tip of your finger in the used oil and apply a thin layer of it around the rubber gasket of the new oil filter.

  5. Install the new oil filter and tighten according to the specifications in the manual. Ensure the filter is not cross threaded and is tight against all sides of the filter port.

  6. Remove the cover from the engine fill port and add the correct volume and type of engine oil listed in the manual.

  7. Reinstall the fill port cover.

  8. With the parking brake on, start the mower and visually inspect the engine to ensure oil isn't leaking. Stop the engine when complete.

​​​​​Change transa​​xle​​​ fluid and filter

Wh​at is transax​le fluid?​​

If you’re not familiar with a transaxle in a zero turn lawn mower, you might know it by another ​​name like hydros, hydrostatic transmissions, or pumps. However you prefer to call it, it’s the same component. If the hydros on your mower are maintenance-free, then you don’t need to touch them. If you have larger acreage and own a larger mower with serviceable transaxles, its oil and oil filter will need changing.

Like engine oil changes, this isn’t a maintenance procedure that needs to be compl​eted before storage, but it will be necessary at some point of the year.

Lawn mower transaxle oil change

How to change transaxle fluid​

This procedure is a bit more​ complex, which is why we suggest those who are inexperienced with maintenance to rely on the technical expertise of their local Ariens de​aler.

For those who are comfortable doing the procedure themselves, we provided basic steps to a hydro oil cha​​nge procedure below, but always refer to your operator’s manual for the safety information and instructional details when doing the procedure.

  1. Operate the unit for a few minutes to warm the fluid.

  2. Stop the unit and wait for hot parts to cool.

  3. Remove the transaxle filter guards, if equipped.

  4. Remove oil filters, drain filters and dispose.

  5. Remove the fill plugs from transaxles.

  6. Wipe the filter mounting surfaces clean.

  7. Lubricate rubber gasket on new oil filters with hydraulic oil.

  8. Install filters onto transaxles and torque to specification.

  9. Reinstall filter guards with original hardware and torque to specification.

  10. Add the correct type of hydraulic oil to the transaxles until oil appears at the bottom of the oil fill openings.

  11. Reinstall oil fill plugs and torque to specification.

  12. Add hydraulic oil to the expansion tanks until fluid level meets the cold fill line.

  13. Purge the hydraulic system according to instructions in manual.

​​​Change lawn mower air filter

Engines intake air to create t​he combustion that powers them. And just like humans, engines breathe the same air we breathe, but not without filtering it first. Dust, dirt and other debris sucked in through an engine’s air intake can damage its delicate parts, which is why each engine comes equipped with an air filter. As the engine ‘inhales,’ the filter catches that debris and prevents it from entering the engine.

​Even the smallest airborne particles can damage an engine. And while the engine air filter does its job catching these particles, over time it collects mo​re and more debris until it gets so full that it becomes less effective. Additionally, restricted airflow because of a clogged filter makes an engine work harder and reduces its efficiency. This is why it’s important to check the filter regularly and replace it when needed.

Engine air filter replacements are not necessary to complete before seasonal storage, but it’s a good practice to do it now so it’s not forgotten later.

​Other lawn mower storage m​​aintenance

The information above is the bulk of the heavy lifting, but there are other maintenance points deserving of your attention before putting your mower into storage. ​Though they aren’t critical to complete now, it’s smart to check these off the list today so you’re ready for next season:

  1. Applying lubrication to all grease fittings (usually on caster wheels and hubs), pin points and other connections

  2. Checking lawn mower belts and replacing, if necessary

  3. Checking lawn mower blades and sharpening or replacing, if necessary

  4. Cleaning underneath a lawn mower deck for good airflow and a superior cut quality

  5. Adjusting the deck level and pitch

For other zero turn lawn mower maintenance tips subscribe to the Ariens channel on YouTube and sign up to receive emails from ariens at

Want a quick rundown on winter storage? Watch our lawn mower storage video here for a brief overview of how to store your mower.

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