Cleaner-air lawn care

For many people, fueling up the mower and cutting the grass each week are as routine as fueling the car and driving to work. But in most cases, mowing the lawn creates a lot more pollution. In fact, you’d have to drive a new car about 340 miles to emit the same amount of air pollution most mowers emit in an hour. To reduce your mower’s harmful effects on the environment, start with a tune-up. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, replace the oil, air filter, and spark plug. Then, adjust the carburetor and sharpen the blades. If you’re not handy with small engines, many repair shops will perform such routine maintenance for about $30. The annual engine maintenance will keep your mower running smoothly, and the sharp blades will slice through the grass with minimum effort from the engine.

Next, try to reduce the amount of time you spend with the mower running. Find the pattern that lets you mow your yard the fastest. And if you bag your clippings, turn the mower off while you’re loading and unloading the bag. Most clippings decompose naturally, so unless your grass is extremely thick, there’s no need to bag. Finally, take extra care when you fill your mower’s gas tank, and don’t fill it all the way to the top. According to a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency, garden-equipment users across the nation inadvertently spill about 17 million gallons of fuel each year while filling their outdoor power equipment.

If you’re in the market for a new mower, check into gas-free alternatives, such as reel-type push mowers and battery-powered electric models.

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