Self-propelling and riding lawn mowers make the task of mowing the lawn much simpler. While these lawnmowers are convenient to use their spinning tires and heavier weight is harsh on your lawn especially if you use a riding mower. One of the most common impacts of lawnmowers on your lawn is the unwanted tire tracks they leave on your lawn’s grass. But luckily with some care and proper technique you can prevent tire tracks from appearing on your lawn.
You can follow these guidelines to prevent tire tracks while mowing your lawn:
- Try not to mow the lawn after a rain or when the lawn is wet
- Prevent lawnmower’s tires from spinning in a place for a long period of time
- Don’t overinflate the tires of your riding lawnmower
- Make sure you change your mowing pattern regularly avoid moving in the same pattern over and over again
- Keep the grass well-watered because dry grass can’t recover after tires pass over it
- Avoid using very aggressive tire treads for your lawnmower
Tire tracks or ruts not only look bad on your lawn but it is also difficult to regrow grass in the area of the lawn that is affected by tire tracks. Therefore it is important to take some precautions to avoid tire tracks from appearing and in this article, we are going to explain in detail how you can avoid tire tracks that come from mowing the lawn and how you can fix tire marks and ruts if your lawn already has them so read on.
Preventing tire tracks from a lawnmower
Prevention is always the best cure and by adopting some best practices for lawn mowing you can make sure that your lawn stays tire track free. It is important to mention that tire tracks don’t just look bad but they can affect the overall health of grass and soil in your lawn. Healthy soil has air in it that the roots of grass need to grow. But pressure from the tires of a heavy mower can cause the soil to become compacted together and there is no space left for air in soil that has been compacted. As a result, the roots of grass can’t get the required air they need and the soil also becomes hard causing the grass in the compacted area to die out and leave patches on the lawn. As if that isn’t bad enough, soil compacted by lawnmower tires can’t efficiently absorb water either because of being too dense and puddles form in the sections damaged by tires since water doesn’t get absorbed into the soil. That is why it is important to take these preventative measures so you can stop leaving tire marks on your lawn and prevent compacting the soil:
Don’t mow your lawn when it is wet:
Mowing a lawn when it is wet from either rain or after watering the grass is probably the most common reason people get tire tracks in their lawn. It is nearly impossible to use a lawnmower on wet soil and not get tire marks at the same time since wet soil is loose and it doesn’t have the same ability to support the weight of your lawnmower that dry soil has. In fact, it is advised that you shouldn’t even walk around a lot in your lawn when it is wet because even an activity as simple as walking can cause the wet soil to sink. So if you run a lawnmower on wet soil the soil is going to sink and after the soil dries it will solidify in this sunken state and tire tracks from the mower will appear very visible. Not to mention wet grass won’t stay in an upright position making it difficult to cut it and your lawnmower won’t be able to cut wet grass properly anyway, therefore, it is best to wait till the lawn is properly dried out before mowing it.
Once you notice the soil has dried up to the point where it doesn’t feel loose to touch, your lawn has dried up enough to use a lawnmower.
Prevent tires of a lawnmower from spinning in a place:
If your lawnmower is struggling to move forward it will put a lot of strain on the soil and can severely damage the grass because spinning tires can cause the grass to get uprooted if you continue spinning your lawnmower’s tires in the same place. Tire spinning in place is a common problem with riding lawnmowers because they are heavy machines and unlike push mowers, you can’t help them move forward by pushing them if the surface of the lawn is steep.
Your riding lawnmower might be spinning out due to following reasons:
- The grass is wet in the area where the mower’s tires are spinning because wet grass is slippery.
- Your lawn is located on a steep hill that makes it difficult for the mower to move uphill causing it to spin its tires.
- Your lawnmower’s tires are bald and you can’t get any traction from them.
- You are using the wrong gears when using the riding lawnmower
You can avoid spinning out your lawnmower’s tires if you keep an eye on the amount of tread you have on the tires, if the tires seem bald you should put a new set of tires on. Also, it is a good idea to avoid taking very sharp turns when mowing uphill since it takes a lot more power to make a sharp turn when climbing and you can end up spinning your lawnmower’s tires. You can also use shorter gears since shorter gears are designed to provide more torque so you don’t get stuck and end up spinning the tires.
Don’t overinflate the tires of your lawnmower
Riding lawnmowers come with tires that require you to put air in them. It is very important to make sure that you put the recommended amount of air in your mower’s tires and avoid overinflating them. The tread pattern of an overly inflated tire bulges outwards from the middle of the tread and less surface area of the tire comes in contact with the soil putting all the weight of the mower on a narrow surface. This causes the tire to dig into the soil and leave tire marks due to all the weight being focused on a narrow tire surface.
The best way to avoid over-inflating your mower’s tires is by inflating the tires of your mower to the pressure recommended in your mower’s user manual. But as a general rule of thumb, you should keep your riding mower’s tire pressure at 10 psi for rear tires and 14 psi for the front tires.
Don’t mow in the same pattern over and over again
Mowing the lawn in the same pattern every time is a recipe for tire tracks on your lawn because your lawnmower’s tires keep passing over the same area over and over again causing the grass in that pattern to grow slower. The result is a visible tire mark that is caused by mowing the lawn in the same pattern every time.
Preventing this problem is as simple as switching up the pattern in which you mow your lawn after regular intervals. Another plus of changing up your mowing pattern is that you get designs on your lawn that make your lawn look like a super bowl stadium.
You can even mow the lawn from one corner to the other in order to switch up the mowing pattern. The point is that your tires shouldn’t pass the same area over and over again, you can make out multiple mowing patterns according to the shape of your lawn and use these patterns alternatively to keep your lawn rut free.
Water your lawn regularly to prevent the grass from drying up
Grass in your lawn requires regular watering to stay healthy and to recover after being pressed down by heavy lawnmowers. If grass blades don’t have enough water retained inside them they will get soft and tender before eventually becoming dry. And when you mow a lawn that is not been watered regularly, the grass will not stand back up in the areas that were pressed down by tires of the mower and visible tire marks will start to appear on your lawn.
To keep your lawn grass healthy, well hydrated and proper, watering techniques will also encourage the grass to develop deeper roots. Ideally, you should water your lawn twice a week in summers to prevent the grass from getting dry. Early morning is a good time to water your lawn because the sunshine during the day will allow the lawn to dry out the excess water and you won’t have to deal with wet soil when mowing.
Don’t put tires with aggressive treads on your lawnmower
Just like a bald tire is not good for your lawnmower so is a tire with a very aggressive tread pattern. Remember that you are going to be using the mower on soil and aggressive tire tread can dig into the soil and uproot the grass. There is a reason why lawnmowers don’t come with aggressive tread tires from the factory. Of course, a tire with aggressive tread patterns is doing to give you better traction but to get more traction these bigger treads sink deeper into the soil and damage more grass leaving damage behind them in the form of tire tracks all over your lawn.
A simple solution for this problem is that whenever you replace your lawnmower’s tires get the tire with a pattern similar to the one the tires that came installed from the factory.
How to fix tire tracks or ruts caused by lawnmower
Everyone who maintains a lawn has to repair the damage from tire tracks at least once in their lifetime. Repairing tire tracks is important because ruts can invite weed and other unwanted plants to grow in the area where the grass is absent from due to tire damage. The tools you will need to fix a tire track in your lawn are:
- Spading fork
You can follow these steps to fix a tire track in your lawn
- Step 1. The soil in the area damaged by tires gets hard due to tires constantly passing over it, therefore, it is important to loosen it up so that it can retain air and other nutrients in it. Use the edger to cut out the sod safely and then loosen up the soil around the tire marks using a spading fork make sure to dig at least 4 inches deep and turn the soil onto itself. Repeat this process on the entire length of the tire mark. If the sod is healthy then put it aside because you can replant it after repairing the rut.
- Step 2. Once the soil is loosened up you can add new soil to the area that was damaged to promote the growth of new grass. Get enough topsoil to fit the area you are repairing, remember that you have to add an extra layer of topsoil to the repaired area so that the repaired portion is higher than the surrounding soil. Use a blend of soil, compost, and sand in equal proportions to provide enough nutrients for the grass to grow back properly.
- Step 3. You can then get new sod to place on the top of the repaired area or you can plant grass seeds in the area to grow the grass back again. Or if the sod you removed before loosening the soil wasn’t damaged you can replant it in the new topsoil. The reason it is best to replant the old sod is that it will keep the lawn looking even after the repair since the color and texture will be the same as the surrounding grass.
The repaired area takes some time to get leveled out with its surrounding, you will have to pay extra attention when mowing it.
When should you repair the lawn?
Most people think that they should wait until spring to repair the damage and plant new grass. But the new grass planted in spring will not get enough time to establish itself before the summer heat arrives and if the grass is weak it will dry out during the summer. So it is best to repair your lawn in autumn because the grass doesn’t have to compete against weed in order to grow in the autumn season while during summer and spring weed seeds also start germinating causing the competition for the grass to increase.
During autumn there is plenty of moisture and rain showers to allow new grass to grow and low temperatures also prevent the new grass from drying up.
How to care for newly planted grass?
Watering is the most important aspect of new grass care and how well you water the new grass determines how healthy and quickly it grows. If you have planted seeds it is recommended to water them sparingly to prevent them from being washed away. Sprinkle water on the freshly planted seeds and grass on a hot day to prevent them from getting dried up.
After you repair your lawn you have to take extra care of the newly planted grass to allow it to grow properly. Don’t mow the fresh grass until it has reached at least 4 inches in length because before the new grass reaches this length it is going to be very tender and can even get uprooted by the lawnmower. For cutting new grass make sure that the blade of your lawnmower is sharp and set the height of the blade to cut the new grass a bit higher.
Make sure to watch out for weed growth around the newly planted grass and if you find any weed remove it immediately because it can use up the nutrients from the soil and starve the grass. And just like weed, bugs can find their way into fresh grass as well and they can eat away on it, therefore, you would want to use insect control products to keep harmful bugs away from the grass in the freshly repaired patch.
Mowing the grass is an essential part of lawn maintenance but as lawnmowers become heavier it is critical to be cautious when using a mower to mow your lawn to prevent damaging the soil and grass in the process. While it is easy to fix the damage caused by tires of the mower it is best to prevent the damage from being caused in the first place. Because repairing the damage just adds another step in your lawn care routine and you have to wait for the repaired sections to recover, it is therefore, best to prevent tire damage in the first place by using the methods we explained above. We hope this article is going to help you maintain a healthier and rut free lawn.