With a massive array of home and lawn care equipment and gadgets on the market, storage space has become a priority for many homeowners and renters.
Some people are fortunate enough to have a shed or a large garage with space to house lawn equipment and have organized that space to move a mower in and out easily. However, many folks don’t have the extra space for a mower and must store it outside.
If you’re in a position that requires you to store your lawn mower outside, there is some preparation involved before you should leave the equipment exposed to the elements.
To help you store your lawn mower outside without sustaining damage, I’ve compiled 10 tips from lawn equipment experts.
1. Protect Your Mower from the Elements
When storing a lawn mower outside, it is essential that you prevent water or excessive moisture from getting into the motor.
No matter what type of lawn mower you have—gas, electric corded, electric with battery, push reel mower—water will damage the mechanical parts of the mower, resulting in a reduction in its life or malfunctioning.
Additionally, moisture that collects on the blades will cause them to rust and become dull, requiring more frequent sharpening or maintenance. Either of these will end up costing money to remedy.
Rain and snow are the most obvious culprit when it comes to moisture harming your lawn mower.
Most modern mowers are designed to withstand light exposure to rain, but extended exposure or heavy rain could cause rust and other damage to the inner workings of the motor.
If water enters the gas tank and mixes with the fuel, it will cause the mower to malfunction.
Extreme temperature changes can also cause condensation inside the mower’s components and on the blades, creating a moisture problem and potential premature rust for a lawn mower.
Are Some Lawn Mowers Waterproof?
There is not a lawn mower on the market that is waterproof.
While most contemporary models are built to withstand light, brief rain, they cannot tolerate large amounts of water. Lawn mower models proclaiming to be waterproof are only somewhat water-resistant.
Since lawn mowers can sustain damage in the elements, you should store them inside a garage or shed if you can.
However, if you can’t do this, there are some options for storing it outside in a way that can help you avoid damage. (Discussed throughout the remainder of this article.)
2. Cover Your Lawn Mower with a Tarp
One way to protect your lawn mower when storing it outside is with a heavy-duty tarp that can protect it from the rain and provide a little shade from extreme sunlight and heat.
Some lawn mower manufacturers and sellers include a tarp with the purchase of the mower. If your mower did not include a tarp, there are many available on Amazon.
Below are some lawn mower covers (made for either push mowers to riding mowers) that have been rated highly by Amazon customers:
- Kayme Push Lawn Mower Cover
- Pyle Universal Lawn Mower Cover
- Yinuoday Lawn Mower Cover
- ZXYMUU Lawn Mower Cover
- Szblnsm Riding Lawn Mower Cover
- Himal Lawn Mower Cover
As you can see above, lawn mower tarps or covers come with a wide variety of features and prices.
Some are stronger and thicker than others and more resistant to rain, sunk leaves, pine sap, pollen, dust, and wind.
Some are even transparent, allowing you to continually get a visual check of your mower from time to time.
If you opt for using a cover or tarp to protect your mower from the outside elements, it’s essential to frequently check it to ensure there are no holes or tears, and that it is properly covering your mower.
Also, you should check under the cover to make sure your mower has remained dry.
3. When Using a Tarp to Cover a Mower, Consider Elevating
Covering your lawn mower will protect it from rain, snow, leaves, and other things that could drop down, but as we mentioned earlier, natural changes of temperature can create condensation and moisture that could build up inside your mower and cause damage.
To avoid this, utilize a platform or raised surface that allows air to circulate underneath your lawn mower. This way, if moisture does accumulate, it will have a chance to dry, and you might be able to avoid rust.
You can DIY a small platform or lift to get your lawn mower up off the ground for storage.
Alternatively, you could invest in a Ceiling Storage Rack Lift, which safely holds 50 pounds, and discover that you can store your lawn mower in the garage after all!
4. Store Your Lawn Mower in a Covered Area
Even if you’re using a cover or tarp to cover your mower, it is optimal to store it in a spot that is under a structural cover, such as an awning for storage.
It should also be up against a structure or building like your house or shed. This will provide another form of protection to avoid shortening the life of your equipment due to rust.
5. Store Your Mower in a Storage Container
If you have some space on your patio, in your yard, or next to your house, consider purchasing a small storage space for the mower.
This is the next best thing to store your equipment outdoors since it provides the air-tight, waterproof protection that is optimal for extending the life of your mower without building an actual shed or structure on your property.
Below are some options we found on Amazon:
Kinying Horizontal Outdoor Storage Shed
This small storage shed is 50 x 29.1 x 41 inches and is made of environmentally friendly material. It can be assembled in about an hour; there is even a video on Amazon’s page to help you out with this. It works best for small mowers or models with detachable handles.
Rubbermaid Vertical Storage Shed
A trusted name in storage, Rubbermaid’s vertical storage shed is like a tall cabinet that includes an impact-resistant floor. It has 18 cubic feet of storage capacity but takes up a minimal footprint at only 26.4 x 20.4. A perfect choice for storing your lawn mower outside, it is leak resistant and easy to assemble.
Rubbermaid 5×6 Feet Storage Shed
For a more significant investment, you can store your lawn mower, along with other lawn and gardening equipment in a storage shed. It has an extra deep fit for items like larger lawn mowers or things that are more difficult to store.
You can also separately order pegboards and shelves to organize your tools and equipment. It takes two people to assemble and is more expensive, but with excellent protection from the elements and lockable doors, it would offer great peace of mind that your lawn mower is safe from the elements as well as potential theft.
LIFETIME 60326 Vertical Storage Shed
This outdoor storage option is large enough to store a push mower up to 24 inches in width. It also has removable shelves if you’d like to store other lawn equipment. You can secure your outdoor equipment using the padlock loops on the door using your own padlock. Most users report that it’s easy to assemble.
Keep in mind, however, that even if you store your mower in a small storage solution like those mentioned above, it will still be exposed to the outside temperatures, so you’ll still need to follow the steps mentioned here to winterize it.
Can You Store a Lawn Mower Vertically?
Note: Some lawn mowers are designed for vertical or compact storage, which could allow you to store the mower upright against a shed or building. Click this link to view some options.
However, unless your specific lawn mower’s manufacturer indicates the possibility of vertical storage, you shouldn’t try it.
6. Winterize Your Mower Before Winter Storage
If you live in an area where your grass goes dormant for the winter, and you’re storing your mower for the season, it’s essential to winterize it before putting it away. This will lengthen the life of your mower.
How to Winterize Your Mower
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to prepare your mower for winter storage:
Winterizing a Gas-Powered Mower
- Add a fuel stabilizing agent to the fuel tank.
- Start the engine and let it continue running for about 10 minutes to make sure the stabilizer infiltrates the engine.
- Then empty the fuel tank and start the mower again, letting the engine run until the fuel is depleted.
- Remove the battery and bring it indoors for the winter.
- Remove the spark plug and oil the cylinder, making sure the oil is evenly distributed. Replace the old spark plug with a new one.
- Replace or clean the air filter according to the owner’s manual.
- Replace or clean the fuel filter according to the owner’s manual.
Winterizing a Corded Electric Mower
- Unplug the cord from the power source and the mower.
- Wrap the cord carefully, avoiding tangles or knots.
- Store the cord in a dry place, safe from critters who might chew it over the winter.
Winterizing an Electric Mower with Battery Charger
- Remove the battery (or batteries—some have 2) from the mower and wipe it down with a dry cloth.
- Place the battery on the charging unit to fully charge for next season. Make sure you store them in a safe, dry place, away from gas cans, water heaters, or a furnace.
For All Lawn Mowers
In the garage, driveway, or grass, tilt the mower on its side and clean it thoroughly to remove dirt, grass clippings, and any other residue accumulated over the mowing season.
Most of the time, you can use the “full spray” function of a regular garden hose, but if you’ve got a lot of grime, use some soapy water. If there is debris in the blades, use a stick or another tool to remove it; do not use your hands.
To complete the winterizing process, make sure you also follow these steps, regardless of the type of mower you own:
- Wipe down the engine with a clean, dry cloth, and dry off the entire deck before storing it.
- Tighten any loose bolts, screws, or fastenings.
- Lubricate any moving parts, as directed in the owner’s manual.
- Double-check your lawn mower’s manual to ensure you’ve taken care of all the recommended steps. If you have misplaced the paper manual or it’s become damaged, you should be able to find it online. (Warning: some dealers will try to sell you a copy of the manual. Check online before spending money needlessly.)
- Remove the blades for sharpening; this should be done once a year. If some blades are bent, chipped, or cracked, replace them. (Caution: Remove the spark plug before touching or examining the blades to prevent accidental starting!)
7. Use Deterrents for Rodents & Pests
Since your mower will be living outside, it might provide the perfect environment for mice and other rodents. They can eat through the wiring of your lawn mower, causing significant damage.
It’s essential to protect your equipment by placing your favorite choice of a pest deterrent nearby.
There are humane options on the market, and of course, old fashioned mouse traps. If your mower is being put away for the season, you will need to check on the deterrent every once in a while to ensure it is still effective.
8. Protect Your Mower from Theft
Another issue you must be concerned with when storing your lawn mower, or anything of value, outside is theft.
If you choose to use a storage container or small storage shed, you can easily place a padlock on the door to make it difficult for would-be thieves.
However, if you’re storing your lawn mower outside using a tarp or cover, you’ll need to be more creative to deter theft.
Consider using a bicycle or rope-like lock with a combination and attaching your mower to an immovable outdoor structure such as an HVAC unit, architectural pillar, or post.
9. Consider Geography & Climate Factors
Your geographical location and its related climate are other factors that can directly affect the exposure risks when storing a lawn mower.
In the mid-west USA, for example, people experience four seasons, complete with extreme, triple-digit heat in the summer, and sub-zero temps in the winter, along with rain, snow, and the occasional tornado.
As we previously mentioned, frequent shifts in temperature and extreme weather puts lawn mowers stored outdoors in danger of getting wet and developing condensation, endangering the motor due to resulting rust build-up.
In some areas, the grass goes dormant, and mowers are usually stored several months for the winter. Folks residing in these areas who need to store lawn mowers outside are better off opting for a storage container or shed as a method of storage.
In areas like the Pacific Northwest, which receives lots of rain, grass typically grows all year round, so mowers are only stored for a few days. While the equipment is exposed to more moisture overall, which requires more dutiful maintenance, the mower is run more often, which allows the moisture to evaporate, keeping it safe from potential rust.
Those who live in these areas can more easily store their mower outside with a tarp or cover year-round, as long as there’s little danger of theft.
In areas with dryer climates, the lack of moisture in the air, and more constant temperatures significantly reduce the potential of condensation on the inside of a mower. People living in desert-like terrain can also safely store mowers outdoors with a tarp or cover without risking damage to the motor.
10. Keep in Mind Considerations for Push Reel Mowers
Because push reel mowers, in particular, have exposed, scissor-like blades, it’s vital that they are covered to prevent damage-causing moisture. The best option is to store it in a shed or storage container with a dry floor. By storing it with only a cover or tarp, you risk condensation accumulation.
Additionally, with very sharp exposed blades that could injure small children or pets, push reel mowers should be stored indoors as a safety precaution.
All in all, when it comes to storing a lawn more outside, you have to remember that it’s a significant piece of equipment that you’re exposing to the elements, rodents and pests that could get under/into the mower, and people that could potentially steal it.
It’s worth considering all your storage options and picking one that best suits your mower, your home, and your climate.
However, if you’re storing your mower for the winter or more than a few days, it’s not something that you can just leave unchecked. Occasionally, you’ll need to be sure that your storage choice is protecting your mower adequately so that moisture is not accumulating, vermin haven’t made a home inside, and no one has tampered with your locking system.
Finally, always follow the advice of your lawn mower’s manufacturer when storing your mower, or preparing it for long-term inactivity.