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Climate change causes long dry summers leaving grass brown and ground rock hard
After weeks with little rain the grass is dry and looks dead

There’s nothing British people enjoy more than talking about the weather, you could say it’s a national obsession. We’ve certainly had lots to discuss recently. Over the last eight years of running our business, Stuart and I have noticed how the traditional weather patterns appear to have changed quite dramatically. The April showers of our childhoods seem to have moved to May. This year was very noticeable for rain-sun-rain-sun even into early June, remember the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend? I wonder if you’ve noticed this too and how many discussions have taken place about whether it’s related to climate change or is it just weather? What can we expect weather-wise this Autumn?

There can be no doubt that the grass cutting season has extended, with many of our customers cutting their grass regularly well into November and starting again as early as February. The temperature in the winter hasn’t been as cold as in years gone by. Snow is a rarity these days in the East of England (will I be proven wrong this year?) As long as the ground isn’t too wet, the grass will keep growing above 5 degrees C and mowing continues. Stuart once even tested a mower on Christmas Eve. Whatever the time of year, the Fenland Spirit Services team are on hand to help your mower run smoothly. To arrange a service contact us.

Climate change and how to minimise fire risks when mowing your lawn

The long weeks of minimal rainfall, culminating in the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK of 40.3 degrees in Lincolnshire on Tuesday 19th July, certainly seems to indicate that climate change has well and truly caught up with us and is having a serious impact.

Do you drive around East Anglia wondering at how dry everywhere has become, concerned about the risk of fire in these tinder dry places? I know I do. Indeed the number of blazes firefighters have had to deal with has risen to unprecedented levels with the London Fire Brigade reporting more than 800 open land fires and 25 barbeque fires in the six weeks to June 2022.

When the country is experiencing long periods of hot dry weather (which has been known as late as September) advice from the fire brigade is to be very careful. Unattended barbeques, fires and cigarette ends could inadvertently ignite the already dry grass leading to potentially fatal blazes. The likelihood of wildfires occurring may increase between 10%-50% by the 2080s. This is a result of projected warmer, drier conditions due to climate change in spring and summer becoming more frequent.

Dry grass & fuel can cause fire

The chance of a fire caused by your lawnmower is unlikely but by following a few simple rules you can minimise the risk. You should clean out under the deck and remove grass build up around the engine, exhaust and cooling fins. Dry debris plus fuel and a spark is a recipe for potential disaster. Avoid refuelling the mower when the engine is hot, check it and fill up before you start mowing. If you run out of fuel part way through grass cutting, especially when it’s very dry, let the mower cool down first. Petrol is highly flammable and one little spillage could cause a fire hazard, especially if you refuel on your lawn.

Take a break while your mower cools down. When you do refuel, do so on a hard flat surface and wipe up any spills. Keep your fuel can in the shed or garage away from the mower to minimise the chance of fire spreading especially in dry and hot weather conditions. Try mowing when it’s cooler, it’s better for your health not to be out in the hottest part of the day.

Check there are no rocks in your grass, the blade of your lawnmower rotates at a very high speed. If it strikes against something solid, it could cause a spark and ignite dried grass and go up like a bonfire. in addition the damage you will do to your blade and the chance of bending the crank would mean game over for the engine and therefore your mower. If you’ve hit something with your walk behind lawnmower, please get in touch with us on 0775 383 6499, we can check the crank for you and advise as required.

How maintenance can help

dry grass around the engine causes overheating and can be dangerous
Mower engine clogged up with grass

Routine maintenance plays a super important part in avoiding problems with your mower, including the possibility of fire. When you skip this maintenance, your mower’s engine must work harder to compensate and this means it runs hotter.

Two things to take note of in particular are the air filter and the oil level. Over time air filters get blocked up with dirt and grime and need cleaning or replacing. When an air filter is clogged, less air reaches the engine and can affects the engine’s performance. We know oil lubricates the internal engine components, insufficient oil causes parts to run dry and eventually the engine will seize. Oil also helps to cool the engine by dissipating the heat created by combustion. A low oil level means the engine will run hotter so keep an eye on it, especially in warm weather.

The fins, fan and shroud on your mower engine are there to reduce the temperature of the engine assembly by passing air over the surface therefore cooling the engine. When these are blocked up by dry grass and chaff, they are unable to do their job resulting in overheating, poor operation and potential fire risk. We’ve taken the cover off when servicing many a mower to find it looks like something is living in there. Looking similar to a bird’s nest on top of the cooling fins, clearly a fire hazard and needs removing immediately.

It’s not a good idea to leave your petrol cans in direct sunlight and be careful not to over fuel. The tank on a walk behind lawnmower is smaller than you think. Please look out for leaking fuel, a potential fire risk as fuel is flammable. You can be identify this by staining on the body of the mower, deteriorating the paintwork. When you bring your mower to us, we check and address all of these elements as part of a service. We aim to reduce the risk of potential issues which emphasises the importance of regular servicing. If you’d like to book your mower in for an end of season service, please get in touch.

The environment and saving water

As I write, hosepipe bans are in force in parts of the UK, potentially led by climate change. Grass cannot live without water. The long dry spells we’ve experienced this year cause the grass to turn straw-coloured and appear to die. Don’t worry though, in most cases it will revive when it rains again. Ironically, the weeds are often far more drought resistant than the grass which means they continue to grow. If you’re still mowing your lawn, you’re probably just cutting the weeds.

Hosepipe bans are often brought in just as the grass needs that extra bit of help. If you’re able to water it’s advisable to do so before the grass turns yellow. Lawns are usually the thirstiest part of a garden. A sprinkler can use as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day. When watering your garden, infrequent soaks are more effective than frequent sprinkling as it encourages roots to search for water deeper in the ground. You should soak the ground to a depth of at least 4 inches (100mm). It is best to do this early in the morning or late in the evening when evaporation is at a minimum. In normally dry conditions once per week should be sufficient, increasing to twice a week during longer hotter weather.

Aerating the lawn with a fork can help the water to get down to the roots. If you’re planning new turf in your garden, September is a good time but remember to keep it well watered. To conserve fresh water many people collect rainwater, as over the year thousands of litres fall on the average UK roof. Collecting this water and using it on your garden is better for your lawn and plants. You can also use this water to wash cars and windows. For more tips on saving water see this advice from Anglian Water. We at Fenland Spirit Services are known for our green ideals, our entire business is built on recycling and repairing lawn mowers.

Use a fork to aerate your lawn to get water to the roots. Saving water i important during climate change
Aerating the lawn helps water get to the roots

We’re keen to share our knowledge about garden equipment and keeping your lawn in top condition despite climate change. Call us on 0775 383 6499 or send an email to fenlandspiritservices@gmail.com to book in your machinery and pick our brains for grass related advice. We’re always happy to help.