Top 10 Lawn Mower Safety Tips

Before you start cutting the grass, be sure you brush up on these lawn mower safety tips.

1 / 10


Wear the Proper Footwear

Sandals and summer go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but not when you’re running a push mower.

It’s true that a spinning blade can slash through a leather shoe or boot too, but the main reason sandals are a poor choice is that they’re less stable and don’t offer much traction. A trip, slip or stumble could cause you to come in contact with moving or hot parts on the mower. Sandals are a hazard with riding mowers too; they increase the odds of pinching or stubbing a toe when mounting lawn tractors or zero-turn mowers.

2 / 10

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Be Mindful of Children

Driving or pushing a mower around the yard is not the place for young children to show their parents how well they can “help.” Keep toddlers inside when mowing, and don’t let kids under 12 operate a push mower or kids under 16 run a rider. And avoid the temptation of giving your grandson a spin around the yard—lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers are designed for one person.

3 / 10

vincent noel/Shutterstock

Pick Up Rocks, Sticks and Other Debris

If you prefer non-shattered windows on your home or the neighbor’s car, then pick up stones, branches, toys, sprinklers and other items before you start mowing. It’s one of the most basic safety tips for yard equipment. If you do miss something and notice it while you’re mowing, don’t wait until you mow over to the spot. Stop the mower and pick it up right away so you don’t forget about it.

4 / 10

crushed concrete gravel base
Krashenitsa Dmitrii/Shutterstock

Don’t mow gravel

Never cross over a gravel path or driveway with the blades engaged. And if you live on a gravel road, mow grass near gravel only when there are no cars or pedestrians passing by. Launching rocks at your neighbors is not a good way to build relationships.

5 / 10

Woman Mowing Grass With Lawn Mower On Sunny Day
Westend61/Getty Images

Don’t Pull the Lawn Mower Backward

Whenever possible, try not to pull a lawn mower toward you. If you slip, you could end up pulling the mower right on top of you. This is a real hazard, and you could lose a foot, or worse.

6 / 10

lawn tractor
Family Handyman

Don’t Leave the Keys in Your Mower

It seems obvious, but leaving the keys in your lawn mower, if it has a key start, is asking for trouble. For one, what kid doesn’t love to sit on a mower and pretend they’re driving it, but if you leave the key in there, they might actually do just that.

A lawn mower sitting in the driveway with the key in the ignition is also an attractive target for thieves.

7 / 10

Lawn Mower Spark Plug Gettyimages 109727606
Fertnig/Getty Images

Remove the Spark Plug Before Working on the Blade

It sounds goofy, but always remove the lawn mower spark plug when working on the blade. If the piston happens to be at the top of the compression stroke, a little bump to the blade might force the piston over the “hump” and into the power stroke. This could cause the blade to lurch forward, possibly whacking your hand in the process!

8 / 10

A man mowing the lawn in his yard with a Honda HRX76 lawn mower.
SOPA Images/Getty Images

Mind the Hills

Most riding lawn mowers are more likely to tip over sideways than forward or back, so mow up and down the hill. Mow hills side to side with push mowers. That way, if you do slip, you won’t fall toward the mower or have the mower roll back at you. Also, mowing wet grass on hills increases your chance of having an accident no matter which type of machine you’re using.

9 / 10

ear plugs
Photo: PreechaB/Shutterstock

Wear Eye and Hearing Protection

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listening to sounds over 85 decibels for extended time periods can cause hearing damage. Lawn mowers can produce more than 100 decibels—wear hearing protection.

Eye protection is important too. It can help prevent dust and debris from flying into your eyes.

10 / 10

anonymous person pushing a lawnmower to mulch the fallen leaves in their yard
TrongNguyen/Getty Images

Keep clear of moving blades

If the lawn mower blades are spinning, don’t unclog the chute, adjust the wheel height, inspect the blades or do anything that would bring your appendages in harm’s way. The reasons are pretty obvious. And never disable the kill switch or tie down the safety lever.

Ryan Van Bibber
Ryan Van Bibber is a deputy editor at Family Handyman. He's been DIY'ing since he was a kid. A resident of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he is especially proud of his aptitude with a swamp cooler, repairing stucco and engineering makeshift shade. As a career journalist, Ryan covered the NFL for more than a decade, worked as a senior editor at Outside as well as writing and editing buying guides and product reviews for several national publications. When he’s not working, you can find him on the trails with his family and two very good dogs.