How to Level a Mower Deck: Comprehensive DIY Guide

A well-leveled mower deck ensures that your lawn is uniformly cut every time. An unbalanced deck can cause uneven mowing results, extra wear on the blades, and possible damage to the lawn mower.

In this comprehensive DIY guide, you’ll learn how to level your mower deck, the tools you’ll need, and any safety precautions you should take. Additionally, I’ll provide some recommendations and post-leveling maintenance tips to keep your mower running smoothly!

The Importance of Leveling the Mower Deck

A level mower deck is essential to maintain the health and appearance of your lawn. Uneven cutting can lead to:

  • Unsightly patches and uneven growth.
  • Damage to the grassroots, making it susceptible to disease and pests.
  • Difficulty in mowing around obstacles or on slopes.
  • Premature wear on mower parts, such as blades, spindles, and belts.

Leveling your mower deck can prevent these issues and extend the life of your lawn mower.

Tools and Equipment

To level your mower deck, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  • A wrench set (sockets and combination wrenches)
  • A tape measure or ruler
  • A level (for more accurate measurements)
  • A pair of work gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • A clean, flat surface (such as a garage or driveway) to work on
  • A mower deck leveling gauge (optional but highly recommended)

[Note: Please check your mower’s owner’s manual for any specific tools or equipment recommended by the manufacturer]

Safety Precautions

Before starting any maintenance on your lawn mower, always follow these safety precautions:

  1. Turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire to prevent accidental starting.
  2. Engage the parking brake (if applicable).
  3. Wear safety glasses and work gloves to protect yourself from sharp mower blades and potential debris.
  4. Use caution when working near or handling lawn mower blades.

How to Level a Mower Deck: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Set the mower on a level surface

Park your lawn mower on a clean, flat surface, like a garage floor or a paved driveway. Ensure the tires are inflated to the proper pressure, as specified in the owner’s manual.

Step 2: Inspecting the Blades

The next step in the leveling process is to ensure the blades are straight. To do this, position them so their tips point towards the sides of the mower instead of towards the front and back.

Measure each outer tip from the ground up to the blade, then rotate it 180 degrees and measure again. Both measurements should match – if they don’t, your blade is bent and needs to be replaced. Repeat this process for each blade on the deck.

Step 3: Measure the Mower Deck Height

Using a measuring tape or ruler, measure the height of the mower deck from the surface (ground level). Record this number as your baseline measurement.

Step 4: Adjust the mower cutting height

Set your mower’s cutting height to the desired level. Consult your mower’s manual for the correct height settings.

Step 5: Measure and adjust the side-to-side level

Using the tape measure or ruler, measure the distance from the bottom of the deck to the ground on both sides of the mower (left and right). The difference should not exceed 1/8-inch.

If you have a leveling gauge, slide it under the deck from the left and right sides, adjusting the deck height until it touches the gauge.

Use the wrench to loosen the deck hanger bolts or adjust the hanger brackets per your mower’s manufacturer guidelines if any adjustments are needed.

Step 6: Measure and adjust the front-to-back level

Now, measure the distance from the bottom of the deck to the ground at the front and back of the mower. Typically, the front should be slightly lower than the back (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch difference).

Refer to your mower’s owner’s manual for appropriate steps if any front-to-back adjustment is needed. This usually involves loosening the deck adjustment screws and adjusting the deck height until level.

Step 7: Retighten hanger bolts or screws

Once all adjustments have been made, use the wrench to retighten all hanger bolts or screws.

Check for any sharp edges on mower blades, and sharpen if needed.

Post-Leveling Maintenance Tips

Once your mower deck is level, you can help keep it that way with these maintenance tips:

  • Clean the underside of the mower deck regularly to prevent grass build-up and clogging.
  • Check the hanger bolts or screws periodically for signs of wear or looseness.
  • Check and balance the blades periodically to ensure a smooth cut.
  • Replace worn parts (like spindles, belts, and blades) as necessary.

Following these steps will help keep your lawn looking its best while ensuring your mower runs smoothly.

Why is my Lawn Mower Leaving Stripes?

I understand that your lawn mower is leaving stripes on the grass, and I am here to help you identify the potential causes and provide recommendations on achieving a perfectly groomed lawn.

Several factors could contribute to this issue, such as grass type, mowing height, cutting pattern, weather, soil condition, and lawn mower type. Let’s look at each of these factors and the possible solutions.

Grass Type

Different types of grass require different care. Some grass types, like tall Fescue and Bluegrass, are fine with a longer mowing height, while others, like Bermuda and Zoysia, prefer a shorter height. If the grass is too tall or too short, it can make the mower’s blades less effective in cutting the grass evenly, resulting in stripes.

Solution: Identify the grass type you have in your lawn and adjust the mowing height accordingly. You can either consult a local garden expert or research online about the suitable mowing height for your grass type.

Mowing Height

Mowing at the right height can significantly impact the appearance of your lawn. If the mower’s cutting deck is set too high, the grass may fold over, creating stripes. If set too low, it can scalp the grass, resulting in stripes.

Solution: Determine the ideal mowing height for your grass type and adjust the lawn mower’s cutting deck to that height.

Cutting Pattern

If you are mowing in the same direction every time, the grass can start to “remember” that pattern and lay down in the direction you have been cutting, which can cause stripes.

Solution: Alternate your mowing direction every time you mow. For example, mow north to south one week and east to west the next week. This will promote a more even distribution of the grass blades and help prevent striping.


Mowing during wet conditions can cause uneven cutting, striping, and grass clumping.

Solution: Mow your lawn during dry conditions and try not to mow when rain is expected or immediately after rainfall.

Soil Condition

Hard or compacted soil can make it difficult for the mower to cut even.

Solution: Aerate your lawn annually to help loosen and improve the soil structure, allowing the lawn mower to glide smoothly over the surface. You can use a manual aerator or rent a powered aerator to complete this task.

Lawn Mower Type

The type of lawn mower you have can also influence the stripe effect. For instance, a dull or damaged mower blade can result in an uneven cut.

Solution: Make sure you use a sharp mower blade that is well-maintained and appropriate for your grass type. Check your mower blades regularly for damage or signs of wear and replace them if necessary.

Grass Maintenance Techniques

Proper lawn care practices, such as fertilization and watering, can help maintain your lawn’s health and appearance.

Solution: Fertilize your lawn regularly with a balanced fertilizer according to the needs of your grass type. Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, providing about 1 inch per week during the growing season.

Related FAQs

Why is My riding mower leaving the strip in middle?

You’re not alone if you’ve noticed a frustrating strip in the middle of your lawn after mowing with your riding mower. It can be tough to diagnose the issue, but there are a few potential culprits to investigate. One possibility is that your mower blades are not level, leading to uneven cutting.

Another possibility is that your tire pressure is uneven, causing the mower to cut lower in the middle. Or, you may be inadvertently driving over the same path repeatedly, creating an unwanted stripe. Regardless of the cause, with some troubleshooting and adjustments, you can hopefully overcome this common issue and achieve a perfectly manicured lawn.

Is the Honda push mower lawn striper good for my lawn?

If you want a professionally-manicured look for your lawn, consider investing in a Honda push mower lawn striper. These handy attachments attach easily to Honda mowers and help create an even cut by guiding the blades along a straight line. This is especially helpful when cutting complicated patterns or strips, making an evenly groomed result every time.


If your Honda GCV170 mower is giving you trouble, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot and resolve the issue. First, check your mower’s oil level and air filter; these two components are essential for proper engine operation. If either needs replacing or topping up, do that before further troubleshooting.

Final Words

mower leaving grass strips on the lawn can be a hassle to correct. To avoid such issues, make sure you are following proper maintenance and grass care practices. Keep your mower blades sharpened and well-maintained, adjust the cutting deck height based on your grass type, alternate your mowing direction regularly, and aerate your lawn annually. With these tips in mind, you should be able to achieve a beautiful, evenly-cut property.

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