How to store a lawn mower for winter

Lawn mower in storage
(Image credit: Alamy)

So, you’ve decided that now is the right time to stop mowing your lawn during the winter. The next task is to considerately store your lawnmower over the winter months, so that it can be ready to mow beautifully when spring comes around. 

In this step by step guide, I’ll take you through how to store a lawnmower over winter. The process of preparing a lawnmower for winter storage is sometimes referred to as winterization - surely one of the best words in the English language.

Winterizing your mower is good lawn mower maintenance practice; even the best lawn mowers need looking after. 

I spoke to Brian Fullerton, owner of Brian’s Lawn Maintenance, who is just as much of an expert in lawnmower upkeep as he is in lawn care.

Tools & requirements

- Stiff-bristled brush 

- Scraping tool 

- Cloth 

- Fogging oil (optional) 

- Fuel stabilizer (sometimes, for gas mowers) 

- Replacement parts (sometimes, for gas mowers)

- Protective cover (e.g. a tarp, a plastic dust sheet, a purpose-made lawnmower cover)

“Fall is a great time to properly ensure your equipment is winterized, given the several-month gap between uses from then until next spring,” says Brian.

While you should always refer to your owner's manual to check the specific requirements for your equipment, Brian notes that any lawnmower owner can benefit from standard measures like adding fuel stabilizer to the fuel in a gas mower’s tank, using fogging oil to protect components, and adding a protective cover to keep out of the elements. 

“During the mad dash to winter, we often overlook correctly storing our summer equipment, leading to expensive issues in the spring. Take the time to properly store your equipment in the fall, or you'll likely end up paying double (in both time and money!) in the spring,” he adds. 

Headshot: Brian Fullerton of Brian's Lawn Maintenance
Brian Fullerton

Brian Fullerton launched his business, Brian's Lawn Maintenance, out of Michigan in 2007. Besides offering a wide range of lawn care services, Fullerton runs one of the world's most popular YouTube channels, with over 200,000 subscribers at the time of writing.

Quick steps: How to store a lawn mower for winter

  1. Disconnect the battery / drain or stabilize the fuel 
  2. Clean and dry the mower, taking care to remove any grass cuttings from the blade and other components 
  3. Prep the storage space, allowing safe access to other tools that you’ll need to use over winter 
  4. Save space by utilizing any in-built storage features of the mower, e.g. detachable handlebars 
  5. Cover the mower with a protective, waterproof layer  

Starting a lawn mower

(Image credit: Alamy)

Step-by-step guide: How to store a lawn mower for winter

1. Disconnect the battery OR prep the fuel tank

(Image: © Future, Pete Wise)

If your lawn mower is powered by lithium-ion batteries, remove the batteries from the mower prior to over-winter storage. Store the batteries in a sealed box, and keep the box in a dry place where it won’t get extremely cold. These steps help to maintain good battery performance in the long run.  

If you have a gas lawn mower, you’ll need to prep the fuel tank and other components before storing the mower. It’s a good idea to clean (or replace) the spark plug, air filter and fuel filter, and either drain or stabilize any fuel that’s left in the tank. 

2. Clean and dry the mower

(Image: © Future, Pete Wise)

Remove any grass cuttings, mud or other detritus from the inside and outside of the lawn mower, using a tool such as a stiff-bristled brush (like this 8'' brush at Amazon). 

Scrape the mower’s blades, carefully, using a blunt tool, to remove any grass cuttings. And finally, dry the mower thoroughly using a cloth (like these microfiber cloths at Amazon). These steps help to prevent rusting or clogging of the mower’s components.   

3. Prep the storage space

(Image: © Future, Pete Wise)

When choosing a storage space, perhaps in your garage or shed, think about where you will place the lawn mower. You may want to keep it out of the way of other tools that you’re more likely to use during the winter months. The mower should also be kept away from sources of damp and extreme cold or heat. 

Prepare a suitable space for the mower. I placed a wooden pallet on the floor of my shed for this purpose. I stored other lawn tools behind the mower, safe in the knowledge these won’t be needed till spring.

4. Utilize in-built storage features

(Image: © Future, Pete Wise)

Some mowers, such as the Yard-Force YF22-3N1SP are specially designed for vertical storage. If your mower has features that allow it to be stored vertically on the ground, or suspended from a mount on the wall, then you’ll want to make use of them. 

With that said, you shouldn’t just hang any mower by any part, if the mower is not designed to be stored vertically. Not only can this damage the mower, it may also cause fuel leakage in a gas lawn mower.

Some mowers have a detachable handle assembly. If that’s the case with your mower, you might be able to make the mower more convenient to store by removing these components over winter.

And if nothing else, you will hopefully be able to fold down the mower’s handle assembly, at least.

5. Cover the mower

(Image: © Future, Pete Wise)

Cover the mower with a protective layer – even if you’re keeping it indoors – to protect it from damp, dirt and other potential sources of harm. 

I use a simple plastic dust sheet for this purpose. Most importantly, its material is waterproof – and I don’t hate the fact it keeps out creepy-crawlies, too. But a more heavy-duty option is to go for a dedicated lawn mower cover - like the Tough Cover at Amazon.

Cover the mower with an amply-sized cover, so that the edges can be tucked under the mower.

While the mower is in storage, it’s a good idea to check on it, from time-to-time. This will help you to catch potential problems, such as encroaching damp or fuel leakage, before they can harm the mower. 

FAQs: How to store a lawn mower for winter

Can you leave your lawn mower outside in winter?

Ideally, your lawnmower should be stored somewhere secure and weatherproof over the winter – and this almost certainly rules out leaving it outside. However, if you don’t have a suitable indoor space, and if the weather in your area is not especially cold, then you might get by okay storing your lawnmower outdoors under a heavy-duty lawnmower cover.  

Is it better to drain gas or use stabilizer?

There is some debate over the question of whether to drain the gas tank, or add fuel stabilizer instead, before storing a gas lawnmower over winter. The instruction manual that came with your mower should tell you which process is appropriate for your particular model of mower. If you’ve misplaced the booklet, you might be able to find a digital copy via the manufacturer’s website, or at a third-party online archive such as ManualsLib.

Ultimately, either option – draining a lawn mower’s tank of fuel, or keeping it filled with a compatible stabilizer added – is likely to be better for your mower than leaving it filled with fuel which hasn’t been stabilized.  

Where should I leave my lawn mower without a shed/garage?

When it comes to storing a lawn mower over winter, indoor spaces are always best. Potential options include utility rooms, attics and underutilized cupboards. If you don’t have space inside the house, shed or garage, then you could consider storing your mower in a sheltered outdoor space, such as a weatherproof greenhouse or a purpose-built lawn mower store.   

Pete Wise
Freelance Writer

Pete has reviewed hundreds of gardening products for titles including TopTenReviews, Ideal Home and the London Evening Standard, as well as writing articles on diverse topics for other publications such as The Guardian and BBC Good Food. Pete loves spending time in his yard – although, having just read The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, he is regarding his plants with a newfound suspicion.