6 Tips for Using a Zero Turn Mower in Sandy Soil

A zero-turn mower is an excellent utility for mowing over any soil type and terrain. Thanks to its zero turning radius, you can easily maneuver the machine to offer professional-quality cuts. But if your lawn is on sandy soil, mowing might be challenging. You will likely experience issues with your mower’s blades and deck.

But how can you mow in sandy soil with your zero-turn mower to achieve the best results? Read on to discover our six tips for operating a zero turn mower in sandy soil.

Choose the Right Blade

Mowing over sandy soil can quickly clog the blade. A clogged blade can become dull and provide uneven cuts. If you don’t want your lawn to look patchy and uneven after mowing, you can opt for the right sand blades for your mower.

These blades have sharp edges that can cut grass evenly in sandy soil. Their superior cutting performance allows for better dust control to limit the amount of dust that might clog the blades. Additionally, sandy blades are self-sharpening, ensuring they remain sharp throughout mowing.

Sand blades for mower come sharpened on both sides. If one sand blade becomes dull, flip it over and continue with the cut. The blades are also easy to sharpen, so you won’t have difficulty getting them sharp when they become dull.

Which are the best blades when using your zero turn mower in sandy soil? To ensure efficiency, use a 21 inch high lift mower blade. High-lift blades offer minimal suction and higher efficiency. Alternatively, you can choose low-lift mower blades as they produce less dust and low drag.

Apply an Undercoat On the Deck

Sandy soil and dust can stick to your zero-turn mower deck and cause rusting. This happens when the airflow from the mower blows the sand and kicks it up to the deck. Unlike clay or silt soils, sandy soil is highly abrasive. If not dealt with on time, the sand can cause rusting and damage the deck.

To extend the lifespan of your lawn mower deck, apply auto-body rubberized undercoating. Ensure the undercoating is thick enough to prevent sand from contacting the steel. A can of the undercoating is enough to cover the entire deck.

Before applying this product:

  • Clean the deck thoroughly to remove any dirt or stuck-on grass. You can also scrape any rust particles using a wire brush.
  • Allow the deck to dry thoroughly on a flat surface.
  • Wear safety glasses and spray the underside of your deck.

While the undercoating seems like a long-lasting solution to prevent corrosion, it takes only a minor breach to make it useless. The secret is constantly cleaning the deck after mowing to ensure no sand particles are left.

Clean Your Mower After Every Mow

Sandy soil can destroy your zero-turn mower if allowed to remain jammed on the machine. Its abrasive nature will damage the deck and blades. When mowing over highly-concentrated sandy soil, you’ll realize the blades get dull sooner than expected. You have to sharpen the blades more often or replace them.

The best way to avoid such issues with your mower is to clean it after every mow. Remove any stuck sandy soil, grass clippings, and dust on the deck and spinning blades.

To make your work easier, clean the mower after you’ve finished mowing. Waiting longer allows the sand particles and grass clippings to dry up and become hard to remove. Use a multi-purpose detergent and your garden hose and spray under the deck. Then, scrub the remaining dirt with a brush and soapy hot water.

Slow the Engine While Mowing

Running the engine at high speed when mowing in sandy soil can blow more sand and get it stuck on the deck and blades. While you want to get the work done in less time, you don’t want to increase the chance of your mower getting damaged.

Sand particles can find their way into the internal parts of your machine. When this happens, cleaning won’t remove all the dirt. These sand particles may eat up the internal components, damaging your zero-turn mower.

To care for your zero-turn mower, slow the engine, especially if your lawn has a lot of sand. Mowing will take some extra time, but you’re sure your machine is safe.

Use the Ideal Tire Pressure

Your zero-turn mower should have the correct tire pressure for a uniform cut and smooth ride. You will face several challenges working with incorrect tire pressure in sandy soil.

Working with excessively inflated tires causes movement issues as the tires don’t get enough traction. You may also notice that the over-inflated tires tend to bounce the deck, causing a rough ride.

On the other hand, under-inflated tires in sandy soil will dig deeper into the ground, resulting in a rough ride and uneven cuts. The secret is ensuring the tire pressure remains at the right level.

The ideal tire pressure for your zero-turn mower front tires is 14 PSI, while the rear tires require 10 PSI. If you stick to this modification, you’ll rarely have issues using a zero turn mower in sandy soil. It’s advisable to check the side of the tires for a PSI rating and stick to that.

Allow the Grass to Grow Longer Before Cutting

Grass growing on sandy lawns takes time to grow deep roots because sandy soil has trouble retaining moisture. Cutting the grass while it’s too short encourages a shallow root system.

Using your zero-turn mower to cut the grass in summer might stress the lawn. This is because the shallow roots won’t access water deeper from the surface.

The trick here is to allow your grass to grow taller before cutting it. This will allow a deep root system to access water deeper in the sandy soil. You’ll also want to set your zero-turn mower blades to offer a cutting height of about 3”. Cutting too short can leave your grass malnourished as it limits the ability to perform photosynthesis.

If you want to encourage a deep root system, especially in summer, provide deep, infrequent watering. This will allow the roots to access water and grow deeper while encouraging the grass to grow tall and healthy.

Final Thoughts

Operating a zero turn mower in sandy soil is very challenging. Unlike other soil types, sandy soil is abrasive and can damage the deck and blades. The soil is also sensitive to the pressure in the tires. The secret is knowing where to adjust before and after mowing. If you follow the above tips, you will always give your sandy lawn professional-quality cuts.