How to Pack and Move a Lawn Mower (or Tractor)

Admit it.You’ve been dreaming about that shiny John Deere zero-turn mower in the showroom window.

It’s not cheap, but it’d make your ratty lawn look like the fourth fairway at Pebble Beach.

That said, on moving day it could be a huge hassle.

Moving a small push mower to a new home across town can be easy, but lawn and garden tractors are more challenging.

If you plan to do it yourself you’ll need a suitable moving truck or trailer, heavy-duty ramps, extra help and a little know-how.

As they say… What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, everything if you’re not careful.

This is why we always recommend hiring a professional mover.

  • Hire Professional Movers: Don’t risk injury by moving heavy items yourself. Professional movers know what they’re doing and can save you the chance of hurting yourself and a loved one.
  • How much will your move cost?: This cost calculator will provide a free moving quote and calculation of what your move should cost. Just plug in your move dates, the size of your move, where you’re moving to/from, and let the calculator do the rest.
  • Consider moving containers: Need a more budget-friendly option? With these companies, you load, and they drive! These are the best moving container companies.

How to safely move a lawn mower

Moving can be difficult, stressful and dangerous.

Twisted ankles, banged shins and smashed fingers are common when moving heavy items.

Throw electric and gasoline-powered machines with spinning steel blades into the mix and things can get downright deadly.

Hence, the first thing you’ll need to do is – DISCONNECT BATTERIES AND/OR SPARK PLUG WIRES

Even after draining gasoline from a mower there will be vapors left in the gas tank and lines.

One little spark at the worst possible moment, and the engine could turn over.

And you guessed it, that rotating blade could easily remove some very important body parts.

Thankfully, this awful scenario is 100% avoidable by removing spark plug wires and battery cables.

These wires are usually clearly visible on small motors.

If you’re not sure where/what they are, consult your owner’s manual.

Better yet, for safety and peace of mind call a professional to service and move your mower for you.

If you can disconnect the battery and/or spark plug wires yourself –

  • Cover them with non conductive material like rubber or electrical tape
  • Secure them away from their contact points with zip ties

How to Prepare a Lawn Mower for Moving

Here’s the scenario –

Your new home is just a few miles away.

You have a small 5-horsepower push mower.

Chances are you can move it in the trunk of your car or the bed of your pickup truck.

You’ll need a helper to lift it, but first you’ll need to –

  • Disconnect the spark plug wire
  • Make sure the oil drain plug is screwed in tightly

If you’d rather not drain the gas from the tank, you can cover the cap with a plastic bag and/or rag and secure them with rubber bands.

This will prevent gas from sloshing out during transit.

Remember, vented gas caps have holes in them to allow vapors to escape to relieve pressure.

Even on short trips these noxious gas fumes can permeate your car’s interior.

To prevent this –

  • Make sure the mower is level and situated crosswise (perpendicular to the car or truck)
  • Keep windows open
  • Drive slowly
  • Avoid potholes and speed bumps whenever possible

1. Drain all liquids from the lawn mower

Draining your lawn mower’s oil and gas is necessary when –

  • Moving long distance
  • Hiring professional movers
  • Using rented equipment

Remember – professional movers won’t service your mower for you, and they won’t move it if the fluids haven’t been drained.

They’ll expect you to have these items taken care of before they arrive.

To drain your mower’s oil –

  • Lift and set it on wood, cinder blocks or saw horses (you’ll need a helper)
  • Make sure it’s stable and high enough for you to work underneath it
  • Place an appropriate container under the drain to collect the oil
  • Slowly unscrew the plug with a wrench or pliers

Gas may be siphoned from the tank without removing it.

Once it’s empty, leave the cap off and put the mower in a well ventilated area to help the fumes evaporate.

Gas and oil are hazardous materials, so you’ll need to check local regulations and dispose of or recycle them accordingly.

Options include – 

  • Calling your local refuse hauling company and asking for suggestions
  • Calling the county government or checking their website for disposal instructions
  • Giving them to a neighbor with a mower
  • Asking your local auto mechanic if they’ll dispose of them for you

Did You Know? 

Oil and gas spilling onto the floor of a rental truck may mean hefty additional charges when you return it.

2. Remove the blade only when necessary

You don’t necessarily need to remove the blade on a push lawnmower before moving it.

As long as the oil and gas have been drained and the spark plug wire is disconnected and secured, there’s no reason to remove the blade.

3. Remove attachments

Most push mowers don’t have many attachments.

Usually it’s just a matter of removing and cleaning the collection bag and unscrewing and folding the handle to make lifting and loading easier.

4. Clean your lawn mower thoroughly

Lawnmowers are like magnets to oil, dirt and grass cuttings or clippings.

Using a damp sponge or an old rag and a warm sudsy water, give your mower a quick wipe down before loading it onto the truck.

It’ll keep the moving blankets, truck and your other household items clean so it’s worth the effort.

Did You Know? 

To clean the underside of the mow deck you may need a scraper, steel brush and/or a power washer.

5. Pack the parts and load your mower

Once the aforementioned preparations are complete it’ll be time to pack and load your mower.

Thankfully it’s relatively easy.

Just –

  • Place hardware like screws and bolts in a plastic bag
  • Wrap removed attachments in a moving pad or pack them into a large box and label it clearly
  • Roll your mower up the loading ramps onto the truck or trailer, or lift it into the bed of your pickup truck or car’s trunk
  • Make sure the wheels are perpendicular to the sides of the moving vehicle to prevent it from rolling forward and backward
  • Use tie-down straps or load other items around it to make sure it doesn’t shift during transit
  • Drape a moving pad or old comforter over the mower

How to move a riding lawn mower

Most riding lawn mowers (often called yard tractors or garden tractors) –

  • Have cutting widths between 42 and 52 inches
  • Have engines that produce between 17 to 22 horsepower
  • Weigh between 425 and 550 pounds

Unlike push mowers, riding mowers cannot be lifted so you’ll need ramps.

The best way to move them is on a trailer, not in a rental moving van like a U-Haul.

Trucks usually have much higher beds than trailers, which means the ramp incline is much steeper.

On the flipside, low trailers allow for more shallow ramp angles which makes loading and unloading easier and safer.

Insider’s Tip

When possible, pushing the tractor up the ramp with human power is safer than driving it up under its own power.

1. Get a trailer (or truck) with a low deck and long ramps

The best combination for loading a tractor is a low deck and long split ramps that anchor into the vehicle’s deck.

Just resting one end of the ramps onto the truck or trailer bed is dangerous.

If the vehicle and ramps don’t have holes and steel pins, secure them in place with heavy-duty nylon logistics straps.

If the angle of the ramps is still too steep, bundle up a pad or two and place them under the bottom lip to make the angle shallower.

2. Remove the cutting deck

Tractors with cutting decks have minimal ground clearance, so they’ll need to be removed.

Once you’ve disconnected the battery and spark plug wire, place two 4 x 4s under the deck before removing the cotter pins.

Use thick gloves to protect your hands, and place protective covers over the blades.

Old cardboard or sturdy rags work well for this if you don’t have the original protective covers.

Just be sure to secure them with twine or zip ties.

Wrap the deck in a moving blanket or old comforter, and pack the cotter pins, belts and other hardware in a box and label it – MOWER PARTS.

3. Load your riding mower

Due to their high centers of gravity, it’s best to load and unload riding mowers with the engine on the low side.

This will reduce the risk of tipping and roll-over.

Just remember, a heavy person in the driver’s seat will raise the center of gravity even more.

For this reason, it’s best to get four or five helpers and push it up the ramp with the transmission in neutral.

This many strong helpers should be able to control it easily if the ramps aren’t too steep.

Insider’s Tip

Never have anyone pushing directly behind and below the tractor. Inform everyone that if it starts rolling backward, it’s best to step aside and let it go. Better a damaged tractor than a broken leg – or worse.

4. Secure your tractor inside the truck or on the trailer

Once you’ve loaded the riding mower into the truck, set the parking brake and use tie-downs to secure it for transport.

If it’ll be mixed in with a full load of household goods, using straps may not be possible or necessary.

If so, make sure that –

  • The transmission is in low gear
  • The tractor is against a truck wall and/or bulkhead
  • It’s surrounded by heavy items that’ll help keep it in place
  • It’s wheels are perpendicular (at right angles to) the wheels of the truck

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will professional movers move a lawnmower?

Yes, nearly all moving companies will move lawn mowers and lawn and garden tractors. Just remember, they’ll expect you to have the fluids drained before they arrive.

How should I pack my lawn tractor or mower blades and deck?

Once removed from the tractor, mower decks and blades can be wrapped in cardboard, bubble wrap or moving blankets and secured with rubber bands or packing tape.

How can I pack and move my snowblower, weed whacker and other lawn equipment?

Gas powered snow blowers and weed eaters only need to have the gas and oil tank drained, then they can be moved in one piece.

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