Are Pine Cones Bad For Lawn Mowers? (Solved)

Pine cone on grass

If you have a garden with a pine tree in it you might face autumn with slight trepidation.

For that is when pine cones start to drop.

And pine cones can make mowing your lawn a lot trickier.

But are pine cones bad for lawn mowers?

Let’s find out…

Are Pine Cones Bad For Lawn Mowers?

Pine cones are not bad for your mower. You should be able to mow over them with most mowers without any real problems apart from the need to sharpen your mower blades slightly more frequently. They should not cause any permanent damage to the blades, but just be aware of the risk of them being discharged at speed from your mower.

#1: Pine Cones Will NOT Damage Your Blades

Ok so let’s put the good news out there straight away, the chance of pine cones damaging your blades in any way is extremely small.

This is something I found out a few years ago when I lived for a while in a house with a massive pine tree overhanging the garden.

When the cones started to drop in late September/early October I would always spend hours clearing them before mowing the lawn.

Ok hours is probably an exaggeration, but the point was it was a time consuming task that proved annoying when all I wanted to do was quickly mow my lawn.

One day my neighbor saw me doing this and told me my mower would be able to cope with the pine cones just fine.

I was slightly dubious, but he was a lot older and wiser than me so I decided to take his advice on board.

But he was completely right.

Now it did mean the blades dulled slightly more quickly, but it most definitely did not cause any permanent damage or deform them in any way.

So mowing over pine cones will just mean you have to sharpen or change your blades slightly more often.

In fact, in some ways, it was good as it made me more conscious of making sure the blades on my mower were still sufficiently sharp, compared to if I had just been cutting grass.

Just to make sure I wasn’t leading you down the proverbial garden path, I did a lot of research in various gardening forums whilst drafting this article.

I can honestly say I didn’t find person who said pine cones had damaged their mower blades.

So can a lawn mower go over pine cones? Yes!

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#2: They Will Actually Perform a Good Deed for Your Mower

The woody sheen and tough external surface of pine cones can actually benefit your mower.

After mowing over pine cones, you will most likely find that they do a very good job of polishing the underside of your mower deck.

Next time you do so, take a look and you will inevitably find it is left with a glossy luster.

#3: But Be Very Careful They Don’t Become Projectiles

If your mower doesn’t have a bagging attachment or the ability to mulch, you do need to be careful that any pine cones you mow over don’t become mini-missiles.

The likelihood of them being launched is small, but just be aware of the direction in which your discharge shoot is pointed if you are mowing near windows, cars, etc etc.

Because if a pine cone does get launched, it could cause some damage.

#4: Don’t Forget About Other Damaging Items

Just because pine cones won’t harm your mower, don’t become so blase that you forget about those other items that really could cause damage.

Remember to keep an eye out for rocks, bricks, metal objects, toys left out by your kids, etc…

This is particularly pertinent if you have a riding mower.

You don’t want to end up having to replace expensive mower spindles, as you got so carried away mowing over pine cones you forgot about everything else!

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#5: Some Mowers Deal With Pine Cones Better Than Others

Pine cones on ground

Undoubtedly some mowers will deal with pine cones more easily than others. It all depends on how well the deck is built.

The bottom line is that pretty much all mowers will mow over pine cones without too much of an issue. If you have a cheaper mower however you might notice that it does make the engine bog down temporarily.

Then of course there are mulching mowers. They will grind the pine cones down and not discharge them until they are in tiny pieces that can be beneficial to your lawn and plants.

#6: They Might Cause An Issue With the Drive Belt

In my research for this blog, I only found one issue mowing over pine cones could potentially cause.

Two people mentioned that when they were mowing over pine cones in their riding mowers, a pine cone got wedged between the pulley and the drive belt, throwing the belt off.

At best this is just a small inconvenience that requires the belt to be set back on again.

At worst it could mean a new drive belt.

Something to be aware of.

#7: You Can Always Adjust the Blade Height

If you really are deadset against the idea of mowing over pine cones, but you really don’t want to spend time clearing them from your lawn you can try adjusting the cutting height.

Most lawn mowers have adjustable cutting heights. This means you can set your mower to one of the top cutting heights and it might clear small pine cones and sticks.

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#8: Or You Can Use a Lawn Sweeper or Vacuum

If you have read through all of these points and decided that you still want to clear the pine cones from your lawn before mowing, then there are some quicker methods than picking them up manually or using a rake to rake them up.

You could invest in a lawn sweeper, a mechanical device that quickly and easily sweeps debris from your lawn.

Check out our round-up of the best lawn sweepers if this idea takes your fancy.

Alternatively, you can buy a lawn vacuum, so you can quickly suck up those offending pine cones.

A good starting point here to find out more is our guide to the best leaf blowers, many of which also come with vacuuming and mulching capabilities.

Final Thoughts

Are Pine Cones Bad For Lawn Mowers infographic

The likelihood is that the worst by-product of mowing over pine cones will be the need to sharpen your mower blades slightly more frequently.

In my experience, they have never damaged my mower blades and from all the research I have done, that seems to be the case with everyone else as well.

Different types of mowers will have varying levels of ease in dealing with them, but there is more chance of a stray pine cone shooting out of your mower and damaging something than there is of it damaging your lawn mower itself.

So just be aware of that risk.

If your lawn is literally covered in pine cones, you might want to invest in a lawn sweeper or leaf blower vacuum.

Or a good mulching mower can turn the pine cones into nutritious feed for your lawn and plants.

Either way, they shouldn’t present a huge problem for your mower.

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