When it comes to searching for the right lawn mower, you have many options to consider. Depending on the size and type of your lawn, your choices boil down to four basic types of lawn mowers: reel mowers, gas-powered lawn mowers, electric lawn mower, and riding lawn mowers.
A reel mower operates by you manually pushing the mower. This is the most “green” option since you don’t use gas or need electricity. With a model like Scotts Push Reel Lawn Mower costing at around $100, it is the least expensive option in terms of equipment and power (no need to buy gasoline). The other perk of having a reel mower is that it’s very quiet to operate, so you can get up very early in the morning and cut your lawn without disturbing your neighbors. And finally, other than keeping the blades sharp, there’s very little maintenance involved. For obvious reasons, a reel lawn mower is ideal for smaller-sized lawns that are relatively flat. Also, you wouldn’t be able to use a reel mower on an overgrown lawn as most reel mowers can’t cut grass taller than 2-3 inches. However, the Fiskars 6201 Reel Mower has a 4″ cutting height and many robust features that’ll make you think differently about standard reel lawn mowers.
Bottom line: Cheap, quiet, and low maintenance; ideal for small and level lawns.
Gas-Powered Lawn Mowers
There are two types of gas-powered lawn mowers: push lawn mower and self-propelled lawn mower. The push lawn mower, again, would be ideal for smaller lawns that are level. But if you’re looking for performance and ease of use, then the self-propelled models can easily handle larger lawns with long or thick grass.
The downside to using a gas power lawn mower is the noise and pollution. Have you ever been woken up by the sound of a neighbor mowing their lawn? Chances are, they are using a gas lawn mower which can be quite noisy. And of course the use of gasoline produces exhaust emissions that contributes to pollution. Cost-wise, gas-powered lawn mowers are quite affordable starting at $239 for a Consumer Reports recommended model (the Lawn-Boy 10640). Regular maintenance such as tune-ups and oil changes are necessary for this type of lawn mowers.
Bottom line: Affordable, noisy, moderate maintenance; ideal for small to medium-sized lawns. Use the push version for level lawns and the self-propelled lawn mowers for hilly lawns or rough terrains.
Electric Lawn Mowers
As we become a more environmentally-conscious nation, more and more people are turning to electric lawn mowers as their mower of choice. Powered by electricity, they come in corded (Black & Decker LM175) and cordless (Black & Decker MM875 / CM1836 / SPCM1936) models. Having had a corded electric lawn mower myself, I did not find it too much of an inconvenience to operate. The key is to make your starting point nearest to the electrical outlet and mow further and further away as not to get entangled with the extension cord. However, I can understand someone not wanting to deal with cords when mowing (having heard many stories of mowers running over and damaging the cords).
An electric mower is quieter than a gas mower, so if you’re unwilling to go the manual push reel route, this is a good compromise. It is also very inexpensive at around $130 for a Consumer Reports recommended model (the Black & Decker LM175). Like the reel mower, very little maintenance is required other than keeping the blade sharp.
Bottom line: Easy to maintain, less noisy, more environmentally friendly than gas-powered mowers. Cords can be a hassle to deal with unless you get a cordless model. Ideal for smaller and level lawns.
Riding Lawn Mowers
For those of you with larger lawns and need an affordable and non-back breaking solution, you can find a Consumer Reports recommended riding lawn mower for about $800. There are more expensive models available for those of you who need more robust mowers.
Bottom line: Can be expensive and requires more maintenance, but it sure makes mowing the lawn a much more enjoyable experience.
Robotic Lawn Mowers
The new kid on the block is the robotic lawn mower. Like the robotic vacuum cleaner, it’s a hands-free lawn mower that’s designed to mow a lawn all by itself. It can be quite expensive with prices ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.
Bottom line: Pricey, but requires little maintenance; ideal for level lawns. A great innovation for those of you who just can’t get yourselves to mow the lawn. Now you have no excuse!
Features to Look For on Lawn Mowers
The above shows you the various type of lawn mowers available. For more information on what specific features to look for when purchasing a mower.
Top 5 features you need to consider when buying a lawn mower
When it comes to choosing a lawn mower, you are confronted with so many choices that it can be intimidating, especially for the first-time buyer. And the number of new features on new lawn mower models each year can be surprising, even to a veteran lawn mower owner. To help make your decision easier, I’ve broken down the top 5 features you need to consider when buying a lawn mower below:
Lawn Mower Feature #1: Source of Power
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want a lawn mower powered by electricity or by gas? There are pros and cons to each. With a gas lawn mower, you have the added expense of engine oil and gasoline, but it’s made up for in maneuverability and convenience. Also, you only have to refill the gas tank when it runs out versus having to wait for the battery on an electric mower to recharge when it starts to run low. You can learn more about gas lawn mowers in my review of one of the top selling gas mowers: Snapper SPV21675. But if dealing with exhaust fumes is not your cup of tea, you should consider buying an electric mower.
Electric lawn mowers run quieter, have fewer emissions, and are low in maintenance. For the eco-friendly homeowner, electric is definitely the way to go (unless, of course, you want to go TOTALLY manual with a reel mower) If you choose an electric mower, you have two more decisions to make. First, do you want a corded or a cordless electric mower? With a corded mower, your lawn mower is attached to an electrical outlet with an extension cord. With a cordless mower, you have either an integrated or removable battery that powers the mower. Second, if you go with a battery-powered lawn mower, check out the runtime of the battery. For example, the Black & Decker CM1936 has a runtime of up to 12,000 square feet.
Lawn Mower Feature #2: Push or Self-Propelled
Once you’ve decided on a gas or electric lawn mower, you need to determine whether you need a push or a self-propelled model. Both gas and electric mowers comes in push or self-propelled versions. The push mowers require you to manually “push” the mower, so they’re better suited for level lawns and able bodies. On the other hand, if you have tall grass, rough terrain, or slopes to deal with, self-propelled lawn mowers are the way to go. A self-propelled mower has a transmission that drives the mower, so you won’t have to work as hard. It’s kind of like cruise control on your car. You don’t have to keep your foot on the pedal; you just have to steer.
Lawn Mower Feature #3: Lawn mower deck size
The deck size also refers to the cutting swath (or blade size) of the lawn mower. Typical sizes range from 18″ – 21″. The larger the deck size, the wider your cutting swath is going to be. And more coverage on each pass means less time spent mowing.
Lawn Mower Feature #4: Type of Cut
Lawn mowers used to be more specialized. Some do a better job of mulching while others do a better job bagging. But now days, you have 3-in-1 lawn mowers like the Lawn-Boy 10640 that gives you the flexibility of all 3 types of grass cutting capabilities: mulch, bag, and discharge. If you like to mulch or discharge your grass clippings, it’s just a matter of putting on a mulching or discharge insert. Or, if you prefer to bag your grass clippings, simply put on the rear bag and you’re good to go.
Lawn Mower Feature #5: Weight
The weight of the lawn mower becomes an issue if you have physical limitations that prevent you from operating a heavy push mower or if your lawn is uneven or is on a slope. For example, Black & Decker’s line of electric mowers can weigh from 46 lbs. to 72 lbs, depending on which model you get. The weight is less of a problem if you get a self-propelled mower (unless, of course, you have to take it off and on a truck for transporting).
As long as you understand these top 5 features of a lawn mower, you should have no trouble picking out that perfect lawn mower for your needs.