It is the great American pastime - mowing the lawn! Most of us have a love-hate relationship with our lawn. We love the way it looks when it is trimmed, but hate the time and effort it take to make it look good. Lawn care can be a lot more enjoyable if you select the correct mower for your needs. This can be an intimidating process, given the large selection and price range that is available. The following suggestions will help you ask the right questions, and purchase the correct lawn mower for your lawn.
How big is your lawn? If it is half an acre or less, a 20 to 22 inch mower will work. For a half to three quarters of an acre lawn you will need a 21 to 22 inch mower with higher horsepower, and you should consider a lawn or garden tractor if you have more than three quarters of an acre to mow.
The lay of the land. This is another important aspect to consider. If you have slopes, you may want a self-propelled mower. The high wheeled mowers are more maneuverable in rough terrain, rear baggers as opposed to side discharge make it easier to mow around shrubs and flower beds.
Type and density of grass. Check the type and density of the grass on your lawn, as this will determine the rotation and blade size. The denser the grass, the more horsepower and bigger blade you will need.
Investigate your local zoning laws for restrictions on noise, types of engines, and other possible issues. Air and noise pollution could also be a concern for you or your neighbors.
Learn a few terms before you go shopping.
- Mulching and bagging--good mowers do both. Mulching chops the grass into small pieces and distributes it evenly across the lawn (free fertilizer). Bagging catches all the grass and leaves in a bag, which has to be changed or disposed of.
- Horsepower can range from 6 to 10 horsepower for most walk-behind mowers, up to 18 horsepower for riding mowers. Horsepower determines the speed of the mower as well as the rate of the blade rotation, and the width of the deck.
- Deck is the casing around the blades. The longer the deck, the longer the blades, and the more grass you can cut in less time. The bigger the area that is be mowed, the bigger the deck should be. Steel decks are more durable; however plastic or aluminum decks won't rust.
- Turning radius is how maneuverable the mower is--the smaller the radius, the easier it will be to mow around obstacles in the yard. This is most important with riding mowers.
- Self-propelled mowers are best for large or sloping lawns. Select a mower with variable speeds, so you can adjust it to your walking speed. The cost is a bit higher than push mowers, but mowing is more enjoyable and less tiring.
- Push mowers are good for level or small yards. They take a little more effort to push, however they are less expensive than the self-propelled, and require less maintenance.
- Electric mowers are excellent for small lawns, and neighborhoods that have noise restrictions. They are not made for deep cutting so you will need to mow more often. Then there is the matter of the cord--you can only mow as far as the cord is long, usually about 100 feet. There is also the danger of cutting the cord. You can purchase cordless versions with rechargeable batteries, which run down in about one hour. The electric mowers are relatively inexpensive.
- Reel mowers are becoming more popular, with smaller lawns and the desire to protect the environment. There is no maintenance since there is no motor. They cut closer, so you need to mow less. Reel mowers are not a good choice if your lawn is big or sloping, as you must to provide all the power.
- Riding mowers are the best for larger areas, not to be confused with gardening tractors. The deck on the riding mower is in the front, while the deck on the garden tractor is mid-mounted. Riding mowers are more maneuverable, while the garden tractor can accept other attachments, such as power tillers and sno plows. The cost of riding mowers can range from $1000 to $9000.
Where to buy your new mower. Select a dealer that offers equipment options for your mower. Dealerships that offer service are best if you need someone to maintain the mower for you. Better deals are often found at non-servicing dealerships, though this could make it difficult to get parts or have the mower repaired.
You now have all the information necessary to make a knowledgeable purchase of a lawn mower. So get out there--the grass is growing as we speak!