You're ready and you want to Buy a Lawn Mower. But which kind of Lawn Mower is right for your size of lawn? There are so many types to choose from.
Where to start, do you want a reel mower (a series of blades that spin that are attached to gears that rotate when pushed) or a power (motorized) mower where blades rotate by force created by an electrical or gas combustion style motor.
The cutting blade on a power mower rotates in a circular fashion parallel to the ground as the mower is moved along the ground. Power mowers may sometimes be referred to as rotary mowers as well. There are good reasons for both types of mowers.
A reel mower is very environmentally friendly as there are no fumes from a gas engine creating carbon dioxide to negatively affect the atmosphere (just from the heavy breathing created by having to manually push this mower).
This type of mower also recycles grass clippings by dropping them back onto lawn to decompose, returning valuable nutrients back to soil and root system of the lawn.
On the negative side this type of mower requires a lot of extra labour to achieve a superior looking cut. When comparing the ease and quality to power mowers there is none. Reel mowers require much more effort.
For instance your lawn gets a little bit overgrown, you will find that you have to mow over the same area a number of times to achieve a proper clean cut. If the lawn is even slightly wet cutting the grass in your yard becomes even more tedious.
Why? Well because the blades on a reel mower turn at a very low R.P.M. (revolution per minute) relative to the pace that you are walking (pushing) the reel mower across your lawn. Due to this low R.P.M. rate there is more opportunity for blades of grass to be missed over any given area of your lawn.
As the blade from the reel mower cutting blade may have only have couple of passes over a blade of grass to make a cut. (whereas a power mower blade may have 10 or more passes to cut that same blade of grass)
Another reason a reel mower is less effective than a rotary (power) mower occurs while mowing damp grass. The low R.P.M.’s don’t allow for an adequate mulching (fine cutting) of the grass clippings which tends to leave clumps of cut grass on the lawn. These clumps (depending on the size) may not decompose quickly and may kill the lawn under these clumps.
If being environmentally conscious is your number one priority then this style of mower is right for you when you want to Buy a Lawn Mower. It may mean that you’ll have to mow more frequently, with more human effort, in perfect conditions to achieve a professional looking cut.
Another option to consider when you are ready to Buy a Lawn Mower is an electric motor type mower. This type of mower is light weight, with a cutting blade that rotates parallel to the ground (rotary).
It is powered by electrical current that is received through an electrical extension cord which must be plugged into a homes’ outdoor power outlet. An electric lawn mower offers a superior looking cut (with much less effort) when compared to a reel style mower.
Due to its’ light weight it offers an option to someone who may not have the strength needed to push a heavier reel or gas powered rotary mower.
This electric type of mower has its’ drawbacks as well. Due to the fact that an extension cord must be attached to this mower it becomes more awkward to use. You have to plan ahead of time how you are going to mow your lawn.
You will have to aware of the cord location at all times or you risk mowing over top of the cord and severing the cord. This may cause you to receive an electrical shock. You will not be able to mow your lawn unless it is dry (as you know water and electricity don’t mix).
Still thinking you want to buy a lawn mower that is electrical, If you have a larger lawn you will need a greater number of cords attached to one another. As the cords are added to one another the further the electricity has to travel to reach the electric motor. This in turn reduces the actual amount of power (voltage) that reaches the motor.
The motor needs a certain amount of power at all times to operate properly, therefore by adding too many cords you will be causing this type of mower to work harder causing premature wear to the motor and shortening the life of the mower.
In the last few years there has been another mower option that has appeared (when looking to Buy a Lawn Mower) on the market it operates along the same principle design and attributes as electric mowers except their power source is a rechargeable battery. ( see above picture )
This is a great improvement over electronic mowers as it eliminates the limitations caused by having to use power cords. This type of mower will now be able travel unrestricted about your lawn just like the reel and gas powered rotary mowers. Battery powered mowers also are a bit more flexible when it comes to mowing damp grass.
It is always best to mow your lawn while it is dry to get an optimal cut, as this is not always possible the flexibility of a battery option could be the answer for you.
The only other downside of this type of mower is that the battery must be recharged. For most mowers the battery will outlast the length of time needed to mow your small lawn. Be sure to check with the brand of mower you are buying to verify the duration time of each charge of the battery.
The final downside for both electric and battery powered mowers (when you are weighing your options before you buy a lawn mower) is the small size of cut offered (most fall within 16”-20”). The larger the cutting width the more power these mowers will consume and the quicker the charged battery will be depleted.
This brings us to the gas powered mower. When I say gas I mean gasoline (petrol for some), not natural gas. These types of mowers offer a superior cut to all mower types previously mentioned.
Along with their excellent mowing capabilities they are able to cut in most types of weather conditions. Yes, even if it is raining lightly or has just finished and the lawn is wet. I know it is not advisable to do so but the option is there.
A gas powered mower offers greater variations in engine size and horsepower (hp) combinations. This in turn offers a greater range of cutting widths and much broader range of R.P.M’s.
It‘s this option of broader ranges and higher blade rotation speed that make this type of mower outsell the other previous two types by a large margin. These types of push mowers start with a smaller engine size such as 3.5 hp motor and 19” cutting widths. Motor hp tends to increase in ¼ to ½ hp increments up to the top end premium mowers with 6.75 hp engines and cutting widths of 21” or 22”.
For home owners who want to buy a lawn mower with a very small lawn, ¼ acre or so the low end entry size of 3.5 hp will be sufficient for your needs. You could expect to get a life span of 10 years maybe more depending on the number of times the lawn is mowed per season and whether or not proper maintenance was performed according to the schedule provided by the manufacturer.
Another factor that also plays a roll in the endurance of a mower is whether or not the home owner waited for the lawn to become extremely overgrown and therefore added unnecessary stress load on the motor.
There are a many manufacturers of these types of entry level mowers; these mowers come with two types of gas powered motors. They are known as two stroke or four stroke motors (two cycle or four cycle).
Two stroke mowers use gas and oil together for the motor to run as well as lubricate the motors moving parts. Whereas a four stroke engine burns gas only to make the engine run and uses oil in a separate chamber to lubricate the engines moving parts.
Two stroke lawn mowers have two advantages going for them over their four stroke brothers, first a two stroke mower is lighter in weight therefore can offer a lighter more manoeuvrable mower. Secondly, improved mowing on hilly terrain.
This is true due to the fact that the two strokes’ engine parts are constantly being lubricated. This is not true when a four stroke is mowing on a hill.
As the four strokes’ oil lubrication system is separate with the oil (in the sump) laying at the bottom of the engine. The oil is splashed on the moving parts of the engine through the up and down motion of the piston and crankshaft.
This type of lubrication works best on level ground as the oil level remains constant in the sump. When mowing on a hill the oil drains to one end or side of the sump depending if you are mowing straight up and down a hill or from side to side.
Either way the oil is not available to properly lubricate the moving parts. If this goes on long enough it will cause an engine to seize up, ruining the engine.
Four stokes main has two big advantages over the two stroke mower. First and most important is that it burns its fuel much more cleanly with less harmful emissions being put into the atmosphere and is therefore a much better as an environmental choice when it's time to Buy a Lawn Mower.
Secondly, there is no mixing of oil and gas. No having to make sure you have the proper type of oil, no problems with making sure you have mixed the proper ratio of gas and oil. Too much oil and the mixture is too rich and you’re clogging up the works. Too little oil and the mixture is too lean and the engine overheats, seizes and game over.
There are those who argue that two stokes offer the best value and dependability, as well as an equal number that say the four stroke is king.
Within the next few years the argument won’t matter as the two strokes are being phased out as lawn mower options due their contribution to air pollution and global warming. There are already strict laws in place and will be in full effect soon.
I have always used four stroke lawn mowers for my mowing needs. When it came to mowing on a hill I would always mow across a hill never up and down. If the hill was too steep to mow safely then a string trimmer should be used to trim the areas unsafe for a push mower.
If you are a home owner that has a lawn in the ½ acre size then you may need the larger class of push mower ranging from 5 hp up to the top end 6.5 hp mower when you buy a lawn mower.
These mowers come with the larger 21” or 22” decks which have the widest cutting path available. When mowing the size of lawn an option that is available on mowers in the medium to high end price range comes into question.
Is it worthwhile to Buy a Lawn Mower that is self propelled? My answer is yes, when it comes to a larger size lawn. The small ¼ acre lawn may have taken you half an hour or so depending on the size of your home, the number of trees and other obstacles that have to be cut around.
Mowing a ½ acre property will put you up to the hour or more of your precious time. It is normally at this point in time that mowing your lawn becomes more of a chore than just exercise.
My best choice for the person who wants to buy a lawn mower, the Self propelled mowers are easy to use once you get use to letting the mower set the pace pulling you, instead of you pushing it. On most self propelled mowers there are two changes from your normal bare bones push mower.
First there is an additional lever near your throttle settings which is where you adjust the speed setting for the transmission. Secondly there is an additional lever that must be engaged (usually by gripping an additional bar at the top of the mower handle) to put the drive into motion.
This option will make mowing a lawn of this size enjoyable again or at least less of a chore. My advice team is make sure of two things when looking at any brand of self propelled mower. One is to make sure that the mowers’ rear wheels are pushing the mower along when the transmission is in operation.
In cheaper so called self propelled models I have seen transmissions put on the front wheels so the mower is pulling you around the lawn.
This is a no, no. You will find yourself fighting this type of self propelled lawn mower any time you wish to pull the mower backwards (to go around an object in your lawn) or turn the mower to change your mowing direction.
Secondly when you are ready to Buy a Lawn Mower that is self propelled mower make sure you don’t get a three speed transmission as any of the speeds are ever at the speed at which you want to travel.
The best type of self propelled transmission type is a hydrostatic one. This type of transmission allows you to choose variable speeds from slow poke turtle to run rabbit fast. There will always be an appropriate speed for you and your lawn conditions.
Another option available on many mowers today is the option to mulch your lawn clippings. On some mowers this may mean that all you have to do is insert a mulching plug into the grass discharge chute and ta da! You’re mulching.
In the case of some more expensive brand mowers they offer specially designed mulching blades (or combination of 2 blades) that help to mulch the clippings into finer pieces. By chopping them into finer pieces these clippings decompose at a faster rate, thereby returning valuable nutrients back into into your lawn more quickly.
If you are mowing a lawn that is approaching 2/3 of an acre or larger then you will want to Buy a Lawn Mower that is near the top of the line 6.5 hp homeowner self propelled mowers or start considering a commercial grade mower.
When venturing into the commercial brands you will probably be paying anywhere from 50 to 100% more but you are going to have a mower that may last 15 plus years. If you are shopping around for a commercial mower then make sure you are comparing exact hp, cutting width, and warranties. I personally use Honda mowers.
Always Buy a Lawn Mower from a place that offers parts and service at that same location. If you don’t you may find yourself without a mower for an unnecessary length of time due to having to ship it away (maybe at your expense) to have it repaired. Or you may even have to take it to their repair depot out of town.
If you can Buy a Lawn Mower that offers a 3 in 1 package which will allow you to throw the grass clippings out a side or rear discharge chute, mulch (with a plug/special blades) or bag the clippings if the lawn is extremely overgrown. You’ll be ready for whatever mother nature throws at you.
On your way to Buy a Lawn Mower? make sure you took the time to assess your lawn size, you’re physical capabilities and the price you are willing to pay to get that mower that is right for you.
“Keep It Simple to Succeed” lets get out there and make our lawns healthy and green!