What Type of Lawn Mower Should I Buy?
By Matt Hawkins
If you are a new homeowner or have recently moved to a house that has a lawn or grassy area, you may find yourself in the situation of needing a lawn mower for the first time. But with so many types of lawn mowers out there, what kind you choose?
Walk-Behind Mower or Riding Mower?
The first thing to take stock of is how large your lawn is (if you have grass in both your front and back yards, combine both areas). Unless your lawn is fairly expansive, meaning a quarter acre or more, a walk-behind mower should suffice. Otherwise, you will want to get a riding mower (or lawn tractor) to allow you to cover all that ground in less time with much less effort.
You also want to consider your capacity and interest in mowing your lawn. If you relish the idea of getting some sun and exercise on a weekend morning, a walk-behind mower should be just what you need as long as you can handle the amount of lawn you have with a reasonable amount of time and effort.
On the other hand, if you want to get the lawn mowing over with as soon as possible so you can go on with the rest of your day, a riding mower will serve you better, unless your lawn is just too small or requires a lot of maneuvering around obstacles to get the job done.
Deciding Among Walk-Behind Mowers
Let’s say you are in the first group and either have a lawn size of less than a quarter acre or don’t mind (or even enjoy) mowing the lawn. You know a walk-behind mower is what you want, but how do you decide between gas-powered, electric and just plain old manual mowers
If you are on a budget and want the most economical option, that is a simple non-powered manual mower, also known as a reel mower. These mowers typically cost around $100, a bit more or less depending on the length of the cutting blades. They require the least maintenance, but also do not produce as a clean and reliable a cut as gas and electric powered mowers. They also will require a bit more time to mow the lawn, although this is often not a problem for those who like the exercise.
One benefit of a reel mower is that it contributes to the health of the lawn by leaving the cut grass on the lawn. These grass clipping add nitrogen, a natural fertilizer, to the lawn. However, you may prefer a cleaner looking lawn, in which case you will want to make sure you get a bag attachment or go with a powered mower instead.
Gas and Electric Mowers
For more efficient lawn mowing, you will want to use either a gas or electric powered mower. Gas powered mowers will cut faster and more reliably than reel mowers, and may produce a deeper cut. However, they also require regular maintenance, which includes purchasing gas and filling the gas tank, adding oil as necessary, and potentially lubricating the gearbox. If you don’t want the hassle or are afraid you won’t remember to do these things, an electric mower might be a better choice for you.
Electric mowers can be either corded or cordless (battery-powered). Corded mowers are a bit more powerful and can mow as long as they are plugged into an outlet, but can be hard to use when you need to mow around obstacles on your lawn. Then, there is the always present danger of accidentally mowing over the cord.
Cordless mowers avoid both of these issues, and while slightly less powerful than their corded counterparts, can still generally mow most lawns on a single battery charge (about 1 hour). Although cordless mower batteries can take as long as 12-24 hours to charge fully, many can be charged to at least 70% within a couple hours. So, even if you have a large lawn that would require two sessions of mowing, the job can still get done in a timely manner.
When deciding between corded and cordless electric mowers, weigh your power needs vs. the size and layout of your lawn. It is certainly nice to have the self-propelling aspect of corded mowers when mowing over sloping terrain or on a slanted yard. Another benefit is the additional power they provide on tall or thick grass, so you don’t need to mow the same patch multiple times.
However, if there isn’t an available electrical outlet close to your lawn, or if your yard is such that the cord will be a nuisance while mowing, a cordless mower will probably be a better choice. Although battery life is usually sufficient for most lawns, you always have the option of purchasing a spare battery in case the original runs down before you’ve finished mowing.
Wrapping it Up
Hopefully this article has improved your understanding of the differences between the various lawn mower types, including the primary advantages and disadvantages of each. Once you have an idea of what type is best for you, feel free to do some additional research into the different brands and models available in that type. This way, you can make an informed decision on which mower is optimal based on all aspects of your yard and lifestyle.
One great site to visit for further research is Amazon.com. All types of mowers can be found there, along with pricing information and customer reviews.