Friday, May 1, 2015

Choosing a Lawn Mower to Fit Your Needs

I bought my first push mower from Termite the Lawn Man. Termite was an ex-cop who retired from a small town police force after an unfortunate accident. He lived in a shack down by the river. He owned one old riding mower and a collection of gas-powered push mowers littered his front yard. You could see him most days riding around town on his mower pulling a small trailer behind that held a can of gasoline, some miscellaneous garden tools, and a cooler filled with cold beer. He would cruise around town, knocking on doors and asking people if they needed a cut. I had just bought a small house right outside of town and didn't have a whole lot of money to spend on a mower. A neighbor told me that Termite always had a couple of extra mowers for sale and that they came cheap. The one that I got from him was an old Murray from Wal-Mart. One of the wheels had a severe wobble and it was hard to start and push. Sometimes you had to pour gas directly into the carburetor to get it to start and a bobby pin secured the linkage where a spring should have been. But at least it cut my grass, most of the time anyway.

Sine then I've owned a number of different mowers in all price ranges over the years and I have determined that it's worth a little extra money to get a quality mower, especially if you have a lot of grass to mow.

Today there are a number of different types of mowers out there depending on your needs. Here are a couple of the choices and the best models in each category:

A gasoline-powered mower is still the top choice for most homeowners, despite pollution and noise concerns. New regulation will force manufacturers to address these issues in the near future and may add to the cost of these machines. Do you need a self-propelled model? That really depends on how much exercise you want to get and whether or not you have any hills or steep upgrades to mow.

The Insight Platinum series Honda GCV Sens-a-Speed by Lawn Boy has a self propel system that senses your walking speed and adjusts accordingly. The 3-in-one system: mulch, rear bag, and side discharge converts easily between each function without any appliance. The price tag for this mower is rather hefty at around $710, but unless you have an awful lot of grass to mow, it might just be the last mower you'll ever have to buy.

As far as bang for the buck, you can't beat the Craftsman 38811 Gas Powered Mower. This 3-in-one mower has a high lift blade, wide mouth bag, Dust Blocker to minimize dust, rear wheels, and a Briggs and Stratton 190cc "Most reliable Start" engine. At about $229 it is a very good value.

If you really hate mowing your lawn and you have a couple of grand in disposable income, check out the LawnBott. The LawnBott is a robot that automatically mows your lawn. It operates with an on-board computer and a perimeter cable. The Bott leaves its docking station and mows in a straight line until it encounters an obstacle. Then it stops, backs up, and takes off again. When the batteries start running low, the Bott returns to its docking station, charges up, and then heads out again.

Electric mowers are quieter and much less stressful to the environment than their gasoline powered cousins. The Black and Decker MM875 is one of the highest rated corded electric mowers. It has an excellent mulching feature and is easy to use and store. Good for smaller lawns. It's priced at about $250.

For about $150 more you can eliminate the power cord with the Black and Decker CMM 1200 Cordless Electric Mower. You can mow up to 1/3 of an acre on a single charge.

Reel-type push mowers are making a comeback. They are much more efficient and easier to use than the ones your grandfather used. Reel mowers offer the ultimate in quiet and pollution free. The Scotts Green Classic 5 bladed model is one of the best with a 20-inch cutting swath and a price tag of about $120. Some reel type mowers are now available as electric models with batteries.

For the ultimate in recycling, you could always use a goat. That is if local ordinances permit and the neighbors don't mind. They are even available for rent in some areas.