How to Choose a Lawn Mower

by Editor

Beautiful Lawn

Beautiful Green Lawn (Photo by Johannes Gilger)

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.

Reel 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. (see also: 2011’s Top 8 Best-Selling 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 CM1936 / 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, check out my article titled: Top 5 Features You Must Consider When Buying a Lawn Mower.

Lush Green Grass

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