As nearly any homeowner can tell you, cutting the grass can consume hours of precious leisure time every fair-weather weekend. So make the most of that time by choosing the best mower for you. There’s a huge selection out there, with price tags ranging from $100 to $4,000 and a lot of features to consider. So let me break it down for you:
Self-propelled mowers can be a good choice for large lawns with slight slopes.
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This isn’t your father’s reel mower. New designs make modern reel mowers lighter and easier to use than ever before.
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Choose a mower that’s comfortable to use and best meets your lawn care needs.
Photo Credit: Troy-Bilt
Riding Mowers/Lawn Tractors
These big mowers are best for flat, large lawns that are typically at least an acre or larger. The more versatile mowers in this group are the lawn tractors. These kings of the lawn can certainly help you handle a large landscape with minimal physical effort, but they do need regular, skilled maintenance to protect your investment. (You also need a space to store them.) Of course, another benefit is that you can purchase a variety of accessories for many of the lawn tractors out there. Attachments like a towing cart, dethatcher, snow thrower and snow blade can really come in handy around the yard and driveway. Riding mowers can usually range from $750-$4,000.
Gas-powered, Self-propelled Mowers
The next most powerful group is the gas-powered, self-propelled mowers. These make a good choice for large lawns that might also have some slight slopes. (If slopes are too steep, the wheels may grind into wet or soft soil and tear up some turfs.) The self-propulsion makes these mowers easier to push upward and helpful in mowing for longer periods of time. Look for electric starters to eliminate the hassle of rip cords. These lawn masters typically cost somewhere between $500-$900.
Gas-powered Push Mowers
If you’ve got a pretty much flat, small- to medium-sized yard, this kind of mower will probably serve you fine. It’s less expensive than the more powerful types and is good for those who expect to get a little exercise when mowing their lawns. Sometimes electric starters are available, but you’ll find those less often than with the pricier self-propelled models. Expect to spend between $200-$600 for one of these push models.
The darling of environmentally conscientious gardeners, electric mowers are so quiet, you can use one on a Sunday morning with no guilt about waking the neighbors. These machines also have zero emissions (a problem with all gas-powered mowers). And since they’re not gas-powered, there are no rip cords to deal with either – something people with less upper-body strength will appreciate.
Electric mowers are very lightweight, too, making them great for slopes of all pitches. The electric motor – though not nearly as powerful as a gas engine – is simpler and generally tends to require significantly less maintenance. But that lack of power does bother some homeowners. Other concerns to watch out for: Some corded models have an awkward cord length (usually 100 feet or so long), and battery-powered models can have short-lived batteries (offering just an hour or so of run time). Buying an extra battery is usually recommended. The good news: In addition to being environmentally friendly, these mowers are economical, costing around $100-$500.
Manual Reel Mowers
These mowers are the kind our parents (or grandparents) grew up using, and it was no accident that you’d usually find a teenage boy operating it. While newer models certainly require less muscle to move, they still take a bit of strength and energy – which is why they’re best for for lawns less than 1,000 square feet. But because they’re relatively light and safe, they’re great choices for mowing slopes.
Some other things to note about reel mowers: When the grass is too coarse (such as with most warm-season grasses, like Bermudagrass) or gets too tall, these models don’t really cut well or evenly. Even slightly wet or drought-stressed lawns can prove a problem. With reel mowers, it’s also a good idea to give your yard a quick once-over before you start cutting and pick up any sticks and other items that could jam the blades.
On the upside, reel mowers don’t need much maintenance – although sharpening the blades can be problematic because it can be difficult to find someone who’ll do it for you. If you don’t mind doing it yourself, you can buy kits to sharpen the blades at home. Another great thing about these mowers is they’re pretty inexpensive – costing anywhere from $100-$150.
Now that you’ve got an idea about what types of mowers are available, take a good look at your yard and decide what’ll work best for you. Don’t forget to consider how much time and energy you’re willing to put into mowing each week. Making the right choice means you’ll have more time to spend enjoying your yard on those perfect-weather weekends – rather than mowing your day away!