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Lawn Mowers Buying Guide

Regular mowing is key to a healthy, great looking lawn. With the right mower, you can get the job done in less time and with less effort.

 

When choosing a lawn mower, your yard itself will be your main guide. Lawn size and terrain are two of the biggest factors to consider as you decide which type of mower to get. Will you be mowing a postage-stamp lawn or is your yard more sizable? Is your lawn flat or hilly? Does it have a lot of trees or other obstacles? Answering these questions will help you determine which mower type and features you’ll need.

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Types of Lawn Mowers

The first step in finding the right mower is figuring out the size of your lawn. For reference ¼ acre is 10,890 sq. ft. and ½ acre is 21,780 sq. ft. Next, you need think about the state of your lawn. If you have a trees and flower beds, mowers with small decks can maneuver easily around these, while mowers with large decks can make quick work of wide flat lawns without too many obstacles. Mowing large yards, hills and uneven terrain can be less tiring if you’re walking behind a self-propelled mower. Once you’ve established your lawn’s needs, you can match it up with the right mower.

Reel Mowers

Good for: small, flat, well-maintained lawns

A reel mower, also known as a manual mower or push reel mower, is the most eco-friendly option since you provide the power. It is also the quietest and least expensive choice of mower. Its curved blades provide a close, high quality cut 14" to 20" wide. Other benefits include little maintenance besides the occasional blade sharpening and that it takes up little storage space. The biggest drawback of the reel mower is that it will only go as far as you feel like pushing, which is why it’s best for smaller, urban yards. It also can’t cut tall or thick grass and weeds, mulch or cut close around obstacles.

 

Corded Electric Mowers

Good for: small, flat lawns with few obstacles and that are within 100 feet of power outlets

For another eco-friendly option that doesn’t require as much pushing power on your part, look to a corded electric mower. Since it doesn’t require gas, there’s no exhaust and it’s cheaper to operate over the season, plus the electric motor is quieter and starts easier than a gas mower. These models usually cut a swath of about 18" – 20". The big consideration is the cord. You’ll most likely use a 100-foot extension cord, so you have to make sure all your yard can reached within that distance. Plus obstacles like trees can get in the way of the cord, limiting its reach.

 

Cordless Electric Mowers

Good for: flat lawns up to a ⅓ acre

The cordless electric mower is the fastest growing segment of lawn mowers. It has all the benefits of electric power — no gas, no exhaust, less noise, less mess and less money — and it doesn’t have the drawback of a cord. You can mow as far as the battery will take you, usually 30 - 60 minutes. Some owners get a second battery, which they swap out when the first one runs out, so they can continue mowing. Lithium batteries are lighter and take less time to recharge than lead acid batteries, plus they maintain full power until they are drained. While the addition of a battery does make these mowers heavy to push, which is an issue if you have hills, some higher end models are self-propelled.

 

Push Gas Mowers

Good for: flat lawns up to ½ acre

The key benefit of a gas mower is more power. This allows you to cut larger yards — the cutting swath is 21" – 22" — and lets you tackle tall and thick grass. A gas mower does produce exhaust, although the newer four-stroke engine produces less than the older two-stroke models. These mowers are also noisier, so you may want to invest in ear protection. Extra maintenance is required, so make sure to get regular tune-ups and oil changes according to your owner’s manual. A push gas mower is generally cheaper than a self-propelled model and won’t require as much maintenance. If you don’t need to push it up hills or over uneven terrain, it may be a good option.

 

Self-Propelled Gas Mowers

Good for: hilly, uneven lawns up to a ½ acre

With a self-propelled mower, you get more power mixed with less effort since the engine turns the wheels for you — you don’t push. This is a great benefit if you have a large or hilly yard. Self-propelled mowers are available in three models: rear-wheel drive; front-wheel drive; and all-wheel drive.


Rear-Wheel Drive

Designed with hilly terrain in mind, this type of mower has its drive system at the rear of the deck. This ensures consistent traction, which is essential for going over hills and tackling thicker grasses. Another great benefit of rear drive is the weight of the rear bag ends up over the rear wheels, and having traction under that bag means less effort for you to maneuver the mower.


Front-Wheel Drive

For lawns greater than ¼ acre, you can reduce your fatigue factor with a front-drive mower. You’ll get good traction on flat terrain with shorter grass types. It’s also easy to maneuver, so it’s ideal for yards with lots of trees, flowerbeds or other obstacles.

All-Wheel Drive

CRAFTSMAN®/MD innovation brings the first ever all-wheel drive mower to Canada. For lawns with hilly terrain, this mower has great traction capability with all four wheels to receiving torque from the engine simultaneously. An all-wheel drive mower reduces slipping on wet grass and steep hills and lets the mower do all the work.