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What Lawn Mower Should I Choose?

Last Updated Jul 15, 2011 · Written by Rob Schneider

Lawn mowing can be a pleasant weekend pastime or a chore you would rather avoid. A lot depends on the lawn mower you choose, so before you decide to buy, take a look at the many types that are available and find the one that will make mowing your lawn a pleasure rather than a chore.

Manual, Electric and Petrol Lawn Mowers

There are three power sources for lawn mowers. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them, depending on your circumstances:
  • You are the only power source for a manual mower. Before you dismiss manual mowing as "too hard," you should know that improvements in their design have made manual lawn mowers much easier to push than they used to be. If you have a small, relatively flat area to mow, a manual mower may be your best option. Environmentally friendly, inexpensive and easy to use, there is something to be said for manual lawn mowers.

  • If you don't fancy the idea of manually mowing your lawn, an electric lawnmower may be a better solution. Electric mowers work best on smaller areas of grass that have close access to a power supply. The cord is the biggest drawback to electric mowers, since you can need a great deal of cord to mow even an average sized suburban lawn. If the idea of attaching a long extension cord to your mower doesn't appeal to you, then consider your other electric mower option - cordless:

  • Cordless electric lawnmowers are becoming increasingly popular now that battery technology has advanced to the point where you can get enough sustained power to effectively mow a small to medium sized lawn. The disadvantage to cordless lawn mowers is that they do not produce enough power to mow long, tough grass efficiently. However, if you have a relatively small lawn and mow regularly, a cordless mower may be all you need.

  • If you need extra "oomph" or have a large lawn to mow, then you probably need a petrol lawn mower. Petrol powered walk behind mowers are the largest selling types of lawnmowers for a reason: they do the job. In a two stroke mower, you have to mix your engine oil with your petrol. In four stroke mowers, there are separate tanks for the oil and petrol. Four stroke lawn mowers are quieter than two stroke mowers, but require a little more care when handling.

Rotary versus Cylinder Lawn Mowers

On a rotary lawn mower, the blades rotate around a central axis. Rotary mowers are the most commonly used in Australia and do a good job on most lawns. Cylinder mowers are the choice of groundskeepers because they produce a clean cut and leave the characteristic stripes that are an indication of a well-tended lawn. They are the most expensive type of lawn mower, though, and are not very efficient on rough surfaces.

Making Mowing Easier

Unless you are driving a ride on lawn mower, you still have to manually push your mower. One way to make this easier is to buy a self-propelled mower. Since the engine must also provide power to the wheels to propel it forward, some power is lost. To make up for this, you may need to buy a more expensive model with greater horsepower.

Hover mowers ride on a cushion of air. They are light and almost effortless to use, but have the disadvantage of being light on power, so are best suited for smaller lawns that are mowed frequently. Most hover mowers are electric, but there are now some petrol versions on the market as well.

Making Your Decision

The size of your lawn and your level of physical fitness rather than the cost of the mower should be your first considerations when choosing a lawn mower. If you have a large lawn, a more powerful petrol mower will make the job much easier and a self propelled mower will make it easier still. These are more expensive than electric mowers, but may be worth it in the long run. If you have a small lawn and mow regularly, a battery powered or cushion mower is ideal, unless you like to combine a little physical exercise with your mowing. In that case, you may enjoy using a manual "pushie."
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