CHOOSING A LAWN MOWER
If A New Lawn Mower Is In Your Future, Here's Information To Help You Choose
We checked a few of our favorite sites for reviewing various products, including Consumer Reports, ConsumerSearch, and About.com. Here's what they have to say about the different lawn mower models available today.
- Reel or Push Lawn Mowers
This type of lawn mower is enjoying quite a gain in popularity because it's friendliness to the environment, and among the health-conscious who feel that it's good exercise to be pushing that lawn mower. There are some advantages to a reel or push mower. And there are disadvantages, too. They work well for small, level yards; and if you are able to mow regularly before your lawn gets too long, it's not a difficult chore. Some of the disadvantages are: (1) you may need to rake your lawn before mowing if you have lots of leaves or twigs, since a push mower is not capable of mowing through these obstacles; (2) you can't plow through the leaves in the fall with a push mower, the same way you do with a gas or electric model; (3) if your lawn gets too long, you'll find it harder to cut your grass, since the push mower works better for shorter grass.
- Gas-Powered Mowers
While not as environmentally friendly, gas powered mowers get the job done, and get it done right. There are some great features to this type of lawn mower, including self-propelled (you don't actually push it, more like follow it around while it does its job); mulching and bagging features. The mulching and bagging features are sometimes only found in the higher-end lawn mowers.
- Electric Mowers
"Electric" lawn mowers come as corded or cordless (battery) mowers. While they're not as heavy duty as the gas powered ones, they are sufficient if you have a nice, even lawn and it's not too big. The main advantages are that they are quieter than your gas mower, and they are more maintenance-free, too. Some of the cordless mowers can mow up to a third of an acre on one charge. Some also have a mulching feature. The cordless mowers cost more than a corded electric mower, and you will have to replace the battery occasionally.
- Riding Lawn Mowers
While these are actually gas powered mowers, they deserve a class all their own. If you have a good-sized lawn to mow and are short on time or stamina (or just plain want to own one), investigate a riding lawn mower.
More on the makes and models in the following paragraphs.
Top-Rated Makes and Models
At the time this article was written, there were extensive reviews at Consumersearch.com on the various types of lawn mowers. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we will give you a brief summary of their top picks. For more detailed information, be sure to check their web site.
Best Self-Propelled Mower
The Lawn-Boy 10795 Insight Platinum model rates #1 for its variable speed, 8-inch wheels that make mowing hilly areas much easier; its Honda 4-cycle OHV engine which is the most "green" type of engine; good side-discharge and bagging capabilities; and long 5-year warranty. While this model does not meet standards set in California, it is rated very high as far as emissions go. Average price is $530.
Best Gas Push Mower
The Cub Cadet 11A-18MC is rated the top model of gas push mower by Consumersearch.com. You won't be able to get this, or most any other gas lawn mower in California due to it's very high restrictions, but if you live anywhere else, you'll want to look into this one. Gets good ratings for its 4 cylinder OHV engine, performance, ease of use, and is priced around $230.
Best Luxury Lawnmower
While we don't think we've heard the term "luxury" and "lawn mower" in the same sentence before, nevertheless the Honda HRX217K2HMA gets this rating from Consumersearch. Priced around $900, this one meets even California's strict emissions standards for lawn mowers. Besides the ratings for emissions, this mower gets high marks for its mulching and bagging capabilities, is electric start, and carries a 3-year warranty. It might be hard to find, though, so if you want this one, be prepared to do a little searching, both online and with your local dealer.
Best Electric Mowers
For a corded model, Consumersearch recommends the Black and Decker MM875. For a cordless electric, the Black & Decker CMM1200 gets top marks. The corded model runs about $230, is quiet, low-maintenance, and easy to use. The cordless model gets good marks for mulching, and can mow 1/3 of an acre on one charge. Its price range is somewhat higher though, averaging about $400.
Best Manual (Push or Reel) Mower
Scotts Green Classic 2000-20 push mower, average price about $120, is highly recommended by Consumersearch. Low-maintenance, no emissions, the ultimate in quiet, this one works best for small, level lawns that are mowed regularly, before getting overgrown. This is a 5-bladed mower with a 20-inch cutting width and 3-inch maximum cutting height.
Riding Lawn Mowers
This category of mowers really deserves an article all its own, but we will quickly review the top riding lawn mowers in one paragraph. Keep in mind that for the most part, riding lawn mowers will cost you quite a bit more. For best overall riding lawn mower, the John Deere X304 at a cost of about $3,500 gets the nod. It gets its high marks for even cutting, ease in changing the bag, tight 15-inch turn radius, automatic transmission, and smaller circle of uncut grass at the turn. The best value, medium-duty riding mower is the John Deere LA115, costing about $1,650. Features an automatic transmission, headlights and an adjustable seat. Rated best for flat lawns up to 1.5 acres. The best budget, light-duty mower is Bolens M762F, average cost about $900. Features a manual gear shift and is rated well for flat lawns up to an acre in size.