After the busy summer mowing season, lawn mower sales hit stores in fall, and it's a great time to buy a new one. Wall-to-wall options can make it challenging to select one that is right for you and your yard. Consider the size of your lawn and personal preferences like power, cost efficiency and green options that are easy on Mother Nature to get the most out of this year's purchase and keep your lawn in tip-top shape.
Knowing what types of mowers are available before you head to the home and garden store can help you save time sifting through the aisles and models. Jose Castellanos, lawn mower expert at the Mowers Direct online superstore, details the three main types of push mowers (mowers you do not ride): reel, gas-powered and electric. Some push mowers are self-propelled, meaning that the natural operation accelerates the mower forward, drastically changing the amount of effort it takes to cover your lawn. There are pros and cons to each.
As with a home, appliance, car or garage, the first factor to consider during your mower purchase process is size: How big is your lawn? This will have implications for time and energy spent mowing. Small lawns are best serviced by reel mowers and electric mowers. Reel mowers are old-fashioned mowers with spinning blades that cut grass like scissors as the mower is pushed along. According to the Popular Mechanics website, they are a great solution for small, flat yards. Averaging at $90, they are low cost, low-maintenance, reliable and quiet, and they offer a good workout. As a downside, they require more time and energy. Mow before your grass gets long and look for models with a bag that catches clippings, such as the Sun Joe MJ501M, for an easier mowing experience.
Electric mowers are good for small and medium yards that have some hills (look for self-propelling) and need detail work around shrubs/trees. They have been known to be cleaner but lack the muscle of gas-powered mowers. However, Scientific American, a magazine with sustainable home solutions, says that if your concern is battery power or cord length, the current electric mower technology usually exceeds expectations. In its 2018 article ranking electric mower models, The Tool Report website recommends that shoppers look for trusted brands like GreenWorks, Ego, Sun Joe and Black & Decker. The light, quiet, emission-free, easily maneuverable quality of cordless models makes them a must-have for homeowners and lawn care specialists alike. These mowers will usually run about $250-$350, but for those deterred by the effort needed to use reel mowers, they are worth the price.
Traditional gas-powered mowers are best suited for larger yards with hills and obstacles, states Castellanos, and they have many diverse pros and cons. Although these mowers have the highest power output and can tear through tall grass and weeds, they are the loudest and dirtiest, contributing to both noise and air pollution. According to Scientific American, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that "gas lawn mower emissions account for as much as five percent of the nation's total air pollution. Beyond that, homeowners spill some 17 million gallons of gasoline every year just refueling their lawn mowers." This fuel seeps into the ground water and toxifies your yard. The environmental cost is met with a $200-$400 price tag, not including fuel. Gas mowers make sense for homeowners with giant lawns, but they are not ideal for the environmentally savvy shopper.
Although there are stark environmental and cost differences, the size, terrain and complexity of your yard will be the primary factor in your lawn mower decision. When in doubt, get an accurate gauge of your lawn needs and motivation to mow. Then get to the store and hunt for those cold-weather deals.