Picture a scene of a little suburban township, with a row of beautiful houses, with white picket fences encircling flawlessly manicured gardens. Now, who wouldn’t want to live amidst that scenery? But this isn’t some magic that can happen overnight. It is hours of hard work with the right tools that will make sure this dream is achieved and maintained. One of those irreplaceable tools is the Lawn Mower.
A lawn mower is probably the most important weapon in the arsenal of a proud homeowner or a landscaper against the ugly, unkempt lawn and with a multitude of options available there is something for everyone’s needs and requirements. Lawn mowers have evolved considerably since they first arrived in the early 1800s. So much so that it can get pretty confusing when choosing the right one. Through this post we will try to identify the options and what are they best suited for, to help you pick out what’s best for you. Let’s get started.
Before we talk about lawn mowers itself lets look at the most important part of the mower “The Blade”. There are 2 types of blades found on mowers – Rotary and Cylindrical with the former being the most commonly used.
Rotary Blades can be a single or multi-blade setup that rotates horizontally under the mower. This is a versatile setup with options like height adjustment and speed variation making it capable to handle the toughest of jobs.
Cylindrical Blades are found on the traditional push reel mowers and on some big tow behind commercial machines. Cylindrical blades are mostly twin blades that rotate vertically at the front of the mower and cut against a fixed blade at the bottom. A triple blade or more is the best setup for this type.
Cylinder mowers are best suited to flat lawns that need to be kept short and neatly trimmed and cannot really handle tall thick grass. Whereas a rotary blade setup can handle most type of grass making it the more popular choice.
Now that we have identified the core of the mowers lets see whats on offer and for whom. There are mainly 3 types and many sub-types of lawn mowers, the first of which is:
Walk Behind Mowers
Walk behind mowers are easily the most popular choice selling more than 5 million units in America alone. Like the name suggests the user walks behind the mower while it does its job and the compact form with a whole lot of features makes it easy to use and store for any lawn owner.
With cutting decks ranging from 7 inches to 22 inches it is highly effective on small and medium sized lawns and at a price between $200 to $500 it will not burn a hole in your pocket.
Walk Behind mowers can be push mowers, self-propelled mowers or hover mowers.
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Push mowers need the energy of the user to push the mower across the lawn while it does the cutting, so the faster you go the faster you mow. Push mowers can be manual, gas or electric powered. Manual push mowers like the Reel mowers are the traditional type of mowers with a cylindrical blade setup which spins as you push the mower. They are the cheapest kind out there and also the most green as they use nothing but a lot of sweat and grit to get the job done. Not the best option for tall thick grass on big hilly lawns.
Gas or Electric mowers also need to be pushed to move around however the blade’s rotary motion is controlled by a gas or electric powered motor with variable speeds for tackling all sorts of grass. Gas powered motors are more powerful than electric ones but the electric mowers are more environment-friendly and quiet. Priced around the $200 mark makes this a frugal and more than a capable choice for small lawn owners on a budget.
Self Propelled Lawn Mowers
This type of walk behind mower makes life a lot easier for the user as it propels itself forward and all you have to do is steer it. This too can be gas or electric powered. Self-propelled mowers come with a whole lot of features and are really easy to use. They provide the power of larger machines in a small package that makes handling a breeze and storage a piece of cake. In fact, if presented with a flat lawn with thin grass it could even handle a large sized lawn. With features like adjustable blade height, blade override, variable speeds with the squeeze of a lever and 3-in-1 clippings discharge this is the most versatile mower that you could find. Priced between $300 to $500 makes it a great bargain for all it has to offer. You could even read our comprehensive buying guide for self propelled mowers for more information.
Check our 7 Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower Under 300 along with details buying guide.
This is the most unique and revolutionary type of mower available today. Invented in 1964 by Karl Dahlman it rides on a cushion of air like a hover-craft making it easy to just glide over the lawn smoothly chopping up all in its way. Hover mowers are fairly light and agile and are very easy to use and stow. Uneven surfaces pose no problem to these handy machines however they do struggle to perform near flower beds and edges. Hover mowers are most commonly electric mowers and are mostly powered via a cable. The light weight and hover capability make it ideal for small and unusually shaped lawns. Being cheaper than the self propelled mower makes it a really good choice for people on a budget.
When purchasing an electric walk behind lawn mower one thing to consider would be to opt for a cordless or battery operated mower. Powering your mower via cable would be a good choice if your lawn has an open area with very few obstacles and turns. Larger, more crowded lawns would be better served by a cordless, battery-powered mower.
Riding Lawn Mowers
Now, this is getting your chores done and having fun while you’re at it. Riding lawn mowers are fast and powerful mowers that can mow up to 5 acres of grass in no time. With some mowers reaching top speeds of 13 mph, you can enjoy the ride and quickly get done with your work all while enjoying a nice cold beverage in a comfortable seat.
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With a cutting path ranging from 20 to 54 inches, you can easily cover anything from small gardens to football fields and golf courses. These mowers come in a number of sizes and a lot of prices. Prices of these mowers can be between 1000 to 5000 dollars and a lot more for the even bigger commercial mowers. The higher you go the better the features.
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This plethora of features (You can even attach snow ploughs!!) makes this a very versatile tool to tackle anything thrown at it. A riding lawn mower is an absolute essential tool when you are dealing with a big lawn job if you want it done hassle free and quickly.
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Riding lawn mowers can be gas or electric powered and usually use a steering wheel to drive along with manual or automatic transmission. There are also Zero Turn Radius Mowers which use lap bars to steer. This gives a lot more maneuverability but is a little tougher to get used to.
For additional information on how to choose the right riding lawn mower, you can read our detailed riding lawn mower buying guide.
Robotic Lawn Mowers:
These are the new kids on the block and are yet to make a mark on the landscaping community. Although they have greatly improved since first being launched there is still a long way to go to match the performance of its predecessors.
However, it is a blessing for the busy people who do not have the time and the lazy ones who prefer to sit and relax while it does the mowing for them. But first, you must mark the area of work to be done by wires, which act as a boundary within which this mower will do its job.
The robotic lawn mower is quite expensive so individuals on a budget might want to steer clear of this one, but if you are one those people whose time is money then you might consider this option.
These mowers save you a lot of time and are easily stored due to their small form. On the other hand, they are not capable of handling thick growth as they are too small and slow. The battery is not too big so it just doesn’t last that long and needs frequent recharging. It is handy around small flat gardens if you are willing to pay that price though.
It is important to first and foremost ask yourself these two questions: What size is the lawn? And How much do I want to pay?
So if you own a small garden less than 1/4 of an acre in size a simple Reel mower would do the job. It’s a clean and cheap option which will help you get in some exercise too. If you wish for a little less work for a slight increase in the budget a gas or electric powered push mower would be great.
A bigger yard which is about 1/2 to 3/4 of an acre a self propelled lawn mower would be perfect. You would get a lot more work done with much lesser effort. There are multiple options to suit your budget. If your lawn is hilly you might consider a rear wheel or all wheel drive option for better traction. With a world full of options and a huge array of features and attachments you can pick and choose the right mower to suit your needs.
Anything larger than an acre we would suggest a riding lawn mower. Medium and large lawns can be a lot to walk on a hot summers day. The riding lawn mower does away with the added effort and keeps you happy and comfortable for hours of mowing pleasure. With excellent suspensions, big wheels, powerful engines and a plush seat mowing the lawn definitely does not feel like a chore.
With a budget under $1500, you can get a great mower perfect for medium sized lawns. For larger lawns, you can buy a sturdy lawn tractor from $2000 upwards.
If your lawn requires tight turning and has lots of obstacles you might want to invest in a zero turn radius mower for best results.
There you have it, the whole range of mowers for your choosing. There are a whole lot of individual features each mower has which you should look out for when you have picked the type of mower that best suits you. Some of the best brands to look out for would be Honda, Craftsman, John Deere, Troy Bilt, and Husqvarna.
Hope you now have all the relevant information that you need to make a decision for the mower that will keep your lawn pristine for years to come.