How to Find the Best Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Suburban lawns, small to midsized patches of grass are ideally suited to a walk behind mower. These come in three flavors namely reel, gas and electricity powered. The real question to ask here is what you want from the mower. Do you want to push it around or need it to propel itself? Then there is the question of size of yard, grass height and type. I have arranged the three common categories of walk-behind mowers based on cutting width, height, engine power and price range with a few short buying tips for each.
Personally I just love reel mowers because they are cheap, effective and the easiest to use. Basically, they use a blade spindle that revolves or spins as you push the mower along. They act like large scissors slicing through grass quickly. The pros of this kind of mower are – its lightweight, zero emissions, no maintenance, easy to use and long lasting. Problem is that the blades can get entangled in debris and twigs so for yards with lots of trees or flower beds, this is not a suitable choice.
Coverage Area – 13 to 20 inches
Effective Cutting Height – 4 to 5 inches.
Price – $80 to $250
Tips On Buying A Reel Mower
- Number of Blades – Most reel mowers use a combination of 4 to 7 blades. The more blades it has the tougher it is to push although it can cut through heavy grass types like St. Augustine or Bermuda. Thinner grass types like Kentucky or Fescue need no more than 5 blades.
- Width – Wider the mouth of the mower the quicker you can finish mowing. In fact, a 20 inch mower will have at least 30 percent more efficiency than a 14 inch mower. However, as you are the power that propels such a mower forward, think wisely before jumping at a 20 inch mower.
Electric Lawn Mowers
Much quieter than gas models, they are also zero emission equipments powered either with a battery or an extension cord. Operating costs usually are lower with electric mowers but their reach is limited by the extent to which it gets power. The problem with such units is that they can access only a small tract of land unlike gas models that can go far. Moreover, they tend to cost more as quality increases. Lower priced models are usually not that dependable.Coverage Area – 18 to 22 inches
Effective Cutting Height – 1.25 to 4 inches.
Price – $180 to $450
Tips On Buying An Electric Mower
- Mulch or Not to – If you plan on mulching you will need a versatile mower. Most inexpensive models usually do not provide mulching attachments.
- Battery Vs Cord – Now corded versions have more power and better performance but they are limited by the cord length. Either get a mower with a long cord length or go with battery operated units if you have to travel far from a power source.
- Deck Size – With electric models, the deck size matters a lot as it determines the number of passes necessary and the total time required to mow a lawn. Larger the deck size less is the time taken.
Gas Lawn Mowers
Powerful yet compact engines sit pretty on top of the blades while you either push them from behind or walk alongside. They can power through the thickest of grass blades with ease and can move over hilly terrain with less effort. The only cons of this design is that its polluting by design and noisy too.Coverage Area – 17 to 24 inches
Effective Cutting Height – 0.75 to 5 inches.
Price – $300 to $950
Quick tips On Buying A Gas Mower
- Self vs Pushed Design – Self driven units draw a small amount of power from the engine to propel the wheels forward. Now they can either be front driven or rear driven. Regardless they are easier to move around and are great with gradients. Pushed design are harder to maneuver but inexpensive and easier to maintain.
- Electric Start vs Recoil – Pulling a cord, using the choke and starting a cold motor is not always easy. On the other hand electric start is much easier to work with as a button powers up the engine. But electric start significantly increases the price.
Additional Attachments – Even though you may not always use the mulch attachment or the side discharge bag, having them with you is always a good idea. Purchase a gas mower that already comes packaged with such attachments since they cost more separately.