You might think that lawn mowing would be a simple subject. However, there are some things you need to know when you’re choosing what kind of lawn mower you’ll need. Because there are so many kinds of lawn mowers on the market, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Use this guide to choose the right lawn mower for your yard.
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Edwin Budding invented the reel lawn mower in 1830. Unlike the rotary mowers that most people use today, reel lawn mowers don’t have an engine, relying instead merely on sharp blades and the muscle-power of the operator. Today’s reel lawn mowers are easier to use than older models, because they’re made with lightweight plastics and alloys that make them easier to maneuver. If you live in Lancaster County, you’ve no doubt seen modern reel mowers in use at Amish homes.
A reel mower’s blades spin differently than those of a rotary mower. While a rotary mower’s blades spin on a plane parallel to the ground, the blades of a reel lawn mower spin at an angle perpendicular to the ground.
Reel lawn mowers are a fantastic pollution-free alternative to gas-powered or electric rotary mowers. In addition to being easy on the environment, reel lawn mowers are safe, quiet, low maintenance and inexpensive.
There are, however, some drawbacks to using reel lawn mowers. Reel lawn mowers don’t chop up twigs and debris like rotary mowers do. In fact, twigs will get stuck in the blades and must be removed by hand. Reel mowers aren’t effective at cutting tall grass, either.
Conclusion: Reel mowers are suited for small lots with relatively short grass.
Electric Lawn Mowers
With more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, many are turning to electric mowers for trimming their lawns. Today’s cordless electric lawn mowers are safe and more flexible than previous models, which required an electric cord. Cordless electric lawn mowers run on rechargeable batteries. Not as quiet as reel lawn mowers, cordless electric lawn mowers are still much less noisy than gas-powered mowers. An added benefit of electric lawn mowers is that they start with a switch, not a pull-cord.
Electric mowers are not effective on large lawns or tall grass, both of which put a lot of strain on batteries.
Conclusion: Cordless electric mowers work best if your lawn is one-third of an acre or less, and you keep your lawn mowed regularly.
Self-propelled mowers do exactly what it sounds like they do. When you squeeze a bar or a trigger, the mower propels itself forward. You don’t have to push it; you just have to control the mower’s direction. If you release your grip on the bar or trigger, the mower blade stops spinning.
Self-propelled mowers are more expensive than regular push mowers, but both are less expensive than riding mowers.
Conclusion: Self-propelled mowers are for everyone, but if you want to save money and are physically capable, a push mower is a great choice.
Mulching mowers finely chop grass clippings as you mow, leaving behind a grass mulch or compost, if you will. The grass clippings left behind by a mulching mower essentially function as a lawn fertilizer, as if you were applying compost to the lawn. Essentially, mulching lawn mowers help keep your lawn healthy and lush.
Mulching lawn mowers are designed so as to leave behind finely shredded grass clippings. Such clippings can be left on the lawn with impunity. By contrast, because lawn mowers without mulching capabilities produce clippings that are bulkier and readily mat together, their clippings need to be removed from the lawn, so that the grass doesn’t suffocate under them.
The alternative to a mulching lawn mower is a lawn mower that comes with a bag attachment to collect grass clippings. If you choose a mower with a bag attachment, you should deposit the clippings into a compost pile. You’ll have free compost for the garden and avoid wasting community landfill space.
Lawn tractors or riding mowers are gas-powered and can come with or without the mulching option. Lawn tractors can use attachments, like bags for mulched grass or leaves, or snow removal tools. Zero-turn riding mowers are usually used by commercial lawn care companies.
As with all lawn mowers, caution must be exercised when operating riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors. Choose a mower that’s in your price range that meets the needs and standards that you have assigned to it.
Conclusion: Riding mowers are best for people who have more than half an acre to mow and would rather not push a mower, even a self-propelled one.
Give Your Mower a Tune-Up
At the beginning of every mowing season, you should perform a tune-up on your lawn mower. Use our guide to keep your mower humming.
#1 Warm up the engine.
Put just enough gas in the gas tank to get your lawn mower running. Start your engine and let it run until it runs out of gas.
#2 Disconnect the spark plug wire so that the engine can’t start accidentally.
#3 Change the oil.
#4 Change the spark plugs.
#5 Replace the air filter, which is either paper or foam.
Clean the air filter unit with kerosene. Soak the new piece of foam in clean engine oil. Be sure to squeeze out excess oil using a clean rag.
Winterizing Your Lawn Mower
If you live in Lancaster County, or where it gets cold in the winter, you should properly winterize your mower at the end of your mowing season. Proper winterizing will not only save you money and frustration, but also reduce emissions next spring. A lawn mower in good working condition is both safer and better for your lawn.
Following these easy maintenance steps for your lawn mower this winter.
#1 Drain the gas out of the tank.
#2 Clean the undercarriage with a brush and hot soapy water, making sure to rinse well.
#3 Sharpen the blade and spray it with a light coating of WD40.
#4 Lube the cables and throttle control.
#5 Store your mower in a sheltered area.
Before you use your mower the following spring, check the undercarriage and and the discharge chute and bag for critters that may have decided to use your lawn mower as a winter get-away.
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