The Complete Lawn Mower Tool Guide for Newbies
Summer season is at its peak as well as longer blades of grass, insects and messy gardens. Some people are okay with it, but others desire a more lustrous patch that’s leveled to perfection. Top it off with the surrounding area of the lawn all lined up with all fancy flowers – and you got yourself a dandy looking lawn worthy of a perfect lawn mower.
Speaking of lawn mowers, not every lawn mower works as advertised. I’ve had my fill of these nasty buggers back from the 90's when most of the models used to be full manual mode. I’m talking about the old push category lawn mowers with a cylinder blade in front. They were the trend back in those days, with every other neighbor in the vicinity begging to borrow it off my hands.
Things changed fast; manual lawn mowers got replaced by new electric models – and that too with hundreds of variations n’ whatnot.
Sadly, I phased out a little on the technical specs ever since I shifted into an apartment complex. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I got my hands on a simple, but modern reiteration Handy Hand Push Mower.
Later on, the boys from ‘Power Tool Buzz’ got the idea of doing a round on the complete lawn mower buying guide, and that’s how it all started. This guide is not only a homage to the classic days when lawn mowers were a thing of the past, and to the new technology which has helped maintain the tradition of keeping that patch at its evergreen visuals.
How to Buy a Lawn Mower – Types That Matter the Most
Over the last decade, the traditional push style lawn mower model has undergone a lot of changes. The category also got joined by several variations of lawn mowers, such as but not limited to the following:
- Manual Reel Mower
- Self Propelled Mower
- Push Mower
- Riding Lawn Mower
- Rear Engine Riders
- Robotic Mowers
- U Haul Lawn Mowers
There’s no way in hell that I can cover all the aforementioned types of best lawn mowers and still be able to maintain the sanctity of this post, but I’ll go over a few of em’. For starters, the most basic version of a lawn mower, which is still being used in daily households (to some extent) is the Manual Reel Mower.
This bad boy required you to push the unit’s body all over the lawn in single line motion from one end to another. These lawn mowers were accompanied by a cylinder at the front end with long patches of blade around it. The rear bottom side of the lawn mower used to have a grass collection bag. These lawn mowers are almost extinct now.
The reason I used to love them was for the fact that they were a great way of going shirtless in the lawn, while getting a bit of tan and offering the hot ladies in the neighborhood a good look at your pecs.
On a serious note, a Manual Reel Lawn Mower was the perfect example of a non-polluting machine that never required a single ounce of gas, or emitted the slightest fume of smoke. On the downside, people got lazy and didn’t desire these models anymore. If these mowers got stuck, the cylinder’s blade called for a re-alignment session alongside occasional repairing every other week.
Self Propelled Mower
This is the main category that we will be reviewing in detail at Power Tool Buzz. Self Propelled lawn mowers are a step ahead of the conventional reef mowers because of a powerful multi stroke engine installation. Sometimes, the engine quality is subpar which yields a slow moving lawn mower unit. However, it is up to people whether they want a high profile self propelled mower such as the ones from Honda Co., or low standard models.
Most of the models operate on gas, while others are entirely electric. The common thing among self propelled lawn mowers is their innate ability to cover a large area of the grass. Their swath diameter spans over 21 – 22 inches. In addition, the blades are used to not only cut normal grass, but also resilient clumps of weed, mulch clippings and so much more.
Side Note: If you are a self propelled lawn mower aficionado who also happens to be an environmental activist, go for low fume gas. It might be slightly expensive, but at least you won’t be contributing to polluting the ozone layer.
Push Mowers – AKA Battery Operated Push Button Mowers
These type of lawn mowers are the distant cousins of manual reef mowers. The only difference is the staggering inclusion of a battery and/or a power cord – i.e. if you count the powered variant. Since people normally don’t like the look of a power cord line dragging behind a lawn mower, they prefer buying the cordless push mowers.
Both of these types are expensive where the ticket price goes up if you are looking for longer battery duration. Usually, the best electric lawn mower models under this category have lithium ion batteries. You will obviously get rid of gas, fumes and the need of refilling, but batteries only last as long as their charge does. Also, recharging is a pain in the ass and could take a couple of hours on end!
Plug-in models should be avoided like a plague in my opinion. They don’t normally cut as well as their wireless counterparts. The rest is up to you though. If you have a small grass patch, a plug in lawn mower might work better as an alternative to a cordless lawn mower.
I am not going to go into a lot of details pertaining to riding mowers, U haul mowers and the rest of them. Those type of lawn mowers are normally reserved for the big boys’ league and people who have several acres of land to till. Also, there are strong chances that you are a homeowner who likes to get by with a small sized economical version – so there’s that too.
Buying a Lawn Mower Calls a Lot for Consideration
Dean Speake of Handy Distribution once said, “The most important consideration when buying a lawn mower is the size of your lawn.” Oh boy… poor Dean doesn’t know that things have changed a lot since the size of the lawn. Now we have other fancy schmancy stuff like rotary machine with blades, rollers, cylinder mowers and vice versa.
In the end, the technology that is used in a lawn mower directly affects the end output. That would be how good your lawn looks, or is the grass cut to a specific uniform level across the entire garden – or maybe you successfully pulled off the stripe lawn cut look etc.
In this context, there is a multitude of options to consider when buying the best lawn mower. Take a look below to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
Lawn Mower Engine
If you are thinking of your lawn and the long stretch of summer season ahead, you should definitely invest in a lawn mower with an engine. I’m not talking about any subpar quality model, go for a unit that’s durable, it performs well and has a steady engine with low fuel consumption.
The best way to do that is by NOT ordering online. I’d rather see you going to a hardware store and ask for an engine lawn mower to get started. The sale rep will offer you tons of advice, and he/she will walk you through a couple of models. However, you should insist on seeing a live demo of a pre-assembled lawn mower.
Usually, retailers have a few lawn mowers assembled for display. While some of them may not agree to turn on the display lawn mower, there are a few hardware stores that’d be happy to offer you a firsthand experience. You just have to ask nicely, and convince them that you are seriously considering buying the best lawn mower ever – so that both parties know that you are not there for wasting time.
Usually, low to middle priced models have a 140 CC – 190 CC engine. These engines are perfect for lawn mowers which are used for cutting your standard backyard grass etc. There are other variants with powerful engines, but they are used for tall grass, bagging, leaf mulching and such other activities.
Also, if you are considering cutting weed, you should probably get a weed cutter with a high quality weed cutter wire. I know this isn’t connected to the subject of lawn mowers, but a lot of Americans prefer using a lawn mower for mowing down all kinds of plants. That’s not what they are made for.
For walk behind mowers and self propelled lawn mowers, there are different kinds of engines. The least expensive is the traditional side valve engine, which implies that the valves are on the side of the engine block. I have noticed that Briggs & Stratton and Honda have taken over the lawn mower market with their own dedicated engines. The new engines have valves on the top, where the cam and other valves are inside the cylinder head.
A Good Buyer’s Choice Would be a Gas Lawn Mower – Here’s Why…
Since I am talking about lawn mower engines, it brings me to the subject of gas lawn mowers as to why they are highly recommended from lawn care perspective. There are some of the most powerful, and yet simple models of walk behind lawn mowers associated with the gas mower category. Hands down, period.
For starters, gas lawn mowers are extra powerful and they don’t take a crunch on the wallet. Yes, it might be true that the price may go up north of $300, but these units are more like a one-time investment. You can buy good quality gas in bulk if you don’t want to overspend too much on gas cans as a compound expense.
Gas lawn mowers can support a larger deck width. As a result, their cutting swath diameter is larger than electric and reef mowers. Since the cutting swath is wider, you don’t have to make repeat passes over the same patch; it helps to reduce time during sizzling hot summer afternoons.
As an added benefit, gas powered lawn mowers are equipped with the technology to handle uneven terrain. These mowers are also able to cut through Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, which I hear is more of a challenge for your standard walk behind reef mower.
Lastly, you can take care of one acre of grassland easily on one full tank of gas. This is not a universal statement because each lawn mower has its own speed at which it consumes gas. However, as a rule of thumb, you should be going for green efficient / less gas consumption mowers.
Size of the Yard
Coming back to what Dean Speake said, the size of the yard determines the type of lawn mower you will end up buying. If you have a small yard, or a small garden per se, then you should have no issues in operating the standard push style reef mower. The small size of the mower will allow you to easily maneuver across narrow curves and reach hard-to-reach portions of the grass.
On the contrary, if you have a bigger patch of grass to cut through, a gas powered self propelled lawn mower is the better alternative. The latter is more than capable of weeding through large portions without having the need for second passes.
Side Note: When buying a gas lawn mower, always take the weight factor into account. Powerful engines weigh a lot, which makes it impossible to carry the lawn mower around; let alone push it. In that case, a self propelled gas powered lawn mower would be preferable. These units can “push” themselves forward like a simple vehicle.
Cutting Swath Size Vs. Deck Size
When looking for a great lawn mower, this is the feature you should definitely keep in mind. Better yet, write it down somewhere. Since high quality lawn mowers are not cheap, it is okay to go for a unit with wider cutting swath. What you need is more coverage area because it not only makes it easier to cut grass quickly, but also there are less chances of making mistakes.
Mistakes can be sketchy lines all across the patch. With smaller cutting swath/ diameter, people lose track of a straight line cut and they end up curving the cut’s look on the grass patch. This is the kind of mistake that matters a lot to gardeners and lawn mower operators who are looking for designer cuts.
Other Features to Consider In Lawn Mowers:
Gas Tank and Oil Refill Ports:
You don’t have to change engine oil on lawn mowers occasionally. However, it is one of the rituals which need to be followed. Make sure that the oil refill port is at an easily accessible area. Likewise, caps and oil fill spouts should be easy to turn.
Some of the lawn mower units have an LED indicator for a precise scale. Regardless it is a matter of preference and LEDs normally don’t affect the pricing of the lawn mower or vice versa.
Air Filter and Blade Brake Clutch:
Both components matter when you are looking for a gas powered lawn mower. Air filters collect dust and debris, while a blade brake clutch allows users to disengage the mower’s drive system and stop the blade. You will eventually need to know the basics of your lawn mower if you are looking for an uninterrupted usage over the next few years.
A lot of times, users are careless with replacing the lawn mower filter or refilling the oil. They somehow assume that the unit will keep on running. Since it is a machine, it will need regular checkups and maintenance for long term performance.
If you are looking for blade brake clutch system, you should know that it takes the cost up by another hundred dollars. But the biggest benefit of this mechanism is that you can safely stop the blade while the engine is running. It is a useful feature when people want to locate a problem area in a lawn mower and vice versa.
Did You Know…: Grass is a living organism and it sends out emergency signals to other patches of grass in near/ local vicinity. How so? Whenever you are cutting grass, you can smell that distinct fragrance. This smell is actually a distress signal that grass leaves are sending out as a warning to other grass leaves. Don’t believe me? Google it and you will be surprised to find out some of the amazing facts about grass n’ whatnot.
Closing Thoughts On The Complete Lawn Mower Buying Guide
In the end, it comes down to your requirements and the shape of the terrain. Not all property owners are looking to trim a long patch of grass; some of them actually have acres of slopes and gullies where only a tractor lawn mower would work. Since it would be physically a lot harder to operate a regular lawn mower over such terrain, you should keep your options open.
Our best advice would be to log on to Amazon, or other reliable online retailer websites and read existing verified lawn mower reviews. This will give you an unbiased insight on what really works and what does. Above all, don’t forget to share your thoughts and experiences at Power Tool Buzz through the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.