GET TO KNOW MOWERS


You take pride in your lawns appearance and work hard to keep it in top shape. With the right lawn mower, you’ll get the results that you are looking for with less effort. That is if you choose your mower wisely.


A lawn mower is a lawn mower… is that what you’re saying? Well, I can assure you that different mowers are better at different aspects of the job. But if you do some research and examine your lawns requirements, you won’t be considering mowing the lawn a chore any longer.


 

LAWN SIZE CHART:

lawn size chart

LAWNMOWERS - PUSH/WALK BEHIND

 

There are three distinct types of push/walk behind mowers:


push mower

PUSH MOWER: As the name implies the motor drives only the blade, not the wheels. This mower has a YOU wheel drive.

FRONT WHEEL DRIVE MOWER: These mowers have maximum maneuverability and make the going easier on the flat. Great for medium and large lawns.

REAR WHEEL DRIVE MOWER: If your yard has slopes or hills, a rear wheel drive mower will really help you out. These provide better traction on wet grass or when you have a full bag of clippings.


The average push/walk behind mower engine ranges from 140cc to 190cc. The harshness of the conditions you intend to put you mower through will determine the size of engine that you’ll need.

 

ENGINES:

For flat terrain with regular height grass the 140cc engine will be fine. If your property is hilly or you intend to be mowing wet grass, mulching leaves or doing weed cutting the 190cc engine would be a better fit.

 

The four main types of engine are:

  1. SIDE VALVE: This is the traditional style of lawn mower engine. The valves are mounted on the side as the name suggests. This is the least expensive engine option.
  2. OVERHEAD VALVE: This is more compact as the Valves reside in the cylinder head. You’ll get better fuel efficiency than a side valve engine.
  3. OVERHEAD CAM: As above, this is a compact and efficient design. The cam being in the cylinder head gives better power.
  4. DIRECT OVERHEAD VALVE: This is the best of the lot for greater fuel efficiency, fewer emissions and less vibrations. It may be the quietest engine on this list, but it’s also the most expensive.

 

CONTROLS:

This is where the drive power for your wheels is directed from.

  • BAIL STYLE: This is a bar that runs across the grip. When you grip the bail to the handle, you engage the drive.
  • LEVER STYLE: A small lever on the grip that you operate with your thumb. Push forward to go/release to stop.
  • GRIP STYLE: Just squeeze the grip against the handle to engage the drive.
  • TELESCOPING HANDLE: Simply push to increase speed and pull to decrease.

 

Another aspect of your new push/walk behind mower will be how to deal with the clippings. You can choose a mulching mower. This option chops your grass clippings into tiny little pieces that return to the lawn and feed it. You can choose a bagging mower or one that simple discharges the clipping out to be raked up later. Many mowers allow you to choose any or all of these options in the same unit.

OTHER THINGS YOU’LL NEED TO CONSIDER:

  • AIR FILTER: Higher end models will have a pleated paper filter similar to you car’s air filter. Cheaper models may use something like a sponge to filter the air for your engine.
  • BLADE BRAKE CLUTCH: Some mowers feature this. Put simply, when you release the handle it disengages the drive system. The wheels will stop turning and the blade will stop as well. This is an important safety feature to look for.
  • WASHOUT FITTING: Newer mowers will have a fitting where you can attach your garden hose and safely clean the blade area without having to place your hands near it.
  • ELECTRIC START: Why hassle with yanking on that rip-cord for twenty minutes.
  • GAS/OIL FILL CAPS: Make sure that these are easily accessible.

When you weigh all of these different factors against your lawn care needs, the appropriate mower choice should become a lot easier.

 

Of course there are also electric versions of these mowers as well as the classic spinning reel push mower, so, you always have options.


LAWNMOWERS-RIDING

 

Larger lawns (or even fields for that matter) can often be too much for just a standard lawn mower. Smaller machines simply can’t handle the capacity. And if your yard is 6000 Sq feet or larger, it can be hard on you as well.

 

For larger lawns and even brush cutting, you need a riding lawn mower (or tractor). These are heavy duty machines and quite the investment, so you need to do your research in order to find the model that is right for you and your needs.

 

There are three major options to choose from:

riding lawnmower

REAR ENGINE RIDING MOWERS:

These are the next step up from a walk behind mower. They are slower than a riding mower/tractor or a zero turn and their cutting area is smaller; but they have the benefit of being less expensive. These are best for large home lawns as opposed to fields. Most utilize a gear drive and are maybe not the best at bagging or dispersing clippings. Their gas engines require regular oil changes as well as tune-ups.




Engine Placement: Rear

Cutting Area: 30 Inches

Yard Size: 1/2 to 1 Acre

Bag: Optional

RIDING LAWN MOWERS/TRACTORS:

These very versatile machines are better at clippings dispersal and have more traction on hilly terrain as opposed to their rivals. The riding mower/tractor can also accommodate other attachments like plows. Many models feature Hydrostatic transmissions for more power and smoother operation.

On many, the mower deck height is fully adjustable from the comfort of your high-backed seat. Bagging attachments can be a costly option that is available to you, or you can change the blade to mulch your clippings. A few of these mowers come with an ‘easy change’ system built in that makes changing to mulch mode fairly effortless. It’s gas engine requires regular oil changes as well as tune-ups.

 

Engine Placement: Front

Cutting Area: 42 to 48 Inches

Yard Size: 1/2 Acre or more

Bag: Optional

ZERO-TURN LAWN TRACTORS:

These units are agile and can turn on a dime. Rather than the more ubiquitous steering wheel, most zero-turn mowers utilizes two levers, (one on either side) to control direction. Pull back on one and push forward on the other and you are turning. The degree to which these handles are moved controls the amount of turn and speed of the mower. This allows the unit to make a complete circle nearly in place. Very convenient for mowing around trees, shrubs or other obstacles. These have a very wide cutting deck and do a great job mowing, but are not very powerful on hills. Bagging kits can be a costly optional extra.  It’s gas engine requires regular oil changes as well as tune-ups.



Engine Placement: Rear

Cutting Area: 42 to 50 Inches

Yard Size: 1/2 Acre or more

Bag: Optional

OPTIONS YOU MAY CONSIDER:

  • CRUISE CONTROL: Just like the system you have in your car. Set your speed and you won’t have to keep your foot on the gas to move forward.
  • EASY MODE CHANGES: Want your mower/tractor to mulch or bag? Well, on most that’s an additional kit to attach that can cost up to $500. But on some mower/tractors you can get this as a built in option that only requires a simple setting change.
  • HIGH BACK SEATS: Long periods on your mower can give you a sore back. The inclusion of a high backed seat helps prevent back pain and fatigue as well as giving you better control.
  • FUEL INDICATOR: Knowing how much gas is in the tank can be very helpful; Especially if you are far from your garage. A visible gas gauge that you can see from your seat may seem like a small thing, but there will come a time when you will wish you had it if you don’t already.
  • ENGINE HOUR METER: Is it time for an oil change? An Engine Hour Meter keeps track of engine runtime since your last oil change. These mowers are a big investment and this is an easy way to keep on top of maintenance. Some of these meters will link to your smartphone via bluetooth and give you regular maintenance updates.

So, as you can see there are a lot of different things to think about when you are out shopping for one of these mowers. Be sure to take into account everything that you will need this mower to handle. And, since you are most likely the person who will be operating it, think about what will  make the experience more enjoyable for you.

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