Lawn Care Tips

Choosing the Right Mower

Nobody is really sure how much time we spend mowing our lawns, but on the average it is about 40 hours per season. With that much time spent pushing these machines along keeping our lawns well manicured you think we would know more about them. In actual fact the mower you are using right now might not be the right machine for the job. Lawn mowers come in two types, rotary and reel and each type has its strengths and weaknesses.


Reel mowers have been around for a very long time and in recent years have for the most part been replaced by the rotary type mowers. The reel mower is better suited for a small lawn, generally in the 1,000 to 2,000 square foot ranges. Some of the advantages to a reel type mower are that they are quiet, non-polluting machines that provide a better quality cut from the scissoring action they produce. Today's reel mowers are considerably lighter in weight, generally in the 16 to 20 pound range. Improvements in the gears ball bearings, and axles translate into a rolling action that is smoother. These mowers come in a variety of blade patterns but for general lawn cutting a 5-blade pattern is your best bet.


This type of mower was developed in the 1950's and for the most part replaced most reel type mower for a homeowners lawn. Several of the advantages of a rotary mower include a faster cut, adjustments to height are less difficult, and are better at cutting grass at higher heights. All rotary mowers use power to make them operate whether it is electricity or gasoline. They come in a variety of designs such as push, self-propelled, walk-behind or riding mowers. The cutting decks can vary in size from 18" to 24" for most push mowers and up to 36" for a riding mower. The advantage of a riding mower is simple; they mow considerably faster than a push or self-propelled model. Because of their size I would recommend this type of mower for a lot 1/2 or more in size. Any smaller and lack of maneuverability will cause you to go over areas with a smaller mower which the ride-on missed. A mulching mower is designed specially to re-cut the grass clipping several times to reduce its size, which in turn decompose quickly eliminating the need to bag or rake. There are many after market blades you can purchase to convert your conventional blade to a mulcher. These blades do a fair job but are not as effective as a true mulching mower as it has specially designed baffles underneath the deck which keeps the grass clippings suspended until they are cut several times.


By doing a little research you will purchase a mower which best suits your lawn. Is the equipment powerful enough and has a wide enough cutting deck to match your lawn? By saving money and buying something smaller and cheaper you run the risk of additional time spent cutting your lawn. One example of this is purchasing an 18-inch push behind mower to cut a 1-acre (42,000-sq.ft.) lot. Using this machine it will take an average person 2 1/2 hours to complete the job. On the other hand a riding mower with a 36-inch cutting deck can usually finish the job in 30 minutes. Buy the highest quality mower you can afford.

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