Cut to the Chase: Picking the Perfect Lawnmower
When shopping for a new lawnmower, most homeowners consider price, brand, features, and sometimes even the dealer. These are all valid concerns. However, it’s equally important to take into consideration the size, shape and topography of your particular property. Do you have a postage-stamp-size lot or large, open expanse of lawn? Must you mow up and down hills, along fences, around flowerbeds, or between shrubs and trees? Answers to these questions will influence the type of mower you need.
There are many different sizes and styles of lawnmowers available, but the suggestions listed below can help narrow your search and steer you toward the best mower for your yard. Simply find the yard size that most closely matches your property, and compare the options. Note that there is some overlap between mowers and sizes of lawns. For example, a riding mower is appropriate for both medium and large yards.
Manual reel mower—Has no engine, so it’s quiet, dependable, very low-maintenance, and environmentally friendly. Cuts grass very cleanly, resulting in less ragged, brown tips. Reel mowers roll smoothly, but you must walk briskly to get the best results. Not very effective at cutting tall weeds; they tend to just roll right over them. Good choice for very small, flat yards.
Corded electric mower—Quiet, efficient, clean, and dependable. No gas or oil required. Just plug it in and start mowing. No time limit on electric mowing, but the length of the extension cord limits its range. And, the cord can become snagged when mowing around shrubs, fences and other obstacles.
Cordless electric mower—Quiet, efficient, clean, and dependable. No gas or oil required, and no extension cord to wrestle with. Powered by a rechargeable battery, which offers total freedom. Mowing time is limited by battery capacity. Available as push or self-propelled; push models require more work, but they don’t drain the battery as quickly.
Walk-behind push mower—Has a gas engine that’s more powerful than electric or reel mowers. Can easily mow down tall grass and tough, fibrous weeds. However, because you must push the mower, this type is best for relatively flat lawns.
Walk-behind self-propelled mower—Has gas engine and drive-train system that powers the mower forward. Very easy to use on virtually any terrain. Front-wheel-drive models pivot easily for cutting around obstacles. Rear-wheel-drive models aren’t as nimble, but excel at cutting up hill. Most self-propelled mowers are variable-speed, allowing you to adjust the mowing speed to your stride and pace.
Riding mower—Provides a comfortable way to mow lawns quickly and efficiently. Riding mowers aren’t as powerful or fast as lawn tractors, but they do offer a slightly quieter, smoother ride. Typically has rear-mounted motor and single-blade mowing deck. Note that not every manufacturer makes a riding mower.
Riding mower—Top-of-the-line models are ideal for large, relatively flat lawns. Can handle gentle slopes, but some models would struggle to climb steep hills. Are slower and narrower than lawn tractors, so it’ll take longer to mow large lawns.
Lawn tractor—Large powerful motor and wide mowing deck makes fast work of mowing the largest lawns. Typically has belt-drive motor. Very comfortable to ride. Will handle most terrain. Capable of use with snowplow blade, collection bag, or work cart.
Garden tractor—Essentially a larger, wider, more powerful version of a lawn tractor. Features a PTO (power take off) that accepts accessories, such as tillers and snow throwers. Typically has durable, direct-drive motor. Note that mowing deck is often sold separately.
Zero-radius-turning mower—A favorite of professional landscapers, ZRT mowers are fast, powerful, extremely nimble, and they can turn on a dime. Perfect for large lawns and mowing around trees, shrubs and other obstacles. Most are controlled with dual lap bars, which can be challenging for some users. Cub Cadet also offers ZRT mowers with steering wheels, which are much easier and safer to drive. According Cub Cadet, Zero-Radius-Turning mowers with steering wheels are equipped with four-wheel-steering, which holds tight on hills, and helps eliminate sliding downhill and loss of control. And because the front wheels turn—not simply pivot—steering-wheel ZRT mowers don’t damage the lawn, as do some lap-bar ZRT mowers when turning fast.
Wide-cut self-propelled mower—A walk-behind model featuring extra-wide mowing deck (33 to 36 inches) and powerful drive train and motor. Mows very fast and can handle all terrain. However, because you must walk behind, this type of mower may not be the best option for those with extremely large lawns.