How to Pick the Best Lawn Mower
For starters, you have to know what you expect from your lawn mower.
What size lawn do you have?
Are there any obstacles in your lawn?
Is the ground of the lawn flat or sloped?
Will you be using the mower on long or short grass?
Now that you’ve answered those questions, pick the type of lawn mower suitable for your lawn!
The types of lawn mowers are mainly:
Reel lawn mower – Pushes by muscle. Lightest and least expensive (somewhere around $100). Best for small lawns and environmentalists.
Rotary lawn mower– Is engine or gas powered. Easier to use on long grass and easier to maintain, but does not mow as cleanly and evenly as reel mowers. They come in two variations:
Non-self-propelled – Also called push mowers. Good for smooth and flat medium size lawns. Costs about $150-$200.
Self-propelled – Good for uneven lawns because they have power to pull themselves up slopes. ($200-$1800)
Riding lawn mower – Perfect for large lawns because you can drive it around riding on it. ($1500-$2000)
Zero-turn-radius mower – A riding lawn mower with fast turning blades and better maneuverability. If you need to mow very fast and still achieve that smooth and neat look on your lawn, this is for you. Very expensive though ($3500-$4000).
Want to read more about the types of lawn mowers? Click here to go to my short guide.
Here are my top picks:
Best Value Self-propelled Lawn Mower – Best for those who want a combination of efficiency and high end features.
Best for its cleanest cut of grasses.
Best for those who don’t want the worry of running over cords accidentally
An easy to use, wide lawn mower perfect for small lawns.
If you would like a complete summary, do check out my lawn mowers reviews blog and best lawn mowers top picks.
What Makes It A Good Lawn Mower?
I’m a rather particular person about my lawn. So having used a few kinds of lawn mowers and sharing experience with my friends, I know what to look for in a lawn mower, be it a reel mower, push mower or riding mower. I find that a good lawn mower must have these important points:
Reliability and durability
Remember to keep your lawn mower in top form all the time! A good lawn mower will last you a very long time but you have to take care of it. In fact it will work better on your lawn (cleaner cuts).
Lawn Mower Repair and Maintenance
Lawn mower repair will be a fact of life for you if you use a gas powered mower. Small gasoline engines require a lot of maintenance and they will need repairs at some point, it’s just a matter of time. That’s one of the main drawbacks to gas powered mowers versus electric lawnmowers, gas mowers require a lot more maintenance and there are a lot more parts that could potentially break down and give you problems.
One of the first steps in lawn mower repair will be troubleshooting any problems that you have. For example, if your lawn mower won’t start you will need to figure out why it’s not starting and it’s always best to start by checking the simplest possibilities. Is their fuel in the tank? If so, has the fuel been sitting in the tank for a long time? If you are pulling your mower out of the garage for the first time after a long winter and the mower won’t start you may need to drain and replace the fuel. If your mower has fresh fuel but it still won’t start there may be an ignition problem or you may need new spark plugs. If you do need to replace your spark plugs take one of them with you to the hardware store so you can make sure you are replacing them with the right part.
Sometimes you will be able to get your mower started but it’s just not running properly. If the mower is running rough and sounds like it might be choking it might be time to replace the fuel filter. Over time dirt and debris can clog up the filter and your mower will not run as smoothly as it should. Replacing the filter is an easy job and will get your mower running properly again.
Sometimes lawn mower repair is best left to the professionals. If you have attempted to troubleshoot potential problems but you still can’t figure out exactly what the problem is you will need to take your mower in to a professional to get it fixed. It is important to get an estimate before any work is actually done. Sometimes it might be more cost effective to just purchase a new lawn mower rather than paying a lot of money to repair an old one.
You may have heard your doctor say that prevention is the best medicine and the same is true when it comes to taking care of your lawn mower. If you properly maintain your mower you can avoid a lot of problems and costly repairs in the future. The owner’s manual that came with your lawn mower should have plenty of tips for properly maintaining it. You want to make sure that there is always plenty of oil and that all of the moving parts are lubricated. After mowing your lawn you should clean the mower and remove any grass clippings because if moist yard clippings are left their it could cause corrosion and create problems in the future. It’s also important to keep the blades sharp and sharpening blades is a job that you may choose to do yourself or you may want to hire a professional.
Check your owner’s manual for any additional maintenance tips. Proper maintenance is the most important thing you can do to keep your mower operating properly. If there are some simple repairs that need to be done you might be able to tackle those yourself and if you do you need to hire a professional to do the repairs just make sure that the repairs are not going to cost more than the mower is worth.
How To Sharpen Lawn Mower Blades
A rotary-blade power mower cuts grass by slicing it off at high speed. The blades on many move around 2,500 revolutions per minute. But that high speed becomes ineffective if the blades are dull or nicked. Fortunately, keeping them sharp is easy and takes only a few minutes to learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades with the proper tools and technique.
Since the task will require turning over your mower to remove the blade, you may have to drain the gas depending on your model. Some can be tipped over without leakage, others can’t. In any case, at least disconnect the spark plug temporarily. That’s particularly important for those models with an auto-starter. The chances are very low that the mower can be started accidentally, but make them zero anyway.
Turn the mower deck over and wedge a block of wood between the blade and the underdeck to keep the blade from turning. Put on a pair of leather gloves and grab an adjustable wrench or one of the right size for your mower.
Remove the blade and clean off any grass and dirt residue. While you’re at it, use a putty knife or scraper to remove built up grass from the underdeck area as well. Then clamp the blade into a bench vice for manual sharpening. Examine the blade for nicks. Depending on the size of any nicks present, you may have to use a larger or coarser file. For most cases, a medium to fine metal file is fine.
Oil the mower blade lightly with fine machine oil. Then take the file in both hands and run it across the beveled edge in a smooth motion from the center to the edge away from your body. Take care to keep the file at the same angle as the bevel as much as possible. For those without the skill, special angled clamps are available.
Don’t file the flat edge, unless it’s necessary in order to smooth off a nick that has pushed metal out, making it not flat at that spot.
Make the same number of strokes on each side of the blade, with the same pressure. The goal here is to keep the blade balanced, having the same amount of metal on each side of the nut hole. Out-of-balance blades cut less well and cause excessive vibration on the mower.
The ideal mechanism to sharpen a mower blade is an electric bench grinder, but if improperly used they can destroy your blade quickly. It’s essential to clamp the blade at just the right angle. Many grinders make this simple, using attached clamps.
If you have to do it free hand, make sure you have a very steady hand. Otherwise, you’ll grind too much off the blade at once. That will either ruin the blade, or at best make it off-balance. With the proper clamps or technique you can complete the task in seconds. Always wear safety goggles, of course. Flying bits of metal can ruin eyesight for life.
If it only takes a few minutes to learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades, the effort is worthwhile, since you’ll save a trip to the store. Sometimes, though, it’s simply less trouble to replace the blade. After you get that blade good and sharp it is time to get out the lawn trimmers and edgers.
Spring Lawn Care Tips
Taking care of your lawn starts with a good foundation, which means getting a jump on lawn care in the spring with plenty of spring lawn care tips, even before mowing season starts. By taking some time to do a little spring lawn care, you’ll have a great lawn started by the time the weather turns truly warm. A lot of these tasks require a little more thought than simply mowing the lawn, so it’s best to plan for your spring lawn care well beforehand. But by taking the time to perform the tasks of spring lawn care, you’ll find yourself pleased with the results.
Get Rid Of Thatch
There are two ways to remove thatch, which is the dead material between the grass and soil: one is by firm raking of the lawn, which can be time-consuming and difficult to do, but effective, and by aerating the soil, which should be done anyway. Either way, removing the thatch will help your lawn to grow better, by allowing water, nutrients, and sunlight to better hit your lawn. A good raking should also be done in the fall, which you should already be doing thanks to leaves dropping from the trees, but can also be incorporated into your spring lawn care routine.
Aeration provides benefits other than removing thatch, however. A plug aerator removes finger-sized cores of soil and other materials from your lawn, which helps air, water, nutrients, and even helpful animals like earthworms move through the soil easier. Without proper aeration, soil tends to become compacted, which inhibits growth. By punching holes in your lawn with a plug aerator, you help to correct some of that compaction. The removal of some of the thatch is mostly a side benefit, but nevertheless helpful.
Seed Your Lawn
You’ll get best results from seeding in the fall, but sometimes during your rounds of spring lawn care, you’ll find that bare patches have still sprung up here and there. If you do have bare patches, a liberal coating of grass seed and nitrogen fertilizer should give you the grass that you need in those spots. The best time for doing this for spring lawn care is in March or April; otherwise you’re better off just waiting until the fall. Keep in mind that new grass sprouts should receive water more often than you might give the rest of your lawn, but if you have rainy weather in the spring in your area, you should be okay.
Stop The Weeds
One of the best times to take out the weeds is during your spring lawn care routine. By applying preemergent herbicides, which inhibit the growth of new seedlings, you’ll stop the weeds before they start. The use of these herbicides will help to stop crabgrass and other plants from growing up too much, and keep you from having larger weeding chores later on.
The best time to do this is after aeration, since aeration would remove the protective layer of herbicide. Also, be careful if you have to do any seeding, since most herbicides will also inhibit the growth of new grass; look for a brand that won’t harm grass seedlings. However, if you remove thatch, aerate, and seed when needed every time you go through your spring lawn care tips routine, you’ll end up with a beautiful lawn, year after year. Dont forget to learn how to sharpen lawn mower blades.
Basic Tools for Lawn And Garden Care
It’s only been just over a hundred fifty years since grass was cut with a hand scythe – if it was cut at all. That was about the extent of lawn and garden tools then. Now, there are a dozen tools – some hand, some power, that are considered essential for keeping that green carpet in shape.
A lawnmower is the most basic. It’s odd to think of a living organism as needing to be sliced to stay healthy, but as a professional gardener acquaintance once said ‘Grass likes to be cut’. To accomplish that, a good lawnmower is a necessity. Though among the more expensive items in the tool set, if maintained well it will last forever.
Keep the blade sharp, the spark plug clean and (if it has one) the air filter changed. Change the oil as you would on a car, every season.
Keeping the lawn neat is almost always a matter that can’t be completely carried out just by mowing, though. A trimmer or edger is needed. The two basic types are the old-fashioned two-blade models with a long handle. Running the blade alongside patio bricks, steps and other edges keeps the lawn trim and looking good.
The other type is a powered whirling device that shoots a plastic string out a few inches. The string whacks off grass or other plants wherever you aim it. They’re lightweight, inexpensive and can last for years, though the coil of plastic string needs to be replaced every couple of months. At a cost of only a few dollars, it saves a lot of effort.
A spreader or two is vital for evenly laying out fertilizer, weed killer and other compounds that help keep the lawn weed free, healthy and looking great. One sort is like a small lawnmower with no blade, just a tub with small holes and a roller that dispense material. Easy to use and long lasting, they’re adjustable for a variety of applications.
The second type of spreader is a hand-held unit, usually plastic with a rotary handle. They’re perfect for specialized applications of seed for patching small lawn areas, distributing dry fertilizer beads and so forth.
A rake is handy for more than just piling up leaves in the late fall. Though it’s important to use for that. Leaves left on the ground can cause grass to overheat or get too little water. In areas that get winter snow, at the end of the season the grass will be compressed into thatch.
Blades will overlay one another, preventing air from reaching the soil efficiently. De-thatching can be done with a power tool, but a simple hand rake is also effective.
A long fork or narrow blade, long-handled shovel spade is great for spot removal of weeds. The larger square or rounded shovel will also be needed though for post hole-digging, transferring soil and plants and a dozen other tasks around the yard. Learn how to remove rust from these tools.
Stock up on the basics, keep them in good shape and all your lawn care jobs will be easier. Well, easier than cutting with a scythe, that’s for sure. Modern lawn and garden tools sure are nice.
Our Reviews will help you choose the most suitable for your lawn mower
Reviews for Self-Propelled Mowers
Reviews for Riding Lawn Mowers
Reviews for Zero-turn Lawn Mowers
Reviews for Push Lawn Mowers
Reviews for Reel Mowers