Checkout Lane: Finding a lawnmower that’s a cut above the rest

Lana Lagomarsini

The arrival of spring promises hope in the form of warmer weather, blooming flowers and growing grass. But by summer, that growing grass can become an unsightly mess if you don’t manage it.

It’s important to find the right lawnmower for your land to make cutting the grass that much easier.

The most common lawnmower is the walk-behind or push model. This model can be manual, electric or gas-powered.

“The market is changing. A lot of people are thinking about electric or battery powered,” said Dan Donahue, owner of Four Seasons Power Equipment in Whitman, Mass.

Four Seasons sells a variety of mowers, from the manual push mowers to zero-turn rider lawnmowers that are designed for manicured lawns.

Some mowers have the ability to bag, discharge or mulch the cut grass. If you decide to purchase a machine that will mulch and fertilize your lawn as well as trim it, be sure to trim more frequently than with discharge or bag mowers.

“A lot of people think that if they buy a mulching mower they can cut through the same amount of grass as when they bagged,” said Don Stewart, owner of Stewart’s Power Equipment in Holbrook, Mass.

A standard push-behind mower can cost anywhere from $159 to $550, according to Peter Cavicchi, service manager at Dick’s Power Equipment in Hanover. Ride-on mowers usually begin around $1,100.

When looking for a mower it is important to consider what kind of lawn you have – whether it is landscaped, smooth or hilly. And go to a salesperson you can trust, Cavicchi said.

“The biggest thing we see in the industry is … a lot of people go to (big) box stores,” Cavicchi said. “They end up getting the wrong machine because not everyone is familiar with how the machines work.”

Types of lawnmowers

Walk-behind or push mowers: These mowers can be either electric, gas-powered or manual.  Manual push-behinds help the environment (and your wallet!) but don’t disburse clippings. Gas-powered walk-behinds can be pushed or self-propelled and usually have bags or side-discharge and can clean up weeds and small debris from the lawn. Electric push mowers are generally good for even lawns. Corded and cord less models are available, and both produce no harmful emissions to the environment.

Lawn tractors/ride-on mowers: These mowers are ridden on and riders steer them like cars. These mowers are gasoline-powered and are usually equipped with a bagger, mulcher or side discharger, or a combination of all three. Snow removers can also be added to these machines for wintertime driveway and lawn cleanup.

Zero-turn mowers: These mowers are the most similar to ones used by professional landscapers and are extremely easy to maneuver because operators can steer wheels individually. These mowers can clip, bag, mulch and discharge grass but can lose traction on hills. 

Robotic mowers: These mowers do the work for the homeowner. The owner just needs to set  the perimeters of the lawn and let the machine work. No emissions are produced, and the machine will return to its charging station when necessary and change direction if it hits an obstacle. Although humans are not needed, they are recommended -- the user should oversee the process and keep pets and children away from the mower while it’s running.

Source: Consumer Reports

Patriot Ledger writer Lana Lagomarsini may be reached