Choosing a mower
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Something for everyone
Walk into any outdoor power equipment retailer and you'll be quickly overwhelmed with dozens of choices in mower types, brands, cutting capacities, comfort features, prices, and on and on. From battery-powered walk-behind models that cut 14 inches across, to tractor-towed gang reels capable of cutting an 11-foot swath, today's mower marketplace offers something for everyone.
How do you decide what best meets your needs? Before you visit a local dealer, spend a minute or two with the chart found later in this slideshow. It will help you determine the type of mower best suited to the amount of grass you mow, the terrain you mow, other tasks the mower might need to do (tilling your garden), your personal preferences for speed, and your budget.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
The price you pay
Regardless of mower type, a higher price buys durability, convenience, and a better cut. Price ranges within a single type of mower vary tremendously. For example, among lawn and garden tractors (the most popular type of rider by a wide margin), price varies from about $1,000 to over $5,000. That extra money buys you beefier, longer-lasting components, more power, additional cutting capacity, cleaner cuts, greater user comfort, and ease of maintenance.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
Know what you want
Know the difference between lawn and garden tractors and garden tractors. Lawn and garden tractors prove popular, because they're capable of performing tasks besides mowing, such as plowing or throwing snow. Garden tractors take the versatility advantage one step further by having the ability to do ground-contact work such as rototilling and gravel leveling.
To power ground-contact accessories and to do other heavier work such as pulling large trailers, garden tractors have robust frames, bigger engines, stouter transmissions, and larger wheels than lawn and garden tractors.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
Is ZTR for you?
Zero-turn-radius (ZTR) machines are growing in popularity, but look before you leap. ZTR mowers are popular for three reasons:
- Lawn-care pros use them.
- They turn on a dime (the steering action comes from one back wheel turning faster than the other).
- They cut fast because they simply move nearly twice as fast as some tractors.
Just keep in mind that these machines are grass-mowing specialists; most of them do not accept any type of accessory for working with snow or earth. Entry-level units can prove unstable and difficult to control on hilly terrain.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
Try before you buy
Once you know what type of mower you need, test a few. Better dealers have models you can take for a trial spin. Note where the controls are located. Are they easy to reach and manipulate? Check the comfort level. Could you operate it for a couple of hours without undue fatigue? Assess the ease of maintenance. Can you quickly change the oil, level the mower deck, tighten any belts, and remove the blades?Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
Cut to the chase
Click here to open a full-size flowchart in a new window.
To use this fast-and-simple chart, start at the top by selecting the acreage you have in grass. Then, follow the arrows that match the color of your selected acreage. At each stopping point, decide which way to follow the arrow to find your ideal machine. Even if you mow more than 1 acre, you may need a walk-behind mower for trimming. To find the one that's right for you, follow the arrows under the LESS THAN 1/4 ACRE starting point.
Note that this chart is designed for homeowners; lawn-care professionals who mow all day, every day will want to step up to commercial-duty machines that can cost more than the machines specified here, particularly in the wide-area walk-behind models and the zero-turn-radius riders.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
No matter what you spend on a mower, it won't cut well with dull blades. You can get a better cut and save money by properly honing your own mower blades. Here's how:Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
Visit our data-driven online tool to compare 272 different models of riding lawn mower, lawn tractor, garden tractor, and zero-turn mowers.Date Published: March 7, 2013Date Updated: March 7, 2013
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