Tips for Buying a Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Whether you’re buying your first mower or replacing an old one, navigating the maze of models and features can be daunting. Here are some tips to help you narrow your choices.
Don’t forget electric mowers
If you don’t have a huge lawn, a battery-powered mower may be perfect. Cordless mowers are quieter, require less maintenance, and of course, run without gas or oil. But best of all, you’ll never have to start a gas engine—you just push a button or lever and you’re mowing.
As lithium-ion battery technology has improved, most manufacturers have included cordless mowers in their lineup, so you’ll have plenty of choices. Many of these mowers can cut an average suburban yard (about one-fifth of an acre) on a single charge. Prices for battery-powered mowers are similar to those of their gas-powered rivals, and you’ll find most of the same features, too.
Match the drive system to your terrain and yard size
If your lawn is relatively flat and not huge, chances are you’ll be perfectly happy with a push mower—that is, a mower that’s not self-propelled. In addition to being cheaper, mowers without power to the wheels are lighter, have fewer mechanical parts to wear out, and are usually easier to maneuver.
If you have hills or a large yard, a self-propelled mower is a better choice. Front wheel drive mowers pull the mower along but may lose traction on hills, where you tend to push down on the handle. And if you bag your grass, the weight of the bag will reduce the traction on the front wheels, making the drive wheels less effective. In most cases, rear- wheel drive is the best option since it works great on hills and with a bag. All-wheel drive is needed only for severely sloping terrain.
If you buy a self-propelled mower, consider upgrading to variable speed for more flexibility in matching your mowing speed to the lawn conditions and your walking speed.
Spending more up front may save you in the long run
Check online reviews to avoid buying a lemon
Don’t forget your local dealer
Get electric start and stop pulling
Get a good mulcher
Stop without restarting
If you collect your clippings and need to empty the bag frequently, or if you have to stop often to pick up sticks or move toys out of the way, you know what a hassle it can be to restart the lawn mower every time. You can avoid this problem by shopping for a mower with a blade brake clutch (BBC) or Toro’s Blade Override System (BOS). Mowers with either feature allow you to stop the blade but leave the engine running. Expect to pay about $100 more.