By Kate Wall
When it comes time to buy a mower we can be spoilt for choice. Making this choice is made much easier when we know a little more about what to look for in a mower. A large part of choosing a mower is not just what the mower can do, but what sort of lawn you have and therefore which mower is the best fit for you.Push Mowers
By far the cheapest and most environmentally friendly mowers are the push mowers. These tend to range in price from $70 to $150. They are environmentally friendly in that they are powered entirely by you – no petrol or electricity is involved. They are best suited to small lawns (under 50 square metres) or which are reasonably level and therefore not too taxing to push a mower across. You do need to walk reasonably fast with a push mower to get the speed for effective cutting. The more expensive models are likely to remain sharp longer. Specialist mower repairers should be able to sharpen the blades for you. It is important to keep the blades very sharp for effective cutting with all mowers, but when you are pushing a push mower back and forth, you will be especially grateful for sharp blades. Push mowers will be much harder to use on particularly thick lawns, and have limited options for adjusting the cutting height.Electric Mowers
Electric mowers are also suited to small lawns but won't tire the mowing person as quickly as a push mower on slightly larger lawns. They tend to be light weight and easy to use. They also require very little maintenance. The Flymo Hover Mower does not even have wheels but uses air thrust to glide over the grass. While this makes it easy and light to operate, it can make control of the cutting height less reliable.Battery Mowers
While battery powered mowers have previously had a bad reputation due to short battery life, this is certainly improving. Having the battery frees the operator from dragging a power cord behind as they mow which can be very useful if you do not have a power outlet nearby or if you have a number of obstacles such as trees in the lawn area. Unlike a corded electric mower, a battery provides a limited amount of energy, so it best suited to small lawns if you wish to mow the entire lawn in one go. Most modern battery mowers claim to have a battery life of 2 hours, however you can usually assume it will be significantly less than that. 1 hour of comfortable mowing should be achievable with most battery operated mowers. If you have decided that a battery powered mower suits you best, chose one with the largest battery size possible. This will be slightly heavier but will allow longer mowing time. The Victa cordless ($699) has a 40V lithium ion battery which will last much longer and be a higher quality longer lasting mower than a much cheaper model with an 18v battery. At the cheaper end of the scale of battery mowers is the Ozito ($399) which includes 2 x 18v batteries.
Push mowers, battery mowers and electric mowers all have the advantage of being easy to start without having to pull on chords. Petrol powered mowers offer greatly increased power and operating time, but have a reputation of being much more difficult to start, particularly for those who do not have strong arms for pulling the chord.Petrol Mowers
Petrol powered mowers are a popular choice and will suit most lawns. They are ideal for large lawns or lawns with numerous obstacles such as trees or garden beds. The down side to a petrol powered mower is that they are noisy, produce fumes and require maintenance. In general we accept this down side as part of mowing the lawn.
Petrol powered mowers range in price from around $300 to over $1500 and offer plenty of choice of models. They can be 2 stroke or 4 stroke, offer a variety of engine capacities, catcher or mulcher options, may be self propelled and have a variety of starting options. For more detailed information regarding how to choose a petrol powered mower, click here.
If you have a very large lawn or re spending over 2 hours on the mowing, a ride on mower will be the best choice for you. Ride on mowers are fairly light weight and best for reasonably flat ground. If you have uneven terrain you will be better off with a heavier duty ride on tractor. This will cost significantly more but will have the capacity to tow small trailer which can be very useful on large properties.
A mower can be a very significant investment, so it is worth looking careful at the various choices available. It may not be possible to try them all out in the hardware store but they should allow you to at least push it up and down the aisle to get a feel for how comfortable each model is for you. Consider the weight, especially if you have sloping lawns or need to manoeuvre the mower past steps. Check if the handle has adjustable heights, if not, is the height and angle of the handle comfortable for you. In general a forward facing handle will place less strain on the wrists when mowing.
The type of catcher is also worth considering. Some models (electric, battery or petrol powered) have collapsible bag catchers. This is great for saving space in the shed but can allow a lot of dust, making mowing a very dirty and unpleasant job.
While budget will be a consideration in making such a significant purchase, you should be aware that as with most things, you get what you pay for. The very cheap models tend to be rather lightweight and may not last very long, but may be perfect if your lawn is small and easy to mow. The more difficult your mowing job is, the more robust a mower you will need and this will cost more.
Choosing a mower which suits the lawn you have to mow, in addition to suiting your budget will make the job of mowing far less arduous and greatly assist you to maintain a beautiful lawn.
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