What Type of Lawnmower Do I Need?

Push mower

The term “paralysis by analysis” could apply to both lawnmower and tire purchase decisions. The options are numerous, and even after talking it over with the neighbors, local experts, and researching online, it might seem there’s no clear-cut answer.

But since there are lawns to mow, we’re here to help you efficiently solve your dilemma.

Push vs. rider

The most important question to the lawnmower equation might also be the most easily answered – do you want to push or ride while mowing your lawn?

This choice is all about personal preference. Maybe you consider your lawn mowing responsibilities tied in with your fitness goals, or feel nostalgic for the days when push mowing neighborhood lawns was your summer job.

If you’re leaning toward a push mower and a survey of your lawn doesn’t leave you feeling intimidated and looking toward the La-Z-Boy, then don’t be influenced by your neighbor’s souped-up rider. Just like good old-fashioned DIY work and elbow grease, push mowers never go out of style. Not to mention, you’ll save thousands as compared to a rider, so if fitness and nostalgia don’t motivate you, maybe bank account preservation will. (We’re talking a 10x difference between push mowers and some riders.)

If you’re resolved to go with a push mower, then that leaves just a few additional considerations:

  1. Power source
  2. Blade size
  3. Mower “drive”

On the subject of power source, gas is traditional, but battery-powered and even electric corded options are on the rise.

The gas and oil management of a traditional push mower is never a welcome aspect of the process, and neither is the noise. As lithium-ion battery technology advances year by year, concerns over whether your battery-powered mower will have the oomph to get the job done, or be rechargeable for the entire season are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Sparing the neighborhood from one more mower’s noise pollution is an added benefit of a battery-powered option.

On the downside, quality battery-powered push mowers are typically quite a bit more costly than their traditional gas-powered counterparts.

Once power source is decided, the next decision has to do with blade size. Standard push mower blade diameter ranges from 13" to 21".

Let the size of your yard and the need for any small area maneuverability be your guide. Have a smaller yard and/or certain corridors that could be accessed with a 13" mower but maybe not a 21"? In this case, the smaller, more maneuverable mower will be an advantage. On the other hand, if you’re looking at wide open lawn spaces and the fewer the passes the better, the wider push mower is the ticket.

Last but not least, the “drive” of the mower should be considered. Self-propelled will definitely bring back the nostalgia, but if the thought of relying only on your two arms to push a fully loaded mower around the yard is a bit much, there are front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive options. These function much the same as with cars.

Front-wheel drive mowers are suitable for mostly flat yards. Rear-wheel drive mowers are better equipped to handle slopes and elevation changes. And all-wheel drive mowers can really come in handy if your yard has undulations and off-camber sections similar to a putt-putt golf course.

If all this push mower talk already has you exhausted, then that probably tells you what you need to know – you’re looking for a rider.

Riding mower

How to choose the right riding lawnmower

If you already know a riding lawnmower is right for you, then it’s likely you’re staring down some lawn acreage.

And when it comes to choosing a riding lawnmower, lawn size is a reasonable first consideration. The mower’s “cutting deck” should be selected according to the overall size of your lawn.

A 30-46" cutting deck is recommended for lawns up to two acres, 48-54" for lawns two to four acres, and a 54"+ cutting deck can tackle lawn larger than four acres.

The next decision has to do with riding lawnmower type. Zero-Turn, traditional lawn tractors, and modern rear engine/electric mowers are all legitimate and capable options.

As is the case with push mowers, battery-powered riders are becoming increasingly popular and capable. The latest battery-powered Ryobi Zero-Turn can cover up to three acres per charge. Maintenance, as compared to traditionally-powered riding mowers, is minimal – there are no spark plugs, filters, or belts to service. In combination with quiet running and zero emissions, it’s a compelling set of characteristics that will interest many. But be prepared to pay for the Tesla-like mowing experience. Top tier battery-powered riding mowers can exceed the $4,000 mark.

For the same sized cutting deck and Zero-Turn technology, a traditional gas-powered rider can cost anywhere from 25%-50% less. If you have a very straightforward yard, don’t mind a little more time “in the saddle,” and can forego Zero-Turn technology, traditional lawn tractors can save you quite a bit of coin. Plus, lawn tractors come with a traditional steering wheel.

Choosing a lawnmower isn’t a difficult process, and following this guide should help you to simplify matters. Whatever your mower decision, props to you for being a DIY lawn guy or gal – happy mowing!

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