Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Whether your lawn is a large expanse of turf or a lot the size of a postage stamp, you want to keep your grass neat, trimmed, and well maintained.
Lawns are not created equal. Neither are lawn mowers. No matter what size your lawn is, however, there's a walk-behind lawn mower to meet your needs.
What is a Walk-Behind Mower?
Walk-behind mowers are steered by walking behind them, unlike riding mowers, which are driven sitting down. They come in three distinct styles:
Choosing the perfect walk-behind mower is easy once you know which kind best suits your yard.
Some people think of a reel lawn mower as an antique tool, a relic seen only in movies and cartoons from the 1950s. We beg to differ.
Using a reel of blades that spins as you push, reel mowers avoid tearing the grass the way that rotary motor blades do. Instead, they trim grass with a fine cut the way that a pair of scissors would... if you could attach a set of wheels to a pair of scissors and push it across your entire lawn.
Today's reel mowers are available in two styles:
- Manual reel mowers are lightweight, produce no fuel emissions, and require little maintenance beyond sharpening the blades.
- Powered reel mowers offer a reel's close cut but are powered by an engine or motor and often are self-propelled. These are best for large lawns with thick southern grasses like Bermuda Grass.
Reel mowers can get jammed by twigs and debris, making them a less-than-ideal choice if your yard has lots of trees. They can also struggle cutting very long grass.
However, manual reel mowers are ideal for smaller lawns or those who mow more frequently. Powered reel mowers often prove to be on par with (or even better than) other types of walk-behind mowers. Again, they are most common in the south, where there are thicker types of grass.
Electric mowers have become more popular as gas prices continue to fluctuate. Not only do they make it less expensive to mow your lawn per acre, but there's no need for oil changes, spark plug replacements, etc.
In addition, electric mowers are much quieter than their gas counterparts, and they don't pollute the environment with emmissions.
Electric mowers use one of two types of batteries: lithium-ion batteries and lead-acid batteries. Each type produces a range of voltages, providing anywhere from 18 to 120 volts of power. The higher the voltage, the longer the motor will run and the more grass you can cut.
Lithium-ion batteries generally store more energy and hold a longer charge than rechargeable lead-acid batteries, but lead-acid batteries are considered more resistant to corrosion.
No matter which type you choose, cordless batteries hold their charge longer than ever. Some can be recharged up to 500 times.
If you're interested in a walk-behind mower that costs less than a gas mower and provides some power without burning through fuel or needing regular oil changes, an electric mower is an excellent choice. They are especially great for small yards that can be mowed more than once on a single charge.
Walk-behind gas-powered mowers remain the most popular lawn mower option thanks to their unmatched power.
They come in four styles:
- Self-propelled gas mowers use a drive wheel to move forward so that a user simply guides the mower around the yard. They work well on hills and are easy to maneuver around obstacles.
- Gas push mowers are designed to cut thick grass, but they don't propel the lawn mower forward. That means you'll get a nice workout moving the mower.
- Wide area walk-behind mower decks are nearly two-thirds the size of a standard walk-behind mower, so you can mow a lot more grass with each pass. Cutting widths range from 30 inches to 54 inches.
- Rough cut walk-behind mowers are heavy duty machines designed to cut through tough brush and vegetation with their powerful blades. They are not designed to mow standard suburban lawns.
Gas-powered walk-behind mowers do come with some drawbacks that the smart buyer should be aware of:
- More expensive than electric or reel mowers
- Create emissions when in use
- Have noisy engines
These drawbacks aside, if you have a mid-sized or large lawn with a lot of thick, overgrown grass to tame, or if you like the convenience of a drive wheel making your mower easier to push, your best bet in a walk-behind mower will be to go gas-powered.
What is the Best Mower for Hills?
If you plan on using a walk-behind mower on hilly terrain, make sure it has rear-wheel drive, which will give you more power and control. If you try using front-wheel drive on a hill, it won't do you any good as the front wheels will lift off the ground. Also, if your hill has more than 15 degrees of slope, avoid mowing it unless you have a special slope mower.
Find the Perfect Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
As you can see, you have many different walk-behind mower options. Will you go with the power of a gas mower, the energy savings of electric, or the fine-cut of a reel? If you can't decide, our lawn mower experts are here to help, so contact us!
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