Tips for Choosing and Caring for a Lawn Mower

Buying and maintaining a lawn mower are made easier with these tips.
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Select a push-reel mower (cuts with a scissorlike action of rotating blades passing over a stationary knife) if you have a small lawn.

When it comes to mowers, there are several factors to consider: weight, power, cost; safety features, ease of starting, handling and maneuverability, and ease of clipping disposal.

Selecting the Mower

  • If you have a large lawn of grasses such as bluegrass and fescue that don't need to be cut shorter than 2", choose a gas- or electric-powered rotary mower. This type cuts with a circular blade that rotates under a protective housing.
  • Choose a mulching mower if you don't want to deal with clippings. Mulching mowers cut clippings very small so that they disappear into the lawn.
  • Choose a gas-powered reel mower if you have a large lawn made of grasses such as Bermuda or bent grass that needs to be cut shorter than 2".
  • Select a self-propelled mower if you have a hilly yard or a large lawn.
  • Choose a riding lawn mower if you have a really big lawn.
  • Do you have someone who does your mowing for you? You'd be wise to invest in your own mower anyway – lawn diseases can be spread by means of mowers.

Maintaining the Mower

  • Make sure the cutting blade is kept sharp.
  • Keep the underside of the mower clean.
  • Rotary mowers are by far the most popular type of lawn mower. They're lightweight, and you can sharpen the blades yourself. Reel mowers must be taken to a lawn mower shop for sharpening.
  • Electric mowers are environmentally friendly and increasing in popularity. Rechargeable types eliminate the need for dragging a cord around. (Cordless mowers now have batteries that allow you to mow up to 1/3 acre.) Be ready to mow more often, though; these mowers aren't made for deep cutting.

Warning:  Many people are injured mowing lawns, so it's imperative that you consider safety features carefully. Choose a power mower with a blade-shutoff switch and a dead-man switch.

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