Hedging Your Choices – The Art of Buying a Walking Lawn Mower

I recently found myself on the wrong end of a lawn mower gone bad. It doesn’t owe me anything – it’s been in service for a good long time. A friend fixed it at the end of last year, so I wouldn’t have to go purchase a new one at the end of the season, when prices were higher.  So, after twice being able to successfully cut a lawn that rivaled tall grass in country fields in the middle of monsoon season, my mower died for good. I’ll bury it next week. In the meantime, it provided a learning opportunity for me on the lawn mower features and values. Sometimes, unfortunately, there is no getting around spending the money. This would be one of those times.

Buying a new lawn mower is not necessarily about saving money, but finding the appropriate value for your lawn care needs. Different lawns demand different styles of mowers – whether it is a walking or riding mower. As my lawn is the size of postage stamp, there’s no need to consider riding mowers, so we make the easy step to narrow the search to walking mowers. However, if you are in the market for a riding mower, I assume you can apply the same principles to riding mower costs & features. Also, if you are making an attempt to “go green,” in your lawn mowing experience, you can purchase a reel mower, which is a retro-style mower sans engine.

There are two general types of powered walking mowers – a push mower and a self-propelled mower. Push mowers are the most economical mowers on the market. A self-propelled mower basically drives itself and pulls you along as it mows your lawn. Some models have speed variance levels to control the pace of the mower. Push mowers are propelled by your own elbow grease. Here’s where I had to make a decision. As much as I can appreciate a self-propelled mower, I have plenty of nooks & crannies in my yard that provide for mowing challenges. As I have to pull my mower in reverse, and around bushes & hard corners, purchasing a self-propelled mower may add to those challenges if it is not possible to turn off the self-propulsion feature. You also have options for bagging or mulching your lawn. One feature I was interested in having on the lawn mower was side discharge. The most cost efficient mowers generally do not include side discharge, from my research. I’m not much of a bagger, so the cheaper models were easy to discount from my choices. Another feature I ran across is quick-wash washout port. With this feature, you can attach your hose to the mower, and clean out the underside of the carriage. For my needs, this was purely an optional feature. In the end, a regular push mower fit my needs best. By default, it also was better on the bank account. However, given a different set of lawn care variables, I could have just as easily purchased a self-propelled mower.

It would be easy to say “go out and buy the cheapest mower you can find.” But that glittering generality may not be the best route to take. Other avenues to consider when you are resigned to buying a new mower are mower maintenance shops or garage/estate sales. Sometimes you can find a quality used mower to keep you going all lawn mower season long at reduced costs. Any way you cut it, purchasing a new lawn mower is based more on the features needed to suit your lawn than the cheapest mower available.