Yard Care 101: Which Lawn Mower Is Right For You?

Spring is in full swing. With warm weather expected to linger the rest of this week, it’s the perfect time to catch up on yard and garden chores. But before you run down to Wilco Farm Store and purchase a new lawn mower, do your research and decide which type of mower is right for you and your lawn’s specific needs.  

There are many variations of mowers on the market today, and what you need will determine what you choose. Rotary, electric, and reel mowers are among the most common.  

Rotary and electric mowers have one blade traveling in a circular motion in order to cut grass. Rotary mowers are well built and speedy, which makes them ideal for large yards. However, they are known to be loud and cannot cut grass at low heights. Although Alec Kowalewski of Oregon State University – a turfgrass specialist – told the Oregonian that he recommends that the most common types of grass in Corvallis not be cut lower than two to three inches in height.  

Electric mowers are noticeably quieter than the rotary. However, some are battery-powered, meaning they may need recharging mid-project. Others are plug-in models, which require caution when mowing in order to avoid damaging the cord.   

Finally, the reel or “push” mowers have two blades acting like a pair of scissors that sharply slice the grass. Reel mowers are ideal for the carbon-conscious, Kowalewski said they leave a significantly smaller carbon footprint than other mowers, although studies have shown that grass may “sequester up to four times the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by mowing. Reel mowers work best on small, even-surfaced yards with minimal debris.  

Additionally, mulching mowers are an option. They are ideal for leaving leftover grass clippings where they fall, however, their hefty price tags may be a deterrent to some.   

“Instead of bagging up clippings,” Kowalewski said, “consider leaving them where they fall. They break down quickly and resupply much-needed nitrogen. The more often you mow, the easier this is to do. Don’t, however, leave clumps of clippings sitting on the lawn.”   

When it comes to easy maintenance, rotary mowers are the way to go. Unlike reel mowers, rotaries have detachable blades and won’t need professional sharpening. Regardless of which type of mower you choose, it’s imperative that the mower blades maintain their sharpness  

If you still need to buy a mower, do your homework. If the brand you’re looking at has a commercial model, it speaks well to it having a better home model. Kowalewski recommends looking at Toro, Honda and Jacobsen.   

By: Rebekah Harcrow