All About Lawnmowers: Types, Uses, and Other Tools for Lawn Care

All About Lawnmowers: Types, Uses, and Other Tools for Lawn Care

By Michael Jenkins

More than just a chore, lawn care can be a hobby just like gardening is, and for some of the same reasons—it’s a chance to geek out on really cool tools and gadgets. Lawn mowers are a staple of life in many parts of the world. Many of us spent Saturdays as a kid mowing our family’s lawn, and perhaps mowing the neighbor’s grass too in order to make some extra money. Given their omnipresent popularity, it’s no surprise that lawn mowers come in a wide variety of types, models, and mechanisms. This does lead to the question—which lawn mower is right for my lawn? This can be a daunting question, but never fear: in this blog we’re going to learn all about lawn mowers, the different types of lawn mowers, and their pros and cons. Let’s dig in!

Rather than makes and models, we’ll be focusing on the different types of lawn mower, meaning the different mechanisms that lawn mowers use to cut your grass. With that in mind, first up is an old favorite: the push mower. Probably the most popular type of lawn mower in the US and Canada, push mowers feature a rotating blade inside a housing that spins due to the action of a gas or electric powered motor. Some push mowers, called self-propelled mowers, pull themselves forward on their own. Most required you to push them along, hence the name. Push mowers are easy to use, relatively easy to maintain, and convenient. They can cut grass of a wide range of heights, and make it easy do add striping to your lawn if you’re so inclined. They are noisy, however, and do require gas or electricity to work. However, for most lawns these are the most popular option and for good reason.

Next up we have riding lawn mowers, which are in effect the larger version of a push mower. Looking something like a miniature tractor, riding mowers allow the user to ride on top of them while mowing the lawn. This makes them especially great for larger lawns, and more difficult to use on smaller ones. They are also more expensive to buy and operate—they use a lot more gas and they require a bit more maintenance. However if you have a large lawn space to mow, they might just be an option to consider. Every riding mower we’ve ever seen has been gas powered. We’re told that electric riding mowers exist, but we have no experience with those and they’re much more rare.

Reel mowers are an old-fashioned approach to lawn mowing. There’s no motor—all energy is provided by the user pushing the mower along. The motion imparted to the wheels spins a reel-shaped blade, which catches the grass and cuts it against a fixed blade attached to the body of the mower. The action is much like a pair of scissors, with the cutting happening as the two blades pass each other. This makes for a very clean cut when compared to gas or electric push mowers. The spinning blades on those tend to tear grass rather than cut it cleanly, creating a ragged edge that can make the grass susceptible to infection or extremes of heat. Reel mowers are trickier to use, require a bit for specialized maintenance (you have to clean them carefully and sharpen the blades after each use), and are more physically demanding. However, they are quiet, efficient on smaller lawns, and require no gas or electricity to function. They’re also much smaller, lighter, and more affordable than push mowers. Reel mowers may seem a bit antiquated, but they are still a good option under the right circumstances.

Our next option is technically not a lawn mower, but popular for cutting grass so we’re including it here. The humble weed wacker—more properly known as a string trimmer—is nearly as ubiquitous as the push mower, and for similar reasons. Weed whackers cut grass and weeds by spinning a thick plastic string very quickly. The string is stored in a reel in the head  of the weed wacker, and as it wears down during cutting the user can just pull more string out of the reel to replace it. Weed whackers are simple yet effective and easy to use. They can be a little more difficult for folks with smaller statures or mobility issues, are noisy compared to some other means of cutting grass, and do require gas or electricity and regular maintenance to work properly. They are great for trimming grass and other plant growth around buildings or fences, as they can cut closer to the structure than lawn mowers. Weed whackers are great for trimming, edging, and even “mowing” small lawns.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but we hope it helps you decide which lawn mower or grass cutting tool is right for you. We’ll be going into greater depth on the topic in future blogs, so stay tuned and let us know how your lawn is looking this spring!

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