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Lawn Mower Buying Guide

riding lawn mower

Find tips on picking the best lawn mower for your yard. Lowe's provides a guide on choosing between gas and electric lawn mowers as well as walk-behind and riding mowers.

Lawn Care Essentials

lawn mower

Whether you consider mowing the lawn a pleasure or a chore, the process will go more smoothly with the right mower. Here's everything you need to know to choose and operate a new lawn mower with confidence.

Mowing is about more than merely having an attractive lawn. Proper mowing also keeps your grass healthy and discourages weeds and lawn diseases.

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Picking the Perfect Lawn Mower


Your lawn mower is probably your most expensive and frequently used lawn-care tool, so it's worth doing some research into your options before purchasing.

When selecting a push mower, first consider the size of your lawn and the level of the terrain.

  • Reel mowers are classic lawn-care tools that use human power to spin a set of five to seven rotating knives (the reel) against a fixed blade. The cutting action is similar to scissors. Homeowners are rediscovering and enjoying the simplicity of this type of mower. Manual mowers could prove to be impractical for all but the smallest, flattest lawns.
  • Electric lawn mowers are quiet, pollution-free and a snap to start with the flip of a switch. Except for replacing or sharpening the blade, they're mostly maintenance-free as well. Corded models must remain plugged into an outlet while mowing, making it a challenge to mow large lawns or those with lots of trees and other obstructions. Cordless models feature rechargeable batteries that hold 30 to 90 minutes of power, enough to mow an average suburban yard. Cordless mowers may struggle in tall grass. Overall, electric mowers are best for lawns measuring a quarter of an acre or less.

  • Gas push mowers are recommended for yards up to a ½ acre and are better suited for uneven terrain or for mowing more substantial growth.
  • Tractors and zero-turn radius mowers cut a wide swath and are ideal for lawns a half-acre or larger. With optional attachments, tractors can perform a variety of other chores including hauling, bagging, aeration, snow removal and more. Ideal for flat terrain, zero-turn-radius mowers are fast and maneuverable and are designed to navigate a variety of obstacles including flower beds, trees and landscaping.

Options to consider when shopping for a walk-behind mower include:

  • Starting Mechanism: A recoil (manual) starter takes some arm and back strength to pull. However, these mechanisms are becoming easier to operate. Electric-start mowers employ a turnkey ignition for quick and hassle-free starting.
  • Drive System: Traditional push mowers rely 100% on the user for speed and direction. Self-propelled mowers let you adjust and set drive speed for an easier, quicker and more efficient cut.
  • Wheel Traction: Rear-wheel drive provides more traction at the center of the mower for help on hilly terrain. Front-wheel drive pulls the mower to balance the mower’s weight.
  • Discharge Options: Side discharge is common, but many mowers come with accessories for bagging or mulching.
  • Cutting Width: Mowers cut swaths of grass that range from 18 inches to more than 32 inches wide. While a mower with a wide cutting width can be efficient, it can also be challenging to maneuver.
  • Height Adjustment: Some mowers require each wheel be adjusted separately to change the height of cut. Systems that adjust all wheels with a single control are more convenient and precise.
  • Blades: Whatever type of lawn mower you select, the blade should be easy to sharpen or replace. Also, consider replacing a traditional blade with a mulching blade, which chops grass a second time and reduces its size so it can more quickly become nourishment for your lawn.

Mowing Tips and Tricks

Everyone seems to have a preference for mowing a lawn. Many recommendations come down to personal preference, but here are some surefire mowing strategies to keep in mind:

  • Mow in the cool of morning or early evening. Doing so avoids heat stress on your grass and yourself.
  • Set your mower to the right cut height. A cut height of a 1/2 inch to 3 inches is a good place to start. Ask a Lowe’s Garden Center associate for the recommended cut height.
  • Mow grass when it's dry. Wet grass tends to clump and encourage fungus growth.
  • Vary your mowing path. Change your path every time you mow to avoid producing ruts in the lawn and to encourage more uniform growth.
  • Keep your mower blade sharp. Sharpen the blade yourself every season using kits available at Lowe's, or have it professionally sharpened. Ideally, you should replace the blade every two or three years. Blades are also available at Lowe's.
  • Deal with yard clippings responsibly. Avoid sending lawn clippings to the landfill. Consider purchasing a mulching mower or using mulching attachments and blades. If you bag your clippings, consider starting a compost pile.

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