By Glenn DiNella
The trend a few years ago was for residential owners to use overpowered, noisy, stinky, gas-guzzling lawn mowers, blowers, and trimmers, as they saw the professional landscapers using. But that’s a trend I see waning. The green movement has people thinking about matching their power equipment to the size of their property.
You don’t need a riding mower and backpack blower for a postage-stamp lawn. If you have a very small yard, try one of the old-fashioned reel mowers. They are quiet, nonpolluting, safe, low-maintenance, and great exercise. If you have a teenager, let them get the exercise.
For slightly larger yards consider purchasing an electric model, which is quiet, less polluting, and easy to maintain. Plug-in mowers, blowers, and edgers are reliable if you don’t need to go far from an outlet with an extension cord. Check your manual, but using more than 200 feet of cord probably will strain the motor. New lithium-battery-power equipment works great, but you might want to purchase extra batteries so you always have one charged.
A mower tethered to an outlet with a power cord is great for small yards, but you have to adjust the cord constantly as you mow to avoid cutting it. You also can find battery-powered mowers. I use one when working on smaller yards or to get into tight spots on larger yards where my riding mower can’t reach. The lead battery is heavy, and the mower is not self-propelled, so it works best on flat yards.
For hilly or medium-size yards, self-propelled gas-power mowers are overwhelmingly popular. Most mower manufacturers and mechanics recommend adding an ethanol treatment to gas used in any small engine. Ethanol might be a great way to utilize U.S.-grown corn and stretch our oil imports, but it attracts water to the gas, and deteriorates rubber and plastic parts in the equipment, so a treatment is vital.
You might even consider equipment powered by compressed natural gas or propane. Manufacturers produce propane-powered handheld equipment, such as edgers and blowers, as well as push mowers and even riding mowers. Most propane is produced in the U.S., burns cleanly and efficiently, and you have no ethanol worries.
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