I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

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I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:35 pm

Any recommendations on a decent cheap one?
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:41 pm

If you want cheap, get the lowest priced one you can find. If you need it for a few years, get either one with a Honda motor or a Craftsman with a Briggs and Stratton. Honda motors are generally more expensive, but Craftsman's are everywhere, including on craigslist. I picked up mine for under $200, and its a good mulcher, side discharge, or bag. I always mulch because its good food for the lawn.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:52 pm

I had to get one last year after my Briggs and Stratton threw a rod for no reason. I ended up getting a lawn boy 20" self propelled mulching mower with a bagger alsoequipped with. 6.5lbs torque Kohler engine for 269$ It works fantastic I never have to use the bag it mulches so fine. I also use it in the fall to mulch the leaves instead of raking them all the time and it pulverizes then to dust....just dont use it with wet leaves or grass. Also the Kohler motor is much quieter, more fuel efficient and will last much longer then any Briggs and Stratton motor.

Unfortunately Home Depot is charging 339$ now for the same mower.

If that is too pricey then just get a decent push mower that is equipped with a Kohler motor instead of a Briggs. No primer button on the Kohler motor and it starts first pull every time. The only time it took more then 1 pull was after the winter it took 2 pulls:) I even ran it out of gas a couple of times and after putting more fuel in it still started on the 1st pull.

Good luck on your search.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:05 pm

I have seen craftsman mowers with a Honda engine on sale for about 175. After using and owning a mower with a Honda mower, I don't know if I could go back to a briggs.

That said I think my next mower will be something along these lines.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:51 pm

Another vote for anything with a Honda engine on it. Back in the 80's, when Honda first came out with a small engine that would work for things like lawn mowers, my father bought just the engine and put it on a old mower deck we had sitting in the garage. Ten years and 6 or 7 mower decks later that engine was still going strong. Last I heard my nephew had that engine as a spare and it still ran. Other than changing the spark plug every three or four years we have never had to do anything to that engine beyond normal maintenance.

Similar experiences with other lawn mowers that came with Honda engines. Mater of fact I have two push mowers out in the barn with decks in bad shape but the engines run fine.

So yes, go buy the cheapest one you can find with a Honda engine. Just be ready to have to replace the deck, wheels, or the handle bar a few years down the road.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:51 pm

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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:11 pm

They're not cheap, but Toro push mowers run forever. My grandma bought on in 95 or 96, and I just gave it away to someone this spring. Original deck, and it still starts on the first or second pull. Cost around $500 new, but it was top of the line - self propelled, electric start, "Recycler" mulching system.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:20 pm

I'm going to second the Toro recommendation. I bought Toro with my first house in '96 due to my Dad's recommendation. Everything but the line trimmer is still working just fine. No rust or any issues like that. The line trimmer died towards the end of the Toro warranty and it was replaced - that replacement is still running 100% fine. I have a much bigger yard now and I'm considering getting a lawn tractor from them to finally replace my push mower.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:35 pm

I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.

I've been mowing lawns with human power rather than gas ever since I was 6 or so. I've only used gas mowers on a couple of occasions, and I find them to be a tremendously unnecessary hassle. A manual mower is almost silent, requires no fuel, produces no fumes or pollution, requires very little maintenance, never has trouble starting up, is lighter, more compact, and more maneuverable, and cuts in a way that's better for the lawn.

Of course there are jobs for which a manual reel mower is insufficient- that's what large riding mowers are for. There really is no lawn size for which I think a push gas (or even electric) mower makes any sense.

Edit: Oh, and you can get a really great manual reel mower for the same price as a crappy finicky low-end gas mower, and that's even before taking fuel into account.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:44 am

anotherengineer wrote:I have seen craftsman mowers with a Honda engine on sale for about 175. After using and owning a mower with a Honda mower, I don't know if I could go back to a briggs.

That said I think my next mower will be something along these lines.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Fiskars-Stay ... eXRk20yhi0


Dude, don't get a reel mower. Everybody I know that has one does not cut their grass very often, and when they do, it makes a raggedy looking cut that doesn't look very good; maybe because they don't cut their grass very often...because it cuts raggedy...[endless loop]

Seriously, you won't like using it.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:46 am

jensend wrote:I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.


Oh good, maybe you can explain why reel mowers do such a terrible looking job?
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:58 am

BIF wrote:
jensend wrote:I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.


Oh good, maybe you can explain why reel mowers do such a terrible looking job?

Because they only work well if you're snipping off a half-inch at most. Golf courses use huge banks of reel mowers, but they're out there every day.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:10 am

TheEmrys wrote:If you want cheap, get the lowest priced one you can find. If you need it for a few years, get either one with a Honda motor or a Craftsman with a Briggs and Stratton. Honda motors are generally more expensive, but Craftsman's are everywhere, including on craigslist. I picked up mine for under $200, and its a good mulcher, side discharge, or bag. I always mulch because its good food for the lawn.


+1

Honda is my first pick and most anything with a Briggs and Stratton engine should be reliable (Motor wise) Just don't fall into the trap of buying some home improvement places cheaper "Store Brand". You can identify these by their ultra cheesy names like Worx (the cool spelling), Lawn Boy, Weed Eater, Earthwise, Moe Joe (That's too good lol), Yard Machines (really, some serious time went into making that name)

I've been through some craftsman riding mowers and they were fine but had the same issue most any mower has every season, like not starting if you forget to put Stabilizer in it :x .
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:17 am

Seriously, Anything with a Honda Engine and you should be fine. Those things hold up for so long and even if you need parts they are easy to find. If you also need an edger/trimmer/weed eater the new Honda 4 Stroke ones are downright awesome. A little heavier but the convenience of straight gas is awesome (Provided you use Unleaded gas that has 10% or lower of ethanol in it. Anymore than that and you'll run into trouble. This also holds true for the pushmower and riding mower engines)
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:21 am

I have a Yard-Man by MTD with a Honda engine that I picked up at Wal-mart that I've been happy with. It's been running with minimal maintenance for four years or so.

Captain Ned wrote:
BIF wrote:
jensend wrote:I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.


Oh good, maybe you can explain why reel mowers do such a terrible looking job?

Because they only work well if you're snipping off a half-inch at most. Golf courses use huge banks of reel mowers, but they're out there every day.


My Dad uses a reel mower. It makes the lawn look great, but he does have to cut the grass regularly for it to be effective. Keeping the lawn nice is kind of his hobby, so he's dedicated to making it work.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 8:02 am

jensend wrote:I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.

I've been mowing lawns with human power rather than gas ever since I was 6 or so. I've only used gas mowers on a couple of occasions, and I find them to be a tremendously unnecessary hassle. A manual mower is almost silent, requires no fuel, produces no fumes or pollution, requires very little maintenance, never has trouble starting up, is lighter, more compact, and more maneuverable, and cuts in a way that's better for the lawn.

Of course there are jobs for which a manual reel mower is insufficient- that's what large riding mowers are for. There really is no lawn size for which I think a push gas (or even electric) mower makes any sense.

Edit: Oh, and you can get a really great manual reel mower for the same price as a crappy finicky low-end gas mower, and that's even before taking fuel into account.


Agreed, but they do have limitations. If you have a *bigger* lawn (yet to small for a lawn tractor) a self-propelled push mower would be a huge time and energy saver. As well, reel-mowers are pretty useless in thick grass or even damp. At my old house, our front lawn got full sun but our side lawn was shaded with some nearby springs, so that it was always damp. The grass would always be twice as high as the front lawn. Or if your lawn has a high amount of weeds, those can be tough to cut through as well.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:31 am

Get something self propelled, at the lower end of the price range they're more or less all the same.

Welch wrote:
TheEmrys wrote: Just don't fall into the trap of buying some home improvement places cheaper "Store Brand". You can identify these by their ultra cheesy names like Worx (the cool spelling), Lawn Boy, Weed Eater, Earthwise, Moe Joe (That's too good lol), Yard Machines (really, some serious time went into making that name)


Uhm...half of those listed aren't store brands.

The Lawn Boy name dates back nearly 80 years, and they were the first producer of the rotary mowers we use now, they're currently owned by Toro. Weed Eater is the original string trimmer, it's currently a sister line to Poulan and Husqvarna. Then Yard Machines is MTD...who makes damn near every "affordable" lawn mower in the country, including Cub cadet, Bohlens, Troy Built, many craftsman and toro mowers.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:09 am

BIF wrote:Oh good, maybe you can explain why reel mowers do such a terrible looking job?
On the contrary, reel mowers do a better-looking job than rotary ones if you do it right. All the professional turf/greens managers use riding reel mowers, not rotary mowers, because of the superior cut. The cut is healthier for the lawn, too.

As others have said, part of doing it right is regular mowing. If you've let your grass grow into a forest and almost go to seed, then you might have to mow a couple times to get it back to looking normal. I normally mow once a week during the growing season and it looks fine. Regular mowing is better for your lawn's health, too: all the experts will tell you that you shouldn't be removing more than a third of the grass blade with each cutting. If you cut your grass down to 2 inches but every time you mow it's grown to over 5 inches, that's a great way to end up with a dying lawn, regardless of what kind of mower you're using.

Your proposed vicious cycle makes no sense; if your neighbors can't be bothered to mow their lawn more than once a month that's their problem, not their mower's.
Sargent Duck wrote:If you have a *bigger* lawn (yet to small for a lawn tractor) a self-propelled push mower would be a huge time and energy saver. As well, reel-mowers are pretty useless in thick grass or even damp. At my old house, our front lawn got full sun but our side lawn was shaded with some nearby springs, so that it was always damp. The grass would always be twice as high as the front lawn. Or if your lawn has a high amount of weeds, those can be tough to cut through as well.
On size: it's possible that there's a range of lawn sizes where a self-propelled mower makes sense, but from my vantage point (admittedly limited experience with self-propelled mowers) I don't see it. If you're mowing regularly, pushing a manual reel mower really isn't much more work than just walking behind the mower. The real problem is time. But the cutting swath on most self-propelled push mowers is only ~3 inches wider than on a manual reel mower, and unless you propose to go jogging with your self-propelled mower (I guess some have listed top speeds of 6mph, so you could if you wanted to) you're not really moving much faster- a regular walking speed is best either way. So I don't know that you save all that much time, unless you mow considerably less frequently with your gas mower- which is possible but again is bad for your lawn. In sum, if your lawn is over a half-acre I think you need either a robot mower, a tractor/riding mower, or (probably better) a rethink of your landscaping, not a self-propelled push mower.

Some reel mowers (probably incl. mine) aren't good with the very thickest species of grasses, but there are ones (including the Fiskars one anotherengineer linked above) that handle any variety just fine. As far as dampness, I do prefer to mow when it's dry, but a regular weekly trim isn't bad when it's wet. The longer it is the more important it is to have it dry. (I do live in a fairly dry climate, and being "damp" from "nearby springs" sounds like marshes rather than lawns to me.) Weed-wise, it's certainly true that a manual mower won't do the job of a field and brush mower and cut down swaths of 8" weeds. But mowing regularly helps keep weeds down too, a reel mower will do fine with many kinds of small weeds, and for many larger weeds just cutting them with a rotary mower would just result in them springing right back up anyways- gotta pull the root out or spray.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:08 pm

My front lawn looks like this:

Image

Can I use the Fiskar's push mower on a slightly sloped lawn like that, or would I be better off getting a motor?
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:36 pm

Briggs and Straton are good motors. No brand of motor is going to have a perfect reliability record. Another good motor brand is Kohler. The Kohler motor in my parents riding mower is made by Kawasaki. Not sure if all Kohler motors are made my Kawasaki. My push mower is a cheap one with a Briggs and Straton engine, and some of the irrigation wheel lines that farmers have around here have briggs and straton motors. I know that one of our irrigation wheel lines has a Kohler engine that has been running since the 70's, but may have been made by someone other than Kawasaki at that time. Tecumseh is a fairly common brand, but not sure about reliability. Honda is ok, but our Honda ATVs never seem to last long, but we are pretty hard on out ATVs, usually driving them through water and over rocky mountainous terrain.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:16 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
BIF wrote:
jensend wrote:I strongly recommend a push reel manual mower.


Oh good, maybe you can explain why reel mowers do such a terrible looking job?

Because they only work well if you're snipping off a half-inch at most. Golf courses use huge banks of reel mowers, but they're out there every day.

Exactly. I had one for years and didn't use it very often, because if I let my grass get too long, it just didn't work. I ended up using my regular mower far more often.

Not that I'm against the reel mowers (since I bought one once), but you really need to mow often and keep your grass relatively low cut for them to work well.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:51 pm

Reel mowers partly depend on your grass type. Golf courses here in Texas usually use a mix of reel and rotary becuase the rough is often St Augustine which is a PIA to cut with reel mowers unless you like sharpening them every few moments. I tried a reel mower and while the cut sometimes nice, when the grass starts growing really thick in Spring and Autum it's impossible to cut nicely and I mow twice a week. With my current Toro I have two blades and I sharpen them every 10 hours or so - the sharper cuts are important with rotary since otherwise you'll be ripping and crushing a lot of the grass rather than properly cutting it.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Star Brood, that lawn looks quite easy to mow with a manual mower. For reference, my lawn has a fairly steep ~4' hillside, a somewhat more gradual ~2' hill, and an area with a rather gradual ~3' slope to it, and the only time when any of these are inconvenient is if I try to mow directly up the 4-foot hill when the grass is longer than usual. (Mowing back and forth along the contour is simplest.) The Fiskars mower is almost exactly twice as heavy as mine, but it's still lighter than almost all gas mowers. Unless a gas mower is self-propelled and has sufficient drive power, it's likely harder to use on slopes and hills than a manual mower, simply due to the size and weight.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:42 pm

If my lawn were a lot smaller, I would certainly go the manual mower route. However, it takes about 1.5 hours with a zero-turn at full tilt, and that doesn't include the 1 mile of trails as well as around the pond which takes another 45 minutes, ducking, and getting hung up in rose bushes.

I figure on these estimations.
22" mower standard walking on a 1/4 acre lot with obstacles will take about 2 hours. Manual mower, the same.
36" basic rider on some lot, 1.5 hours if you have trees in the grass. Open lot, 1.25 hours.
48" Zero-turn, <1 hour depending on your pattern.

48" Zero turn ~ 1 gal of gas. Depends on engine size, but from what I have seen/used they are all oversized for the job.
36" basic rider, 1/2 gallon. 10hp motor.
22" mower, walk behind non-propelled, about 2 cups. Some health benefit other than fumes and noise.
Manual rotary, 2 beers, health benefit, better lawn, etc.

Disclaimer: The zero-turn takes more gas because once you get one, you go over the lawn twice to make it look like a golf course and hit all of the little spots you missed by going like a bat outta hell.

Then figure out how many times you mow during the year, multiply gas usage and cost, and you may realize that lawn care sucks and replace it all with fake turf and stone.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:59 pm

liquidsquid, your post makes me realize how happy I am that I don't own a lot of property. All my neighbors hire gardeners to do the work for them... but what's the point in that? Why even have a lawn if you can't take care of it yourself?
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:09 pm

Or you can just landscape ala Southwestern style. Very little lawn and go with tons of rock and hearty natural plants. :wink:
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:23 pm

When I was growing up in the UK one of my chores was mowing the grass with my father's Ransom's Ajax, a proper reel mower that leaves stripes in your grass.

Now in Canada I use a Yard Works rotary with a 4.5HP Tecumseh that I bought 12 years ago. It's had regular oil changes and cleaning of the air filter plus a new spark plug every couple of years or so and it still fires first pull every time. I drain the fuel when putting it away for the winter and use Shell fuel which it runs a lot better on than Esso. I bought a new blade for it this year as the old one was dull and worn out, now I can push it through long thick grass with no clogging of the blade (it mulches) and the engine just keeps running at the same pitch.

If you are in Canada and need small engine parts I recommend Cormier Equipment for parts, used them for several snowblower parts and the lawnmower blade.
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:15 pm

How well do mower engines, old and new, fare with the ethanol blends?
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:33 pm

Another vote for Toro here. Long history of success with them in my family. My father has bought two of them since 1974 and those are the only two he has ever needed (the one bought in 74 has cut many baseball fields, the yard in town and the lawn on the 4 acre yard many hundreds maybe even thousands of times). Their magnesium housing and wheels last forever and when the original tecumseh petered out in the 90's it was a no brainer to slap a new engine on that housing. The second one that he bought in the 90's is still equally going as strong. Needless to say sometimes these mowers have been called upon to cut grass that could have been baled.

The old 70's Toro used a unique blade as well it was shaped like an S
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Re: I have to buy a push lawn mower... what should I get?

Postposted on Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:57 am

SonicSilicon wrote:How well do mower engines, old and new, fare with the ethanol blends?

New engines work much better than old engines, as they're designed for it. Never let ethanol/gas sit in a mower over the winter as you'll be rebuilding the carb come spring. Luckily I still have access to non-blended gas here, so that's the only thing that goes in my small engines.
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