How to Choose a Push Mower

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Summary: Get tips on choosing the right push mower for your yard. Learn about different types such as electric, gas-powered, bagged and bagless. Features to look for include how to raise and lower deck, how grass is discharged and how much power each unit has. To get more great product reviews, visit www.toolselect.com.

BARNABY: 1927, the rotary mower, gas powered, was born, and this guy looks like he might have been around back then.

MIKE: Did you notice when you reach for the switch I move my foot away?

BARNABY: You're quick like a bunny.

MIKE: It's survival, brother.

BARNABY: Hey, what's up, Barnaby here. Previous to the 1830s, if you wanted your lawn mowed you relied on some sort of livestock to do it. How haphazard was that? But then, in the 1830s, a dude by the name of Edwin Beard Budding, he was in a textile mill one day and he saw these fabric cutters going round and round. He goes, "Hey! Maybe I could develop something like a reel mower, R-E-E-L, and that'll take care of the lawn mowing duties." And so, the lawn mower was born.

MIKE: And there it was.

BARNABY: Mike Johnson, are you getting taller, or am I just shrinking with age?

MIKE: I usually slouch, but today I am making an exception.

BARNABY: Let's talk about lawn mowers. The category overview. I'll tell you what, it's come a long way since the reel mower, although these are great if you have a small lot.

MIKE: Or a flat lawn. They sound great.

BARNABY: I know it. I wish you could have a cassette you could just put in... (reel mower whirring sound). A lot of kids are like, "What is that, granddad?"

MIKE: There's no laser on it, so I know I can't use it.

BARNABY: Let's talk about this. This is electric and oh so very quiet, and environmentally friendly.

MIKE: If you're concerned about emissions and the environment, they do make electric mowers. This one happens to be a corded electric mower, which I found surprising. If there was ever an activity that you want to really be careful of with a cord out on your grass, it's this. You want to make sure you know where that cord is.

BARNABY: Anybody with an electric hedge trimmer knows that the cord always seems to find its way into the vicinity, so care must be taken to not run over the cord.

MIKE: Corded, but some really cool features on it as well.

BARNABY: Look at this right here, as far as raising and lowering the deck. It's all one knob.

MIKE: You don't have to make the rounds, it's awesome.

BARNABY: This one goes from being a side discharge, by simply pulling this chute off right here, and then it all goes into the bag.

MIKE: You get three-in-one.

BARNABY: Excellent. You know what? Magically, cord be gone, and the Works is born.

MIKE: Here you go. With a little tiny Works guy here, this is for, obviously, smaller lawns. They take it and they make in compact not just in the form it's in now, but you've got these levers here, you can really knock this thing down to size and storage becomes easy.

BARNABY: Look at the size of this battery here. This is crazy. It's a 24-volter. It takes about an hour and some to charge, but it will do a giant lawn, relatively speaking. Full power about 7500 feet. 13,000 square feet if you go into the quiet mode. I'm going to ask you to fire it up right now.

MIKE: Clear prop.

BARNABY: Isn't that crazy?

MIKE: You don't have that excuse, you know, "I was running the lawnmower, couldn't hear my wife yelling at me."

BARNABY: You could do it at 6 o'clock in the morning and nobody could complain.

MIKE: I do a lot of mowing late at night. My neighbor's going to love this.

BARNABY: That must be real clean lines you get.

MIKE: I'm out there with a miner's hat on, look like I just came from spelunking.

BARNABY: Yes, I can hear the clinking of the ice cubes in your highball glass. It also has a little battery indicator right here which is going to tell you when this is going be run dry. Then it's only an hour and some to charge it, so not bad.

MIKE: And it's bagging.

BARNABY: Did you notice when you reach for the switch I move my foot away?

MIKE: You're quick like a bunny.

BARNABY: It's survival, brother.

MIKE: You were talking about goats, but now we've got rabbits too.

BARNABY: Let's talk about this guy. 36 volt cordless.

MIKE: 36 volts of Black and Decker power.

BARNABY: It's a bigger cutting width, right?

MIKE: Yes. You got a larger width, larger mower in all. Again, it's bagging. This guy here is going to mow for longer and it's going to have a little more power to it.

BARNABY: You can do a third of an acre with this guy.

MIKE: And you've got the safety key. Being electric, it's pretty easy to start up. If you have little kids around, you don't want the curiosity getting to them. You can pop the key out, put it up someplace high, and then you keep your kids' feet and toes attached to them.

BARNABY: We were talking historically about how we had, in the 1830s, the reel mower. 1927, the rotary mower, gas powered, was born, and this guy looks like he might have been around back then.

MIKE: This is your basic, if you're budget minded, you're just starting out or something, your first house, or whatever the reason, you're on a budget. The low dollar is going to get you something like this. It's going to get the job done but you're not going to have a lot of frills. In fact, if you want to change the ride height or the mow height on one of these like this, you actually have to take every wheel off and put it back on in a different spot. If you like NASCAR, and you like that pit stop and all that stuff, you can just jack it up and (pneumatic tool noises).

BARNABY: Get the compressor, a little pneumatic wrench. Here's a fun fact to know and tell. If you do have your grass grow extra long, you should cut it by thirds. Don't just say, "OK, I'm going to take it down to my usual mower height," because that's going to burn it. You've just got to cut it by a third and come back a couple of days later, another third, until you get it down. I guess the lesson here is don't go away on vacation.

MIKE: Don't go away on vacation, or with something like this, you're going to get the job done, but you're going to have to put a little more time into getting it right.

BARNABY: Now we go a quantum leap forward to the feature sets, right?

MIKE: These are CARB certified. They're emissions clean, so you could run one of these, I believe, In California, which says something.

BARNABY: Absolutely. They are the cleanest of machines, certainly, and it's got 9 inch ball bearing wheels. These are individually adjustable, which depending on what your personal preferences are, if you are the king of the neighborhood lawn and want to have everything just so. Very articulated. Look at this. Plastic deck.

MIKE: Plastic deck. You're not going to rust this one out. You want to look at warranties, though, when you're looking at plastic decks. You ever kick up a stone or something under your mower and you see a dent in one of those metal decks? Imagine what it would do to a poorly constructed plastic deck.

BARNABY: This has got a lifetime warranty, so apparently very well constructed. It's got an auto choke system so you don't have to prime the bulb, it automatically does it.

MIKE: That's nice, because starting them can be a bear sometimes.

BARNABY: Don't start it, Daddy's piano-playing fingers are going underneath here. This actually has four blades. Two blades and four cutting surfaces, more correctly said. What that's going to do is really mulch up what's going on. It's going to lessen the load in your bag and then smaller clippers going in there.

MIKE: It's got this thing right here, this clip director on the back that you can spin around. You can adjust how much of the clippings are going in the bag and how much of them are going back out as mulch.

BARNABY: Some people say, "You spend all this money fertilizing your lawn, you've got all these nutrients in the grass, what are you doing throwing it in the bag, put it back in the soil." But some people don't like walking around with bare feet and picking up grass clippings. So this one is self-propelled and you can actually dictate the speed at which it travels.

MIKE: Everybody's walking a different speed, you've got different length legs. That makes sense. You get this thing going to the speed you like.

BARNABY: 0-4 miles an hour. One more fun fact to know and tell about rear wheel drive, front wheel drive. Both of these are rear wheel, right?

MIKE: Yes.

BARNABY: I said that well, "rear wheel right," it's like Elmer Fudd. Anyway, if it's rear wheel drive, when the bag gets really heavy, the mower necessarily is going to lighten up in the front, so if you have front wheel drive that might be a bit of an issue, especially if you're going up hills.

MIKE: Spinning and stuff. You keep the weight over the wheels.

BARNABY: One of these levers right here, also will stop the blade from turning but allow the engine to keep going so you can take the bag off and change it without worrying about (lawn mower noises).

MIKE: Things coming flying out at you.

BARNABY: This guy, we look like we're really getting into the commercial grade right here, because this guy is built like a tank.

MIKE: A tank is about right. This is about a light commercial mower. It's got the zero turn wheels on front that you can see, that's what the goofy wheels are so you can whip it around pretty easily.

BARNABY: That's great because otherwise you have to put it up and rotate it on an axis. This one is articulated.

MIKE: Keep all the weight down and spin it around. It's got about every adjustment known to man. One of the things to think about with these wheels up front is it keeps you from getting close to things on the front end of this. If you've got to trim along a wall or you've got to trim along trees or something like that, you really, on this one right now the way it's set up with side discharge, you really only have one side that you can get alongside things with. Something to keep in mind. There's a lot of nice things about the zero turn wheels but there is one drawback.

BARNABY: My wife likes to garden and we've got a lot of edging. This would be great because you could just follow the line. It too is CARB certified. It's interesting, because as we went from electric up to the world of gas, we do get into that whole thing about winterizing. A fun fact to know and tell, again from a guy that I know who runs a repair shop, he said, "Always put gas stabilizer in but always just run it dry when it comes time for winter because you've got the seals that are attacked by the ethanol that is a gas additive," that's just a tip that's going to extend the life of your mower. Just about done here?

MIKE: So much to say.

BARNABY: I tell you, so much to know. But that's why you come to toolselect.com, real stats from real people right there, making it real easy to figure out which tool is right for you.

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