I’ve met many people, men mostly, who want the biggest, latest, and greatest lawn mower for their lawn…even when they don’t necessarily need a huge riding mower. There are plenty of places where a riding mower is a necessity, but out here in SoCal, especially with the drought we’re in, there just isn’t enough grass to warrant a riding mower in most places.
So, how do you pick the right mower for your landscaping needs? Here is a general guide to which mowers work best for which landscape types.
For a very small to small yard a manual reel mower would be your best option. These are the old fashioned, not fancy, no motor, low maintenance mowers that are dependable and don’t require a lot of maintenance. The best things about these mowers, I think, is that 1) they don’t break down – no engine, no engine problems and no cords to worry about plugging in; and 2) they are quiet – again, no engine, no noise. Not to mention the quick workout you’ll get by doing the yard work.
The second best option for small yards is the corded electric mower. There is no oil or gas required for this mower, but it does require an extension cord to be plugged in to operate it. This option is good if you have an open space to mow that doesn’t require maneuvering around obstacles as this can present a challenge because you will have to maneuver the cord around the obstacles as well. Also, you are limited by the length of the extension cord. Another challenge with this type is that if the cord becomes damaged or cut, then you will have to purchase a new mower unless you can find someone who can replace it.
The cordless electric mower is also great for small yards. It still has low noise output and no emissions, just like the corded electric mower, but it doesn’t have the annoying cord getting in the way. This is great for yards with obstacles that need to be maneuvered around since it doesn’t have a cord and isn’t limited by the length of an extension cord. However, you are limited by the battery capacity since it needs to be plugged in to recharge the battery.
The walk-behind push mower is good for small to medium yards. These are more powerful than the electric mowers as they have a gas engine as they can easily cut down tough weeds. However, it will be a good workout, especially on those hot summer days since you are pushing the mower to make it go. The challenge with gas motors is that if they aren’t maintained well they can break down, and you will need to keep a small amount of gasoline on hand to refill for use.
The walk-behind self-propelled mower is great for medium yards. They are powerful as they have a gas engine and they work well on most any landscape terrain. Most allow you to adjust the speed to your walking preference. You won’t get the workout you would with the push mower, though. Again, the challenge with gas motors is that if they aren’t maintained well they can break down, and you will need to keep a small amount of gasoline on hand to refill for use.
The riding mower is perfect for the larger-medium size yards. These are great for an easy mowing experience (and are quite fun to use). This one can be used for large lawns as well, but it will take more time to mow the whole lawn as they are slower and have a narrower cutting range than lawn tractors.
The lawn tractor is great for large yards. It is a much more powerful mower that has a much larger mowing deck, so it can push through a large yard in a much shorter amount of time. They can also handle most terrain and give a comfortable ride for the user.
If you have a large yard, you may also want to check out garden tractors, zero-radius turning mower, and wide-cut self-propelled mower as potential options for your landscaping needs.
When we had a lawn (which was quite small at the time), my husband insisted that he needed a riding mower. Sure, he would have been able to cut all the grass in about 3 minutes, but it would have been a waste of money and space. We had settled on a push mower for our small yard, and it worked wonderfully (and didn’t take up nearly as much space in the garage).