Friday, 31 March 2006

When Spring's around the corner, many think of blossoms, new beginnings, and warmer weather. But there are also chores that go along with Spring too, including mowing the lawn. To make your mowing duties easier, we find out what to look for in a good lawnmower.

The Basics

  • There are three basic lawnmower power options:

    • Manual reel mowers are quiet and environmentally-friendly, with no engine to maintain or fuel requirements. They aren’t good for heavy-duty mowing, and can only get within 3 inches of obstacles on the lawn due to the wheel placement.

    • Electric mowers come as corded (100 feet or less) or cordless with rechargeable batteries. They aren’t as powerful as gas mowers and also can’t tackle heavy-duty or damp jobs, but they’re lighter weight than gas mowers and good for small to medium lawns.

    • Gas mowers are noisy and polluting, but powerful and capable of handling longer, thicker grass. They come in push models or are self-propelled. Push models are good for flat yards. Self-propelled models are good for hilly, larger yards.

  • The type of power (gas or electric) you need will be largely determined by how big your lawn is, the type of terrain and of course how much you want to spend.

  • Some mower models have trim catching bags at the back or side.

  • Some power models have a mulch setting, which cuts the clippings until they’re small enough to decompose on the lawn.

  • For the power models, you also need to choose a type of blade:

    • Most power mowers use a horizontal rotary blade that turns with the power of the engine. It’s important that rotary blades are kept sharp otherwise they bend the grass instead of cutting it. Rotary mowers are better on long grass than reel mowers but they don’t mow as cleanly and evenly.

    • Reel blades are a revolving cylinder that shears the grass. Most manual mowers are reel-bladed, but power mowers are available with this set-up too. Golf courses typically use reel blade power mowers.

Other Considerations

  • Mulching the clippings and leaving them on your lawn is actually better for it than raking the clippings, since the decomposing mulch provides valuable nutrients to the grass.


We tackled a few lawns with these four power mowers:

  • Toro (gas push mower): $489
  • Snapper (gas self-propelled): $525
  • Black & Decker (electric corded): $199
  • Gardena (electric cordless): $319

Mow Test

  • Both gas mowers were heavy and difficult to maneuver, even though the self-propelled Snapper did some of the work for us.

  • We liked the electric models better for their environmental friendliness.

  • The bags were cumbersome to deal with. We preferred the bagless Gardena.


We liked the electric models better for their environmental friendliness. The bagless Gardena was our favourite.


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