Moving from an apartment into a home with a lawn brings all kinds of new possibilities. You could grow a vegetable garden or put in new flower beds. You could even plant a tree. But one thing you’ll definitely need to do is buy a lawn mower to keep your grass in shape.
But what kind of lawn mower do you need? Will a push lawn mower be enough, or should you go for a self-propelled model? Is your lawn big enough to require a riding mower, and if so, what kind – a rear engine mower, a lawn tractor, or a zero-turn model? Read on to learn everything you need to know about choosing a lawn mower for your needs.
The Bigger the Lawn, the Bigger the Mower
The more lawn you have, the more lawn mower you’re going to need to keep up. Sure, you can cut an acre of grass with a push mower, but you’re going to be out there all day, and a small lawn mower probably won’t see its normal lifespan if it’s doing that much work.
In general, gasoline- and battery-powered push lawn mowers are best for lawns of a quarter-acre or smaller in size. For a lawn that’s significantly smaller than a quarter of an acre, a battery-powered mower is the most efficient, eco-friendly option – and the quietest and easiest to maintain. If your lawn is closer to a quarter of an acre than not, you may want to go ahead and get a self-propelled gas mower.
Technically, you could handle a lawn up to half an acre in size with a self-propelled lawn mower. However, that’s a lot of grass to cut, and it could take several hours to cut it with any kind of walk-behind model, because you can only walk so fast. Add long grass conditions or rough terrain, and your grass cutting time gets longer.
To estimate how long it will take to cut your grass, do a mock mow by walking back and forth across the lawn as if you were pushing a mower. Many homeowners would prefer to spend less time mowing, even if it means buying an expensive riding lawn mower – and if you want to keep your grass neatly cut at all times, you need a tool that will make the job easy. For lawns larger than half an acre, you definitely need a riding lawn mower; a rear-engine riding lawn mower will be best for lawns of one-half to a whole acre, while a lawn tractor or a zero-turn mower might be best for lawns larger than an acre, because they tend to have wider mowing decks and can therefore cut more grass in a single swathe.
Get Something that Can Handle the Terrain of Your Yard
If your yard is flat and smooth, you don’t need to worry too much about whether your new lawn mower will be able to handle it. But uneven surfaces and slopes can require more from a mower. Even if you have a smaller lawn of less than a quarter acre, you’ll need a self-propelled walk-behind mower if the lawn has uneven ground or slopes. If you have a yard larger than a quarter of an acre with rough terrain, a lawn tractor may be your best bet. It’s more stable than a zero-turn mower and has the capacity to handle uneven terrain and slopes.
Consider the Obstacles in Your Lawn
Not everyone has a rectangle-shaped lawn. If you have a weirdly shaped lawn, you’re going to need a lawn mower that can handle sharp turns. Most rear-engine mowers have a pretty tight turning radius these days, or you can go all out and get a zero-turn mower. These models are able to turn on a dime, by stopping one back wheel and turning with the other. If you have a lawn with a lot of trees, flower beds, birth baths, koi ponds, or other obstacles in it, a zero-turn mower can help you cut around them proficiently and with ease.
When you’re shopping for a lawn mower, you need to consider the size of your lawn, the terrain you need to care for, and whether you need a tight turning radius to follow the outline of an oddly shaped lawn or to get around obstacles like trees and flower beds without too much trouble. The right lawn mower will make it so easy to mow your lawn, you’ll look forward to doing it every weekend.