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Editor's Pick: Lawn Mowers

How to Buy a Lawn Mower

By Tanja KernSHOP.COM For the Home Editor

The whirr of lawn mowers on the weekend marks the arrival of summer and the quest for the perfectly manicured lawn. Mowers come in a variety of sizes, styles and features, so it's important to consider what you need before purchasing one. The size of your yard, the shape and layout of your landscaping and the amount of time you have to devote to yard maintenance will all play a role in the final decision. Like any outdoor power tool, you want to invest in reliability, durability and efficiency. Let SHOP.COM's Lawn Mower Buying Guide help steer you in the right direction.

The Basics

Step 1Push: push mowers are the original models and consist of a handle that pushes sharp blades that cut the grass. Unpowered, these models are quieter and cleaner for the environment than powered models. They are usually lightweight and the least expensive kind of lawn mower.
Step 2Gas: powered push mowers are practical and economic choices for yards up to a half acre in size. Many come with bagging or mulching features. Opt for self-propelled models to help you mow up hill, or if you lack strength. The downside to these mowers is their loud sound and exhaust emissions, which are harmful to the environment.
Step 3Riding: Riding mowers are a good investment if you have a large lawn. You sit on a seat and literally drive the mower around the yard as powered blades cut the grass. Some models feature optional, mulchers and snow shovels, which makes them useful tools year-round.
Step 4Zero Turn Radius: Zero-turn radius mowers work best for large yards with many trees. In fact, they are often used for commercial applications. These mowers feature rear-wheel drive for tight steering around landscaping and obstacles. They sometimes are challenging to drive on hills and they are expensive.

The Lingo

Electric Start: Enables you to start the mower with a push of a button instead of pulling a cord.
Bag attachments : allow you to collect grass clippings or leaves with your mower to dispose of them elsewhere.
Mulching mower: Mulching lawn mowers leave behind finely shredded grass clippings as opposed to large, bulky clippings. Smaller clippings feed nutrients to the grass and allow the lawn to breathe. They are practical options for homeowners who don't have a place to dump or compost clippings.
Adjustability: Mower blades can usually be set at different heights, which determine show short you cut the grass.
Weight: If you opt for a push mower, consider the weight of the machine because it can have a big impact on how easy it is to move around the yard.
Concentrator: A narrow attachment that allows air to flow directly on a section of strands. It's optimum for smooth, sleek styles because it gives you greater control. It's usually included with nozzle-type hair dryers.
Warranties: Check out what warranties are offered and what they cover before deciding on your lawn mower.

The Experts

Black & Decker Cordless Mower "Right out of the box the CMM1000 is different. Unlike other mowers requiring gas, the CMM1000 mower is a welcome change to the environment and to anyone who has ever inhaled the fumes or listened to the noise from a gas mower. CMM1000 can cut up to 1/3 of an acre on a full charge. We cut 1/8 of an acre without losing power and were pleased to have the option of either mulching or bagging. The battery charged up to 60% after 4 hours and 100% after 16 hours." (Source: Housekeepingchannel.com)
Reel Lawn Mower "The Sunlawn LMM-40 Manual Push Reel Mower offers greater variation of cutting heights from .4 "" to 2.2"", new wider blade width, and the same unique ever-sharp blade technology: flame hardened steel blades which are bearing mounted and contact-free." (Source: People Powered Machines)

The Brands

MTD lawn mowers have a reputation for quality and a variety of features.
Husqvarna lawn mowers are known for their reliability.
Honda push mowers have a patented easy-to-start system.
Poulan is known for specializing in a variety of outdoor power equipment that includes lawn mowers, chainsaws, and more.

The Price

$: The least expensive lawn mowers are non-powered reel mowers, which run between $80 and $200.
$$: Ranging from $150 to $500 are push-style and powered with either gas or electricity. Many push mowers come with attachments like baggers or mulchers.
$$$: Riding lawn mowers and zero-turn-radius models are the most expensive kinds and can range between $1,200 and $5,000.