I have a small yard, with a lot of shade â€“ depending on the weather, I only really need to mow every two to three weeks. When I bought the house, it seemed silly to buy a new lawn mower for such a small yard, so I accepted a hand-me-down instead. The hand-me-down has always been hard to start, and now no amount of cord pulling seems to help.
What could be wrong? Simple. It could be bad gas, old gas, water in the gas tank, sediment in the fuel filter or the bottom of the tank, a gummed up carburetor, not enough air, too much air, a dirty (or just dead) spark plug, a problem in the ignition system, or it could need an oil change. Of course I should have done more regular oil changes, changed the filters, and drained the gas before last winter.
Add to all that the time I spend pushing this loud, heavy thing around and this does not sound like an appropriate amount of effort for my tiny, wimpy lawn. Buying a new gas-powered mower will only alleviate the immediate problem, not the gas, oil, filter, etc., hassles.
And guess what? Gas-powered lawn mowers are horrible polluters! Apparently cutting for one hour is about the same as driving for 100 miles! I have a hippy-treehugger hybrid, so I can probably drive two hundred miles on that emissions budget. There have been moves to add pollution controls to small engines, but they are often blocked by industry lobbyists, or valiant crusaders against evil regulatory expansionism, depending on your point of view. I'm always interested in living more efficiently, so I think it's worth considering.
Let's add this up:
Things I like/don't mind:
- Being outside, even if it's cold.
- Pushing things
Things I don't like:
- Adding maintenance of some device to my already busy schedule
- Polluting, apparently much more than I would have guessed
- Pulling and pulling and pulling and goddamn you why won't you start!
As I see it, I have three options:
- A manual push mower, just like grandpa used to have. Apparently modern reel mowers are not like grandpa's, since they are light and easy to use in many yards.
- A corded electric mower, just like that one neighbor used to have in the 80s. Corded mowers are apparently about as good as gas mowers with the drawback being the cord.
- A battery-powered mower. Although they don't last long enough for big lawns (not a problem for me), there are even robot models available.
I haven't had a chance to really look into manual reel mowers, but I did a little searching about electric mowers and came up with some ideas.
- As corded mowers go, the Black & Decker MM875 19" Lawn Hog Electric Mulching Mower seems to get mentioned a lot, and it has a number of good reviews on Amazon. It's about $220, which seems like a reasonable amount to spend.
- For cordless, battery-powered mowers, some recommend the Black & Decker Cordless CMM-1000 but it's pretty expensive â€“ around $420. I would have a hard time justifying that expense for the amount of mowing I actually do.
- There's another cordless by Bully (their 16" Cordless Lawn Mower) that is comparable in price to the Black and Decker corded and has mixed, but overall good reviews on Amazon.
- Then, of course, there is the Friendly Robotics RL850 RoboMower. At well over $1000, it doesn't meet my budget, which is a shame because I'm very happy with my Roomba vacuum cleaner.
Anyone have first-hand experience with these, or other manual and electric mowers? I might even buy one just for the emissions savings, I'm that lame. But it sounds like any of the choices above would be more convenient, too. Let me know what you think in the comments below.