Lawn Mower-You should have one

We all know that high quality products are worth having, but what exactly determines a high quality self-propelled lawn mower? We decided to tackle this question in two general areas: durability and design. Let’s look at what long-lasting and thoughtful features are integrated into the best mowers on the market today.

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Durability

The average maximum life expectancy of a well-maintained lawn mower is seven to ten years, with most people hitting about 6 years before they change to a newer model. Gas engines in consumer models last around ten years, tops. That translates to about one hour per week of use for about six months every year.

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Most mower manufacturers usually offer 1 to 3 year warranties. This doesn’t seem like much, but there are reasons for such a short term compared to the life expectancy of a mower. Designs change, models get upgraded, and a lot of companies don’t want to be responsible for hanging on to old parts stock for years just in case someone might need a repair. It used to be that you could buy something backed by a long warranty because then you’d be confident that the product would last. Not so now. So how can you determine if a product will be durable?

The sum of its parts

You know that old saying, “Keep it simple.” Look for self-propelled lawn mowers that have fewer parts to break and lose. Avoid ones that need all sorts of accessories to 78change between discharging, mulching, and bagging. Stick to one-lever height changes instead of four levers for setting each wheel’s height independently. Prefer button starters over ones that require a key, and avoid gas models that need priming and choking.

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Finally, blades are a key part that you’ll need to maintain and replace. Consider whether you’ll bag or mulch more, because there are different kinds of blades that do each kind of work. Some self-propelled 3-in-1 models have both kinds of blades onboard, which raises the cost of maintenance. Some warranties require that you use only blades approved by the manufacturer.

Solid like a rock

Electric and cordless self-propelled mowers often have plastic decks, or bodies. This makes them a lot lighter to move around. Plastic is not bad. Some manufacturers guarantee those plastic decks for the lifetime of the mower because they are strong and will never rust. Meanwhile, you’ll mostly see steel decks on gas mowers. Look for ones that are marked rust-resistant, but remember you’ll still need to keep them clean to protect them over the long run.

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Respect for the reputation

When in doubt, buy a mower from a company that’s been making them for a good long while. If you don’t find all the features you want in one of the big name models, don’t despair. Some manufacturers assemble their mowers with parts from other companies with great reputations for quality. For example, many gas mowers run on Briggs & Stratton engines. Honda has been making lawn mowers since 1979, and Toro since the 1980s. These companies make some of the best mowers on the market. Check to see which manufacturers currently get the most positive reviews.

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Thoughtful Design

We just discussed having a lawn mower that will endure well. The second sign of a high quality self-propelled lawn mower is thoughtful design. Is it made to be comfortable and easy to use?

Comfort

Self-propelled mowers make cutting the lawn a lot easier, but you still have to guide them. First off, look for mowers with adjustable cushioned handlebars. You’ll want the bar to hit the right height for you to control the mower comfortably, especially if you have slopes or rough terrain. If the bars collapse down afterward for storage, that’s even better. The cushioning is important, too, when you have to mow in 95-degree heat. That metal gets hot in the sun.

Concentrated leverage

We’re back to “keep it simple.” The best-designed mowers have sturdy, well-marked adjustment levers in easy-to-reach places. Need to change from discharge to bagging? Flip the lever. Want to raise the blade a little higher? One lever clicks forward and backward. Need to go a little faster? Some self-propelled models use the bail handle to control the speed. Squeeze it and go faster. Others have a fixed throttle. If at all possible, see and touch (and even test-drive) the mowers you want to buy.

the best self-propelled lawn mower

the best self-propelled lawn mower

Options

Thoughtful design also means the operator has the most flexibility possible to accommodate their lawn’s needs. Look for models that offer a good range of deck height adjustments, as well as plenty of speed settings. Think of it this way: you might have fescue in your yard now, so you’ll be leaving it longer. Maybe your weather only hits the 80s in the summer, so you cut the whole yard quickly. But maybe next year you’ll be living somewhere hot with centipede grass, which means you’ll be cutting it short and possibly moving a little slower while you work. You’ll be glad for all those deck heights and speeds at your command!

Cleanup

Finally, good design means that the manufacturer makes it easy for you to clean up after you mow. Keeping the machine clean will extend its lifetime. A washout port in the deck is a good example. All you have to do is connect a garden hose and let it run for a minute or two to wash out the clippings. A gas mower will have an easy way to drain the tank for winter storage. A cordless mower will have a battery that’s simple to remove so that you’ll have options for charging it wherever you have need. An electric mower will have hooks for storing the extension cord. If you have a small storage area, look for collapsible handlebars.

Get the best you can afford

This mower will be your working companion each week for a good long chunk of the year. If you want a beautiful lawn, but don’t want to kill yourself maintaining it, get a great mower. Get the best you can afford, because over the long run it will save you time and money. Before you hit the store, read more about the best-selling models and the critics’ favorite riding lawn mowers.

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Your unique garden with lawn mowers !

It’s time to upgrade your old mower, so let us make your yard care easier with tips on how to choose the best lawn mower of 2016.

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Did you know that if your yard is just ¼ of an acre in size, you have to walk up to two miles to cut all the grass? Instead of pushing around 80 pounds or more in the summer heat, get a self-propelled mower. Then all you have to do is guide it!

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Of course, you may have realized there are a LOT of mowers for sale. How can you narrow it down? What’s most important?

No worries, we’ve got it covered right here. Let’s look at what features make up the best self-propelled lawn mowers.

Discharge, Bag, and Mulch That Grass

Get the most options you can afford; you never know when you’ll wish you had them. If you like to keep your lawn looking neat, bagging and mulching keep your cleanup down to the minimum. 69 - Copy

Mulchi
ng the clippings into tiny bits and discharging them fertilizes the lawn and makes it resistant to dry spells. If you plan to bag instead of discharging, make sure you have a place to deposit the clippings. Some areas don’t allow it in landfills, or charge to dump there. 70 - Copy

The best mowers switch between discharging, mulching, a nd bagging with just the flip of a switch and don’t need tools to change out bags or attachments.

To Speed, or Not to Speed

Self-propelled mowers need someone to drive them. Not everyone walks at the same pace. Some mowers with just one speed might be too slow or too fast to make mowing pleasant. Look for mowers with at least three speed settings, or test-drive a one-speed before you buy it.71 - Copy

Front or Rear Wheel Drivers

The basic rules of thumb are these:

  • If you plan to bag, prefer rear wheel drive because it handles the weight of the bag better
  • It’s easier to mow straight lines with rear wheel drive
  • If you have trouble turning, front wheel drive is handy because just tipping the mower backward makes it easy to move in another direction
  • If you have trouble turning but want rear wheel drive, get a mower with the ability to disengage the drive

The Engine That Could72 - Copy

Newer 4-cylinder gas engines, especially those with overhead valves or cams, are less noisy than the older 2-cylinder models. They tackle hilly yards with ease and they don’t need a precise mix of gas and oil, either.

Many self-propelled mowers now offer a key-start or electric start button and some are self-priming, too. Look into these if you’re tired of yanking a cord.

Take a look at electric mowers if you prefer quiet mowing without all the mess and maintenance of a gasoline engine. Keep in mind that electric and cordless models may not be ideal for rough terrain or large yards.74 - Copy

Deck Width, Size Matters

 

Consider your yard. Do you have narrow parts where your mower will need to squeeze through? Or are you faced with lots of open terrain to cover? If you have a large lawn, go with the wider models in the 21 to 22-inch range. You’d be surprised at how much one inch more can make a difference.75 - Copy

Just-right Comfort

Look for one-lever wheel height adjustment, it’s a lot faster and easier than setting each wheel individually. Check the handlebar to see if it adjusts to your height. Squeeze the control bail with your hands—will you be able to hold it against the handlebar for long periods of time, or is it too stiff? If the handlebar has a cushioned grip, that’s better protection against the vibration of the motor. Finally, see if your mower can collapse down for storage. This comes in handy if you need to transport it in a trunk of a car, or if you don’t have a lot of storage space.

Narrow it down with expert reviews to get just the right model for you

Now that we’ve gone over these essential features found in the best self-propelled mowers, it’s time to narrow down the offerings even more. No need to get overwhelmed or drown in research. We did all the work for you already!67

Egret Rookery

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The egret is a gregarious bird by nature so their nesting sites are often found in large trees or groups of trees. Big trees are a favored communal rookery location, and islands are especially popular for these nesting birds.

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These nesting sites are an excellent opportunity for photographers to photograph nests, but it is important to avoid disturbing the birds by keeping one’s distance. That is why my shots are from afar. You can even see a few birds take flight, which I was trying to avoid.

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Above and below, a tree is filled with lots of egrets. I only had a small Nikon P510 along on this trip to St. Lucia, so I had no telephoto lens to use. Carolyn and I were standing on a busy road so it was also not a place to set up a shot. In front of us was drainage ditches and marshy land. Egrets do like wetlands, although this is the arid part of the island. Next post I will show you how arid by what is growing.

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Egrets also like to hang around horses and are much easier to approach from a photographic standpoint. They are common in fields following the horses and foraging in the manure.

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They forage for seed as they follow the horses and cows around waiting for the next meal to drop. I think I have to add a “yuck” to this activity.

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Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens – Allentown #4

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Allentown is Buffalo’s oldest preservation district with some of the most unique architecture in our area. The oldest house was built in 1840. Homes range from cottage to Queen Anne to Italianate.

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The central corridor is a mix of artsy shops, galleries and bars. The quirky Bohemian quality is very evident throughout the Allen Street District.

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The homes are built close together with very small front yards, yet have loads of color with perennial gardens and containers galore.

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There is very little room for grass yards and many gardens are gated or fenced.

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Colorfully painted doors are common, just as are lively storefronts on Allen Street.

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 Roof lines are dramatic with mansard roofs and cupolas.

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Many gateways are both welcoming and decorative.

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Gates divide spaces so as to appear larger and create rooms.

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Paths have arches, pergolas and arbors.

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Picket fences are common also.

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Make sure to stop in at Garden Walk Garden Talk tomorrow, for more of Allentown gardens. The paths through the gardens are featured in the post entitled, Garden Walk Buffalo Gardens – Allentown #4 1/2.