Gasoline or electric
Battery mowers are ideal for small to medium sized well-maintained jobsites with a mowed area of no more than 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. For a larger area, especially one that may have leaves during fall, purchase a gasoline powered mower. Another reason to buy a gas mower is that you would expect to encounter tough cutting conditions, such as mowing along an unruly edge, to keep tall grass and weeds away. It takes a lot of torque to do this, and gasoline engines excel at it.
Types of mowers (and the garden sizes they’re ideal for)
Walking and Self-Propelled (10,000 sq. Ft. Of grass or less): Typical engines up to 190cc (with some larger ones), mower deck width 21 to 33 inches. Choose rear-wheel drive if you’re mowing uphill, especially if you’re picking up clippings. Use the front wheel drive on level ground for more maneuverability. Buy all-wheel drive (or reverse) for steep hills, side slopes, ruts, and grassless areas. Select a driveless mower (also known as a push mower) if your cutting area is smaller than what we describe above, and if you are looking for mechanical simplicity and cost savings.
Rear-engine drive (10,000 square feet of grass up to two acres; heavy-duty variations up to four acres): Typical engine sizes are in the range of 10.5 to 13.5 horsepower (hp ), with a few models as large as 21.5 hp. Deck sizes are typically 30 to 33 inches, with heavy-duty models having decks up to 54 inches. Wide decks allow faster mowing but are more expensive. There aren’t as many electric riding mowers as there are gasoline engine types. Among the handful of products available are the Cub Cadet CC 30E, Turf One and RY48111 from Ryobi.
Traditional Lawn Tractor (20,000 square feet of grass up to four acres): Typical engine sizes range from 10.5 to 25 hp. Deck sizes range from 42 inches to 54 inches. When you increase horsepower and bed size on lawn tractors, you find rugged models with features like a differential lock: both rear wheels turn simultaneously to help you climb hills or pull attachments like a grader. As for battery tractors, there’s only one we know of, and that’s Cub Cadet’s XT1 Enduro. Obviously, you’d think it’s a gasoline powered machine, but it’s powered by lithium-ion batteries and 56-volt motors for its drive and bridge blades.
Zero-turn driving (20,000 square feet of grass up to four acres): Typical engine sizes range from 12 to 25 hp. Deck sizes start at around 32 inches and go up to 60 inches. These machines steer with a pair of cover bars that control the transmissions, one at each rear wheel. Moving a bar forward increases fluid flow to the transmission; moving it back decreases the flow. This causes the mower to move straight, turn in a curve, or pivot. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers are one of the fastest growing mower categories. Yes, they’re expensive, but if you want quiet, high-capacity mowing, they’re worth checking out. And by high capacity we mean these machines are designed to cut more than an acre. Two examples of these cutting edge mowers are Ego’s Z6 and Ryobi’s RY48140.
Bagging, mulching or side discharge?
Almost all walk-behind mowers today graze and pick up sacks. Some also discharge laterally. The average homeowner is best served by a mower with good mulching performance. Mulching is a process where the clippings are repeatedly cut and unloaded below deck. As the clippings decompose, they return nitrogen to the soil, which improves the health of the grass. A secondary benefit is that mulching doesn’t require you to throw the clippings somewhere and compost them. On the other hand, bagging the clippings leaves a lawn surface as clean as possible, reducing clippings that can be dragged into the house by the shoes. Mowers in side discharge mode pull clippings to the side of the deck. Use it in tall grass or when mowing non-grassed areas – rows formed by clippings are ugly and can kill strips of lawn if left in place.