How to buy the best gas-powered lawn mower

by teddletonmr

Need to know when to cut the grass, bag clippings and leaves, or use a mulching mower, 3 in 1 lawn mower does it all…

For homeowners and renters like you and me. We find it far better to cut our own grass, and our needs are really quite simple. We just want a mower that will start on the first or second pull, cut grass when it is growing like crazy in spring. How about while we are exploring the possibilities, it would also be extremely useful if our new mower would bag grass clippings and mulch leaves in fall. Ok, not all of us want or need a top of the line mower with all the must have features. What we do need however, is to learn how to buy the best gas-powered lawn mower that will fill our needs.

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Gas-powered Lawn mower Engine Features

Things to consider when talking lawn mower features, gas-powered engines produce the most power when compared to electric mowers. No need for long heavy-duty extension cords running from the house to supply electric power to the motor `used on electric lawn mowers. There is however, the need for a specially designed fuel can. For storing, the gasoline needed to power the engine.

Husqvarna 7021 3 in 1 lawn mower Gas engines used on today’s mowers are generally 4-cycle engines. With CARB standards, limiting emissions small 2-cycle gas-powered engines used on the ole lawn boy mowers of times gone by. Are obsolete today, no more blue smoke, no more mixing oil with the gas, and no more fouled spark plugs due to mixing too much oil in the gas.

OHV (overhead valve) engines are the wave of the future, designed to meet and exceed todays CARB (California air resources board) standards. These gas-powered engines are standard equipment on premium mowers. They boast fuel efficiency, start easily, and pollute less. Best of all are quiet and easy to maintain. The top brands are Briggs & Stratton, Honda and Kohler and have earned their place as the top-of-line engine on today’s mowers. With parts and service available at any lawnmower repair shop, these engines will last for decades with proper care.

The cheaper 4-cycle engine option available on gas-powered lawn mowers is the L-head engine. This 4-cycle engine design has been in use for as long as there has been gas lawn mower. These engines meet the bare bones, cheapest price point entry-level lawn mower market. Generally regarded as disposable mowers, when something breaks other than normal replacement parts such as spark plug, air cleaner element or oil change, it will cost more to repair than the mower is worth.

Spill proof gas can and sta-bil , Keep your fuel fresh and clean

Briggs & Stratton 85023 2.5-Gallon Ga...
$17.99  $13.23
STA-BIL 22214 Fuel Stabilizer - 32 Fl...
$20.99  $10.49
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How to measure engine power

For many of us, the only thing we really care about is will a mower have enough power to cut our grass. On the other hand, there is the Tim the tool man Taylor types. That must have more power. Ok, how do they measure the power of a lawn mower engine? In days gone by, horsepower ruled the day. Today, not so much, rather torque rating and cc (cubic centimeter) is the measure.

Why dose power matter anyway? Depending on how a mower is used, will determine how much power is required to get the job done. Lawn mowers use a Rotating blade to cut grass, yes. However, there is more to it than that. Without going into a long drawn out explanation, suffice it to say.

The Rotating mower blade turns somewhere in the range of 3000 rpm (revolutions per minute) at full cutting speed. The blade first lifts the blades of grass, then cuts them evenly and discharges the clippings. Easy enough   to understand, right, mulching or bagging requires the mower to work harder. Working harder requires more power. Subsequently, lawn mower engines with larger cc engines produce more torque in turn work better when bagging, mulching, cutting overgrown lawns and powering the self-propelled feature.

Collapsible trash can work great when you need to pick-up leaves and lawn clippings recycle or compost

Fiskars 30 Gallon Kangaroo Gardening Bag (94056949)
$24.99  $15.56
Stansport Collapsible Campsite Carry-All Trash Can, Green
$21.99  $13.78
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Push mower or self-propelled mower

Husqvarna self-perpelled lever Most people like the fact that your basic push mower cost less to buy up-front. Weighs less making them easier to move around and load into a vehicle, and cost less to maintain in the end. The down side to using your basic push mower, pushing the sixty to seventy pound or more lawn mower around a large lawn say 2000 sq. ft. or larger, and up and down a hilly lawn is quite a chore. Although mowers with larger diameter rear wheels, roll better making a push mower easier to move around a lawn.

Self-propelled lawn mowers do make it easier for older folks with larger lawns cut their own grass. The trade off, self-propelled mowers are heavier, cost more initially. Replacing drive belts and wheels that wear out down the road make a self-propelled mower cost more to maintain. The added workload of powering a transmission takes power away from the blade, requiring larger engines, which use more fuel.

The up side, self-propelled mowers require less work on the person using it. Start the engine, put the mower into gear, engage the self-propelled transmission, point it in the right direction, and hold onto the handle. The only way mowing our grass could be easier, pay someone to cut it for us, which I believe we will all agree, defeats the purpose.

Husvarna 7021 21- inch deck, 160cc Honda GCV OHV engine

Husqvarna 7021R 21-Inch 160cc Honda G...
Only $399.95
Husqvarna 7021P 21-Inch 160cc Honda G...
$299.95  $244.53
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Side discharge, rear bagger, mulching mower or three in one

Husqvarna rear bagger Side discharging grass clippings is ok for some of us, let us face it all we have time for is keeping the lawn from looking like a jungle. Where those of us that have the time, and inclination spend the time getting our lawn look as though it just jumped off the pages of a landscaping magazine, you know whom you are.

After all, we look at our neighbor’s lawn who does not take the time to cut the grass correctly and cringe. It boggles the mind to think someone would think strips of grass piled where the side discharge mower put the clippings killing the grass is a good look. I shudder to think you are one of those people by choice.

Using a side discharge and mulching mower is good in mid to late summer when the grass is dry and not growing like crazy is cool. On the other hand, cutting out of control wet thick grass in spring is quite another thing. Actually, this is the worst-case scenario.

To ensure a healthy beautiful lawn, we should only cut one third of the blade of grass each time we mow, leaving it a minimum of three inches tall after cutting. In spring when the grass is growing like crazy, bagging the grass clippings will help remove grass that would otherwise harbor molds killing the grass. Under piles of clippings left by a side discharge or mulching mower. These clippings properly composted are welcomed soil amendments to the flower and vegetable garden.

My best advice for you, bag in early spring and late fall to pick-up leaves in fall and excess grass clippings in spring. Add the mulched leaves and grass into a compost bin, pile or heap. Use the mulching mower to cut the grass, starting in late spring after the spring rains have come and gone and the lawn is dry. This practice will conserve moisture in your lawn, and recycle the nutrients contained in the clippings back into the lawn reducing the need for lawn fertilizers. In short, buy a mower with the 3 in 1 option it will serve you well.

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Where and how to buy the best lawn mower

Lawn mower shop We have three options when it comes to buying a new lawn mower. We can go to the local servicing dealer of our choice, buy from one of the neighborhood big box stores or buy online from amazon or something similar. They all have their advantages, and disadvantages.

The servicing dealer will assemble your new mower and make sure it is ready to mow your lawn, at the full retail or some special sale price. They will try to sell you on the notion their customers get preferred customer service to sway you into buying from them, and justify you paying higher prices for the privilege. On top of that, they will charge you their standard delivery fee, $25 - $50 or so.

crowded big box store Big box stores generally like to have the cheapest price point mower on sale still in the box. Sure, they will have a few on displays you can buy off the floor and they too will add a set-up charge somewhere around an additional $20 or so and no delivery available. All you need is a pick-up truck or van to haul it home. Pull the mower out of the box when you get home. Fill the crankcase with motor oil and fuel tank with gas, fire it up, and start cutting the grass

UPS delivery truck Buying online, select the mower that best fits your needs on this page and click the buy button, when checking out make sure to choose the free super saver shipping option. Wait a few days, for your new lawn mower to arrive at your door, no set-up fees, and no delivery charges making it a great deal all around. Sure, you will need to take the mower out of the box, put motor oil in the crankcase, and top the fuel tank off with fresh gas. How hard can that be, it is not I assure you, you absolutely can do this and save a few bucks in the process.

All you need to do

Now all you need to do is buy the mower that best fills your needs and enjoy your beautiful lawn.

Happy gardening, Mike

More helpful tips & reviews

Mike Teddleton is a father, husband, and writer whose quality of life demands, he constantly research and learn what, why and how things work, or occasionally do not.
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Updated: 02/19/2012, teddletonmr
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teddletonmr on 01/29/2012

Dustytoes buying a mower online is a bit different for many of us. However, it really is a great option for folks that do not want to mess with running into their local super center. Lugging their new lawn mower still in the box, a country mile across the store and parking lot. Just to load it into the back of their car for the drive home..
When they have unloading the mower, take it out of the box, the set it up anyway before getting to the job at hand, cutting the grass.
Why not save ourselves all the frustration. Buy a new push mower online, have it delivered to our driveway, and feel good about it as though it is christmas in April, May or something like that.
Thanks Dustytoes for sharing your thoughts.
Happy days and Springtime are just around the corner, seasons best. Mike

dustytoes on 01/29/2012

Thanks Mike for this page about buying push mowers. When I buy mine this Spring I'll be informed at least. I never really thought about buying a mower online either.

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