Gas Lawn Mower Buying Guide
A well kept, lustrous, healthy lawn can really improve the overall quality of a property’s visual appeal, and so it is very important that you find a lawn mower that can do the job properly and with a minimal amount of effort on your part.
There are a number of aspects to keeping a your lawn looking healthy and well cared for, including watering, seeding, and fertilizing, and so you want to take as much of the work involved in cutting the grass out of that equation as possible.
When you are looking to purchase a new lawn mower for your grass, a gas lawn mower can be a great choice.
Gas lawn mowers are much more powerful and burly than electric or reel mowers, and so they are ideal if you have a large property with a lot of grass that needs cutting or if your lawn is planted with thicker grasses such as St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.
Sometimes an electric mower just will not get the job done: either the battery will run out before you are done cutting your grass, or else you need to string multiple extension cords to reach all of your lawn, or it simply isn’t able to cut through the denser patches on your lawn.
When any of these are the case, it’s time to start shopping for a gas lawn mower.
There are a number of things to look for when you are shopping for a gas lawn mower. They include whether the lawn mower is self propelled or a push mower, the size of the lawn mower’s cutting swath, grass management options, type and size of the engine, and height adjustment options and safety features.
All of the different options that are available today can seem like a lot to wrap your head around, and shopping for the right gas lawn mower can seem like a confusing task. But by using this guide, you will soon be able to determine exactly what features on a gas lawn mower are best suited to the needs of your lawn. After you have read it, you should feel confident about making the right choice.
1. Gas Lawn Mower is a Good Buyer’s Choice
There are a number of reasons why a gas lawn mower is a good choice for lawn care. Gas lawn mowers are hands down the most powerful walk behind mowers available for the average homeowner, and that extra power offers a number of advantages over electric or reel mowers.
Extra power means that a gas lawn mower can support a larger deck width, which means it will have a wider cutting swath than an electric or reel mower can handle. That wider cutting swath means you will have to make fewer passes while you are mowing your lawn, which will save you time and money in the long run.
The added power a gas lawn mower has also means that the engine will have no problem cutting through thick, tough grass varieties like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass. The gas lawn mower will also be able to handle dense patches on your lawn without breaking a sweat.
A gas lawn mower will also be better equipped to handle uneven ground. Add to this the fact that a self propelled gas lawn mower is generally going to be less expensive than a self propelled electric mower. If your property is sloping, or if you have hills or low ground on your property, you are probably going to want a self propelled lawn mower.
A self propelled gas lawn mower will not only be less expensive than its electric counterpart; you also do not have to worry about whether a battery is going to conk out on you halfway up a slope.
A gas lawn mower not only can cut through thicker grasses, but it can also cover a lot more ground than an electric lawn mower.
A gas lawn mower can easily take care of a half an acre or more on one tank of gas. And if your property is much larger than that, you can rest easy that you will not have to wait while a battery charges back up when you are halfway through a job with a gas lawn mower. All you have to do is grab your gas can and refill the tank, and you are back on the job in no time at all.
So as you can see, there are a number of things that make buying a gas lawn mower a great choice. Now let’s take a look at some of the things you should be looking for when you are shopping for your gas lawn mower.
2. Gas Lawn Mower Buying Specifications
2a. Self Propelled vs. Push Mowers
The first thing you should look into when you are shopping for a gas lawn mower is whether you want to buy a self propelled mower or a push mower. What you end up choosing depends on a number of factors. First among these is how strong you are, and whether you think you are able to push a large lawn mower around your yard. If you are a large, burly individual, then pushing a lawn mower should not pose a problem; but if you have a slight frame, you may want to think about a self propelled mower.
The second point to consider is the size of your yard. Even if you are rather strong, if you are going to be mowing a large property that is a half an acre or more in size, then you should probably think about whether you want to be pushing a lawn mower all over that area.
On the other hand, if you have a smaller yard that is less than a half an acre (and most of us do), a push mower would probably serve your needs without too much strain. But if your property has an incline, or if there are hills or basins in it, or if it is just generally uneven, trying to push a gas lawn mower up and down may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth.
If that is the case, you should probably consider shopping for a self propelled gas lawn mower. Finally, you should keep the choice of buying a self propelled or push mower in mind when you are looking at the engine size and overall weight of the mower (which I will cover later in this guide).
Heavier lawn mowers are going to be harder to push, of course, so if you are thinking of buying one with a large engine that weighs a lot, you might want to consider making sure it is self propelled.
2b. Deck Size and Width of Cutting Swath
One of the major advantages a gas lawn mower offers is the fact that it has enough power to support a much wider cutting swath than electric or reel mowers do. This is a feature that you should definitely keep in mind while you are shopping for a gas lawn mower. One of the major arguments for buying a gas lawn mower is the size of the cutting swath it can support, so it does not make a lot of sense to buy one that has a small deck size.
Most gas lawn mowers offer a cutting swath that has a width of twenty inches or more. A wider cutting swath means you will have to make fewer passes while you are cutting your lawn, which will save you time and money. A 24 inch cutting swath will cut your lawn in two thirds the time a mower with a 16 inch cutting swath can. The sooner you are finished cutting your grass, the sooner you can be relaxing and playing with your kids in your backyard.
At the same time, buying the gas lawn mower with the widest cutting swath is not always the best option. Why? It’s simple: a wider cutting swath is going to need a larger mower with a bigger engine to support it. The bigger lawnmower – especially if it is not self propelled – will take more effort to maneuver around the lawn.
Because of that, while it may do the job a lot more quickly, it can also put more strain on your muscles and tire you out. So it is important that you find a gas lawn mower with a cutting swath that provides the right compromise between how many passes it will take to cut your lawn and how much work it will require of you.
Generally speaking, a gas lawn mower that has a cutting swath between 20 and 24 inches will fall in the middle of the range, and should provide a workable compromise for most homeowners.
2c. Grass Management Options
The next area that is important to think about when you are shopping for a gas lawn mower concerns the type of grass management options it offers. Which options you need depends entirely on how you prefer to manage your grass clippings, and whether you want to have different choices available while you are cutting your grass.
Some lawn mowers only come with one or two options at the time of purchase, and require the buyer to buy different attachments after the fact if they want more choices than the ones that are initially offered. Others offer only one option and cannot be modified to include anything else.
There are also lawn mowers that come with up to three options for managing grass clippings. You will have to look carefully at what is offered to determine which mower is right for you.
You may prefer simply to have the grass clippings discharged out the side of the lawn mower to be swept up or raked out of the lawn after you are done cutting the grass. If this is the case, you can probably save money by purchasing a gas lawn mower with just this single option.
Alternately, you may prefer to bag some of your clippings to dispose of in lawn waste bags or in your compost bin. Or, you may want to periodically mulch the grass clippings back into the lawn while you are mowing it. Mulching can be a good way to promote a healthy lawn.
If either of these options sound good to you, then I recommend you look for a gas lawn mower that comes with a mulching attachment or a rear bag option as well.
2d. Type and Size of the Engine
What kind of engine the gas lawn mower has, as well as the size of it, are very important considerations to keep in mind. If you live on the West Coast, you may have to look for a lawn mower that has an engine that is rated CARB compliant.
CARB stands for the California Air Resources Board, and they have set a number of standards for emissions requirements for all gas powered vehicles, including even walk behind lawn mowers. Depending on where you live, your state might have similar requirements that will affect your purchase as well.
Most gas lawn mowers have two stroke engines, although a number are available that have four stroke engines. For the average residential lawn care needs, you will hardly ever need an engine that is mower powerful than a four stroke engine, and often you will be just fine with a two stroke engine.
The kind of engine in your lawn mower will affect two things: how powerful it is, and how heavy it is. A bigger, brawnier engine is a good thing to have if your lawn has thick, dense grass varieties like St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.
Smaller engines, even on a gas lawn mower, will have a harder time cutting through thick grass. That will mean that you will have to mow your lawn more slowly, which will use more fuel and take more time. It will also mean that the less powerful engine will need to be serviced more often, and your blade will probably have to be replaced or sharpened more often as well.
So if you do have a large yard with one of these or another thick variety of grass in it, you should probably consider buying a gas lawn mower with enough power to tackle it. In addition to that, a gas lawn mower with a bigger engine will also be able to support a much wider cutting swath, which as I discussed above can allow you to make fewer passes and get your lawn cut much faster.
On the other hand, the bigger engine is also going to weigh more. This can be a problem if you are not looking for a self propelled gas lawn mower, have a large yard, and are not particularly big and brawny. In that case, a smaller engine can sometimes be the better option. Broadly speaking, a larger engine will be heavier and more difficult to maneuver but will cut thick grass more easily, while a smaller engine will be lighter and easier to control but will cut thick grass more inefficiently.
2e. Height Adjustment Options and Safety Features
The last two things you will want to keep in mind when you are shopping for a gas lawn mower are the height adjustment options and the safety features it offers. Height adjustment is more important than you might think.
Experts recommend that you do not ever cut your grass to a height that is lower than one third its current height. So if your grass is six inches tall when you cut it, you should not set the lawn mower’s height below two inches, and for best results you should even avoid setting it below three inches. This is because cutting the grass to less than a third of its height damages it significantly and makes it more susceptible to diseases and less likely to survive a wave of dry, hot weather.
Grass that is cut too short is more likely to turn brown and die. Now, if you are like me you sometimes are unable to cut your grass at exactly the same height every week, either because you are too busy to get around to it, you have gone on vacation for a few weeks, or the weather has been variable and the grass has enjoyed a growth spurt one week.
Therefore you want to find a lawnmower that offers a good range of height options – preferably something between two and four inches, with at least five options in between. Also, some lawn mowers require you to adjust each wheel individually, while others allow you to adjust all four simultaneously. Different people prefer one or the other.
Finally, you should look into the safety features that are offered on the gas lawn mower you are thinking of buying. Safety features include a childproof starting mechanism that requires you to insert a plastic key before you can start up the mower. This can be very important if you have small children around.
Many mowers come with a thick rubber flap at the rear of the mower to prevent rocks or other debris from being ejected and injuring your feet while you are cutting the grass. Others offer a safety feature that stops the blade if you are not holding a safety lever on the handle closed. This prevents accidents due to not paying attention or letting the mower get away from you, but also allows you to step away without having to restart the motor.