This time of year, armies of homeowners find themselves in the heat of an annual battle to keep their grass well-groomed. In one New York town, according to The Consumerist, they face $1,000 fines for neglect. For many, the weapon of choice likely would be a hefty lawn tractor -- driven by someone else. If that’s not within your budget, you can still wield a high-quality push mower from a brand such as Toro or Craftsman for $300 or less.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable lawn mowers.
- The Black & Decker MM275 (starting at $162) made our list last year and has maintained its record of almost entirely positive online reviews. This electric mower draws its power through a cord that plugs into an outlet, leading a few users to liken it to a vacuum cleaner. It has an 18-inch blade that users can set to six different heights between 1 and 3.5 inches. (Where to buy)
- The Toro 20371 (starting at $299) is a self-propelled gas mower that cuts a 22-inch path and features nine cutting positions from 1 to 4 inches high. The engine, a 149 cc Kohler, is less powerful than the one on the 20331 model we recommended last year (which is no longer widely available). Otherwise this model boasts identical features -- including larger rear wheels for easy maneuvering and a washout port for easy cleaning -- and similarly satisfied customers. (Where to buy)
- The Scotts 2000-20 reel mower (starting at $113) is a bare-bones alternative to a conventional gas or electric mower and another returning favorite. It’s powered by good, old-fashioned elbow grease, so it won’t suit those with large yards, but users like that it’s quiet, eco-friendly, and simple to use and maintain. It’s 20 inches wide and cuts at nine different heights from 1 to 3 inches. (Where to buy)
- The Craftsman 37041 (starting at $266) is another 22-inch gas mower with nine cutting heights. Users report that the 190 cc Briggs & Stratton engine and self-propelled front-wheel drive practically pull them along and make quick work of large, hilly lawns. (Where to buy)
If you have a smaller yard, you can opt for a one of two types of electric mower: a corded model, like the Black & Decker MM275, or a cordless model that won’t limit your range but may be heavier and harder to push around. With an electric or reel mower, you avoid the noise, fumes, and maintenance of a gasoline engine but won’t have what it takes to tackle a lot of acreage.
The gas and electric lawn mowers on our list offer the option of handling grass clippings in three different ways. Discharging the cut grass off to the side can leave clumps that must be raked but is best for wet or tall grass. Mulching will clog the mower if the grass is too tall but produces free fertilizer and requires no further cleanup. A bag makes for tidy disposal but can grow heavy as you push the mower around and, of course, must be emptied periodically. Clippings cut with a reel mower simply fall back onto the lawn, although the Scotts mower chops them finely enough to act as mulch.
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