Rating Lawn Mowers

Now that I’ve killed not only both my lawn mowers but also my neighbor’s, it’s time to find a replacement. Late fall, early winter would seem like an odd time to do so, but the leaves are on the ground, along with lots of acorns, and I would like to clean up the yard a bit. I was about to take some time this morning to drive around and do some shopping at the big chains so that I could compare prices with my local folks, but then I realized, *hey, that’s what the web is for*.

The first thing I needed to do was decide what I wanted. Given the size of my yard, a non-self-propelled push mower is just fine. But I do want it to be able to bag: using my lawn mower as a giant outdoor vacuum cleaner is important to suburbanites like myself. (Okay, the Saint streets aren’t really the suburbs, but they once were and the houses and lawns sort of demand you treat them as such.) Why not self-propelled? Well, my current yard is too small to require one and any bigger yard I may one day maintain is likely to be made of Saint Augustine grass and I just haven’t found self-propelled lawn mowers that much better in Saint Augustine grass. I should also note that I am ignoring the various in-store brands: Ariens, etc. I’m sticking with the established name brands, except for Toro. My dad says to skip them, and my own recent experience with a Toro leaf blower was of it dying after a year or two of use. Sorry, Toro, but that’s what lack of quality control gets you.

My first stop was Home Depot’s website. It’s easy enough to get to the “walk behind” lawn mowers, and then you can select *push* or *self-propelled* — it is depressing to note that there are only 12 of the former but 38 of the latter. Of the push variety, the Lawn Boy Push Walk Mower (Model 10640) seems like the best deal at $239.

Following a similar path on the Lowe’s website, the very first page gives me an interesting proposition: a Troy-Bilt push mower with a Honda engine (160cc) for only $249. Or a “Troy-Bilt 6.75 Ft-Lbs Torque 21-inch Cut Gas Push Mower+ for $289. Smaller selection all around, but good brands at better prices, like a “Husqvarna 160cc 21-inch Gas Push Mower” for $320.

Why can’t there be a standard measure here? How does one compare cc’s to foot-pounds?

What about Sears? The choice really comes down to two Craftsman models: the 38906 comes with a Briggs and Stratton engine and high rear wheels and is priced at $260 and the 37683 which comes with a Honda engine, which is supposedly quieter, and is priced at $330. The latter has some complaints about construction, so it looks like the cheaper model might be the winner here.

Also at Sears: Snappers, all of which are powered by a 190cc Briggs and Stratton engine, which is the 675. (So now there’s a point of comparison.) The low-end Snapper still has front-wheel drive and it sells for $320.

What about Amazon.com? I thought about it. I even looked at their offerings. In the end, I want to be able to bring something like a lawn mower back if things don’t work out. I don’t want to have to box it back up and ship it. Sorry, Amazon. It seems like those tasks that require people to be present also require stores to be present.