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Tips When Purchasing a New Lawnmower


Ah, the sounds of spring. Birds chirping, soccer games, dogs barking, children playing. Soon, there will be the sounds of lawns being mowed.

Along with the rites of spring comes mowing the lawn. And while some of you may actually enjoy mowing the lawn, others find themselves overwhelmed not only by the chore itself, but by proper equipment maintenance. Not to mention the dizzying number of choices on the market when it comes to purchasing a new mower.

With proper maintenance, you can expect your lawn mower to last 8 - 10 years. Unless you have moved and require a different type of mower, there is no need to replace your mower if it is only a few years old.

Southern States offers the following tips for purchasing a new lawn mower:

Determine Yard Size

Before you run out to consider your options, you need to determine the size of the area to be mowed. If you have 1/3 acre or less, you'll need a push mower. If you have more than 1/3 acre, you will need to purchase a riding mower.

Walk-Behind Mowers

Walk-behind mowers come in two main categories: self-propelled and push. Push mowers are best for flat areas. You will want to purchase a self-propelled push mower if your yard is sloped. If you have rough terrain, you'll want to purchase a high wheel mower, which is a mower with larger rear wheels. Prices range form $125 to $300.

Other than engine size, considerations beyond self-propelled vs. push and high wheel are mostly matters of personal taste and convenience.

Side Discharge or Bag?

Today's mowers come with mulching plates, which regrind the clippings, adding organic matter such as nitrogen back into the soil. Mulching also puts moisture back into the soil, and does not cause thatch because of the high moisture content.

If you don't want to mulch, then bag. Bags provide the added benefit of picking up leaves in the fall and again in the spring. Make sure you purchase a bag with a 2 ½ bushel capacity or larger.

Engine Manufacturer

Briggs & Stratton is the most reliable engine manufacturer on the market today. Make sure you purchase a mower with a reputable engine that is easily serviced, should the need arise.


Riding Mowers

If you have 1/3 acre or more, you will need to purchase a riding mower. Riders come in a variety of horsepowers. Generally speaking, the more land you have to mow, the greater the horsepower. Sixteen horsepower is great for up to one acre. Anything more than one acre and you will want to increase your horsepower. For one-to-two acres, look for models with 17.5 hp and above. For two-to-three acres, look for 21 hp and above with a 48" wide cut so you have to make fewer passes. And for greater than three acres, you will want to find a model with 26 hp and above with a 50" or wider cut. Prices range from $899 to $2,599.

Engines

Most engines are overhead valve. However, if you have more than three acres, you will want a twin cylinder engine or a V-Twin engine. They are better balanced than overhead valve engines, provide more power, run cooler and last longer.

Special Features

Some features are personal preference. A cast iron front axle will cost a little more but will last longer than stamped steel. "Step-up" mowers come with higher seat backs, which provide more comfort and support. They also come with step-through frames, which are easier to get on and off of because you don't have to throw your leg over the hump in the middle. Cup holders, padded steering wheels and anti-scalp wheels are all options to consider.

Many riding mowers are hydrostatic, meaning there are no gears. This is a desirable feature, because you don't have to use a clutch to shift gears, just put your foot on the pedal and go.

Look for electric PTO blade engagement - it starts up the blades, is easier on the belts and is more reliable. And finally, ask about the warranty. The standard on the market is a two-year limited warranty.

Grass Height

When mowing the lawn, make sure you adhere to the horticulture rule of thirds, which is to never trim, mow or prune more than 1/3 of a plant at a time. Taller grass shades out weeds. A 2 1/2 " grass height is recommended. Change your mowing pattern at each mowing to cut down on soil compaction and wear. Rotate mowing patterns from north to south, east to west, and diagonally.

Blade Sharpness

A dull blade can tear or shred grass blades, making them vulnerable to environmental stresses and pests. Have a professional sharpen your blade once a year, at the beginning of the season.

Tune Ups

Check the oil level every five hours of mowing and change the oil after 50 hours of use or every season. Replace the oil-foam element after 25 hours of use or every season. Replace the air-cleaner cartridge after 25 hours of use or every season. Clean the cooling system after 100 hours or every season. Inspect the spark-plug arrester, in-line fuel filter after 50 hours of use or every season. Replace the spark plug after 100 hours of use or every season. And clean the combustion chamber every 100 - 300 hours.

Following these tips along with our program for lawn care will give you a beautiful lawn with maximum efficiency.


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