Lawn Mower Selection

Mowing controls weeds, reduces fire hazard, increases shoot growth, and in general beautifies a large lot. However, it is costly and time consuming. The average lawn is mowed 22 times per year. When choosing a mower, it is important to consider budget, mower longevity, and time constraints.

There are three types of mowers that utilize either a shearing or impact method of mowing:
  • Rotary 
  • Reel 
  • Flail 
Reel mowers have a rotating reel with blades and stationary bedknife that shear the turf. The quality of the cut depends on blade sharpness, proper adjustment of blades to the bedknife across the entire width of the bedknife, and the relationship of the mowing height to the clip of the reel. Mowing quality decreases if speed is too high or the height of the turf is too high.

Rotary Mowers have a horizontal rotation which causes an impact cut and are generally used for cutting heights of greater than 1 inch. The blade must be very sharp and well balanced for best results. Features of this type of mower includes simple maintenance and less cost, but objects in the field may damage the blade and engine shaft, and the mower is more dangerous than reel mowers.

Flail mowers utilize numerous vertically mounted knives that are free swinging for an impact cut. Benefits of this type of mower includes re-cutting of much of the leaf tissue and safety since they are less likely to throw objects in the path of the mower. In general flail mowers provide a lower quality cut.

In our clinics, to emphasize the importance of lawnmower selection for large lot rural properties, “Lawn Mower Races” are held to compare efficiency of common lawn and garden tractor mowers against commercial "zero turn" riding and walk behind mowers. While familiar to residential landowners, the typical lawn and garden mowers are frequently less efficient on large lots.

Selecting a lawn mower for large lawns requires considerations similar to an automobile purchase. Homeowners are encouraged to consider placing a value on their time as well as investment return regarding commercial quality lawnmowers compared to homeowner versions.

Recently "Zero Turn" mowers [left] have become popular for quickly mowing large lawns - eliminating most hand trimming. Various styles of lawnmowers are reviewed in the Large Lot Clinic, based upon multipurpose use specific to the property such as: gardening, horse barns and land improvement.