Lawn Care 101: Understanding Mowers

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Almost every homeowner dreams of having that perfectly manicured lawn that you see in the magazines. A beautiful lawn is good for much more than just inspiring envy in the neighbors. A lush lawn is a source of enjoyment for the whole family and can become a central aspect of family activities.

Of course, that gorgeous lawn does not simply manicure itself. Keeping your beautiful lawn from becoming a terrifying jungle takes work. Before tackling the deeper intricacies of lawn care, it's a good idea to understand the fundamentals. Mowing is the staple of lawn care and understanding the range of mowers available can help decide what will work best for you and your lawn.

Gas Powered Mowers

The traditional pull-start rotary push mower is the most common type of mower. It is by far the most used type of mower today. Push mowers come in a variety of sizes and powers, but fall into two basic classifications - mowers and mulchers. Mowers, the more common type, cut and eject grass clippings. Mulchers grind and collect clippings, usually into a canvas bag attached to the mower.

Rotary mowers all operate by the same basic principal. A gas engine is mounted on a box frame. The engine spins a blade on the underside of the box frame, much like the propeller of a helicopter. The entire apparatus is pushed by means of a handlebar attachment. As the mower passes over the grass, the rotating blade cuts the grass then either ejects the grass from a chute or collects the cutting into a bag.

Rotary mowers are not just of the walk-behind variety, though. Riding lawn mowers are also rotary type mowers. Any mower that uses an engine to spin a horizontal blade falls into the rotary mower class of mowers.

Man Powered Mowers

The very first mechanical mower used no gas or electricity. It operated solely by human force. The reel mower is still in existence today. It became less popular after the invention of the gas powered rotary mower, but has seen a resurgence as people look for cheaper or more environmentally way to maintain their lawns.

Reel mowers operate by means of a cylindrical series of blades that rotate around the axle of the mower's two wheels. As the mower is pushed forward, the cylinder spins and the blades are brought against a second stationary horizontal blade, usually positioned behind the wheel and adjustable for grass height. As the rotating blades pass by the stationary blade the grass caught between is clipped. Reel mowers cut grass more cleanly than rotary mowers which allows grass to heal more quickly.

Pull-Behind Reels

Even at the peak of gas powered mower popularity, the reel mower was still in common use for large scale lawn maintenance, such as golf courses, sports arenas and in agricultural settings. Most commonly, series of reels are attached in-line and pulled behind a tractor. This allows for a very wide area of grass to be clipped at once.