While there are those that enjoy yard work, most find mowing the lawn one of the worst aspects of owning a home. Depending on what region of the United States you live in, grass cutting season can last up to eight months from March to October until the cooler weather causes the grass to go dormant.
If you have the benefit of a large lot, the task can does not have to be such a dreadful experience if you have a riding lawn mower. Mowing the lawn on a well-built riding lawn mower can actually be a relaxing experience allowing you some time alone or the opportunity to listen to some audio books or podcasts.
There are even options that produce less noise and come with a sun shade to keep you cooler.
However, there are some yards that simply aren’t large enough to either justify the extra expense of buying a riding lawn mower, or there is not enough physical space on the lot to allow you to turn when needed.
This is the case with my lawn. It is in that “in-between” area. It is not really large enough for a riding lawn mower but it is large enough to make mowing it with a push mower a real pain and something I never look forward to each week.
I can actually get by with mowing it every two weeks unless it rains a lot during several days in a row. Bermuda grass grows two to three inches within a few days if there is heavy rain for a couple of days followed by a couple of days of full sunshine.
Over the years I have gone through several push mowers. Some were actually push mowers, while others were self-propelled push mowers.
In 2006, I actually spent a little more than I wanted to and bought a self-propelled Cub Cadet mower.
Almost immediately I regretted the purchase. In fact, self-propelled mowers are a scam. Hear me out.
Reasons Not to Buy a Self-Propelled Mower
Self-propelled mowers have an engine that not only turns the propeller underneath, but also drives either the front or back wheels to “propel” the mower. However, they do nothing of the sort.
Because the engine has to do two different things, it is noticeably heavier than a regular push mower where the engine only turns the propeller.
That extra weight essentially negates any of the propulsion that you gain from that type of motor. If you have one, try it. Crank it and let it “propel” itself. Unless you are pointed slightly downhill or are on concrete, it isn’t going anywhere unless you propel it with your hands.
That added weight also makes it a beast to turn corners.
And within a year, the self-propulsion will get even worse as the tread on the tires wear down. You will be left with nothing but spinning tires you in Bermuda grass.
So they are a scam in my opinion. I simply do not have a need to cut grass on concrete.
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(price as of Aug 3, 2016)
Choosing the Right Push Mower
Troy-Bilt TB130 Gas Push Lawn Mower with Honda Engine
By 2013, the Cub Cadet was starting to wear down and at the beginning of the grass cutting season, it would not crank. I went looking for a new mower vowing not to make the self-propelled mistake again.
A decade ago, I had purchased a true push mower made by Troy Bilt. While it was light weight and performed well for a few years, it was not durable. To be fair, I probably missed a year or two of maintenance. Mowers under $200 are not designed to last forever, but they can easily last for 5 years provided you do the yearly maintenance at the beginning and end of grass cutting season.
I looked around at Home Depot and Lowes and was determined to keep the cost under $300. Honestly, I did consider buying a riding lawn mower, however, I had storage issues. My outdoor shed was already filled with other things so it was more than just an issue of cost.
After reading some review online, I decided on another Troy Bilt believe it or not. This model had one key difference from the one I owned years ago, or other Troy Bilt models on the shelf. It had an engine made by Honda. That added about $50 to the overall cost, but I relied on the online reviews and made the purchase.
It fulfilled all of my requirements.
- Side discharge
- Mulcher attachment
- Adjustable wheel level
- Oversized rear wheels
- Bag for collecting clippings
It also had a unique non-priming feature. Normally, you have to push a primer button to load fuel in the carburetor; however this model simply had a lever you pull to one side.
Here are the Specifications for this Mower
TB130 160-cc 21-in 3 in 1 Gas Push Lawn Mower with Honda Engine
- Honda engine has automatic choke system to eliminate engine flooding when starting
- 11 in. rear wheels
- TriAction cutting system features a rake bumper to lift grass upright
- Mulch kit included
- Side discharge chute
- Rear bag collects grass clippings
- Deck extends beyond the wheels
Amazon Price: $38.97 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 3, 2016)
I noticed the difference right away. First off, it started on the first pull. I thought that was amazing because it had probably been in the box for 6 months or more since it left the factory.
Second, it was very easy to push because it was so much lighter than my old self-propelled Cub Cadet.
I used my new Troy Bilt push mower all last summer without issue. It never failed to start.
At the end of October, I cut the grass one last time, and then prepared it for storage. This is an important step that you should not skip.
Here are my winter storage tips:
- Drain the oil by turning it over on its side and let it drip into an oil pan
- Drain the gas from the engine. Old gas is bad for the motor
- Remove the air filter and wash it out and let it dry in the sun
- Fold the top part of the handle over so that it is easier to store
When I got it out a few weeks ago, I put oil and gas back in it, set the choke and pulled the starter, and it started on the first try. You can't ask for more than that.
This model has been a great mower for almost 2 years now and I highly recommend it. There is a similar model available at Lowes but it has a Briggs and Stratton engine. I do not recommend that one.
I only have one complaint. The side discharge attachment comes off very easily. They need to put a little more stiffness to that attachment so minor bumps do not knock it off as you are mowing.
However, I do not regret purchasing this model and I have to wrap this up because I have to go cut the grass.