Every year throughout the country the sun starts coming up a little earlier and the temperature rises. Springtime is setting in and the lawn needs to be cared for. The bushes are out of control, the flowers are sick and the front yard is beginning to resemble an alligator farm more than a place for your kids to play. What to do?
The weekend comes when you realize you will have to rectify the situation. You pull out the rusty old push mower that has seen its fair share of abuse from past springs and wintertime neglect. You check the oil, top off the gas tank, prime the engine, and a tug on the string…nothing…again and nothing. And now what was to be a few hours long job has turned into a daylong affair.
Your options now are trying to troubleshoot and repair the thing yourself (those who are not mechanically inclined could cost themselves a lot more), take it to the local small engine repair shop or you can get rid of it and start all over.
For those of you selecting the final option there are a few things you should think about before purchasing your next mower.
We spoke with Kathy Whitmer, owner of the St. Charles Sears that opened earlier this year and Charlie Hartman proprietor of Hartman’s True Value on lawn and gardening tips and trends this year.
Tips on picking out a mower
According to Consumer Reports the average lifetime of a lawnmower is between eight and ten years. That means in an average lifetime you can expect to own seven lawnmowers.
That is unless you keep the old one and go through the annual run to the repair shop, which may be something you are willing to do. Hartman said his shop repairs every brand of equipment they sell.
"All the equipment we sell we repair it, no matter if they bought here or not," Hartman said. "We will repair it as long as we sell it."
But for those of you who are leaning toward making a new purchase there a few thoughts you might mull over to make sure you are getting exactly what you need.
Are you physically comfortable when mowing?
The push mower your wife bought 10 years ago for your 30th, 40th or 50th birthday should relatively function the same, but your body has likely changed a lot. Owners who are not comfortable with their machines may naturally have a negative view of doing lawn work. Upgrading to a self-propelling push mower for small yards or a riding mower for large yards can go a long way towards building a better relationship between you and your gardening duties. In any case, make sure you take the mower out for a walk to see how you all may get along.
Whitmer said her store is selling a lot of zero-turn mowers this year.
"A lot of people like that zero turn we’ve had a lot of interest in that," said Whitmer. "People are coming in and looking at it because it is just really nice to ride. It’s just easy to handle so many people enjoy it."
The zero-turn mower is a sit-up lawnmower allows the driver to pivot the mower on an axis rather than take a straight on approach to mowing the lawn, which means the zero-turn mower can better make it in hard to reach places.
Cost of operation.
With gas prices brinking on the $4 per gallon mark many of us may want to really think about cost of operating a small motored lawn appliance before we make a purchase. Be sure to locate the fuel efficiency stats on the mower’s spec sheet, for those with huge yards the savings for a more efficient motor on your mower will add up. Electric push mowers, trimmers and hedgers are a good way to bypass the increased cost expected when using gasoline, especially now that battery technology has advanced. Sears has rechargeable lawnmowers available. This is of course is until solar panel or windmill lawnmowers are released, which we do not anticipate anytime soon.
Will this machine be dependable?
The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true here. Beware of bargain brands that are cheaply priced, but owe their discount to using cheaply produced materials and unstable craftsmanship. It is better to pick a mower that has a good reputation that you can research. Plenty of forums and mower reviews are available online - avail yourself to them. You also want to be prepared should your mower not be all you hoped it would be.
Sears offers two year warranties for push mowers and warranties of five years for riding mowers warranties for other stores may vary. An extended warranty can usually be had for most retailers at a nominal price.
At Hartman’s True Value warranties depend on the manufacturer and the type of lawnmower and run from two to five years, but they can always repair your mower also if anything goes wrong.
Trends in Lawn and Gardening sales this year:
"We’re selling more trimmers this year than we have previously," said Hartman.
"Trimmers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, hoses, lots of tractors, lots of lawnmowers and lots of grills," said Whitmer.