Questions re buying a lawnmower

I have a large grassy weedy area that needs regular mowing. I went by Sears last night and was floored with all the choices of mowers. Please answer a few questions for me:
1. I am attracted to the self-propelled gas-powered models. What is the advantage of a variable speed model over a single speed? The area to mow is relatively flat with a couple of sizeable dips/depressions.
2. Most of them had Briggs-Stratton motors. One had a Honda motor. The ones I am interested in are 5 to 7 hp with most being 6.5 hp. Any thoughts on make and motor size?
3. Most had 21 inch cuts but a couple were 22 inches. It seems that the 22 inch would do the work a little faster but may be less maneuverable.
4. Most had regular size wheels but a couple had large back wheels. Would the bumpy terrain benefit much from the larger back wheels? Any other benefits?
5. One had a push-button starter while most started by pulling a rope-starter. A couple said that they started faster and easier because of a some kind of "hotter engine" technology.
Guess those are my questions for now. They are all in the $250-400 price range. Thanks for your advice/suggestions.
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Why don't you hire a neighborhood kid or a lawn service to mow it for you? You would probably save money in the long run, expecially if you put a realistic value on your time and labor. And you wouldn't have to wrack your brain worrying if you bought the "right" mower.
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Dunno about this person posting but where I am, it costs $35 per clip, once a week which generally it needs. So at roughly $140+ per month, you'll pay for a mower pretty quickly.
Where did all the neighborhood kids go? Has anybody seen one who does lawns lately? I haven't...
Betty Harris wrote:

I bought a DR mower (battery operated) and just love it. I have a fairly big lawn and I have run this mower for 4 years without any problems.
I paid about $350 for mine and bought it because they showed a 'little old lady' on the TV ads just chugging along with it. I figured I could do that too and never regretted buying it. They offered free shipping (both ways if you wanted to send it back) and a 6 months return policy. I figured this had to be a pretty good product for them offer these conditions. The only downside is you have to remember to recharge the battery. It is very quiet.
Two of my friends also bought from them after trying mine.
http://www.drpower.com/ I have no relation to these people. I just LOVE their mower!
Sterling in Atlanta
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From: Sterling < snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2005 20:20:22 -0400 Local: Sun,Jun 5 2005 8:20 pm Subject: Re: Questions re buying a lawnmower
"Dunno about this person posting but where I am, it costs $35 per clip,
once a week which generally it needs. So at roughly $140+ per month, you'll pay for a mower pretty quickly."
As I said, *IF* you put a realistic value on your time. If your time is worth $35 per hour and it takes an hour to mow the area, you will never amortize the cost of the mower. And don't forget to count the time getting gasoline for the mower, changing the oil, sharpening the blade, buying gas stabilizer for winterization, etc, etc.
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So you need to earn 60$ to have an after tax 35$ to pay. Biff, not all of us are physicians driving a mercedes.
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Plus the not inconsequential fact that lawn services mow your lawn when they get to it- rain or any other weather can put them behind schedule to an alarming degree. I want my lawn done when it needs it or when I want things to look sharp- not when someone gets around to it.
I love how a freshly mown lawn looks- everything is crisp and perfect. If I had my way I'd do it every day- as it stands I do it three times a week in the rainy season just so I can enjoy it. Try and find someone willing to commit to *that*!
--
Toni
South Florida USA
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snipped-for-privacy@nada.noway says...

that mowing wet grass is a no-no.
--
BNSF = Build Now, Seep Forever

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Choice of speed :-) I find a single speed one slightly annoying. Mostly I'm actually walking slower than I used to when pushing a drive-less petrol mower. I'd prefer the self-propelled one to go even slower on curves and tricky bits, but rather faster the rest of the time.

My last mower has a B and S engine. I bought it secondhand 21 years ago and it still works fine, but I don't think B and S engines are as well made now. Anyway, it had to be pushed along and didn't collect grass, so last year I bought a self-propelled 7hp Honda-engine mower, single speed, 21" cut. It's great except that it walks slightly slower than I normally do.

Pass. Mine has four same-size wheels

My old and new one both have a string-pull starter. The old one could take several really hard tugs to start (and some bad words), but the new one, modern technology, starts first time every time, with one gentle tweak. Couldn't be easier. Why pay a lot extra for button or key start? I'd rather spend the money on some more useful feature like engine size or variable speed.
Janet (Scotland)
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How large an area? Variable speed what? Variable ground speed or variable motor speed. Ground speed variability is nice when dealing with overgrown areas, detail mowing, etc. Motor speed (blade rpms) are usually best left on the highest setting.

I'd consider this issue a very low priority.

Got a bad shoulder? If so, rope starters can be difficult. But electric ignition adds a battery and weight.
What are you trying to accomplish? Are you interested in exercise, or just getting it done as fast as possible? How often do you intend to mow? What other problems are there in mowing this area (west of the Cascades, in the PNW, you often have to mow damp grass or on damp soil part of the year, for instance).
Personally, I'd be looking at engine quality and type (I hate two-cycle engines) and the material the mower deck is constructed of, as my first pass of selection.
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tenplay wrote:

There are times when a fast speed works best, as when the grass is not too high and dry. Other times, you may want to slow the pace down so that the mower effectively does more cutting for any given length. I would recommend a mulching mower, so speed determines effectively how much mulching is being done. Also, it is nice to be able to set the mower to a pace which matches your particular energy level at any given time. Any sizable lawn would be handled best with a self-propelled model

On bad thing about Briggs-Stratton motors that I have noticed on my neighbor's mowers is that there is no accessible way to set a choke. My Honda has a external control, to allow choking in cold weather. However, the Briggs engines are very reluctant starters in cold weather, probably because they are preset for a nominal outside air temperature, and there are no choke controls on the models I have seen.

It might be a bigger factor on a self-propelled unit, which might get better traction with the larger wheels.

As stated earlier, unless you have physical problems, a pull cord is superior. A well designed engine should start rather effortlessly with a pull cord. My 20 year old Honda almost always starts on the first pull.
I agree with the idea of getting a 4-stroke model. They run smoother and with less pollution. If the pattern with outboards is similar, the government may step in soon and require this.

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I had one with the big wheels and it was very heavy and way harder to push than one with wheels all the same size. I'd never buy one like that again! I've had a snapper self-propelled with several speeds that are easy to change for 13 years with no problems at all with it. Mine has a high vac deck a mulching blade with a mulching attachment that replaces the chute.
HTH, Gloria
I have a large grassy weedy area that needs regular mowing. I went by Sears last night and was floored with all the choices of mowers. Please answer a few questions for me:
1. I am attracted to the self-propelled gas-powered models. What is the advantage of a variable speed model over a single speed? The area to mow is relatively flat with a couple of sizeable dips/depressions.
2. Most of them had Briggs-Stratton motors. One had a Honda motor. The ones I am interested in are 5 to 7 hp with most being 6.5 hp. Any thoughts on make and motor size?
3. Most had 21 inch cuts but a couple were 22 inches. It seems that the 22 inch would do the work a little faster but may be less maneuverable.
4. Most had regular size wheels but a couple had large back wheels. Would the bumpy terrain benefit much from the larger back wheels? Any other benefits?
5. One had a push-button starter while most started by pulling a rope-starter. A couple said that they started faster and easier because of a some kind of "hotter engine" technology.
Guess those are my questions for now. They are all in the $250-400 price range. Thanks for your advice/suggestions.
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Gloria wrote:

The reel-type unpowered mowers are all ligher and easier to maneuver than any power mower I've ever owened or used.
Two drawbacks a) their maximum cutting height is generally 1-1/2", which may be too short for your climate. b) blades must be kept sharp, so you need a sharpening attachment and have to develop the habit of using it.
You also have to cut more often, as they don't grind up the clippings (like mulching attachments), but I don't consider that a drawback.
HTH
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