Lawn mowers under $300?

Looking for a new self-propelled mower for hopefully less than $300. I'll be mostly bagging on a flat lot less than 1/4 acre with lots of turns around shrubs and trees. While performance is important, reliability is the most important consideration. Not being mechanically inclined, I need to know that whatever I get can do the job it's supposed to do without a lot of messing around or running to the repair shop with it, warranty or not.
Any suggestions for reliable mowers in that price range?
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snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

You might want to just get one with a mulcher blade too instead of bagging.
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I second that. If your time is worth anything to you, you'll make up $300 in no time by getting a mulcher blade with powerful engine to handle the re-chopping of grass bits.
Plus, you'll save money on fertilizer to some extent.
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On Wed, 13 May 2009 09:16:28 -0700 (PDT), mike

Ditto on that.
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Caesar Romano wrote:

And it works great in the fall to dispose of the leaves. No spending hours with leaf blowers etc. Just grind up the leaves into little bits and they are gone within days.
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wrote:

I run over everything, weeds, sticks, palm berries, leaves, slow pets. It is all fertilizer
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Thanks. My yard has LOTS of weeds and it's always been my impression that mulching will just keep re-seeding them.
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On May 13, 9:36am, snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

If your lawn has LOTS of weeds, they're already re-seeding. Take care of the weeds.
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snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

Don't let the weeds get mature enough to go to seed. A mulcher has nothing to do with that.
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On May 13, 11:36am, snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

Use weed killer weeds seed anyway, mulching is easiest and best for the lawn. I think most mowers are china made now and cheap in price. In 1973 I bought a 4 hp Toro self propeled for about 350$, last year I bought a 6.75hp Toro self propeled for the same price, 350$. For a motor that will last 2000 hrs get a Honda or 2 stroke Lawn Boy or commercial grade Cub with maybe a Kawasaki engine or commercial grade B&S, my first toro lasted 300 hrs or so, I have no idea on what is quality now in other brands but they dont cost much. OHV should last longer by design.
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wrote:

bagging.
Use weed killer weeds seed anyway, mulching is easiest and best for the lawn. I think most mowers are china made now and cheap in price. In 1973 I bought a 4 hp Toro self propeled for about 350$, last year I bought a 6.75hp Toro self propeled for the same price, 350$. For a motor that will last 2000 hrs get a Honda or 2 stroke Lawn Boy or commercial grade Cub with maybe a Kawasaki engine or commercial grade B&S, my first toro lasted 300 hrs or so, I have no idea on what is quality now in other brands but they dont cost much. OHV should last longer by design.
From the ads I've seen self-propelled mowers start at around $300. Personally I would not want to buy any mower that has a Tecumseh, B&S, or Honda engine. That doesn't leave very much, at least in this price range. Tecumseh used to have a longer proposed engine life than B&S but I doubt that's true these days. I don't particularly like the Honda OHC (GC) engines--just a cheap, crappy engine that says Honda on it. Their OHV engines are pretty good but I don't think I've seen one on a mower. I had a lot more problems with Tecumseh carburators than with B&S. Bottom line for me would be in agreement with ransley to get the OHV engine. I've had good luck with Chinese generic OHV engines. Every bit as good as a Honda OHV (GX) engines, as far as I can tell so far. Some Honda parts even fit, such as the ignition module.
I have a front-wheel drive self-propelled mower and it'll go up fairly steep slopes easily. I have a rear-wheel drive riding mower and it won't go up the same slopes. Based upon this if I was buying a new mower I'd probably go with front-wheel drive. This may be apples and oranges but it's about all I have to go on. In case you are wondering it's a Sears mower with a Tecumseh engine and I put a B&S carburator on it. It was free.
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snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

You'll probably get better answers at http://opeonthenet.com/ - but I saw this at Samsclub last week and wondered if it was 1/2 as good as the 10 [?]yr old Honda that I bought used for $100 5 yrs ago.
Any opinions from Honda owners?
If it is 1/4 as good, it is worth $300. I'm in NY so mine sits idle from Oct-May. It lives outside and sometimes I forget to throw a board over it so it becomes entombed in a snowdrift. I don't drain the gas or take any precautions. It starts on the first or second pull every time. I change the oil and sparkplug after the first time I use it in the spring. I've replaced the blades once- and I spent $35 this year for a new bag. Otherwise, I just run it.

Mowers are not complicated. Buy a manual, hang out in repair groups, and you can keep any mower going for a real long time.
Jim
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snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

I bought a self-propelled mower with a Honda engine from Costco a few years ago. I can't even remember the brand of mower and I'm too lazy to go out to the shed to look. IIRC, it was around $200.
I did add an adjustable throttle to it.
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wrote:

Mower is MTD I have one too.
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on 5/13/2009 11:57 AM (ET) snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote the following:

I was in a HD a couple of years ago and they had a Poulan 4 cyl. self propelled bag/mulch mower for $100. Works great and relatively quiet.
Bill In Hamptonburgh, NY In the original Orange County. Est. 1683 To email, remove the double zeroes after @
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snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

Check on Craigslist for a heavy-duty used mower. Take it to a mower repair shop for a tune-up, blade sharpening, etc. It'll be as good as new.
Last year I bought a 12HP Snapper riding mower for $200 It was built - I think - in 1986. I also bought two cans of red spray paint. Looks and acts like new.
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You should be able to find a good one in that price range. The cheap parts will be things like wheels and handles, both of which can probably be replaced with better quality when they finally die.
If you have never used a self-propelled mower, particularly the less expensive models that don't have a clutching mechanism in the drive gear, you will probably find yourself digging a few divots the 1st few times you use it. Generally you can't push/pull in the way you would a non-self-propelled model without lifting the drive wheels off the ground. Of course that means you are doing more of the work you were trying to avoid with the self-propelled to start with! The best way to use it is to pretend it is a riding mower - that is follow it around and avoid having to stop and back up any more than you have to. You might end up walking a little farther than you would normally as you maneuver around the trees and shrubs, and even going back over areas you already cut as you go, but it ends up being easier in the end run.

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I can suggest some features, but not brands: * Big rear wheels make moving over stairs and through boggy spots easier. * Swivelling front wheels make turns easy. You don't have to lift the front of the mower to turn. * Engines with iron piston sleeves last longer.
The others' suggestions are good: * Consider mulching instead of bagging. Mulching is only a problem if you over-fertilize in a desert area (where grass clippings don't rot quickly). * Go to a local repair shop and check the used mowers. They'll sell you a high-end mower for a low-end price. They'll also tell you which models are the most reliable.
--
Steve Bell
New Life Home Improvement
  Click to see the full signature.
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I got a Toro mulcher last year for about $300. It does a great job, especially on leaves.
Wanted a Honda, but they are too expensive.
Looking for a new self-propelled mower for hopefully less than $300. I'll be mostly bagging on a flat lot less than 1/4 acre with lots of turns around shrubs and trees. While performance is important, reliability is the most important consideration. Not being mechanically inclined, I need to know that whatever I get can do the job it's supposed to do without a lot of messing around or running to the repair shop with it, warranty or not.
Any suggestions for reliable mowers in that price range?
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On May 13, 10:57am, snipped-for-privacy@ymail.com wrote:

This is not exactly wanted you asked for but I did buy a Toro electric start, self-propelled lawn mower at Home Depot 3 weeks ago and my lawn is much less than 1/4 acre. It does have the bagger feature or if I choose, I can mulch, but I'm a fan of bagging my clippings; love the look of my yard rivaling a manicured golf course. I haven't tried the mulching feature yet so all I can report on is the how well the bagger works. After mowing my overgrown lawn due to copious amounts of rain the bagger did not leave one blade of grass on the lawn to be tracked back into the house.
I did opt for the electric start mower as I injured my shoulder about 2 years ago and found the pull cord on my other mower to be agony. Most likely the new Toro would have started with the minimum amount of effort, but the key start is certainly a breeze. This mower also has a wash out port which is another nice feature; first time I've ever seen one of these and makes cleaning the blade and underside of the mower a snap.
If I remember correctly H.D. does have other Toro lawn mowers in a lower price range ($300-$350). These of course don't have the electric start feature but are self propelled. The self propelled mowers are the only way to go if you are using a walk behind machine in my opinion, much easier to use and makes the job quicker, too. I was through cutting my 'jungle' in 2 hours flat and it's a job that takes at least 3 hours with my other mower when the grass is not overgrown.
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