which lawnmower?

The lawn needs to be mowed, so I guess we'd better go buy a mower.
Yard is pretty good size, .38 acre. We're leave-it-on-the-lawn people, so I guess we want a side discharge mulching situation, instead of a rear bagger. Or I guess the option of switching? Some mowers seem to have an easy tool-less change-over, and some not? What's involved with changing it manually?
Also planning to do a combo of some leaf clean-up and some mulching of the leaves, as per advice over on the gardening group. We've got woods at the back, and lots of mature trees, and prefer a more rustic look rather than the real manicured golf-course type situation. The grass is going to be long and think, because, believe me, it's not going to get mowed like clockwork every 5 days like the old guy across the street who seems to have nothing else to do.
The Mister works full time and is going to school nights and weekends, so it's likely I'll be doing the bulk of the yardwork for a couple of years as I am home with the children, who are too small to assist in such matters.
Engines - I see people here talking about Briggs and Stratton a lot. Does that mean they're good or bad? Seems like everyone's asking how to fix theirs, and we are not mechanically inclined in that way.
Here's what I'm looking at - Home Despot has a Toro #20016 for $299. Large rear wheel self-propelled, etc. 6.5hp and 22in. I've got a $150 giftcard for HD, so this leans me in this direction, but I'm sure I could come up with $150 of something else. They also have the Honda mowers up on the site, but no prices. What are they going for, and do I want one?
Lowes has a Troy-Bilt #183621 for $299. 6.75hp and 21". It's got the B&S 2 start ready start engine.
Sears has a few Craftsman mowers in that hp/in range, running $173-249, all with B&S engines, I believe. They also have a Husqvarna for $269. I thought they made sewing machines???
Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
-Karen-
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I've got a Honda with 3 options: Bag, mulch or side discharge. Changing it is easy and you'll get more specifics when you read your instructions, or when you get a demo.
Forget the chain stores. Open your yellow pages and find a store that specializes in these things. You ***MIGHT*** pay more, but two years from now, you'll feel smarter. You'll be able to get actual service, and the faces you saw when you bought the mower will probably still be there.
Here's another reason to buy from a specialty shop: You said the grass is going to be long and thick. AND...is the ground smooth, or is it bumpy like many yards? If you're pressed for time, you might think you can mow faster. Think again. With those two obstacles (long grass, bumpy ground), you need to mow slower unless you have the right mower. Try asking people at the chain stores which mower will handle these things best and you'll probably end up with drool on your shoes.
You're probably going to spend more than $299.00.
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Consider a push reel mower. They are cheap and very light weight, which is a big plus if you have to push it uphill. Since you aren't going to be bagging anyway, why not? It's good exercise too.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:

For the OP's .38 acre for a person who said they definitely won't be mowing it every 5 days and who's on time? You've got to be kidding.
And I've actually had a reel mower... in Texas, where it's crabgrass anyway... on an 1/8 of acre and it worked great. Of course I got strange looks from the Texan suburbanites who musta though "Yankee thinks he can cut his grass without burnin oi'l?" I grew up in the midwest with a hilly half acre with the thick green stuff as a kid--and the TX postage stamp of dry crabgrass diddn't deserve an internal combustion engine."
But in Chicagoland now, on quarter acre lots with long fast growing lush gass, the reel mower is taking up space hanging in the garage. Unless lawncare is your hobby, with the way grass grows in many parts of the country a reel mower just isn't practical unless it's behind a tractor on the golf course.
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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On 29 Sep 2006 13:09:08 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Reel mowers don't work worth crap in tall grass.
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Not necessarily. You can have both now. :-) There are mulchers now that rear-bag as well by way of a rear full width door.

with the craftsman mower I have, it's very simple. Pull up the back door, put the bag on. Mulch: Pull bag off, spring loaded rear door slams shut, voila.

Briggs are more forgiving with non-by-the-book maintenance.

#21 of 27 rated mowers by consumer reports.
But, Toro Recycler 20041 is a CR Best Buy, #6 rated among self propelled, at $400. And Toro 20055 Super Recycler however was the #2 mower at $520.

Hondas are well reviewed but expensive. #1 rates Honda HRX217HXA is $700.

I have a Craftsman mower with the large rear wheels, briggs engine, and it's been good to me, despite apparently lousy reviews by CR. It's a push mower though, not self propelled, but everything's flat here.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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...much deleted...

Only thing I can say is, keep an eye on the wheel-size, and on how high the deck can be lifted while still safely mowing. Big wheels roll better on bumpy/littered ground, and a higher-deck is useful if the grass gets overlong before you get around to cutting it.
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Those features also help during times when the grass never seems to get totally dry for 4 days at a time, but needs mowing.
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dkhedmo wrote:

make sure the height adjustment gows up to 2.5 inches
front-wheel drive self-propelled is easier to deal with- you can just push on the handle a little to turn around or stop for a brief moment
side-discharge is useful because you can take off the mulching blade, put the normal blade back on, and push the leaves into one spot in the fall
Try to get a unit where the pull-start mechanism is all metal
D
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I bought a Craftsman mulching mower 2 years ago for $170. It's not fancy -- no bagging system, no throttle control, no self-propelled, etc.. It's justa simple muclcing mower with a large engine -- Briggs and Stratton 6.5 horsepower. Powers through even thick, wet grass. I only mow every 10 days or so, not every 3 days like the retired dude next door.
-
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I bought a Troy Bilt 5.5 HP large rear wheel from Lowes. It has rear bag which has a spring loaded door and a chute for side discharge. The Honda engine is quiet and powerful and it onky cost $239. Craftsman mowers looked cheaply made. You dont really even need self proplelled for that size yard. It mulches well and bags well. I love it.
dkhedmo wrote:

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About 5 or 6 years ago, I bought a Toro "Personal pace" mower. I went for the extra $50 for the cast aluminum deck. Steel decks rusting out is what kills 99 percent of lawn mowers.
I was sceptical of the "personal pace" thing until I went to my local tractor store where they let me try one. It's better than any self propelled mower I've ever used. You just hold the handle and walk. It senses pressure on the handle and goes at whatever speed you walk without any effort. I can stand alongside the mower going up a hill and operate it one handed as it mows beneath low branches!
I also greatly prefer the rear wheel drive over front wheel drive. With a regular self-propelled mower, front wheel drive allows you to raise the front to make turns. That's just not an issue with personal pace. The mower has bagging, mulching and discharge capability. I rarely use the bag. I don't use the side dischare either. It mows, mulches and drops the mulch back where it came from. In the fall, I use it in the same mode and it muclhes the leaves so fine that they seem to simply vanish into the grass. You'd think there would be a coating of brown leaf mulch on the top of the grass, but there isn't.
I think I paid about $500, but it might have been slightly less or slightly more. The local tractor store's price was the same as the big box stores, but they do a better job of setting the machines up, and they spend time showing you all the details. I'd gladly pay extra for that kind of service, but I didn't have to.
I bought my Ariens snowblower from them rather than HD for the same reason, and the price was identical on that as well. I also gave them first shot at selling me a chipper shredder a few weeks ago, but they didn't have anything "consumer oriented". They told me that for a machine under $2500, I would have to go to HD or Sears.
CWM
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Just buy a Toro Personal Pace and be done with it. Absolutely the last mower you will ever want to own. Be sure to get the aluminum deck models, their "high-end" line. And dealers are better than chain stores. They are a bit more expensive than $299, but you will absolutely not regret it.

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Not really. I had repairs to all three Toro Personal Pace mowers. The wheel design is shabby. First the wheel gears wore out--they were replaced under warranty. Second, the plastic wheels where they are attached have cracked where there are ribs. These too under warranty, but still, at 18 months old, should not do this. I take care of my tools. But, Toro is a better value-buy than Honda.
On Fri, 29 Sep 2006 23:07:30 -0400, "Unrevealed Source"

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lawnboy silverpro 6.5 2 cycle, runs forever and will pull up a cliff. Runs better 5 years later than when new. I think the 2 cycles cut better...faster blade or something. I have thick st augustine.
the new ones look nice for thick wet grass with the big fat wheels, quick fold handle...but think they're all 4 strokes now and lawnboy was sold or something???
definently not the quietest mower but they all sound like noise polution to me.
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Yeah, 2stroke engines are always hella loud, and hella smelly but put out the most horses for the size/weight. Mixing the fuel is a pain in the ass though.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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