Best lawnmowers for the money

June 23, 2009 3:47:02 PM PDT
Is your lawn mower on its last leg, but you don't have any money for a new one? Well, don't despair because Consumer Reports has tested dozens of mowers and finds you don't have to pay top dollar to get a good one. Lawn mowers can cost as much as $800, but Consumer Reports said you should hold on to your money.

Testers put 50 mowers through their paces. Included in the tests were push and self-propelled mowers from Lawn-Boy, Craftsman, Troy-Bilt, and other manufacturers.

The mowers are tested on six acres of grass in Fort Myers, Florida. Then Consumer Reports' testers get down to business on their hands and knees to inspect how well each mower cuts.

"Here's a classic example of unevenness. And here's a particularly big piece that got pushed down," said Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports.

Every mower is rated for its ability to cut in several modes: side discharge, mulching, and bagging.

Good mowers disperse clippings evenly, not in big clumps like this. You'd end up having to rake them so you won't damage your lawn.

If you want to mow your lawn at a budget price, two bare-bones push-mowers, one from Ariens (model number 961360006) and the other from Yard Machines (model number 11A-54MX), did a good job for the money.

"These mowers feature an overhead valve engine that run more cleanly and efficiently than traditional mower engines, and they cost just $200," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports.

However, if you like using side discharge for clippings, these mowers are only fair.

Willing to spend more money? For better performance and less effort, this self-propelled $320 Toro Recycler did a very good job overall.

All three mowers mentioned in this report are sold at Home Depot.

If you have a smaller yard to mow, Consumer Reports named a $240 electric mower from Black and Decker (model number MM875) a best buy. Like many electric mowers, it has a power cord you have to maneuver around while mowing.

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