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Lawn mowers that save energy 8/10
(This article is adapted from the July 2010 ShopSmart Magazine)

If you have a small grassy area—a quarter acre or less—our latest tests show you can have a well-groomed lawn without the mess and hassle of a gas mower. We also found a smart new manual mower from Fiskars—the scissors brand—that leaves fewer clippings behind.

Better electric mowers
Several cleaner-cutting electric mowers let you say goodbye to pull-starting, fueling, and fumes. These walk-behind mowers are good for small, level lawns. They use an electric motor to turn a rotating blade, but not to drive the wheels; you provide the push.

Cordless electric mowers weigh up to 30 pounds more than corded models, but they can roam farther from a power outlet and free you from a cord. Cords are a potential problem on lawns with trees and other obstacles.

The cordless electric Toro 20360 at $420 delivered great cutting with smooth, even mowing and mulching. It’s also easy to push. The downside: it’s relatively expensive and there was a lot of clogging in the test with the bag attached. Also, this Toro model does not have a side-discharge mode, which you need when the grass is high.

You can save money and still get impressive mulching, bagging, and side-discharging, with the Black & Decker MM875 at $260. This model is a plug-in electric with a cord, It isn’t recommended if you have trees and shrubs on your lawn.

Greener gas mowers
The best electrics perform as well as some gas mowers, but they can't match the best gas machines in tall or thick grass and weeds. If that’s what your lawn is like, consider the Toro Recycler 20333 at $400. This superb mulcher deposits clippings invisibly into the lawn, helping the planet by reducing the need to water and fertilize. But it still requires the usual fueling and maintenance.

Power-free mowers
The Fiskars Momentum 317736 at $200 is an option for very small lawns. It makes very little noise, produces no emissions, and has an easy-to-push design that throws clippings forward for finer cutting. A single lever adjusts cut height quickly and easily. But the cutting quality still cannot match a good gas or electric mower’s.

Related links
Lawn Mower and Lawn Tractor Buying Guide
Help your lawn beat the heat

 
Copyright © 2003-2012 by Consumers Union of United States., Inc., 101 Truman Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10703, a nonprofit organization. No downloading, transmission, photocopying, or commercial use permitted. Visit www.GreenerChoices.org.