Gone are the days when buying an environmentally-friendly lawn mower meant a trip to the local hardware store to pick out an old-fashioned reel-type mower. From cords to cordless, and from reel to robotic, today's carbon conscious lawnscapers have lots of eco-friendly choices.
Two Basic Types: Reel and Electric
There are two basic types of lawn mowers considered environmentally friendly. These lawn mowers are either man-powered or electric self-propelled and come in either reel or rotary style. They are considered environmentally friendly because they are quiet, more energy efficient, and contribute less small-particle pollution and green house gases than lawn mowers with gas-powered engines.
The Reel-Type Mowers Manual-powered:
With no electricity costs, no on-site emissions, and lowest on the price scale, these lawn mowers are considered the most eco-friendly option available. Powered by you, reel push mowers use blades on a revolving cylinder to cut grass. As the mower is pushed forward, the cylinder spins and the rotating blades shear the grass. Most of these mowers can be adjusted to various cutting heights. These lightweight mowers produce finer clippings than most regular gas-powered mowers, but the mowing width is only about 75% as wide and they don't work as well on tall grasses, dandelions, or yards that contain a lot of sticks and debris. You can also expect it to take slightly longer to mow with a manual-powered reel mower than a regular gas-powered mower.
Self-propelled: This is a relatively new option in the world of reel-type mowers. These reel mowers use the same type of revolving cylinder and cutting action to shear grass, but they are powered by a rechargeable battery that usually stays charged for 60 to 75 minutes at a time, which is suitable for a small to medium-sized lawn (7,000 to 8,000 sq. ft).
Self-Propelled Rotary Mowers Corded:
Electric, self-propelled lawn mowers come in two basic styles, corded, or cordless. The corded models work well for small-sized yards where handling the cord (or running out of cord) is not a concern. Having an outdoor outlet with a constant power supply is ideal for these types of lawn mowers. These mowers are slightly lighter than their rechargeable counterparts which house batteries. Keep in mind that more voltage also means more weight.
Cordless: This type of electric self-propelled lawn mower comes with a rechargeable battery. Depending on the voltage, battery life tends to last from 1 to 1 hours (less when mowing steep slopes) and is well suited to lawns under 10,000 sq. ft. These mowers are lightweight and virtually maintenance-free. Depending on the model and options, they run in price similar to regular, push-style gas-powered lawn mowers.
Then There are the Lawn Robots
These funny little rechargeable electric (or solar hybrid) lawnmowers mow the lawn on their own. Perimeter wires (much like an electric dog fence) serve as a guide for the mower, which crisscrosses back and forth across your lawn while you (and your neighbors) sit back and enjoy the show, or guide the mower with a remote control. Quiet and lightweight, these mowers are designed to back away from any obstacles they encounter and the blades don't send debris flying like other lawn mowers. They also boast the highest safety record world-wide, with not a single accident reported. Considered a luxury gadget by some (they are priced near, or even well above the average riding lawn mower), robotic mowers perform best on small lawns that have few obstructions and a flat grade.