Lawn Mowers For Less

Your lawn mower's on its last leg-but you don't have much green for a new one? Consumer Reports has tested dozens of mowers and finds you don't have to pay top dollar to get a good one.

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

The mowers are tested on these 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. Here's a particularly big piece that got pushed down." said Consumer Reports Peter Sawchuck.

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 you lawn at a budget price, two bare-bones push-mowers-one from Ariens and the other from Yard Machines-did a good job for the money.

"These mowers feature overhead valve engines that run more cleanly and efficiently than traditional mower engines, and each one costs $200," said Consumer Reports Bob Markovich.

But 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 a Best Buy.

It's model MM875.

Like many electric mowers, it has a power cord you have to maneuver around while mowing.


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