Cheap Mowers That Don't Cut It

A survey by the National Gardening Association finds Americans are tightening their belts when it comes to lawn maintenance-and spending more time on do-it-yourself lawn activities.

If you're looking to save some money, there are plenty of inexpensive mowers for sale. But Consumer Reports says you have to be careful with how low you go.

Consumer Reports put more than 100 mowers thru their paces, mowing more than 18 acres this year alone, at its Florida test site.

Testers spent six sweaty weeks-mowing mulching, side-discharging, weighing bagged clippings, and even getting down on their hands and knees to judge how evenly a mower cuts.

When it was all over, Consumer Reports found the least expensive mowers didn't always make the cut.

Among them, the $130 Murray #M20300.

It has an engine that lacks oomph, only discharges from the side-no bagging or mulching-and worse yet-you have to assemble it yourself!

Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports says, "And keep your wrenches handy. To change the cutting height, you're going to have to take off each wheel. Most mowers allow you to simply do that by adjusting a lever."

The $140 Weed Eater #961120115 is another one you have to build!

And while the $240 Brute #BTPD22625 comes assembled-as the least expensive, self-propelled mower tested-its mediocre performance makes it no bargain. Plus it began rusting after a few weeks of routine cleaning.

Consumer Reports rated two mowers "Best Buys."

They are the Murray #11A-A23K fro $195 and the $200 Troy-Bilt #TB-110.

Want to use less muscle mowing your lawn? Consider a single-speed, self-propelled mower.

Consumer Reports found several good options from Toro for around $300, including the top-rated Toro 20370.

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