Sure, our lawn looks easy to mow — that’s why I bought a manual push-mower last year. But truth be known, the yard is full of hidden dips and divets, soft patches, and not-so-hidden hills that mean I always have to run full-tilt boogie to prevent the mower from bogging down every few feet. Raising the blades a notch means missing too much grass. Today finally got fed up and called baald in a sweat: “Can I borrow your lawn mower, man?” baald has a nuclear-powered Lawn Hawg.
Felt like waking up from a bad dream. Despite protestant work ethic which demands I exert undue effort to derive satisfaction from any given job, I’m never going back. It’s like vacuuming the grass. Clean lines, little hesitation through the rough spots, and shoulders that don’t ache at the end of the day. Got to find a used electric mower.
Last year, automatic transmission, this year, no-sweat mowing. What am I becoming? Old and reasonable?
19 Replies to “Lawn Hog”
What am I becoming? Old and reasonable?
I would say that 90% of the time youthful idealism is just that; rooted in ideals rather than realities.
Welcome to the real world, Neo. ;)
There’s a duo that does several of the other lawns in our neighborhood – one trims with a weedwhacker, one mows. Originally, when we bought this house, I decided to go ahead and let them do our lawn as well.
Save they came at odd intervals, and cut things waaay too short. That lasted one summer. Then I tried your ideal – even went to the local lawnmower sharpening/repair shop and bought a used reel mower rather than consume resources on a new one.
It stopped. Jammed. Was unable to get the narrow spots.
Fine. Last year I bought the same Lawn Hawg your friend has – save that I got it on an end-of-summer clearance. Much happier.
I recommend Toro Personal Pace mowers. Dreamy to run, battery started. Available at home depot near you. As for trimmers, cordless weed wackers are the way to go. No fuel mixing, no starting, just keep them plugged in all the time to keep that lead acid battery happy. I have a 1/3 acre lot, and mine will usually do the job. I forget what brand it is, I think it’s a black and decker. With a replacable battery pack, which is nice.
If your lawn is really small, you might consider a battery powered mower. The one I had did a reasonable job for about 3 years. Again, no small engine poo, just wheel out and squeeze the start button. Downside: when you’re out of gas, it’s 12 hours to recharge. Also it’s heavy and not self propelled. It was MY first step up from a push mower.
Invest a day or two in cleaning up the dips, etc, and keep the reel mower. The lawn will never look as perfect as one cut by a power mower, but thats a worthy trade off to me.
Oh, and make sure you have a relatively wide, relatively lightweight mower. I used to have a quaint antique that came my way for free, and noticed my neighbor having a much easier time at it with a new Scotts reel mower. Thats what I own now, and it also has a wider range of height adjustment compared to the old unit.
Reel or power, I cant believe my life has come to this: spewing my lawn mower beliefs at midnight….
Jim, looks like the Personal Pace is a propulsion system? Really not needed here – the electric Hawg had no drive system but was really easy to push, at least in comparison to the push mower. I admit the cord is a pain though and a gas mower would be a huge boon where that’s concerned. The problem there is that we have this strange back deck configuration that’s going to require lifting the mower up stairs and over the deck to move the mower from back yard to front; no way around that for us, so the mower will have to be easily liftable.
Steve – “A day or two in fixing the dips?” Ha ha ha … we’d need a Bobcat to level off these hills, would have to re-sod big swaths (although it’s been 30 years for the front yard, probably time for a new lawn there anyway) and would lose a major landscape feature (the hills I’m talking about are not little gopher hills, but a 3′-high contour of the front yard).
We’ve got the Scott push mower you’re describing – it’s *really* lovely to use — in the back yard, where the lawn is relatively flat.
Why do I smell a gas. vs. charchoal grill conversation coming on?
How can you be old and reasonable while listening to Throbbing Gristle !?
Try again when you start listening to Manilow or something. ;-)
What am I becoming? Old and reasonable?
to which mneptok added:
Welcome to the real world, Neo. ;)
ROTFL! Took the red pill didja ? ;->
FWIW, Woo and I have this mower.
Works like a champ, even on our (very) uneven yard. We keep the exit port closed and let it mulch the clippings, which it does very, very well. And it’s a lot less expensive than that top-of-the-line model. I can recommend it.
mnep – when i was shopping for the mower at home depot, there actually was NO price difference between the bottom and top of the line models of the lawn hogs. the one you have was 189, the one i got was 219. however, the rear bag for the cheaper model was not included and was about $30. the top model included the bag.
now when scot returned the mower, i tried it in mulch mode for the first time (bagless). what a dream! 5 – 20 lbs lighter and much more compact. no wonder he dug it so much. unfortunately i usually need to have the trimmings bagged or else the dogs will drag it all in…
ok…i switched to a high end expensive lawn mower; however, it’s a geeks dream. It’s robotic, mows your lawn for you, mulches, etc. Check it out:
Required an afternoon to set up the lawn with guide wires but worked like a charm…mowed around trees, very curvy boundaries, etc.
Matt, that’s a trip. I would imagine the robot wants a fairly level, even, non-hilly lawn, no? Does it miss spots? Do you have to fix spots manually when it’s done?
Toro offers a similar product called the iMow (how Apple-esque).
And yes, the yard needs to be a certain size, no slopes >15 degrees, free of excessive obstacles etc etc.
Believe me, we wanted this thing. But no dice on our pock-marked lunar lawn.
Hilly isn’t too bad…i’ve seen it used on something with a maybe 18% grade and it was ok..the algorithm it uses for cutting is basically this (i was bored one afternoon).
Edge twice (ie go around the entire outside edge approximately twice..sometimes a bit more).
Turn to a random angle
Go forward and cut til you hit boundary (internal boundaries are allowed for trees, etc.) or impact sensor goes off (damn dog)
Turn approx 15 degrees or so (either left or right…i forget)
Rinse and repeat…it basically keeps going back and forth slightly turning, performing a random cutting pattern. I thought this would miss a lot of spots, but I only had to manually fix maybe once (over course of 6 months or so).
The only areas I’ve seen it have problems with are long “side areas”. Pretend you have a large fairly consistent lawn (rectangle). Place a really thing rectangle (maybe 3 foot wide, ie walking path) off one corner or side. In this case, the algorithm is kinda sucky. It’ll move across the 3 feet, turn, move 3 feet, turn, etc…
it’s not efficient for that space. On the other hand, i just set it out to mow approximately once or twice a week (usually twice) for about 2 hours and it kept my lawn pretty well manicured, is immensely quiet, and runs on electricity.
So other than the semi-annoying walking path (which it usually got in that 2 hours…only missed it 2x i think over a period of approximately 50 cuts or so).
Of course you can always pull out the remote control and just cut that last bit if it does miss it. I viewed saving the half hour to an hour the majority of time worth the investment and the occasional need to fix. Just my $0.02 though.
Just, for god’s sake, don’t bag up the grass clippings and throw them away. Those are nutrients that the grass extracted from the soil to make itself, and if you keep starving it over the years your lawn will turn into a desert. That is why people have to call those chemical companies to make their grass grow — that and watering it under a blazing sun in the middle of the day. People need some basic botany training.
A pet peeve of mine, just thought I’d share.
Not to worry Chris – we always mulch ’em in!
Turns out that the FriendlyRobotics company is the
manufacture (Tel Aviv based, and building/built in
Dallas TX). Seems sails were small for the 5 year
deal estimated to produce 100’s of 1000s of units.
First year sales, about 250-500 or so… Who knows,
maybe the lawn business is still viable :)
Mulching is a good idea, especially if you give the organisms in your lawn (if there are any at this point,
if not compost and add that along with other organic materials) and turf to break it down quickly. You don’t
want the stuff to build up much if any. One thing I
highly recommend folks do, is to catch, compost, distribute. However, as I said if you follow the simple principle of supplying water, nutrients (other than just the grass) and chop it up enough, you will be refeeding just fine in no time.
I also bought a manual push-mower. The newer ones are quite easy to push but there are two little secrets I use that actually help me.
When I first bought my house my back yard was very uneven. Like yours, it also was full of holes and divits. During my move we also drove on the grass leaving tire mark size ditches.
Every autumn (late September-early October) I put new topsoil throughout my yard – enough to level it all out. Fill in the holes and ditches with new soil. Once everything is level, evenly spread grass seed on top. Finally put a little more topsoil over the newly laid seed (1/4 to 1/2 inch).
Come Spring time you’ll have a beautiful lawn.
With a manual push-mower it’s also better to cut your lawn more often. You’ll cut less grass that way and it’ll be easier to push.