• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook discusses options and features of non-gasoline-powered mowers.

    Steps:
    1. Electric, corded mowers have plastic decks and electric motors, so they're much lighter and quieter than gasoline mowers.
    2. Electric mowers often have a rear- and/or side-mounted collection bag.
    Both positions work well at collecting the grass clippings, but rear-mounted is preferred because the bag can't hit shrubs and hedges.
    3. Be sure to compost grass clippings; don't dump them into a landfill.
    4. You can avoid collecting grass clippings by buying a mower with a mulching blade.
    5. When using an electric mower, start near the house (or wherever the extension cord is plugged in) and slowly work in the opposite direction to avoid running over the cord.
    6. Cordless mowers have rechargeable battery packs that can be recharged in 12 to 24 hours.
    7. On a fully charged battery, the mower will run approximately 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the length and thickness of the lawn.
    8. Most cordless mowers have steel mowing decks and mulching blades.
    9. A battery-power mower often features a rear-mounted bag, easy-adjust wheels and, of course, super-quiet motor.
    10. Reel mowers have no motor at all, making them quiet, clean and ideal for smaller lawns.
    11. Modern reel mowers are much lighter and easy to operate than older models.
    12. Reel mowers feature five curved steel blades that are mounted to a geared reel that turns the blades faster than the wheels.
    13. The blades pass by a bed knife that cuts the grass as cleanly as scissors.
    14. Standard reel mowers are only 13 inches wide, but 20-inch-wide models are also available.
    15. Sharpen the blades of a reel every two years by smearing grinding paste onto the blades, and then rotating the blades in reverse.
    16. After mowing, sweep off grass clippings with a whiskbroom, then spray all metal parts with silicone lubricant.
    Don't rinse the mower with a hose because that could force grass clippings into tight cracks and crevices.
    • Less than one hour
    • Corded electric mower about $200; battery-powered $300 and up. Reel under $200.
    • Difficulty: Easy
      though careful consideration is required to find the mower that best suits your lawn and lifestyle.
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      Tools List

      • Whisk Broom
        Whiskbroom, for sweeping grass clippings off the mower
      • outdoor extension cord
        Heavy-duty extension cord, for use with electric mower

      Shopping List

      Grinding paste, used to sharpen reel-mower blades

      Silicone spray, for lubricating reel-mower blades