Going shopping for an environmentally friendly lawn mower? Gasoline lawn mowers are noisy as well as terrible polluters, and should be avoided if you’re conscious about your eco footprint. Their engines tend to require frequent oil changes and tune-ups. And with fuel prices on the rise and rise, switching to a greener lawn mowing method may not just help the planet, it could also help your wallet. If you currently own a gas mower, there are some exchange programs around the country for those looking to replace gas models with electric ones. Check out the websites of various manufacturers, local air quality organizations, or just do a Google search for mower exchange schemes in your area.
The beauty of the 21st century is that you have a range of choices. Whether you want a manual or electric mower, a reel or rotary model, there’s bound to be a lawn mower for your needs.
Old fashioned push mowers are incredibly eco friendly, as they have no engine, no power costs and no emissions. They’re also the most cost effective. They do require a bit of effort on your part as you sweat it out pushing it through the grass. However, manual reel mowers are also nice and quiet, easy to maintain, and reasonably safe. You can generally adjust the cutting heights, although they don’t work as well on tall grasses or plough very well through tough yards or debris.
Some models run off a battery-powered mower, which spins the blade while you push. However, their capabilities are limited.
Manual mowers remain the most eco-friendly option. While electric mowers don't use gas, they still require energy to operate, unlike push mowers (although there’s certainly energy used in the manufacturing process). And until recently, they were practically the only lawn care option around, as powered lawn mowers were still an uncommon luxury. Thanks to the green revolution, though, the humble push mower is enjoying a bit of a comeback.
Electric self-propelled lawn mowers can come in either corded or cordless varieties.
If you have a small yard and aren’t worried about running out of cord or accidentally running over the cord, the former may be fine. Cordless electric lawn mowers usually come with a rechargeable battery, which can last for an hour or two. They are lightweight and require little maintenance.
For a larger yard, you might be hard pressed to find an extension cord with enough length, and maneuvering around a cord could be a bigger headache than it’s worth.
Both cord and cordless types start up with the push of a button. They don’t produce any exhaust, and most come with a bag for clippings and/or a mulching option that cuts fine clippings, which can be left to settle into the ground as they decompose.
But as with push mowers, electric mowers don’t perform as well when it comes to tackling thick grass and weeds, and the harder the motor has to work, the shorter amount of time you have before the battery goes dead. For large or sloped sections, an efficient ride on mower is likely still the way to go. Some manufacturers have already started designing electric ride ons, but these are likely a while away yet.
Solar powered lawn mowers are another option, although they are relatively pricey. Some mowers have solar batteries, or can be converted to run entirely off solar power. And Husqvarna has developed a robotic solar lawn mower that meanders around a lawn untended. Its sensors stop it from coming into contact with anything other than the grass – it will avoid any obstacles. With robotic mowers, perimeter wires act as a guide, or you can control the mower with a remote. And unlike other lawn mowers, robotic mowers don’t send debris flying everywhere.