Need Help Choosing Lawnmower


Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
Apr 15, 2003
Hi Again,

I just came in from a frustrating session trying to cut my wet grass. Cutting wet grass is one of the things you do in Western Washington. Either that, or live in an overgrown field.

I figure a mower with a big wide opening, smoothly shaped, can't possibly clog as badly as the Sears mower I use now which has a rather restricted opening.

One salesman told me a Honda Master would do the trick, but he wants $800!!!, and won't let me have a trial run.

Oh yes, I prefer a walk behind to a rider.

Any suggestions?

Thanks, Mikey
Lawnmower? What's that?

If you move onto a boat, the only vegetation is seaweed growing along the waterline of your boat.

Scrape it off and use it for salad. Then clean the waterline of the boat with a used dryer sheet.

Buy a registered longhorn steer or two. They go for about $400 each here in central Texas. They trim, fertilize, and give you a chance at an argicultural tax exemption on your land, if you have a bit of acreage.

Longhorns virtually take care of themselves, very hardy. They are very gentle.

Have you considered and old fashioned push
mower? That would be a great way to get the
work-out you wanted in another thread.


A goat works too.

Yardman was topping the lists on a price/performance ratio in a recent consumer reports, if my leaky memory still works.

More horsepower is better in wet grass...I have a craftsman with a 6.6hp motor, it doesnt bog down much. Bagging vs mulching helps as well. My local sears regularly puts out returned and refurbished mowers at about 40% off list price, thats where I usually get mine.

You might also try one of the push string trimmer things, I had one of those to do the half acre of wild grass out in back of my yard. Not a clean cut, so wouldnt work for a manicured lawn but would be delightful for field cutting.
Mikey, I just bought a self-propelled Yardman at Costco ($299) to mow a yard that came with a house I recently bought -- a little more than 1/2 acre of overgrown field (used to be part of a cow pasture, in fact).

All I can say is UGH!

The Yardman I got has a 21" bite, 6.4HP and front-wheel drive.   I had to pull-start the thing about 100 times after it kept stalling trying to eat my 8" high grass on the 2nd highest cutting height.  And the self-propulsion was practically useless in tall grass or mowing up-slope.

I'll probably keep it on the assumption that mowing won't be quite as bad next time, but if I had to do it over again, I would look for rear-wheel drive and more horses.
I occasionally miss the Kentucky Bluegrass of home... till I read your post about having to cut wet grass.  Then it all comes back to me.  There were times when it rained often enough that one just had to cut it wet, before it was too late!  I had a Sears self-propelled FWD 22" side-bagger, and had to use the bagger when wet.  Could only made 1 circuit of just a portion of the yard before the bag had to be emptied of 50 pounds of wet, compacted dark green grass.  I would mow in portions, depending on the weather and time available (was working back then!).  Sometimes, by the time the last back portion was completed, the front had grown enough to have to start all over again!  A losing proposition!

To have any free time at all, I bought a Sears 30" single blade rear-engine rider.  Had it for many years.  Using a pattern where you don't run over the clippings, it did a better job of distributing them.  A heck of a lot faster, too.  Now in the worst area, it was still a problem when wet.  Looked like I had plowed green dirt when I was done in that area.  But I could go back with the rider, and run over that area slowly, and stack it all up into about a 2 foot wide hill of wet compacted grass clippings that I could then rake into a cart and dump into the garden.

But nowadays, I have southern grasses (and weeds)  on a subsistence diet, and blast along with a 42" twin-blade tractor (Sears again, as reasonably priced parts are readily available in store or via internet Sears parts).  
MOMMWWWRRRFFF!  There went another F'ar Ant mound!  Hey I'm 50 feet away already as the angry guard ants boil out!

Oh yeah, I rarely ever have to scrape a mower deck anymore :D
Thanks for all the suggestions. Cattle are out; I think the vet bills would do me in. Goats I don't think I could protect from the coyotes that are all over the place. I used to shoot 'em and let them lie in the field to remind the others, but we are getting awfully suburban out here and I think if I start blasting away I'll soon have some lady from Holland or Long Island or Chicago on my case.

I think I will look into fencing and see if I could maybe rent my pasture out for horse pasture. (Ol Rancher-can I get by with just good electric fence? ) But that leaves at least some yard. On Monday I'm going to going to check out an Ariens mower that supposedly will cut anything wet or dry. The store also rents, so I can try it out. It's a walk behind, so I'll get some exercise. In fact, quite a bit.

I'll let you know how this works out.


Good luck - growing up in western WA, I never solved the wet grass problem. The only partial solutions I remember were plow/plant something or 'Christmas tree farming'. Keep us posted. Dryer sheets can't do everything.

I'd find a kid or lawnservice and hire it out. Your time is too valuable.

Actually I despise lawn mowing more than working! - I did retire from lawnmowing back in 86' - Moved into a Townhome with Assoc. hiring a Lawn Service.

The Lawnmowing had to be done on a nice day, when I would have rather have been fishing. Took me 3 hours every week. I still relish not having to do it :)
Fired up the old Wheel Horse yesterday. The goin rate to cut lawns around here (upstate NY) is $40. Now last summer ;) we had rain 2-3 days per week. As a result the guy now shows up 5 or six times per month! And I noticed they never really care if the grass is wet or otherwise! My neighbors use the same guy. So I figure hes getting roughly $1000/mo on my street alone!
hmmmm... This year I'm cutting my own. Except when I go fishing, to the beach, metal detecting , on vacation, to Florida, to North Carolina, etc. What was that guys number?
To have any free time at all, I bought a Sears 30" single blade rear-engine rider.

Thats the mower I bought my girlfriend for her .4 acre parcel of weeds. We got it as a sears return in like-new condition for about $800 and she loves it. Pretty stable, compact compared to a tractor, and moves along nicely. I'm surprised how well it cuts and moves for a 10hp rider. I see theres a newer model out now with an automatic trans and a cleaner layout for about $1150 new.

I solved the problem by buying a house where almost the entire 1/4 acre is covered with landscape fabric and chip on top of that, lots of low maintenance shrubbery and a 20' hedge completely surrounding. Theres a piece of grass about 20x15 out front that I can mow with a weedwacker in about 10 minutes, or about 3 with my craftsman mower. Its a huge improvement over my old place that had a lot of grass...since it hits in the 90s here regularly in the summer I had to either get up at 7am to mow or wait until dusk, and it was a 2 hour job.
Re:  What about El Toro zoysia?

Sounds like having to cut the grass is being victimized by your own success.

Our yard is a mongrel mixture of "old" zoysia & St Augustine battling for supremacy with dandelions & nutgrass. It all grows all year, and Nov-Feb is rainy enough that the sprinklers are rarely on. Even so we only cut it 3-4 times/year.

I've seen newer "El Toro" zoysia that may grow even more slowly. It also has an incredibly dense root structure that chokes off almost all weeds, especially the dreaded nutgrass.
Some of the better options are Buffalo Grass and Thyme lawns. is a good place to look around for alternative plants. They'll send you a free catalog...worth a look through.

They're stuff is mostly low maintenance, low water, low fertilizer plants for warmer dryer areas but much of their stuff will grow in most areas of the US.

Buffalo grass grows to just 4-6" maximum. Uses 25% of the water that regular grasses use. It needs little to no fertilizer and will grow in almost any soil.

Dwarf Fescue is another good option.

Reiter Thyme (and other thyme varieties) will grow a dense 4-5" flowering ground cover that requires very little water and no maintenance. Up close you can see the detail of the thyme, but from more than a few feet away it is similar in appearance to a lawn. It will choke out most varieties of weed.

I'm slowly replacing the chip and landscape cloth in my backyard with Reiter Thyme.

The one drawback is the initial installation. You need to kill the existing grasses and then till and plant the plugs for the new grasses.
Well, I went ahead and spent $550 for the Ariens mower. And just like the guy said, it will cut and bag even long wet grass. The outlet is well shaped and big, and the deck is shaped to get a good vortex going to carry the grass all the way out.

What I didn't anticipate is how tired I would get carrying those heavy bags of grass to the edge of the yard to dump them. And then shaking the bag to empty it.

Still, much easier and less frustrating than any early spring yard work I ever did before. A win for good design.

. . . What I didn't anticipate is how tired I would get carrying those heavy bags of grass to the edge of the yard to dump them. And then shaking the bag to empty it.

Yeah. . . I eventually learned to be concious of how full the bag was and try to empty it before it gets over half full. You empty it twice as much, but the back-breaking shaking process is eliminated.
SG, you can eliminate the guess work by filling the bag half full with dryer sheets before you start mowing.

And I haven't tried this myself, buy if you cover your entire lawn with dryer sheets, the grass should get only about half of the solar energy, and you'll only need to mow half as often.

(Disclaimer: I mulch.)
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