Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Lawn Mower

You may recall that I talked of getting a new lawn mower about six months ago. Or that I talked about it a year and a half before that, or nine months before that. Yes, I do sometimes agonize over fairly minor decisions.

Well, I finally got a new one! No, it wasn't the 36V cordless from my most recent lawn mower post. I went with this 20" corded Homelite mower instead. I had originally planned to get this 18" Black and Decker model because The Home Depot site said that it was available in store and the Homelite was only available online. It turned out to be the opposite once I got there. I prefer the wider cutting width, so this is probably a good thing.

I've used it once so far, and I like it overall. It was pretty easy to unpack and put together without tools, which was a pleasant surprise. It started right up and was about as loud as a box fan, as people had commented in the reviews of various electric mowers. I briefly considered getting just a 50ft extension cord, but I'm very glad I got the 100 ft. 14 gauge cord instead - I don't think the 50ft range would have been enough.

The mower itself only has two design flaws that I am aware of so far. First, the height adjustment selector only has labels on the lowest (1.5") and highest (4") settings. There are seven settings, which means you can change it in slightly-less-than-half-inch increments, but it's not entirely clear if those increments are exactly equal. Second, the rear flap is really stiff and will sometimes catch on the ground and make turning difficult. That's not a huge issue, and the flap might loosen up in time.

Most of my problems with the first mowing were related to the composition of my yard. My yard is not a nice even layer of grass. Instead, it has clumps of dense grass that I will eventually have to kill (getting the yard entirely green is my first priority!), which the extension cord gets caught on. There's also a former garden area that has an extra inch of soil that creates an annoying ridge.

The cord was a bit of a hassle, but I think I just need to get used to it. I couldn't immediately figure out a good way to consistently and gracefully step over the cord as I turned, and I need to cut the side yards separately because the cord doesn't stay out of the way around corners as easily. Next time, I will try draping the cord over a shoulder, cutting the yard in five sections instead of three, and seeing how things turn out. Even if things don't improve at all, my annoyance level with the cord was pretty low. Switching from a self-propelled mower to a push mower was definitely a more significant change.

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