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Question of the Week: Why do you use a gasoline, electric, battery-operated, or push lawn mower?

2008 August 18

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

For many, mowing the lawn is a summertime fact of life. We cut the grass in different ways, each of which varies in its convenience and how it can affect the environment.

Why do you use a gasoline, electric, battery-operated, or push lawn mower?

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Para muchos, el cortar el césped es una actividad veraniega común. Cortamos el césped de varias maneras, cada una varía en su conveniencia y cómo puede afectar el medio ambiente.

¿Por qué usa una cortadora de césped a base de gasolina, que funciona a base de baterías, o cortadora de cuchillas tradicional?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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124 Responses leave one →
  1. David Gannon permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a 2008 Cordless Homelite 20″ electric mower. I love it. It cuts like a dream, keeps a charge through two mowings and is much quieter than a gas-powered model. My favorite thing is that I can mow and not have to change my clothes due to the smell of gasoline fumes.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I have been using an electric lawn mower now for 3 years. The cost of purchasing a lawn mower is cheaper than hiring someone to mow your lawn. With an electric there is no maintenance required. With a gas lawnmower you have to have gas and oil and other engine related parts maintained. I have a piece of land that is about a quarter of an acre – so my electric is all I need. I have one 100 foot extension cord and it works well. I also have other electric equipment for the yard – edger, hedge trimmer, blower. I love that things are completely maintenance free! Would highly recommend this to anyone!

  3. Jennifer permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Only an electric one. I don’t use any gas powered landscape tools, because they are such bad polluters.

  4. Bill Brennan permalink
    August 18, 2008

    The answer to this question is really quite simple. The primary reason is that gasoline powered tools are more powerful than electric powered tools and will cut through anything of substance faster and with more reliability than electric powered tools. In the case of battery powered tools you also don’t have to worry about getting half done and having to wait 8 hours to recharge.

  5. Hunter permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Gas powered rider due to 2 acres of grass, that if not mowed would turn into rasberry bushes, thorns and small trees, within weeks of not mowing.

  6. Minette permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas powered mower because that’s what I have and I can’t afford to replace it. Besides, man isn’t going to destroy the world and global warming is a natural occurance. There is tons of evidence it’s happened before. And now they’re building a big bucks industry out of it and too many people are naive enough to fall for it. These “green” companies are going to make a mint off of stupid people.

  7. D. HOFFMANN permalink
    August 18, 2008

    My sons were young when we had the house built. They did not want the smell of gas in the garage. We turned to an electric mower but I did not want a cord. A nicad battery driven mower was the answer. It solved so many problems and does a great job. Now that energy is a factor, it seems that we were ahead of the curve; no mess, no emissions, no gas, and of course a renewable energy source

  8. Harold Ammond permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a Neuton electric lawn mover. Almost noiseless, one battery lasted five years. A terrific lawn lawn mover.

  9. Horatio Sans permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a slingblade. It takes a little longer to cut my 10 acre lot but it is extremely fuel efficient and a great work out.

  10. Richard Woody permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a 2005 Kubota 3130 and a 72″ finish mower as I have 4 acres not planted in crop and I think my cord would run out or battery would die if I used electric. I see the ATV tow behind finish mowers but why run two engines when the single prime mover in the tractor can mow and cover most any other need on my property with the correct attachment.

  11. August 18, 2008

    Diesel and BALE IT…. why would you have a yard if you weren’t pasturing animals on it?!??!?!?!?

  12. Stephanie Tavares permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a push mower. The great thing about the push mower is that I’m getting more exercise, it cuts great, saves time, and had a one time cost. I do not have to pay for gas (or load up a gas tank, drive to the gas station, pay for gas, drive back, pour it into the lawn mower, etc…) I can literally mow the lawn whenever I choose the noise wont wake the neighbors and I don’t have to wait for it to charge or worry about if its going to run out of gas. No pollution makes this mower even better!

  13. Scott Daniel permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas riding mower and a gas push mower because of the simplicity of it. Never really thought of using electric mowers…..

  14. Adam Wylie permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a corded electric push mower because it’s quiet, requires no gas or oil, doesn’t need to tuned up or winterized, and I never have to drive to the gas station half way through a mowing. I love not have a gas can in my garage.

  15. Susan Parker permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gasoline-powered riding mower because we have an acre of lawn and back when I used to use a gasoline-powered push mower, it would take pretty much all day to do the whole lawn. That’s not so bad if it’s 70 degrees or less, but in 90-degree, humid weather like we have in July and August, it can make you sick, literally. I know it isn’t the best thing to use, environmentally speaking, but in a practical sense, it’s necessary as long as it’s available.

  16. Ken permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use lawn mower because I want my grass to be shorter, and yelling “stop growning!” at the top of my lungs just hasn’t seemed to work.

    I find that using a power mower minimizes pain and suffering to the plants because it happens so fast the individual blades of grass don’t even have a chance to scream before it is all over.

  17. john p permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas powered, electric start, self propelled. It is what i have and works great. I have a sloped back yard. I have looked at a new push non powered mower from the Depot, and may get one for my one yard that is flat.

  18. Richard McGucken permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I began using a battery operated electric lawn mower last year. It is quieter than a gasoline powered mower, cheaper to operate, and does not pollute the neighborhood with air pollutants resulting from the burning of gasoline.

    Another advantage – my wife likes to mow the lawn with it since it is much lighter and easier to maneuver than our old gasoline mower.

  19. Sarah permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a push mower because I didn’t want gas and I know I would run over the cord on an electric. And the push mower was cheap to buy. I haven’t found that it cuts great. The weeds just get run over and not cut so I still have to bust out the electric weed whacker or the clippers. (I obviously don’t use weed and feed or other chemicals so my lawn is a mix of grass and weeds).

  20. John Krowka permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I mow about 5 acres on my property so a gas-powered mower is the only practical option. Why doesn’t someone market a reasonably-priced hybrid riding lawn mower. With the price of gas they would be very attractive to consumers? Honda makes mowers and tillers so why can’t they adapt their hybrid technology that they use in their cars to these pieces of equipment?

  21. Jose Diaz permalink
    August 18, 2008

    There is no reason why one could not use a push lawnmower for small yards such as apt. buildings and such. The electric is a great alternative for small to medium yards. For large areas and problem overgrown areas it simply comes down to power and convenience for a gas model. Having to worry about tangles in areas that have lots of obstacles and huge lengths heavy cord is simply inconvenient. Until battery technology becomes better and lighter, gas will continue to be the workhorse for heavy and commercial applications.

  22. Tina permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I have a push reel mower and a gas walk-behind mower. My yard is about .5 acre. I use the reel mower for quick touch ups and I love it, but it doesn’t cut very evenly, especially if the grass is a little long. I don’t like the gas mower for many reasons, but it does a better job.

    I have an electric trimmer with a battery and I like that but it is definitely not as powerful as a gas trimmer and I can only do half the yard before the battery dies.

  23. T. McKee permalink
    August 18, 2008

    We moved to a forested neighborhood on a drinking water reservoir in 1992, where most of the lawns are natural. I did not want neighbors with manicured lawns to worry about, but many have since cut down the trees and planted grass, what a shame. I agree, why have grass if nothing is grazing on it !!!!

    We have very little mowing to do, but it has been done with electric mowers since we moved here. This year the electric mower was replaced with a battery powered one. I do not like storing gasoline in a garage, too many accidents, fires and spilled chemicals which wind up in our soil and drinking water.

  24. seagul permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I don’t use a lawmower. I have no grass. My backyard is all natural with a forest floor and 15 douglas firs. The front has paving stones and steppable plants. My feet do the mowing. I only keep flower beds in the front to minimize watering. Vegatable grow in the back year. They are the only thing that gets watered in the back is the veggies. Once a year, I have to weed eat some areas of the back yard.

  25. Janet S permalink
    August 18, 2008

    We mow approx. 3 of 12 acres around the house with a diesel tractor with a mowing attacment to the PTO. We mow this as we have so much swamp land around us, that keeping some of it mowed cuts down on the black flies and other bugs. As for an alternative, we use diesel out of convenience – no one wants to spend 2 hours mowing once or twice a week with a push mower after working 12 to 13 hours a day, and the cost of an electric mower is beyond our means now as we own the tractor.

  26. A. Walker permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I’ve used gas for the last 16 years because due to common use and electric and battery types were too weak for the job, or just not available without a steep up front cost.

    I recently moved out of town and could no longer take care of my mother’s lawn and the kids today are too lazy to want to earn a quick buck. Well she couldn’t get the lawn mower started with the pull start, so we got a Homelite battery lawnmower and she now cuts the lawn, enjoys the exercise, and truly seems to like cutting the lawn. Even the neighbor, an older woman, uses the my mom’s lawnmower. It’s light, no gas to spill, no oil to check, no air filter to replace, the height is adjustable by one lever, it’s quieter, and best yet, it’s starts with a grip of a lever. I personally was going to buy one for myself but now have my mom’s pull start. Global warming may have had it’s natural occurrences, but its the great accumulation of the small things like this that can make our environment cleaner and healthier for everyone.

    For smaller yards, I highly recommend a electric or battery lawnmower… even the corded snow blowers work great too.

  27. Dean permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I’m using a gas mower now, but when it dies, or gets real close, i’ll replace it with an electric cordless. Austin offers rebates to switch from gas to electric mowers, but I hate to create waste until necessary. Plus, Austin has a mowing season of about 9 months, so grass cutting is close to continuous, putting real stress on mowing equipment. It’s important to buy quality stuff, so you can maximize it’s use.

  28. Anne Lewis permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas powered mower because it was what we could afford. I won’t replace it until it becomes irreparable. Depending on our age, lot size and health when that happens, we might go electric, we might go push.

    Our weed whacker is electric.

  29. Srikanth permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a corded electric lawn mower. I was new to home maintainence 1 year back. Went to a store and asked the sales person for help. His suggestion for a smaller lawn was electric as it was maintainence free. Also I was not a do it yourself kind of person, so maintaining a gas operated one was a big hassle for me.

  30. Fred permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a push mower and it only takes me about 10 minutes. I replaced the vast majority of my turfgrass with vegetables, herbs, and beautiful native plantings. The lawn was not doing anything for me or our environment and I just got tired of mowing it over and over and over again.

    Now I have a lower-maintenance yard full of food and happy critters and insects.

  31. Chris permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas push mower because it is easy and does the job well. I did make sure to purchase a mulching mower with the specific purpose of keeping clippings out of the landfills.

  32. sharon permalink
    August 18, 2008

    My husband got an electric mower in a giveaway program. He never thought to get one because he thought they could not handle a heavy mow job. Well it can, plus it is very quiet and fume free. He loves it. He loves the way it operates: It cuts off when you let go of the lever, starts when you squeeze lever. It’s like a giant razor that cuts grass not hair.

  33. Mike Z permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I have used a cordless mower; and corded and cordless electrical equipment for about four years. I installed a small ~100 watt solar panel system to power the equipment and recharge the batteries. On occasion I also use a human powered push mower. Unless you have a large area to mow (>1/2 acre) the cordless mower will do the job (we just need to develop a better battery). I have children and grand children so I’m just trying minimize my impact on the blue marble.

  34. Patti permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a gas Cub Cadet with a 46″ blade. I mow a couple acres just so the wild animals don’t come in too close. I have a push mower for around the porch and a gas weedeater for the steps and fence rows.

  35. Judith permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I mow one smaller property (0.2 acre) with an old-fashioned reel-type no-motor-but-me push mower. I needed something that wouldn’t be stolen, so it had to either be non-gas-powered to store in the house, or weather impervious so it could be chained and locked to the steps. I tried an electric mower, but it was a $270 mistake. It quit completely after just three mows–what an utter waste of money. Dragging the cord around all of the trees, bushes, and other plantings was a real bother, too. The reel type mower cost less, requires no power or gasoline, has required no maintenance other than blade sharpening, and it has served faithfully there for going on seven years now. The neighbors laughed at me when I bought it, but they stopped finally after the first two years, and now they might even be envious with the rising gasoline costs.

    Now, for the larger property, the 1.1 acre one, we use a 20″ swath gasoline engine push mower on the 2/3 acre part around the house and outbuildings. Yes, it takes a few hours to mow the lawn, but we couldn’t justify the initial cost or the gasoline usage for 14 hp, 18 hp, 24 hp, or more just to mow grass. The pasture is taken care of by the poultry and livestock. I tried the reel type mower here, but it’s just too uneven and rough to mow the lawn well with the reel type. I trim with old-fashioned hand-powered grass shears around the curbings and such, and use old-fashioned hand-powered loppers to trim bushes, hedge, and such. And, I have been using an old-fashioned shovel and spade to fill in those holes that make the lawn so uneven and rough, so maybe the reel type will be usable here, too.

  36. Jeff Spencer permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a 26 hp riding mower (gasoline) because when I purchased my house it came with a 6 acre maintained lawn. However, over the past 3-4 years I have been able to reduce the mowed surface to about 2.5 acres. I have let some areas go back to native grasses along with some perennial plantings and flowering trees. When I look to replace, I will select the most logical, efficient chose available.

  37. Utah Chris permalink
    August 18, 2008

    cough cough gasp gasp…. as I suck in the exhaust fumes from my gasoline mower, gasoline edger, gasoline weed whacker, and gasoline leaf blower……

    I won’t touch an electric lawnmower as my dad had one with a cord around 1977-1979 and I can’t remember exactly how many times one of us cut that electric cord. But the good news was, we didn’t have to worry about how long the battery life would be like the yoyo models out today. The thing had no power and we had to cut the grass several times until we could get it low enough. I sure hope technology has improved. Of course, you could always argue the blade was dull because of the frequency of chopping that power cord.

  38. Donna Schlotzhauer permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use gasoline powered mower, edger, and blower because electric does not provide the power needed for my lawn (I’ve tried). I do use an electric hedge trimmer.

  39. Matt permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Because of the greenhouse gasses they emmit (i.e. methane & CO2)!

  40. Lee Peterson permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use a push mower mainly for the convenience of not having to deal with a gasoline or electric mower, i.e., fueling up or charging. I live in Southern California, so I also do it to cut down on air pollution. The neighbors think it’s odd, however, and periodically a well-meaning soul will offer to give me their old gas-powered mower.

  41. michellew@firstregional.org permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Wow! You inspire me for sure! I will look into gettting a blade :).

  42. michellew@firstregional.org permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Just the cheapest gas powered Briggs and Stratton push mower. I know they pollute. I would rather have electric or another way…but I do an acre in Mississippi that grows FAST if it is raining and gets away from me, that is my justification…..

    I should do better, but being a single mom, low on funds here and just a practical choice. I do keep it going well, change oil, etc…..It was 140 and a 270 for electric I am not familiar is a big jump for me, but if I saw one that worked….or small yard would go for it for sure!

    My grass is country grass…also forget the 24D folks!!!!! Weed killers are 1/2 of agent orange back in the day, same chem, same endocrine disruptor, same dioxins….

  43. Willi Es permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Did you know that an average gas-powered lawnmower expels as much pollutants in one hour of operation as a car driving 650 miles?

    —(Source: Roger Westerholm, Ph.D., Stockholm University, ENS 31may01)

    Minette, think about that for a second. Small acts by each of us add up to big results overall. living in denial of our combined impact will not do our children any good down the line. It’s time to stop being selfish and pull our heads out of the sand, or wherever it may be stuck.

  44. Willi Es permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Me too! Just don’t let it get too long, huh. Reelers just push the grass over when that happens… :-)

  45. Willi Es permalink
    August 18, 2008

    “Global warming may have had it’s natural occurrences, but its the great accumulation of the small things like this that can make our environment cleaner and healthier for everyone.”

    Nicely put.

  46. claire permalink
    August 18, 2008

    iv seen a solar powered lawn mower that lasts for up to 8 hours, and i dont think anyone would cut their lawn for more than 8 hours at a time, its a save on petrol (im english) and electricity so, even if it is a bit more money you save lots by using natural resorces, yay

  47. scott permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Gasoline because my goats ran away last year with my x wife.

  48. Scott permalink
    August 18, 2008

    Minette –
    I agree with you that global warming is a natural occurance and “green” companies are trying to make a fortune from it. This is similiar to a former vice-president paying $30,000 a month for electricity and then buying carbon credits. If he did not use that much electricity, he would not need to purchase carbon credits. Talk about a Hypocrite!

  49. Scott permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I now use a gasoline powered mower. I purchased three electric mowers in the past and burnt each one of them up trying to cut the thick grass I have. The lasted two years each. I had a gasoline powered lawnmower that lasted twenty-one (21) years in the past. A little TLC and it just goes and goes. Unfortunately, until their are some major improvements in electric motors, I will stick to gasoline.

  50. Rick permalink
    August 18, 2008

    I use gas simply because of the power issue and the fact that I need a self-propelled mower that can take a hilly lawn. I wish I could have a cordless electric self-propelled mower…maybe a fuel cell!

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