Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Lawns, Ground Cover, & Wildflowers
Lawn Mower Savvy (page 5 of 5)
by Frank A. Viggiano and National Gardening
It has been widely reported in recent years that typical lawn mowers are relatively more polluting than a modern car. Mowing a lawn for half an hour with a gasoline engine makes as much smog as driving a new car 170 miles. Gasoline-powered garden equipment accounts for 5 percent of all U.S. air pollution. California has regularly introduced tough new emission standards. The cleanest power mowers are the solar/electric. Battery and 110-volt electric mowers are next. Gasoline engines with overhead valves are less polluting than those with side valves. Mowers powered by two-stroke engines, for which gasoline and oil are mixed prior to ignition, are dirtiest.
Since 1982 all mowers have been equipped with a blade break system or deadman switch. This device stops the spinning blade within three seconds of release of the handle. This safety feature has definitely reduced injuries. (Older mowers that remain in use were not required to be retrofitted.) Some blade brake systems stop both the engine and the blade whenever you move your hands from the handle. More expensive and sophisticated mowers stop only the blade. This is a very convenient feature that will save you several restarts, considering how often you'll need to empty the bag or otherwise leave the mower momentarily. This is especially advantageous if the mower is also self-propelled. You can allow the machine to run and move under its own power when taking it from the garage to your yard without engaging the blade.
Dr. Frank A Viggiano, Jr. is an outdoor power equipment consultant and a professor of consumer services at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania.
Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association