August 12th, 2010

And the Green Grass Grows All Around-How Do You Cut It?

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Photo used under Creative Commons from Dan4th

Not many people know this about me- I love to mow the lawn.   It has become one way for me to have a little alone time; time outside with my music cranked up to drown out the sound of the mower.  I use a self propelled gas mower to get the job done. As much as I love the alone time-I know it sounds pathetic that I mow for alone time-the smell of the fumes is at times unbearable.

In 2007 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that lawn mower emissions account for 5% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The EPA estimates that a typical gas mower emits as much air pollution per hour as 11 cars. The EPA then went on  to rule greenhouse-gas emissions due to human activity ( i.e. mowing) endanger public health and welfare.

According to the Wall Street Journal the ruling will only affect the big players-big businesses that spit out 25,000 tons of gases per year or more .  There is no way to police the little guys, like me, out riding or pushing their mowers each weekend.  However, there is a message being sent-mowers are emitting fumes that are not good for you nor are they good for the environment. Do I really want to be inhaling the exhaust of as much as 11 cars per hour?

I decided to look into my mowing options.

  • Self Propelled Gas Lawnmower-Self-propelled lawn mowers are powered by gas and require the operator to squeeze a bar to engage the mower.  Once you squeeze, the mower goes with minimal effort from the operator.  This is the type of mower I have.  But they are noisy and produce a tremendous amount of  exhaust emissions.
  • Push Gas Lawnmower-Get your muscles ready….this mower requires some big push power.  Lots of exercise guaranteed with this mower.  Most are noisy and also produce exhaust emissions.  There are a few models that meet California’s strict emissions standards.
  • Corded Electric Mower-Corded electric lawn mowers have been around for many years. They are generally lighter than the cordless version since they do not have a battery. They produce no emissions while you are mowing. They also are much quieter than a gas powered mower. Electric mowers-no surprise-need to be plugged in while you are mowing.  These are perfect for small lots so the cord can reach.  Unless you have a very long extension cord they are not going to work well for larger lots. Some communities even offer rebates for switching from a gas mower to an electric lawn mower.
  • Cordless Electric Mower-They are the same as the corded mower-providing all the same features-minus the power cord.  They are generally battery operated and thus heavier than the corded version.  They also tend to be more expensive. Some communities even offer rebates for switching from a gas mower to an electric lawn mower.
  • Manual or Push Mowers-These are by far the most environmentally friendly mowers on the market.  You push the mower and it mows the lawn.  No power needed, aside from your muscle strength.  They have come a long way over the past few years. They are quiet, don’t pollute the air or your body, easy to push, inexpensive and low maintenance.  They are very user friendly and lighter to push.  One user mentioned that they have difficulty cutting long weeds-such as dandelion stems. You must be committed to mowing your lawn when your lawn needs to be cut or the mower will struggle getting through the long grass.  It will also take longer to mow the lawn since your muscles are doing all the work.   There are bags available to catch the clippings but some users claim they don’t work very well.
  • Riding Mower-When you have a large lawn a riding mower might seem like an attractive option.  They are gas powered and  create exhaust emissions and require about 4-by-6 feet of storage space.  They can be quite costly. No muscle power required with this mower.

The bottom line for me

Ideally I would love to use a push mower-no fumes, no environmental impact and lots of exercise.  My husband surprised me with a push mower for mother’s day-I know, sweet!  I have used it a few times and my kids love to use it.  It doesn’t seem to cut the grass as well as my self-propelled gas mower. So for now I am sticking with both.

One more thing………

The benefits of mulching your grass clippings

Using grass clippings as mulch is healthy for your grass and the environment.  Let those clippings drop onto the lawn and let nature do its work.  According to the Department of Horticulture at the University of Missouri there are many benefits to using or leaving grass clippings on your lawn:

  • Grass clippings contain 80 to 85 percent water and decompose quickly when left on the lawn. The clippings also help keep moisture in the soil longer, reducing the need for frequent watering (saving both water and money)
  • Up to 25 percent of a lawn’s total fertilizer needs can be met if grass cuttings are left on the lawn. The clippings slowly release essential nutrients—nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and minor elements — slowly so the lawn is continuously being fertilized. Well-fertilized lawns need less water.
  • Average lawn mowing time can be reduced by 30 percent when grass cuttings are not bagged.
  • Grass cuttings do not cause thatch problems.

Throughout the summer I will occasionally leave the clippings behind.   I try to pick times when we are about to head out of town.  If we are around and I leave the clippings, the kids are covered head to toe with grass after a heated game of baseball.

How do you cut your lawn?  Do you keep the grass clippings or dump them?


For a full report on lawn mowers and suggestions on what to purchase please see Consumer Search



12 Responses to “And the Green Grass Grows All Around-How Do You Cut It?”

  1. Great topic! I’m sensitive to the gas fumes from gas mowers. We have a huge lawn and I don’t have the muscle power for a push mower. We use a battery powered electric one. And we also leave the grass clippings. Congratulations on going all out with the push mower. Awesome!

  2. Thanks Sandra! Is your mower heavy? Great job leaving the clippings-I am working towards leaving them every time I mow. The push mower is definitely a work out-I also think I need to get the blades sharpened.

  3. My father used an electric mower in the 80’s, I will say that he was being green:) Now he has a large yard with beautiful plants so he does not need a mower at all…..smart man!

  4. i wish my yard could be transformed into a beautiful garden too…..as much as I like to mow, I would love looking at all the plants.

  5. hi

    i just tried it in IE 8 and it worked fine….when did you try it? thanks!

  6. […] washer and dryer, the former being a big energy hog.  We also use an electric battery-powered mower on the lawn.  There are plenty of people that live off the grid in Hawai’i, but I’m not anywhere […]

  7. i think your husband gave you the best gift push mowers are the best no need for gas they are quiet and easy to push

  8. I have to admit that I haven’t been using it as much as I could. But I love it!

  9. I want to share about a method of cut grass. We need to cut a small area first to make sure we do not cut too much grass. Law unofficially to cut the grass is not to cut more than one-third of the leaf. (You can hear the people say ‘one-third rule’).
    Global For Life recently posted..The Green Solution of Sustainable Energy SourcesMy Profile

  10. I’ve had a self-propelled gas lawnmower for a while. Pushing the lawnmower myself always wears me out, so having it be self-propelled is a life saver. However, I do dislike the noise and exhaust it produces, so I might consider a corded electric mower in the future. Thanks for the information!

  11. Wonderful topic! I’m sensitive to the gas fumes from gas mowers. We have an enormous lawn and My spouse and i don’t have the muscle power for a push mower. We use a battery powered electric one. And we also leave the grass clippings. Best wishes on going all away with the push mower.
    Tony recently posted..Things to Consider for Outdoor Holiday Lighting This SeasonMy Profile

  12. Wonderful topic! I’m sensitive to the gas fumes from gas mowers. We have an enormous lawn and My spouse and i don’t have the muscle power for a push mower. We use a battery powered electric one. And we also leave the grass clippings. Best wishes on going all away with the push mower. Also I’ve had a self-propelled gas lawnmower for a while. Pushing the lawnmower myself always wears me out, so having it be self-propelled is a life saver. However, I do dislike the noise and exhaust it produces, so I might consider a corded electric mower in the future. Thanks for the information!Best self propelled lawn mower

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, writer, mom of three boys and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Join me as we work together to make the world a safer place for all.

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