As a first time lawn-mower buyer I have some advice to pass on. If you’re going to buy a mower, make sure it has two features:
1. Self propulsion
2. A motor bigger (much bigger if possible) than 5 horsepower.
I bought a Craftsman mower with a Honda engine. From my research, Honda engines are the best and craftsman bodies aren’t great but aren’t bad. The price was right ($250).
My new lawn tool has one of the two necessities – it’s self propelled. I’ve heard too many people skimp in that department, justifying it by the excercise they’ll get or the small size of their lawns. I’m of the opinion that when it’s 100 degrees outside, I don’t want to excercise, I just want to cut the grass and money I spent at the beginning of the summer (or a couple summers ago) becomes a much smaller concern.
I figured that my medium sized yard would pose no problems for a small engine. I was wrong. Five horsepower is not enough to let your lawn go for two weeks… at least not here in Virginia where it’s so humid that the lawn is almost never dry. Mowing every week it does fine, but let one weekend pass where I’m out of town or more inclined to read a novel on the front porch and I can count on stopping every row to clear out grass or restart the mower.
Take this bit of advice for what it’s worth. Get a mower that will last (a Honda), one that moves itself and one that has some guts. You won’t regret it.