Frequently Asked Questions & Facts

01.) Do I need a mower with a blade clutch?
02.) Why don't I see 2-cycle mowers anymore?
03.) Why would I need more than one speed on a self-propelled mower?
04.) Why do I see more rear-wheel-drive walk mowers than front-wheel drive?
05.) Well then, would one of those mowers with front caster wheels be more maneuverable?
06.) How do I know when my mower needs sharpening?
07.) My riding mower has a dead battery. Can I jump-start it from my car?
08.) My riding mower does not cut level. What is the problem?
09.) Should I bag my clippings or should I mulch?
10.) Won't a mulching mower create a thatch problem in my lawn?
11.) I have an older bagging mower and would like to start mulching.
Can my mower be converted or do I need to buy a new mower?
12.) What do I do with my leaves if I buy a non-bagging mower?


01.) Do I need a mower with a blade clutch?

There are pros and cons for blade clutch models. If you are often stopping to empty a bag, pick up sticks or debris, kid's toys, the newspaper, etc. then you might want to consider a blade clutch model. You won't need to restart the engine every time. This is a nice feature, but there are several costs involved. The blade clutch adds to the price, weight, and number of parts to go wrong. We're not saying that they aren't reliable, but the more parts there are to go wrong, the more likely that something will go wrong. We have been encouraged by recent design trends that hint, "Simpler is better." 

02.) Why don't I see 2-cycle mowers anymore?

2-cycle engines cannot meet emission standards.

03.) Why would I need more than one speed on a self-propelled mower?

If everyone had the same lawn, walked the same pace, and had grass where every blade grew the same rate, then we would only need a lawnmower that went one speed. I haven't yet seen a lawnmower that didn't get the complaint that, "it goes too fast," while the next person said, "it goes too slow!" Before you buy any single speed model ask to try it out and see if the speed is to your liking. If not, try a different model or step up to one with multiple speeds.

04.) Why do I see more rear-wheel-drive walk mowers than front-wheel-drive?

With rear bagging, manufacturers went to rear drive since there is more weight over the rear wheels for better traction. Now, with mulching, rear drive is even more important. With the older front-drive mowers, you could simply lift the front wheels off the ground at the end of the row, to turn around. If you do this with a mulching mower, all the clippings that are re-circulated within the deck are going to be thrown all over your driveway or neighbor's yard. Most rear-drive mowers have independently driven rear wheels; so that you can power around turns and curves while keeping the mower in contact with the lawn. This takes getting used to, but is actually easier to maneuver.

05.) Well then, would one of those mowers with front caster wheels be more maneuverable?

Yes and no. The caster wheels make turning nice, but extremely hard to mow in nice straight lines. If your driveway has a slope out to the street, you better not wheel your mower out and then go back for the gas can. It will turn toward the street and take off like a dog after a rabbit. The models with the caster wheel "lock" have not proven to be very effective at straight tracking. Mowing on side slopes can be very difficult. This is one of those features that work better in theory than it does in reality. Only in the very large and heavy commercial mowers do they really become a necessity. You must also consider size. The added length and bulk make these mowers impossible to put in many car trunks.

06.) How do I know when my mower needs sharpening?

Inspect the cut tip of a grass blade. A sharp blade will leave a smooth edge, whereas a dull blade will leave the grass blade looking like a torn piece of paper. A dull blade will leave a brown "sheen" to the lawn, along with leaving the grass plant susceptible to disease.

07.) My riding mower has a dead battery. Can I jump-start it from my car?

Not recommended. Jump-starting will damage the electrical system on most mowers. If you own a riding mower, we recommend investing in a small inexpensive 12-volt battery charger available at most auto parts stores. Monthly charging during winter storage is also recommended to assure long battery life. Just a few minutes on a battery charger is all it usually takes to start a mower with a weak battery, and you don't risk damage to the electrical system. However, if the battery is dead or very weak, you should attempt to fully charge the battery before running the engine.

08.) My riding mower does not cut level. What is the problem?

The most common cause is low tire pressure. The wheels may appear to be all the same when you stand back and look at the machine, but when you add the operator's weight, ½" sag on one tire can cause major appearance problems on the lawn. Although most mowers have some means of adjusting the deck level, we don't usually see this as something that gets out of adjustment by itself. It may have had help from a curb or exposed tree root, but check the tires with a pressure gauge first.

09.) Should I bag my clippings or should I mulch?

Mulching has become the preferred means of clipping disposal in areas where clipping disposal in landfills has been restricted. Mulching has proven to not only save the time and effort of bagging, but a proper mulching mower can produce a healthier lawn while requiring less fertilizing and watering. Mulching exclusively is not feasible for all lawns and climates, so you might want to check with a local horticulturist or nursery for their recommendations and suggestions.

10.) Won't a mulching mower cause a thatch problem on my lawn?

No. This is a common misconception. "Thatch" and "clippings" are two different things. Thatch is a naturally occurring interwoven layer of plant growth along the top of the soil. Normally 1½" to 1" thick, this layer protects the soil from harmful UV rays, aids water absorption and moisture retention, harbors beneficial microorganisms and bacteria, and helps prevent penetration by foreign "weed" seeds.

All mowers produce grass clippings, which can be handled in several ways. They can be:
1.) Bagged and sent to the landfill along with all of their nutrients.
2.) Collected and added to a compost pile for later use.
3.) Left to lie on top of the lawn, to become dried by the sun and forever preserved (like bales of hay).
4.) Processed by a mulching mower and returned to the soil along with the natural nutrients.
Proper mowing techniques and a good mulching mower are the keys to successful mulching. Recutting the clippings into fine particles and forcing them deep into the turf near the thatch layer is essential to providing the environment for quick decomposition. Clippings are 85% water and will decompose within 48 hours if not allowed to dry out. Although mulched lawns must be mowed more frequently, this is offset by the labor and cost of bagging and the labor and cost of supplemental fertilizing.

11.) I have an older bagging mower and would like to start mulching. Can my mower be converted or do I need to buy a new mower?

Some older machines are adaptable for mulching, although most will not deliver the results of the newer machines. Most older mowers are simply underpowered for this job, which can lead to durability problems from being overworked. Before you just abandon the old mower though, give us a call with the make and model and we can advise you on any adaptations that may be available for your machine.

12.) What do I do with my leaves if I buy a non-bagging mower?

In the past, people were led to believe that leaves were completely bad for the lawn. A thick layer of leaves left on top of the lawn will smother and kill the grass. However, trees remove a tremendous amount of nutrients and minerals from the soil, which must be replaced. Most often the cause of a sparse lawn underneath trees is not so much from lack of sunlight, but rather from "harvesting" leaves year after year. Eventually the soil becomes depleted of necessary components, much like early farming before the practice of crop rotation. Mulching the leaves back into the soil returns the nutrients necessary for healthy trees and lawns.

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