Environmental awareness in conjunction with lawn care seems only to focus on the usage of organic pesticides and holistic gardening practices in general. Yet what many fail to realize, is that the simple act of mowing one’s lawn can be a significant source of pollutants.
The numbers are staggering. Roughly 10% of common air pollutants are generated by lawn and garden equipment. This number rises dramatically in urban areas due to population density and a naturally higher concentration of small, gasoline powered engines.
In fact, tests have shown that operating a typical gas guzzling lawn mower for just one hour will release nearly one kilogram of pollution into the atmosphere, making it more of a polluter than your own car.
However it’s not just the environment that you should be worried about. Gasoline powered lawn mowers release twenty six different carcinogens into the air, all of which you are exposed to as you operate the machine.
Pollution. It’s a word more commonly associated with industrial smokestacks and oil tanker spills than with our own backyards. But unlike these giants that lie just beyond our reach, we have more immediate control over our own property. And this control starts with eco-friendly lawn mowers, of which there are three basic categories.
Manual or Push Mowers:
These are the mowers that you must push yourself. There is no engine and no vertically mounted rotary blade. Instead, there is a horizontally mounted blade assembly known as a reel which spins and cuts the grass as it is pushed along.
While it goes without saying that these variants are emission free, there is another consideration to be aware of, namely, that reel mowers cut grass in a more healthy fashion than their rotary counterparts. They simply roll through making gentle, scissor-like cuts without disturbing the grass. Whereas a rotary mower violently hacks at the grass and tends to tear more often than it cuts, which can result in patches of grass dying and you having a spotty lawn.
Contrary to popular belief, manual mowers are relatively lightweight and easy to push. Most come in at under 20lbs and can easily cut the grass of a well-maintained lawn. However they do not perform well on lawns replete with debris and tall weeds and are on average 25% slower than gasoline powered machines.
These come in two types – corded and cordless, both of which are emission free. Corded mowers tend to be lighter and cheaper than their cordless counterparts and because they are constantly plugged in, they never run out of juice. Whereas a cordless mower will typically only run for about an hour. Of course with cordless mowers one doesn’t have the hassle of dealing with the cord, which has to be dragged along as you go and can become entangled in the process. There is also the danger of accidentally running over the cord and cutting it with the blade. So there is obviously an element of give and take with both types.
Low Emission Propane Mowers:
As previously stated, gasoline powered mowers are notorious polluters. One alternative is a mower that produces far fewer emissions and yet retains all the advantages of the gasoline variety, such as power, speed and overall versatility. Say hello to propane. It’s cheaper and cleaner than gasoline, and mowers that are powered by it boast improved fuel economy, longer vehicle life and zero fuel spillage.
Solar Powered Mowers:
Last and probably the least attractive option, is the power of the sun. It’s natural, clean and free. Well, sort of. You do have to fork out the bucks for the mower itself, which is significantly more expensive than the other types. The basic concept is similar to that of the cordless electric mower in that it runs on battery power and can be charged by simply plugging it in. The only difference is that a solar mower can charge its battery as it’s being used, meaning that it can be operated for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, solar cell technology is not quite efficient enough to make it economical for the average consumer. At least not yet.