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Best buys for lawn mowers

June 14, 2012 2:47:45 PM PDT
A survey by the National Gardening Association finds Americans are tightening their belts when it comes to lawn maintenance -- and spending more time on do-it-yourself lawn activities.A survey by the National Gardening Association finds Americans are tightening their belts when it comes to lawn maintenance -- and spending more time on do-it-yourself lawn activities.

If you're looking to save some money, there are plenty of inexpensive mowers for sale, but Consumer Reports says you have to be careful with how low you go.

Consumer Reports put more than 100 mowers thru their paces, mowing more than 18 acres this year alone, at its Florida test site. Testers spent six sweaty weeks -- mowing, mulching, side-discharging, weighing bagged clippings, and even getting down on their hands and knees to judge how evenly a mower cuts.

When it was all over, Consumer Reports found the least expensive mowers didn't always make the cut. Among them was a 130-dollar mower from Murray.

It has an engine that lacks oomph, only discharges from the side - no bagging or mulching - and worse yet -- you have to assemble it yourself!

"And keep your wrenches handy. To change the cutting height, you're going to have to take off each wheel. Most mowers allow you to simply do that by adjusting a lever," Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports said.

A 140-dollar Weed Eater is another one you have to build!

And while this 240-dollar Brute comes assembled - as the least expensive, self-propelled mower tested -- its mediocre performance makes it no bargain. Plus it began rusting after a few weeks of routine cleaning.

"If you don't mind using a little muscle, we rated two push mowers that cost even lessm" Sawchuk said.

They are a 195-dollar Murray 11A-A23K - and a 200-dollar Troy-Bilt TB-110. Both of these top-performers have premium engines and let you easily adjust cutting height.

Want to use less muscle mowing your lawn? Consider a single-speed, self-propelled mower. Consumer Reports found several good options from Toro for around 300 dollars - including the top-rated Toro 20370.

For more information:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/lawn-mowers/buying-guide.htm

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