Well Priced Lawn Mowers

Going for a ride

When choosing a mower, first decide whether you need a riding mower or a non-riding one.
Riding mowers, the more versatile of which are dubbed lawn tractors, generally aren’t necessary for yards under a half acre. They are expensive, require a certain level of maintenance, and need generous storage space.
However, if you have a large property that takes hours to mow, a riding mower can be a godsend. And depending on the design, a riding mower can double as a garden tractor.

Check out the accessories available—they can include a towing cart, a dethatcher, a snow thrower, and a snow blade. Also look into how easily the accessories attach and detach.

Other things to consider when looking at riding mowers:

• How wide is the deck? The wider the deck, the fewer the passes needed to mow an area.

• Consider the engine position. Rear engines usually give better front visibility. Front engines usually mean more power.

• Check out the speed control. It might be a gear lever and clutch-brake combo, a foot pedal control, or a hydrostatic drive system. Hydrostatic systems don’t have a clutch, so they are easier to operate, but they add hundreds of dollars to the price tag.

• Consider a warranty. Riding mowers and lawn tractors are reputed—either fairly or not—to have poor reliability compared to other major appliances.

• Give the mower a spin. Each riding mower handles differently. Some pedals require long, strong legs to press them down adequately. Also check out how easily the mower maneuvers. Zero-radius mowers make the sharpest turns.

When push comes to shove

If you don’t need a riding mower, look at gas-powered self-propelled mowers and gas-powered push mowers.
Self-propelled mowers are good if you need to mow slopes or ditches, if you have a large lawn, or if you don’t have enough upper-body strength to push a mower. However, self-propelled gas mowers also are heavier. Further, if you’re trying to mow a steep slope and the ground is wet, the weight of the machine can tear up the slope and make the mower dangerous to maneuver.

Check to see if the self-propelled mower has a rear- wheel drive or a front-wheel drive. Rear-wheel-drive mowers are easy to move in a straight pattern, while front-wheel-drive units require more guidance to keep straight.

Push mowers are smaller, lighter, and cheaper than self-propelling ones. And since they have fewer moving parts, they’re less likely to break down or develop problems. On the other hand, if you have limited upper-body strength, the lack of self-propulsion might present problems.

Much ado about mulch

A mulching mower finely shreds grass and drops it back on the lawn. Not only does this make mowing easier (no clippings to empty out), but it’s also better for the lawn. Clippings create mulch around grass blades, which conserves moisture and deters weeds. The clippings quickly break down, feeding the soil and improving its texture over time.
Some mowers are designed to be mulching mowers only, while others have kits that turn them into mulching mowers. Either way, they cost slightly more because they require more horsepower to operate. Also, they require a sharp blade to work well. And mulching mowers don’t cut tall or wet grass as well as non-mulching types.

Electrifying developments

Electric mowers  are extremely quiet and have zero emissions, an important issue since lawn mowers create a surprisingly large amount of pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency says low-horsepower gasoline machines, such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers, account for 10 percent of the country’s smog. And running one gasoline-powered lawn mower can create as much pollution in one hour as 50 cars driving 20 miles.
The cord on an electric mower limits how far away from a power source you can mow (usually around 100 feet) and also creates the potential hazard of mowing over the cord. Cordless models are available, but the batteries are short-lived (about one hour), so it’s wise to have a spare battery.
Electric mowers are best for fairly tame lawns. They’re not very powerful, which can be a handicap if you have lots of sticks or taller, rough grass.

Reel easy

Old-fashioned reel mowers are back. Their greatest virtue is that they are low-tech and cheap (about £100). They’re made of lighter materials than ever before, but still, on a larger lawn or on slopes, they’ll give you a workout. Sticks tend to jam them, and they don’t cut particularly evenly, especially in tall or damp grass. But they’re an easy way to keep your lawn moderately well mowed with minimal fuss—parents like them because they’re a relatively safe way for older children to mow the lawn.
It’s important to keep reel blades sharp. Sharpening kits work fairly well, but professional sharpening is recommended.

Choosing a mower—

Our buyer’s guide to getting what you need

Riding

Best for: flat lawns that are 1 acre or larger.

Advantages: Doesn’t require physical exertion. Lawn-tractor types can do double-duty with various attachments.

Disadvantages: Very expensive, requires ample storage space, not practical on slopes or in yards with lots of trees and other obstacles.

Price range: £750 to £4,000

Gas rotary, self-propelled

Best for: lawns with slight slopes or very large lawns.

Advantages: Self-propulsion makes mowing easier, especially on slopes and when mowing for longer periods of time.

Disadvantages: More expensive than other types, except for riding; the heavier machine can dig into soil on steeper slopes.

Price range: £500 to £900

Gas rotary, push

Best for: small to medium-sized lawns.

Advantages: Less expensive than some other types; good for those who don’t mind a workout.

Disadvantages: Can require significant effort to mow slopes or large lawns.

Price range: £200 to £600

Electric

Best for: small lawns, especially those with slopes.

Advantages: Quiet with no emissions. Light weight makes for minimal effort and ideal mowing on slopes. Minimal maintenance.

Disadvantages: Not very powerful. Limited by an awkward cord (usually about 100 feet long) with corded models; battery-powered models tend to have short-lived (an hour or so) batteries, so an extra battery is recommended.

Price range: £100 to £500

Manual reel

Best for: lawns of less than 1,000 square feet and slopes.

Advantages: Inexpensive, low-maintenance, safe, quiet, great for a workout, good on steep slopes.

Disadvantages: Tends not to cut evenly when grass is too tall, too coarse (such as Bermudagrass or St. Augustine), damp, or drought-stressed. Twigs can jam the reel.

Price range: £100 to £150

Hedge Trimmers

Let me brag about my hedge.

I started it 10 years ago from trimmings from a neighbour’s columnar yew, much to my husband’s skepticism. He looked at the ragged cuttings, arranged like a tiny forest in a salvaged kitchen drawer filled with damp sand, and said, “That hedge will look good just about in time for my funeral.”

Well, he’s still in excellent health and now enjoying the privacy and year-round greenery of our 7-foot hedge, which is thick and full in large part because of regular trimmings. Slow-growing yews need a trim only two or three times a year; faster-growing hedge shrubs need it as often as once a month during the growing season.

So if you have (or want) a hedge, a power trimmer is just about a must. I’ve tried manual clippers and they’re a bear. I’m big, I’m tall, and I lift weights, but an hour or two of hand clipping makes me feel as if I’ve just spent the day trying to bench-press 250 pounds. Besides, trimmers start at just £25—about what you’d pay for a couple of big bottles of ibuprofen.

Hedging your bets

Before you start shopping around for a hedge trimmer, think about how you will use it. How high is your hedge? Will you be making only straight cuts or will you be doing some shaping, which calls for a shorter blade? How much are you willing to spend? How far away is your hedge from outdoor electrical outlets?

Here are some features to consider when looking for a power hedge trimmer:
Pole hedge trimmers. The long, pole-like handles make them excellent for cutting very high hedges without a ladder. Look for an adjustable cutting bar to get the angle you need for sides and tops.

Double-edged cutting blades. Double-edged blades, the most common type, have teeth on both sides, so you can make cuts as you pass the machine back and forth. They’re designed for trimming hedges up to chest height. They’re also the best for shaping hedges or shrubs. Single-edge blades, on the other hand, make it easier to make straight cuts. Since teeth are only on one side of the blade, the blade weighs less.

Ample blade openings. A 3/4-inch opening between teeth allows lots of small branches to be cut at one time and also protects your fingers.

The right length blade for your landscape. Shorter blades are great for shaping shrubs and smaller hedges; 24-inch blades are long enough for taller hedges. For very tall hedges, look for blades up to 60 inches long, or buy a pole trimmer. It’s worth the extra cost to know you won’t have to climb a wobbly ladder with a power tool in hand.

Blade angles. Check for blades you can set at different angles, making it a breeze to reach hedge tops and awkward spots.

Accessories. On some trimmers you can remove one blade and add another—a very short blade for tight pruning work or a saw for pruning large branches. (Trimmers, as a rule, do best with smaller twigs, like new growth on the outside of hedges, while saws are best for branches about 1 inch in diameter.) On pole-type pruners, a power saw attachment turns the hedge trimmer into a power pole saw—a nice touch. Other accessories include power scythes, cultivators, collection bags, and edgers.

Safety features. Yes, you want to avoid lopping off your pinky. But you also want a machine that isn’t a ridiculous pain to operate. Read the package carefully or talk through safety features with the salesperson to find a balance between safety and easy operation. (When using a power hedge trimmer, wear safety glasses and gloves. With gas engines, wear ear protection.)

Easy does it

I will never again exist on this planet—or at least any part of the planet that contains hedges—without a power hedge trimmer in my garage. A few times a year, I trim my 80 feet of hedge in half an hour with no aches. As a bonus, my hedge trimmer has other uses in the garden. It’s good for cutting back aggressive ground covers, and it dramatically reduces fall clean-up time in my perennial flower beds. Instead of laboriously cutting back each perennial to an inch or two above the ground with hand pruners or loppers, I pull out my power hedge trimmer and level everything in minutes, like a horticultural version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And hey, isn’t that what power tools are all about?

Buy the right power hedge trimmer

Corded electric trimmer

Advantages: Powerful and usually weighs less than 10 pounds. Fairly quiet, putting out a hum that’s about as loud as a washing machine on the spin cycle. Environmentally friendly. Automatic startup prevents the rip-start frustration of gas engines.

Disadvantages: The cord limits how far away you can work from an electrical source. Use only a GFIC (Ground Fault Interrupter Circuit) outlet to prevent shock. Also, cords have a highly irritating habit of coming unplugged.

Features to look for:

• High amperage. The more power the motor has, the better the quality of the cut. A 2.5-amp motor is recommended as the minimum; a 4.5-amp motor is considered fairly powerful.
• Well-designed plug. Avoid trimmers that have a simple “male” part in the rear handle into which you plug the “female” end of an extension cord. It disconnects easily. Instead, look for a mini-cord on the trimmer that allows you to knot the cord so it doesn’t come unplugged. Some models have molded-in cord retainer designs that minimise unplugging. Read the package carefully or talk with the salesperson.

Price range: £20 to £200

Petrol powered trimmer

Advantages: Runs for fairly long periods of time without constraints of electrical outlets, cords, or dying batteries. Best for large jobs.
Disadvantages: Usually noisier, heavier (at 10 to 15 pounds), more expensive, and less environmentally friendly than an electric trimmer.

Features to look for:

• Weight. When shopping, lift the trimmer up to the highest level at which you’d use it. Imagine holding it there for an hour or more.
• Safety. Look for blades that stop when the engine idles. Without this feature, you have to turn the hedge trimmer off in order to move safely to another work area.
• See-through fuel tank. Allows you to see when it’s time to refuel.
• Emission control. You don’t want fumes pumping into your face—or the ozone, either.
Price range: £50 to £600 (for professional grade)

Battery-powered trimmer

Advantages: Quiet, light, and highly portable.
Disadvantages: Not very powerful. Runs for a limited time on a full charge. One model, for example, runs for only 30 minutes on a battery that takes six hours to charge. A solution may be to purchase two batteries to extend use time. Good choice only for small hedges in a setting where loud trimmers would be too intrusive, such as an urban garden.

Features to look for:

• Charge time. In some models, it takes only two or three hours to charge the battery.
• Run time. Conversely, check the amount of time the trimmer will run on one fully charged battery—it ranges from 30 minutes to several hours.
Price range: £50 to £150

Buckets and Bins Reviewed

It all started with a pickle bucket. As a new homeowner (and yard owner), I got the bucket as a freebie from a local deli. This simple 5-gallon bucket became an essential gardening tool for collecting weeds, hauling a bit of mulch, mixing potting soil, harvesting tomatoes, and carrying a few tools.

Later, I got a wheelbarrow, which was grand, but wasn’t right for smaller tasks in tight spots and on problematic terrain such as slopes or terraces. Small garden haulers, I found, fill a niche that wheelbarrows and garden carts cannot. A number of these haulers do a much better job than a pickle bucket, though a couple of 5-gallon buckets will always be part of my basic gardening arsenal.

Kick the bucket

I’m not weak, but lugging a bucket on one side of the body is awkward. And yes, I can carry two buckets, but then it starts feeling like more of a workout, and I always manage to bang my legs a couple of times.
My ideal hauler is easy to hold with both hands or one, easy to move even when loaded down, and easy on my body—both my arms and my shins.
I like the bin types with two handles because they’re easy to carry. These are just modern adaptations of bushel baskets, which are charming to look at, but tend to rot or break after a year or two. I even invested in a galvanised metal bushel basket, similar to the one my aunt used back on our Kansas farm to haul chicken feed, but it banged and bruised my legs and hips. (It now holds boots on our back porch.)

When choosing a bin, look for a smooth, slightly curved, durable bottom and tough handles that allow you to drag it when it’s loaded with mulch or other heavy materials. Also consider capacity. The 5-gallon buckets are nice for small jobs, but larger is often better. A 30-gallon Kangaroo bin holds six times more branches or leaves than does that bucket. It also has the huge benefit of being collapsible for easy storage.

Such a drag

Tarps are another classic garden hauler. They’re great for leaves—just rake the leaves on top of the tarp, drag it to another spot on your property, such as a wooded area, and dump off the leaves. If you buy an extremely sturdy tarp, you can also use it to drag boulders, logs, firewood, and other heavy loads, especially if you team up with a second person.

Look for tarps that have snaps or cords attached so you can close them up to haul lighter materials. Also, look for innovative carts that are essentially small tarps attached to a metal frame with a wheel. Put the tarp on the ground, load up the material, and wheel it away. Bonus: It folds up for storage. And many are amazingly strong, holding hundreds of pounds.

Weigh the options

This leads to another consideration: How much weight do you want to haul? If you’re like my 75-year-old mom, you want something light as a feather that can carry a few weeds. For my garden, on the other hand, I need something of medium weight that can handle heavier loads. I don’t mind hauling stones in my plastic bin, or lugging a tarp loaded with firewood.
Consider drainage, too, especially if you share my bad habit of leaving things outside where they collect rainwater. However, if you’ll also be using your hauler to wash produce, look for something watertight.
Few gardeners can do without a basic garden hauler or two—or three. It can speed you along in your garden chores and turn a troublesome task into a job that’s anything but a drag.

Type of hauler: 5-gallon plastic bucket

Advantages: Simple, cheap, and versatile. You can afford, both in space (they stack) and money, to have several. Carry two and you’ll balance your load nicely.
Disadvantage: Small.
Price: Free to £10

Type of hauler: Classic bushel basket

Advantages: Simple, cheap, attractive, and lightweight.
Disadvantages: Not very durable. Bottom tends to break if you carry more than several pounds. Wire handles also tend to come out over time.
Price: £5 to £15

Type of hauler: Plastic bin with handles

Advantages: These come in several different designs, but all are generously sized. Flexible ones are tough but soft, so they don’t bang shins.
Disadvantages: [asking Veronica; she didn’t have a disadvantage listed]
Price: £10 to £25

Type of hauler: Kangaroo bin

Advantages: Available both in small and larger (30-gallon) sizes. Wonderfully large and lightweight. They store flat and are very durable. Perforated bottom prevents rain from collecting.
Disadvantages: When really loaded down, they’re too heavy to move easily.
Price: £15 to £40

Type of hauler: Tarp

Advantages: Easy to rake or toss materials on top of the tarp and drag it around. Some have straps or fasteners so you can fold them up like a hankie and haul. Can hold very large amounts.
Disadvantages: May wear out quickly, especially when exposed to sunlight. When heavily loaded, can be difficult to move.
Price: £10 to £40

Type of hauler: Tarp with wheels

Advantages: Some hold up to 350 pounds, yet still lay flat so you can rake or scoop in materials.
Disadvantages: They won’t hold quite as much volume as a tarp.
Price: £40 to £150

Landscaping Companies Reviewed – T Quintana Landscaping Company

The T Quintana Landscaping Company can help you improve the value of your property through a variety of landscaping services such as sprinkler installation, walls, walkways, draining, and pruning …

There are a few different landscaping companies that should be recognized in any discussion of landscaping, one in particular being the Quintana Landscaping Company. They are an insured and bonded company, one that offers a variety of services. They can help you to improve the value of your property, and they can help with sprinkler installation, walls, walkways, draining, and pruning.

Pricing

Their pricing is very reasonable at Quintana Landscaping, and they are willing to work within your budget in order to ensure that you get the very most for your money. In fact, upon your very first visit you will receive a half hour free consultation that will help to assess your landscaping needs and help give you the best idea on what you can expect to pay.

Design

The Quintana Landscaping Company is fantastic if you are looking for delightful, aesthetically appealing landscaping designs. They will work together with you, taking into consideration the land that you have to work with and they will help you come up with the best possible design.

Getting Started

Once you have dealt with the Quintana Landscaping Company you can then really start having some fun. One of the first questions you should ask yourself is what landscape design styles you like the best. Consider whether you like straight lines or curves, tumbles of flowers or a more casual look.

Flower beds are always a major part of any landscaping design, and when garden planning, you need to make sure that you are not making your flower beds too narrow. The best idea is to aim for a planting bed that is going to be wide enough to accommodate a few different layers, and beds that are more than generous are the ones that really look fabulous.

Island beds are also often a great option, and they are generally islands of flowers that are planted in a sea of lawn. They look especially great when they are placed with taller plants in the middle and others arranged around them so that they look good from all sides and from all angles. Make sure that they are not out of proportion with the rest of your design and that the soil is not piled up too high around the roots.

Quintana Landscaping is a great company, but know that there are many other as well. The best idea is to check them each out separately and use what you learn about them to decide which is going to help you out the most.