Well, we knew we would be getting some serious lawn tools when we decided to buy the house; we have 1.76 acres and most of that is grass. We have some future plans for a large garden and some other areas that we can turn into non-mowing areas. We have started a short list, mostly it is fun things we might do that would be cool to have in the yard and cut down the mowable area (in most cases).
- Large fenced off garden area for ourselves and friends
- Horseshoe pits
- Putting green or miniature golf course (ok, this would require even more upkeep!)
We’re working on some more ideas; a good one that doesn’t have much to do with less lawn care but does sound like an awesome workout is to get a large or “monster” truck tire for flipping. Basically the workout consists of repeatedly flipping the tire down the yard until you can’t do it anymore. Tough, many muscle groups used, and fun!
So – back to the lawn! We had look at prices of new riding mowers after realizing last summer when housesitting at a place with a few acres that a riding mower is the only way to go. They aren’t that expensive, but they sure aren’t cheap. At the 40″ cutting size you are looking at around $1500 new. We then started looking around on Craigslist and found what appeared to be several mowers in good shape that were less than half the new price – outstanding! As I was communicating via email with several sellers of mowers I got two of them mixed up. When we agreed to meet up so that I could check the mower out in person I said I would need 45 minutes to drive out, at which point he exclaimed, “Holy cow, where are you driving from? I live in Lansing!”. Well, that is where our new house is too – I got a little mixed up. However, it gets even better. When I asked for his exact address, I punched it into Google Maps and found out he was my new next door neighbor!
We had a good laugh and agreed to meet up the next day. In the end this worked out really well – we were joking that I knew where to find him if it fell apart right away. It was sold as is, but it’s nice to know that I can bug him if something is really wrong and he gave me a list of things he would do over the next 6 months to a year to keep it in tip-top shape. All in all buying the lawn mower from a neighbor worked out great. There were a few things that I kept an eye out for, and a few that my neighbor mentioned to me about looking over used mowers and keeping them in good shape:
- Watch for rust on the “deck” (cover of the blades). Grind it out in the spring/summer and paint over it
- Squirrels love to nest in the engine area – open it up in the spring so it doesn’t catch on fire when you start it!
- Replace springs on the deck, they get rusted out pretty easily and only take a few minutes to switch out
- Other odds and ends much like looking at a used car – tire condition, overall shape/rust, engine cleanliness, history of machine
After he made some last minute repairs (painting the deck, some new springs, etc) we went over and checked it out last night. It ran great and looked good, so we “drove” it home – all 100 feet! We couldn’t resist taking it for a test drive in the yard and did about 10 minutes of lawn mowing – check out the happy mowers below!
Just as an FYI, it is a Craftsman, 42 inch, 6 speed, riding lawn mower. The attachments on back are for gathering leaves in the fall. And yes, it has a cup holder.
Once we have a few weeks of mowing down I think I’ll do a more thorough review – having never had a riding lawn mower before I’m curious to see how this one turns out.
Update 6.27.2012: Thanks to my friends Jon for recommending a stabilizing drink holder. After some looking around he came up with a gadget called “The Pendulator” – which does exactly what you think it does! It was specifically made for vehicles and appears to be a good fit for the lawn mower. Now I can hopefully take along my beer while mowing – I’m holding it in the picture for two reasons:
- I like to drink beer, not look at it sitting in the cup holder!
- The yard is pretty uneven and the ride is really bumpy. I think that any beer not in an active leveling mount would turn into foam in about 2 seconds.