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Product Review 1: Lawnmowers

Did You Know that Mulching your Grass makes you Happier & Healthier?; or, Your Lawnmower is Important to Your Wellbeing April 27, 2006

Keith Petersen of The Eardly T. Petersen Company in Westfield states that there are various benefits to having a healthy and well-kept lawn. Mr. Petersen offers the following information:

Homes and businesses that have well maintained grass areas extend a favorable impression to the general public and the lawn increases the value of the property by up to 6%.

Climate is controlled at ground level by turf grasses as they cool temperatures appreciably, thus working as exterior “air conditioners”. Eight healthy front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air conditioning – enough for 16 average homes. Also, dust and smoke particles from the atmosphere are trapped by turf which helps make the air cleaner.

Fire retardation buffer areas of well maintained lawngrasses around buildings is good insurance., and groundwater is enhanced in two ways by a dense turf. Turfgrasses increase infiltration of water and also clean the water as it passes so that underground water supplies are recharged for use by us all.

Health of humans is enhanced by turfgrasses as they function in cushioning, cleaning air, generating oxygen and creating a serene landscape. Oxygen generation by turfgrasses has a major impact in making our environment habitable. A 50×50 lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four. Also, Noise is absorbed by grass areas which cut down on excessive sound, a growing problem in urban areas. Grassed slopes beside lowered expressways reduce noise by 8-10 decibels.

Lawns are estimated to occupy an area of between 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 acres in the United States (the size of the 5 New England states) and as the population increases so too will the amount of turfgrass acreage.

“These are all beneficial values from healthy lawns,” says Mr. Petersen. “Since the lawn needs to be cut and maintained, it is today generally agreed that one of the primary ways in which to enhance a healthy lawn is, when cutting the lawn, to return the grass clippings directly to the turf. The best way to do this is to “mulch” the grass.”

Mr. Petersen continues, “To be done properly, mulching necessitates chopping and re-chopping the grass clippings into very fine particles. This enables these clippings to rapidly – typically within a few days – decompose and return necessary nutrients as well as moisture back to the turf. Mulching not only is beneficial to the turf; but, it also reduces cutting time (no need to stop and empty the bag) and, more importantly, keeps grass clippings out of the landfills!”

“However,” states Mr. Petersen, “there are associated difficulties with proper mulching. It is certainly easier for a lawnmower to cut and then immediately discharge the grass out from the cutting deck than to cut and then retain it under the deck in view of the re-cutting/mulching process. This inherently sets up problems with using mulching mowers and can result in uneven cut conditions as well as unsightly and unfavorable clumps of unmulched grass laying on the lawn. Only better designed mowers can even begin to mulch well.”

“The biggest difficulties,” says Mr. Petersen, “arise in the earlier Spring months in which the grass is typically growing very fast and tends to be lush (read “thick and wet”). In this situation, it can be difficult to regularly mulch the grass. Typically, even better mulching mowers cannot adequately handle such lush conditions, necessitating changing back to a bagging mode. This defeats the entire purpose and can frustrate the homeowner. However, at least one lawnmower manufacturer has engineered a solution to this problem.”

“Honda,” relates Mr. Petersen, has provided a unique design which they call the “Clip Deflector”. Any other mower requires that the user either bag or attempt to mulch. The Honda HRX lawnmower, however, stands alone in its ability to be “tuned” to the grass conditions by simply positioning one lever so that it will mulch as much as possible and throw the excess into the bag. By this means, mulching can still be accomplished without having to resort to a full bagging mode.”

“Of course,” adds Mr. Petersen, “there are any number of additional advantages to owning a Honda mower – a precise, hydrostatic drive system, blade-brake-clutch to eliminate endless restarting, virtually- indestructible Zenoy cutting deck, ball bearing wheels, and much else. Happy days are here again ……

For questions on lawnmowers, tillers, chainsaws, line trimmers or other Outdoor Power Equipment – or, for related questions on yard care – visit The Eardly T. Petersen Company at 224 Elmer Street in Westfield; or, contact them at 908-232-5723; or, on the web at http://www.

*Some information Courtesy of the Professional Lawn Care Association and American Honda Motor Co., Inc.