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Lawn Woes


Last year I paid a man to cut our grass every week or at least bi-weekly. He charged me $15 per cut and did a good job. This year I decided to save the money and cut the grass ourselves. The dilemma was we don’t have any lawn maintenance equipment, specifically a lawn mower.

Free Equipment

Thankfully, my grandmother had an old lawn mower she wasn’t using and said we could borrow it for the summer. Yeah!

Unfortunately, after years of little to no use, it has needed a lot of work. A handyman friend has spent countless hours here replacing parts, band-aiding issues and helping us with workarounds. It worked for a few weeks. My only cost…gas.

That lawnmower is still sitting here, but won’t crank at all.

Then, my uncle brought me an old lawnmower from our old lake house. This lawnmower is probably 20 plus years old. He changed the oil and sharpened the blade before bringing it over.

It ran well for several weeks too. And then the cord you pull broke. An easy fix, if you can find the part to fix it. And since it’s so old, haven’t had any luck yet.

The Rains Came

Then it started raining here. And rained and rained and rained.

Our grass is now two feet tall. And I have no way to cut it.

What to Do

The man who has been helping me fix and maintain the lawn mowers for the last couple of months graciously loaned me a mower today. I had hoped to get the lawn cut before the rain begins again.

Gymnast cut the bulk of the front yard and then this mower died too. Do you think it’s me?

I must now figure out what to do. We still have 3-4 months of regular lawn care to do. Here are my options and the associated costs, what is your advice?

  1. Pay someone to cut the grass. I’m not sure I can get it for $15 per cut again, but think I could get it for $25 or so or $100 per month.
  2. Continue to band aid the lawn mowers I have and limp through. I haven’t had to put any money into them thusfar, but now I will need too. Hopefully with just a small investment I could get one or both of them running for the duration of the season.
  3. Buy a mower. I have found a cordless electric mower for $115 with a needed $20 add on piece to make it a mulching mower. (I have researched gas vs electric mowers, and I think electric is the way to go for our small yard, less maintenance and ease of use.

    Snow Joe Sun Joe MJ401C 14-Inch 28-Volt Cordless Push Lawn Mower

    Snow Joe Sun Joe MJ401C 14-Inch 28-Volt Cordless Push Lawn Mower

If I can get my friend’s help, I think I’m leaning toward Option 2. It seems the most economical. And if I can get and keep the two mowers running…it seems the best option. The issue has been the headache of getting and keeping them running.




  • Reply April |

    How has this never been mentioned in any previous budget that you have shown?

  • Reply Laura |

    If you can’t get the old mowers working then buy a new one. Do not hire someone to cut your grass. Even if you have to buy a new one you will have recouped the cost over hiring it out in 2 months.

  • Reply cory |

    if your lawn is small. look at getting a reel mower. No worries about breaking down, not sure what the cost/maintenance schedule is for the blades. You can find them under $100.

  • Reply C@thesingledollar |

    Solution: get a push mower. No cords, no gas, no breaking down, very cheap. You have two teenage kids; between the three of you you can cut even a big lawn with a push mower and it’s great exercise.

  • Reply Kerry |

    Or to rephrase, based on needing to mow for the next 4 months–

    Hiring it out would be $400.
    Buying a new mower would be about $150.
    Babying the current mowers would be a large investment of time, and possibly an investment up to the $150 since they need new parts, a new cord, replacements, and dang you are very lucky to have a friend trying to fix them for free.

    Get the new mower. It’s pretty simple.

    Don’t get a reel mower. Yeah, it’s great exercise and you have more time, but you are trying to get your work situation together. Going over and over the same patch of grass is a PITA, and frustrating and hard work. Throw your energy into activities that might actually pay off.

  • Reply Juhli |

    Options if fixing one of the 3 mowers isn’t viable – and do see if you are doing something that is clogging the blade, etc.:
    1. Trade services – lawn mowing for ?
    2. Borrow from a neighbor and trade for it
    3. Visit a lawnmower repair shop and see what used ones cost
    4. Buy a push mower (perhaps secondhand) and pitch it to Gymnast as a way to stay in shape and potentially earn money by cutting other people’s yards

    You always push for the lowest overall cost option and least cash out of your pocket.

    • Reply Hope |

      We did get one of the lawn mowers running last night. And my friend says he has a friend who is a small engine mechanic who sells used mowers and guarantees them. Something else for me to explore.
      All of our neighbors are upwards of 70 years old…they all hire out their lawn. Sea Cadet has been helping with one of there yards thusfar.

  • Reply Marzy-d |

    A good push reel mower (Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower is well reviewed) is about $140 on amazon. No gas. Only maintenance is sharpening blades. Folds up for storage. Good exercise.

    Lawnmowing is a great summer job for teenage boys. Just saying.

  • Reply Angie |

    Let me get this straight. Your preferred option is the one that will require someone else to do the majority of the startup and upkeep?!? Someone who has already graciously assisted you on this issue multiple times in the past and who’s mower you just broke? I’m all for connections and social capital to keep costs low and grow relationships, but this is pushing it for me. Someone else is picking up the slack for your poor planning. And now because they’ve helped you before, you are expecting them up to do even more. I know you’re trying to cut costs. But this is crazy.

    Why did you even think it was a good idea to hire lawn cutters in the first place? You moved to a house with a yard, so you knew some maintenance would be required. But instead of thinking it through and going with the sustainable solution (buying a reliable mower) you went the quick, and easy convenience route (hiring someone else). Now, you can’t pay for convenience anymore and you don’t have a machine to do it yourself. I just don’t even know what to say.

    • Reply Hope |

      Actually, Sea Cadet has done the bulk of the work on the mowers with me assisting. My friend taught us the basics to get us started.
      We have cleaned carburetors, sharpened and replaced blades, re-strung nylon strings, and so much more. It’s been fun but awfully time consuming.
      Last year I didn’t have much choice. I was working full time at my W2 job, 20 hours a week at a part time job, homeschooling the two younger kids, getting them to practices, I couldn’t take on anything else time wise. If Sea Cadet was here through the summer, it wouldn’t be an issue, but he leaves today for his summer job and won’t return until August.

  • Reply Katie |

    Do you have a free cycle group? Post on there that you need a working mower. Someone may come through.

    • Reply Hope |

      We don’t. Tiny, tiny town with very few resources. And since we have essentially been given two free lawn mowers, I’m not sure yet another free one will be any better.

  • Reply dh |

    Would any of your kids be interested in mowing for other people/neighbors this summer to earn some money?

    If so, I would buy a new mower, and ask them to contribute to the cost (by paying you back a small amount per mow).

    • Reply Hope |

      This was a discussion we had when mowing became a necessity this season. Sea Cadet has taken on the bulk of the lawn care up to this point. However, he leaves for his summer job today and will not return until August. He has been mowing several of our neighbors yards as the lawn mowers allowed.
      The younger two are not interested in this summer job. And as much as I would like to force Gymnast into this type of summer work, this is not the year for it. (Princess cannot work outside due to extreme allergies to most anything outdoors.)

  • Reply Joe |

    Electric lawn mowers are great for small yards. Not sure about that particular model but it seems fine from the reviews.

    However: this wont do the job on the 2-foot stuff. That, incidentally, is almost certainly why the latest mower went kaput.

    I know not helpful now, but I would also echo the question of what was the thought process of spending $30-$60/month up until this point…

    • Reply Hope |

      Last year when I paid someone to mow the lawn it was out of desperation. We had just moved here. I was working a full time W2 job outside of the house, 20 hours a week as a consultant and homeschooling the kids. I just couldn’t take anything else on including managing a 11 or 12 year old child managing the yard.
      Thanks for the notes on the electric mower, that has been my conclusion as well.
      Although it wasn’t the height of the grass that messed up these mowers. Two of them are over 20 years old, and my friends mower was run dry (not by us) and trash got in the carburetor. I’ve learned alot about the mechanics of lawn mowers!

  • Reply Rachel |

    Another thought: get a garden scythe! That would work on two-foot grass, be cheaper, and need no gas/maintenance. I have friends who use these out of choice instead of a mower, and it can be used for other types of gardening. Kids love them.

  • Reply Sue |

    If you are planning on staying in that house or getting another place with a lawn, I would invest the money in a mower — seems like that would be the best way to get your money’s worth.

  • Reply Mira |

    I you do decide to buy a batter operated lawn mower, I don’t advise the one that you have mentioned. It is only a 28V battery and I would suggest a 40V lawnmower. You will get frustrated with a weak low powered lawnmower.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I used a Fiskars reel lawn mower for a few years. It worked great unless I let the lawn get too long. Turns out, I routinely let the lawn get too long. Sold it on Craigslist and recouped 75% of my cost. I now use an electric Greenworks lawn mower I bought at Lowes. Works beautifully a year and a half in. I charge the battery and occasionally hose it off. No other maintenance appears to be needed.

  • Reply Drmaddog2020 |

    Check any garage sales, pawn shops, Facebook marketplace, and craigslist first. Maybe you’ll see get lucky and find a used mower.

So, what do you think ?