Thursday, April 28, 2011

My National Geographic Gig: If Only I Had a Yard to Mow

I just got paid for some freelance blogging I did for National Geographic last year, and it reminded me that I never noted that at Pop Culture Lunch Box.

And which article would be better to excerpt, as the weather warms up and people are heading outside to mow their lawns, than one about which mower you should purchase.

Shopping Tips

There are basically three kinds of mowers: reel, rotary, and riding.

  • Reel mowers: Patterned after the scythe, a hand tool used to whack grass, the reel push mower is manual and creates zero air pollution. As more people become environmentally conscious, there has been a steady increase in the sale of push mowers.

  • Rotary mowers: These have internal combustion engines that usually run on gasoline. They have the benefit of more power than reel mowers, but the disadvantages of requiring much more regular maintenance and creating pollutants like carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.

  • Riding mowers: Riding mowers are often more appropriate for large lawns and are the most expensive option.

  • Going electric: For those who need a power boost to get the job done, electric models are available, with or without a cord, for both reel and riding mowers. These are sort of the Toyota Prius hybrids of the mower world, and more environmentally friendly than rotary models. The degree to which they pollute depends on the energy efficiency of the power plant from which the battery charge originated. Interestingly, electric riding mowers are becoming more common and they can usually cut about a half an acre before needing to be recharged.

Which mower you pick largely determines the cost to the environment. Consumer Reports and Clean Air Gardening provide nice resources to help you choose an environmentally friendly lawn mower.


It was an honor to write for National Geographic and it would be great to continue the relationship sometime.

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