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Buying a New Mower This Spring? What to Look For

advantage of new equipment efficiencies. If you’re in the market for a new mower this spring, here’s what you should consider before you buy: * How big of a mower do you need for your

Ah, spring! The weather warms, songbirds return and

backyards burst with showy spring blooms. Of course, all this resurgence of life will require some care, which means it’s also time to start thinking about lawn mowing. From saving money to getting exercise, there are plenty of

positives about mowing your lawn. To do the job right, how- ever, you’ll need the right tool of course - a good lawnmow- er. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute recommends replacing worn out equipment with the latest models to take

lawn? Generally, the more grass you have to mow, the more mower you’ll need to buy. If your lawn is relatively small - a half acre or less - a walk-be- hind mower should be sufficient for your job. For larger lawns, you’ll probably want a riding mower (also called a lawn tractor). If you decide on a walk-behind model, you also need to consider whether it should be self-propelled or a standard push style. While a push mower will give you a better workout, if your lawn is rough or hilly, self- propelled can make the job more manageable. * How frequently will you need to mow? Dur- ing the height of summer, grass can grow quickly, especially in regions with moderate temperatures. It’s not unusual for a lawn to need care twice a week. Grass may grow slowly in dryer, hotter regions, so mowing once a week may be sufficient. * How important is energy efficiency? If you have a very small lawn, you may be able to use an electric mower. With most lawns, however, a gasoline-powered mower will mostly likely be the choice. Assuming most homeowners will opt for a lawnmower with a gasoline engine, here are key items to look for in that engine: * How easy is it to start? Some walk-behind mowers can be as complicated to start as they are to repair. Look for a model, like Kohler’s Courage XT6.75 that requires no prim- ing or choking to start. The mower manages the start-up process so all you have to do is pull the cord and go. * Can it handle your lawn and terrain? A professional

grade engine can give you the power needed to cut through the grass of your lawn. Whether you are trimming your yard or tackling a little taller grass and weeds, the engine should deliver consistent power to maximize cutting, bagging and mulching performance. Plus, a tough cast-iron design helps your engine last longer, so you can keep the mower longer

Contractor - continued from page 11

to find them new customers in exchange for discounts. It’s his responsibility to obtain permits and new customers. * If a contractor’s offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch for warning signs like an extremely long guarantee period or an offer to discount your job as a “demonstration.” * Shut down contractors who engage in high-pressure pitches. If a contractor tells you he needs an immediate answer from you, tell him your answer is “no.” Or, if he or she wants you to fund your project through a preferred


* Multiple operating addresses * How long the company has been in business * License, bonding and insurance information * Contractor specialties * A credit review that will reveal any past collection or derogatory credit events * An easy-to-understand contractor rating Additionally, reports include public record information such as liens or judgments against the business - important information considering that according to a recent review of Experian’s database, 8.4 percent of contractors had a lien on file and 6.2 percent had a judgment filed against them.

Stay alert for signs of trouble Most contractors operate within the law, but it pays

to know the warning signs of one who is not honorable and honest. Consider these tips from the Federal Trade Commission: * Contractors who solicit door-to-door, only accept cash or who don’t have a phone number associated with a valid business address should ring your warning bell. Beware of offers to discount a job by a contractor who says he will use materials left over from a previous project.

* Steer clear of contractors who expect you to obtain necessary permits for your project, or who want you


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April 13, 2012 Page 13

and reduce costly trips to the repair shop. * How easy is it to maintain? From filling it before each use to cleanup tasks before storing it for the winter, your equipment will require routine lawnmower maintenance to keep it running well. Look for models that make all these tasks as simple as possible. For example, the Kohler Cour- age XT features the trademarked Accu-Fill gas tank, which is designed to ensure fewer spills and less wasted gas. Simple measures like changing the oil and spark plugs, and cleaning the air filter, can help keep your mower running better, lon- ger, and you’ll be more likely to keep up with those chores if they’re easy to do. Finally, perhaps the most important question to ask before

you invest in a new mower is how much it will save you over the life of the product. When you compare the cost of a new mower to the average cost of professional lawn care, it’s easy to see that the scales tip in favor of doing your own mowing. Choosing the right mower with a quality engine can help ensure your mowing experience is productive and positive. Visit to learn more about lawn mowers and engines.

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