Many of us live in semi-urban, suburban or rural areas in the East where grass lawns are common. I never needed to water my lawn when I worked for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and lived near Annapolis, Maryland. We moved there because I could practice my trick competitive sport of water skiing on the nearby South River, which is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. When I retired, we moved to the west desert in Lindon, Utah, just a few miles north of Provo, near our son, daughters and 10 grandchildren. The house we chose still has a lawn that is watered with gray water using an underground irrigation system.
We spend our summers on Laurel Lake in Three Lakes in northern Wisconsin where our yard is mostly pine cones, dead leaves and pine needles and we don’t maintain a lawn at all. Lately we’ve been spending part of the winter at our daughter’s house in the “ultra-desert” of St George, SW Utah. Her yard is mostly a desert landscape of cacti and gravel, with only a postage stamp-sized patch of grass managed by a real estate association. With over 1,000 years of drought in the US Southwest, it’s clear that lawns in the West that were planted to remind owners of their previous homes in wetter climates need to be replaced with desert landscaping.
I’m on my fourth electric car and have been driving electric for almost 8 years now. We have had solar panels on the roof of our house in Utah for 5 years. My main hobby now is cycling. I ride about 20 miles a day on urban and off-road trails on a large full-suspension electric mountain bike. It makes the old man feel like he’s 20. So at least I’m doing some things to move towards a greener world.
My son still mows my lawn with a gas mower
At the age of 82, I just stopped mowing my own lawn with a gas powered lawnmower. A few years ago, when my Briggs & Stratton lawnmower died, I tried to convince my son that I should buy a cordless electric mower. Since he promised to do all the mowing, I relented and bought the new gas powered model he preferred (see picture above). Below is what I would do if I were shopping for a new mower right now.
what you? Are you ready to dispose of your old gas lawnmower?
I recently checked out some stores to see what cordless electric mowers are available these days.
- First stop, Home Depot: Home Depot had a full line of RYOBI 6 Cordless Electric Lawn Mowers. 4 were 40V 21” self-propelled ranging from $749 to $399 (see Fig. 2) and two were push (yourself) (see Fig. 3). They also have several other brands. The main difference was the size and number of batteries. The most expensive comes with two 6Ah batteries and 70 minutes of operation. The cheapest comes with two 4Ah batteries. For comparison, my big mountain e-bike has a 17.5 Ah battery. I think the 70 minute run time on the most expensive ones comes from using both batteries. Bottom line: you can mow any size lawn, but you may need to buy extra batteries or take a break for at least a few hours or overnight before you get the job done.
- Push mowers (Fig. 3) ranged from $349 to $299. The cheapest is the 18V 16” model which comes without batteries but uses the same 6Ah batteries as other RIOBI power tools
- Second stop, Walmart: It’s now August and Walmart only stocks seasonal produce before and during each season. Walmart is out of electric lawn mowers and only has a few gas mowers left in the boxes.
- Third stop, Menards: Menards is a huge home goods store like Home Depot and Lowes, but it’s mainly in the Midwest. Menards had several electric lawn mowers, but they were all in boxes.
Let’s look at the battery-powered electric mower in action in Fig. 4. The battery-powered electric lawnmower in Fig. 4 is self-propelled and costs $569. However, there are models that cost as little as $149 for a 14” push mower. Because electric motors have a lot of torque, this mower should make quick work of tall grass like the one pictured above, which tends to stall a gas mower. With additional batteries that can be easily replaced, the electric mower can handle any size lawn.
Like electric cars, your battery electric lawnmower will cost more up front, but it will last a lifetime, you’ll save on gas, and you won’t have to worry about driving to the gas station and spilling smelly gas that doesn’t get into your lawnmower.
Robotic lawnmowers with artificial intelligence
Everyone has heard of robot vacuum cleaners that will wander around your house and clean the floor and carpet without intervention. It turns out that there are also robotic lawnmowers that work on the same principles.
On most days, you can see a robotic lawnmower like this one (see Fig. 5) employed at work in a large flat grassy field across from Three Lakes Hardware in northern Wisconsin. You can buy one for your lawn for as little as $2499 at the hardware store. It uses a random search pattern to mow the lawn, and when it’s empty, it automatically finds a charging station and gets a refill (see Fig. 6). There is wire buried around the perimeter of the pitch to keep it in bounds, but otherwise it keeps the lawn perfectly mowed without any oversight. You can see another Husqvarna robotic mower in action in Fig. 7.
It probably won’t surprise you that the small hardware store and the adjacent field mowed by a robotic lawnmower are owned by the owner of Three Lakes Winery across the street. There are three Tesla 48A target chargers and one generic 1772 L2 charger in the Winery parking lot. You can charge your electric car there for free. It’s the only EV charging station in Northern Wisconsin, but a new Tesla Supercharger is being built in nearby Minocqua. The owner also owns a Model S Ludicrous Performance that he purchased in 2015.
All your home and garden tools should now be battery operated
Not only your lawnmower, but also your leaf blowers, trimmers, edgers, chainsaws, etc. can now be battery electric and you can ditch the ear muffs.
All your portable home tools like drivers, jigsaws, circular saws, jigsaws, planers, nail guns, etc. can now be battery operated. No professional home builder these days would be without battery power for any of their portable tools. If you buy the same brand, you can use the same batteries for everything, including your lawnmower and chainsaw. You can have one set of batteries charged and ready to go for whatever job you have planned.
Beautiful desert landscaping
Who says you need grass to make beautiful desert landscaping?
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