When a 46-year old dad uses a lawn mower for the very first time

Yard Machine Lawn Mower

Growing up, I never had to mow a lawn.  

It’s not that we didn’t have grass, only that my parents always had someone come and service the yards when I was a kid.  That’s why I was so excited to move into this house.  I finally had a front and back yard to mow!

One of the very first tools I purchased was a $100 push mower.

Before I even moved our furniture in, I had pushed that thing back and forth across the yard, slicing each blade of grass literally by hand.  Even in March in Austin, I worked up a healthy sweat.

This is great exercise, I thought.  If I can keep this up for 6-weeks, I’ll be in great shape, and my yard will look like a putting green – (isn’t that the dream of every home-owner?)

As you can guess, after just a handful of cuts, things began to change.

My enthusiasm began to wane.  The reel mower, as eco friendly wasn’t powerful enough to slice through the thick St. Augustine grass in my front yard and I began to neglect the turf.  Finally I gave up and did what my dad did as I was growing up, and hired a guy to cut the grass for me every few weeks.

Over time my lawn began to look less healthy, and last year, when a neighborhood kid came by and offered to cut my grass for$20 (and then scalped it nearly to the dirt), I had to re-take control and reevaluate my lawn.

First I turned to the internet, and then I found the Lawn Care Nut on YouTube.  This guy makes taking care of your lawn easy, and even fun!  You should absolutely check out his chanel after you read my blog.

Then it was time for me to buy some tools.  Manly tools.  The kind that are gas-powered, and heavy, and noisy!

I don’t just whip out my American Express and purchase the very first one I see – no sir!  It takes some research, spreadsheets, and interneting.

Must Have Features that are important to me in a new lawn mower (in no particular order):

  • Eco-friendly
  • Self-powered
  • Easy to start
  • Easy to clean
  • Ability to mulch or bag
  • Not too loud
  • Handles sticks and leaves
  • User replaceable parts (in case something breaks)

This is quite a wish list, I know.  Most likely I won’t be able to get all these, but hopefully, I can get enough to make cutting the grass more fun, and less of a chore.

With my initial research done, I headed over to Home Depot – and got to work.

So many different lawn mower choices? How do you know you are getting the best/right one?

Let me tell you – even with all the research it is still super hard to decide. Over 15 choices framing in price from $100 to over $1000. There were some features on my must have list like self-propelled , mulching, and easy to start that were non-negotiable. At the same time I also didn’t want to break the bank. Ultimately I went with reviews. Using my iPhone n the store I went to Home Depot.com and began to look at reviews right in the aisle. First I looked at the top of the price range for me Toro brand and I kept seeing recent 1 star reviews with all sorts of different problems.  That pretty much elimitated that choice.
Then I decided to check out the reviews for my #2 – it was less expensive, but had all the features I wanted, and tons of 4 and 5 star reviews, both recent and old.

I had to make a few sacrifices – Ultimately I wanted a metal deck for longevity but overall the price and other features won out.

The Yard Machines box just barely fit into the oversized shopping cart
Paid for, and in the car, ready for the trip home.

Once home, I unloaded the nearly 100 pound box (all by myself) and began the unboxing process.  I was a bit concerned because the cardboard box was damaged, and had some crushed edges, but inside the Yard Machines lawn mower was in great shape, and undamaged.

The unglamorous, but required, Lawn Mower Unboxing pictures

Included in the box was a plastic bag with some instructionmanuals, warranty cards, and enough oil for me to get started without having to take a 2nd trip back to Home Depot.  Of course it wouldn’t be unusual, as I forget some little doo-dad all the time, but it was nice this time to be able to get home and stay home.

Yard Machines Operator’s Manual, Oil, and other paperwork.

Assembly was SUPER easy.

This thing came completely assembled right from the box.  All I had to do was attach the collection bag to the metal frame.  Everything else was all put together.

Additionally, I had to unfold the all metal handle and extend it like the instructions called for.  Sadly and Thankfully no tools were needed.  Of course I love using my tools, but this mower came with big easy to grip plastic handles that easily unscrewed to extend the handle and put it at just the right height for my six-foot tall frame.  The whole process took like 3 minutes.

The mower came 99% assembled, and in one piece. All I had to do to assemble it was attach the bag to the frame, and extend the handle.
The first thing I had to do to assemble the lawn mower was open the handle all the way, and re-connect the oversized bolts.
Next, I had to loosen the handle extension bolts on each side, and slide the handle out to the maximum distance to accommodate my 6-foot tall self.

Next I had to add oil and gas to the engine.  There are two clearly labeled screw caps which maked identifying the proper reservoir easy.  The oil was easy to fill one handed so I grabbed a quick photo, but the gas took 2 hands so no picture of that for you.  Just close your eyes for a moment, and imagine me using my red jerry can to fill the gas tank.

Scroll down and read how it went for me after the photos.

Always check your lawn mower oil level and make sure it is properly filled with the correct weight and level of oil. Don’t wanna ruin your engine before 100,000 lawns!

Third I had to add the motor oil, which thankfully was included – I really appreciate that, as I’d have to take another trip back to Home Depot if it wasn’t.

Obligatory lawn mower picture ready for action.
Looks like she will go fast, right? Vrooom!
Just check out those stylish 5-spoked plastic wheels!
I really like that this model came with a Briggs & Stratton engine.  I’d need that power during the fall when all the leaves fall.
Another great feature is that with one lever you can adjust both wheels to the same height, and that the front adjustment is separate from the back.
The Gas filler cap, air filter, and priming pump are all clearly labeled and easy to access.
Yard Machines!
I’m a bit concerned about the throttle and other cables – they look like they could have been better designed, but let’s see how she lasts for a few seasons first.
Independent Drive and Blade Control Levers.
Ready to “Get ‘er Done!”

Overall Experience

For the first time in my 46 years on this earth I used a gas powered mower to cut my own lawn.

It was so easy!

First I primed the engine by pressing the red bulb about a dozen times.  I could feel the pressure inside the carb change when it was full.  That’s how I knew it was ready.

Then I held down the blade control lever, grabbed the pull handle, and gave the thing a good yank just like you see in the movies.

Guess what?  It started right up on the first pull!  There was a little bit of a stutter as the engine slowly came to life.  Imagine my surprise!  I expected to yank on that rope for a good 20 minutes and then have to call customer service or something, but NO!  It worked right out the gate.

Mowing the lawn was easy.

I adjusted the height of the wheels to the middle setting pulled the self-propel lever and in literally no time was able to cut the extra thick and tall grass in my front yard!

It looked amazing!

And I got to experience that summer smell of cut grass all day long.


Overall, I’m super happy with the way everything came out – Easy to start, plenty of power to cut the lawn (even if it is several inches thick), and not too loud.

Are you thinking of buying a new mower?  What features are important to you?  Share your story below in the comments about the first time you mowed a lawn – I can’t wait to read them!