Yes! Spring is here. After pulling out your old lawn equipment and fighting with bad spark plugs and dirty carburetors, consider giving alternative energy equipment a try this year.
The EPA has found that Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from one hour of usage of a gasoline powered push mower are equal to 120 miles driven in a standard car. Despite that fact, federal emission regulation has remained very lax for small off-road engines like mowers and trimmers. The ratio might not sound too bad, but consider this: If the average car gets 25 miles to the gallon and the average mower burns one quarter of a gallon an hour, the mower is emitting nearly 20 times as many GHG’s and low level ozone particulates. A 2-stroke trimmer is even worse!
The exhaust IS in our back yard.
A strong correlation between increasing ground-level smog and certain health problems has been found. Many municipalities and states are restricting the use of gasoline-powered equipment by enforcing emission limitations on small engine manufacturers and restricting lawn equipment operation.
If you’re in need of new equipment or interested in getting away from that old gas mower, here are some options.
Reel Mowers: These mowers not only release no GHG’s, they will also help you stay in shape! Reel mowers are best if you have a small and level yard, and they will last a lifetime as most have auto-sharpening blades. However, you must avoid divots and holes with the main wheels, which can lead to grass scalping, and you must pick up sticks prior to mowing. It is also preferable to mow often because these mowers will not cut very tall grass.
Electric Mowers: There are both corded and battery powered options. Unless you need to go more than 150 feet from an outlet, it is best to use a corded mower. I’ve used corded mowers and trimmers commercially and can attest to their durability and reliability. Their reduced weight really helps on the hills too! The only caveats here are that you obviously cannot mow when it is wet (though one should not do this anyway) and they do not have as much power as an internal combustion engine.
Propane Mowers: These mowers boast as much power as a gasoline engine and perform just as well. But, unlike gasoline, propane is non-toxic to ground water and soil, so spillage will not kill your grass and does not contribute to low-level smog. When burned, there are 97 percent fewer particulates and 96 percent fewer carcinogens than gasoline. Furthermore, over 85 percent of the propane used in the U.S. is produced domestically, which means its use helps reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
The Lawn Care for Cleaner Air (LCCA) Program in Louisville will give up to $100 in rebates toward the purchase of certain alternative energy mowers, and there are many options when it comes to recycling your old machines. Making the switch is a lot easier than you may think and our collective lung appreciate it!

Benjamin Overgaauw is the owner of Ecolawn, a local lawn care company focused on reducing emissions through environmentally friendly technologies. For more information, e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .