Looking for best mulching push mower for the money

mtgavin(5)September 1, 2006

Hi -

I don't want to start a fight, but my current Craftsman is dying, and I need a VERY good mulching push mower. It looks like the Toro Super Recycler series is the best, but the cost (around $600 or more) is more than I am used to spending on a push mower.

Are there any alternatives to the Toro Super Recycler (perhaps a Lawn Boy?) that do a very good to excellent job of mulching? And hopefully cost a bit less?

Also, if someone wants to challenge the assumption that the Toro Super Recycler is the best mulcher (independent of cost), feel free. Consumer Reports rated a Honda even higher, but I saw far more negative reviews, on the epinions web site, on the Honda, than I did for the Toros, so I am not considering Honda.

Thanks in advance!

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Best mulching mower (especially in wet tall grass)...the Lawnboy 2 Stroke Duraforce 10550. They can still be had, so look and you shall find.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 12:19PM
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The ability of a two stroke engine, with a power stroke every revolution, to grind thru tall grass is phenomanol.

Like mowers said, they are still available (go to Griffith and Sons on the web)and buy without reservation.

I bought four 10550s to make sure I was covered for the rest of my mowing career.

The EPA is trying to kill off two strokes, get a lawnboy two stroke (or more) before they are dead and gone.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 1:53PM
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Apparently two-strokes are fairly polluting...I found this on the net:

"Quantification of emission reductions was accomplished using emission factors for two- and four-cycle gasoline lawn mowers established by EPA. These are:


* 0.3283 lbs VOC/summer day or 0.0443 tons VOC/year
* 0.6690 lbs CO/summer day or 0.0911 tons CO/year..."


* 0.0538 lbs VOC/summer day or 0.0073 tons VOC/year
* 0.4779 lbs CO/summer day or 0.0851 tons CO/year...."

I want a good mulch, but I don't really want to dump a bunch of crap in the air either. I'm sure it can be argued that my car, or all sorts of other activity, generates more pollution, and this is just a drop in the bucket. But right now I would probably lean against a two-stroke. I appreciate the input - these are things I had never considered. (I din't know they even made two-stroke mowers.)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 2:38PM
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Well mtgavin, I didn't know that concern over air pollution was one of your criteria. I am not saying dumping contaminants into the atmosphere is a good thing, but there is a lot of hyperbole and specious argumentation swarming around the issue of air pollution, global warming and so on. For instance, did you know that plain old WATER VAPOR accounts for for over 99 percent of the warming in the atmosphere, leaving carbon dioxide at a fraction of a percent? Yet, the advocates of global warming keep harping on the need to reduce carbon dioxide emmissions. Be concerned and look critically at claims where the claiments have an agenda.

By the way, I earned a B.S. degree in geology and a M.S. degree in remote sensing with emphasis on enviormental change. And, I worked 20 years as an enviormental scientist for a federal agency which concerns itself
very much with the enviorment. Of course, I am not parading my formal education and work credentials in front of you.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 7:17PM
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okcdan(7 OKC - Bermuda)

Best of both worlds......LawnBoy 10684....here's a post from earlier this year:

Posted by saxman1 VA 07 (My Page) on Wed, Apr 26, 06 at 14:21

The Lawn-Boy Gold Series with Honda engine (5.5HP) and the Insight Series with Tecumseh engine (6.5HP) share the exact same deck, blade and discharge/bagging systems. I am using an Insight 10684 now and can attest that mulching is second to none. I have thick 'Watersaver' fescue this year and the other day I cut the front part which had been neglected last time. The grass was damp, and must have been about 5" high. I'm cutting at 3" now, so I was cutting a lot of grass. The 10684 ate it up and was looking for more, so I cut the whole yard. Clippings were not to be found, even on adjacent paved surfaces, and there was no matting or clumping to be seen and no build-up in the deck. I am very satisfied with this mower and would expect the Gold Series to work exactly the same,just quieter. I also have a LB 10550 (2-cycle, offset-wheel) and have had a 10323 (2-cycle, offset-wheel) and a Honda HRB216TDA for comparison, all of which are fine machines. I think the Honda engine (quieter, smoother) on the new LB dome deck would be a dynamite combination. 5.5HP on the Honda was more than adequate for me, and I cut the same then as now. The 2-cycle LBs also do a great job, but ergonomically the new mower is an improvement (ease of use, including changing modes of operation). If you want Honda build quality and features, you'd better stick with Honda, but if just having the engine is good enough, I think the LB Gold Series is your mower.

Good day, Dan

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Thanks for re-posting that, but I believe in your comment you imply the 10684 has a Honda engine. All Insights have the Tecumseh. The Insight Gold has the Honda as well as the Gold Series. At the time I originally posted the above I actually didn't know about the Gold Series and thought that was what they were calling the Insight Gold. Sorry about the confusion. All Insights and Insight Gold have the new dome deck and rear bagging + side discharge and the 'fat boy' front wheels. The Gold Series is a Toro Recycler in green, with Honda engine. If you already like the Recycler but want the Honda engine, you would have to consider the Gold Series. The Insight has many innovations and I haven't found anything about it I don't like.

Insight: 10682-83-84-85-86 Tecumseh
Insight Gold: 10694-95-96-97 Honda
Gold Series (22" Toro Recycler in green): 10654-55-56 Honda

All Tecmseh engines are the LV195, 6.5HP. All Hondas are the GCV160, 5.5HP.

Any of these are good mowers with excellent mulching. I hope the Lawn-Boy models are clear for everyone now, mainly me! BTW, I still feel that the 10684 outperforms the 2-cycle 10550 in every category except one - coolness.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 9:02PM
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I am currently debating between the Toro Recycler 20016, and either the LB 10682 (sold by Home Depot, but without the "SimpleSet Handle" adjuster at the end of the handle) or the LB 10684 (not sold at HD, but presumably found at my local Toro/LB dealer, who will be pricier than HD.)

I think my family would find the SimpleSet handle on the LB 10684 to be useful, for my wife/kids who might want to use the mower some; I could lower the SimpleSet handle to match their smaller height.

After doing a LOT of reading of the LawnMower forum, I am concluding that the PersonalPace (or SensaSpeed) is too risky for lawns with "interesting" features. This rules out the Toro SuperRecyclers (which are too pricy anyway.)

I am hearing that the LBs above are more manueverable than the Toro 20016 (must be the wider wheels), and have wheels that are further inset (which reduces trimming afterwards), and the bag design is better (although I rarley bag) so I will probably go with one of the LB's over the Toro, unless I am persuaded otherwise.

I am curious, though, if the big 'plug' in the back of the LB's deck, used during mulching (necessary since the bagger design is different than most models) will end up being a problem or difficulty in any way.

I am looking forward to getting a good mulcher so I can get a clean looking yard soon. I really wish that HD sold the LB 10684!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 1:18AM
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The mulching plug is not a problem in any way I have found. In fact, it is far superior to most mulch plugs that fit loose and collect clippings. This one locks into place, and when you pull it for bagging, no clippings come out and the tunnel is clean. One thing of interest; There is a magnetic switch which disables the ignition if the plug or bag are not attached - this prevents starting the mower with an open rear discharge.
BTW, look at other Home Depots for your 10684 - that's where I got mine.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 9:48AM
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The Personal Pace on the Super Recycler is the same as the one on Toro Recyclers. The Sensa-Speed LawnBoy system is based on the same mechanicals - but the handle is unique to their mowers (and it seems like a good set-up).

If you are looking at the one-speed bail driven models of Toro or LB, the drive unit is the same as Personal Pace - the control is the much simpler bail handle.

I have both types. I like the bail-control 1 speed, but it is a bit slow on long passes in the yard. Personal Pace has a much higher top speed and overall I find it easier to use than the 1 speed bail control. For example - Personal Pace is very good for running along a fence line since you adjust speed/direction on the fly - not really something you can do with any other self propel system.

Personal Pace is probably not a good choice if:
1. You want to have the mower in free wheel alot for trim work and close spaces - it simply is not set up to do that.
2. You prefer to have the mower pull you along - especially up hills. Good RWD mowers like Snapper will pull you along more than a Toro will - but I think the Toro Traction Assist handle would help. I don't have it, but several folks on here say it works well on hills.

As far as mulching. I have the 20038 (previous generation Super Recycler) with Intek engine. It is an awesome mulcher and good bagger - not to mention a real pleasure to use. I highly recommend the Intek - very powerful and quiet - although it is a bit heavy compared to a Honda OHC.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 10:22AM
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So if I'm reading these recommendations right either the Lawn Boy 10683 or Toro 20033 (both are the push models which I prefer) are about the same in terms of mulching ability. The LB is almost $100 cheaper.
Does anyone have experience mowing zoysia with these? How'd they do? Are there better choices for mulching zoysia?

My Craftsman 6hp just won't cut it fine enough and it leaves clippings that I have to remow, in effect mowing the yard twice.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 3:23PM
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The 10684 has long since sold out at my local HD, but I have seen it at two smaller hardware stores in the past few months - Ace Hardware and DoItBest. You might want to check those as well.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 4:56PM
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"My Craftsman 6hp just won't cut it fine enough and it leaves clippings that I have to remow, in effect mowing the yard twice."

Reconsider a 2 stroke...this is Duraforce territory

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 9:11PM
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tom a Super Recycler with Intek can do just a well. I never have to recut my yard to clean up clumps/clippings regardless of length or even in a steady rain.

I see 'em in in my neighboors yard all the time - typically with a cheap Murray or Craftsman mowers.

I will admit I have quite a few neighboors with 2-cycle Lawn Boys and you don't see them recut. Just pointing out a Duraforce is not the only mower on the playing field.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 1:54PM
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'adjust speed/direction on the fly - not really something you can do with any other self propel system.'

That's not accurate. With any bail-controlled drive, particularly the Toro/Lawn-Boy 'Variable Speed', all you have to do is let off the bail a little to slow down. You can quickly 'get the handle' on this system as speed adjustments become nearly automatic.
Of course, now someone will post the obligatory rant about how the 'Variable Speed' is just a 'one-speed', and that speed is too slow. Well, I don't agree with that assessment and find 'Variable Speed' as on the 10684 to be the perfect drive system. I've had it on a 2-cycle 10323 and didn't like it because the drive bail was awkward to use, but the curved bail on the 10684 is perfect.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 11:17AM
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I have not used the 10684. My experience was based on the 10304 I have (which has the straight handle you described).


    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 11:39AM
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could you please post a link to griffth and sons? my feeble google skilss did not allow me to find the web site.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 9:09PM
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Ah finally found the griffith site. :)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 10:08PM
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Got to consider anything in the Honda HRR series- model dependent upon what you want in features.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 1:52AM
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The honda mentioned above is the model HRR216PDA (P=push). An older model, HRS216PDA has the 2 blade option. I looked into these, the maximum cutting ht is 3.25" though. Hp is about 5.5. None of the HSX models are push types, but are arguably better designs.

and, uhh, you know that these arent 2 stroke. But if you miss the noise, bungie-cord 2 together.

I know I am no expert in these matters, but I'll will put forth the following: mulching capabilities are more a function of under deck & blade design; (notice: flame ahead) not some silly motor on top.

I'm ready when youz guys`are!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 8:09PM
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Been a while since this thread was up. I have the same question, looking for a good if not great push mower. Anything new since last year? My Yardman (13 yr old) claims to be a mulching mower but I seem to see plenty of clippings left behind. Any opinions on Yardmans or has the mulching technology moved on since 1994.

Good and cheap will be better for me as compared to great and expensive, in case you have multiple recommendations.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 2:03PM
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I have a $199 Costco Yardman push mower with the Honda GCV160 engine. The mulching is not great. Lots of clippings left in a little windrow on the right side of the deck. Doesn't vary much with blade sharpening or changes. I'd say if you want great mulching you might have to step up to something like a Toro Super Recycler.

Bagger works well though, and the GCV160 is great, so it's a great bargain. Just not a good mulcher.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 12:10AM
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Two cycles are smokeless if ,if oil is mixed properly,not 2 gallons of oil to one gallon of gas.Best I have found in 2 cycle oil is opti 2 it is smokeless and ashless, period.I find in my mower repair business alot of people like to overdose their two cycle mowers on oil

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 6:19PM
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It's been a few years here and none of these mowers are available. I bought my first house and now need a good mulching mower. Are the Lawn-Boys still the way to go? Any help would be appreciated!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 11:02PM
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