What is a Gas Lawn Mower?

Susan Grindstaff

A gas lawn mower is a type of lawn mower powered by a gas combustion engine. The engine powers a blade located on the underside of the mower. The blade typically is sharpened on both sides and spins in a clockwise motion. When the mower is moved across grass, the blade turns and cuts the grass. In most cases, a gas lawn mower will have a mechanism to allow the blade to be raised or lowered. In this way, the height of the grass on the finished lawn can be adjusted.

A gas combustion engine is used to power a gas lawn mower.
A gas combustion engine is used to power a gas lawn mower.

Before the gas lawn mower was invented, grass was cut by using manual push mowers. The blades on the mowers were housed in a hinged circular wire basket. The basket rolled across the top of the lawn as the mower was being push, and as the basket rolled, the blades cut the grass. In those days, it was much more difficult and time consuming to keep a tidy lawn, and with the exception of wealthy families who could hire someone to do the work, most people did not bother. It was not until gas-powered mowers became popular that average homeowners began to maintain manicured lawns.

Gas lawn mowers require refueling after a couple of mows.
Gas lawn mowers require refueling after a couple of mows.

The first gas lawn mower to be introduced in the United States was built in 1919 by an ex-military officer named Colonel Edwin George. Even though the design was considered quite good, the mowers did not immediately gain popularity. Some historians believe that was due in part to the onset of the Great Depression. For most Americans, a gas-powered lawn mower was considered a luxury item, and few could afford to buy them.

During World War II, many women were left with the duties of keeping their lawns cut. Those who could afford it, used gas-powered mowers. This sudden increase in sales led manufacturers to make many improvements to the mowers, and by the end of the war, the cost of the mowers had dropped and the quality of the machinery had risen. By the late 1950s, most American families owned a gas lawn mower.

Modern consumers can choose from a wide variety of mowers. One very popular type of mower is the riding lawn mower. The mechanics of these mowers is somewhat similar to that of small tractors, in that they are completely self-propelled and outfitted with a seat, steering wheel, and hand controls. Most people prefer this type of mower, because it makes lawn maintenance easier and much faster. Electric lawn mowers are also available, but are not nearly as popular as the gas models.

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