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Low Emissions Lawnmowers

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

According to the EPA, as much as 10 percent of pollution in the United States comes from lawnmowers; typical walk-behind gas lawnmowers emit as much pollution per hour as 11 cars, and riding mowers emit as much as 34 cars.

Consider trading your gas guzzler for a low-emissions lawnmower that runs on propane, bio-diesel fuel, or electricity.


Propane is generally 30 percent cheaper than gasoline and is a clean-burning fuel as designated by the EPA. Propane lawnmowers reduce emissions by about 80 percent when compared to conventional gasoline. Research shows propane is also easier on the engine, resulting in a lawnmower that lasts two to three times longer because of fewer carbon deposits left in the engine.


There are a variety of biodiesel fuels that use a mixture of diesel gasoline and biofuels (oils that are biodegradable and non-toxic, such as vegetable oil). Biodiesel comes in different levels, from B2 (2 percent bio-fuel and 98 percent petroleum), all the way up to B100. Like gasoline prices, the cost of biodiesel fluctuates. For the latest pricing, see the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuel Price Report, part of the Clean Cities Initiative.

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Electric lawn mowers are cleaner and greener than their gas-powered counterparts and save money in gasoline and maintenance expenses. The cost of running an electric cordless mower is about $5 in electricity and has no carbon emissions. But before you heave a guiltless sigh when using an electric mower, remember that the power you use to run it (or charge the battery) still creates emissions.

If you want a 100 percent pollution-free mower, go with a muscle-powered reel lawnmower. For more information on push mowers, see People Powered Machines lawnmower comparisons.

About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at

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