Lawn-Mower Pollution Truisms Fact-Checked


Thanks to Straight, whoever that is, for investigating the "Mowing for one hour is equivalent to driving an SUV 300 miles" factoid we've all read a million times, or some version of it. Gas mowers ARE extremely inefficient, but it's nice to get the actual numbers right.

Via Kathy Jentz.  Photo by TuxStorm.


  1. I doubt if people will stop using lawn mowers just like I don’t think that folks will give up there cars and stop traveling by airplane.

  2. I tried to use this to convince the spouse to give up the lawnboy and take down from the garage wall the old push reel mower I insisted on keeping from my childhood. I used it when spouse was laid up with bad back – I do not used small gasoline powered anything, not because I am a staunch environmentalist but because I am terrified to operate them. Spiders may be your phobia, gas powered garden equipment is mine.
    My suggestion was not taken serioslsy. Plus, our local lawn mower repair company sold their sharpening equipment for reel mowers to the local golf course because they never used it any more.

  3. Hi there. I haven’t been here in awhile, but this bit grabbed me in my reader because last month, an inventive friend of mine did a guest post for my blog on electric garden tools, and he quoted some EPA numbers for that piece ( I recently switched over to a push-mower for my petite lawn (recycled gift from a friend’s garden shed), and I love the thing. It’s just as easy to use as a gas mower and I think it does a fine job on my little green carpet. There seem to be many great electric mowers on the market (which can use solar powered batteries), so there are other options. Personally, I am selfishly motivated by the clean smell of my hands (no more gas) and the saved time (no more gas/oil buying and filling). Now I just have the lovely smell of fresh mown grass!
    🙂 M

  4. I thought the article was going to vindicate gas mowers the way it was presented. Far from it… they may not be as bad as sometimes presented, but they are quite the disaster.

    I’m with Michaela. If you have a lawn to mow, the push mowers are great!

  5. I also thought, from your post, that the article you cite was going to bust the “myth” that lawnmowers are huge polluters. Instead, the author found this:

    “Under current standards, in an hour a push mower will produce the same HC+NOx as a car driven 257 miles, and the same CO as one driven 401 miles.”

    In other words, the “factoid” is pretty accurate. Small engines, even the new ones, are incredibly inefficient.


  6. That picture just bugs me. That boy is too little to be mowing. I imagine cut toes and fingers.

    The only way the love affair with the lawn will be ended is when Scotts, Ortho and all the other lawn companies figure out how to make money on meadows and ground cover, etc and they start marketing their products to that end.

  7. Whether mowing a lawn is comparable to driving a car 20 or 300 miles, the point is to get rid of the mower and increase areas of the yard that don’t have to be mowed. I support cutting out the lawn and the mower in theory, but for some this is easier said than done. Can removing the average lawn be accomplished without spending $$$$$? Probably not. And not everyone has the money, knowledge, or time to do it. Removing the lawn for middle class Americans who currently struggle to make their car payments and mortgages is probably not top on their priority list—and then of course, they must fight their homeowners’ association to do it.

    Mower manufacturers need to step up to the plate to make well-made less polluting lawn mowers–and I’m not talking about electric or battery operated mowers either because, for those of us with large uneven hard-to-mow yards (like me), electric/battery operated mowers just don’t cut it. Bad pun intended.

  8. Blah, blah, blah, vegan fishcakes. And to circumvent the whole issue, I bought an electric mower years ago. So there. Issue resolved.

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