If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that last October I bought a house. That is my house. I think it's super cute, but most importantly, I have a sunroom, a back porch, and an impressive jungle of a backyard. Now that I've achieved the American dream of being a wealthy landowner, I wanted to get handy with it. A few weeks ago I ventured to Home Depot, that kingdom of home improvement, chosen over Lowe's to be my home store of choice due to the availability of Bear paint to buy all the tools. Before moving into my new home, I possessed a set of Craftsman wrenches and screwbits bequeathed to me for Christmas by my blessed father, and that's it. I didn't need anything and didn't have the space, why bother? These are my tales of home improvement as a Millenial and Girl aka utterly inexperienced.
Before I begin, let's get a few things straight.
First off -the tools! What do I want? What do I need? What am I going to do? A lawnmower and weed eater certainly on the docket. One day I'm going to build a greenhouse out of my parents old windows so I'd need a saw and sander and drill. I need to strip the deck to restain and hell, the pressure washer is on sale! Why not one of those too? Throw in some miscellaneous knick knacks to store and hang it all, and bam! I'm the first time homeowner experience.
What kind of tools did I buy? As Ottenfelds do, I hemmed and hawed and spent endless hours on forums researching. Milwaukee, Black and Decker, John Deere? How am I supposed to know?
Ultimately, I went Ryobi everything. Reviews on Lowe's and Home Depot.com rated all th tools highly. On the deeper forums, critics said they were fine for beginners but wouldn't hold up to the level professionals needed. Oh hey, wait, I am a novice and at often less than half the cost of the professional brands, the answer seemed clear. As I figure out what I really want and need, I'll upgrade.
Another key factor in the Ryobi decision is the madness that is my garage. Alas there exists but one electrical outlet in the garage from which my heating and air conditioning units draw their power. I rather like those being available and so my options for power output in the garage are slim. Battery powered tools without needy electrical cords following them around are a must. With a series of different battery packs, I can buy a couple of each voltage to interchange between all my tools. And I don't have to deal with messy gas instead drawing upon the supreme electrical power offered by my nuclear unit? Done.
So how'd they do? The weed eater performed spectacularly. I'd heard of string units before. Though timid at first, I learned indeed this mechanical beast could take on another natural weed and with the extended 18V battery I had no problem trimming the front lawn before the real game began.
As for the lawnmower, I’m still entranced by the electric age, but it needs some work. To be fair, I have a very hilly yard so one could expect to need some extra torque and expend the battery a bit faster. As I finally looked up, I have 0.50 acres of land, the back being much larger than the front. After only 45 minutes in the front, the lawnmower died on me. I'd done the hilliest side first, so I'm not exactly surprised by the failure as the brochure guaranteed an hour and an acre. Accounting for the difference, 45 minutes and very hilly is probably good. I recharged and went after the next day - this time on flatter soil so the battery lasted me an hour. Still not enough to finish out the front yard. Additionally, the bagging mechanism was a bit unstable as it rests in notches rather than latching in. Hit a bump, it falls and you cease. Not a problem for anyone with a flat lawn, but with my hilly, stump ridden mess, it's a bit disconcerting.
For the finale -buy a second battery to recharge while you're mowing. They charge in less than an hour so it should allow you to swap back and forth with enough time to mow without interruption in between. And thank god I've been able to sneak in an April post in the guise of central time zone to keep my promises. Here's some nerd math and simple explanations about budget planning and calculating return on investment at home, thereby yielding the cost effectiveness of mowing your lawn. Things like this are important and will help make you more financially savvy,
Before I decided to follow in the traditions of my family and cut my own damn lawn, I hired lawn boys who charged $35 to cut my front lawn. I'd say they did it in an hour, but as I will try to illustrate here, the time it takes them doesn't matter unless they were charging by the hour. The time it takes you to mow your lawn matters because that is an opportunity cost. What opportunities are lost by you choosing to mow your lawn instead of having lawn boys do it?
My lawnmower cost $250 outright. Add the cost of another battery to make it practical, and it comes to $350. That means it would take 10 sessions of front lawn mowing by the lawn boys to equal the cost of my lawn mower. You get this number by dividing the total cost by the cost per session. $350 total cost/$35 cost per session = 10 sessions. If I mow my lawn more than 10 times by myself, I start earning a "Return on Investment". There, the cost of purchasing the lawnmower diminishes from my additional use of it, and I start earning money from the purchase decision. Even with my poor battery, it only took me 2 hours to mow my front lawn. So at most, I'm looking at 20 hours of sunk time over the course of the summer to make up my investment. THAT''S NOT THAT MUCH. And I get the benefit of exercise from mowing the lawn? The choice is clear. DIY when you can my dears!