Why are Lawn Mowers so Loud?

loud lawn mowers

The reason that you cannot spell "mower" without "ow" is that "ow" is the sound that every ear must feel like screaming when a lawn is being mowed anywhere within a half-mile radius.

Also, the reason that you cannot spell "lawn mower" without "lower" is that "lower" is the volume setting that the ears of every neighbor desire when a lawn is being mowed.

But why are lawn mowers so darn loud?

The Reasons Lawn Mowers are Loud

First, to understand why lawn mowers reach such an uncomfortable noise level, you must understand what causes a sound to be made. Sounds are just vibrations of air. And lawn mowers have small engines that often have small mufflers or no mufflers at all to absorb the sound waves that are created by the combustion of the engines.

But now you may be asking why manufacturers of lawn mowers do not make bigger mufflers for the engines in order to dampen the sound. To begin with, the larger mufflers translate into higher costs. And manufacturers have realized that a majority of people just assume that a lawn mower is supposed to be loud.

couple in bed covering their ears with pillows
Looks like Mr. Page next door is cutting his grass at 7:00am again.

As a result, the manufacturers do not invest in the technology to dampen sound with larger mufflers because that would translate into having to charge a higher price than their competitors for their lawn mowers.

Despite the fact that technology is available to dampen the sounds that a lawn mower makes, one reason that lawn mowers remain loud is due to safety.

If a lawn mower was made to be super quiet, the operator of it or a bystander could assume that the lawn mower is not actually running. With blades capable of cutting off fingers and toes, it is probably a good idea for everyone nearby to be totally aware when a lawn mower is running.

Can I Make my Lawn Mower Run Quieter?

While adding a modified muffler is an option to reduce the sound of your lawn mower, that solution may be too costly or have less impact on the sound than you hoped that it would.

Also, it is difficult to find a modified muffler for your exact model of lawn mower. And if you try to weld your own without being a master designer and welder, you might just make the problem much worse.

Another option is to buy an electric mower rather than a mower with a gas-powered engine. Although an electric motor is typically not as loud as a gas-powered engine, an electric mower is usually still extremely loud.

The reason that electric mowers can still be loud is that not all of the sounds that a mower makes are generated by the engine.

Greenworks electric mower
This image links to Amazon

The Greenworks 20-Inch 40V Twin Force mower shown to the right (Amazon link) is not only electric powered, but it runs on batteries! I've swapped over to cordless for my weedeater and blower for a while now. Still using a gas mower, but this would be the electric model I would buy when I make the switch.

A large part of the sounds that a mower makes come from the fast movement of the blades. The spinning of the blades that the engine creates causes the blades to act as a blower. This blower function is necessary to push all of the grass clippings into a bag or out the side of the mower. While the blower function is practical, its resulting sound is not easy on the ears.

What Else Can I Do?

So now you may be asking if there is any way at all to achieve the beauty of a mowed lawn without waking up the entire neighborhood.

Buy a Reel Mower

Fiskars reel mower
This image links to Amazon

Well, if you are not afraid of achieving an extreme workout when you mow, then the solution to the noise problem is simple: you can purchase a cylindrical mower that is not powered by an engine.

With a cylindrical push mower, the rotation of the blades is powered only by your muscles. So, assuming that you do not move with the speed of the Road Runner, you are not going to propel the blades so fast to make any noticeable noise. However, keep in mind that the amount of energy needed to turn the blades on this type of contraption depends on the thickness of the grass that you are mowing.

The Fiskars StaySharp model shown above (Amazon link) is one of the top of the line reel mowers. If you have ever used their scissors you know they are serious about their blades.

Buy Ear Protection for Lawn Mowing

foam ear plugs
This image links to Amazon

While this won't help your neighbors peace and quiet, it will help your hearing. Repeated exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Something as simple as foam earplugs can work here.

Normally, when I am cutting grass I pop in my headphones and listen to a podcast. It helps drown out the mower noise and I get entertained.

Because of the extreme noise that lawn mowers create, most cities have ordinances that prohibit residents from mowing at night or during early hours of the morning. If you have ever tried to take a nap on the couch while your neighbor is mowing his or her yard, then you understand that mowing can cause a sound that is more of a nuisance than a group of college kids having a party.

So, the next time you think about pulling the cord to start the engine on your noisy lawn mower, consider wearing earplugs to protect your ears. And respect your napping neighbors.