So, I decided to bail on the small engine approach altogether and today ordered a reel push mower. You know, the old-fashioned, rotating blade type. I might pretend that I'm just super committed to reducing my carbon footprint, but really I just don't want to fight with machines. My yard isn't that big and it doesn't grow fast thanks to shade, clay and clover, so I think it'll be a manageable little project.
To further reduce my mowing obligations, I finished turning the last remaining portion of my backyard that gets any reasonable amount of sun into garden. Peas, red lettuce and broccoli are in!!