Choosing a Lawnmower


There are two basic styles of lawn mower: manual or powered (either petrol-driven or electric). Powered mowers are available as rotary or cylinder models, with rotary styles also offering a version that works on a cushion of air (hover mowers).

1. Manual Mowers

Manual lawnmowers are suitable for small lawns and are quiet, inexpensive and require very little maintenance. There are two styles available:

  1. Mowers driven by wheels at the side.
    • Easy to push
    • Wheels MUST be in contact with the ground to turn the cylinder blades - this may make this style difficult to use at the edge of a lawn
  2. Mowers operated with a chain from a heavy roller at the back.
    • Harder to push
    • Easier to mow over edges
    • Heavy roller produces a striped effect on the lawn

2. Powered Mowers

Cylinder and Rotary Powered Mowers

There are two basic types of powered lawnmower: cylinder and rotary (either standard or hover).

Cylinder Mowers

Cylinder lawnmowers have blades that are set along a cylinder that rotates forward and cuts against a fixed blade, providing a fine, close-cut finish. The blade cylinder is driven by a rear roller, which has the added benefit of creating attractive stripes.

Electric cylinder mowers have narrower cutting widths than petrol-driven models; although this makes them easier to manoeuvre it will also increase the time it takes to cut the lawn. If you have a large area of lawn to mow, you may want to consider investing in a ride-on or tractor-hauled petrol model.

Powered mowers are designed to run on flat surfaces and may be potentially dangerous to operate on steep slopes.

Rotary and Hover Mowers

Rotary and hover lawnmowers are an excellent choice for uneven lawns, areas of longer grass or family lawns where a high quality cut is not necessary. They operate using a replaceable metal or plastic blade that spins horizontally, cutting the grass in a scythe-like motion.

Rotary mowers run on wheels and are available in electric powered and petrol-driven models in a variety of cutting widths. Some may be fitted with a roller to produce a striped effect and most will come complete with a grass collection box. Do bear in mind that the smaller the box, the more often you'll have to empty it. Some of the larger rotary mowers have self propelled wheels, which make them easy to manoeuvre around corners.

Hover mowers ride on a cushion of air caused by the downdraft from the rotation of the blades. This means that hover mowers are very easy to move around the garden and are ideal for using in awkward areas such as beneath overhanging plants and next to paved areas. However, their lack of a rear roller means that they cannot produce neat mowing stripes.

Hover mowers at the cheaper end of the scale will not come with a grass collection box; the clippings are simply chopped up finely and returned to the lawn as a fine mulch. More expensive mowers will have a collection system, some of which can compact the grass to reduce the number of times the box needs to be emptied.

Traditionally, hover mowers were only available in electric-powered models; however, there are now also a number of petrol-driven hover mowers that are much more powerful than the electric versions.

Fuel: Petrol or Electric

Powered lawnmowers are available as petrol driven or electric versions.

Petrol Mowers

* May be operated anywhere
* Powerful
* Excellent for long grass or extensive areas

* Noisy
* Heavy
* More expensive than electric versions
* Require more maintenance than electric models
* May be difficult to start unless fitted with an electric ignition

Electric Mowers

* Light
* Easy to handle (especially hover versions)
* Cheaper than petrol styles

* Need to be close to a power supply
* May not be used in wet conditions
* Unsuitable for very long grass or extensive areas (may overheat)
* Trailing cable may be very hazardous