Turf Wars Episode V: The Lawnmower Strikes Back

If your lawn has (like mine) taken advantage of the early sunshine and resumed levels of growth not seen since Mike Gatting advertised hair loss solutions, then it’s plausible that (like mine) your lawn mower may just have seen better days. That’s why we’re here with our lawnmower guide, to make sure you end up with with a first class cutter, not a clapped out clanger

It’s not really surprising – the poor thing’s been stuck at the back of the garage for 6 months and then we expect it to be wheeled out, fired up and for it to produce a perfect cut the groundsman at Wimbledon would be proud of.

OK so first cuts are never usually perfect but after a few cuts, the truth usually dawns that it may be time to go shopping for a new lawn mower. But what to go for?

Here’s a handy review of the current crop of mowers:

Cylinder lawnmowers

Billed as the best cut you can get, cylinder mowers feature a set of horizontally mounted cutting blades which rotate as the mower is moved forward.

The blades are usually adjustable to a desired height. A roller behind will give your lawn that nice striped look.

As with all lawnmowers, you’ll get what you pay for, and whilst cylinder mowers are not the cheapest option, they give a very good cut indeed, and are available in electric, petrol or even push versions.

Rotary lawnmowers

These are among the most popular mowers for typical gardens, and feature a large rotary blade with a more hacking action that the Cylinder mowers blades. Generally it doesn’t produce as good a cut / finish but again, these are available with rollers to leave a striped lawn look.

Typically the distance between the rotary blade and the ground can be adjusted to provide control over the grass length, and there may be 3, 5 or in some cases 7 stops to choose from. Rotary mowers will usually cope with taller grass better than a cylinder mower.

Prices are generally cheaper than their cylinder counterparts but again, you’ll get what you pay for in terms of blade adjustment, motor power and extras like grass collection and rear rollers.

Hover lawnmowers

Like a rotary lawnmower, hover mowers feature a single height adjustable blade. Instead of rolling on wheels, the whole mower ‘rides’ on a cushion of air (a bit like a hovercraft) produced by the rotation of the motor. Specially moulded plastic body finishes the hovering design.

Their big advantage is that their pretty easy to move around and you’re not restricted to walking up and down; with a hover mower you can sweep from side to side. Perfect for awkward spots or sloping gardens and banks.

Again, hover mowers are available in both electric and petrol models. The petrol models tend to have larger blades and be capable of longer grass due to their more powerful engines. Many feature 4 stroke engines so run on ordinary unleaded.

Blade adjustment is usually by the means of spacers that fit between the blade and a plate at the bottom of the blades drive shaft. A spanner is usually provided for this purpose.

Ride-on mowers

If you’ve got a large area of lawn or meadow to cut regularly, then the ride-on is definately the one to save your pennies for.

They’ll also cope with much wetter and longer grass than the other types and various accessories mean depending on the model you choose, other attachments like shredders or trailers may be available.

Yes – i could happily drive around on one of these all day. I haven’t come across an electric version yet but with all the talk being about electric cars, will that technology transcend to their lawn cutting cousins – I doubt it – not in time for this summer at least.

In conclusion, before parting with your cash, consider:

  • How often you’ll use the lawnmower (be honest here).
  • The size of lawn / area you have to cut.
  • Do you want petrol or electric – if there’s no electricity supply near areas of your lawn, a petrol may be the only option. Petrols are generally more powerful and will cope with longer grass than and electric.
  • Do you want stripes? If you do then you’ll need a mower with a back roller.
  • “lot less bover than a hover” – are you swayed by brand?
  • size and weight – petrol mowers are generally heavier + fuel to carry as well. Is the blade / cutting width too big for you?
  • how easy is it to use? Electric usually push button and go. Petrol versions usually involve a manual pull cord * fine until the engine goes out of tune and you burn up excess calories just getting it to start (check there’s fuel in the tank and the tank is switched on won’t you?).
  • price – don’t be swayed by glitzy models twice your budget. Whilst it is true you get what you pay for (in terms of longevity and blade quality / cut quality), if you only get one season of cutting out of a cheap mower, that might still be economical.
  • watch out for price / availability of spares – blades etc and servicing costs of larger petrol models. Especially the ride-on mowers.

Finally – a word on safety. Please take care when using any form of grass mower. With electrical mowers, use a proper safety cut out adapter in case you mow over the power cord. Beware of moving parts long after stopping the power and always disconnect from the mains before attempting any kind of inspection / blade adjustment.

With petrol mowers, remember petrol is highly flammable so wipe up any spills in – especially in the garage and from the mower itself before starting. Turn off the engine before attempting any inspection or maintenance – even if it’s just to unblock a stuck blade! Rotary blades may continue to turn still and if you’re tipping the mower over, some can only be tipped one way to avoid fuel spillage or engine oil draining away from vital parts.

Always wear strong shoes or boots. Flip-flops are not suitable grass cutting footwear.

If you really can’t face the thought of all that lawn mowing, consider landscaping the garden or extending the driveway or patio area. You can get an instant online quote for driveways, patios and paths from PavingQuoter.

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