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Buyers Guide

Lawnmowers certainly aren't the cheapest piece of gardening equipment, especially the high end electric and petrol models. It's therefore extremely important you invest wisely and choose the correct lawnmower for your individual needs.

Imagine spending hundreds of pounds on a shiny new lawnmower, only to find the electric cable doesn't quite reach the perimeter of your lawn.

Or maybe trying to save money by investing in a simple push mower is your clever idea. But then realising you've underestimated your lawn size when it takes 7 hours to finish the job isn't so clever, after all.

With a huge selection of lawn mowers to choose from, including a wide range of different designs, brands and models, choosing yours can sometimes be a daunting task. But don't worry, go make a cup of tea, sit back, and read on, everything you need to know, will be explained here.

Hand, Electric or Petrol?

One of the first decisions you'll need to make, is which power source is most appropriate for your lawn. They come in three types: hand-pushed, electric, and petrol.

Hand-Pushed Cylinder LawnmowerHand pushed lawnmowers are the cheapest, lightest, and simplest type available. They are also the least powerful. Hand pushed lawn mowers use a cylinder cutting mechanism which shears the grass in a scissor-like motion. As the lawn mower is pushed along, the wheels drive gears which spin a cylinder of blades against a fixed bottom blade.

Hand lawnmowers are great for small lawns, as they are generally light and manoeuvrable. They can be particularly useful in remote areas, where an outdoor power supply is a problem. Hand lawnmowers are also safe, with no fuel or electricity, you can feel comfortable letting the kids earn their pocket money. Also, the cylinder mechanism leaves a short fine finish, and is completely silent, so wont annoy the neighbours!

However, there are some disadvantages to hand push lawnmowers, due to their narrow cutting width, they are unsuitable for large lawns. Hand push lawn mowers also require some physical effort by the operator (although some might see this work-out as an advantage!). In addition, hand pushed lawnmowers don't cut well against long, overgrown grass, the cylinder cutting blades tend to just flatten the grass rather than shearing it.

Electric lawnmowers provide more power than a simple hand-pushed mower, this makes them suitable for small and medium sized gardens. They are cheaper than petrol alternatives, and obviously don't have the hassle of refueling.Electric Battery Lawnmower

They come in both corded or cordless models. The cordless (battery) models give the advantage of more freedom, but generally weigh and cost more than the corded types.

Electric corded mowers have the disadvantage of requiring an outdoor power supply, their long cables sometimes make mowing awkward, and care should be taken not to mow over the cable! A RCD (Residual Current Device) should be used to automatically cut the power supply when cables become damaged.

Petrol lawnmowers are the largest, most powerful, heaviest, and most expensive lawn mowers available.

Petrol Engine LawnmowerThey have the advantage of being able to roam freely, not requiring a power cord, this makes them suitable for the largest of gardens. Petrol lawnmowers are also very powerful at cutting through vegetation, they make lightwork of most lawns.

When considering a petrol lawnmower, some disadvantages should be remembered. They are heavy, so the push-along models can be physically demanding to operate, this isn't a problem with the self-propelled types, which are less physical, but do require more skill to use. Also, Petrol lawn mowers generally have a large cutting width, making them unmanoeuvrable at times.

To summarise, you can generally consider hand-pushed lawn mowers for small sized lawns, electric lawnmowers for medium sized lawns, and petrol lawn mowers for large lawns.

Rotary, Hover, or Cylinder?

Next, you will need to consider the cutting design which best suits your lawn. Lawnmowers come in three designs: rotary, hover, and cylinder.

Rotary lawnmowers are the most common for the domestic amatuer gardener. Rotary lawnmowers use a single motor mounted vertically on the lawnmower base. The motor drives cutting blades which rotate 360 degrees parallel to the lawn surface, thus cutting the grass in a slashing-like motion. The cutting action can be compared to that of the traditional scythe, which first appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries.

Rotary Cutting BladeRotary lawnmowers slash through vegetation fast, and are easy to operate. In addition, the slashing mechanism allows them to cope with long grass easily, much better than a cylinder alternative, which tends to just flatten it.

The disadvantages of rotary lawn mowers should be noted: they don't give such an immaculate cut as a cylinder alternative would (slash rather than shear), they are also less efficient, requiring more power to get the job done.

Hover Mower5Hover lawnmowers use the same rotary cutting design as standard rotary lawnmowers. However, rather than having wheels, hover lawn mowers are equipped with a turbine which is positioned above the cutting blade. This turbine drives air downwards, thus creating an air cushion which lifts the lawnmower above the ground like a hovercraft.

Because hover lawnmowers are required to float, they are exceptionally light (often made of plastic) compared to standard rotary and cylinder lawnmower designs. They are highly manoeuvrable, and are often used in a sweeping left-right motion rather than forwards-backwards motion.

Hover MowerHover lawnmowers can be particularly useful when dealing with very long grass, as they can be lifted high above the ground and slowly lowered to progressively cut the grass. Hover lawnmowers are also useful on sharp banks or hillsides, where a larger rotary or cylinder lawnmower may be too heavy to manoeuvre.

Unfortunately, Hover lawn mowers can't produce a striped lawn, They float above the ground so are not equipped with a heavy roller, therefore they can't create the effect.

Cylinder Cutting MechanismCylinder lawnmowers adopt the same basic mechanism used back in the late 19th century. The design has changed little over the years. A fixed horizontal cutting blade is positioned just off the surface of the ground, the height of which is adjustable. Over this is a fast spinning cylinder of blades. The spinning cylinder forces grass past the fixed horizontal blade, thus shearing the grass in a scissor-like motion.

When compared to rotary and hover lawnmowers, a properly adjusted cylinder lawnmower makes the cleanest cut, which allows the grass to heal quicker, and produces a neater look.

They can struggle, however, with very long grass. They cylinder mechanism tends to just flatten vegetation, rather than cutting it.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's about it! you can now consider yourself a lawn mower expert. The following table summarises the lawn mower types:

Small Sized
Lawn
Medium Sized Lawn Large Sized Lawn
Short Cut   Hand or Electric Cylinder Electric or Petrol Cylinder
Petrol Cylinder
Medium Cut Electric Rotary or Hover
Electric or Petrol Rotary or Hover
Petrol Rotary or Hover

A small sized lawn is assumed to be less than 15 feet across. A medium sized lawn is assmed to be between 15 and 30 feet across. A larged sized lawn is assumed to be greater than 30 feet across.

Please navigate this site using the menus on the left. You can browse by type or by brand, and find the perfect lawnmower for your individual needs.

Additional Factors

For each lawnmower on this site, four of the most important performance features are displayed, these include: Weight, Grass box Capacity, Cutting Width, and Power. These are discussed below:

Lawnmower Weight

Obviously, the lighter the lawnmower, the better. Heavy lawn mowers require more effort and skill to manoeuvre, they are also unsuitable for sharp banks or hills.

Lawnmower Grass Box Capacity

Again, this is quite obvious, the larger the grass box capacity, the more grass that can be collected, before the box needs emptying. Therefore, a large capacity = fewer emptying trips. It should also be noted, that some low power hover mowers begin to loose hovering capability when the grass box become full (due to the extra weight).

Lawnmower Cutting Width

A large cutting width cuts more grass in a single pass, therefore gets the job done quicker. It will however, make the lawn mower less manoeuvrable. Large cutting widths are good for large sized lawns, and small cutting widths perfect for smaller lawns.

Lawnmower Power

Higher power lawnmowers generally cut through vegetation faster and with less effort. They can be noiser and heavier though. On hover models, a higher power mower will maintain its hovering capability better.

Achieving the Perfect Lawn

Whichever lawnmower you chose, bare in mind the key to a perfect lawn lies primarily in maintaining the correct grass length. Too long and weeds will sprout up, too short and the grass will become unhealthy. Maintaining the grass length is achieved by not only selecting the correct cutting height, but also by mowing frequently enough to avoid the lawn becoming overgrown.

The frequency of mowing will depend on a number of factors. First, how much time you have to devote to your lawn's maintenance. Second, how fast your lawn grows, and this in turn will depend on whether you fertilise it regularly and whether it receives adequate water and sunlight.

Normally, lawns should be mowed at least once a fortnight to keep them in check and to remove persistent weeds. Once a week is ideal, and for perfect lawns or in optimum growing conditions, twice a week may be necessary.

One of the worst things you can do is to mow your lawn very short in order to reduce the number of times you have to mow it over the year. Grass generally will do much better when mowed at a higher setting. This is especially the case in the summer months, where short grass can often be burnt by the sun and cut blades will cause a lot of moisture to escape the grass into the atmosphere, making the situation even worse.

You should never be cutting or trimming off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass in a single lawn mowing session. If your lawn is far too long, it is recommended that you firstly mow it at a longer cut and then re-mow it at a slightly lower setting the next day. When grass is long you need to ensure you have removed any stones or other hidden obstructions from the lawn before mowing to avoid any damage to the mower or lawn.

Your perfect lawnmower should be powerful enough to maintain the grass length across the whole garden. Larger gardens require more effort, therefore more power and a larger cutting width is useful. Smaller gardens require more manoeuvrability, thus less power is needed and a smaller cutting width should be preferred.