It’s worth spending time selecting the right mower and not just going for the one that just happens to be on special offer at your local garden centre or DIY store. A bargain isn’t a bargain if the darned thing dies after a year or so, or, instead of cutting the grass, simply bats the stuff about or grinds bald patches out of the turf. Our buyer’s guide will help you make a good choice.
The 2 most important features when choosing a mower are…
1. Petrol v. electric Electric mowers are ‘cleaner’ and make less noise but if you’ve got a large rambling garden you may prefer something that isn’t limited by the length of its cable. An extension cord may increase its reach but it’s also likely to get snagged on bushes etc. Petrol mowers are also more powerful. Again, this is more of a plus if you’ve got lots of lawn to mow. Power is important. You probably need at least 3 horse power (hp) for a petrol mower and 1,400 watts for an electric one.
Yes, you could buy a mower that you just push and it is possible to pick up second hand push mowers very cheaply but manual mowing is a physically demanding occupation. Unless you’re going in for an iron man competition, you may want to take the easier (powered) option.
2. Cylinder, rotary or hover? Cylinder mowers have a series of horizontal blades that rotate and trim the grass. Mower aficionados rate them very highly. It’s a bit like modern men’s razors where ‘twin blades’ are better than single blades. You get more cutting edge. And you can get that nice striped lawn effect.
Rotary mowers spin round in the same horizontal plane, like a CD or vinyl record. They can knock over the grass rather than cut it, particularly if it’s a bit long or damp. (You can overcome this by mowing side to side as well as up and down.) Altering the height of the blades can also be a bit time-consuming.
Hover mowers also use a rotary blade but a downdraft of air lifts the mower making it, well, hover. Generally they’re easier to handle and swing about. With both rotary and hover mowers the irritating thing can be the amount of grass that sticks to the inside the housing. Clean it after each use. Before you do anything with a mower – part from mow – unplug it first!
A word or two about price and brands
Petrol mowers have a more expensive starting price – assume £130 or more. You can pick up electric mowers very cheaply but think power rather than price – particularly if you have a large lawn. Assume starting prices of £90 for a cylinder mower and £50 or so for a rotary or hover version.
Good electric lawnmower makes to look out for include Bosch and Flymo. For petrol machines consider Honda and Hayter.
Compost bin v. the mulching lawnmowers
Grass cuttings are a useful addition to your compost but if you have a large lawn too much green grass may spoil the mixture. It is possible to buy mulching lawnmowers that finely chop the grass and redeposit it back on the lawn. Something to consider.