If you have a lawn then it will need mowing. It’s a fact of life and choosing the right lawnmower for your needs is critical to saving you time, money and most of all effort.
Thing To Consider
Choosing a mower is often a simple case of looking at the size and complexity of your lawn area. There are a number of different styles of lawn mower out there and what you choose will be mostly governed by how big and how complicated your garden is.
You first step is to choose between the two main types of mower which is a straight choice between an electric or petrol driven mower.
Electric or Petrol Mower?
Electric mowers plug into your main powers supply like any other appliance. They are typically cheaper than petrol driven mowers, are lighter, smaller and therefore easier to move around and store. The chief downside is the electric cable which is typically less than 20 metres in length but can of course be boosted with an extension cable if you need to. You also need to ensure that cable stays away from the cutting blades so if you are someone who knows they are liable to zone out whilst mowing and run over the cable then perhaps electric is not the best choice as this can be dangerous.
Types Of Lawn Mower
Now you have decided whether a petrol or electric lawnmower is best suited to your needs, there is a further decision to make. Choosing the style of lawnmower for your needs is generally determined by what kind of cut you want, weight and physiology of your lawn.
This type of mower rides on a cushion of air making them easier to push around the garden when in use. More typically electric than petrol driven, hover mowers are also good for dealing with uneven lawns and slight undulations in a lawn where other mowers may chop into the ground, these simply ride over many small bumps. Blades vary from metal, plastic or nylon strips or wires, and they give a pretty good cut for the average home lawn, but not that professional look that cylinder or some rotary mowers can give. In additional, hover mowers tend to throw clippings about meaning you will need to rake afterwards, even with those which come with collecting boxes as these only lessen the number of clippings needing to be collected after mowing as opposed to removing the problem entirely. Hover mowers can be quite cumbersome to move around when not in use as they have no wheels but shop around and some are starting to come with small wheels at the front to help counter this.
These use a high speed rotating blade like a helicopter and are a good choice for the average gardener who occasionally lets his lawn get a little over-grown, has patches of rough grass etc. as they take both in their stride, slashing away at these without a problem. Blades can be metal, plastic or nylon cords although the latter two tend to break quite easily when they come into contact with twigs and stones so if your garden is prone to foreign objects like twigs burying themselves amongst the grass, it is perhaps advisable to opt for the metal blades which typically come with petrol driven rotary mowers. In maintenance terms, rotary mowers have an extra advantage as it is easy to sharpen the blade yourself rather than having to take the mower somewhere to get this done. Some rotary mowers also come with a roller attachment which helps give that professional finish given by cylinder mowers.
For a high quality cut you can beat a good cylinder mower. These use a rotating cylinder of blades which cut against a bottom blade giving a uniform scissor-like action and an even cutting length across your lawn. Rear rollers give your lawn that striped effect you see on professionally cut lawn areas like newly prepared grass tennis courts etc. These can be quite heavy as the roller itself is a weighty attachment but for a finely manicured lawn, cylinder mowers are best.
The ultimate in big boy’s toys! Ride-on mowers are as fun as they look and a must for larger size lawns over say, 1000 square metres. If your lawn area is particularly complicated, with lots of inset flower beds, shrubs and ornaments then these may not be quite such an ideal solution, although they do make easy work of borders as you can usually offset the blades so they extend to the side slightly so you do not have to balance on the edge to cut close to the edges. Resembling mini-tractors these are large, often expensive pieces of kit typically running into the four figure price bracket so secure storage is a must if you buy one of these.
The ultimate in lazy gardening are the new breed of robotic lawnmowers. Robomowers are battery powered little beasties which will happily mow your lawn whilst you sit back and catch a few rays on your sun lounger. An intelligent array of sensors prevent the mower from diving into your swimming pool, giving the cat a haircut or taking itself off down the street and the more advanced can be programmed to come out and mow at set times without any intervention from you. Sounds brilliant? Well there are a few considerations, for example the battery packs only allow the mower to perform for a certain number of hours before it needs recharging and they are not suitable for larger gardens. Equally, they do not perform well on steep gradients or with long or rough grass and do take a lot longer than humans to mow the same lawn area. For smaller, simple, flat gardens however, one of these could be the perfect solution for the less green fingered gardener or gadget lover out there. Check the battery lifespan and recommendations before making a purchase as these vary between models.
Other Things To Consider
Some other general pointers to consider before making a purchase include:
Weight: How heavy is the lawnmower? Does it have wheels, or self-propulsion to counter this or do you need bulging biceps to push the machine around!
Storage Space: Some mowers have collapsible handles and other space saving features which are a bonus if you are short on storage space. Another consideration again is the weight of the machine if you have to store it upstairs or carry it to your garden.
Clippings: If the idea of raking these up after mowing sounds like more hassle you do not want to deal with then there are other options. Mulching mowers cut clippings up very fine and return them to the lawn giving back extra moisture and nutrients to feed your lawn. Other mowers may come with a collecting box which catches a lot of the clippings for later disposal.