Lawnmower Buying Tips from GardenLines
The lawn mower is arguably the most important member of your garden machinery family. Therefore it's important to choose the mower suitable to your needs.
The key factors you need to consider are lawn size, accessibility and the quality of cut you wish to acheive.
If you’re the type of gardener who wants to get up and down the lawn as quickly as possible a self-propelled 4-wheeled rotary lawn mower will be right up your street. Lighter and cheaper than rear roller mowers, they also deal better with uneven ground. Smaller and even cheaper are push lawnmowers are ideal for compact gardens. Easy to turn, 4-wheeled mowers produce a neat and tidy finish. Although rear wheels ease manoeuvrability they also a pose a problem of their own as they’re likely to slip over border edges scalping the lawn.
To get around this problem choose a rear roller mower, which remain level and stable right up to border edges, producing the much sought after striped effect. Hayter lawn mowers have the added bonus of a ribbed rear roller, with Harrier models usually outperforming Spirits.
Rear roller lawn mowers are best suited to flat lawns as the extra weight of the steel roller can make manoeuvrability cumbersome on uneven ground.
Unfortunately, rear rollers aren’t compatible with mulching systems as the re-cut grass tends to stick to the roller affecting cutting and striping abilities. This means you’ll have no option but to make several trips to the compost heap.
However, a feature to look out for on rotary mowers is the BBC system (Blade Brake Clutch). Referred to by Honda as the Roto-stop system it stops the blade rotating but keeps the engine running, when you empty the grass box. This eases trips to the compost heap and means you don’t have to re-start the engine every time you remove the grass collector.
As another rotary style mower, hover lawn mowers also deal well with long coarse grass. Perfect for a city garden, electric hovers are versatile, small and lightweight for easy storage. They cope well on uneven ground and some models are even capable of operating at a 45º angle, ideal for banked gardens. Unfortunately they make a bit of a mess of your lawn as there’s no collection bag for chippings. When the cutting blade is not operating there is no downdraft to lift the mower off the grass surface, making the transfer from storage to lawn rather difficult. The larger heavier petrol models overcome this problem with the option of attachable back wheels.
For a truly healthy lawn, cut with a recycler lawn mower. Grass is cut by the rotary blade then re-cut as it returns to the lawn, restoring essential nutrients, present in the clippings, back into the soil. Recyclers are often seen as time-saving machines as there’s no need for trips to the compost heap to empty the grass collector. On the flip-side you can only cut a third of the length of the grass in one go, otherwise too high a volume of clippings will sit on the lawn blocking sunlight and damaging grass and soil. So although cutting time per session is reduced you’ll have to cut slightly more frequently in the peak growing season. Most of these machines are supplied with a grass collector which can be used if your grass gets too long for recycling.
For those with very fine lawns or bowls players, cylinder lawn mowers are capable of producing lawns of the highest quality. The horizontally mounted cylinder rotates with a series of blades, and are only suitable for flat lawns with fine grass.
Cylinders create striped lawns and some can be fitted with a scarifier to further enhance the quality of your lawn. On the negative side, cylinders can’t cope with long or spiky grass as the front roller keeps it flattened whilst the cutting blades pass over.
Available in all shapes and sizes from two-wheeled push models to battery powered and larger petrol driven machines. Operating a larger, heavier cylinder can be tiresome, although the ATCO Royale range can be converted into a comfortable ride-on mower. Cylinders are not appropriate for uneven or family gardens as stones will easily bend blades.
When choosing a lawnmower, consider how bumpy your lawn is, how long your borders are, how strong you are, and whether you want a visually stunning lawn or a practical tidy one.