Choosing the right lawn mower
It’s that time of year when, one by one we’re each peering out the back door at the tangled mess that used to be our garden, and considering stepping outside to tame the wilderness once again.
However, if you’re going to stand a chance at getting that patch of jungle at the back of your house to look anything like a garden, you’re going to need the right tools. Specifically, you’re going to need the right lawnmower.
Now if you’ve not bought a lawnmower before it’s easy to get the impression that all lawnmowers are the same, or if you’re aware of the different kinds of lawnmower available, you aren’t aware what difference it will make.
So the first thing you’ll need to do is familiarise yourself with the different types of mowers and how they are used.
Types of Mower
These are the most popular choice of mower for families with average sized and shaped lawns. The blade, which as the name suggests, rotates, cuts through grass like a scythe, making it perfect for longer grass that hasn’t been tended to in a while.
Most of the time a rotary mower will draw its power from the electric mains, although rechargeable cordless mowers and petrol powered ones are available if your power points aren’t out of range or difficult to access.
Much like rotary mowers, the clue to cylinder mowers lies in the name. Where the rotary mower uses a helicopter blade like set up, the cylinder mower has a rolling cylinder with moving blades attached to it, which in turn cut against a single fixed blade, like fast moving scissors.
This is less effective than a rotary mower on long or unkempt grass, but it also results in a neater, straighter trim. If you’ve got the time to maintain your lawn regularly, a cylinder mower may be the right way to go.
As with the rotary mower, there are electric and petrol powered options available. If you want to be really old fashioned, you could even try to find a hand push model that is powered simply by your pushing it through the grass.
The hover mower is more like the rotary mower, except without any wheels. Instead the mower generates a small cushion of air. These mowers are lighter and more manoeuvrable than other builds of lawn mower, but that comes at the cost of having a grass collector, so mown grass is scattered behind it as it goes.
However, for small and oddly shaped lawns, the hover mower is a great way to deal with those hard to reach areas.
However, knowing the various types of mower available is only the beginning. There are several other factors you will have to consider when selecting a lawnmower.
We’ve already mentioned that a hover mower may be more suitable for small or awkwardly shaped lawns. To be more specific, you need to look at the area the mower is able to clear in one go, or its “cutting width”. With smaller lawns of 50 square metres or less, a 30 to 33cm cutting width will do the trick.
For lawns up to 150 square metres in size you probably want use an electric lawnmower that has between 35 and 40cm of cutting width. While if your lawn is up to 250 square metres, or for that matter, is simply a long way from a power socket, you may want to invest in a petrol powered lawnmower, which starts with a cutting width of 40cm.
Ease of Use
Of course, the size of your lawn isn’t the only thing you need to think about when looking at new lawnmowers. You also need to take into account how comfortable you will feel using your lawnmower. This includes not just the question of how easy the mower is to push across the lawn, but also how you stand while you’re pushing it. Is the handle adjustable for your height? Is it easy to carry when you’re done working with it? These are all important factors to bear in mind.
Mark Bartram is Managing Director of Lawnmowers Direct as well as being a keen gardener.