Choosing the right lawnmower.
Some of the most important considerations when choosing a lawnmower are the size of your lawn, the quality and desired finish of the lawn, what you yourself are physically capable of, and of course how much you want to spend.
If you just want to find a cheap lawnmower to get the job done, Alko produce a range of respectable budget electric lawnmowers.
Petrol, manual or electric lawnmower?
For small and medium sized lawns, electric lawn mowers are ideal for regular use. Electric mowers are light, quiet and require little maintenance apart from cleaning and blade sharpening. Electric lawnmowers are not ideal for large lawns because of the restrictions caused by the power cord.
Hugely popular is the Bosch Rotak range which features various cutting widths from 32cm up to 43cm. The Bosch Rotak features a 'cutting comb' to allow mowing right up to walls and borders. The cutting width is determined by the model number, so the Bosch Rotak 40 will have a 40 cm cutting width.
To get around the problem of the power cord and still have the relative convenience offered by an electric lawnmower, it's worth considering one of the current crop of battery powered cordless lawnmowers.
Petrol lawnmowers are generally more powerful and more robust than electric models. They are also designed to withstand more regular use than electric lawnmowers and as a result will provide a longer working life.
If you have a large lawn, it’s worth investing in the best petrol model you can afford. Do bear in mind the maintenance costs associated with owning a petrol powered lawnmower. The engine will require regular oil changes and air and fuel filters will need cleaning/replacing in addition to the job of blade sharpening.
The larger the lawn, the more work the lawnmower (and the operator) will have to do. If your garden is on a slope, it's seriously worth considering a self propelled model as it can be hard work pushing a mower uphill. If you choose a model with an adjustable speed setting, you'll be able to set a comfortable working pace.
These are the most commonly used lawnmowers and are available in both electric and petrol versions. They typically have a rear discharge and clippings are collected in a removable box. Rotary mowers are available with either four wheels or a rear roller for a smart striped lawn. If you're on a tight budget, rotary mowers are available for under a hundred pounds.
The most popular manufacturers are Mountfield and Hayter. The Masport range offer aluminium decks instead of plastic or steel for an extra long life and the Masport MSV must be the most stylish mower on the market, whilst the Honda Izy range are hugely respected by home owners and professionals alike. If you don't fancy pushing your mower, then a self propelled model would be ideal.
A hover mower such as the Flymo is a variation on the rotary mower. The blades produce a down force of air which allows the machine to hover just above the surface of the lawn. Hover mowers are easy to handle and both petrol and electric versions are available. Bear in mind they need carrying once switched off as most models do not have wheels. More powerful models are needed for mowing on steep slopes and banks and only the larger petrol powered models are really suitable for long rough grass.
If you want the best looking lawn in the street, you’ll need a cylinder lawnmower. They will give a superior finish to most types of well maintained lawn. However, no mower will make a rough, weedy uneven lawn look like Wimbledon!
The superior cut offered by a cylinder lawnmower is achieved by the scissor action of the blades. The grass collection box is normally fitted to the front of cylinder mowers rather than the rear as with rotary mowers. Like other types of lawnmower, these models are available in petrol, electric and manual versions.
The three leading brands in the cylinder mower market are Atco, Qualcast and Masport. If cost is no barrier and you simply must have a perfect lawn, the Balmoral, Royale and Club models from Atco are perhaps the finest cylinders mowers available and can easily cope with large areas of formal lawn.
The famous Qualcast Suffolk Punch cylinder mower is responsible for countless smart lawns across the UK and has a good reputation for reliability.
Domestic cylinder lawnmowers usually have between three and six blades welded onto the cylinder (or cassette), whilst more specialist models (green keeping for example) will have 10-12 blades on the cassette for more cuts per inch.
Many models of cylinder lawnmower offer the option of attaching accessory cassettes for scarifying the lawn. Cylinder mowers nearly always have a roller (or two) fitted for the striped lawn effect but bear in mind that because cylinder mowers do not have wheels, they are not really suitable for bumpy lawns.
Manual push lawnmowers.
With a hand propelled manual lawn mower, you are the engine. For this reason they are ideally suited to smaller lawns. Even though they are completely hand powered, manual lawnmowers are capable of cutting the grass beautifully and are the most environmentally friendly of all lawn mowers. Being of cylinder design, they are not suitable for cutting long grass.
Some rotary mowers offer a mulching option. Mulching lawnmowers cut the grass and mulch the clippings. The mulched clippings can be left on the turf or collected and composted.
How mowers cut.
Rotary mowers - use a flat blade bolted to the underside of the mower. The blade is housed by a plastic or metal casing called the deck. The blade spins in a rotary fashion and tears/cuts through the grass.
Cylinder mowers - these mowers utilise two types of blade. The grass is cut through scissor action by coming into contact with the fixed bed knife and the revolving cylinder blades. These mowers give a cleaner cut and produce finer clippings. Cylinder mowers are preferred for high quality lawns, very short grass and green-keeping. Only consider a cylinder mower if your lawn area is free from bumps and dips.
A rear roller on the mower will give you two advantages over two rear wheels. Firstly, you will achieve a striped lawn, secondly, you can mow right up to and slightly over the edges of flower beds. The rear roller will prevent the mower from tipping into the bed and scalping the lawn.
During drier periods in the summer, the roller will give the appearance of a neatly mown striped lawn, even though little grass has been removed.