Types of lawn mower
There are many different lawn mowers available to purchase. Your lawn mower will probably be one of your most-used pieces of power gardening equipment, so take some time to consider what type of mower you need before purchasing one. Think about the following:
Hand-push, electric or petrol: Hand-push mowers are a good option for small areas of grass, being quiet, zero running costs and good for the environment. Electric mowers are usually cheaper to buy than petrol mowers, but are not as powerful as petrol mowers and usually come with a cord. Cordless electric mowers, however, are now also available and well-worth considering.
Lawn size: Mowing a big lawn could take more than hour each time. Choosing models with a wider cut can make a significant difference to the time taken for a modest increase in purchase price. If you have a really large lawn, consider a self-propelled model or a ride-on mower.
Lawn type: Not all mowers are created equal! Some will give a much higher quality cut than others. If you are after a high-quality finish, consider a cylinder mower. This type of mower cuts a lot shorter, and is good for achieving a striped effect.
Maintenance: You'll get the best results with sharp mower blades. You can sharpen rotary blades yourself, but for sharpening a cylinder mower, you're best to take it to a professional.
There are four main types of mower: cylinder, rotary, hover and ride-on. Mulching mowers are another mower you will come across, but these are a type of rotary mower.
- A cylinder mower gives the highest quality cut, suitable for fine lawns and sports turf. The blades are arranged on a cylinder and cut with a scissor-like action. This produces a very fine cut, a striped finish and allows very low cutting heights.
- A rotary mower is suitable for most ornamental lawns. This mower has a horizontally spinning blade. A rotary mower will not give as fine a cut as a cylinder mower, but it will cut longer grass and handle uneven surfaces much better than a cylinder mower. Ones with a rear roller are available that will give a striped finish.
- A hover mower is a rotary mower, but sits on a cushion of air instead of wheels. It too is able to handle long grass and uneven surfaces. Self-propelled versions are not offered.
- A mulching mower is a type of rotary mower. Most lawn mowers come with a collection box to collect the clippings, but mulching mowers instead chop up the clippings very finely and deposit them back into the turf. The clippings settle at the bottom of the sward and are barely visible. Using a mulching mower will return nutrients lost in the clippings back to the root zone. However, when mulching mowers are used for very lush growth (when the grass is long), the excess clippings may have to be collected and placed on the compost heap. Some models have to option of mulching or collection and are to be preferred.
- A ride-on mower is usually reserved for very large lawns. These may be cylinder or rotary. It will cut down on your mowing time, but these mowers are much more expensive than any of the ones listed above. Pedestrian self-propelled models are a cheaper alternative for large lawns.
- A strimmer, hand scythe or power scythe are better suited than a conventional mower to cutting grass that is allowed to grow very long between cuts. See our page on managing meadows.