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The grass does not have to be greener on the other side of the fence - with the right lawn mower you can achieve a beautifully cut lawn that will leave your neighbours green with envy! Whether you have a compact lawn or a large back garden to tackle with this buying guide we will help you to cut through the jargon and find the perfect mower for you.
The first thing to consider when choosing your lawnmower is the size of your lawn.
If we use a tennis court as a reference point:
For gardens over half an acre in size we would recommend a ride-on lawnmower as a more appropriate choice. Read our guide ‘choosing the right ride-on lawnmower’.
The power source you choose will depend on the size of lawn you are mowing.
Four wheeled lawn mowers have two wheels at the front and two at back rather than a rear roller. They will cut the grass with minimum definition; the lawn will look the same regardless of the cutting pattern used. They are ideal for gardens with undulating lawns. Many models come with ‘anti-scalping’ plates fitted at the front to stop your mower taking chunks out of your lawn – particularly useful if your lawn is uneven or bumpy.
There are two main types of 4 wheeled mowers – those that have the option to both collect the grass and mulch it, and those that are dedicated mulching machines!
The iconic British striped lawn - think Wimbledon or bowling greens in the height of summer. If you want to achieve a striped lawn, then you will need a lawnmower with a rear roller. In general, the heavier the roller, the more pronounced the stripe it will create. The roller essentially works by brushing the grass in different directions as you go up and down your lawn. A good rotary mower with a rear roller should be sufficient to give you the desired stripe effect. Rear roller lawnmowers also allow you to cut right up to lawn edges, giving you a lawn that is fit for Wimbledon.
However, if nothing less than perfectly manicured, stripe perfection will cut it, then you are going to need a cylinder mower. Cylinder mowers can give you a much closer cut than a standard rotary model although they are best suited to flat, uniform, stone, and twig free lawns. Cylinder mowers are fitted with several blades that give a ‘scissor-like’ cut resulting in a professional, pristine finish. When it comes to budget, cylinder mowers tend to be at the higher end of the price range but are worth the investment if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to achieve a professional finish. We recommend ATCO for quality cylinder mowers.
Click here to view our range of Roller Mowers.
This refers to the width of the stripe your mower will cut. Put simply, the wider the cutting width the less time it will take to cut your lawn. For example, if your lawn is 20 meters wide you would have to make 49 turns up and down it with a 41cm cutting width lawnmower compared to just 38 turns with a 53cm mower – making the wider mower 30% quicker at cutting your grass.
Mowers with a wider cutting width will also have larger grass collector capacity meaning you will not need to stop to empty it as often. It is worth bearing in mind however that the wider the cutting width, the heavier the mower is likely to be when turning and manoeuvring obstacles, as well as being on the higher end of the price scale.
Choose between hand-propelled or self-propelled models. Hand-propelled mowers need to be pushed to drive them forward – the motor or engine only drives the cutter blade. Self-propelled models require less effort to use thanks to a transmission that drives the mower forward for you when you engage the drive. All you need to do is guide the machine in the right direction. Some self-propelled models also come with a variable speed control, allowing you to adjust the speed to suit your pace or the mowing conditions.
Most modern mowers are fitted with cutting height adjusters. These move the cutting deck up and down, moving the blade closer or further away from the grass, depending on how short you require the grass to be, once cut. Grass can be left longer in the autumn months or during dry periods for example or cut on a lower setting when a shorter finish is required. Different models offer a range of cutting heights to choose from. Rotary model cutting heights tend to range from around 22mm at the shortest cut, up to around 80mm at the longest. For standard lawns it is not recommended to cut your lawn too short due to the risk of scalping the lawn or causing it to turn brown during the summer months.
If you have a very flat, uniform lawn and require a closer cut you will need a cylinder mower. Cylinder mowers can cut your lawn as short as 5mm depending on the model, and most are also fitted with a rear roller to create stripes.
The chassis or cutter deck houses the blade and can be made from several different materials. Choose from polypropylene, steel with a coated paint finish or hybrid galvanised steel/aluminium. The cutting deck and blade determine the working/cutting width of your mower – typically from around 34cm up to around 53cm.
Smaller mowers tend to be lighter and often use polypropylene for the chassis as it is lightweight and maintenance free. Steel is more robust and hard wearing although it is heavier. Larger mowers tend to have steel or hybrid decks. Both galvanised steel and aluminium decks do not rust if they are cared for and cleaned correctly. Many modern mowers are now fitted with a deck washing port where you can attach a garden hose to a connection on the chassis to easily clean the underside of the deck after mowing.
Probably the most important thing to consider is your budget. How much you are willing to spend on your new lawnmower? Prices can range from around £100 to over £1000 – and as with everything, you get what you pay for. Are you looking for a no-frills mower that just cuts your grass or a mower that gives you more options such as mulching or even a rear
Your lawnmower is arguably the most important garden tool in your shed or garage. Keep it in tip-top condition with our helpful care and maintenance guide:
Always use clean fresh fuel which has ideally been treated with Fuel Stabiliser. Petrol can go stale after 30 days from purchase and cause running issues in your machine. By adding fuel stabiliser to freshly purchased petrol it will stay fresh in your jerry can for up to 2 years. You can purchase fuel stabiliser from most garden centres and lawnmower shops as well as online.
Check the oil level before each use and top up accordingly. There is a dipstick attached to the oil filler cap, this has two indicators marked upon it which show you the correct oil level. For more information refer to your engine manual.
With a little care and attention you can ensure your lawnmower remains ‘king of the garden shed’ and in tip-top condition for many years to come.