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Lawn Mower Buying Guide

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.

 

Quick Tips

  • Size, shape and terrain of your garden
  • Power (petrol/electric/battery)
  • Cutting method (collecting/mulching/side-discharge)
  • Cutting finish
  • Self-propelled or hand-propelled – Who will use the mower?
  • Budget
  • Where to Buy

 

Size Matters

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:

  • Small garden - up to half a tennis court (up to 100 sqm)
  • Medium garden - up to three-quarters of a tennis court (approx. 100 – 250 sqm)
  • Large garden - up to one and a half tennis courts (250+ sqm)
  • Extra-Large sized garden - half an acre or more

 

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 to Mow

The power source you choose will depend on the size of lawn you are mowing.

  • Mains electric mowers - quiet, lightweight, and easy to use, and with a 15m cable these budget friendly mowers are ideal for smaller-sized gardens. Click here to explore the range.
  • Cordless, battery-operated mowers – with the advances in battery technology our Freedom ranges can now match the performance of petrol with none of the mess and maintenance. With no cable to hold you back they are a popular choice for medium to large-sized gardens. Click here to explore our range of cordless mowers.
  • Petrol mowers – Petrol power remains a firm favourite for larger lawns. Modern petrol engines are easy to start and offer the power and performance needed to mow bigger gardens. Click here to explore our range of petrol mowers.

 

Four-Wheel Mulching Magic

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!

 

  • Mulching is the process of not collecting the grass clippings, instead cutting them into tiny pieces and feathering these back onto the lawn, by being so small they fall to the bottom of grass blades and act as fertiliser, returning nutrients to the soil and promoting growth. 
  • Mulching is particularly useful for larger lawns – with no stopping to empty the grass catcher you can quickly whizz through the mowing.
  • Some mowers are described as ‘4-in-1’ meaning they have 4 cutting options – they collect the grass, mulch and side and rear discharge. If you want to be able to switch between mulching and collecting grass clippings these multi-functional machines are a great choice.

 

Classic Stripes

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.

 

Cutting Width

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.

 

To Push or not to Push

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.

 

The Long and Short of it

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.

 

Material Matters

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.

 

Budget

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 

 

Lawn Mower Care

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:

  • When you purchase your new lawn mower make sure to familiarise yourself with the instructions and advice in the operator guide supplied with your machine.

 

For petrol models:

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.

 

  • Adhere to the service schedule that appears in the engine manual supplied with your mower. For extended warranty periods of 3 and 5 years it is normally a requirement to have your mower serviced by an approved dealer before the end of the second year and then each year thereafter. Service items such as oil, spark plugs and air filters should be periodically replaced.
  • Do not tip your mower on to its side, lawnmowers should only be tilted backwards. Tilting the machine on to its side can cause oil to ingress the cylinder, carburetter and exhaust that can cause starting problems and in serious cases damage to internal parts of the engine.

 

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.

 

For all mowrs:

  • Before you start mowing, inspect your lawn for debris that may cause damage to your mower. Even innocuous objects such as rubber balls and string can cause serious damage to parts of the machine.
  • Periodically check all nuts, bolts and screws for tightness. Using the mower with loose fastenings and fixings can also cause damage.
  • Regularly inspect the cutter blade. Damaged and imbalanced blades can cause vibration which in turn can damage the engine, deck and handles.
  • Do not over work your lawnmower. If your lawn has grown longer than usual it may be necessary to raise the cutting height for one pass before going back over the lawn at the desired (lower) cutting height.
  • For petrol machines: Avoid mowing under bushes and plants as this can cause damage to the carburetter mechanism.
  • If mowing on bumpy or uneven ground it may be necessary to raise the height of cut.  If the blade hits the ground the engine and self-propelling mechanism can be damaged.
  • After each use remove grass pulp from the underside of the cutter deck. Before going underneath the mower always remove the spark plug lead. Grass pulp can be removed with a non-metallic item such as a plastic spatula or a stiff nylon brush. If your mower is fitted with a washing link you can simply attach a hose and wash the underside of your mower. (Check your mower’s manual for instructions)
  • If you prefer to fold the handle down for storage, be careful not to snag the pull cord or cables.
  • For petrol mowers: If you anticipate not using your mower for 28 days or longer (for example storing over winter) lubricate moving parts and drain fuel from the tank and carburetter. Modern petrol now typically contains 5% ethanol.  Ethanol readily bonds with atmospheric moisture creating an ethanol-water mix which accelerates the process that degrades fuel. This is commonly referred to as ‘stale fuel’.  ‘Stale’ fuel can cause serious damage to the engine and stop your mower from working.
  • For battery-operated mowers: It is important to store your machine and batteries in a cool, dry place. Periodically recharge your batteries over winter or long periods without use in order to keep them healthy.
  • Remember to store your mower in a dry area out of the elements. Do not hang your mower via its handlebar or store vertically (unless your mower is a ‘sow and mow’ or similar model designed to be stored this way – see your user guide for storage info.)
  • If you suspect or discover your mower has a fault or breakage discontinue using the machine and seek immediate advice from the helpline. Using a mower with a known fault or breakage can cause damage to other parts.

 

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.

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