The difference between cylinder and rotary blades
Before deciding on what type of lawn mower you want, decide about the blade(s) – cylinder or rotary. Cylinder is a series of blades, as in the original lawnmower produced in the mid-19 century. Rotary is a single blade of the type you’ll find in hover lawnmowers, for example.
The basic difference is that a cylinder blade(s) ‘slices’, while a rotary ‘chops’ the grass. Cylinder blades are better if you want that well-manicured look, while a rotary will do the job on longer, rougher grass.
The different kinds of lawn mowers available
Electric lawn mowers
Simply plug in and go. They’re the most common – and cheapest – around, accounting for some 70% of UK sales. But do keep an eye on the trailing wire.
There’s a huge variety in both models and price. Decide how serious you are about maintaining your lawn. There’s no point in shelling out a lot of money simply to give the lawn a monthly going-over. You pay for what you get.
From around £50.
Take the wheels off a basic electric lawn mower, stick a cushion of air underneath the deckand what do you have? A hover mower. They have the advantage of manoeuverability over their four-wheeled cousins, getting into areas that wheeled machines may find inaccessible.
However, hover mowers don’t have cuttings baskets so the tedium of raking and collecting the cut grass is an irritating chore at the end of mowing. They’re functional and will do the job.
From around £70
Hand push lawn mower
If you prefer do things the old-fashioned way and hanker to follow in your dad’s (probably your grandad’s actually) mowing footsteps, then a basic hand push mower (invented in 1830) is for you.
No wires, no motors – just good old push power. You can watch the grass mount up in the collector, satisfied that not only is the lawn being kept in trim but so are you – using a manual mower will burn between 4 and 5 calories a minute, depending on your weight.
They’re as eco-friendly as you can get but you’ll probably have to get the mower out twice a week. And if the grass is damp and long, and the lawn rutted and muddy, you’ll find the calorie loss even higher as the effort increases.
From around £35
Mulching lawn mowers
If mowing is the fun bit, then disposing of the cut grass is the tedious stuff, if you don’t compost. Mulching lawn mowers cut the disposal out as they mow - literally. While a cutting mower cuts the grass once, a mulching mower puts the cut grass through the cutting process several times, chopping it to tiny pieces which then drop onto the lawn, feeding the lawn as they go. It eliminates lawn fertiliser letting nature get on with it.
From around £400
Petrol lawn mowers
These are the ‘big beasts’ of lawn mowers. They are clunking machines, great if you have a large area of lawn, with a range extending far beyond electric mowers. The downside is the hassle of filling them up with fuel and the fact that they are a minor eco-nightmare and potential health hazard. According to recent research, one hour of petrol mowing emits the same amount of carcinogens as a car on a 100-mile journey. Fitted with a heavy roller, these will give you that striped lawn you’ve dreamt of.
From around £250
Robot lawn mowers
If Doctor Who kept a lawn then he’d probably use one of these, the K9s of mowers. These are perfect if you have a fair-sized lawn, or simply can’t be bothered with all that pushing. These battery powered gizmos are programmed to mow within a set area, sensors reacting to a perimeter wire. What’s more, when the battery’s run down they set off to their docking area to recharge themselves, allowing you more precious deckchair time. They’re efficient and quiet enough not to disturb the gentle hum of the bees.
From around £800
Read our guides to spring lawn care an autumn lawn care.
Do you favour a particular mower? Let us know in the comments section below.