From rotaries to ride-ons, all grass cutting options explored
A lawnmower is essential to help keep your lawn looking good all year round. But with so many options to choose from and so much technical talk, finding the right one can be challenging.
That's why we're here to help. We'll take you through the different types of lawnmower available, the power sources on offer and all the features to look out for to make mowing your lawn as easy and simple as possible. So whether you have a small patch of grass or a whole field to take care of, we've got the right lawnmower for you.
Before you begin
A few questions about how you’ll be using your mower can help narrow down your shopping options to find the perfect one.
How large is the lawn?
While smaller spaces are better suited to compact, lightweight mowers, larger gardens need a more durable and robust lawnmower. Greater power is needed to get around these broader lawns quickly and easily. Similarly, there are a number of innovative features that will help make even the toughest mowing job simple so look out for these.
Where will the lawnmower be stored?
Before deciding on the size of your lawnmower, think about both access and storage. Do you need to pass through gates in order to mow your back and front gardens? If so, be sure to measure these in advance of buying to avoid snapping up a model too big to fit through the doors. The same is true of where you'll be storing your lawnmower – make sure you can get it into your shed or garage, as well as having enough space to keep it out of the way.
How close is the lawn to a power source?
A power source close to your lawn gives you more options when it comes to your choice of lawnmower. However, don’t fret if your garden is very large or your lawn away from the power source – we have a wide range of mowers to suit every situation and size of garden.
Let's go through your options.
There are many different types of lawnmowers - these include rotary, hover, ride-on, hand-push and robotic.
Rotary lawnmowers feature a disc that horizontally rotates to cut the grass. They’re able to cut any type of lawn, whether it's long and overgrown or on a slope. This makes them brilliantly versatile, something to consider if you don’t have the time to mow the lawn on a regular basis. They offer the widest choice when it comes to power sources - available in both electric (corded and battery) and petrol options. Rotary lawnmowers feature wheels – perfect for creating stylish stripes on your lawn.
Hover mowers glide over the grass on a cushion of air which raises it up off the lawn. Like a rotary lawnmower, its horizontal cutting blade then cuts the grass to the desired height. Because of this design, it benefits from being light and manoeuvrable, able to move freely from side to side, not just backwards and forwards. This makes it ideal for uneven surfaces, irregularly-shaped gardens and slopes - however this side-to-side motion isn’t possible with models fitted with a grass collection box.
Best-suited to shorter, dry grass, hover mowers are a great budget option and come fully assembled.
For those with a medium-sized lawn or larger, consider a ride-on lawnmower to cut your grass with minimal physical effort. These come in two types – a lawn rider and a lawn tractor.
The smallest of ride-on mowers, lawn riders are easy to manoeuvre around flowers beds and other garden obstacles and can fit through standard garden gates. Lawn riders have a larger cutting width than the largest walk behind lawnmowers, typically from 660 to 720millimetres (mm), and combined with their faster forward speed and much larger grass collector means they'll cut your grass much more quickly than a walk behind mower.
Lawn riders are suitable for lawns up to around three quarters of an acre in size (approximately 12 tennis courts). If your lawn has lots of slopes, has a wavy surface or you like to mow when the grass is quite long, then a lawn tractor will be more suitable.
Lawn tractors have larger wheels, bigger cutting widths and more powerful engines than lawn riders. This makes them a top choice for more challenging mowing conditions, such as maintaining very large areas like orchards or paddocks, as well as longer grass and rougher ground.
When it comes to grass clippings, lawn tractors offer two choices. Opt for a collecting tractor, which collects grass cuttings in a box, and side discharge tractors which discharge the grass clippings back onto the grass. Without the large collector at their rear, side discharge tractors are more compact, making them more manoeuvrable around trees and obstacles and easier to store in your shed or garage. Side discharge tractors are also very quick to use, as there's no need to stop and empty a grass collector and are often supplied with a mulching plug to cut the grass into extra fine particles.
The hand-push lawnmower doesn’t have a motor of any kind – it’s powered by you. The momentum created by manual pushing vertically rotates blades that cut the grass. Also known as cylinder, reel or hand-propelled mowers, the hand-push is ideal for short, fine grass that's regularly maintained and flat, even ground. The most traditional style of lawnmower, its lightweight frame is less suited to long grass or bumpy lawns well and their collection boxes tend to be on the smaller side.
Due to the energy required to get them working, these hand-operated lawnmowers are ideal for smaller gardens. But if you’re feeling fit, use them for a larger size space.
Designed to cut the grass for you so you don’t have to, robotic lawnmowers (also known as automatic lawnmowers) boast the latest in lawnmower technology. Independently mowing without being pushed or driven, these battery-powered models make a great choice for lawns of all sizes. During the first set up, simply confirm the lines of your lawn and the robotic lawnmower maps out the most efficient way to mow it. Once set up, leave it to mow in clean, parallel lines.
After deciding which type of lawnmower bests suits your gardening needs, select your preferred power source. Choose between corded electric, cordless electric (battery-powered) or petrol.
Corded electric lawnmowers
Corded electric lawnmowers are ideal for most garden sizes as you can mow for as long as you like without worrying about topping up the fuel or recharging the battery. Simply plug into the mains electric and off you go. They are easy to maintain and provide constant power. Think about where your electric power source is and therefore, how long a cable you’ll need.
Cordless electric lawnmowers
If you don’t have access to an outdoor power source, or have a larger garden where an extension cable simply won’t reach, consider a cordless electric lawnmower. These lawnmowers are powerful and efficient machines, battery-powered to offer unrestricted mowing. Cordless electric lawnmowers are portable and often come with a Lithium-ion battery. These have no memory effect or self-discharge, so they won’t run out of power if not used for a while and are always ready to go. Look for brands that offer ranges of power tools all powered by the same battery, so you only need one battery to run them all, saving you money.
Petrol lawnmowers are best suited to tackle larger gardens, overgrown grass and more difficult mowing conditions. They're similar to battery-powered lawnmowers as they are powerful, portable and offer unrestricted movement. Unlike with mains electric mowers, petrol lawnmowers don’t need to be near a power supply and there is no restrictive cable. They’ll keep going longer than battery-powered models and tend to be more powerful than either of the electric motor options.
Petrol lawnmowers are often a lot heavier and louder than other models, and as they require petrol and oil, they come with additional ongoing fuel costs.
When choosing your lawnmower, look out for these features and technical specifications.
Measured in millimetres (mm)
As the name suggests, this basic feature allows you to choose different cutting heights for your grass to ensure a clean, precise cut. Also known as the cutting capacity, it offers you more freedom in deciding how often you want to mow your lawn. So, if you know you’re an infrequent mower, look for the options with the taller cutting heights.
Measured in millimetres (mm)
This is the width of the path cut through the grass. The larger the garden, the larger the cutting width of the lawnmower should be, as it will cut a bigger path and so take less time to mow the expanse of lawn. For lawns on the smaller size, choose a cutting width up to 320mm, and if your lawn's on the larger size, look for a cutting width of over 400mm. Make sure that the cutting width you choose can pass through the narrowest part of your lawn, such as between a gate or down a path, as well as fit into your garage or shed for storage.
Measured in watts (W) or volts (V)
Electric power is measured in watts, while cordless battery power is measured in volts. A higher wattage or voltage means a more powerful lawnmower – perfect for thicker grass, larger lawns and more difficult areas.
Measured in ampere hours (Ah) or amp rating
The batteries of cordless lawnmowers (like all power tools) are measured in Amperes (Ah). This controls the battery’s runtime, and the higher the capacity, the longer the battery will last.
Measured in cubic centimetres (cc)
The bigger the number of cubic centimetres, the more powerful your petrol lawnmower will be. This is important when dealing with tougher conditions, so choose a larger engine if you’re going to be mowing tall and wet grass, or have a lot of weeds that you’ll be cutting down.
Grass collection box
Collection capacity measured in litres (L)
Collection boxes ensure that all the grass clippings are collected immediately after cutting, so you don't have to manually collect them after the job's done. We recommend the largest capacity you can manage, as it'll mean fewer trips to the compost heap or green waste bin. Look for ones with a small window in the box, or are entirely transparent, so you can see how full it is as you mow.
Measured in kilograms (kg)
Heavier lawnmower models tend to be bigger in most ways, so will cut more at once than a lighter option. Larger mowers are heavier to push, as well as to turn and manoeuvre around obstacles, so do bear that it in mind if you have a lot of structures, plants or ornaments on, or around, your lawn or if your garden is on a slope. Heavier machines are also more likely to leave track marks on the lawn.
Measured in metres (m)
The length of the cable on corded electric lawnmowers impacts the reach and mobility when mowing. Look for longer cables for greater freedom – critical for larger lawns.
Petrol tank capacity
Measured in litres (L)
The larger the tank, the more petrol your lawnmower can store. This means that you can mow for longer without having to fill up. A bigger cubic capacity means that your lawnmower will need more petrol to power it, and this affects how quickly the fuel is used.
Lawnmower handle types
Ergonomic handles minimise discomfort when mowing as they reduce back and muscle strain – ideal for those who have larger gardens or heavier mowers. And if you’re looking for a lawn mower that's easier to store, choose one with foldable handles. Collapsing the handles will make your lawnmower more compact, and easier to place in corners.
Create the classic striped lawn effect thanks to a lawnmower with a rear roller. This helps push the grass down into place to achieve the look and helps flatten any unwanted lumps and bumps. A lawnmower with a rear roller is usually slightly heavier than one without.
To start an electric lawnmower, you simply have to pull a switch or push a button. However, petrol lawnmowers come in two different ignition types: recoil and electric. Recoil ignition involves pulling a rope to start the petrol engine – just like you would a chainsaw. Electric ignition, on all of our ride-on options, requires a key to start your lawnmower as you would your car.
Look for petrol lawnmowers and ride-on tractors with the facility to fit a mulching plug to mulch the grass clippings. Mulching involves cutting the grass clippings multiple times into extra fine particles that are then blown down into the lawn to decompose and return valuable nutrients back into the soil.
When collecting clippings, remember to regularly empty the collector. However, with mulching lawnmowers there’s no reason to stop, so you can mow your lawn much more quickly especially on larger lawns. Mulching also fertilises your lawn, adding enough nitrogen to keep your lawn as healthy as if you were using a bought fertiliser. It also saves you accumulating a grass waste as it’s immediately recycled back into the ground.
You might need
Now that you’ve selected your lawnmower, it’s time to make sure you have all the extras you’ll need to use, store and maintain it.
Lawnmower blades and blade sharpeners
Sharp lawnmower blades are essential for safely mowing your lawn and getting a clean result. Every now and then, either replace your blades or remove and sharpen them.
Corded electric lawnmower accessories
Even with the longest cable, you may still want more length in order to move without restrictions. An external extension lead will give you a bit more room to manoeuvre. And a residual current device (RCD) is a safety must-have when using electricity outside. It immediately turns it off in case of faults, or if you run over the cable when mowing your lawn.
Cordless electric lawnmower accessories
Pick up a spare battery before you tackle the lawn so that you can keep on working without interruptions and delays.
Petrol lawnmower accessories
You’ll need a few extra things to run your petrol lawnmower. A petrol can to transport and store your fuel, a funnel for easy pouring and oil to protect the engine and keep it running smoothly.
Do you have somewhere to store your lawnmower? Keeping it out of the elements will help keep it safe and in great condition. Smaller lawnmowers may fit nicely in one of our storage chests, while larger models and ride-on options will need a shed, garage or workshop.
Like all gardening tasks, it’s important to keep yourself safe whilst using a lawnmower, so consider wearing protective gloves, goggles and sturdy shoes when mowing your lawn.