Looking for a lawnmower, but puzzled by what seems like an infinite variety of lawnmower types?
Well, here are a few pointers to help you understand and eventually select the one that's right for you.
Push – scissor action
These are those great usually steel mowers that you push along.
In terms of technology, they would have been familiar to our ancestors a century ago. As you push the mower along, a rotating blade turns along a rotating horizontal axis. It then simply cuts the grass in a scissor-type action.
Close control cutting. Many perfectionists swear by these mowers and say you can't get a better finish.
They're usually quite heavy and require a bit of muscle and lung power to get them around. Perhaps not practical for large areas unless you can afford ‘staff' to do it for you!
They can also be difficult to turn easily and get a close-to-an-edge cut.
Petrol engine ‘driven' scissor actions
These were some of the first driven mowers around. They're pretty much like the first category above except that you don't need to push them up and down.
The drive saves you effort.
They can be a little difficult to get up close to edges with and even heavier to turn.
Rotary hover mowers
Here, a rotating blade (metal or plastic) turns on a vertically positioned drive axis. So, the cutting blade is at 90 degress to its drive axis. Another aspect of the technology is that the mower is wheel-less as floats on a cushion of air.
They are usually electrically powered.
They're usually very easily manoeuvrable in all directions and with little manual effort. They can work reasonably well on slopes.
Electric cables can be restrictive and a nuisance – perhaps even dangerous if you're not using a circuit breaker. Although easily pushed, over larger areas they can require some stamina. Some argue that the cutting action tends to drag and rip the grass and make it difficult to get a prestigious final result.
Sit on rotary mowers
Usually powered by petrol, these are very popular with people who have either limited mobility/strength or a garden area that's so large as to make a ‘walk along' mower impractical. They often resemble a small tractor and come in all shapes, sizes and power combinations. They need to be driven.
Minimal physical effort required even over large areas.
Can be expensive, depending upon the model selected. Bigger engines, drives and hydraulics can all imply more things to go wrong. As the rotary cutter is usually positioned mid-vehicle for stability reasons, it can be difficult to get close to the edge of grass (e.g. against a wall) for a cut.
Some can also be a little sluggish in terms of manoeuvrability and turning circles etc.
Sit on front-mounted mowers
On these devices, the rotating cutting blade is mounted ahead of the vehicle and that means it can be much easier to get close to the edge of a grass area.
Good access to edges.
Can be more expensive and they're not ideal over uneven ground or on slopes.
Sit on zero turn mowers
Zero turn lawnmowers were once considered highly specialised and carried a price tag accordingly but over recent years they have become far more affordable.
Essentially they are typically vehicles with ‘shopping cart' type 360 degree wheels at the front and that means they are exceptionally manoeuvrable.
They are easily turned and can reach awkward spots with ease.
They can be a little more expensive and again, not always ideal for slopes and uneven ground.