The world of lawn mowers and lawn equipment can seem overwhelming if you don’t understand the basics and what they can do for you.
There are two types of lawn mower – cylinder and rotary.
This type of lawn mower has a spinning cylinder blade at the front of the mower which is visible
These mowers have a single long flat blade which sits under the mower spinning like a helicopter blade that you cannot see.
Both cylinder and rotary mowers can have rollers, however only a rotary mower will have wheels.
It is a surprising question but we hear it quite often. How does a mower produce a stripe?
There is no magic button! The stripe is solely down to the roller at the back of the machine laying the grass flat. If you look down a stripe on your lawn it will appear lighter this is because there is more grass reflecting the light. However, if you look behind you up the same stripe it will appear darker, less light is being reflected from the grass.
If your mower has wheels at the back, or no wheels at all (hover mover), the grass will just stick straight up.There will be no difference in reflection, it will all look the same.
More on Cylinder Mowers
These mowers are for fine grasses, they don’t cope very well with long grass or bumpy lawns. The heavy rollers lay the grass very flat so you will get a very defined stripe.
They are used on bowling lawns, cricket creases, golf greens and domestic fine lawns. These mowers cut the grass very short.
Cylinder mowers can be quite expensive to maintain as even the smallest stone can upset the cutting blade,which would need to be professionally ground (sharpened).
More on Rotary Mowers
Rotary mowers are fantastic all-rounders. They are available in many different forms. Some with rollers at the back, which leave impressive stripes, and some with wheels at the back which won’t leave a stripe but will cope with long grass, a bumpy or stony lawn.
Rotary machines can be driven or non driven (push). This means that the wheels or roller at the back of the machine can be connected to the engine driving it forward. We would recommend these mowers in all situations. Mowing should be a pleasant task and not a chore!
The blade on rotary mowers tend not to get too damaged as they are well away from the soil surface and, unlike the cylinder machine, they are a single bladed which is cheaper to sharpen or you can even sharpen them yourself.
These rotary machines have special blades which cut the grass into very small pieces and then send them back down into the turf. This means they don’t need a box on the back to collect the clippings which is a great advantage.
Although the clippings are small they can still get stuck to the bottom of your shoes or feet and end up inside the house or over your patio. I would probably avoid these mowers if you have children!
Coping with slopes
Hover movers are rotary mowers without the wheels or rollers. The spinning blade underneath the mower gives the machine a slight lift enabling it to glide over your lawn. This makes it ideal for slopes, long grass or stony ground.
There are many brands out there to suit your budget.
We have used Honda mowers for 28 years on a large garden and would not recommend another machine. The build quality is excellent. Although expensive initially they will last you a life time. To give you an idea of longevity, we use these Honda rotary mowers for 6 hours a day, three days a week throughout the season. In winter we average 6 hours a week depending on the weather. This equates to approximately 200 hours a year. It is likely that the clutch will only start to wear out after 4-5 years. On average a medium sized domestic garden of say 300 square meters you will use your mower around 20 hours a year. This could give you over 20 years use before you have any major work. Of course there maybe cables wearing out and small sundries, but on the whole they will last a life time.
These are for small lawns. They are light and easy to store. If you want to keep them going, try and cut your grass little and often. If the motor is trying to struggle through long grass they will wear out quickly, much like overloading the washing machine week after week.
Keeping the Blade Sharp
Sharpening the blade helps with the longevity of the mower as it doesn’t have to struggle through the cutting. Dull blades are a bit like the effort of cutting string with a blunt knife. Sharp blades will also help with the health of the lawn. If the blade is not sharp it will leave a jagged edge to the blades of grass. They can then turn brown giving an unsightly appearance to the whole lawn and increases the chance of disease getting in.
Scarifiers are used to remove moss and thatch (dead grass and debris) from your lawn. You can hire these from your local hire shop or buy a machine. The machine has to do a lot of work so little and often, once or twice a year will help keep the machines workload down. You can find a selection on Amazon with customer reviews to help you decide which one is best for your garden.
Aeration is important to the health of your lawn. Over the year a lawn can get a hammering from children, animals and even your gardener plus wheel barrow! With all this traffic, the soil can get compacted. Punching holes in the soil allows gases to escape, water to drain away and puts fresh air back into the soil.
There are many ways to do aerate your lawn, from spiked rollers to just a standard garden fork.
By far the best way for the average garden lawn is aeration shoes. These strap to the bottom of your boots and have spikes on the bottom. They spike your lawn and break up the surface slightly, relieving compaction
We prefer the handy spreader type over the wheeled varieties. The reason for this is that the wheel type, although evenly distributes the fertilizer, can be quite low to the ground and if the grass is wet can easily get clogged. It is also easy to miss a section by the machine bumping along.
The handy spreaders are small so don’t need a lot of storage space, don’t clog and give an even spread. The job can be completed very quickly.