I fondly remember my first mowing experiences whilst working as an apprentice gardener with Birmingham City Council back in the late 1970s.
While based in Cannon Hill Park, I was tasked with keeping all the ornamental lawns mown on a weekly basis.
Our choice and selection of mowers back then was quite limited compared to what we have on offer today. In the main we tended to use a range of Acto, Dennis, Greens and Ransome pedestrian petrol cylinder mowers to cut the lawns.
There were very few rotary mowers around in those days, and most people preferred to use cylinder mowers fitted with grass boxes.
I also remember how temperamental the mowers could be especially when trying to start them. How times have changed: today we are blessed with a fantastic array of mower choices all driven by the quality of cut and performance.
Today’s modern engines are vastly improved, being very quiet and efficient, and more importantly, very easy to start. At the last count there were at least ten manufacturers of pedestrian cylinder mowers for the professional sports turf industry and countless more supplying the domestic markets.
Decisions on purchase will depend on a variety of factors. Personal preference will always play a major part in the decision-making process, as will the tie-in with a local dealer and their franchises, parts and service back-up and, of course, cost.
A number of new features have been added to cylinder mowers in recent years, particularly the cutting units, hand controls, safety features and cassette systems that have broadened the capabilities and improved the performance of the machines.
As for the debate on whether you buy a rotary of cylinder mower, again that will be down to personal choice; in the main, most people want to get the job done quickly with no fuss.
This has no doubt influenced the popularity and growth in sales of rotary mowers in recent years, largely due to their versatility and ability cope with cutting longer grass growth.
Cylinder mowers do, without a shadow of doubt, give you a finer finish when set up correctly, especially when you invest in the more professional seven and nine-bladed cylinder mowers. However, they often take more time to set up and require regular servicing to help keep both the bottom blade and cylinders sharp.
Having said that, the cutting quality of rotary mowers has improved immensely offering a cleaner cut and collecting ability.
Most of today’s mowers, whether they be rotary or cylinder, are now very reliable and easy to start, with easy height of cut adjustments.
At the end of the day you need to choose the right mower for your own specific requirements. This will be determined by a number of external factors, including size of lawn, expected finish, height of cut, cutting frequency, grass species and accessibility.
The next consideration is to choose a mower that it easy to handle, not too heavy and gives you the cutting quality and performance you desire.
The ideal height of cut for an ornamental lawn will range between 25mm-40mm, cutting on a once or twice-weekly regime.
As for width of pedestrian mowers, they now come in several widths ranging from 30mm -914mm depending on the size of the lawn to mow.
Petrol-powered engine mowers are still very popular and come in many variant power ratios, generally dictated by the size of the mower. Most people like a self-propelled mower, which tend to be mowers with widths over 400mm (15 inches).
However, with an ever-expanding battery power market place, both hybrid and battery-powered products are becoming very popular.
Often it will pay to talk to a few people, starting with neighbours and friends who themselves have the same size lawns as yourself; see what they use, and even ask to try their mowers out. Get a feel of what’s on offer. The next point of call is to visit a mower dealership, they will be very helpful and have a large range of mowers to choose from.
Undoubtedly, costs of the mower will influence your selection and choice of mowers available. Make sure you buy from a reputable mower dealer. Garden Trader offers plenty of advice and information about machinery and mower products on offer through a number of their affiliated dealers.
Buying online may get you a cheaper mower, however, they often do not come with any back up warrantees, or after sales services that you get when buying through a reputable dealer.
Some of the key branded mower manufacturers include the likes of John Deere, Toro, Ransomes, Etesia, Stihl, Allett, Acto, Dennis, Club Cadet, Mountfield, Lawnflight, Honda, Hayter and Mcculloch.
Generally the cost of a decent pedestrian mower will range anything from between £400-£1500 depending on size and power.
Some key things to consider when buying a mower:
- Cost? Generally you often only get what you pay for
- Build Quality/reputation?
- Ease of daily maintenance checks?
- Height of cut adjustment?
- Access to fuel tank, oil filler cap, grease nipples etc.?
- Is the mower easy to transport?
- Quality of clipping collection and grass box removal?
- Front and rear roller clogging?
- Quality of cut and appearance of turf after cutting?
- Weight, balance and manoeuvrability?
- Are the controls easy to use?
- How quiet is the machine during operation?
- Are vibration and noise levels acceptable?
- It is easy to clean down?
- Product warrantees?
Once you have chosen your mower, the next thing to do is to read the handbook and familiarise yourself with the controls and servicing requirements. In the main, if you have invested in a decent robust mower, it will pay to keep it cleaned and well serviced as it will then last you many years.
Ideally, it would pay to have it serviced annually by the mower dealership you purchased it from. They will change oil and air filters, sharpen blades and replace any broken or damaged parts.
The secret to having a good lawn is two-fold: having the right tools for the job, and ensuring the lawn is maintained regularly. Looking after your lawn should be enjoyable and not a chore, and choosing the right mower is a good place to start.