Which Lawn Mower Is Best For You?

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A lush and healthy lawn sets your garden off a treat, providing a luxurious carpet for entertaining and relaxing all summer long. Regular mowing is a crucial part of maintaining a lush lawn, so it pays to get the right one for you and your garden. But there are so many options that choosing the right lawn mower can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you aren’t very mechanically minded.

Here’s our guide to getting the best lawn mower for your plot, whether it’s a tiny city garden with a handkerchief of grass or a rolling acreage. First we’ll set out the different types of lawnmower available, and then consider various lawn types and which lawnmowers may suit them best.

How do lawn mowers differ?

Lawn mowers can be broken down into different types according to how they’re powered and the cutting system they use.

Which power source?

In a nutshell, this is you, electricity, or petrol. Electric lawn mowers are lighter then petrol versions and therefore more manoueverable, so they’re great if you have a lawn with banks or lots of permanent features to mow around. There’s no engine to service and no exhaust fumes, but you unless you opt for a cordless or battery version there’s an electric lead, and its range, to consider. They’re generally cheaper to buy and run than petrol mowers.

Petrol lawn mowers are generally the most powerful, so these are better for large lawns – the higher the cc or bhp rating, the more powerful the mower. You won’t have a power cable to worry about, but you’ll need to service the engine and replenish fuel regularly. And finally, recoil starters mean that any difficulty getting petrol motors started is a thing of the past.

Cylinder or rotary lawn mower?

Lawn mowers use one of two different ways of cutting the grass. A rotary lawn mower can be powered by electricity or petrol and has one high-speed rotating blade underneath it – this chops the grass as it spins horizontally. When it comes to mowing your lawn, it’s good practice to take just the top third of the grass blade off in any one cut, and these do that job very well. Hover mowers also use this type of blade.

Cylinder lawn mowers have a series of blades that rotate vertically at the front of the mower, trapping and slicing the grass blades like a pair of scissors – this is the type you see in a manual push mower. These have anywhere between five and twelve blades – the more blades there are, the better the cut. This is the type of lawnmower that greenkeepers have – their scissor action produces the best possible quality of cut on very short neat lawns.

Your guide to each lawn mower type

Hand push cylinder mowers

These are the most basic lawn mowers you can get – there’s nothing much that can go wrong with them, as there’s no engine to maintain.

  • Very convenient for small areas of grass.
  • Cylinder mowers give the best finish if you’re after a neat, striped lawn.
  • No need for electricity or fuel, so no cable to plug in or engine to service – and the most environmentally friendly choice.
  • The roller has a slight firming action, so it can help to flatten worm casts and divots
  • It’s easy to get close to the edge of your lawn as there are no wheels to worry about
  • There’s no drive to the cylinder, so it’s all down to your push to turn the blades – this will suit those who like to keep fit.
  • A low-cost option – there’s very little to go wrong on this machine so you can do all the maintenance yourself, and there are no fuel or energy costs.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • They’re harder work than other mowers.
  • You’ll need to sharpen the blades regularly to maintain a neat cut.
  • If you want a bowling green lawn, this probably isn’t the right choice for you.
  • These work better on shorter grass than long blades.

Take a look at our Webb 12” Hand Roller Mower

568081 Webb 12 Hand Roller Mower

Electric rotary lawn mowers

These are great value mowers for smaller lawns, especially if you want a neat finish with the grass collected. They range from around 900 watts to 1500 watts, and most have wheels. Before you buy one, check how easy it is to adjust the settings for different heights of cut.

  • Very easy to use – just plug it in and off you go.
  • No engine to service.
  • The wheels mean these can give a good finish, even on an uneven, bumpy lawn.
  • Often small and lightweight, so easy to use and store.
  • You can adjust the height of the cut to suit the conditions and time of year.
  • Most have grass collector boxes.
  • Cheap and reliable.
  • Quiet.
  • If you’d like a striped finish, you can choose one with a roller.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • Its range will be restricted by the electric cable – you can only mow as far as the lead will let you.
  • For larger gardens, a petrol mower is more suitable - unless weight is an issue,
  • If you have permanent features on your lawn – seating or bird tables, for example, be aware that you’ll have to negotiate the lead around them, or move them out of the way.
  • The wheels, while useful in many respects, can mean you can’t mow right to the edge – inset wheels help get around this.
  • Your mowing range is restricted by the electric cable.


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Electric hover lawn mowers

This is similar to the electric rotary, but without wheels, and is the mower of choice for many, especially those with a smaller, sloping garden. These are very affordable, but not all models have grass collectors – expect to pay more for those that do.

  • Capable of cutting all sizes of garden, depending on the model.
  • They’re very lightweight – and as they float on a cushion of air, easy to use.
  • Because they’re so maneuverable, they’re perfect for sloping, uneven or unusually shaped gardens.
  • Take up little storage space – you can hang one up in the shed.
  • They’re quiet.
  • No engine to service.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • Not all models collect the grass, so look for one with a collection box if you don’t want grass clippings left on the lawn.
  • Your mowing range is restricted by the electric lead.
  • You need to be careful of your feet (and the cable) when using it.

Try the Flymo Turbo Lite Electric Hover Lawnmower

465026 Flymo Easi Glide 300

Cordless lawn mowers

The new breed of cordless and battery operated lawn mowers are easy to use and maintain as well as offering great versatility. The best battery life is about 45 minutes and the quickest recharge is 30 minutes, for a top-of-the-range mower.

  • Great for small and medium sized gardens, although they’ll also cope with larger lawns with an additional charge-up or a second battery.
  • No leads or petrol to worry about, so these are incredibly easy to manoeuvre.
  • No engine to service.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • They’re slightly heavier and bulkier than electric cable models.
  • You need a suitable electricity supply to charge it up.
  • They cost a little more than cabled models.

If you're thinking of going cordless then find out more about the Greenworks Cordless Mower.

544082 Greenworks 35Cm 40V Cordless Mower 1X 2Ah

Petrol push lawn mowers

These are useful, straightforward lawn mowers. Their blades are driven by a motor, so you get a thorough and even cut – but it’s not self-propelled, so you still have to do a lot of the work.

  • Great for small to medium-sized, level gardens.
  • They provide more power than electric mowers.
  • You have the option of a roller, which will produce a neat, striped effect finish.
  • They collect grass in a collection box as they go.
  • These are low-maintenance as they’re simpler machines than the petrol self-propelled/driven models.
  • Cheaper than self-propelled petrol models.
  • No power cable to worry about.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • They can be hard work, especially on sloping lawns.
  • They’re heavier to handle and use than electric models – it’s a good idea to get a feel for the weight of the model you’re considering before buying it.
  • If your garden is on multiple levels, you may be better considering a self-propelled petrol model.
  • Although relatively low maintenance, a petrol engine needs regular servicing.
  • Petrol mowers are a little bigger, and more expensive, than electric mowers, so bear storage and fuel costs in mind.


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Petrol self propelled/self drive lawn mowers

These are the best mowers for larger lawns and gardens as the petrol engine drives the mower as well as the blades. Cylinder and rotary models are available, although rotary is the best choice for most lawns.

  • These make light work of larger gardens and lawns.
  • You have the option of a roller, which will produce a neat, striped effect finish.
  • They collect grass in a collection box as they go.
  • You can choose a rear roller if you want a striped lawn.
  • Mulching options are also available, which recycle the grass clippings in a form that will replenish your lawn.

Points to consider before choosing this type of mower:

  • These mowers require more maintenance than others.
  • Bear in mind fuel costs and storage – these tend to be bigger than those for electric mowers.
  • They’re heavier than electric mowers.
  • Tend to be more expensive than other models.
  • A rotary type will suit most gardeners – but if you’re after the bowling green look and have the finest, smoothest lawn, a cylinder model may be for you.

Take a look at the Classic Self Propelled Mowers.

568090 Webb Classic 46Cm 135Cc Steel Deck Self Propelled Petrol Mower

Specialist lawn mowers

While all these mowers are great for the average garden, if you have a very large lawn or something of a paddock you’re likely to be better off buying a lawn tractor or ride-on mower.

Which lawn mower is best for my garden?

The first step is to assess your needs – how much lawn you have, how accessible it is, and what you use it for.

Lawn mowers for smaller lawns

An electric mower is always the cheapest option for a small lawn. It’s also often the most compact – bearing in mind that a small garden often means a small shed – and the lightest in weight, which is great if you have to carry the mower up and down steps.

Lawn mowers for mid-sized gardens

Here, a petrol mower will do a great job, but if you’d like an electric model, consider a cordless one, so you don’t have to worry about the cable.

Lawn mowers for large lawns

For larger lawns, a petrol mower will give you that extra power and durability for a good finish – bear in mind that there are two types: a self propelled mower will drive itself and the blades, while you’ll need to do all the pushing with a blade driven-only mower.

Lawn mowers for uneven gardens with steep slopes or banks

If you have steep slopes or banks, an electric hover lawn mower is usually the best choice as these are the lightest and easiest to manoeuvre. If the lawn is generally uneven, a self-propelled, wheeled rotary lawn mower will also deal with it well.

Next, think about the look you want, and your own strength and capabilities.

What type of lawn finish do you prefer?

If you like neat stripes, choose a rotary mower with a rear roller, or a cylinder mower.

How much effort do you want to put in?

Would you prefer to just plug in a mower and press a button every week than deal with petrol? In that case, an electric model is the way to go. If you’re keen on the power of a petrol mower, but not on the thought of providing the strength to push it around, a self-propelled four-wheeled rotary mower is a good choice.

If you want to enjoy some exercise as you mow, a manual or petrol push mower will be right up your street.

Finally, if you’re in any doubt which lawn mower to choose, just ask one of our experts in store, who will be happy to help.

For more helpful advice on keeping your grass in top condition, see our other guides to lawn care.


Credit: Words by Jane Moore