As with any yard work, the type of equipment used solely determines the outcome. Go ahead and ask all the lawn experts – it doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a Picasso with the mower. It still doesn’t matter if you are the local grass whisperer. Using an ineffective tool always results in poor, dismal and sloppy work.
Fortunately for all skilled and not so skilled homeowners, technology advancements in the gardening sector have finally caught up. Sure, we may have started off with some blunt slashers in the past. But today, the market is filled with so many incredible lawn mowers that most homeowners are spoilt for choice. Some of these machines can even mow the lawn without your help.
For those of you looking to upgrade from your manual backyard mowers, have a look at the most popular and versatile lawn mowers I have reviewed.
Best Lawn Mower Reviews – My Top Picks
Best budget lawn mower: Flymo Chevron 34 VC Electric Wheeled Rotary Lawnmower
The Chevron 34VC from Flymo is a powerful electric wheeled mower that blends together superb performance and reasonable pricing. While designed to offer customers and homeowners an affordable mower, the Chevron is packed full of exciting features.
This particular mower uses a 1400 Watt motor to push a 34cm wide cutting blade that covers a larger mowing area. People who enjoy a neat finish will especially appreciate the rear roller that leaves your lawn with some stripes.
So, where does all this grass go? The Flymo Chevron 34 VC mower has a large 40-litre grass collection box that compacts a lot of the green stuff without requiring numerous trips to the emptying bin. One slight hitch in this mower is the incomprehensible instructions that make it a bit tough to assemble.
Read my full review of Flymo Chevron 34 VC.
Best self propelled petrol lawn mower: The Izy HRG 466 SK 4-Wheel Self Propelled Petrol Lawn Mower
Standing large as the manifestation of Honda’s acute attention to detail, the HRG 466 SK introduces a new degree of convenience with effortless performance.
For those of you who are tired of having to manually shove your uncooperative lawn mower, it’s time to upgrade to something that actually wants to move.
The Izy HRG 466 SK propels itself forward while you mow to make things much easier for you, especially for those steep, sloping yards.
With a large 55-litre capacity bag, you won’t be getting out of your lawn or breaking a sweat anytime soon.
However, you can expect to part with a pretty penny for this high-tech beauty.
Read my full review of HRG 466 SK.
Best lawn mower for small gardens: The Black + Decker STC1820CM-GB 18V Lithium Strimmer
Aptly termed as one of the most versatile gardening implements currently available, the Black + Decker STC1820CM-GB 18V Lithium Strimmer is more than just your average mower.
The STC1820CM-GB 18V is a 3 in 1 mower that can be transformed to work on your hedges and other things too. Thanks to Honda’s click and go system, you can remove the detachable strimmer and work on higher areas.
This state of the art machine is run by a powerful, high torque system called the E-Drive that chops through the toughest areas with thick undergrowth.
One slight setback with the Black + Decker STC1820CM-GB Strimmer is the lack of a grass box; but that’s also what makes it highly portable.
Read my full review of Black + Decker STC1820CM-GB.
Best rotary lawn mower for cutting edges: Bosch Rotak 40 Ergoflex Electric Rotary Lawnmower
Wielding a set of Bosch hardened steel blades, the Rotak 40 is among the most robust gardening implements a homeowner could need. With an integrated 1700W power drive motor, not even the toughest weeds and grass stand a chance. Combine all this power with incredibly high torque, and you get a mower with an unstoppable drive.
Like any hardworking home owner knows, there is a big difference between mowing the larger lawn and cutting the edges. The edges require just a little more precision than any other area of the lawn.
Thanks to the incorporation of extended grass combs and inset heels, the Bosch Rotak 40 Ergoflex Electric Rotary Lawnmower is the best lawn mower for cutting edges. The hard part is only assembling the lawnmower, but once you’re done, it’s nonstop mowing all the way.
Read my review of Bosch Rotak 40.
Best robotic lawn mower: Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200 R
The 1200 R Robotic Lawnmower from Flymo is quickly gaining traction in many UK households.
Not only does she offer the ultimate luxury and convenience when it comes to grass cutting, but the compact design saves you plenty of storage space.
What’s more, you have all the flexibility you need to mow your lawn anytime as well as all the safety features you need to keep the mower, yourself, your kids and any pets safe from the razor sharp blades.
Get yourself the 1200 R mower today and say hello to the ultimate lazy gardener’s tool.
Read my review of Flymo Robotic Lawnmower.
Lawn mower buying guide
There is a baffling array of lawnmowers available, each with a multitude of features which can stump even the most discerning buyers. Unfortunately, most shoppers fall for the brand and the pricing trap, putting these factors at the top of the purchasing criteria.
In reality, all of these considerations should come in a distant third to the size and the type of your lawn. So, here are a few crucial things to ponder over when you are trying to find the one perfect answer to the question – what is the best lawn mower for you.
Assessing your lawn mowing needs
A well maintained lawn is a source of pride for any property owner but keeping the yard in top shape calls for a significant amount of effort. The good news is that the right lawn mower can take most of the back breaking hard work out of the job. To begin with, analyze your requirements:
1. The size of the lawn
Anything that is above 1/2 acre will be too arduous to maintain with a push mower even if you are using a gas powered version. For a lawn of that size you will have to choose a ride mower. Realistically, push mowers are a good fit for yards in the range of 1/3-1/2 acre.
2. The terrain
For a small and flat lawn, a manual push lawn mower will work just fine. However, if you are dealing with uneven or hilly terrain, even with a small lawn, it would be best to go for a gas or electric powered model.
3. The grass
If the grass is thin, 5 blades on a regular reel mower will get the job done but for thicker grass, you will need 6-7 blades.
4. The obstacles
Even if you have a ride mower, you may still have to invest in a push or walk behind lawn mower if there are a lot of trees and flower beds and you have to manoeuvre around them.
5. Zoning laws
While petrol/diesel powered lawnmowers offer superlative performance and will go through even the thickest grass with ease, they are very noisy and may create a problem in areas with strict noise control rules. In this situation, an electric powered machine will be your best option. These are quiet and their performance is almost as good as the gas powered models.
Different types of lawnmowers
Before you consider what is the best lawn mower for you, it would certainly help to learn about the various options available in the market. We sure have come a long way since the reel mower was the only help available for lawn care. Today, options galore when buying lawn mowers. However, most can be clubbed into one of these six categories:
1. Push or walk behind lawn mowers
The most popular type of lawn mowers in the market; the design is simple and has a bunch of blades placed on a roller or a cylinder, a handle and wheels that are used to move the lawn mower. Depending on how the blades are placed, manual, push lawn mowers can be segregated further into:
These contraptions have the blades set in the form of a roller which spins rapidly, cutting the grass as the mower is pushed. Rotary mowers are not only an environmentally friendly choice but also they offer the most affordable solution for lawn care. The blades can easily be removed and sharpened and even replaced without too much trouble. However, tangles caused by twigs and debris getting stuck in the blades is common with these units.
These have rotating blades set on a barrel with a fixed blade at the base of the machine. As you move forward, the grass gets trapped in the rotating blades and is cut with the base blade. The advantage of this design is that you get more precise and finer cuts which are perfect for short grass blades and lawns that are frequently maintained.
2. Powered lawn mowers
Walk behind lawn mowers are also available in gas and electric powered versions and each of these has its own pros and cons.
Electric lawn mowers
They are lighter, cheaper and don’t make as much noise as gas powered models. However, they do not pack the punch of petrol/diesel fuelled versions, which means they can only be used on small to medium sized lawns. Some of these lawn mowers can be plugged into the main, so you will need an extension cable for these, which limits their range and manoeuvrability.
You can also find battery powered machines. However, you will have to ensure that a single charge gives you enough operational time and distance to cover the whole yard. All in all, electric lawn mowers require less maintenance than gas powered machines.
Petrol/diesel lawn mowers
These are popular among home owners and lawn care service providers alike, which is a testament to their power, performance and endurance. They are heavy and will cut through the most unruly grass like hot knife through butter.
However, it can get arduous to push these heavy contraptions around. Also, they make a lot of noise and are not the most environmentally friendly option. The advantage is that you can mow the lawn on a whim and will not have to wait to recharge the battery before you can use the machine.
3. Self propelled lawn mowers
The name says it all! You only have to use the handle for changing directions and the machine does the hard work for you. There are three versions of self propelled lawn mowers to choose from:
These are built to handle hilly terrains as they offer greater traction at the centre of the machine. New age models offer enhanced manoeuvrability, speed change feature and the ability to disengage the self-drive system when not needed.
They are ideal for level terrain lawns. The drive wheels are in the front, so you can easily tip the machine backwards and move it around to change directions.
These models work for flat as well as hilly terrains as all four wheels get power for the drive.
4. Riding mowers
These are powerful machines that offer larger cut widths, which reduces the time you spend mowing lawns that are more than 1/2 acre in size. However, they are designed to work in a straight line and are not well suited when mowing around trees and flower beds. There are two options available:
They look like little golf carts and are controlled with a steering wheel. These machines are offered with a multitude of attachments that allow you to bag the clippings, haul fertilizer and landscaping material around and even spread seeds.
Zero turn radius mowers
These machines have front castor wheels that allow the user to pivot the mower at sharper angles. Most ZTR mowers do not sport a steering wheel like regular lawn tractors; instead, they are controlled with lap levers or bars. These lawn mowers work wonderfully in open areas as well as near flower beds, landscaping and trees. However, they can tip over if the terrain has a steep slope.
Like a regular car, ride lawn mowers are available in both manual and automatic transmission. Plus, you also get versions with hydrostatic transmission which uses a fluid system instead of belts to control the supply of power from the engine to the wheels.
5. Hover lawn mowers
As their name suggest, these new aged appliances never touch the ground. They hover a few inches above; the cushion of air in between provides them with superlative manoeuvrability. In fact, if you are dealing with an uneven surface and slopes, this would be the right lawn mower for you.
6. Robotic lawn mowers
The latest and most technologically advanced lawn mowers available today, these robotic units let you sit back and sip on lemonade as they get their wheels dirty. The smart machines have sensors which allow them to move across the lawn and cut the grass with minimal human input.
General factors to consider
When mulling over what is the best lawn mower for you, here are a few generic factors that you should keep in mind:
The larger the unit, the more grass it will cut but it will also take up that much storage space.
The power source
Petrol/diesel machines are powerful but not fuel efficient. So, they do add to your lawn maintenance costs and they are not environmentally friendly. Electric machines are more affordable but it can be taxing to deal with the extension cord and rechargeable battery. In petrol lawn mowers, the power is measured in CC while in electric lawn mowers it is measured in watts. The size of your lawn should be the deciding factor when choosing the power of the unit.
Adjustable handle and height
Handles do take up the most space and they can impact the strain you put on your back and hands. An adjustable handle, makes it simpler to store and operate the machine. With the adjustable height feature, you will be able to cut the lawn to the height you require, so check the range of settings that the mower offers.
You want a bag that is large enough to store all the clippings without the need for frequent emptying.
The blade type
There are three options available. The standard medium lift blade has a slight upward tilt at the back edges and throws the grass clippings to the side. This can leave clumps of grass on the side unless you buy a clipping bag to cover the discharge chute. The second type is the high lift blade. These are tilted upwards and are well suited for bagging the grass. Mulching blades are third in line and they shred the clippings into finer pieces which are then spread over the lawn and act as a natural fertilizer.
The blade width
A wider blade will cut more grass at every pass as it covers a greater area. However, you need to consider the obstacles along the way. If you are going to be mowing around several flower beds, blades with smaller width will be more convenient.
The starting mechanism
Powered lawn mowers come with manual or electric starting mechanisms. With a manual starter, you will have to struggle with a cord that has to be pulled with significant force to get the engine started. On the other hand, electric starters have a key or a button press ignition system. However, they can dramatically raise the price of the machine.
It is also possible to buy lawn mowers with a range of handy features such as deck washing.
Gas powered lawn mowers need more maintenance than electric lawn mowers. Similarly, ride lawn mowers are more expensive to repair and maintain than push mowers.
All weather performance
Rotary motors will work well even when the grass is wet. So, you won’t have to wait for a dry spell to mow the lawn.
What about the grass clipping?
There are also a variety of options available when it comes to the handling of grass clippings such as:
Side discharge mowers
These will throw the clippings back onto the lawn. It works if you are dealing with tall and coarse grass, but it also means you will have to put in some extra work to rake the clippings, bag them and dispose of them.
Clipping bag attached mowers
These models come with an optional collection bag. You will have to pay for it separately but it is well worth the money since it not only collects grass clipping but can also be used for clearing leaves in autumn.
These have been mentioned before; they turn the grass clippings into mulch. Although some mowers have an in-built mulching feature, in most models this is an optional add-on.
As you can see when pondering over what is the best lawn mower for you, it is essential to carefully consider all factors that will influence the performance of the machine. However, if you choose well, the lawn mower will give you years of hassle free performance and a well maintained yard.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to sharpen lawn mower blades without removing?
Before you start any kind of maintenance on your lawn mower, be sure to remove the spark plug to prevent it turning on by accident. Disconnect an electric mower from a power source for the same reason.
- Lift the cover over the blades (you may need to turn your mower over to do this).
- Face the blades towards you.
- Place a wooden block or a stone on the opposite side of the blades, to prevent them moving about as you sharpen them.
- Rub the rough side of a bastard file against the dull blade (you can also use an angle grinder for this bit).
- Check on the sharpness of the blade after a few strokes; you are looking for a shine on the cutting edge that indicates sharpness. You can also press the sharpened edge with your thumb to test it – but be very careful doing this, as it can be easy to cut yourself.
- Once the blade has a satisfactory edge, move on to the next blade and repeat the steps above.
2. How to fix a smoking lawn mower?
Lawn mowers emit smoke for different reasons – some are terminal for the mower, others can be fixed.
If your lawn mower is letting out white or blue smoke, the reason could be an oil spill inside the engine. This can happen if you are mowing at a steep angle and the oil has spilled. You can solve this problem by simply running the mower and allowing the oil to burn off.
This type of smoke can also be caused by overfilling the oil reservoir – check the level of oil with your dipstick, and if it is too full then you will need to drain some out until the oil is at the recommended level.
The wrong grade or type of engine oil can also cause blue or white smoke; to avoid this problem check your owner’s manual to find out what type of oil your mower takes.
If you see black smoke from your lawn mower, it means that it is burning too much fuel, or “running rich”. You can try to fix this problem yourself by checking that the air filter is not clogged or dirty – see if replacing it solves the problem.
If not, the carburetor may need adjusting to allow the correct airflow – you can fix this yourself by following the instructions in your owner’s manual, or you may need to take your lawn mower to a repair shop.
If, after checking the issues above you are still seeing smoke from your lawn mower, it is recommended to take it to a professional repair shop, to prevent any accident or injury when using your mower.
3. How to get rid of a broken lawn mower
If your lawn mower has come to the end of its life, you should first consider salvaging what you can from it. It is definitely worth removing any unused fuel from it, and maybe even oil if it is relatively new.
Next, have a look around your local area to see if there is anywhere that you can recycle it. Some firms will come to you and take your mower off your hands, others you will have to deliver, but this is a good option and one that is better for the environment.
Alternatively, you can sell it off as scrap, but you will have to dismantle the mower into its component parts to make any decent return on it (money towards your new mower!)
You should never simply throw your mower into the local dump. They often have harmful residues of oil and fuel left in them which can leach into the environment – dispose of your lawn mower properly, then you can mow your lawn with your new mower with a clear conscience.
4. How do I get oil out of my lawn mower?
Prop the front of the mower up on blocks, placing an oil pan underneath the drain plug (you will find this on the underside of the mower). Simply unscrew the drain plug with a wrench, or a pair of pliers if you don’t have a wrench, the allow the oil to drain into the waiting pan.
If you can’t find a drain plug on your particular model, just lift the mower from the side where the air filter is, and pour the oil straight out of the oil fill hole.