Picking the right lawnmower for your garden
What size is your garden
When choosing a new lawnmower, the most consideration is the size of the garden or lawn you wish to mow.
If you wish to mow a garden the size of a football pitch, a corded lawnmower might not be for you.
However, if your garden is the size of an A4 sheet, a ride-on lawnmower might be overkill.
Coming up, we have a quick guide to measuring your garden and pointers as to what size of a mower you will need.
How to quickly measure the size of your garden
There is no need to be too exact here. To estimate your mowing surface:
- Walk-in large rectangles around your lawn and count your steps as you go.
- Find the length of the sides of the rectangle. Do this by multiplying your number of strides by your stride length. An average Man’s stride is about 30 inches. An average Woman’s stride is about 26 inches. (If you want to be more accurate, measure your own stride.)
- Multiply two sides of the rectangle to find the area. (Length by width)
- Add the area of all the rectangles.
An acre is 43,560 square feet, so a quarter acre is 10,890 square feet. If your lawn is smaller than a quarter acre you will probably want to get a push lawnmower.
Depending on the gradient of your garden, your physical fitness and the amount of time you have, you may go the other way and opt for a ride-on lawnmower.
If your back garden is small, you might consider getting a corded electric lawnmower.
Push Lawnmower options, features, pros, cons
If you are looking for a push lawnmower, what should you choose? There are fancy terms like 3-in-1, mulching, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, electric, and even self-driving. Where does one start?
We can help you out here by explaining some terminology and how it may or may not suit the job you want to do.
Let’s start with an easy one.
Normally, when someone describes a lawnmower as self-drive or self-propelled, they won’t be referring to one of those autonomous Roomba style lawnmowers. (Although they do exist.)
Generally speaking, a self-propelled lawnmower can push itself. These come in front-wheel and back-wheel drive. This feature can make your life much easier when you mow up hills.
If you choose a front-wheel drive, it gives you extra traction at the front when one is on a level surface. This means you can be more nimble around obstacles like trees and bushes.
On the other hand, a rear-wheel-drive lawnmower is best for mowing uphill and side-hill. If you push down on the handle of an RWD lawnmower when going uphill, the front tires will not lose traction.
Either way, you will wish you had a self-propelled lawnmower when you push an almost-full lawnmower up a hill,
However, a self-propelled might be overkill if you have a small, flat space to mow.
Mulching is a process wherein you redistribute some nitrogen-rich grass cuttings back over the garden to improve the soil.
Not all lawnmowers can mulch – specialised mulching mowers have curved blades and a domed cutting deck to cut, suspend and re-cut grass into smaller pieces. The lawnmower then deposits these in the garden.
Conventional lawnmowers have flat blades that cut just once. However, you can use a specialised kit to convert your mower to mulch.
A 3-in-1 mower lets you mow, mulch and bag in one machine. 2-in-1 mowers either mulch and bag, or mulch and side discharge. Most mowers let you quickly and easily switch between ways. If you want to bag your grass clippings, look at a rear-bagging model.
You will have a couple of options for engine size if you decide to buy a petrol lawnmower:
- 2-stroke engine
- 4-stroke engine
We could explain the technical differences between a 2-stroke and a 4-stroke engine.
However, we will keep it simple for the sake of this blog.
2-stroke engines are less powerful and less fuel-efficient than their 4-stroke counterparts. However, they are much easier to maintain and have fewer moving parts.
They also tend to be much smaller, lighter, smokier, louder and cheaper.
4-stroke engines are more fuel-efficient and produce more torque.
They are easier to start, more reliable, more powerful, and more expensive.
Both are internal combustion engines and will most likely take petrol fuel. However, in a 2-stroke engine, you must first mix the petrol and oil to a specific ratio before putting it into the tank. You will be able to find this in the manual or the fuel cap.
In a 4-stroke engine, you put the oil and petrol in different compartments. You don’t have to worry about mixing it to the correct ratio.
If you choose an electric lawnmower, you have a few options here:
Corded lawn mowers are much more common and the cheaper option of these two. They also tend to be much cheaper to run than petrol lawnmowers.
There are a few drawbacks to corded lawnmowers. Because you plug this lawnmower into the wall with a cord, you have less freedom to roam.
If you have a small garden or a long extension cord, this doesn’t matter. However, if you have a large garden, it can be a nuisance.
Corded lawnmowers also tend to be less powerful than 2-stroke or 4-stroke lawnmowers.
There are many positives about them, however. Corded lawn mowers are much lower maintenance than their petrol counterparts.
Considerations like degrading battery cells, mixing fuel, or keeping petrol or oil topped up do not exist with a corded lawnmower. Plug it in, and cut.
Corded mowers are also very quiet and emit zero emissions; this makes them ideal for an urban setting.
Battery-Powered lawnmowers were the stuff of fancy until companies like Milwaukee made massive innovations in battery technology.
Battery lawnmowers hit the sweet spot when it comes to performance.
Like corded electric lawnmowers, they are low maintenance and perform silently; but they can have as much power and torque as a petrol engine.
A battery lawnmower is suitable for cutting large lawns because you don’t have to plug it into a wall.
However, because this battery technology is so new, you will be paying quite a bit more for them than traditional petrol or electric mowers.
There are ways you will claw back money, though. In the case of Milwaukee or Makita, you can use the same batteries in the lawnmower as you use in their power tools. Tradesmen can kill two birds with one stone.
With the global shift away from fossil fuels, petrol will not get any cheaper. If your lawnmower is battery-powered, fluctuating fuel prices won’t affect the cost of running it. It all adds up come the end of the life cycle of the lawnmower.