It is safe to say that lawn-mowers are the most common technical devices for gardens and private households. Looking out for a nice handy lawn-mower, the lawn owner believes that he is about to free himself from the vexing problem once and for all. But surprisingly there is a widest breadth of lawn-mowers on offer. And it seems that each and every model promises its prospective customer pleasant surprises, technological innovations, various additional options and technical parameters. Therefore, when choosing, you no longer want the “same one” as your neighbor has, but rather try to find a variant that would be perfect for you. That is, you look eventually for devices that will suite you in every parameter. Which means, that your friends’ or neighbors’ advice will not be of much help in figuring this problem out.
We recommend our readers to consider the following basic technical characteristics of lawn mowers when buying one. These simple rules take into account all the essential details and make the choice of the desired equipment a much easier and money-saving process.
Firstly, you need to understand functional differences between lawn mowers and other park and garden equipment as there are also trimmers and strimmers. The owners of a country estate do not often see a significant difference between those, which can make the pursuit of desired equipment fraught with errors.
- A lawn-mower is a medium size and medium-powered wheel-mounted gardening equipment used for grass mowing on a flat landscape.
- A trimmer is a low-powered manual device that has a cutting element, a rod and an engine. Such trimmer may be used where it is necessary to cut the grass on an uneven surface and in hard-to-get-at place. This device is usually used for processing relatively small areas. Or for touching up those areas where the lawn-mower cannot be used.
- Strimmer (string trimmer) is a more powerful and structurally more reliable version of a trimmer designed for mowing high grass types and processing of uneven areas. It can be used as a main tool for taking care of a backyard but one must take into account that the mowing with a strimmer would be done manually and thus the resulting surface can be uneven. It is not a reliable option for the lawn grass.
Now, we have reached a conclusion that the lawn-mower is the best option for areas with flat landscape and simple geometry. However, there is still a lot to consider before we are ready to make a purchase. As a next step you have to choose the type of lawn mower. For the sake of simplicity, the classification of devices, the principles of individual models operation, their advantages and disadvantages are given in the table below.
|Electric Engine without an Accumulator Unit||Electric Mowers|
|Environmentally benign, do not require fuel and lubricant materials, show low noise levels (at 80 dB).||Devices require input power, a power extender; there is also a risk of cable puncture, which makes it unsafe to do the mowing with rain and dew. Limited power.|
|Electric Engine with an Accumulator Unit||Cordless Battery Powered Lawn Mowers and Robotic Lawn Mowers|
|These have similar advantages, but also show better mobility. The robotic lawn-mowers do not require an operator.||The same disadvantages as mentioned above but also add a considerable weight, limited battery life (15 to 30 minutes), and long battery recharging.|
|Gasoline-Powered Engine||Petrol Lawn-Mowers|
|Highly-efficient, handy, reliable, designed for forced service.||Considerable weight, a high level of noise (over 90 dB), require routine maintenance and fuel. Doctors also warn that emissions from lawn-mowers might be a danger to health.|
|No engine, the prime mover is muscular effort.||Push Mower|
|100% environmentally friendly, noiseless, low cost, self-sufficiency, operability in any weather conditions, ideal for areas with short, young grass.||Require considerable physical effort if rapidity is needed, mowing takes a lot of time. Not suitable for thick or tall grass.|
|Riding Frontwheel Drive Lawn Mowers|
|Maneuverable at turns, easy to operate.||Can only be used on flat lawns.|
|Rear-Wheel Drive||Riding Rear-Wheel Drive Lawn Mowers|
|If rear wheels are of a larger diameter, the device can operate well on slopes and rugged terrain.||Unwieldy at hen turns, sometimes you might have to stop and even boost a little some models.|
|Riding All-Wheel Drive Lawn Mowers|
|High-powered and highly-efficient, universally applicable for a landscape of any complexity, up and running in any weather conditions, go up and down hills with ease.||Expensive, have a considerable weight (about 50 kg).|
|Lightweight (about 15 kg), cost-effective.||Require pushing, low power (models with a non-driven engine).|
|Circular (drum) machine (‘complete harvester principle’, with cutting blades twisted in a spiral around a spinning drum)||Lawn-Mowers with Drum Cutting Unit|
|These include all two-wheel models of mechanical lawn-mowers with manual drive, as well as individual models with an electric engine. And this feature determines advantages of such devices. They provide the best quality of mowing (grass section).||These models are low-powered and heavy, and thus are not suitable for a garden overrun with weeds.|
|Rotatory operating principle (‘propeller principle’; a cutting disk or 1-2 pairs of cutting blades – spindle knives – are fixed on the upstanding running shaft)||Lawn-Mowers with Rotary Cutting Unit (Cylinder Mowers)|
|Universally applicable, the knives can be adjusted in height, which allows you to work on elevations as well as on uneven places. These include all four-wheeled gasoline and electric models.||The disadvantages are determined by the type of engine installed, drive, knives, main body material.|
|Air Cushion||Wheel-free Lawn Mowers|
|Quite handy, show go-anywhere mobility and high turnability, designed for working on uneven terrain and in hard-to-get-at places.||Could rarely be found on sale, have a small model rang. Directing the mower along a straight line can prove being a challenge.|
Step 1. Electric or Gasoline-Powered Engine
Modern manufacturers offer their customers a wide variety of lawn-mowers, and each model shows specific principles of functioning. This includes each and every model from expensive battery-powered to mechanical ones.
Those models working on a gasoline engine show a higher level of performance.
The gasoline-powered lawn-mower is a powerful machine and often belongs to professional devices. Such units are often used by municipal services when mowing parks and public gardens. Power, reliability and stand-alone self-sufficiency are the major advantages of a gasoline engine. Japanese Honda and American Briggs & Stratton lawn-mowers are considered to be the most reliable on the market of gasoline-powered engines. They have an impressive overhaul period and good crash protection.
Among the disadvantages of gasoline-powered engines are higher prices, increased weight and bulky outline, environmentally unfriendly emission, the necessity of gasoline and oil reloading, and complicated maintenance. The only reason why you might need such a machine for your private household is a really large and remote homestead land and you have constant problems with electricity, like shutdown, voltage variations, etc.
Electric lawn-mowers are home appliances that are always very convenient to use, simple to keep and do not require reloading and maintenance. The electric motor runs quietly, nothing more than a low buzz. Such machines produce neither vibration nor caustic emissions. But if you are connected with a cable to your electrical network, you can hardly move far from home, even by means an extension cord. Therefore, the land plot area is a crucial parameter when choosing the engine type for a perfect-lawn mower. A small near the house lawn along with a reliable electric power system requires nothing more than a compact and lightweight electric lawn-mower.
Rechargeable mowers may be a good solution for small lawns. They provide extra mobility, but are also more expensive than electric ones. The battery requires several hours of charging, but then you can mow the lawn freely and even away from home for a good half an hour or even an hour (depending on the battery capacity).
And to top it all there are also mechanical or push lawn-mowers, which are an environmentally friendly solution for your garden, because the device works without giving off harmful emissions to nature. These units are always lightweight, as they are meant to be driven manually. It seems to be a simple thing – no foul-smelling fumes, no maintenance, they are also really inexpensive. But sometimes such push lawn-mowers cannot bring the expected results. You exert considerable force, and it is even more difficult to move downhill, yet the grass surface comes out uneven, with clumps and bald patches.
Step 2. Push or Drive
There are two types of lawn-mowers – riding (self-propelled) and those that require operator’s pushes to move, that is, non-self-propelled mowers. Non-propelled or push mower models are very affordable and rather practical. They compare poorly in both technical parameters and operation speed, but their great advantage is that the engine power is only spent on the rotation of the cutting system. Such lawn-mower is very convenient for moderate household work. Pushing it in front of you is not all a problem.
A self-propelled lawn-mower shows better usability features and maneuverability. Among its disadvantages are a considerable body weight, engine noise and unpleasant evaporation, resulting from fuel processing. Electric tools lack all these qualities, but their mobility is more limited. Yet, all the disadvantages are balanced out by its speedy self-propelled move – you just need to hold the handles and guide the unit.
Self-propelled lawn mowers can have Front-wheel, Rear-Wheel or All-Wheel drive. The front-wheel drive lawn-mower can be used for any lawn mowing: for uneven areas, for complex, bumpy surfaces. Rear-wheel drive is a better choice for larger areas, where the device goes up and down. Wheels are an essential constituent of self-propelled (riding) lawn mowers. Models manufactured by serious producers always have wide wheels, they do not sink in grass, they have a ball bearing which ensures that the wheel would not break or go wrongly even when driving fast.
Step 3. One-Pass Mowing Width
When choosing the mowing width of a lawn-mower, in the first instance, you should take into consideration in which area you are going to use this particular model. If it is going to be a garden with close planted bushes and trees, one should better opt for a device with a narrower mowing width. The operation progress might be a tad slower, but mowing will be neat and thorough. Moreover, law- mowers with smaller width (up to 40 cm) are much more lightweight. To pick clean a large lawn or a greensward, you will prefer a model with a larger width scale (45-50 cm), which is characterized by improved productivity and processing speed.
Step 4. Mowing Height Regulation
Lawn mowing height is an intrinsic part of the process. Therefore, the right decision is to choose such a lawn-mower, which has the function of height adjustment. The cutting height adjustment can be of two types:
- Centering adjustment
- Separate adjustment of each wheel.
The wheel adjustment is performed by raising or lowering of the wheel axle or by screwing loose each wheel separately and placing them in corresponding slots. You need a wrench and some skills to perform that, and it is hardly a time-saving process. For a home with a neatly trimmed and tidy lawn household lawn-mowers with effective central adjustment will be the best option. It means synchronous spring adjustment performed by one click of a lever, which is very simple and convenient. You can raise and lower the wheels in three or even five positions.
Step 5. How Much Grass Goes In the Grassbag
The capacity of the grassbag can vary a lot from model to model. It all depends on the power capacity and purpose of the model. If you are looking for a professional mowing device, it is better to look for a unit with a larger grassbags (70-90 liters). For mowing of garden/backyard near your cottage, you may opt for a lawn-mower with a grassbag of a more moderate capacity. The larger the collector is, the faster the work progresses, since you don’t need to stop to clean it out. But remember that too large a grassbag means a heavier unit. The major brands furnish their grassbags with a special ventilation system; they can be stowed full as the grass gets compacted in the process. Grassbags with a filling indicator are very convenient too. As a rule, it is a small done flag that rises as the container fills. When it is completely raised, it is time for cleaning the mower out.
Step 6. Plastic or Textile Grassbag
All manufacturers of such garden tech use either tailored plastic or thick textiles for their grassbags. When choosing a model for a cottage or for home use, you should be guided by your own needs. The textile grass box is lighter, more compact, but not as handy when the time comes to clear it out as you need to do it with a special brush. Plastic grassbag provides an increased convenience of performance, since it can be used with the utmost efficiently – the grass will be tightly compacted. Moreover, the plastic grassbag is easy to clean – your simply throw the grass away and wash it.
Step 7. Aluminum, Steel or Plastic Body
Modern manufacturers offer their consumers three options of lawn-mower cases – with an aluminum/steel body frame or with a case made of tailored ABS plastic.
- Plastic shows a fairly high shatter index, and therefore is a perfect choice for packing lawn-mowers. It is also lightweight and safe in transportation – valuable properties for everyday use. Such frame body is always covered with powder-coated paint, which is incorrigible and does not fade in the sun. Its further advantages include its lightweight. But still, plastic is no metal. Therefore, only low-cost lawn-mowers for household use are equipped with a plastic case.
- The aluminum body is almost as light and shows enhanced durability. Moreover, it almost does not suffer corrosion. However, this is a rather expensive option.
- Steel body frames are the heaviest and the most durable; they surpass aluminum in many ways, but are more susceptible to corrosion. Against this disadvantage the surface is covered with an anti-corrosion compound. Such frames are usually installed on powerful professional models.
Step 8. Side Discharge Function
Side grass discharge contributes to the convenience of mowing with the particular device. Not models of lawn-mowers sport this feature as it is a complementary option that influences the eventual cost of the item. Machines with side discharge have a special side deflector, often located on the right side of the body frame. It is highly convenient when cut grass lies on the side as it can be used for hay. It is also a valuable solution when mowing roadsides and paths. The operational safety is thus increased since the grass would not fly in the worker’s face. Moreover, with the option of side discharge, the work site area has a better view which is also a convenience for the operator of the mower.
Step 9. Mulching Function
The principle of mulching is shredding the mown grass. This feature is also a complementary function and an extremely popular one as it eases considerably the cleaning process, and elongates the action time.
Step 10. Variable Transmission
If you need to mow a large and uneven area, with a complicated terrain, ups and downs, you should consider an expensive lawn mower equipped with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Lawn-mowers with variable transmission have contribution to a smooth change of a gear ratio. Such devices are more easy-to-handle. Operational comfort is increased due to the absence of recoil and jolts when changing gears. You can silence a transmission on the rise, and put in the second or third gear on a large flat surface. Such mowers often have a reverse (a reverse gear). This is extremely convenient when turning the lawn mower and navigating it around various obstacles.