Maintaining a manicured lawn is no easy task but with the right mower, even cutting your lawn can be a pleasure! Common sense would tell us that the more expensive mower will be more durable, handy, intuitive, and probably will help us get the job done faster. However, the more important question is “Do I need it?”
According to Patrick Weisel, New York horticulturist and landscape professional, when it comes to choosing a mower, don’t purchase more than you need. Don’t overbuy. It may be the best lawn mower in town, but it may not be the best mower that your lawn needs nor can handle.
To help you select the right trimmer, it’s good to know the different types that we have in the market and consider the pros and cons of each!
Rotary Vs Cylinder
There are several types of mowers and each is suited to a particular scale and purpose. But generally speaking, mowers are classified by their rotations and blade.
Rotary mowers have single blades that spin horizontally and use sucking and tearing action to cut the grass. The design is simple and works best on a medium to high cut. However, the result is usually a rougher trim. If the blades become clogged or blunt, it can bruise and shred the grass leaf resulting in discolouration as the shredded portion dies.
Most rotary lawn mowers also have a catcher on the back to catch the grass clippings, but you have the option of removing it if you prefer leaving the clippings and using it as a natural and free fertiliser on the lawn.
On the other hand, cylinder mowers (also called reel mowers) have anywhere between five to twelve exposed blades that rotate vertically and use scissoring action to trim the grass. The more blades there are the better the cut quality will be. A properly adjusted reel mower makes the cleanest cut and allows the grass to heal more quickly and will also promote a thicker and more resilient lawn. Cylinder lawnmowers generally have no bags for grass clippings, but similar to rotary mowers, you can also opt for a model that has a canister to catch the trimmings.
The downside of the cylinder mower is that it doesn’t do very well on uneven terrain nor will it cut long grass — they are great only for frequent mowing (at least once or twice a week) to ensure a good cut. Also, the blades need periodic and precise maintenance. If not done properly, the mower will end up chewing the grass resulting in an exceptionally poor cut that’s even worse than a blunt rotary mower!
Lawn Size and Energy Source
Mowers can also be classified by their power source and knowing which one to go for should actually depend on how much lawn you have.
Push mowers are suitable if you have a small yard ranging up to 300 to 400 sqm or less. They are lightweight and their compact design makes it easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Traditionally, they did not have engines but modern models are now available with gasoline engines or electric motors (cord or cordless) that are able to cut grass that are too long for ordinary push mowers.
However, you do have to do all of the work when using a push mower as even if it’s motorised, it only spins the cutting blade. Also, the mower only goes as fast as you push it since you propel the wheels.
For medium to large lawns ranging from 400 to 1000 sqm, self-propelled mowers are recommended. These types mechanically push the mower forward with a gearbox and all you need to do is guide it where it needs to go for a less time consuming and back-breaking experience!
Self-propelled mowers are also sub-categorised based on its drive or where the gearbox exerts its pull on the wheels.
Drive The pull is on the front and reduces traction on the front wheels
✅ Flat or leveled ground
✅ Pivots into and out of corners and can go around obstacles easily
❎ Not meant for slopes
❎ Front wheels often bounce up on bumpy terrains
The pull is on the back and front tires do not lose traction
✅ Hilly areas (Uphill and Side hill mowing)
✅ Extended traction for more precise cuts and fresher look
❎ Hard to manoeuver
❎ Challenging to use for lawns with lots of obstacles and turning
The power is equally distributed to the wheels
✅ Maximum control and manoeuverability
✅ Ideal for lawns with mixed terrains including uneven, wet, and slippery areas
❎ More expensive and require greater maintenance
❎ Adjusted and controlled manually to change speed and turn the drive
Ride-on mowers are recommended once your lawn size exceeds the 1000 sqm threshold. Although you can push your self-propelled mower to the limit (yours to be exact), it saves a lot of time and effort to just ride through it.
If your lawn area is under 2 acres or about 8,000 sqm, a residential, light-duty ride-on would work. Above that limit and you should be considering a more powerful, commercial ride-on mower instead.
Rear-engine Ride on
Entry-level machines, exclusive for mowing
✅ Ideal for yards with narrow passes like fence gates
✅ More affordable, takes up less space
✅ Ideal for wet and dry grass collection
❎ Considerably slower
❎ Cannot pull attachments
❎ Not meant for lawns larger than 3,000 sqm or ¾ acres
Also called lawn or garden tractors. Ideal for mowing extensive lawns
✅ 1-2 acres or 4,000-8,000 sqm
✅ Comes with a collector for wet and dry grass and debris like twigs and branches
✅ Wide cutting decks (75-125 cm) and powerful engines
✅ Can haul heavy attachments
✅ Some have mulching capabilities
❎ Not for yards with lots of obstacles
❎ Not the best choice if you’re looking for speedy mowers
Also called tractor mowers. Almost similar in scale and specifications with Rear-collect
✅ Ideal for rougher terrain
✅ Best for longer grass and larger areas where collection is not suited
✅ Can collect dry grass
✅ Can haul heavy attachments
❎ Not for wet grass collection
❎ Seldom comes with collector or mulching kits, usually bought separately
Front-cut Ride on
Also called Out Front riders
✅ Great visibility
✅ Cuts under bushes and overhanging tree branches
✅ Powerful engines and mulching capability
✅ 4WD capability for uneven terrain and slopes
❎ More expensive
❎ Less pulling capabilities
Zero-Turn Ride on
For absolute manoeuverability: forward, reverse, turn!
✅ Great visibility, turns instantly and leaves no uncut patches
✅ Faster, total control over speed for increase efficiency
✅ Upto 4 acres
✅ For regular mowing
❎ Some models can have traction problems, mower can get stuck
❎ Less pulling capabilities
❎ Can have difficulty with slopes
❎ More expensive
❎ Not meant for overgro
Heavy Duty/ Estate Tractor
Very powerful large-scale garden tractors used commercially for large estates and gardens
✅ For 2 acres or 8,000 sqm and above and rougher terrains
✅ For heavy duty attachments: ploughs, cultivators, sweepers, etc.
✅ Mulching capability even with long grass in orchards and meadows
✅ Collection of wet and dry grass, debris
✅ Can fit metal rollers to create defined stripes on lawn if mowed in alternate directions
❎ Very expensive
❎ Heavy and consumes space for storage
Once you have considered a mower based on the size of the lawn, it’s time to decide what’s most important for you. Is it the price, cut quality, speed, maneuverability, power? Do you have enough time for frequent mowing? If one of these factors stands out, then the search can easily be narrowed down.
With that said, we have created a chart to summarize your decision making and help you identify the perfect lawn companion!
Of course, if you would rather let the professionals take care of the hard work of mowing the lawn, Fresh Lawns can help. With our easy online booking, dedicated customer service and 100% happiness guarantee, you can feel confident letting us take care of your lawn. Get a free quote in less than 60 seconds online.