While mowing the lawn may seem a mundane and at times trying task, it needn’t be. Indeed the maintenance of a fresh, emerald swath can be extremely therapeutic, provided you have the right tools for the job, however, it can also be a real pain in the neck if you find yourself ill equipped. Therefore, we’re devoting a piece directly to the appropriate lawn mower for any domestic site or grass type, and weighing their relative pros and cons, such as cost, efficiency and longevity.
To begin with, there are three basic designs of lawn mower – Rotary, Cylinder and Hover.
Beginning with cylinder, what you have here is the most versatile type of mower as they are available as either manual models (thus holding the accolade of cheapest), petrol or electrically powered. Nearly any type of modern mower will have either a static, or detachable collection box built into the rear, to collect clippings, and the cylinder model is based on a vertically rotating blade and, of the three varieties, will provide the neatest, most uniform cut. Because of these qualities the cylinder is usually designated for formal lawns, where a very short cut is necessary and, as a result of this, many different accessory rotors are available to provide custom height patterns for the user.
Next we have the rotary mower, which similarly functions to the cylinder but with one key difference – the blades move in a horizontal, as opposed to vertical, fashion and because of this difference the rotary is more suited to varying terrains on the lawn, specifically slopes and dips.
Finally, the hover mower and, despite its futuristic description, it is not without its setbacks, the foremost of which being power consumption. Although it is easily the most convenient to handle, due to its near weightlessness once activated, the distance from the ground surface can make it unreliable for consistent length. Like its competitors it can also be limited by the trailing electrical cable which will restrict the area it can comfortably maintain, however, unlike the competition, there is no viable alternative power source for the hover mower.
We come now to the ecological and financial battle of the mowers and while cabled and petrol fuelled designs will guarantee the option of self-propulsion, this addition will also incur extra cost, not only initially, but in years to come, whenever the machine is in use. Also, a petrol mower is one of the most environmentally damaging tools that could enter the garden, due to the accumulative carbon footprint it’ll produce.
Sometimes self-propulsion is a necessity when dealing with very large areas of grass or particularly inhospitable terrain, however, if environmental soundness is your concern, you should consider the manual mower. While they’ll require greater maintenance due to their predominantly metallic structure, they’ll ensure zero carbon emission and far friendlier looking electricity bill, not to mention providing a spot of exercise at the same time.
On a side note, the question of a grass catcher should not be overlooked. While it’s an unusual horticulturalist who doesn’t enjoy the scent of fresh clippings on the lawn, by conserving the detritus, you can ensure an excellent and regular composting material – and one you can trust to suit the needs of your garden because that’s where it came from.
Of course, even the lawn isn’t safe from the invasion of technology and you’re probably already familiar with the robotic lawn mowers that manufacturers like Husqvarna promise will deliver the perfect automated trim. However, there are now more ecologically sound variants available that come complete with a solar charging network. Unfortunately, the disadvantage of these advanced mowers is their dependence on good sunlight to operate, which is usually the best reason to get into the garden and do it yourself!
If none of these options appeal to you, however, you might consider the use of a good old fashioned scythe – just don’t sport black while you’re swinging it or you might scare the neighbours!
By Josh Ellison