OK, you’re ready to buy a new lawnmower, and you want to know what size you need.
Before you make a decision, there are a few things you should consider:
- Do you want a walk-behind mower or a ride-on mower?
- Do you want a mower with a grass collection box?
- A four-wheel mower or a roller mower?
- A rotary-bladed mower or a cylinder mower?
- Do you want a robotic lawnmower?
To help you make the right choice and spend your money wisely, the GoToMow team has put together this buying guide to the size of lawnmower you need.
The first thing you should do
The first thing you should do is ask yourself:
- How long does it take to cut the grass at the moment?
Size is important. If it takes you longer than an hour to cut the grass, you should consider a larger machine. If it takes you less, a smaller one is fine.
The following is a rough guide to the size of lawnmower you should buy based on the size of your lawn. But, of course, gardens and lawns are not uniform bits of grass – they come with all sorts of attractive features – and no two are the same. So read on after the table to learn what lawnmower is best suited to your needs.
Lawnmower size is usually measured in cutting width, so this is the measurement you usually see when looking at mower sizes. As a rule of thumb, large mowers have wider cutting widths.
|The size of your lawn
(in square metres)
|The size of lawnmower you should buy
(cut width in cm)
|50-54 (self-propelled – engine size of 175cc or less
|50-54 (self-propelled – engine size of 175cc or above
The second thing you should do
The second thing you should do is ask yourself this question:
- Do I want a lawnmower that will mulch the cuttings?
How much do you like going back and forth to the compost heap or your green garden waste bin to empty the grass collection box?
If you don’t want to do this, get a lawnmower that mulches the grass. You’ll mow the lawn quicker, and your lawn will be healthier because you’ll be reintroducing the nutrients you take out of the lawn when you mow it.
And you don’t have to worry about having a messy looking lawn – you won’t end up with a thatch because the mulcher cuts the grass into such small pieces that they all but disappear when they get pushed down onto the lawn.
Of course, if composting is your thing, buy a lawnmower with a grass collection box and enjoy your compost.
A walk-behind mower or a ride-on mower?
Ride-on lawnmowers are cool. They just are. But they’re not always what you need.
If you have a garden with lots of nooks and crannies, fiddly bits and little corners, or your lawn has lots of flower beds, or you have an orchard with lots of trees, you probably don’t want a ride-on mower. You just won’t get value for money because the mower won’t be able to cut enough of your grass.
Still want a ride-on mower? OK. If a ride-on mower will cut 80% of your grass, go for it. But you’ll need a second machine – a small walk-behind mower or a strimmer – to cut the rest of the grass.
This brings us to walk-behind mowers, which is what most people have. They generally come in three sizes: 42cm, 46cm and 53cm. Anything larger is likely to be too big and cumbersome for normal-sized domestic gardens.
Walk-behind mowers: four-wheeled or roller?
You can choose a lawnmower with four wheels or front wheels and a rear roller. If you want a striped lawn, which looks lovely, you need a mower with a rear roller. In general, these are better suited to neat lawns rather than rougher grass.
A four-wheeled mower is better for rougher grass. This type of mower is much more manoeuvrable, usually lighter and normally less expensive. Rear rolled mowers can be heavier and harder to steer and often come with a higher price tag.
But beware the budget mower with four wheels and a roller
Budget mowers with four wheels and a small plastic roller are available but they don’t have the weight if you want a stripe that stays for any meaningful length of time.
Also, you can’t have a mulching feature with a roller mower. Mulching mowers will always have 4 wheels.
Walk-behind mowers: rotary bladed or cylinder?
This is another question about lawnmowers that we’re often asked: a rotary-bladed mower or a cylinder mower?
Usually, we would recommend a rotary-bladed mower. Cylinder mowers have gone a bit out of fashion for a number of reasons: they won’t cut long grass (the front roller tends to flatten the grass, which the cutting cylinder then goes over the top of and doesn’t cut) and they won’t cut damp grass.
Also, cylinder mowers don’t do a good job on cutting weeds – they leave the weed stems behind, which doesn’t give the lawn a nice finish. And then there are the maintenance costs for a cylinder mower – they are much higher than for a rotary-bladed mower.
However, cylinder mowers cut much lower than rotary-bladed mowers. So, if you have a very short lawn (putting green short) or if you have a grass tennis court, and as long as it’s perfectly flat, a cylinder mower may be the best choice.
A self-propelled mower or a push mower?
The size of your lawn is a significant factor here. The larger it is, the more likely you might want a self-propelled mower (let the machine take the strain instead of you). A push mower will keep you fit, but there are limits.
A self-propelled mower usually has a single speed – a comfortable walking pace. You just follow the mower around. Simple. A self-propelled mower will let you switch the power drive on and off if you occasionally fancy applying some elbow grease.
If you feel the need for speed, there are high-spec self-propelled mowers that have variable power drives that allow you to control how fast your mower mows.
The pros of push mowers are their lighter weight, better manoeuvrability and lower cost. But once you get to mowers with a cut width of 45cm and above, they are normally all self-propelled.
Should I buy a robotic mower?
If you don’t want to mow your lawn yourself, the answer to this question is a big fat yes. A robotic mower will come out once and twice a week and mow the grass for you.
You can pre-set a robotic mower to get to work when it’s dark or you’re not at home, and your lawn will always look nice because the regular cutting will stop the coarse grasses from growing and keep the weeds at bay.
The disadvantages of a robotic mower, if you can call them that, is that they take quite a bit of setting up and they are reasonably expensive in terms of upfront cost, versus what you’d pay for a walk-behind or ride-on mower.
Can I still get a hover mower?
Remember hover mowers? You don’t see too many of them anymore because they’re not particularly good at cutting grass. You often end up dragging them around, and they’re not good at doing long grass. They also tend to blow clippings everywhere, so they are not what you want if you have a fish pond or patio nearby.
We’d always steer you towards a four-wheel rotary-bladed mower instead of a hover mower, or if you have a small patch of grass, a manual push mower.