WHAT IS A LAWN MOWER?
Lawnmowers use spinning blades to cut grass to an even, attractive level. They come in many different types, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Many of them can be adjusted to cut grass at multiple heights, using a simple lever system that’s easy to master.
The cutting blades themselves are propelled by the mower moving forwards. There are two main types of lawnmower- those on a vertical axis, and those on a horizontal axis. The former is known as a “rotary mower”, and will typically be powered by an electric or petrol motor. The latter is known as a “cylinder” or “reel” mower, and are often manually operated. Both types have their strengths and weaknesses, which this article will explain, to help you make the right choice when it comes to buying a new lawnmower.
Cutting Quality: Rotary vs. Cylinder Lawnmowers
By far the most important aspect of a cutting system is just how well it cuts your grass. This will be determined largely by the type and length of grass you want to cut.
Rotary lawnmowers are more suited to medium-to-long grass. Thanks to their vertically positioned blades, they can quickly cut away at this longer grass. Many rotary mowers also come with a mulching blade, which gives some of the goodness contained in the trimmings back to the lawn for healthier grass. Mulching blades are often known as “3-in-1” mowers, because they do three things at once- mow the lawn, produce mulch, and collect excess trimmings into a bag for easy disposal. Hover and tractor mowers take the rotary model and adapt them for different uses.
Cylinder mowers, on the other hand, are more suited to shorter grass, and work better on flat, even surfaces- they don’t work very well on long grass or weeds. They work by moving the blades in a kind of scissor effect, to produce a nice, even finish on the lawn. They also come with rollers attached, so that the grass is pressed down to produce the popular bowling-green effect as you go. It’s recommended that you sharpen the blades on your cylinder mower regularly for the best results.
There’s a lot to consider when buying a lawnmower for the first time. Most importantly, you should consider the size of your lawn and the length of your grass, but you’ll also need to think about a few other factors, too. If you hate cleaning up the lawn, then consider buying a mower with a rear box that picks up the trimmings as you go. Since lawnmowers are a lasting investment, you should make your decision carefully before you buy.
Lawnmowers by power source: Gasoline, Electric, and Push (manual)
Lawnmowers have three main power sources- gasoline, electricity, and manual power.
Gasoline powered lawnmowers
Most modern gas lawnmowers use just the one engine. They offer outstanding blade rotation, allowing for an excellent cut. However, they are complicated machines, and it is therefore important that you know what you’re getting into before you start to use a gas powered mower.
Gas lawnmowers are well-known for their versatility- they can cut through all sorts of grass types with ease. They typically come with between four and seven horsepower- anything lower than four probably isn’t worth your time or money. Since they are cordless, gas lawnmowers are great for large gardens where range and maneuverability is important. They are also convenient to use- there’s no need to wait for a battery to recharge, as you can refill the tank with gasoline at any time. While they do require some maintenance, any repairs to your gas lawnmower will be cheap. Finally, gas mowers are safer than electric mowers, since there’s no risk of electrocution from wet grass or severed power cords.
Gas powered lawnmowers are by far the noisiest kind, which puts many people off. The need for regular maintenance can also be a turn off. Gas mowers also produce a lot of emissions, so aren’t the most environmentally friendly option. Fuel powered lawnmowers produce have higher noise levels than electric lawnmowers. A higher maintenance option, gas lawnmowers require regular maintenance. They are also rather heavy, meaning some people find them difficult to use.
Gas lawnmowers can work to their full power on larger lawns, where their power and mobility really come into play. You should also think about the cost of fuel, and the disruption that thei noise may cause to your neighbors, before you buy.
One useful piece of advice is to choose a gas lawnmower with an overhead valve, which helps to reduce carbon emissions and limits the amount of smoke produce. You’ll want to regularly maintain your gas mower to get the most use out of it.
Electric lawn mowers
Electric lawnmowers come in two main varieties- corded and cordless. In recent years, corded mowers have fallen out of fashion, and most electric lawnmowers now come with a rechargeable battery. They often use multiple batteries to allow the mower to work for an extended period of time. They have the added benefit of increased maneuverability and range when compared to corded models, too.
Electric lawnmowers are very low maintenance, especially when compared to gas mowers. There’s no need to change the oil, fix the engine, or risk spilling fuel on your lawn, meaning many casual users prefer them. They are also a more eco-friendly choice, as they produce less emissions. While they do still make some noise, they are far quieter than gas lawnmowers.
The corded version of electric powered mowers offers limited mobility, making it less ideal for larger lawn spaces. Corded versions also carry increased risk of electrocution as the possibility of cutting the power cord has to be taken into account. Due to being battery powered, electric mowers have a shorter running time than gas ones- typically around an hour- before you’ll need to recharge. They also can’t deal with varied grass heights very well. Since they have the potential to cause electrocution, you shouldn’t use them on wet grass.
Electric and gas mowers can be expensive in the short term, but they could actually save you money in the long run. Be sure to read through the safety instructions carefully before using your mower for the first time, so that you don’t wind up hurting yourself.
Push, manual operated lawnmower
Although other types of lawnmower are more advanced, manual mowers still remain a popular choice due to their affordability and compact size. They are powered by the user physically pushing the mower across the grass to spin the blades.
While they might not be the most efficient, manual lawnmowers are a real green choice, since they produce no emissions. They are also long-lasting with the right maintenance, and are silent compared to motor-powered mowers. They also allow the user to produce a whole range of different patterns on the lawn, to give a unique touch to your garden. Some gardeners also suggest that manual lawnmowers are better for your lawn’s health, as they produce mulch, and add to the soil quality of your garden.
Since they require a lot of physical effort, push lawnmowers can be tiring to use- they are definitely more suited to smaller spaces than large lawns. They are also relatively high-maintenance, and can require multiple passes to achieve an even cut.
This kind of lawnmower is best used on smaller yards. Consider the inclination of your yard. If your garden is on the side of a steep hill, this type of lawnmower may not be ideal for mowing your lawn. You’ll also have to be careful for any objects that can get caught in your blades while mowing your lawn. Avoid using this type of lawnmower on sandy or rocky lawns. If you’re a gardener with limited mobility, think about the torque of the machine you want to buy. Most push lawnmowers will come equipped with a bag to capture clippings. You can also opt to leave the clipping bag unattached, allowing your lawn to be easily mulched.
Push lawnmowers often come in “3-in-1” versions, which bag up the grass cuttings as they go for easier disposal.
It’s vital that you ensure your push lawnmower’s blades stay sharp. You’ll want to buy an effective sharpening kit to get the most use out of your mower. While you won’t need to use it for a while, it will come in handy if you start to find that the mower isn’t cutting as well as it should be.
Commercial lawnmowers: Tractor-pulled, Hover and Robotic
For larger spaces, such as public parks and fields, there are a few more specially designed types of lawnmower that may be more suitable for your purpose.
Often used in large parks and gardens, tractor pulled mowers work in much the same way as manual push reel mowers, except that due to their increased size, they are attached to a tractor or similar vehicle.
Hover lawnmowers, as you may have guessed, use a cushion of air (created by the spinning blades) to float above the ground, making them very easy to maneuver, since there is no friction involved. They are therefore a popular choice for hilly lawns and areas with a lot of weeds, since they make the job that little but easier. Hover mowers are most commonly seen being used to trim golf courses, but are also widely used in many large public spaces.
Robotic lawnmowers are a recent development, and currently only operate within an enclosed space. However, as the name suggests, robotic lawnmowers are able to cut large areas of grass efficiently and effectively, without the need for a human operator. They are cable of cutting areas of several acres at a time.
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