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12 Different Types of Lawn Mowers

A quick guide to the main types of lawn mowers for homeowners

Walk Behind Lawn Mowers - the basic differences explained

Also known as pedestrian lawn mowers and push lawn mowers.Walk behind lawn mowers

Self-propelled mowers

Self-propelled lawn mowers use the power from the engine or motor to drive forwards, which takes much of the strain away from the user when mowing. On more premium mowers the speed at which it drives forwards is adjustable, and can be controlled by the user at the handlebars.

Self-propelled mowers are favoured by professionals and users who have larger areas to cut.

Push mowers

    Unlike a self-propelled mower where the engine or motor moves the mower forwards, on a push mower the engine or motor only drives the cutting blades. Push mowers require the user to physically push the mower to move it around the lawn.

    Push mowers are typically found at the smaller end of the walk behind mower range as they are lighter and therefore easier to push. They are a favoured option for users with smaller lawns, and because they don't have a self-propelled drive system they are generally more cost effective.

    Hand Lawn Mowers

    On a hand lawn mower, sometimes referred to as a manual lawn mower, the wheels or roller drive the cutting blades and turn when the mower is pushed forwards. There's no engine or motor so the mower relies on the user to power it by pushing, which makes them only really suitable for small lawns. As there are no complex mechanisms, hand lawn mowers have been known to last a very long time.

    Mowers with four wheels

      With four wheels in contact with the ground, these walk behind lawnmowers are the easiest to use and are capable of handling uneven ground, such as rougher areas of grass that have been neglected.

      Mowers with a rear roller

        Rear roller mowers typically have two wheels at the front and a roller at the rear, and are designed to create stripes on the lawn. As the mower moves forwards the roller flattens the grass, changing the way the light reflects off the blades of grass. This is what causes the striping effect.

        Roller mowers are best suited to people with well maintained lawns who wish to create the traditional, striped appearance.

        The roller also provides support across the full width of the mower, allowing the user to cut alongside borders without risk of the mower tipping in and the blades scalping the lawn. Find out more about the benefits of a rear roller.

        Roller mower v mower with wheels

        Hover mowers

          When running, hover mowers sit on a cushion of air created by the impeller within the deck. Due to this, hover mowers are exceptionally light to manoeuvre making them easy to use. Some hover mowers have specially adapted engines to allow them to work on slopes of up to 45°.

          Rotary cut mowers

          Most mowers are rotary mowers. A rotary mower has a rotating blade housed within a cutter deck. Think of the blade as being like a helicopter blade. The blade cuts in a scything action and is suitable for lawns right through to rough grass areas.

          Cylinder cut mowers

          The blades on a cylinder mower are like a pair of scissors in that the grass is trapped between two blades and cut cleanly. Cylinder mowers are typically found on fine lawns and fine sports turf surfaces such as golf courses and cricket grounds.Rotary versus cylinder lawn mower blades

          Ride on Lawn Mowers - the basic differences explained

          Ride on mowers

          Ride-on Lawn Tractors

            Also known as ride on tractors, garden tractors, lawn tractors, riding tractors and riders.

            ride on lawn tractor will typically have the cutter deck between the wheels and can collect, discharge, and/or mulch the grass clippings depending on the model. These tractors often have towing hitches and are capable of more than just mowing the lawn.

            Lawn tractorsExample Lawn Tractor, Westwood T Series

            Out Front Mowers

            Although with an appearance similar to a ride-on tractor, the cutting deck of these mowers sits at the front to give the user better control around borders and in tight areas. In addition, rear wheel steering allows for tighter turning for even greater manoeuvrability around obstacles compared to a ride-on tractor.

            The underside of the cutter deck is also often much more accessible than that of a conventional ride on mower, making it easier to keep on top of deck maintenance.

            Front mowerExample Front Mower, Husqvarna Rider

            Zero Turn Mowers

            With two independent drive wheels at the rear and two castor wheels at the front, Zero Turn mowers can turn 360 degrees in a tight circle making them an excellent choice for narrow spaces and areas with obstacles.

            Zero Turn Mowers will often cut grass faster than other ride-on mowers thanks to their large engines and high manoeuvrability.

            Zero Turn Mowers Example Zero Turn, John Deere ZTrak™

            Robotic Lawn Mowers

            Robotic mowers

            Also known as robot mowers.

            Robot Lawn Mowers

            Robot lawn mowers provide fully automatic grass cutting with minimal effort from the owner once installed. Capable of maintaining all shapes of lawns and ever larger areas, robot mowers are increasingly common in gardens up and down the country.

            Most robot mowers can be configured to cut on a schedule, such as during the daytime only. When the mower is running low on battery, it simply travels back to it's docking station to recharge and will resume cutting once the battery is replenished.

            Robot mowers don't collect the grass clippings. The frequency of cutting is such that the clippings are tiny and simply disappear into the lawn. The clippings are so small that they decompose and act as a natural fertiliser to boost the health of the lawn.

            Other types of grass cutters

            Grass Trimmers and Brushcutters

            Grass trimmers are a handheld machine with a spinning head which can hold nylon cord or more robust blade attachments for cutting tougher growth.

            Grass trimmers aren't really suitable for lawns. They are mainly used for two jobs:

            • tackling very long grass which is too rough for a mower to handle
            • trimming around borders to neaten the edges where a mower can't reach 

            Some entry level grass trimmers come with a rotating head, allowing users to tackle tasks like lawn edging without having to turn the whole machine on its side.

            Now you know a little more about the various lawn mowers available. What next?

            Posted: 18 November 2022

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