Cuts through a sward of information to bring the short story on mighty mowers, ride-on tractors and sleek supercar-styled robotics
MOWING the lawn puts a comfortably respectable, tidy face on a place. Still, as a chore, it’s a regarded as a repetitive boring, largely social duty by most of us. The temperate wet weather of our summer means an hysteric dart out to the garage to grab up the horse-power when the green stuff is sufficiently dry not to jam up in clumps on the blades.
Throw in the wrong type of machinery and there’s very little to look forward to as we curse our way through the decapitated daisies. Choose the right machine, however, and it’s a different story — cutting a dash might become almost bearable.
Mowers are broken down into push and self-propelled, rotary mowers, and cylinder mowers; hover mowers, and ride on mowers, or garden tractors. Flat rotary blades are extremely popular, as set to your choice of sward height, they can scythe through longgrass,andapart from needing regular sharpening, are good value and easy to maintain.
With standard cutting heights of 2 – 7.5cm, powered by mains or petrol, they will please most gardeners. For that nipped to the nub, golf course velvet, a cylindermowerwith a set of moving blades that cut the grass against a fixed blade is the answer. Add a rear roller, and you have the full country estate stripe, the envy of your slavering neighbours, up to their petunias in ragwort and clover.
Cylinders cut like a scissors, and are less successful in rutted ground with shaggy grass, so neurotically maintained, class A grass only for your going.
Rotary mowers with rear rollers are available. A rotary or cylinder mower in electric form is perfect for a smaller garden under the 3000 sq foot mark.
Flymo, Bosch and Honda are market leaders in tethered, blessedly light machines that just plug into an RCD and play. Prices from €150.
If you want to go cordless to stroll around trees and do away with extension cords, put another 30% on the budget. Lay hands on any machine you’re planning to buy to judge its handle height to yours. Mowing with a small low mower can be a cause for excruciating back-ache. Adjustable models are great for families where not only Dad does the deed.
If you have a medium sized garden with any sort of gradient, a self-propelled petrol or electric lawn mower (1000w1800w) is vital. Choose variable speed models to suit your gait. A relatively large deck of 40cm plus can whip up and down a straight sided, sloping garden.
If your garden is a cluttered or complexly planted third of an acre, greater manoeuvrability and a neater deck in the 30cms might suit you better.
Motorheads, who thrill at the roar of the motor and the idea of manly tinkering, get positively excited at the choice of machine and will crumple this simplistic article on the subject to rub down the pelt of their growling, petrol-fed vehicle. Expect to pay in the area of €200 and up for a mid-range 125cc rotary machine, tagging on about another €100 for every 10cc addition.
Chest-beating over the privet hedge in- cludes the branding, horsepower and size of the cutting deck, and once given room, some buyers take gleefully to ride-on mowers as part of the mid-life transition — handkerchief garden or not. For the parade of blades, there’s nothing quite like a Deere and buyers are happy to reach for €400-€500 for both high performance and respected high build quality.
Boasting an automatic choke system seen usually in cars, the proven, reliable fourstroke Readystart petrol engines in the new John Deere Run will please petrol heads and lightly-built mower-persons, who want cutting muscle without the wrestle. Explore the range at John Deere stockist including Farm Power, Cork.
The electric hover mower will elicit groans of utter contempt from the gritty division of petrol-powered horticulturists, but for undulating border edges, overhanging shrubs on a lawn and bird-like forearms, hovers are a cheap, uncomplicated rotary mower with increasingly clever detailing.
Prices start from as little as €50, but expect to pay more for a true Flymo and compacted collection.
Get a good cut at the start of the season on a nice dry day and use your hover mower regularly to get a pleasing finish. Lithium ion batteries can run manual or robotic machines, but suffer on the side of run time and power, frustrating in a medium sized garden where you throw spontaneous BBQS and need a quick clip without a lengthy recharge.
Finding machines that will cut more than the size of a standard tennis court in a single charge will be problematic. For a compact roamer, take a look at the Flymo Mighti-mo - 40V, €170.49, Argos. Ryobi, also stocked by Argos, have introduced a hybrid machine that can switch from bled batteries back to a cord. 32cm, €529.99.
It’s not just about the cut, and as the machine grows larger and you mount up, the mechanics and ease of operation and emptying are key. Variable cutting heights operated from your standing position, or a seat can deal with a close, shaggy or uneven lawn, but your major decision is tacking down the horsepower to suit the job.
Controls vary, some shared over hand and foot, other models being operated totally by hand. Don’t buy anything you haven’t at least pushed or sat on in a showroom, examining the ergonomics and ease of repetitive actions.
This Bosch Rotak Lithium-ion Ergoflex Cordless Rotary Lawnmower features a 1200 watt Powerdrive motor and32cm cutting blades, 30-60mm grass heights and 8 grip positions. Battery fed machines that recharge as fast as this one, a mere 90 minutes, remain relatively expensive but have a large following. €499 Littlewoods.