10 best lawn mowers that will keep gardens neat and tidy
Give your outside space the a refresh this summer with one of these tried and tested machines
Whether you’ve got a postage stamp or a football pitch to contend with over the summer, all the expert advice recommends that you get out to cut your lawn every week.
As head grounds person you need to make sure that the machine in your shed is going to make the most of your patch of green and turn it into a talking point when you gather in the garden.
As with all garden kit, there’s a choice to be made between petrol, battery and electric.
Larger lawns are usually suited to the extended run time that petrol machines bring, but there are plenty of mowers these days that are powered by batteries that offer excellent performance without the hassle of starter cords, filling fuel tanks and maintenance.
Most mowers are self-propelled (you can save money if you’re willing to do some of the hard work yourself) and make light work of the largest areas of turf, but you should also consider the cutting width of the machine – the bigger the blade, the quicker you’ll be done.
Similarly, if the mower has a mulching option or a sizeable collection bag you’ll spend less time disposing of the cuttings and more time mowing.
Over the season, you’ll need to keep adjusting the height that you’re cutting at so the mower should have a good selection that can be adjusted effortlessly without having to raise or lower every individual wheel, which is a hassle.
You should also be aware that if you have a garden with slopes, undulations and plenty of obstacles that your weapon of choice should be manoeuvreable enough to avoid collisions that could damage the housing of the machine – not to mention your ornamental bird bath.
Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the quality of the finish. Does the blade cut efficiently at all heights without pulling or tearing and does the mower leave behind a nice clean cut without scalping or scraping? Leaving you to spend some quality time with your deckchair.
Atco quattro 16S Li 41cm 60V self-propelled lawn mower: £539, Atco
This self-propelling green machine really impressed with its ability to tame a medium sized lawn in just under an hour without us having to retreat to the shed to recharge the battery. It offers up five grass cutting heights via a single lever pull and when it’s riding on its lowest setting the manufacturer have fitted a handy bumper to the underside so that it can ride over bumps and ridges without leaving nasty looking scalps behind. You won’t be continually emptying cuttings with the 60l grass collector and the rear roller means that you can give your lawn the kind of professional finish that wouldn’t look out of place at Wembley. The auto drive mechanism was intuitive (with some models it can be over complicated to get the mower moving forward with the blades engaged) and most impressively the 41cm blade never choked up in longer grass. The versatility continues with an excellent mulching function, which means that, if you want, you can recycle your clippings and return valuable nutrients back into the soil to keep your lawn looking healthy all summer long.
Ego LM1903E-SP 47cm self-propelled mower: £499, Ego
This self-propelled battery model gave us 40 minutes of cutting on a single charge, but the efficiency of the machine meant that was plenty of time to get to grips with a medium to large area of lawn. The rear wheel drive powered up slopes and made short work of the flats and for such a lightweight machine it had no problem powering over more overgrown areas. In fact, the power transition from the battery to the brushless motor and the 47cm blade was on a par with many petrol models and, as expected, noise levels were never an issue. It has a 55l grass collection capacity and you can store it upright so that you can save on shed space. Plus, if you’re getting towards the end of the day but you’re desperate to finish the lawn before some overnight rain, we loved the addition of some front mounted LEDs that meant that we could keep mowing until dusk.
In fact, the only thing that stopped the Ego racing away with the Best Buy title was that it doesn’t have any mulching capability, but the manufacturer told us that a mulching kit would become available mid summer.
Stihl RMA 443C battery lawn mower, body only: £420, Amazon
A slickly designed mower powered by the excellent Stihl battery system, which slots into the main body of the machine with a satisfying click. On full charge we managed a tennis court’s worth of mowing using the eco mode, which increases the speed of the 41cm blades depending on the thickness and length of the grass that it encounters. Ingeniously, in the main housing there is also space to slot in a second battery to extend the range and mowing time. This was a very efficient cutting tool that left a well-manicured lawn in its wake. Don’t be fooled by the plastic housing either as we found it to be robust and stood up well to being accidentally driven into a rockery. It’s the user interface that really stands out here with a six level cutting height adjustment that is raised or lowered with a spring-loaded grab handle and the ergonomic single stem handle makes it easy to access the 55l grass box, which has a window to tell you when it needs emptying.
GTech cordless lawn mower 2.0: £499.99, GTech
We never knew we wanted a lawnmower that looked like the batmobile until GTech gave us this update on their previous model. And performance matches the profile as we managed to get a shade over 40 minutes run time on a medium sized stretch of grass, with the 42cm carbon steel blade turning out a clean, sharply cut lawn in no time. Six cutting heights can be selected with a single lever and a 50l bin tells you when it needs emptying by closing a filling indicator. And when you’re done it folds down to take up no more space than its wheel footprint.
Flymo hover vac 250 collect lawn mower: £60, Argos
If you do have a modest lawn area with some quite awkward areas and you think you might find the bulkier petrol and battery options difficult to operate then a hover mower can be a good choice. This model from the original innovators of the technology is mains operated, has three cutting heights and a 15-litre collection box that sits in the body of the mower and was easy to empty and replace.
Bosch rotak 32 R rotary hand propelled electric lawn mower: £85, John Lewis & Partners
If you need to tackle a straight edged garden that extends from the house then the 10m cable of this electric mower should enable you to reach the farthest corners without worrying about running out of electrical leash. The mower retains the stand out features of the rotak range at a fraction of the cost, from the unique ergonomic handle to the grass combs that capture those tufts of grass along fences and walls and direct them towards the 34cm blade. And because it’s electric, the mower is lightweight and very easy to push around.
Mountfield SP42 petrol lawn mower: £199, Garden Machinery Direct
If you’ve decided that your garden is just about big enough to warrant a petrol machine then this is an excellent jump off point. Self-propelled, we never had any issues starting the motor with the recoil rope and it has a respectable 41cm cutting width. The machine left our lawn looking sharp, coped well with slopes and was easily manoeuvred around trees and shrubs. A 60l grass collector and single lever height adjuster leaves you to concentrate on your mowing and for a well-priced machine it has a quality mulcher.
Stiga multiclip pro 53 SVX B 51cm self-propelled lawn mower: £749, Stiga
If your lawn is so large that you spend the majority of your mowing time walking to and from the compost heap with a bag of cuttings then you should consider this dedicated mulching mower. It doesn’t have a grass box because its 53cm blades double cut the grass down to such a fine grade that it simply disappears back into the lawn, which, in summer, is a good way of helping the lawn conserve moisture and prosper throughout the dog days. This capability is backed up with several features that make the mower easy to operate with a single lever, which allows you to adjust the ride of the mower through five settings, and a handlebar that you can adjust in height and angle.
Mountfield SP551 V LS 53cm self-propelled lawn mower: £629, Mountfield
Want the range and power of a petrol machine without having to wrestle with a recoil rope every time? Then this self-driving unit offers a simple push button start to get you going. And you probably won’t have to stop until your done thanks to the 53cm cutting width, which combined with a voluminous 70-litre collector is a match for the most sizeable of swards. There’s a single lever adjuster that’s easy to use for selecting one of the seven cutting height positions
and when the job’s done there’s an innovative water connector, which means that you can connect a hose directly to the body, turn the tap on and the water runs through the chassis for easy cleaning.
Honda HRX476 HY 47cm variable speed petrol lawn mower: £999, Honda
Honda has updated its renowned HRX series of mowers with newer engines and fewer parts making them lighter and more fuel-efficient. The 47cm blade and 69l grass bag turned a scrappy-looking, large lawn into a tennis court in no time. Where this machine really excels is in its ability to vary how much of the grass cuttings are turned into mulch and how much are collected to suit varying grass conditions over the season. Added to this some serious power for getting up tricky slopes and a redesign of the chassis to take the headache out of winter maintenance and you’re getting plenty to justify the price tag.
The verdict: Lawn mowers
If you don’t want the smell of freshly cut grass spoiled by petrol fumes and you need something quiet and efficient then the Atco quattro 16S Li 60V self-propelled lawn mower is the perfect all rounder for any one with a medium sized garden. It really can do it all from cutting, feeding and striping your lawn. The Ego LM1903E-SP 47cm self-propelled mower is jam-packed with features and did a superb job of transforming a large, unruly lawn into an impressively smooth layer of grass.