Whether you’ve got a postage stamp or a football pitch to contend with, all the expert advice recommends that you get out to cut your garden lawn every week. And as head groundsperson, you need to make sure that the machine in your shed is going to make the most of your patch of green.
Petrol, battery, electric – the choice is yours. Larger lawns are generally better suited to the extended mowing time that petrol machines offer, but there are now plenty of battery-powered models that offer petrol performance without the hassle of starter cords, filling fuel tanks and maintenance. However, the battery system needs to be fast-charging and long-running, because a half-mown lawn is not a good look.
Many mowers are self-propelled – you can save money if you’re willing to do the pushing yourself – and make light work of the largest areas of turf. Don’t forget to 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 grass collection bag, you’ll spend less time raking up and disposing of the cuttings and more time mowing.
Over the season, you’ll need to keep adjusting the height at which you cut. As such, the mower should have a range of settings that can be adjusted effortlessly without having to raise or lower individual wheels, which is a hassle.
You should also be aware that if you have a garden with slopes, undulations and plenty of obstacles, then your weapon of choice should be manoeuvrable enough to avoid collisions that could damage the housing of the machine and the ornamental birdbath.
Ultimately, 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?
How we tested
We tested on a very large lawn, so that we could put the battery models through their paces. And all the machines had to contend with slopes, trees and paths, so that we could understand what kind of lawn to which they would be best suited. We also made note of how quickly and effortlessly you could be admiring your handiwork from a deckchair. The sooner the better.
The best lawnmowers for 2021 are:
Best overall – Ego LM2135E-SP: £849, Egopowerplus.co.uk
Best for medium-sized gardens – Stihl RMA 443 VC: £709, Stihl.co.uk
Best for easy pushing – Gtech CLM50: £499.99, Gtech.co.uk
Best electric lawnmower – Bosch rotak 34R: £104.99, Johnlewis.com
Best cordless option – Worx WG779E.2 cordless: £199.99, Its.co.uk
Best hover design – Spear & Jackson hover collect lawnmower: £90, Argos.co.uk
Best petrol mower – Cobra MM48SPH: £415.99, Cobragarden.co.uk
Best for versatility – Stiga combi 748 Q AE: £469, Stiga.com
Best battery lawnmower – Atco liner 18S Li: £569, Justlawnmowers.co.uk
Best for easy storage – Hyundai HYM80LI460SP: £445.49, Hyundaipowerequipment.co.uk
Cutting width: 52cm
Cutting heights: Seven options, 25-90mm
Grass box: 70l
Weight: 26kg + 2.9kg battery
This self-propelled mower has a generous 52cm cutting width so you can cover large areas really quickly. Ego’s “select cut” system employs two blades working together to leave a perfectly manicured lawn in their wake, with no scalping or leaving tufts behind, and without getting choked up in areas of long grass.
You get total control via an innovative variable speed fingertip dial. This means you can go faster when mowing larger expanses of lawn, or slow down when manoeuvring around trees or other obstacles. It never feels like this lawnmower is getting away from you.
You can choose from seven cutting heights, ranging between 25mm and 90mm, and the 70l grass box adds to the machine’s generous specs. And considering the oversized dimensions of the mower, we found that it was actually one of the easiest to operate on test, thanks to its robust but lightweight polypropylene deck.
The Ego power+ battery and chargers are superior performers compared to most other manufacturers and give you plenty of power on a super-fast charge.
Buy now £849.00, Egopowerplus.co.uk
Stihl RMA 443 VC
Best: For medium-sized gardens
Cutting width: 41cm
Cutting heights: Six options,25-75mm
Grass box: 55l
This self-propelling machine is new for 2021 and offers six different cutting heights, all easily adjustable with a single push or pull of a handlebar. There’s also an ample 55l grass box, which means you won’t have to keep stopping to empty the cuttings.
Stihl’s drive-propulsion system makes short work of gradients, with a top speed of 4.5kph, which is easily controlled via a lever on the handle. The 443 VC is such an intuitive machine that a child could operate it (not that we’re recommending they should). But that’s why being able to remove the activation key from the battery housing in order to immobilise the machine is a welcome addition.
Backing up all these features is the Stihl battery system, which is always a winner. The 443 has an “eco mode” option which ensures the machine is running optimally according to the power needed, so you can prolong cutting life if you’re using it to mow an area with different grass thicknesses. Plus, the 41cm cutting width makes it ideal for medium-sized gardens, and as the mower runs the blades at a constant speed, regardless of the propulsion speed, it gives a consistent and precise cut to the lawn.
Buy now £709.00, Stihl
Best: For easy pushing
Cutting width: 42cm
Cutting heights: Six options, 30-80mm
Grass box: 50l
The British company has given its popular mower some new black-and-white livery, but the performance hasn’t changed. It’s still very impressive with the 42cm “omniblade” system running at 2,800rpm until it begins to meet greater resistance in the form of longer grass, when it ups the revs to 3,500rpm.
The cut was clean and sharp and this very lightweight mower was able to move around the tighter angles of our lawn with ease. Six cutting heights, between 30mm and 80mm, can be selected with a single lever and a 50l grass box tells you when it needs emptying. A 100 sq m garden was easily dealt with on one battery charge, and when you’re done it folds down to take up no more space than its wheel footprint.
Buy now £499.99, Gtech.co.uk
Bosch rotak 34R
Best: Electric lawnmower
Power: Electric (10m cable)
Cutting width: 34cm
Cutting heights: Five options, 20-70 mm
Grass box: 40l
If you need to tackle a straight-edged garden close to the house, then the 10m cable of this electric mower should enable you to reach the farthest corners without worrying about running out of leash.
The mower retains the standout 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.
Buy now £115.00, Diy.com
Worx WG779E.2 cordless
Best: Cordless option
Cutting width: 34cm
Cutting heights: Six options,20-70mm
Grass box: 30l
If you’re looking to cut the cord on your mowing and go with a battery model for the first time, then the Worx mower is holding at a really good price. It also comes with a dual charger and two batteries that maintain their charge well and greatly extend cutting time. In fact, used in conjunction with Worx’s “intellicut” system, which adjusts the speed of the blades, it’s a great choice for keeping costs down even when you have a medium-large sized lawn to keep in check.
With a good range of cutting heights (20-70mm), there are some nice design touches too. Ranging from a deck design that allows the wheels to take the blades in close to walls and fences, to the way the mower folds away using the hinged handle to hold the grass box in place on the mower’s deck.
Buy now £199.99, Its.co.uk
Spear & Jackson hover collect lawnmower
Best: Hover design
Cutting width: 33cm
Cutting heights: Four options, 12-33mm
Grass box: 20l
There are many gardeners who swear by their hover mowers because of their ease of use, basic maintenance and suitability for more straightforward mowing tasks. We got on particularly well with this Spear and Jackson model that features 33cm of cutting width, 20l of grass collection and even has a mulching feature for increased lawn care. Comfortable and ergonomic to use, the machine left our lawn looking sharp, coped well with steep gradients and moved easily around trees and shrubs.
Buy now £90.00, Argos.co.uk
Best: Petrol mower
Cutting width: 48cm
Cutting heights: Six options, 25-75mm
Grass box: N/A
This self-propelled petrol mower is a dedicated mulching machine, which means that rather than having a grass box, the blades of grass are finely chopped and returned to the lawn to act as fertilizer for thicker, greener growth.
The Cobra did the job really well and was surprisingly quiet for a petrol mower, which might have something to do with the Honda-made engine. There are six cutting heights, ranging from 25mm to 75mm, and 48cm of cutting width, while its light weight means that wheeling it around your garden doesn’t turn into a workout.
Buy now £415.99, Cobragarden.co.uk
Stiga Combi 748 Q AE
Best: For versatility
Cutting width: 46cm
Cutting heights: Six options, 22-80mm
Grass box: 60l
Stiga has really packed the features into this self-propelled mower that can dispatch the grass in four ways. You can choose whether to collect the clippings in the 60l box, send them out from the back or the side, or just mulch them. We really liked the keypad controls, which were always in easy reach when our hands were on the handlebars, and the mower managed to produce an impressive professional finish in no time at all. There’s six cutting positions, between 22mm and 80mm, and 46cm of cutting width. But it is worth noting that the battery and charger are not included at this price.
Buy now £469.00, Stiga.com
Atco liner 18S Li
Best: Battery lawnmower
Cutting width: 46cm
Cutting heights: Six options,22-80mm
Grass box: 60l
This self-propelling battery-powered machine has six grass cutting heights available via a single lever pull. When it’s riding on its lowest setting, the manufacturer has fitted a handy bumper to the underside so that it can ride over ridges without leaving nasty looking scalps behind. It offers a mulching function, 60l of grass collection and a rear roller, which means that you can give your lawn the kind of professional finish that wouldn’t look out of place at Wimbledon. The auto-drive mechanism was straightforward and the 46cm blade never choked up in longer grass.
Buy now £569.00, Justlawnmowers.co.uk
Best: For easy storage
Cutting width: 45cm
Cutting heights: 25-75mm
Grass box: 65l
This eye-catching battery mower will be a major talking point over the garden fence, and its performance matches the design. With a cutting width of 45cm, 65l of grass collection and cutting heights ranging from 25mm to 75mm, this is a machine to be reckoned with. The mower left behind a pitch-perfect finish, and on open lawn, left a clean, sharp cut. When you’re happy with the results you can store the mower vertically so that it takes up minimal space in the garden shed.
Buy now £445.49, Hyundaipowerequipment.co.uk
How to choose the best lawnmower for you
What types of lawnmowers are there?
This is still one of the most common choices for homeowners with smaller lawns located close to the house. Whether you’re a fan of hovers or rollers, all you have to do is plug them in and away you mow.
Pros: Light, generally cheaper, limitless cutting, easy to manoeuvre
Cons: Limited range, risk of electric shock
You’re looking at a short charge and a long run time here. These inhabit the middle ground (between corded and petrol) in terms of weight and how easy they are to fling around your lawn. Buying two batteries is a good idea so you can use them on rotation to extend your cutting time – one can be charging while the other is in use.
Pros: Quiet, convenient, and some manufacturers have batteries that can be used across a range of tools
Cons: Can be pricey, cutting is limited to battery life, batteries need to be fully charged beforehandâ, charging times vary
These are suitable for large lawns and inclined areas because they’re generally self-propelled. Most petrol models have a mulching option, which returns cuttings and their nutrients to the lawn to promote growth.
Pros: Cut quality, great range
Cons: Can be tricky to start up, noisy, need to keep the fuel tank topped up, higher maintenance, heavy if not self-propelled
If you’ve got more than half an acre to look after and your budget can extend to it, then ride-on mowers are the best option. Zero turning machines will do 360 degrees on the spot so you can cut around trees, flowerbeds and shrubbery.
Pros: Fast, precision mowing, very manoeuvrable
Cons: Expensive, yearly maintenanceâ, fuel costs
How often will I need to clean my mower and sharpen the blades?
You should look to clean the underside (deck) of your mower at least twice during the season. If the deck gets clogged with dried grass it will rarely affect the blade rotation, but it can inhibit how much of the blade of uncut grass is shown to the mower’s cutting edge, which will impact the quality of your cut. Dull blades are only going to undo all your hard work by tearing up your lawn.
A general rule of thumb is to sharpen your blades before mowing season each year. However, if you scalp uneven turf or hit a rogue rock, you might need to repeat the process. After cutting, if you notice the grass tips look torn rather than sliced, the blade may need sharpening.
What features should I look out for?
Self-propelled models really take the effort out of buzzing your lawn and are especially useful if your plot isn’t bowling-green flat. It used to be the case that self-propelled machines were confined to petrol models, but battery-powered mowers are now getting in on the act. The only thing to be wary of here is the bigger drain the propulsion will cause on the battery charge, so you’re going to need a quality battery.
Ease of use
Look for how easy it is to adjust the cutting height, how big the grass box is and how easy it is to take it on and off.
The bigger the deck, the bigger the cutting diameter of the blade, so you’ll get rid of more grass with each pass. However, larger decks are harder to navigate around garden obstacles such as bird tables and flower beds. Anything between 30cm and 40cm is standard for gardens between 50 sq m and 150 sq m. But, if you go for a larger deck, make sure your designated storage space will accommodate it.
Lawnmowers are probably the biggest single item of garden kit that you’ll own, so foldable handlebars and upright storage can come in very handy so that you don’t have to vault the mower every time you want something from the garage or shed.
The verdict: Lawnmowers
Ego has done it again and built on the feature-laden success and performance of its earlier machines to make the Ego LM2135E-SP one of the most complete lawn tamers on the market.
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