Lawnmowers get in a turf war
Cordless, electric mowers, petrol mowers, robot mowers… Whatever means of lawn control you favour, we have the best of the world's swardsmen gathered for you here.
Fow most people, we'd recommend a cordless. That's because there are few more incompatible duos than a 240-volt electric cable and a fast-spinning blade. Electric lawnmowers are not only potentially dangerous but they take much longer to cut a lawn simply because of the time spent grappling with the cable.
Modern, battery-powered cordless mowers, on the other hand, are invariably as powerful as their wired counterparts and so much easier to use.
Their lithium-Ion batteries are relatively quick to charge and provide between 20 and 40 minutes of hassle-free mowing, which is plenty long enough for the average UK garden.
Of course, you could try a petrol-driven beast, especially if you have a larger garden. Bear in mind that what you gain in pristine stripes on your lawn, you lose in noise, smell and cost. Although on the other hand, many old school heads prefer a whiff of unleaded and a manly battle to push a hulking beast up a slight incline towards the herbaceous border.
Of course, if you've got a REALLY big lawn, you'll need a sit-on mower, so we've included a couple of them, too.
Finally, there's the option of a robo mower. These can be a pain to set up, are incredibly slow, and are not recommended for owners of smaller or stupider pets. However, once you're over those hurdles, robots can make lawn mowing literally effortless.
Whatever your preference, these efficient sward swallowers will do the job. We've listed them roughly in our order of preference.
Mountfield Princess 38Li Freedom48
The Mountfield comes with two whopping 48v Lithium Ion batteries, providing enough charge to cover an impressive 300m2 or around an hour of continuous mowing. Each battery takes just over an hour to charge and can be used in other Mountfield Freedom48 products.
The 500-watt Princess produces a 38cm cut – good for medium-sized lawns – and features a rear roller for creating stripes, a generous 40-litre grass collector, a mulching plug that directs nitrogen-rich grass cuttings back into the lawn and, get this, a push handle that can be adjusted for various heights. Rather usefully, the handle also folds in two making the whole package one of the smallest stowaway units in this roundup.
Needless to say, the Mountfield cut the test lawn impeccably well and even handled the longer jungle sections with aplomb. It was also very quiet. Granted, the flimsy six-position cut-height adjuster lever seems out of place on such a well-crafted unit, but that alone fails to prevent the Princess from gaining a full five.
T3 rating 5
Price £349, Buy Mountfield
Greenworks G-MAX 40V 35cm
At £200, the diminutive Greenworks offers excellent value. It doesn’t weigh too much at around 14kgs, and it comes with a 35cm cutting deck (great for small lawns), a plastic lever for engaging the five cutting heights (20mm to 80mm) and a mesh grass collector.
The removeable, high-performance, 40v li-ion battery keeps the freakishly quiet motor running at full tilt right up to the last drop of juice - expect a running time of 35 to 40 minutes - and takes an hour to recharge.
The frail-looking, right-handed start lever is fiddly to engage but this mower performed exceptionally well, collecting every last tuft of turf while leaving a very smooth finish. It mulches, too, making this the best budget buy.
T3 rating 5
Price £200 | Buy Greenworks
This corded electric mower may not be at tech's curtting edge, but it is pretty good on lawns, and just the ticket for budget-conscious gardener.
Its 1400-watt motor rarely bogs down even in the most overgrown areas while its wide 38cm blade ensures fewer passes up and down the lawn.
The Cobra comes equipped with a rear roller for bowling green stripes, simple cutting height adjustment (from 2cm to 7.5cm), a 40-litre grass container and an articulated handle that folds into three for easy storage.
If you don’t mind wrestling with a cable, have a smallish lawn and don’t fancy forking out on something you’ll only use about 20 times a year, then give this hugely competent turf shearer a whirl.
T3 rating 5
£95 | Buy Cobra GTRM38
Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R
For the well-heeled horticulturalist who can’t be arsed with mowing the lawn, this one’s for you. However, as usual with this kind of mower, you can’t just set it down and let it loose.
First you have to set its boundaries by laying a perimeter wire around the edge of the lawn. Once set up though, it’s simply a case of sitting back and relaxing while it automatically performs its random cutting task before returning to its base station for a quick recharge. Then it goes off again on another cutting spree. And so on.
It’s an agonizingly slow process to watch, mind, but leave it to its own devices and you’ll eventually have a permanently manicured lawn without ever lifting a finger. The Flymo is good for lawns up to 400m square and, reassuringly, it comes with an antitheft code that renders it useless to light-fingered tealeaves.
T3 rating 4
The newly-launched, home-grown Gtech Falcon is far and away the coolest looking mower in this roundup.
It’s also superbly built and comes with an extraordinarily comfortable gorilla-proof, fold-over handle, a 40-litre mesh grass collector and a gear lever-style cutting-height adjuster
The 36-volt Li-ion battery powers the mower’s wide, 43cm blade for up to 40 minutes or 300 meters squared of greensward, but note that at five hours, this has much the longest charging period on test. Interestingly, it appears to be exactly the same battery as is used in Gtech's excellent electric bike, so theoretically you could swop between the two, which is unusual to say the least.
At 16.95kgs, the Gtech is a tad awkward to push up inclines, and it's a little noisy as well. However, its large rubber-coated wheels make light work of the flat stuff and cut our garden pasture remarkably well, leaving no unsightly clumps in its wake. A keenly-priced, solidly-built, good-looking-by-mower-standards cracker.
T3 rating 4
Price £299 | Buy Gtech
There’s no two ways about it – this green reaper is a monster. It weighs almost as much as a petrol-driven machine but then it does come equipped with a gargantuan 7.5Ah, 56-volt Li-Ion battery that charges in just 45 minutes, and looks like a powerup from Halo.
Also onboard are vari-speed self propulsion and LED headlights for… er, gardening at night?
If you have a large lawn to mow and can’t be arsed with pushing, then this is the model for you. Its wide 50cm blade scythes through everything with aplomb and keeps on going for up to 35 minutes on a single charge.
The huge grass collector, meanwhile, ensures fewer trips to the compost heap. The Ego also folds up surprisingly small and can be stored upright, or, if you have the muscles of Hercules and can lift it, on your garage wall.
A true beefcake amongst cordless mowers. The Jason Statham of lawn maintenance.
T3 rating 4
Bosch Cordless Rotak 37 LI Ergoflex
The top-selling, British-made Bosch Rotak doesn’t feel as solidly built as the Mountfield or GTech but it’s a doddle to push around and comes with an ergonomically-designed handle that is perfect for both righties and lefties.
Our 37cm test model was effortless to use – it weighs just 13kgs – and kept on running for about 30 minutes on a one-hour charge of its 36v Li-ion battery.
This mower is an outstanding performer; it collected more cuttings than most of the competition and cut right to the edge of the lawn, saving us from more grappling with a bloody strimmer. It does stripes too, though not brilliantly it must be said.
The price may feel a bit on the high side, and that's because it is. Even so, a top choice for the well heeled greenkeeper.
T3 rating 4
Price £440 | Buy Bosch
Flymo Glider 330
A hover mower is only suitable for smooth lawns with no gnarly lumps and bumps. This 33cm Flymo model is ideal for small patches and, because it hovers on a pocket of air, you can literally swing it around when you get to the end of each strip.
Its 26-litre grass box is ample and easy to disengage but you’ll need to remove the blade to fit or add plastic spacers if you want to change the cutting height. Also bear in mind that its maximum height setting is just 3.2cm which may be a shave too close for some types of grass.
T3 rating 4
From £72 | Buy Flymo Glider 330
John Deere X754 Tractor Mower
John Deere is the Rolls Royce of lawn maintenance, and just as with Rollers, its sit-on mowers are both too expensive and too big for most people's needs.
If, however, you have multple acres of meadow to maintain, make like Farmer Brown and invest in this high quality mini tractor. This beauty features a three-cylinder, high torque diesel engine, a differential lock for maximum traction, a 19-litre tank for lengthy mowing sessions, a choice of cutting decks (122cm and 152cm), headlights for midnight bush whacking and, best of all, four wheel steering for pulling a few Gs round the holly bush.
‘Harry, lunch is ready’. ‘Coming dear, just one more meadow to mow’.
T3 rating 4
Around £13,000 | Find a dealer for John Deere X754 Tractor Mower
Hayter Harrier Petrol 41 Autodrive VS
If you have a lawn too large for a cordless or electric mower, consider a petrol-powered one like this very English hunk from Hayter.
Petrol mowers are noisy, smelly and heavy, and you have to change the oil after the first five hours of use, followed by every successive season. You will also need to clean the air filter and change the spark plug from time to time. Oh, and you’ll need to have some spare unleaded petrol to hand too. Lots to do, then, before you’ve even hit the sod.
The Harrier has many plus points, however, not least the fact that it mows a lawn to near perfection while its 190cc Briggs & Stratton engine thunders on for ages on a single tank of unleaded.
What’s more, because it’s so damn heavy (36kg) and comes with a massive rear roller, it lays a mean-looking stripe, too. The Harrier comes with a 41cm blade, a huge 53-litre fabric grass bag and the wherewithal to propel itself via the multi-speed Autodive system so you can mow one-handed, perhaps while sipping a martini, or refilling your pipe.
T3 rating 3
Mountfield 827H Compact Lawn Rider
If you've got a larger garden, but still neither enough grass nor dosh to justify a John Deere, this comical-looking 244cc petrol-powered ride-on could be the answer to your prayers.
The Mountfield is narrow enough for most garden gates and features electric key-start ignition, hydrostatic transmission for greater maneuverability and quicker acceleration, a huge 66cm cutting deck and a monstrous, 150-litre grass box that can be emptied without getting off one’s butt.
Extra design flourishes include easy lever access to its five cutting heights (30mm to 80mm) and a fuss-free cutter deck cleaning system that uses a hose attachment and a blast of water to purge the deck of sticky grass cuttings and misplaced dog turds.
T3 rating 3
Qualcast 36V Li-ion
This slightly cheaper green machine has a 34cm blade, and is a decent choice for smaller gardens.
However, while it did indeed cut our test patch right up to the edges, it also left it looking a bit unsightly in parts and the 36-volt battery ran out of puff after 18 minutes, though on the plus side, it only took 70 minutes to charge.
The Qualcast is a comfortable machine to use if you’re right handed but not much fun if you’re a southpaw since the single operation lever is positioned on the right. On a budget? Get the only marginally more expensive Greenworks G-MAX instead.
T3 rating 3
Price £175 | Buy Qualcast