If you’re after the perfect finish for your lawn, you’re probably wondering what are the different types of cutting grass machine – and which one will suit your backyard.
Fiona Jenkins, the resident gardening expert at My Job Quote (opens in new tab), says “There are so many types of lawn mowers to choose from when considering maintaining your plot. It can be difficult to decide which one is best for the job. However, each type of job has a model of mower that goes hand in hand.”
From gas-powered ride-on mowers, to electric hybrid robots that use solar power, we’ve unearthed seven types of cutting grass machines that may be the perfect fit for your outside space. Find out what they do, how they’re powered, and what kind of finish you can expect from them.
Our expert advice will also give you an idea of what different types of grass cutting machine you should choose, depending on the size of your lawn, and what you want it to do. So if you’re looking to tackle dense ground cover, reduce your time spent gardening, or simply neaten your edging, there’s a cutting machine for you.
And if you decide you need a new lawnmower, our buying guides to the best gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab) or the best electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) are sure to have the perfect fit for your backyard.
Different types of cutting grass machines
1. Gas lawn mowers
Gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab) use fuel and air to move the cutting blades underneath. They’re generally very powerful, so they’re ideal for larger gardens and lawns. There are no cords that can get dangerously tangled up in the blades, and they’re usually more durable than other types of lawn mower.
They are more noisy than other lawn mowers, though, and you’ll need to maintain them with oil changes and fuel preservatives, so they can cost more in terms of maintenance.
2. Electric lawn mowers
Electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) are powered via a cord or through a pre-charged battery. Much lighter and quieter than gas-powered mowers, electric mowers are also cheaper to run, as they don’t need as much maintenance. They’re also cleaner for the environment.
However, electric lawn mowers are not usually as powerful as their gas counterparts, you need to be near a power source, and battery packs may only last an hour or two. So, if you’re mowing professionally, or you have acres to maintain, you may find an electric mower doesn’t stand up to the job.
3. Cylinder mower
Cylinder (or reel) mowers are small, lightweight mowers with rotating blades that slice through the grass. They may be manual, where you simply push the mower to start the blades mechanically, or electric. They use a scissor-motion to cut the grass which many experts say gives a lusher appearance to lawns.
Much cheaper than other types of lawn mowers, cylinder mowers are also quieter. They’re easy to store away when not in use, and they’re better for the environment, especially if you have one that requires zero power.
However, some reel mowers can be hard to push along, and they’re not designed for rough or uneven terrain or large lawns.
4. Robot lawn mowers
The best robot lawn mowers (opens in new tab) are automated machines that you program to cut your lawn for you. They are powered by electricity, usually via a battery pack, although some models feature solar panels for hybrid power. These machines take all the grunt work out of gardening, with many able to tackle slopes of up to 45 degrees.
Robot lawn mowers are designed to be used frequently, usually every day or every other day. This level of attention gives a lush, thick lawn. The fine clippings that emerge give a nutritious layer of mulch that keeps the lawn looking healthy.
On the downside, robot lawn mowers are expensive to buy. And they take at least a few hours to set up, as you have to set up a perimeter wire to stop the robot traveling into flower beds or the driveway. They’re no good for edging either.
5. Riding lawn mowers
If you have acres to cut, using one of the best riding lawn mowers (opens in new tab) is the stuff of dreams. Powered by gas or electricity, simply hop on and let it do all the hard work for you.
Suitable for large commercial properties and homes with large gardens, ride-on mowers can cover more ground at a faster pace than any other lawn mower. If you have reduced mobility, they can be a great help in maintaining your garden.
However, riding lawn mowers don’t come cheap. And they’re not suitable for small to medium-sized yards, as they’re hard to maneuver in tight spaces. They’re also potentially more expensive to maintain in terms of oil checks and new tires, and you’ll need to think about storage options too.
6. String trimmers
String trimmers, or the best electric weed eaters (opens in new tab), enable you to reach parts of your garden that your lawn mower can’t. With a long handle and a whirling monofilament line instead of a blade, a string trimmer can be gas or electricity powered.
Great for cutting foliage and thick ground cover, string trimmers can help you tackle problem areas with dense undergrowth, and they can even double up as edge trimmers at a push. They’re a versatile tool to have in the garden.
However, even the best string trimmers can’t give you a perfect lawn, or a neatly manicured edge.
The best lawn edgers (opens in new tab) look similar to string trimmers, but feature a vertical spinning blade that slices through grass, to execute a perfect finish to any lawn edging.
Gas or electric, you can use edgers anywhere grass meets something else; a flowerbed, driveway, or sidewalk. It gives a manicured, healthy look to lawns, creating beautiful, even lines.
On the downside, that’s about all you can use your edger for. It’s a bit of a one-trick pony tool. So if your edges don’t need to be Stepford-wife perfect, there’s not much need for it.
What the expert says
Fiona Jenkins is a landscaper with over 25 years of experience in the industry. As a gardening expert for MyJobQuote, Fiona offers her expert advice to tradespeople and home owners, and has also been featured as a gardening expert for a range of reputable publications.
We spoke to Fiona Jenkins and asked her for her advice on how to choose the right grass cutting machine, depending on your size of lawn.
For small, flat lawns that need frequent no-fuss maintenance, Jenkins recommends a manual or electric cylinder mower. These lightweight options are easy to push around a small backyard and don’t require much storage space either.
For medium-sized gardens, Jenkins suggests opting for an electric mower. “Electric mowers are best for small to medium-sized gardens, to avoid running out of cable and not being able to reach the end - no one wants half a mowed lawn.”
If you have a large garden to maintain, a gas mower may be a better option, according to Jenkins. “Gas mowers are a little more expensive, but they are powerful and get the job done fast. This type of mower works well for larger gardens, getting those hard to reach areas an electric mower would struggle with.” But Jenkins warns they do require extra maintenance. “You’ll need to treat them frequently with oil, and carry out checks, but it’s all worth it for a crisp new lawn.”
For gardeners with acres to maintain, it may be worth forking out for a ride-on mower. “They are expensive”, admits Jenkins. “But if you have over an acre of land to mow, approximately 75% of a football field, then a ride-on mower might be the best option”.
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