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10 best lawn mowers: Petrol, electric and battery-powered models

·12-min read
<p>The machine you need will primarily depend on the size of your lawn</p> (iStock/The Independent)

The machine you need will primarily depend on the size of your lawn

(iStock/The Independent)

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a garden, then you’re probably pretty familiar with every blade of grass right now and are keen to keep it looking lush and healthy as the weather warms up and you start spending more time out there.

Upgrading your lawn mower could be a smart way to achieve this, but the choice can be bewildering with battery-powered machines now featuring heavily alongside corded, petrol and ride-on models, in what was an already crowded marketplace.

The machine you need will primarily depend on the size of your lawn – it’s a good idea to make a rough estimation of how many square metres (sqm) need to be maintained.

Anything between 50 and 150sq m is considered to be small to medium, while more than 150sq m is large.

However, there are other considerations that should influence your decision. For example, is your lawn flat or undulating? Is it peppered with trees, shrubs and flower beds? How much storage space do you have?

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These things will dictate how much power and manoeuvrability you need, as well as whether you need the machine to collapse down to take up as little room as possible.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across TheIndependent.

The best lawn mowers to buy in 2021:

Ego LM1701E-SP lawnmower

Best: Battery-powered lawn mower

This is a superb all-rounder that’s light, manoeuvrable and small enough to fit through garden gates and take care of a small to medium sward, while the variable self-propelled drive system makes light work of larger lawns and inclines, and would be suitable for an area up to 300 sq m. This is helped with the 42cm cutting width and a blade that mulches and sends the rest of the clippings into a huge 55L grass collector, so that we didn’t have to keep stopping to empty it. Without fail, we were always left with a precise finish and a real professional cut.

Adjustable handles and large wheels, with good tread, added to the overall usability. The vertical storage meant that the mower’s footprint was minimal. We also found the Ego battery system one of the best out there in terms of run time from a single charge (we got 35 minutes from our five amp hours (AH) battery. This model comes with a 2.5AH battery and charger as standard, but you can upgrade as Ego batteries are interchangeable. The poly deck keeps the weight down, so it never feels like you’re fighting with it. The five-year warranty on the mower and two-year warranty on the battery adds to the value of the package.

Buy now £309.00, Cheapmowers.com

Worx WG779E

Best: For easy storage

This mower comes with two batteries and a dual charger so you can get the most out of the 34cm cutting width and lightweight chassis with around 35 minutes of cutting time. The battery power indicator on the chassis meant that we always knew how much charge time was left, and the eco mode helped it to save on battery energy and cope well with denser patches of grass. With its quick mounting grass collection bag and indicator, it has added usability. A well-situated carry grip, foldable handle and upright storage meant that it was a doddle to store when it’s work was done.

Buy now £90.00, Diy.com

Hyundai HYM3300E

Best: Electric lawn mower

Hyundai has packed a lot into this electric mower – from the generous 10m cable and efficient mulching option to a rear roller (which means you can get Wembley stripes on your lawn) and foldable handles. It has a 30L grass catcher and the plastic chassis meant that the mower weighed in at just 9kg. It’s lightweight and easy to move around, while producing a consistent cut. A really good value for money mower for small to medium sized gardens.

Buy now £98.99, Hyundai

Kaercher LMO 18 lawnmower

Best: Lightweight lawn mower

If you’re a small to medium lawn owner looking to cut the cord and go with a battery model, this is a good entry-level option with 25 minutes of mowing capacity on a fully charged battery. The 36cm cutting width can be set to work at four different heights and can be adjusted to mow and mulch or simply mow into the 45L collection bag. The results were good for the price bracket and the chassis design allowed us to mow close to the edge, next to walls and fences. It's very lightweight to push around and there is a sturdy carry handle on top to help with lifting and moving, with the handles folding down for space-saving owners. The package includes a 5AH battery and fast charger.

Buy now £299.99, Kaercher.com

Flymo ultra glide

Best: For tight spaces

This redesigned hover model has a 15m power cable and performed well mowing into tight spaces like fencing and walls, which is where previous hovers struggled. We never had to wrestle with the cutting height adjuster and the machine gave a good even cut on small to medium sized lawns. There are some nice details here too, like a grass box window, which meant that we could empty the 30L box before covering ourselves and the lawn in cuttings.

Buy now £90.00, Wickes.co.uk

Stihl RMA 2 RT cordless mower

Best: Cordless

This cordless model is geared specifically for mulching, so if you have a large lawn that’s in need of some TLC because it’s looking patchy, this self-propelled, large 46cm cutting width mower is a good option. The engineered mulching blade increasingly cuts the blades down so that they’re fine enough to disappear back into the lawn and start fertilising. The mulching process obviously reduces the time it takes to mow as there’s no need to empty the grass box. This is a good option for larger lawns where disposing of the clippings increases the toil time. The stripped back design means that it’s light to use even with the steel deck, which makes it very robust when in use. With careful storage and care it’ll last for years. Added to this are a quality, soft-grip foldaway handle, and an eco-mode, which saves battery life by adapting the mower speed to the grass length.

Buy now £449.99, Masseys-diy.co.uk

Toro 20959/21765 smartstow recycler petrol mower

Best: Petrol lawn mower

This self-propelled petrol mower is well-suited to homeowners with large, irregular gardens because it has a 55cm cutting width and the large real wheels translate the power of the engine well, allowing it to cut efficiently even when going uphill. Switching between cutting heights or the mulching/clipping mode is easily done with a tug of a handle. There’s a huge 74L collection bag, but you can also discharge the clippings from a side chute if you’ve got a long lawn edge bordered by a hedge. One of the things that makes this petrol model stand out is its ability to stand vertically when not in use, which reduces the storage footprint compared to most other petrol mowers – handy if you’ve got a big garden and a small shed. It also makes cleaning the underside or changing the blade much easier.

Buy now £619.00, Lawnmowersdirect.co.uk

Cobra MX4140V

Best: For flat gardens

If you have a flat garden, then this battery mower offers good performance and a well thought out user interface that made it a pleasure to operate. We liked the battery indicator on the handle, which meant that we knew exactly how much mowing time we had left, without having to stop and open up the battery housing in the chassis. The push button start was consistent and the motor was very quiet. It can be used either as a mulcher or a grass collection mower. The 41cm cutting width combined with the high revs of the blade meant that this was a real work horse on medium sized gardens – in fact, it could be used on large gardens too as we managed 30 minutes of mowing on a fully charged battery. The seven cutting heights meant that we could get a really close finish and an indicator flap on the 50L fabric grass box closes when it’s full, so we could mow without having to keep checking how full it was.

Buy now £309.99, Cobragarden.co.uk

How to choose the best lawnmower for you

What types of lawnmowers are there?

Corded (electric)

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

Battery-powered

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, some manufacturers have batteries which can be used across a range of tools

Cons: Can be pricey, cutting is limited to battery life, batteries need to be fully charged beforehand​, charging times vary

Petrol-powered

These are suitable for large lawns and inclined areas because they’re generally self-propelled. Most petrol models often 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

Ride on

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 maintenance​, 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. Cutting your lawn will be one of the most frequent garden jobs in the coming months, so you need a machine that will work with you for great results in the minimum amount of time.

We trialled all the mowers with usability in mind and were looking at features like, how easy it was to adjust the cutting height, how big the grass box was and how easy it was 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, like bird tables and flower beds. Anything between 30cm and 40cm is standard for gardens between 50 and 150 square metres. But, if you go for a larger deck, make sure you’re designated storage space will accommodate it.

While on the subject of space saving, 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.

Ultimately, the most important thing is the quality of the cut. We always had our eye on which machine could make the cleanest cuts which promotes turf health and makes for an effortlessly lush look.

The verdict: Lawnmowers

Ergonomic design and blade performance combine to make the Ego LM1701E-SP lawnmower a real investment. Manoeuvrable enough for use on smaller lawns, it also has the efficiency, battery life and cutting performance to cope with much larger areas and not come unstuck on inclines or around tight corners. It left our grass looking expertly cut and the minimal storage footprint means it’s a real winner on and off the pitch.

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