Updated: 18/07/2022 11:43:27
Petrol Lawnmower Buying Guide
Find the right petrol lawn mower for your gardening needs with our easy guide.
Depending on the size of your garden, and the type of job you will be using your lawn mower for, there are three main types of petrol lawnmower:
- Push petrol lawnmowers - These will be the most affordable type of petrol lawn mower, requiring you to push the mower yourself. Petrol lawnmowers in general are much heavier than electric lawnmowers, so we wouldn't recommend this for larger gardens, but they are great for gardens with difficult shapes or obstacles with flower beds and other objects. Push lawnmowers are very easy to handle so give you a bit more control around tricky areas compared to a self-propelled or ride on mower.
- Self propelled petrol lawnmowers - A self propelled lawn mower directs some of the engine power to the wheels, making it easier to push. You will still need to guide them along as you go, and they can prove a little tricky around flower beds as you have slightly less control. They are great for gardens with an uneven surface. These models may also be labelled as "automatic".
- Ride on petrol lawnmowers - These are designed for large gardens or areas of land. If you need more comfort, ride on mowers remove the physical stress of mowing the lawn, you just sit on top and away you go! Ride on mowers do require more upkeep and better storage than the other types of lawnmower.
As well as different propulsion types, there are also a couple of different cutting system involved in lawn mower:
- Cylinder petrol lawnmowers - Perfect for those that want a professional finish, cylinder petrol mowers tend to be used on grass that requires special care, like a cricket pitch or golf green. They tend to be much more expensive than other mowers and aren't particularly suitable for long grass, as they may end up just flattening the grass rather than cutting it.
- Rotary petrol lawnmowers - These are the most popular type of mower and the cheapest. Rotary mowers work by cutting the grass with a rapidly rotating blade, making it extremely effective but relatively rough. They can cope well with long grass, and some models can attach a rear roller to produce a cleaner looking finish.
- Hover petrol lawnmowers - Also using a rotary blade, hover mowers also have a fan to help the mower "float". This makes them good for uneven surfaces and extremely easy to control. Petrol hover lawnmowers aren't particularly common, so if you are interested in a hover lawnmower, we would recommend taking a look at an electric version.
- Mulching petrol lawnmowers - Mulching allows you to chop up and mulch down your grass. This means you won't have to pick up the grass after use as this mulch can be left on the lawn as a natural fertilizer. However, this isn't a great option for longer grass and you will have to mow more regularly. Some mowers do let you switch between mulching and standard mowing, so keep an eye out for these.
Starting your petrol lawnmower
There are a couple of different start mechanisms when it comes to your petrol lawnmower, but these can influence the cost significantly, but the two most common are:
- Recoil start - This is the cheapest and most common starting method for petrol lawnmowers. This involves pulling a starting cord out from the engine quickly to turn over the engine and get it started. This is the most widely used starting option, but it can be difficult for those with strength, mobility or joint issues.
- Electric start - These are petrol mowers that have an electric start button, similar to many electric mowers. These tend to be more expensive, but are much easier to use.
Blade brake clutch
Petrol lawnmowers have a great feature allowing the engine to continue to run whilst the blades stop spinning. This blade brake clutch feature is great because it means you don't need to keep starting the mower back up every time you need to pick something up off the lawn, move an obstacle or cross a path with your mower.
Petrol lawnmower power
The engine capacity of your petrol lawnmower will usually be displayed in horsepower (hp or bhp).The higher the power, the more powerful the engine. Usually, 4bhp to 5.5bhp is sufficient for most rotary mowers. Cylinder lawn mowers can manage on a little less than this. The width of your lawnmower can affect the power output needed, as wider models will be doing more work.
Most lawnmowers will have 4-8 settings of cut height. These are usually available between 15-90mm, though wider ranges can also be found.
Other features to consider
Grass box capacity can really make a difference in your mow time. A 50 litre capacity is sufficient for most, but be sure to check this before you buy, as constantly emptying your grass collector can really bog you down when it comes to mow time.
If you're stuck for storage space, some mowers come equipped with a folding lawnmower handle. This lets you fold your lawnmower down to fit in a tight space like a garden shed.
Be sure to consider the weight of a petrol lawnmower before you buy. Petrol lawnmowers can be particularly heavy, so the weight can be an important consideration when it comes to transporting and moving your mower around.
Petrol lawnmower maintenance checklist
Compared to electric mowers, petrol lawnmowers do generally need a little bit more care, but can last for many years. Some easy care tips include:
- Check your petrol lawnmower after ever use for debris or issues.
- Following the manufacturer's advice, clean the air filter, empty the oil, lubricate cables and tighten bolts when needed.
- Disconnect the battery if your lawnmower has an electric start when not in use.
- Sharpen the blade before winter storage.
- Store your lawnmower inside a shed or outbuilding with a protective cover if possible.
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