Lawn Mower Test
A handsome lawn is arguably the showpiece of any garden. But who intends to work with a beautiful lawn, you need to mow it regularly and treat it professionally. To help you catch the eye with a beautiful lawn, we have put various manufacturers and products through their paces in our lawn mower test. This way, you can conveniently and easily choose the best lawn mower for your needs. The selection includes petrol lawn mowers, electric lawn mowers, battery lawn mowers, robotic lawn mowers and lawn tractors.
1. How a lawn mower works
Basically, a lawn mower cuts the lawn either with the help of a sickle, a bar or with a reel fitted with blades.
Sickle mowers cut the lawn with the help of a fast rotating blade and have a high area output, but an imprecise cut. To minimise the risk of injury, the blades are often protected by a housing and are only open at the bottom. They are available as hand-held mowers, robotic lawn mowers, lawn tractors or as attachments for commercial vehicles.
Most private households own walk-behind rotary mowers that are either electric or petrol-powered. The aerodynamic shape of the blade’s wings creates an airflow that raises the grass before cutting it. The blade then cuts the grass and throws the clippings backwards due to the resulting air flow. The grass clippings can then be collected in the catcher bag. This 2-in-1 function makes it interesting for many households.
Our lawn mower test also includes many such lawn mowers for the garden. We also list rotary mowers that can also mulch or eject the clippings to the side. To increase the working area of a rotary mower, several rotary mowers are often installed under lawn tractors or attachments, or several mower decks are installed at the same time.
- Large area output
- Less prone to breakdowns (often forgives stones and branches)
- Cutting height can be adjusted
- Mowing and collecting function in one
- Partly imprecise cut
Reel mowers cut the lawn with the help of a reel fitted with blades. These mowers, which are operated by hand and without a motor, are particularly well known and are often used for small lawns. On the spindle there are small blades that are placed in a helix. These blades run past a fixed counter-blade arranged parallel to the axis of rotation of the spindle. Like a pair of scissors, the blades of grass are first grasped and then cut off. The further the counter-blade is from the ground, the greater the length of cut.
The support wheels attached to the mower often form a striped pattern in the lawn, e.g. on football pitches. The number of blades determines the quality of cut. Common DIY mowers usually have 5-6 blades.
Reel mowers are mostly used on golf courses, sports fields or parks. For private use, they can be used for a lawn height between 25-40 mm.
- Easy to move
- Can cut very precisely
- Low area output
- Susceptible to bumps, branches, etc.
- Spindle radius limits the cutting height (longer grass must be treated with a rotary mower beforehand)
Bar mowers are the mowers for the rough stuff. No matter whether it is a belly-high meadow, thin wood or even grain; this device is guaranteed to get it small. The device cuts according to the scissors principle, in which a moving knife blade moves along a fixed or also moving blade. Bar mowers are not suitable for home lawn care in the garden. They are mainly used for harvesting purposes or when a lot of bushes need to be cut away. They are usually found in mountainous regions, which are characterised by rough terrain and wetness.
2. Types of lawn mowers
Since our lawn mower test is aimed at the average person, we will focus more on walk-behind rotary mowers in the following.
Petrol lawn mower
Petrol lawn mowers are powered by a two- or four-stroke engine. They are very powerful and therefore predestined for mowing large lawns, which can even be damp and quite high. Unlike electric mowers, their operating radius is quite large, as it is only limited by the size of the petrol tank. Thus, they can be used to work conscientiously even in more remote places.
Larger models can also work on steeper slopes thanks to their wheel drive. The cutting height of modern devices can be adjusted centrally with a lever without having to remove screws. Petrol lawnmowers often have catch baskets to collect the cuttings. The larger these are, the more time is saved, as there is less tedious emptying.
Some petrol lawnmowers are also equipped with a mulching wedge, which ejects the grass as mulch. These tiny pieces serve as a source of nutrients for the lawn and enable it to grow healthily in a vibrant colour. There are also models that offer the additional function of ejecting the grass clippings to the side.
The disadvantages of a petrol lawn mower definitely include the noise and the emission of exhaust fumes. For this reason, they are sometimes subject to restrictions, mostly in residential areas. Furthermore, the increased dead weight, which can sometimes be 40 kg for powerful examples, makes it unsuitable for frail and elderly people.
- You can also mow large areas quickly with a cutting width of over 50 cm
- Tall and dense grass is no problem
- The machine forgives debris such as small sticks
- You can choose between catcher bag, mulching and side discharge
- Petrol lawnmowers are noisy, heavy, take up space and emit emissions
- Four-wheel drive models can work well on slopes, but are difficult to push when switched off
- Regular maintenance, in the form of oil and fuel changes, is required
Electric lawn mower with cable
Corded electric lawnmowers are suitable for areas between 50 and 600 square metres. They are particularly impressive because they are quiet. Furthermore, they are environmentally friendly and sometimes cause lower energy costs than petrol-driven mowers.
A serious disadvantage is the cable, which severely restricts the operating radius. If there are many obstacles, such as trees, in the garden, a petrol lawnmower or alternatively a battery-powered lawnmower is more advisable, even for smaller areas. In addition, serious accidents can occur if the cord is accidentally run over.
Some electric lawn mowers are also equipped with a mulching function. Unfortunately, there are quite a few examples on the market today that are notable for their poor workmanship or weak performance. Pay particular attention to the quality and performance of the motor, otherwise nasty surprises are the rule rather than the exception, especially with low-priced DIY machines from the Far East. Cheap electric lawnmowers often suffer in terms of cutting quality and handling. The end result is a frayed lawn that turns brown after a while.
- No emissions are emitted
- No regular maintenance
- Low noise and easy handling make it attractive for any social group
- Cable length limits radius of action
- The cable can cause dangerous situations
- The blade is somewhat weaker than on a petrol lawnmower
Lawn mower with battery
Battery-powered lawn mowers eliminate the need for a potentially annoying and restrictive cord. However, they are somewhat less powerful than corded electric lawnmowers and have a limited service life.
Nevertheless, today’s devices equipped with lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly powerful and discharge extremely slowly. To circumvent charging times, multiple chargers can simply be used. The advantage of battery-powered mowers is their unlimited mobility and light weight. The mowers therefore do not need their own wheel drive, as is required for petrol lawnmowers, because they weigh less than 10 kg in some cases.
- No pollutant emissions
- Range is not limited by a cable
- Battery lawnmowers have a moderate weight and are easy to handle
- Even today’s lithium-ion batteries usually do not last longer than 300 m²
- The machines are weaker than petrol machines and may have problems with high or wet grass
Air cushion mower
An air cushion mower does not need wheels. Since a blower wheel sucks in ambient air and presses it outwards, the lawn mower floats on a cushion of air. This only works because the mowers are extremely light and have a powerful engine. This mobility advantage means that air cushion mowers can also be used in steep and uneven areas.
While the petrol-powered devices used to be used more in professional GALA construction, they are now also available with electric drive for the hobby gardener. Since these devices offer extremely little resistance compared to mowers on wheels, they can be guided almost effortlessly and turned more effectively.
The easy handling of an air cushion mower is particularly noticeable on slopes and inclines. It is also easier to guide the mower along edges without damaging the blade. To vary the cutting height, weight discs are usually removed from behind the blade or additionally attached.
Hand / reel mower
Reel mowers are extremely light and cut the grass very meticulously. Due to their small cutting width and susceptibility to debris, they are often used on small areas. The advantages of a walk-behind reel mower are that it is inexpensive, light and compact for transport and storage, and because it is quiet, it can be used anywhere, anytime.
Reel mowers with a cutting width of 40 cm can be used for lawns up to 250 m². After mowing, all grass should be removed from the reel. It is also important to regularly service the moving parts.
- Need no fuel, no power cord and no battery
- They are quiet, inexpensive, easy to control, as well as very safe
- Most reel mowers only cut grass that is less than 4 cm high
- The cutting width is usually limited to 35-45 cm, which makes large areas rather unsuitable for use
- If you buy a model without a catcher box, the cuttings are simply ejected at the back
Robot lawn mower
Robotic lawn mowers have been commercially available since the mid-1990s. These are not remote-controlled, but make their own decisions and work completely autonomously. The Husqvarna company launched the first robotic lawnmower that could not only independently mow the lawn, but also independently return to its charging station. This made it possible for robotic lawnmowers to be used indefinitely, with the exception of maintenance work.
Today, all modern robots can mow the lawn indefinitely if a boundary wire has been laid in advance and the charging station has been set up and connected to the mains.
Robotic lawnmowers are powered exclusively by batteries and can cut more than 20,000 m² of lawn. Because they shred that so much, every robotic lawnmower is also a mulching mower. The pieces are ejected and serve as a source of nutrients for the lawn. Although robotic lawn mowers are not very inexpensive, the purchase is worthwhile from 500 m² upwards due to the enormous time savings for the owner.
The disadvantage is the reduced power, which cannot compete with a petrol lawnmower. Therefore, high grass poses problems for robotic lawnmowers. Since the mowers are not as powerful, they are, however, particularly quiet. In addition, they are used very regularly, if not in continuous operation, which is why the lawn does not usually get too high to cause problems.
Robotic lawn mowers are driven by 2 wheels. The steering is also determined by the different speeds of the wheels. Before a robotic lawnmower can get started, it requires some time-consuming setup. To begin with, the area to be mowed must be marked with a boundary wire. When the robot approaches the boundary, its sensors detect that it has to turn around first. It uses the electric field generated for orientation. In extreme cases, it can even turn on the spot if one wheel moves forwards and the other backwards. Normally, the robot recognises obstacles even without a wire, unless they are very flat, such as stones, clothes or shoes.
The travel within the defined area is more or less random. When the robotic lawnmower is almost empty, it returns to the charging station. In addition to the boundary wire, some manufacturers offer a search wire, with the help of which even disconnected lawns can be found and mown independently or the charging station can be found more quickly.
The most obvious disadvantages of robots are the long working time and the installation of the perimeter wire, which can take a lot of time, especially with frequent and complex obstacles. However, once a robotic lawnmower has been set up, the owner can sit back and relax and pursue other activities.
We would like to expressly advise against cheap robotic lawnmowers at this point. The fact that the robots are expensive is due to their great functionality. You should keep an eye out for inexpensive models in the three-digit price range. Many robotic lawnmowers costing less than 1500 euros performed poorly in our robotic lawnmower test, even though some of the models come from well-known manufacturers. Some of these devices disregard the boundaries and simply drive over the neighbour’s property. Or even worse: they drive over the beautiful flowerbeds of your own garden and mow them down sacrilegiously. If there is a garden pond on the plot to be mown, or if a flowing stream runs along its path without a boundary, such a device can literally execute itself. In addition, some devices do not return to their charging station in time and therefore simply stop. They also sometimes get stuck on sticks and stones and have to be freed by human hands.
- Robotic mowers automatically return to the charging station and can therefore work completely uninterrupted & autonomously
- By programming, the unit will also start working at night, or while the owner is on holiday
- After a while, even a bad lawn will look better than ever before
- No exhaust fumes
- High purchase price If you get a bad robotic lawnmower, you will have to supervise and often readjust the machine
- It requires some preparatory work, such as tensioning the perimeter wire
Lawn tractors and ride-on mowers
First of all, so that there is no confusion between the two terms, it should be said that a lawn tractor is a lawn mower in which the engine is located at the front, as on a tractor. On anAL-KO T 954 HD-A Comfort Black Lawn Tractor – m ride-on mower, on the other hand, the engine is located behind the mower deck. Both machines are suitable for mowing larger areas quickly.
Lawn tractors are rotary mowers and are therefore often used in larger gardens or on commercial properties of all kinds. Since they do not mulch the cuttings, they are equipped with a large catcher box at the rear. Ride-on mowers are cylinder mowers and are therefore used on golf courses and sports facilities.
- Cutting widths of over 120 cm in some cases make it possible to mow huge areas
- You can often choose between catcher bag, mulching & side discharge
- Extras, such as snow blowers, can be fitted
- The mowing process is relatively comfortable
- High purchase price
- Tractors require a lot of space and emit many exhaust gases
- Regular oil and fuel changes
3. criteria for the selection of a lawn mower
The following criteria are important when choosing a lawn mower for the garden:
Size of the lawn
In principle, walk-behind lawn mowers can be used for lawns up to 2000 square metres. Larger plots should be mowed with a ride-on mower or a suitable robotic lawn mower.
While robotic lawnmowers automate the work entirely, mowing large areas with a ride-on mower is time-efficient and saves effort. For lawns of less than 50 square metres, small mowers are also suitable.
Condition of the lawn
Normal, relatively level lawns can be maintained well with electric, petrol or battery-powered mowers. The wetter the lawn and the more debris it contains, the more powerful the mower needs to be. A petrol mower is suitable for this area of use due to its high power and tank range. If less powerful electric mowers are used, branches etc. should be completely removed from the lawn. If there are a lot of obstacles, it is worth buying a robotic mower. If, on the other hand, the lawn is characterised by few obstacles, a ride-on mower can be particularly helpful.
If the lawn has a steep slope, air cushion mowers are very suitable for efficient mowing. Ride-on mowers are in danger of tipping over on steep slopes and standard lawn mowers with a catcher bag are difficult to control in such areas due to their own weight.
Cutting height and cutting width
In general, the wider the cutting surface of a mower, the faster large lawns can be trimmed. For this reason, robotic lawn mowers take a particularly long time and lawn tractors, which are often equipped with several blades, take a short time.
The cutting height is determined by the power and the adjustment options of the mower. While rotary mowers can also shorten tall grass considerably, the adjustment possibilities of reel mowers are often somewhat more limited. The grass must not be too high during their use, but in return they mow particularly accurately.
Legal regulations and neighbourhood
Another important criterion is the environmental regulations of the legislator. Since petrol-driven lawn mowers and ride-on mowers are known to produce a lot of noise and exhaust fumes, they may not be allowed to be used in residential areas due to noise regulations.
Regardless of this, consideration should be given to the neighbourhood in order to avoid resentment and discord. As a rule, lunchtimes between 12-14 o’clock, Sundays and also the early morning and late evening hours should not be spent mowing the lawn. However, it must also be noted here that these times are perfectly legitimate in some neighbourhoods. Prior consultation is recommended.
Physical condition of the user
A petrol mower that is moved on uneven or even wet lawns may be too heavy for older people and women.
Lawn mowing tractors are only worthwhile if you have a certain lawn area. However, if the operation is successful, the work is made much easier. Especially for older people, a robotic lawnmower can make the work much easier or even take it away completely.
Catch basket or mulcher
Basically, most garden owners prefer the practical 2-in-1 function of a rotary mower that cuts the lawn and collects it in a catcher box. There is also the 2 in 1 function of cutting and mulching. However, this is not recommended in some cases.
Many such mowers do not fulfil their mulching function satisfactorily, but on this page you will find models that do. If you have an inexpensive lawn mower, it is worth considering buying an additional mulcher. Furthermore, with some models the clippings can also be ejected sideways.
Price and expectations
Ultimately, the willingness to spend money determines which lawn mower is used and its quality. Cheap equipment from the DIY store is often of low quality and therefore has to be repaired frequently. Regular maintenance is costly, time-consuming and a nuisance. For this reason, it is worth buying a quality machine. In our lawn mower test, you will find devices that can boast a durability of well over a decade.
4. Features of a perfect lawn mower
We paid particular attention to the following features when looking at the models in our lawn mower test:
A good lawn mower should not only be able to handle dry and short grass, but should also be able to mow tall and wet grass in a reasonable proportion. For this reason, in our lawn mower test, the devices were tested on dry, high or damp grass. One exception is robotic lawnmowers, which should generally not be asked to perform excessively when they are first used (a lawn that is too high should be pre-mown).
However, a short lawn is by no means a sign of a good lawn mower. After all, it may have been rudely torn off. This will soon result in ugly brown discolouration. A good quality of cut is guaranteed if the cut is straight, clean and quick. A good quality of cut also means that the wheel track is moderately to not at all visible.
The grass cutting distance or cutting width should also not be less than specified. Furthermore, this quality also includes how the grass is processed. Is it cleanly catapulted into the catcher bag without leaving any residue? Should the device mulch: Is the lawn residue small enough to serve as a nutrient?
The first step on the way to optimal and error-free customer use on the part of the manufacturer is to prepare the instruction manual in detail and, above all, in a way that is easy to understand. As a rule, manually operated lawnmowers require little explanation. Nevertheless, poor or non-existent instructions for use can be a knock-out criterion in the lawn mower test, because ultimately customer service is severely neglected. In the worst case, he uses the device in a poor condition or its safety is not guaranteed.
Furthermore, assembly should be uncomplicated and quick. The cutting height can be adjusted as indicated. Preferably centrally, without having to screw around. Furthermore, filling and checking the oil and fuel should be easy. In addition, the switching on of the equipment is evaluated, as well as the handling during operation.
If a lawnmower can be pushed largely without fatigue and can also cope with inclines and declines, this is rewarded accordingly. The weight is often a decisive factor in determining how manoeuvrable a mower is. However, nimble and lightweight machines often have a rather poor area coverage. Incidentally, a lawn mower is often easier to manoeuvre if the rear and front wheels are the same size.
If the lawn mower has different modes, these should be easy to set, preferably without tools (e.g. mulching mode). In addition, a wash-out connection for the garden hose can make cleaning the blade much easier and prevent potential hazards.
In the case of lawn tractors, particular attention is paid to how much vibration the user is exposed to and how ergonomic the seat is. Ultimately, they are judged on how much maintenance is required and how easy it is to carry out. Mowers that only need to be connected to a garden hose to clean blades and the like are very good in this respect. Furthermore, power steering and cruise control can be useful. Four-wheel steering allows for a tighter turning circle.
A good tractor should also indicate when the last maintenance or oil change was carried out.
Plastic is found in more and more products. Lawn mowers are also increasingly made with more and more plastic. As long as it is mainly the outer casing, this is not so tragic, because it reduces the weight to be moved. In addition, the price for the end consumer can be lowered.
It becomes critical when the manufacturer lowers his production costs by using plastic parts in important places. This is now common practice, which is why many electric and petrol lawnmowers give up the ghost after just one or two seasons. If parts of the lawnmower, especially the engine and drive, are poorly made or rattle, they are very likely to fail the lawnmower test.
Safety is checked by inspecting the lawnmowers during mowing for hot surfaces that could cause unsightly burns. In addition, it is observed whether liquids of any kind are leaking. In addition, the mower must be firmly anchored and must not loosen any time soon.
With electric and battery-powered lawnmowers, the main focus is on electrical safety. In addition to the processing of screws etc., which is of course also important here, all potential hazards with which people can come into contact, especially cables and plugs, must be carefully wrapped in rubber or plastic.