Gardeners want to make their grass even greener. As petrol prices rocket and people become ever more conscious of their environmental impact, many are turning to the latest generation of lawnmowers to keep their gardens looking good.
While the fronts of our houses are gradually seeing the replacement of petrol cars with electric vehicles, advances in lithium-ion batteries have meant that the trusted back garden mower has also been given a modern overhaul – but at a price.
So is it time to replace your current mower with a battery-powered or “robot” version, stick with petrol despite the spiralling costs, or stay plugged in?
The length and breadth of your garden will heavily influence what type of machine you need.
Smaller gardens allow for corded electric rotary mowers, which are a good-value option, though if the power source is more than 10 metres from the machine, you may need an extension cable. Cheap versions can be picked up for £50, and one of the best budget options for this year is the Webb Weer 33, according to Gardeners’ World magazine. This comes in at about £110.
For larger lawns, however, many gardeners will not want to be attached to a power lead, which may mean a petrol mower or one of the new generation of battery-operated machines.
The increasing cost of fuel at the pump means it is more expensive to fill up a petrol mower now. As many are about 1.25 litres in size, the bill to fill the tank is likely to be roughly £2. However, some gardeners have noted that the new E10 standard unleaded petrol may cause running problems for engines and have suggested using a fuel stabiliser, which can add another 25p to the price of filling up.
Mark Moseley of Handy Distribution, a garden machinery distributor, says petrol machines can be used in all weathers, are ideal for large gardens and can handle long and damp grass. But they are heavier, noisier and need servicing and maintenance. “Petrol mowers are ideal for tackling longer grass and undulating lawn types and, depending on the size of the engine and cutting width, can truly offer outstanding performance and a beautiful cut,” he says. He highlights the Webb WER460SP as the best choice at about £280.
The next generation
As battery technology advances, so, too, have mowers. While hi-tech versions have a higher price tag than petrol, the ongoing cost is cheaper, says Moseley, with an average charge lasting 30 to 40 minutes costing about 1p. “They have no emissions, are quiet and require no servicing other than sharpening the blade once in a while and giving a quick clean,” he says.
“There’s one to tackle any size lawn, and having additional batteries means you will never be without power. Some larger models offer a self-propelled feature and higher performance, so the mower will do all the work for you; they suit gardens larger than a tennis court.”
Stiga, a distributor of petrol and battery lawnmowers, says there has been a shift in consumers moving from petrol to battery as they look for a greener alternative.
“Battery mowers tend to cost more than petrol, as you’re paying a higher proportion of the total cost upfront. Despite the increase in energy bills, it’s still a fraction of the cost to charge a battery than the cost of the fuel to do the same job, so every time you use your mower you’re recouping that saving,” says Stiga’s Amanda Kincaid.
People with smaller lawns can get a 24V mower from Greenworks for under £160 with battery and charger, says Moseley, while its 48V comes in at £240 for gardens the size of a tennis court.
Leave it to the machines
The most carefree option is to leave lawncare to a robotic mower. These have been around since the early 1990s, but there have been advances in technology, with improved GPS mapping and battery life, making them suitable for a wider range of gardens, says Kincaid.
They can be programmed to cut the grass as regularly as required, using sensors or a boundary wire before returning to a docking station to recharge.
Moseley says they improve the quality of a lawn as they are designed to take the top 3mm of grass regularly, which allows for clippings that are rich in nutrients to feed the lawn.
“Most will not cut to the very edge of the lawn plus, if you have pets, you will have to pick up any mess before cutting,” he says. “They will require a little planning and installation, but once complete, they can be left to their own devices. Some minor maintenance each winter is required.”
Prices are high and typically start at £500, with premium models coming in at about £2,000, although that can stretch to more than double for models that can deal with very large spaces.
Gardeners’ World says the Worx Landroid S300 WR130E (£720), Stihl iMow 422P (£1,250) and the Husqvarna Automower 315X (£1,700) are some of the best buys.
Too much hard work? Fake it
Coming into The run-up to summer usually sees an increase in the number of people giving up on mowing and choosing synthetic grass.
Amy Greenslade, at Nomow Artificial Grass, says many different groups decide to go plastic. “Predominantly, customers are older and don’t want to cut the grass, or younger and working all the time. Those with children and pets is a massive area, as it stops mud coming in the house.”
The laying process typically involves removing existing grass and putting down a sub-base, such as crushed granite and sand, which is levelled to allow for drainage. The plastic grass is rolled out and tucked to fit at the edges.
Like an carpet, each piece has a pile type or yarn shape, which gives it an individual look, according to Grass Direct, a supplier with stores throughout the country. These can range from a freshly-cut look to a more realistic end result.
Greenslade says it is possible to lay the grass yourself as it is “labour-intensive but not skill based”.