Kya deLongchamps cuts through a sward of information to bring the short story on mighty mowers, ride-on tractors and sleek supercar-styled robotics.
MOWING the lawn puts a comfortably respectable, tidy face on a place. Still, as a chore, it’s a regarded as a repetitive boring, largely social duty by most of us.
The temperate wet weather of our summer means a hysteric dart out to the garage to grab up the horse-power when the green stuff is sufficiently dry not to jam up in clumps on the blades.
Throw in the wrong type of machinery and there’s very little to look forward to as we curse our way through the decapitated daisies.
Choose the right machine, however, and it’s a different story — cutting a dash might become almost bearable.
Mowers are broken down into push and self-propelled, rotary mowers, and cylinder mowers; hover mowers, and ride on mowers, or garden tractors.
Flat rotary blades are extremely popular, as set to your choice of sward height, they can scythe through long grass, and apart from needing regular sharpening, are good value and easy to maintain.
With standard cutting heights of 2 – 7.5cm, powered by mains or petrol, they will please most gardeners. For that nipped to the nub, golf course velvet, a cylinder mower with a set of moving blades that cut the grass against a fixed blade is the answer.
Add a rear roller, and you have the full country estate stripe, the envy of your slavering neighbours, up to their petunias in ragwort and clover.
Cylinders cut like a scissors, and are less successful in rutted ground with shaggy grass, so neurotically maintained, class A grass only for your going.
Rotary mowers with rear rollers are available. A rotary or cylinder mower in electric form is perfect for a smaller garden under the 3000 sq foot mark.
Flymo, Bosch and Honda are market leaders in tethered, blessedly light machines that just plug into an RCD and play. Prices from €150.
If you want to go cordless to stroll around trees and do away with extension cords, put another 30% on the budget.
Lay hands on any machine you’re planning to buy to judge its handle height to yours. Mowing with a small low mower can be a cause for an excruciating backache. Adjustable models are great for families where not only Dad does the deed.
If you have a medium sized garden with any sort of gradient, a self-propelled petrol or electric lawn mower (1000w-1800w) is vital. Choose variable speed models to suit your gait. A relatively large deck of 40cm plus can whip up and down a straight sided, sloping garden.
If your garden is a cluttered or complexly planted third of an acre, greater manoeuvrability and a neater deck in the 30cms might suit you better.
Motorheads, who thrill at the roar of the motor and the idea of manly tinkering, get positively excited at the choice of machine and will crumple this simplistic article on the subject to rub down the pelt of their growling, petrol-fed vehicle.
Expect to pay in the area of €200 and up for a mid-range 125cc rotary machine, tagging on about another €100 for every 10cc addition.
Chest-beating over the privet hedge includes the branding, horsepower and size of the cutting deck, and once given room, some buyers take gleefully to ride-on mowers as part of the mid-life transition — handkerchief garden or not.
For the parade of blades, there’s nothing quite like a Deere and buyers are happy to reach for €400-€500 for both high performance and respected high build quality.
Boasting an automatic choke system seen usually in cars, the proven, reliable four-stroke ReadyStart petrol engines in the new John Deere Run will please petrol heads and lightly-built mower-persons, who want cutting muscle without the wrestle. Explore the range at John Deere stockist including Farm Power, Cork.
The electric hover mower will elicit groans of utter contempt from the gritty division of petrol-powered horticulturists, but for undulating border edges, overhanging shrubs on a lawn and bird-like fore-arms, hovers are a cheap, uncomplicated rotary mower with increasingly clever detailing.
Prices start from as little as €50, but expect to pay more for a true Flymo and compacted collection.
Get a good cut at the start of the season on a nice dry day and use your hover mower regularly to get a pleasing finish.
Lithium ion batteries can run manual or robotic machines, but suffer on the side of run time and power, frustrating in a medium sized garden where you throw spontaneous BBQs and need a quick clip without a lengthy recharge.
Finding machines that will cut more than the size of a standard tennis court in a single charge will be problematic. For a compact roamer, take a look at the Flymo Mighti-Mo - 40V, €170.49, Argos.
Ryobi, also stocked by Argos, have introduced a hybrid machine that can switch from bled batteries back to a cord. 32cm, €529.99.
It’s not just about the cut, and as the machine grows larger and you mount up, the mechanics and ease of operation and emptying are key.
Variable cutting heights operated from your standing position, or a seat can deal with a close, shaggy or uneven lawn, but your major decision is tacking down the horsepower to suit the job.
Controls vary, some shared over hand and foot, other models being operated totally by hand. Don’t buy anything you haven’t at least pushed or sat on in a showroom, examining the ergonomics and ease of repetitive actions.
SITTING DOWN ON THE JOB
Ride-on mowers and domestic tractors are hefty, serious pieces of equipment suited only to adult use. Do your research before laying out upwards of €2,000-€5,000.
Riders generally have a rear-mounted engine and a single steel blade, whilst tractor mowers have a front-mounted engine and twin contra-rotating blades.
Riders tend to have a cutting width in the range of 64cm/25” to 81cm/32”, whereas lawn tractors come in the 81cm/32” to 127cm/50” range.
Tractors are strong enough to tow sprayers, aerators, and dedicated lawn-rollers. Don’t take on more talents that you need and dismiss a compact machine with tight turning circles. Some can even exercise a 360° turn within the length of the machine.
The size of any grass collector in a larger ride on (200l up) will influence the number of stops you have to make. Some mowers offer a 3-in-1 facility, collecting, mulching or discharging. Ensure your collection bin and any mulching plate comes with the deal.
Expect to pay more for the sophistication of both variable (automatic) transmission, and hydro-static transmission delivering a consistent supply of power to the cutting deck.
The latest riders have no bonnet, and seat the user further out front, turning by swinging the rear wheels under the machine, ideal for lawns with overhanging trees and obstructions.
At the centre of the action it’s easier to see and access areas that would be hard to reach with a normal mid-deck garden tractor.
‘B&S’ stands for Briggs and Stratton engine, a common quality engine in many tractors and riders. The respected Jonsered line are built by Husqvarna.
Popular Hp choices under €4,000:
12.5hp plus for .75 of an acre.
(10-13.5cc rated as 344cc engines) Husqvarna 13hp. TS38 side discharge with optional mulch kit from this top rated brand, €1,799, www.atkins.ie
John Deere NEW X105, €2,800, www.lawnmowershop.ie
13.5hp plus for an acre.
Mountfield 1530H 33²/15HP, €2,650, (suited to tackle gardens of up to 1.5 acres) www.douglasforestandgarden.ie
15.5hp plus (500cc) for 1.5 acres plus.
Craftsman YT 3000, with a tough deck is new this season at €2,700, Pat Geaney & O’Neill Commerical, www.thelawnmowerman.ie
Check out the new Iseki line. John Deere X 165 with a 48’’ deck, €3,900, www.lawnmowerscork.ie
Robot machines with their slavish devotion and darling little chassis have not seized the market as predicted on their introduction over a decade ago.
There’s no clear reason to dismiss the technology, but the price is certainly a cut above the rest.
Improved technology including GPS assisted navigation, variable cutting heights, smoother turns to increase the efficiency of the run, longer operation times from a single charge and seasonal adjusted calendars of cuts — they really can take on the full duties of maintain the lawn year round.
With grass cut regularly and left relatively long, the results are a lovely, healthy, routinely mulched sward, set within an easily installed ground-dug, boundary wire.
Flymo’s robotic 1200R 18V is well priced for an automatic mow if you don’t mind mulching over collection, and can even handle slopes of up to 24°.
Open wide your wallet and clip out €999. Argos. The Robomow RX12u under-cuts even this price at just €499 to trim 150m2 with an app, robotmower.org (stocked with other robots at Dermot Casey in Mallow).
Expect to pay in the area of €1,500–€3,500 for a larger alpha robot styled like a dinky F1 vehicle to depart from its base station over the new finish line of 3000m2 — in one chargewith a 45° cling, and a dual-blade cutting system, such as the Honda Miimo line.
Their HRM 3000 even allows you to set up the machine’s predictive adventures on your smart phone.
Choose a machine with PIN code information, and at least if it’s lifted, it won’t run outside for anyone else, www.hondaireland.ie for suppliers.
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