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Hover, Rotary, or Cylinder — Which Type of Mower is Best for Your Lawn?

Spring has sprung in the Northern hemisphere, and lawnmowers everywhere are being hauled out of sheds and garages to make the first cut after winter.

But for those new homeowners, or those people finding lawn mowers that haven’t survived the hibernation, a new mower might be on the cards.

While it might seem like a simple piece of machinery, there is a lot to consider, and several different types to choose from depending on your lawn and your personal preference.

Hover Mowers – Best for Undulating or Sloping Lawns

The most famous hover mowers are small plastic Flymos, but this category of mowers includes both big heavy gas mowers used by professional greenkeepers, and smaller lightweight mowers used by old age pensioners to trim their small lawns.

Inspired by the hovercraft, this type of mower has lots of advantages, and on golf courses is used mostly for sloping land that a cylinder mower cannot easily cut.

Because it floats on a cushion of air, the hover mower is far more able to tackle sloping or rough ground, having the advantage of maneuverability and being able to move in any direction unconstrained by wheels.

Petrol hover mowers pack a powerful punch and are often quite heavy, but electric hover mowers can be extremely lightweight and are often used by older generation as they are very easy to maneuver.

The disadvantage of hover mowers is the quality of cut — while these are used by professional greenkeepers, it tends to be only on sloping areas as they simply cannot match the quality cut of a rotary or cylinder mower.

The other disadvantage is that they can be untidy — although newer models include collection boxes, they can often still spray grass out across the lawn and make cleaning up a tedious job.

Rotary Mowers — The Most Versatile Mower

With four wheels, and a blade that spins around in circles underneath — rotary mowers are the classic lawn mower that everyone will instantly recognize, at least in push mower form, though this type of mower can also be found as a ride on or tractor.

Rotary lawn mowers chop the grass with a blade that spins round like a propellor at high speed. The clippings are usually then funneled into a detachable grass box.

These mowers work best on medium to long grass, and can cut most types. They are rugged enough to cope with your typical lawn with all its bumps, smushy bits with poor drainage, and debris left by children or wildlife, and gas rotary mowers in particular should be powerful enough to handle even a short meadow!

One of the most significant advantages of rotary mowers is versatility. You can usually adjust the height of a rotary mower very easily, and extend it quite high to tackle long grass without loss of  cut quality. 

But, the disadvantage of rotary mowers is that generally speaking, you won’t get as smooth of a cut as you would get from a cylinder mower. With sharpened blades and a decent engine you can end up with a relatively nice cut, and even stripes if you have a rear roller, but it will not be able to compare with the result of our next mower—the cylinder mower!

Cylinder Mowers — For the Mowing Enthusiast

If you believe your lawn is a beautiful canvas to be lovingly tended to, you might be interested in a cylinder mower.

Only a cylinder mower, or reel mower as they are often known, is capable of producing a fine cut well-manicured lawn to satisfy professional greenkeepers, and the most discerning lawn care enthusiasts

The cylinder mower works with a scissoring action, rotating,  trapping and slicing the grass blades against a fixed plate just like a pair of scissors. This provides a close, consistent cut, and with a rear roller on the end, will also provide you with a regal striped finish.

The disadvantage of cylinder mowers is that they are not suitable for rough ground or long grass—think bowling green rather than unruly meadow.

For the majority of people, a rotary mower will provide a good enough cut, and reel mowers are also often more expensive to buy, heavy to move around, and more difficult to maintain than a simply rotary mower.

*This is a guest post*

Landscape architect and lawn mower enthusiast Laurence Bennet believes that sustainable gardening could play a key role in tackling environmental challenges.

Visit his site at for everything on mowing and lawns.