Should I replace my cylinder ride-on mower or go for a cheaper option?

For some years now we have cut our extensive lawn with a rotary lawn tractor. It has done the job perfectly well and still has some life left in it, but in the late spring we had a contractor come in to improve the lawn, with weed and moss killing a priority along with the removal of thatch and dead material.

The company followed up later by mowing with a riding cylinder mower. It has made a big difference to the lawn area and I would like to continue to use a cylinder mower, but my research shows that ride-on cylinder mowers are expensive. Do you have any suggestions?

A good cylinder mower can leave an impressive finish on the lawn, but only when it is kept sharp and working well. You will know how much it costs to have the blade(s) sharpened on your lawn tractor. Well, now think how much more blade edge there is to be sharpened on a cylinder mower.

There is also another aspect to consider in this situation. You do not mention whether your lawn tractor just cuts the grass, mulches the clippings into tiny pieces or has a collecting system. If mulching or collecting the clippings is an important factor for you, then you may well need to reconsider the cylinder options.

Collecting the clippings will be easiest with a pedestrian cylinder mower. You find professional/ commercial models with cutting widths of up to 36in (91cm) and you can purchase a trailer seat to ride behind. I do not know how this compares to the width or speed of your current lawn tractor, but I can tell you not to expect any change out of £10,000.

You mentioned that the lawn-care company you brought in used a ride-on cylinder mower, implying that your lawn is truly extensive.

For speed and a cylinder-finish, you might like to consider a mini gang-mower system — one that could be towed behind your lawn tractor. Clearly a gang mower will not collect the clippings, but regular mowing will ensure that they are small enough to decompose quickly in the sward.

A small gang-mower system that comes to mind is the Guildford from Dennis of Derby. Towed as a set of three, the Guildford will give a cutting width of 69in (1.75m), covering the ground quickly and perhaps giving you the opportunity to mow more frequently and so keep the clippings small.

Costing a bit more than £4,000 for a set, this gang system has a framework designed to follow any contours in the lawn, yet bounce is kept to a minimum.

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