Over the past decade or so, Makita has quietly gained a solid reputation in the delivery of grounds maintenance kit. This mower, replacing the PLM4611, only serves to reinforce that reputation.
A four-stroke mower with 190cc Briggs & Stratton engine, the 18in PLM4631 has a lot going for it. There is sufficient power to cut dense and wet grass - and this is where the additional side discharge will be appreciated. Collection, rear discharge and mulching kit are standard, and with a weight of 34kg the 4631 should appeal to mobile gardening crews needing to lift a machine in and out of the van.
The mower is targeted at lawns of up to 1,400sq m and has centralised cutting-height adjustment from 20mm to 75mm. With wheels shifted inwards, it is also great for getting up close to boundaries and there is no reason to be uncomfortable - the handlebars adjust to three positions.
If there is a downside it is that the gearbox provides just a single speed. But it is a comfortable walking speed - not too rushed and not so slow you feel you have to push.
Baldwin likes it. "With its steel housing this is another solid, well-built machine. Handling it is easy and the controls are so simple you can't go wrong. I like the handle at the front - ideal for lifting the unit in and out of a van and perfect for the one-man business. What's more, this one really sounds like a mower."
Engine: Briggs & Stratton four-stroke
Cutting width: 46cm (18in)
Cutting height: 20-75mm (centralised, in eight steps)
Cutting type: Cut, collect, mulch
Grass catcher box: 60 litres
Warranty: One-year commercial, one-year domestic
List price: £405 + VAT
Tel: Makita UK - 01908 211678
Tested This Issue
Viking MB 756 YC
Cub Cadet CC53SPBE-V
The Reviewer - Mike Baldwin, director of learning, Broomfield Campus, Derby College
The walk-behind wheeled rotary mower is the backbone of many machinery fleets and often a first choice for anyone with small or awkward areas of amenity grass. Lightweight and easy to pop into a van, these mowers are loved by garden contractors and in municipal spheres they are used for trimming up after the ride-ons have flown past.
With plenty of options, such as collect, side or rear discharge or mulch, wheeled rotaries find work in locations as different as cemeteries, highway roundabouts, newly germinating sports pitches and back lawns. At the Broomfield Campus of Derby College, where we held our test, walk-behind rotary mowers are used around beds and borders, along verges and in between trees.
We look at new models from four firms. Viking, the mowing side of Stihl, is an increasingly recognised name in professional grounds care circles as well as providing a wide range of domestic lawnmowers. We test the company's latest premium mower for commercial use. It is the most powerful and most expensive of the bunch, but what will our tester make of it?
We also look at a self-propelled and push mowers from Makita. Joining us for the first time we have Masport and Cub Cadet. While all three brands submit what appear very normal lawnmowers, we find each has something to set it apart from the others.
In the test, we were assisted by horticulture students undertaking an assessment of machinery for ease-of-use and health and safety considerations. Conditions on the day were cloudy but dry.