A There are various reasons why we turn to walk-behind grass cutting equipment. Such machinery is suited to small areas, especially fine turf such as bowling greens or awkward-shaped lawns. It can also be appropriate where site access is limited or equipment needs transporting in the back of a van.
Q What sizes are available?
APedestrian mowers come in a range of sizes. Working widths vary from 40cm for some of the top-of-the-range domestic machines up to the 155cm of Simon Tullett Machinery’s Scag rotary mower. The size of the machine should reflect the size of the area to be cut.
QWhat is the best cutting mechanism?
A The type of vegetation, its height and density, the anticipated frequency of cut and the desired finish will determine the most appropriate cutting action. The choice is between cylinder, rotary, flail and reciprocating. For very tall grass, and especially for annual cuts of small meadows, the reciprocating or cutter-bar mower is the ideal choice; the flail mower comes into its own when the going gets tough. Consider this type of machine where there are brambles, docks and even saplings.
A number of rotary mowers are also at home in these conditions but check out the thickness and strength of the blade and construction of the deck. High engine power is also needed to smash through difficult vegetation. Cylinder mowers are used on bowling greens, high-quality lawns and wherever ultimate finish is required.
QWhy are rotary mowers so pop-
ARotaries are popular with contractors because they are simple to use and, with a single blade, they are relatively cheap to maintain and keep sharp. They are also versatile. They can be used on rough areas such as verges or in orchards where they may come across the occasional piece of wood. They are highly manoeuvrable, so they can be used where there are a lot of obstacles. And they are capable of producing a good finish on lawns.
Q What types of rotary are available?
AThe main choice is between wheeled and roller models. If you are looking for a striped finish, be sure the mower has a roller. Wheeled rotary mowers are lighter in weight, so are easier to handle in and out of vehicles or trailers. Mulching mowers work well where mowing is fairly regular and a clean finish is needed without the annoyance of emptying the catcher and the difficulties of disposing of clippings. A high tip-speed is the key to a neat finish with a rotary mower.
There’s also the choice of powered or non-powered. Clearly, a powered model will mean less effort is needed to push the machine, but you should expect to pay more for machines that feature drive to the wheels or roller as well as to the blades.
QWhat needs to be considered when buying cylinder mowers?
AThe cylinder mower will cost more than your average rotary mower to buy and maintain as it has more edges to keep sharp. Frequency of cut is also an important consideration. The longer and thicker the grass, the greater the power required to cut it. It will also determine the best options in terms of the number of blades and size of cylinder or reel. Large-diameter cylinders that have a few blades are most suited to sites where grass is left to grow between cuts. On the other hand, golf greens and areas that are mown regularly will need the higher clip rate of a cylinder mower with more blades. For grass cutting on undulating ground, it is best to look for a mower with a short distance between the front and rear rollers.
QWhat other considerations are important?
AWith all mowers it is essential to consider comfort. Handlebars that are easy to adjust are a good idea if several operators are likely to use the machine. Soft-grip handles are of benefit where long hours of mowing are anticipated. Ask for data on vibration, noise and emissions levels. Controls should be instantly recognisable and easy to use. Cutting-height adjustment should be simple, otherwise it tends to be overlooked. And remember, the smaller the difference between the working width of the mower and the overall width of the machine, the closer you will be able cut to trees and obstacles. And that means less trimming up afterwards.
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