As summer draws ever nearer, now feels like a good time to get your lawn in shape so you can relax and soak up the rays in a well-tended garden.
Keeping the lawn tidy is a physical task, but there are models out there with handy features that help take the heavy lifting out of mowing.
Read on to find out which lawn mower features we recommend you look out for, or head straight to our lawn mower reviews to compare the mowers we’ve put through our tough tests.
1. Self-propelled lawn mowers
Heavier lawn mowers such as petrol models often take a lot more effort to push. Larger wheels and a wider frame can prove helpful, but a self-propel feature is what you really need to take the effort out of pushing your mower around.
Make sure to check the specifications of a self-propel mower before you buy, as many self-propel features are simple and move the mower along at a set speed that might not suit you.
If you’re best off setting your own pace, make sure to look for a mower that has an adjustable self-propel function.
These mowers have a range of speeds that can be switched around at will to suit your preference. You’ll be able to walk at a comfortable speed without needing to push.
Check out our self-propelled lawn mower reviews to see which ones we recommend with this feature.
2. Type and materials
The overall weight of your lawn mower can make a big difference to how much effort it takes to push and lift, so it’s important to check what it’s made of if you want one that doesn’t require much strength to use.
The general rule is that the more metal there is, the heavier the mower will be, so petrol mowers are often the heaviest due to their large metal engines.
Mowers suited to bigger lawns also tend to be heavier, as they have larger frames and wider cutting blades than those suited to small lawns.
The graph below displays the weight ranges of the different lawn mower types we’ve tested:
Lawn mower types by weight
It’s clear that those seeking a lightweight mower should consider going electric or cordless. However, electric mowers come with cables dragging behind them, which can be both an annoyance and a safety hazard.
For the best combination of convenience and lightweight mobility, you’re best bet is to go with a cordless mower. They’re generally lighter than petrol mowers as they have far less metal parts, but they don’t have cables, either.
You’ll want to make sure you buy one with a good battery life to avoid another set of frustrations, though. We’ve tested cordless mowers that last less than 10 minutes before the battery dries up.
Our top five cordless lawn mowers guide can help you choose a model that combines long battery life with a powerful cut.
3. Easy-start features
Another common concern for petrol lawn mower users is how much effort it takes to pull the cord to start it up.
Simply choosing a cordless or electric might seem a simple fix, but there are alternative solutions for people who don’t want to compromise on the power of petrol.
Some petrol mowers have a hook for their pull-cord handles, so the cord can be accessed and pulled from a standing position at the handles instead of requiring you to bend down and yank the cord directly from the engine.
Other petrol mowers do away with pull cords altogether and use a push-button start like their electric and cordless counterparts.
Check out our which lawn mower brand to buy in 2020 guide to use our reliability ratings to make sure you aren’t stuck with a model that won’t start properly.
4. Carry handles
Although most of the top lawn mowers for small gardens can be carried by one person, some mowers need to be lifted by two people.
Without obvious places to hold on to, lawn mowers can prove to be uncomfortable and arduous machines to carry, as their weight is rarely distributed evenly across the machine.
Keep an eye out for carry handles on any mowers you’re thinking of buying, as an ergonomically designed handle will do wonders for giving you a comfortable and sturdy point to lift your mower from.
Avoid lifting the mower by its handlebars, as the distribution of weight will be very uneven and the handles might not be able to cope with bearing the weight of the rest of the mower.
Also, be very careful not to put your hands anywhere near the underside of the mower during lifting.
Another physically demanding aspect of lawn mowing is the occasional emptying of the grass collector. Once full, collectors can be heavy and the journey to the compost heap to empty it can seem daunting.
You may consider using a lawn mower with a mulching mode, which is a setting that finely chops and redistributes grass on your lawn instead of collecting it.
This removes the need to empty your grass collector, avoids a gradual increase in weight as the collector fills and allows you to remove the collector altogether.
Mulching is a setting best used for lawn maintenance rather than a lawn ‘makeover’, though, as piling too many grass clippings on your lawn can cause your healthy grass to decompose.
Check out our lawn treatment guides for expert tips on keeping your lawn in tip top condition.
At Which?, we make sure to test all of the big lawn mower releases every year, so you can be savvy when you shop around for your next grass cutter.
The EGO Power+ LM1701E-SP is a mower with many of the ease-of-use features listed above. We put it through a wide range of robust tests to determine how useful they are.
Other mowers recently tested include: