Our rigorous lab tests have uncovered big differences in quality across lawn mowers available on the market. In our expert buying guide, we explain which features to look out for and share our Best Buy recommendations.
Whether you’re mowing a postage-stamp-sized lawn or an acre of grass, we’ll help you choose the best mower for you. In the past, we’ve found Don’t Buy models costing over £600 and Best Buys available for less than £150. We've also seen that sometimes, older lawn mowers will outperform newly launched ones, so new doesn't always mean improved.
Read on to find out which lawn mowers impressed us in our tests, along with all the advice you need to help you decide which one is right for your garden.
This electric mower may be best suited to smaller lawns, but it's sturdy and cuts and collects so effectively that we've made it a Best Buy. It has a mulching option as well, which is great if you don't want to dispose of piles of grass clippings. It's easy to use and has some nice features, which means it doesn't feel like a budget machine.
This excellent mower is one of our top-scoring cordless mowers. It copes well with long and rough grass and gives a neat finish on short lawns too. It's self-propelled so it doesn't require lots of pushing and is overall very easy to use. We were a little disappointed with how efficiently it collected grass, but it shouldn't be a problem unless your lawn is unusually large.
This Best Buy mower is a very good price for a petrol machine, plus it handles all grass types with ease. It also collects grass clippings very efficiently and we found it easy to operate and manoeuvre. You'll need to make sure you have enough storage space for this hefty mower, but otherwise it's a great choice.
Scoring well in our tests thanks to excellent cutting performance across all types of grass, this electric mower is one to consider. Although its size has a slight impact on how easy it is to weave around the garden, it's still an excellent choice for people with a larger lawn.
This cordless mower delivers a fantastic cut on all grass types and handles difficult terrain, such as sloping and bumpy ground, well, too. Its self-propulsion and adjustable speed controls make it easy to manoeuvre, and the grass-collection box fills up to an impressive 90% of capacity before it needs emptying.
Although it's a little pricier than some other mowers of around this size, this Best Buy is one of the only cheap lawn mowers that is actually good enough for us to recommend. It cuts well and leaves your lawn looking smart. It fills the grass box right up, so you won't be running to the compost heap more than necessary. It's light but feels like a sturdy machine, although it's not the best choice for larger lawns.
If you're after a beautiful lawn without the noise and fuss of a powered machine then this large push cylinder mower is an ideal choice. It's quite wide so covers the ground quickly and gives a neat finish. This robust mower copes well with cutting both long and damp grass and collects the clippings quite well. It has a wide range of cutting heights and gives an impressively neat cut on short grass. The cutting-height adjuster is very easy to use.
Hover mowers are corded machines that glide over the grass on a cushion of air, but many don't pick up the clippings so you'll have to rake them up.
A basic hover lawn mower will cost you around £75. For a larger machine with a collection box that can tackle damp or long grass, expect to pay around £150.
Pros of hover lawn mowers:
Light and simple to use.
Models without a grass box are very compact and can be hung up on a wall.
Cons of hover lawn mowers:
You need to be careful with the cable and use an extension lead if the power cable isn’t long enough to reach the end of your lawn. Always use a residual current device (RCD).
Hover lawn mowers don't leave a very smart finish on the lawn.
Cordless lawn mowers
There are now cordless electric mowers that are as powerful as petrol models, typically costing between £350 and £500. Unlike corded electric lawn mowers, they’re not limited by a cable, so you can cut anywhere you want.
The battery running time will limit how long you can mow for. Some cordless mowers have a cutting time of more than 30 minutes, while others will run out of charge within 20 minutes.
The battery often makes these lawn mowers heavier than corded electric mowers, but they’re usually lighter than petrol mowers.
Pros of cordless lawn mowers:
Easy to start.
Batteries and chargers can sometimes be shared with other tools in the same brand’s range.
Cons of cordless lawn mowers:
Battery charging times vary. A good charging time is around one hour, but some mowers can take more than six hours to fully charge.
The cost of the battery and charger is sometimes not included in the price of the mower.
Disposing of old batteries can be tricky (in most cases you'll need to take them to your local Recycling Centre) and buying replacements can get expensive.
Petrol lawn mowers are powerful enough to tackle large lawns and suitable for bumpy or sloping ground.
You can get a good one between £350 and £550, but note that you'll need to have them serviced annually. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay around £75-£90 for a full service.
These lawn mowers tend to be heavy machines, weighing more than 30kg. To reduce the amount of effort involved, look for a self-propelled model as these have an extra drive which will push the mower along.
It's generally recommended that the ethanol content in the unleaded fuel used for lawn mowers isn't higher than 10%, as ethanol attracts water which can cause corrosion if fuel is left in the mower for long periods. E10 fuel is fine to use, but super unleaded with an ethanol content of 5% is better and what we'd recommend.
It's good practice to empty the fuel tank as much as possible – and completely if your mower won't be used over winter. Petrol is better stored in a bespoke container rather than in the machine.
Pros of petrol lawn mowers:
They’re not limited by a power cable, so can be used anywhere.
Many offer the ability to mulch the clippings.
Cons of petrol lawn mowers:
Can be difficult to start; a push-button or key start is usually easiest.
Some produce smelly fumes which raise your carbon footprint and are damaging for the environment.
A robot mower isn't cheap, but it makes mowing hassle free. Once installed, these cordless electric models will mow your lawn with little input from you, cutting regularly and mulching clippings back into the lawn so there are no clippings to deal with. We suggest you use your robot mower during daylight to reduce the risk to wildlife.
Some models are capable of cutting lawns that are 5,500sq m and more, making them a great alternative to a ride-on or petrol lawn mower.
Robot lawn mowers usually start at around £600 and can go well into the thousands. Pricier robots will usually have more advanced features, like smartphone compatibility, weather monitoring and mapping.
Pros of robot lawn mowers:
You can set the mower to your specifications, such as how tall the grass should be.
Guide lines stop the mower going where you don’t want it to cut. These can be moved to suit you during the year.
Cons of robot lawn mowers:
Installing the guide lines to set the boundaries of where to cut can be tricky, so it’s easiest to get someone to install the mower for you.
The price you pay for a new lawn mower ultimately depends on what type it is. Some of the cheapest we've seen come from Lidl, such as the £40 Lidl Parkside Electric lawnmower. At the other end of the scale are models costing closer over £1,000, including the Hayter Harrier 41.
Often, if you spend more on a lawn mower, you're paying for certain features rather than guaranteed better performance. These can include wider cutting widths, self-propelled functions and longer battery life.
Our expert tests prove you don't need to spend big to get your hands on a Best Buy lawn mower. In fact, we've uncovered several Best Buy models under £250. Price is very rarely an indication of how 'good' your lawn mower actually is. There's no way of definitely knowing how well it will cut your grass until you put it to the test in your garden.
If you're trying to stick to a budget, don't feel like you need to fork out money you don't have to land yourself a reliable model.
Where to buy a lawn mower
Whether you're shopping for a mower online or in-store, pay attention to the shop's returns policy in case you're unhappy with the purchase.
Popular online retailers that stock lawn mowers include:
Argos stocks a selection of electric, cordless, petrol and manual mowers. Brands include Bosch, Flymo and Spear & Jackson.
B&Q sells a selection of lawn mowers. Prices start at around £45 and rise to over £2,000 for ride-on mowers from Mountfield. The retailer also sells robot lawn mowers from Bosch, Mac Allister and Worx.
Screwfix sells petrol mowers and cordless mowers. The majority of its models are made by Mountfield.
Wickes offers lawn mowers covering a wide range of budgets. The cheapest is a hand-push lawn mower from Einhell at around £60. At the other end of the scale are £600+ robot mowers from Bosch, Fymo and Greenworks.
Find out which retailers are rated highly by Which? members with our expert guide on the best and worst shops.
Lawn mower features to look for
Cutting height adjustment
At the start of the year and during dry weather, it’s a good idea to leave grass longer so it doesn’t get stressed. In summer, you’ll want to cut it shorter so it stays looking neat for longer.
Most lawn mowers let you adjust the height of the cut between a set range of heights (see the orange handle in the picture below). Make sure that the mower can cut the heights you require and check how easy it is to change the height. Some can be changed by simply moving a lever, while others require you to change the height of each individual wheel, or to add or remove spacers under the cutting blade.
Cutting width is the size of the lawn mower blade. The larger the blade, the more grass it will cut on each pass. It's important to choose a mower with the right cutting width for the size of your lawn.
Small lawns, less than 50 square metres need a cutting width between 30cm and 34cm.
Medium lawns, between 50 and 150 square metres need a cutting width between 35cm and 40cm.
Large lawns, more than 150 square metres need a cutting width bigger than 40cm.
Too large a cutting width on a small lawn and you'll struggle to maneuver it in tight corners, while too small a cutting width on a large lawn, and you'll find it takes much longer to cut all the grass.
This is mainly an issue for petrol lawn mowers, as electric mowers are easy to start. Some petrol mowers start by giving a sharp tug to a pull cord. This can require a fair bit of strength and isn’t easy for everyone.
For simpler starting, look for models we recommend; these usually have a push button or key start.
Some lawn mowers have a fixed-length handle, while others let you adjust it between a range of heights. Check that the mower height will be comfortable for you, especially if you’re taller or shorter than average. Some mowers can be hung up or stored vertically to reduce the amount of space they occupy.
Some mowers are easier than others to get close up to lawn edges and around obstacles. Features such as grass combs can help them achieve this. Being able to get close to edges reduces the amount of time you’ll spend afterwards trimming missed grass with a grass trimmer or shears.
Lawn mower repair
Replacement parts for lawn mowers
One thing to consider before buying any type of lawn mower is how easy it will be to get replacement parts if you encounter any issues.
You can expect most mowers to last a decent amount of time (at least seven years or more) but that doesn't mean you'll never need spare blades, springs, or perhaps a replacement mower belt.
Most major mower retailers such as Bosch, Cobra, Flymo, Ryobi and Stihl offer spare parts for their lawn mowers, either directly from their website or through a third-party seller.
It's always worth checking on the availability of spare parts before you commit to a purchase, as you don't want a minor fault to end up in you replacing your entire mower because you can't get hold of a certain part.
With cordless mowers specifically, you should check to make sure it's possible to buy replacement batteries separately. We don't give Best Buys to models where the batteries can't be replaced, so will never recommend a mower that's destined to have an unusually short lifespan.
How to service a mower
A local-garden machinery specialist should be able to service and repair your mower, especially petrol models, so always check before you discard a mower that seems to be broken. A lawn mower service will cover various components including spark plugs, air filters, blades and oil.
How to sharpen mower blades
If you're planning on sharpening your mower blades yourself, take extreme care – you'll need protective eyewear, earplugs and gloves.
Make sure your mower is powered off before you proceed. Note that, if the blade is extremely damaged, it will need replacing entirely.
Using an angle grinder, work along the blade slowly. Your mower blade has a natural angle to it, so make sure to follow that with your angle grinder closely as you don't want to dramatically change the shape of the blade.
What’s the difference between a rotary mower and a cylinder mower?
Most lawn mowers have a rotary blade (see above, left) which spins around on a central point under the mower, cutting the grass as it turns.
Cylinder mowers (see above, right) cut the grass like scissors, so leave a very good finish, which makes them ideal for manicured show lawns. They don't cope very well with long grass or bumpy lawns, though, and very few of the hand-push models collect the grass well. They're really designed to keep regularly cut, short grass looking very neat.
How do I get a striped finish on my lawn?
Most lawn mowers won’t leave a striped finish. If you’re after this, you’ll need to look for a mower that has a roller, which will flatten the grass as you mow. Heavier mowers tend to leave the best stripes.
How we test lawn mowers
Unlike many other reviewers, we buy every lawn mower that we test. In other words, you can be sure our in-depth, expert reviews are honest and impartial.
For every lawn mower we test, we pay attention to the features that are important for your garden. We take a look at how well the mower will cut your grass and whether or not it leaves grass clippings behind.
We also measure lawn mowers on ease of use, which means checking their weight, how easy they are to assemble and disassemble, plus how convenient the controls are.