We test 30 mulcher and catcher-only lawnmowers, priced from $246 to $1039.
Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which lawnmowers:
- perform the best at cutting grass at various lengths
- perform the best at mulching
- are the easiest to use, and
- are the safest.
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In a way, mulching mowers produce more of a compost than a mulch, chopping grass finely and forcing the clippings back down between the blades of grass and back into the lawn. Normal catcher only lawnmowers produce grass clippings that are much longer and need to be removed from the lawn to avoid suffocating the cut grass.
The fine clippings from a mulching lawnmower can also reduce your lawn's need for water and fertiliser, helping slow down the evaporation process, providing not only an environmental advantage but a cost saving one as well. All the models also can be used as a standard mower with grass catcher if you want to completely remove the grass cuttings from your lawn.
For more information on Lawnmowers, see Backyard. For reliability, see our member survey.
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Four stroke good - two stroke bad
All the models we tested in this mower test are four-stroke. CHOICE does not recommend two-stroke engines, no matter how well they perform, as they emit more pollution, burning a mixture of petrol and oil rather than straight petrol. A four-stroke motor typically emits half the carbon monoxide and one-tenth the hydrocarbons that a two-stroke produces.
For example in a previous test on non-mulching petrol mowers the Victa Tornado Classic TCS482 had the same cutting and ease of use scores in our test as its four-stroke cousin, the TCS484. So although it scored well in performance, we could not recommend it on environmental grounds. After this test it was decided that we would no longer test two-stroke varieties.
Mulcher lawnmower brands tested
CHOICE tested 30 petrol-powered mowers and one battery-powered that keep your lawn looking its best. Two have self-propelled drive mechanisms and the others are propelled by the user.
- AL-KO Silver 470B
- Honda HRU196M1PBUH
- Honda HRU197M1 Bull
- Honda HRU19K1 Buck
- Honda HRU19M1PKUA
- Makita PLM4614P
- Masport MSV 4n1 Genius 567826
- Masport President 2000 Combo 567817
- Masport President 4000ST Combo 579937
- Masport S18 Mulcher AL 567935
- McCulloch Mulch or Catch M48A
- Morrison Rocket 569840
- Morrison Vinaro 350ST Combo
- Parklander PCM4050
- Pope Aurora 101PM450
- Rover Challenger Mulch'n'Catch 11A-H1LE333
- Ryobi Cordless Lawn Mower RLM36
- Sanli Power Cut 460 PCS400
- Sanli Power Mulch PMS400
- Scott Bonnar Greenkeeper 11A-I0LK373
- SupaSwift Lawn Range Blue
- Toro Recycler 20323
- Victa Bronco BRA484
- Victa Commando CMS485
- Victa Corvette 650 GMS486
- Victa Lawnkeeper LCS464
- Victa Mustang MCA485
- Victa Mustang MCA486
- Victa Vantage VCS464
- AL-KO Silver Premium 470BRV
- Rover Regal SP Mulch'n'Catch 12A-E1LB333
How we test
Our CHOICE tester, Peter Horvath, tests the mowers at Tropical Lawns, a turf farm in Cairns, Queensland.
The consistent climate provides plenty of grass to cut all year round. All mowers are weighed and their cutting height range assessed. He checked how close each model can cut along a vertical wall at the front and sides.The numbers listed in the table under (Closeness of cut to a vertical edge in mm) relate to the dimensions of the width of grass left behind after cutting at the front, right hand side and left hand side of the mower.
Ease of use
He rates them for vibration through the handle bar, ease of pushing and manoeuvring, handle comfort, convenience of controls, ease of adjusting the cutting height, catcher convenience and ease of starting.
He tests the lawnmowers for their ability to cut short- and medium-length grass with a catcher, and long grass without a catcher.
In mulching mode, he cuts short and medium length grass and assesses the appearance of the lawn after the short and medium grass cutting tests.
He measures noise at 7.5m and at the operator’s ear level. For a better understanding of how noise relates to everyday sounds, see our article here
He also carries out safety tests, which include measuring blade stopping time and a foot probe safety test.
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