Petrol and push lawn mower reviews

Which lawn mower will not only cut your grass well but also have the least environmental impact?
 
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  • Updated:29 Sep 2008
 

01 .Introduction

Lawnmower

Test results for six push and 12 petrol lawn mowers, priced from $75 to $729

CHOICE tested 12 petrol lawn mowers priced from $299 to $729 and six push mowers priced between $75 and $122. All the petrol mowers have four-stroke engines. We tested one two-stroke lawn mower, but could not recommend it for environmental reasons.

CHOICE tested both types of mowers for their performance and ease of use and checked the noise and safety of the petrol mowers as well. We've found a handful from each category to recommend.

For more information on Lawn mowers, see Backyard.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Brands tested

Petrol lawn mowers

  • GMC RL504
  • Honda Buffalo Buck HRU 19R
  • Masport Series 18 450AL
  • Masport Series 18 500AL
  • Rover 460 11024
  • Rover Regal 35692
  • Supaswift Lawncruiser 767QC
  • Talon Condor AM3070
  • Victa Pace by Victa PCS464
  • Victa Tornado Classic TCS482
  • Victa Tornado Classic TCS484
  • Yardman Self Starter 409S

Push lawn mowers

  • Flymo H40
  • Gardener's Choice Hand Mower GC 029
  • McCulloch Easy Cut H350GC
  • Morrison Handmower 552462
  • Ozito Hand Mower LMP-301
  • Talon Hand Push Reel Mower AM201816C
 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test. 

What to buy
Brand Price
Petrol
Honda Buffalo Buck HRU 19R $729
Rover Regal 35692 $569
Masport Series 18 500AL $650
Victa Tornado Classic TCS484 $460
Push
Flymo H40 $122
McCulloch H350GC $98

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below 

Product Performance: Push mowers Specifications
Brand/model Overall score (%) Cutting score (%) Ease of use score (%) Catcher Cutting positions Cutting height range (mm) Width of cut (cm) Weight (kg) **Price ($)
Flymo H40
www.husqvarna.com.au
78 68 88 No 4 10-32 40 7.6 122
McCulloch Easy Cut H350GC *
www.husqvarna.com.au
68 70 65 Yes Variable 10-42 35 6.5 98
Ozito Hand Mower LMP-301 *
www.ozito.com.au
67 68 65 No Variable 13-40 30 6.4 75
Morrison Handmower 552462
www.masport.com.au
64 70 58 Yes Variable 10-45 40 7 109
Gardener's Choice Hand Mower GC 029
www.kmart.com.au
63 70 55 Yes Variable 12-45 30 6 80
Talon Hand Push Reel Mower AM201816C
www.talontools.com.au
55 70 40 Yes 4 + 1 variable 20-45 40 9.4 99
 

* Only available at Bunnings
* Price Approximate retail, as of September 2008



Product Performance: Petrol mowers Specifications
Brand/model Overall score (%) Cutting score (%) Ease of use score (%) Noise at 7.5 m/user's position (dB) Engine type Starter toggle Closeness of cut to vertical edge (front/right/left) (mm)

Measured
cutting height range (mm)

Width of cut (cm) Weight (kg) **Price($)
Honda Buffalo Buck HRU 19R
www.hondampe.com.au
84 98 70 72/86 4 stroke Halfway up handle 120/15/13 17-78 47 27.6 729
Rover Regal 35692
www.rovermowers.com.au
84 98 70 74/89 4 stroke On motor 135/18/15 8-60 45 26.9 569
Masport Series 18 500AL
www.masport.com.au
83 98 68 71/86 4 stroke Halfway up handle 115/33/15 15-76 46 25.4 650
Victa Tornado Classic TCS484
www.victa.com.au
83 95 70 70/85 4 stroke On motor 115/15/18 16-68 48 22.7 460
Masport Series 18 450AL
www.masport.com.au
82 95 68 70/85 4 stroke Halfway up handle 112/32/15 15-75 46 25.3 599
GMC RL504
www.gmcompany.com
81 92 70 67/80 4 stroke On motor 105/20/17 20-85 46 25.4 299
Rover 460 11024
www.rovermowers.com.au
81 95 66 75/87 4 stroke On motor 105/20/15 7-55 45 25.3 299
Victa Pace by Victa PCS464
www.victa.com.au
81 95 66 73/86 4 stroke On motor 120/24/12 10-75 46 21.9 319
Yardman Self Starter 409S
www.mtdproducts.com.au
81 98 63 74/87 4 stroke Deadman's handle 135/20/17 10-62 46 31 559
Supaswift Lawncruiser 767QC
www.allpower.com.au
78 92 63 71/85 4 stroke Halfway up handle 90/20/10 10-70 46 23.9 599
Talon Condor AM3070
www.talontools.com.au
66 92 40 73/86 4 stroke Key on handle 122/32/28 15-52 47 42 699
 

Using the table

Scores The overall score for both types of mowers was made up of:

  • Cutting score: 50%
  • Ease of use: 50%

** Price Approximate retail, as of September 2008

How we tested

Our tests were performed in Far North Queensland where, thanks to a consistent climate, there’s plenty of grass to cut all year around. All 18 mowers were weighed, their cutting height range was assessed and they were all checked to see how close each model could cut next to a vertical wall at the front and the sides.

Petrol mowers

  • Performance Our CHOICE testers put the all the lawnmowers through their paces to check their ability to cut short and medium length grass with a catcher, and long grass without a catcher. They also assessed the appearance of the lawn after the short and medium grass cutting tests.
  • Ease of use They rated them for vibration through the handle bar, ease of pushing and manoeuvring, handle comfort, and convenience of controls, ease of adjusting the cutting height, catcher convenience and ease of starting.
  • Noise was also measured noise at a 7.5 metre distance and at ear level too.
  • Safety They checked the blade stopping time and conducted foot probe safety tests.

Push mowers

  • Performance Our CHOICE testers cut short grass with the catcher attached (where there was one) and medium length grass without the catcher. Again, they assessed the appearance of the lawn after both tests.
  • Ease of use They checked the ease of pushing and maneuvering, handle comfort and cutting height adjustment of each mower.
  • The testers also checked how easy it was to adjust the bottom blade, which controls the gap between the reel and the fixed blade.

Petrol mowers

Honda Buffalo Buck HRU 19R

Price $729 Honda Buffalo Buck HRU 19R

Good Points

  • Excellent cutting performance on tall grass.
  • Very comfortable handle.
  • Very easy to start.

Bad Points

  • Nothing in particular.

 

Rover Regal 35692

Price $569 Rover Regal 35692

Good points

  • Excellent cutting performance on tall grass.
  • Very comfortable handle.
  • Very good cutting height adjustment.
  • Very good catcher.

Bad points

  • Nothing in particular.

 

Masport Series 18 500AL

Price $650 Masport Series 18 500AL

Good Points

  • Excellent cutting performance on tall grass.
  • Excellent handle comfort.
  • Very easy to start.

Bad Points

  • Equal worst in the test for handle vibration.


Victa Tornado Classic TCS484

Price $460 Victa Tornado Classic TCS484

Good Points

  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.
  • Very comfortable handle.
  • Very good cutting height adjustment.
  • Very good catcher.

Bad points

  • Equal worst for handle vibration.

Masport Series 18 450AL

Price $599Masport Series 18 450AL

Good points

  • Excellent handle control.

Bad points

  • Nothing in particular.
  • Control has a stiff action.

 

GMC RL504

Price $299GMC RL504

Good points

  • Deadman’s handle.
  • Least noisy.
  • Very little handle vibration.
  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.
  • Excellent cutting height adjustment.
  • One of the cheapest models in the test.

Bad points

  • Borderline cutting performance only on tall grass.
  • Uncomfortable handle.
  • Not very easy to start.

Rover 460 11024

Price $299 Rover 460 11024

Good points

  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.
  • Very comfortable handle.
  • One of the cheapest models in the test.

Bad points

  • Not particularly easy to start.

 

Victa Pace by Victa PCS464

Price $319 Victa Pace by Victa PCS464

Good points

  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.
  • Very good controls.
  • One of the cheapest models in the test.  

Bad points

  • Uncomfortable handle.  

 

Yardman Self Starter 409S

Price $559 Yardman Self Starter 409S

Good points

  • Deadman’s handle.
  • Excellent to start by squeezing deadman’s handle.
  • Excellent cutting performance on tall grass.
  • No controls to use as the motor controls the speed.  

Bad points

  • Tiring to push/manoeuvre.
  • Very uncomfortable handle.  

 

Supaswift Lawncruiser 767QC

Price $599 Supaswift Lawncruiser 767QC

Good points

  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.

Bad points

  • Borderline cutting performance only on tall grass.
  • Uncomfortable handle.
  • The controls are stiff.  

 

Talon Condor AM3070

Price $699 Talon Condor AM3070

Good points

  • Excellent key start.
  • Very comfortable handle.  

Bad points

  • Worst for ease of use.
  • Heaviest model.
  • Borderline cutting performance only on tall grass.
  • Very tiring to push/manoeuvre.
  • The controls are clunky and vague.
  • Poor cutting height adjustment.
  •  Very poor and heavy catcher.  


Push mowers

Flymo H40

Price $122Flymo H40

Good Points

  • Best score overall.
  • Easiest to use.
  • Very easy to push/manoeuvre.
  • Excellent cutting height adjustment.
  • Very easy to adjust the cutting blade.

Bad Points

  • No catcher.

 

McCulloch Easy Cut 350

Price $98 McCulloch Easy Cut 350

Good Points

  • Very easy to adjust the cutting blade.
  • Very easy to attach/remove the catcher.

Bad Points

  • Handle wobbles and may be too short for some people.
  • Cutting height adjustment is only OK.  

 

Ozito Hand Mower LMP-301

Price $75Ozito Hand Mower LMP-301

Good points

  • Good handle.
  • OK cutting height adjustment.  

Bad points

  • No catcher.
  • Narrow cut by comparison - 30 cm.
  • Fiddly to adjust the cutting blade.  

 

Morrison Hand Mower 552462

Price $99 Morrison Hand Mower 552462

Good points

  • Very easy to attach/remove the catcher.
  • OK cutting height adjustment.  

Bad points

  • Handle may be too short for some and wobbles a lot.
  • Not particularly easy to adjust the cutting blade. 
     

Gardener's Choice Hand Mower GC 029

Price $80 Gardener's Choice Hand Mower GC 029

Good points

  • Nothing in particular

Bad points

  • Narrow cut by comparison - 30 cm.
  • Handle may be too short for some and wobbles a lot.
  • Borderline cutting height adjustment.
  • Not easy to adjust the cutting blade.
  • Catcher looses some grass clippings when removing it.

 

Talon Push Reel Mower AM201816C

Price $99 Talon Push Reel Mower AM201816C

Good points

  • Nothing in particular  

Bad points

  • Worst overall.
  • Worst for ease of use.
  • Heaviest mower in the test.
  • Handle may be too short for some and can’t be lowered far enough.
  • Borderline cutting height adjustment.
  • Cutting blade is difficult to adjust.
  • Poor catcher; very fiddly to install/remove.

Petrol mower essentials

  • The handle should be comfortable to hold and preferably height-adjustable. A turned-up handle is easier on your wrists and gives better control over the mower.
  • The engine control lever should be on the handlebar for easy access, and should be easy to operate.
  • Check that the starter cord is easy to pull. It's generally easier to operate when the cord is located on the engine, but a handle-mounted cord is good if you can’t easily bend over — but make sure it’s not mounted too high, as this can require a lot of shoulder strength to pull.
  • Look for a large number of cutting positions spread over a useful range of cutting heights. Make sure the cutting height is easily adjustable.
  • The catcher should have two handles: one on top for carrying, and one on the back for easy emptying.
  • The mower should be easy to push and manoeuvre in all the conditions you'll use it. Big wheels improve handling on rough ground and a lightweight model is easier to push and turn.
  • A wash port or nozzle on top of the housing makes it easy to clean underneath the mower, including the blades.
  • Check that the mower is easy to maintain: can you easily change the oil, air filter and spark plugs?

Push mower essentials

  • Look for a model with a catcher — unless you are keen to spend more time in the garden with a rake after mowing.
  • Make sure the mower is lightweight and doesn’t take too much power to push it along.
  • Check that the handle is height adjustable.

Starting up

Two of the petrol engines of the mowers on test started differently from the pull cord usually found on the engine or the handlebar. The Talon has a key on the handlebar that you turn to fire up the engine, just like a car. The Yardman is fitted with a “deadman’s handle”, which stops the engine almost instantly when it’s released.

With the Yardman, however, it also winds up a starter mechanism that starts the engine whenever the handle is squeezed again. It has a plastic safety key that can be removed so it cannot be started by accident or by children. However, our testers found it difficult to push and found the handle uncomfortable and tiring to keep the safety bar depressed at all times, while the Talon had the worst overall score in the test.

When it comes to choosing the right mower for your garden you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of petrol and push lawnmowers. Petrol mowers are noisy, cost money to run, blow fumes, are heavy, take up storage space and of course, are bad for the environment. On the upside, they are easier to push and are generally quicker to get the job done.

Push mowers are quiet, have no running costs, are easy to store and perfect for reducing your carbon footprint. But they do take up more time and energy to use and might not suit everyone. So, what to choose? Unless you are full of boundless energy you might want to use size as your guide. For inner city dwellers with a small patch of grass, a push mower suits perfectly. If you live on a large block of land, or have a garden that slopes, petrol is still the way to go.

How long to mow?

While electric mowers are the most environmentally friendly, according to EPA Victoria, most are still not suitable for a huge expanse of lawn. You may think a push mower takes a lot longer to cut the same size patch of grass than a petrol mower. Our testers timed how long it took to cut 50 square metres of short lawn using a petrol and a push mower. The Honda petrol mower (with a cutting width of 47 cm) took just two minutes 40 seconds. The best-performing push mower, the Flymo (with a 40 cm-wide cut), took four minutes 15 seconds — while it certainly does take longer, it’s not a bad time at all for a small patch of lawn.

The secret to keeping your lawn perfect with a push mower is vigilance — these models cut best when the grass is short. When it’s long, most push mowers would struggle to cut the grass effectively. The Talon manufacturers even state that its push model is “designed to cut small, well-maintained grass areas. Not to cut grass longer than 75mm.”

Two-stroke environmental concerns

Why no two-stroke mowers in the table? We don’t recommend two-stroke engines 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.

However, if you still prefer a two-stroke mower and don’t mind mixing up your own fuel, the Victa Tornado Classic TCS482 had the same cutting and ease of use scores in our test as its four-stroke cousin, the TCS484, but is 3.5 kg heavier.