05.Push or petrol?
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.