04.What to look for
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.
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.