Gardeners want to make their grass even greener. As petrol prices skyrocket and people become more aware of their environmental impact, many are turning to the latest generation of lawnmowers to keep their gardens in good condition. As petrol-powered vehicles are gradually being replaced on the fronts of our homes by electric vehicles, advances in lithium-ion batteries mean that the trusty backyard lawnmower has also received a modern overhaul, but at a price. So, is it time to replace your current lawnmower with a battery or “robot” version, keep running on petrol despite skyrocketing costs, or stay connected?
The length and width of your garden will greatly affect the type of machine you need. Smaller gardens allow mains-powered electric rotary mowers, which are good value for money, although an extension cord may be required if the power source is more than 10 meters away from the machine. According to Gardener’s World magazine, one of the best budget options this year is the Webb Weer 33.
However, for large lawns, many gardeners will not want to plug into a power cord, which could mean a petrol-powered lawnmower or a new generation of battery-powered machines. The increase in the cost of fuel at a petrol station means that it is now more expensive to fill up a petrol lawnmower. Since many of them have a volume of about 1.25 litres, the charge for refilling the tank will probably be about $3. However, some gardeners have noticed that the new unleaded petrol standard can cause engines to malfunction and have suggested the use of a fuel stabilizer that could add another 40c to fueling costs.
Mark Moseley of Handy Distribution, a gardening equipment distributor, says petrol-powered machines can be used in all weather, are ideal for large gardens, and can handle long, wet grass. But they are heavier, noisier and need maintenance and repair. “Petrol mowers are ideal for long grass and undulating lawn types, and depending on engine size and cutting width, they can deliver outstanding performance and a beautiful cut,” he says. Highlight the Webb WER460SP as the best choice for around the $400 mark.
As battery technology has advanced, lawnmowers have also become more popular. While the high-tech versions cost more than petrol, the current cost is lower, Moseley says, with an average 30-40 minute charge costing about 2c. “They have no emissions, they are silent and require no maintenance other than occasional blade sharpening and quick cleaning,” he says.
“There’s a lawnmower to handle lawns of any size, and having extra batteries means you’ll never run out of power. Some larger models offer self-propelled functionality and higher performance so the mower does the work for you; gardens are bigger than a tennis court lawn mower. Stiga, a distributor of petrol and battery lawnmowers, says consumers are switching from petrol to battery in search of a greener alternative. “Battery lawn mowers tend to be more expensive than petrol because you pay a higher percentage of the total cost up front.
Despite rising energy bills, charging a battery is still a fraction of the cost of fuel to do the same job, so every time you use your lawn mower, you’re making up for those savings,” says Stiga’s Amanda Kincaid. People with smaller lawns may buy a 24V lawnmower from Greenworks for less than a $300 with battery and charger, Moseley says, while its 48V goes up to $400 for tennis court-sized gardens.
They’ve been around since the early 1990s, Kincaid says, but thanks to advances in technology, improved GPS mapping and battery life, they’re suitable for a wider range of gardens.
They can be programmed to mow as needed using sensors or the boundary wire before returning to the charging dock. Moseley says they improve turf quality because they are designed to regularly harvest the top 3mm of grass, allowing nutrient-rich clippings to be used to feed the turf. “Most won’t mow the lawn to the edge, and if you have pets, you need to clean up all the clutter before mowing,” he says. “They require some planning and installation, but once completed they can be left to fend for themselves. A little maintenance is required every winter.”
Prices are high and usually start at $800, with premium models going up to around $3000, although for models that can handle very large areas, this figure can more than double.
Gardeners World claims the Worx Landroid S300 WR130E , Stihl iMow 422P and Husqvarna Automower 315X are some of the best buys.
With the onset of summer, the number of people who refuse to mow and opt for artificial grass usually increases. Amy Greenslade of Nomow Artificial Grass says that many bands are switching to plastic. “Most of the clients are older and don’t want to mow, or younger but work all the time.
For those with children and pets, this is a huge area as it keeps dirt out of the house.”
The laying process usually involves the removal of existing grass and the laying of subgrades such as crushed granite and sand, which are leveled to allow for drainage. Plastic grass unfolds and folds at the edges. Like carpet, each item has a pile type or yarn shape that gives it a personal touch, according to Grass Direct, a supplier with stores across the country.
They can range from a freshly carved look to a more realistic end result. Greenslade says it’s possible to lay the grass yourself, as it’s “labor-intensive but doesn’t require skill.”