Everyone loves a good deal and cheap lawn mowers are something a lot of people are looking for. For most people buying the cheapest version of a product is often what you do when you do not understand why someone might spend more or appreciate the additional value you might get by spending a little bit more. Cheapest it often not the best option.
Just over two and a half years ago I bought my first house. Moving from a flat to a house meant that I suddenly acquired the responsibility of a garden and lawn for the first time in my life. My lawn wasn't massive as you will see by the photos in this post, so I knew I only needed a very small mower. Just like most people, I went to my local DIY superstore, never having bought or owned a lawn mower, with pound notes in my pocket and looking for a deal.
I really didn't have a clue. I had a rough idea in my head of a couple of brands I had seen before, but I had no idea what type of lawn mower I needed or how much to spend. Having just moved into a new house, and stretching my budget to the max, I wanted a deal! I used my best judgement as a complete novice and ended up buying a very brightly coloured hover-type lawn mower. It was on the end of the aisle and it was reduced, so I thought it was a good deal. I paid around £90 for the lawn mower. It certainly was not the cheapest in the store, but neither was it the most expensive.
Why I hated my cheap lawn mower
Over the next 24 months, I quickly began to hate using my cheap lawn mower. I have a pretty small lawn and to cut the grass takes about 5 minutes. Although it was pretty quick to cut the lawn, the lawn mower sprayed grass everywhere. All over my flower beds, patio, garden furniture, BBQ and beyond! The 5 minutes I spent mowing turned into 25 minutes after sweeping up all the grass clippings!
I guess the fact that the hover lawn mower needs to blow air downwards to hover means that the air blown down is naturally going to take some of the grass clippings with it. Something I wish I knew about before I bought it.
Even to this day I seem to have loads of grass popping up in lots of places I don't want it, all in between the plants and shrubs in my garden. No matter how much I try and pull it up it still keeps growing. I can only assume it was because my lawn mower sprayed grass clipping and the seeds everywhere.
My lawn, as you can see in the picture below, was in a pretty bad state. It was patchy, thin and dull. This photo was taken the day I got my new mower.
How my lawn improved when I ditched the cheap mower
Back in June this year, I finally upgraded my lawn mower, which cost about £80 more than its "cheap" predecessor. I went from a middle of the road budget product to the cheapest model from a premium brand. I wasn't expecting huge differences, but boy was I wrong!
It takes less time!
The most revolutionary thing for me was when I cut the grass, the clippings ended up in the bag and not all over the garden. Twenty minutes a week for the mowing season is about 9 hours a year. It is well worth it on that basis alone. The £80 would have saved me 18 hours over the two years!
My lawn looks amazing!
Having done some research recently about lawns and lawn mowers, I now know that a sharper blade will cut the grass better. Instead of hacking or tearing through the grass and leaving a rough cut, a better blade will cut the grass more cleanly and precisely. I cannot be sure how much difference that has actually made but one thing I can be sure of is that I cut more often. When I had to sweep up all the grass that has been sprayed all over by garden I dreaded cutting my lawn. Now it is nice and easy, and takes 5 minutes. In the summer I mow twice a week. Each time just taking a little bit of grass off rather than cutting loads of at once. I think this is the best thing I have done for my lawn as it is now thicker and greener than ever.
Enjoy cutting the lawn!
A very unexpected side effect of having a better lawn mower was that I actually started to enjoy cutting the lawn. If something is a hassle to do you will avoid it, but if it becomes a pleasure you will want to do it more often.
I got stripes!
I now love stripes. It makes me proud of my lawn. My friends and family all tell me how nice it looks. One family member even thought it was artificial grass because it was so green and consistent. I am not very much into gardening in general; however I consider myself a bit obsessed with my lawn now!
A new hobby
My obsession with lawns has now turned into a hobby. I spend more time than I thought I ever would looking after my lawn and even sharing photos of it on social media! Looking after my lawn is something I enjoy doing and over the next year or so I look to learn a lot more to make my lawn even better!
Things to consider before buying a cheap lawn mower
Do you want stripes?
Twelve months ago I had no idea how to stripe a lawn. Now that I own a lawn mower that stripes my lawn I would NEVER go back. Striping a lawn is really simple when you have the right type of lawn mower. To get a defined stripe you need to have a rear roller lawn mower. The rear roller is like a rolling pin at the back of the mower, which bends the grass slightly in the direction you are mowing. When you go back-and forth across your lawn it bends the grass in two directions. This creates the two contrasting green shades which form the stripes.
Do you want to have a good lawn?
One of the things I learnt was that by having a lawn mower I enjoyed using, I was happy to cut the lawn more often. Instead of cutting the lawn every 2-3 weeks in the summer, I cut my lawn twice a week. It is much better for your lawn if you cut little and often. The golden rule of lawn care is never cut more than 1/3 of the grass off in any one go. If you leave it 2-3 weeks between cuts you will remove too much grass and your grass will suffer.
Is it actually cheaper?
There is a saying "I can't afford to buy cheap". Essentially buying a cheap thing that cost £10 but lasts 1 year is more expensive than buying a £20 thing that lasts 3 years. Spending twice as much money upfront could sometimes be the cheaper option in the long run. Go ask your grandparents (or someone else) what possessions they have owned and used for the longest. It won't be the cheap things they have bought over the years, it will be a well-made product, which has stood the test of time.
Will a DIY store have the best options available or best advice?
DIY superstores, like supermarkets are convenient and often have cheap prices. However, they rarely have the best choice of products or the best advice. Superstores are useful because they are convenient. Rather than having to go to various different stores to get all the things you need, they have them all under one roof. Superstores often have loss leader products, which essentially make them little or no money but encourage you to come to the store on the basis that you will probably buy something else, which makes them a better profit but probably isn't such a good deal for you.
One thing I didn't know about buying a lawn mower two years ago was that there are specialist garden machinery stores who sell high-quality products. They are a bit like a garden centre without the plants, but they have a lot more tools/machines. They are staffed by people who understand the products that they sell and will have the skills and knowledge to point you in the right direction towards the most suitable product for your needs, whatever your budget. Just google "lawn mower dealers" and you will find some.
Like every purchase decision, you need to try and understand what you are buying. This is the most important thing you need to do when buying anything. Every lawn mower manufacturer and lawn mower retailer would love you to spend more money on buying a lawn mower but what is really important is that you are educated about what you are buying and don't go into it blind. With no knowledge, you will either end up with a product that is not the most appropriate for your needs or something that you might regret after using! Make sure you do your homework!