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The Best Lawn Mowers For Small Lawns

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Why bother with a huge mower if you haven’t got the lawn to match? These little wonders will keep your small lawn tidy

Some people will always tell you that bigger is better, this isn’t always the case with lawn mowers. If you’ve got a smaller lawn or an irregularly shaped garden, a smaller mower can be more practical. These mowers are lighter, easier to push and often more manoeuvrable. What’s more, if you’ve got a slope or uneven ground to deal with, a smaller mower can get up and down or into corners that a bigger mower can'treach.

We’ve picked out the best lawn mowers for smaller gardens, including conventional electric and cordless mowers. They’re cheap, cheerful and perfect for the job.

The best lawn mowers for smaller gardens

1. Bosch CityMower 18

Bosch makes some of the best cordless mowers around, and it’s now developed one especially for smaller gardens. With a 32cm deck, the CityMower18 is much smaller than Bosch’s mighty Universal Rotak 36-550, but also substantially lighter and cheaper. What’s more, you get Ergoflex handles for good steering and a comfortable push, plus easy cutting-height adjustments and twin power triggers on the grips. All this makes it a very easy mower to work with, and it runs from a single 18V 4Ah battery, which charges to full in 1hr 35mins and lasts for a little over half an hour.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the CityMower 18 is how quiet it is. When first put to use on a flat front lawn, it was so quiet that we had to check the grass box to make sure it was actually cutting. Yet the cut itself is just as brilliant, giving great results on flat areas and even trimming close to walls and edges. The small-ish wheels and compact size mean it’s not the best mower on a rough or sloping lawn, though.

Key specs – Size: 103 x 36 x 121cm (HWD); Weight: 9.9kg; Height of cut: 3-6cm; Grass box capacity: 31l; Power: 18V 4Ah lithium-ion battery (charge time: 95mins) Width of cut: 32cm

2. YardForce LM G32

The YardForce LM G32 weighs in at less than 10kg, which might lead you to think it’s not a serious tool. Yet once you’ve got it up and running, the YardForce turns out to be a great little mower. The combination of the light weight and chunky wheels take all the effort out of pushing it around, and the slightly old-school squeeze-in lever on the handle makes it possible to mow one-handed, once you’ve pushed in the safety activation button on the left-hand side.

This is a mower that excels on the smaller city or suburban lawn; it’ll comfortably go as low as 2cm and deliver a consistent, level cut, with enough power to get through weeds or the odd patch of thick grass. It’s also far from noisy, and it folds up into a compact package when you’ve finished mowing. The YardForce also gets credit for having a battery that lasted close to 40 minutes during testing and recharged in around 75 to 80 minutes.

Key specs – Size: 86 x 35 x 129cm (HWD); Weight: 9.5kg; Height of cut: 2-6cm; Grass box capacity: 30l; Power: 40V 2.5Ah lithium-ion battery (charge time: 1hr 15mins); Width of cut: 32cm

3. Bosch Rotak 32R

This perennial best-seller from Bosch is perfect for pint-sized gardens, with a 1,200W Powerdrive motor that will chomp through the toughest grass, along with a 31l grass box to catch the clippings. With no battery onboard, it’s very light, and the chunky wheels keep it nice and agile, even on a bumpy lawn. Best of all, the cut you get is excellent, even against walls and fences, with a handy built-in rear roller for that all-important striped effect.

You don’t get the convenience of a cordless, but this one’s ready to just plug in and go. And if you find the 12m cable holds you back, you’ll have more than enough money left in the budget for an outdoor extension cord.

Key specs – Size: 60 x 39.5 x 28cm (HWD); Weight: 6.8kg; Height of cut: 2-6cm; Grass box capacity: 31l; Power: 1,200W electric motor; Cable length: 12m; Width of cut: 32cm

4. Bosch AHM 38G

Do you have a flat garden? Do you like to avoid making a racket? Are you happy to have a mild workout while you cut the grass? Well, the Bosch AHM 38G could be the mower you’ve been looking for. For a start, it’s cordless – there’s no engine and you provide all the power yourself.

What’s more, you get a decent choice of cutting heights, from 1.5 to 4.3cm, and with a 38cm cutting width, it won’t take too long to get your lawn done. With a flat lawn and a modicum of puff, you can also achieve great results. Get the sharp, five-bladed cylinder moving and you’ll be surprised how efficiently it cuts, and there’s even a rear roller for a striped effect.

Key specs – Size: 54 x 49 x 39cm (HWD); Weight: 9.3kg; Height of cut: 1.5-4.3cm; Grass box capacity: 25l; Power: Manual; Width of cut: 38cm

How to choose the best lawn mower for your small garden

When you buy any lawn mower, one of the most important factors is the cutting width, which basically defines the size of the strip you would mow walking from one side of the garden to the other. Generally speaking, the bigger the cutting width, the bigger, heavier and more expensive the mower, which is good news if you have a smaller lawn to cut. While on a medium-sized or larger lawn you might want a 34cm to 44cm cutting width, with a smaller lawn you can get away with somewhere between 25cm and 34cm. That means your mower will be cheaper, lighter and often easier to manoeuvre.

Beyond the cutting width, you need to think about the type of mower. Rotary mowers, which use a spinning blade beneath the deck, are usually best for a small lawn, but if the lawn is flat, you can also get great results with a cylinder mower. With this, the grass is cut by a rolling cylinder formed from sharpened blades, which cuts as it rolls across the lawn. Hover mowers can also work brilliantly on small lawns. You don’t tend to get as fine a cut, but they’re easier to handle on a rough lawn or a lawn with sloping areas.

Electric, cordless or manual?

Corded electric mowers are still the cheapest option and, if your lawn is within easy reach of the front or back door, perfectly practical. You’ll probably have enough cable to work with and, if not, you can use an outdoor extension cable. Plug an RCD safety adaptor in between the mower and the mains or extension – cables do sometimes get cut by accident, and the results can be both painful and catastrophic.

Cordless mowers are more expensive, but the price is coming down all the time. What’s more, one of the biggest issues with a cordless mower – the usual 20 to 30-minute battery life – isn’t much of an issue with a smaller garden, as you’ll often get the lawn done before it runs out of puff. Recharge times are often down to under a couple of hours, so you can get the front lawn done in the morning, charge over lunch and hit the back lawn in the afternoon.

Manual push mowers can be great in a small garden, especially if it’s nice and flat. You don’t need to worry about charging or power sources, and a good model does a great job while being surprisingly easy to push. Where the idea falls down is if the lawn is rough or bumpy, where there’s a slope, or if you like to keep the grass long between cuts, as all these things make the job much, much harder. You really need to cut the grass regularly if you’re going to use a manual mower.

What else should you look out for?

Some kind of grass collector is always handy, as you can collect the cuttings and put them straight on the compost heap or in a green bin. If not, some mowers have a mulching option or mulch plug, where the mown grass is finely chopped during mowing and dispersed on the lawn, where it will sit and decompose, feeding nutrients back in. Without either, you’ll need to rake the grass up and dispose of it or risk it spoiling the lawn underneath.

Also, look for a mower that offers you a choice of different cutting heights. The lower the height, the more grass the mower will trim away, but when you’re doing the first or last cut of the year you might find it easier to cut a little higher, as the longer, thicker grass can get pretty tough to get through.

Finally, if you like the traditional striped effect, look for a cylinder mower or a mower with a roller. This will press the grass down after mowing and give you what you’re looking for.

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