Gardening: Best small lawn mower – 6 compact mowers for small gardens


S

pring is coming and although that can mean absolutely anything in the UK, from glorious early heatwaves sweeping the nation and cracking the paving stones to deadly yet equally sweeping snowstorms hitting just two days later, it pays to be prepared for all meteorological eventualities.

When the sun does eventually shine, some more modern Brits will be out parading themselves in parks and by the seaside as though modesty meant nothing. The more usual majority of the pale and pasty people of this country will slowly emerge from their winter refuge, like more timid types of Game of Thrones’ White Walkers, preferring to enjoy the sunlight away from the spotlight, safely ensconced from the public eye in the privacy of their own gardens.

When the weatherman mumbles something about imminent sunshine on the horizon, reality sets in that you now have to give mildly panicked thought to the state of your grass-engulfed outside space. Is it like a lost world, now housing displaced Amazonian tribes/delivery drivers and unrealistically stop-frame animated dinosaurs tussling to survive, gladiator-like within the arena of an old, abandoned enclosed trampoline? Or is it just a bit overgrown and icky? Either way, before you attempt to lay your sunscreen-slathered body out there in a bid to soak up some rays, you’re going to need to give your garden (and quite possibly yourself, depending on personal upkeep) a good trim.

Naturally, not everyone lives on an overtly verdant country estate which requires a team of modern-day Capability Brown types sat atop ride-on lawnmowers to landscape. Indeed, many – like myself – may have a modestly sized garden with only a pocket-sized plot that needs mowing. So, logically, a small garden requires a small lawnmower. Is that even a thing?

Well, as ever, where there’s a market there’s a targeted model or two; and I’ve been busy bothering the blades of grass in my own garden to uncover the best…

YardForce LM G32

YardForce

Best for: the happily care- and cord-free

Some things in life are best done free from the ties that bind us, particularly so if you’re the kind of accident-prone type who may distractedly drag a mower around without due care and consideration for any electricity cords lurking coiled on the ground. Yes, it happens. Even occasionally to the most conscientious of grass cutters – all it can take is the sudden, unexpected movement of a cat in the corner of the eye and attention momentarily taken off the task at hand. Next thing you know, the power cord has been carved up by the now spinning-to-a-stop blades of the lawnmower.

The YardForce FM G32 prevents this ever being a problem by coming blessed with a built-in, quick-charging (90-minutes) 40V Samsung lithium-ion 2.5Ah battery that gives you a good 25-minutes of runtime, which should be ample for the likes of smaller lawns (300m² max), if you don’t mess about or procrastinate.

There are also five cutting heights available, covering 20 to 60mm, thus letting you groom your garden exactly as you want (within that 25-minute timeframe, as mentioned). A 30-litre grass collection bag comes complete with full level indicator that stops stuff spilling out and ruining your strict schedule, and a roller brings up the rear, as it were, to help you achieve that all-important stripey finish.

Lightweight too at a barely-scales-bothering 9.5kg, the only conceivable downside of the YardForce FM G32, that I can see, is that having come to the conclusion that you DO want to tackle the grass, you’ll have to be certain that you will still be of that same generous mind-frame after a 90-minute wait.

Flymo Turbo Lite 250

Flymo

Best for: grass-roots bargain basics

Look, you have a small turfed area lurking at the back of your house that’s got a bit out-of-hand during recent sporadic periods of rain and sun and it needs a trim to make it treadable again. If that’s all there is to it – and you don’t mind a little extra manual graft – then why not keep it both simple and inexpensive?

The Flymo Turbo Lite 250 is both of these things, being a 5.95kg, corded mower that not only floats on a cushion of air to make manoeuvrability more manageable, but also boasts a beefy 1400W motor to help the 250’s metal blades tear through the tough stuff without you having to break a sweat.

Featuring a 10m long power lead that should be ample length for most ‘small’ gardens, the Turbo Lite 250 has a cutting width of 25cm and offers cutting heights of 11-31mm. But what it doesn’t offer – and where the earlier mention of ‘extra manual graft’ kicks in – is a grass collection box. So as it’s also not a mulcher, you’re going to need to rake-up the remnants once the mowing is done. But, in a small garden, is that going to be too much of a hardship?

Retailing at a piffling £80 to boot, if an occasional, largely effortless but reliably effective trim is all your lawn requires, the Flymo Turbo Lite 250 should tick all your back garden boxes.

Bosch Rotak 32 R

Bosch

Best for: a clipper-catcher at a pleasing price

If, however, the idea of having to rake up grass cuttings leaves you cold, even on an unseasonably mild day in March, then help is at hand for a mere tenner more than the Flymo above, in the slick, lawn-taming shape of the Rotak 32 R from Bosch.

Does it weigh more than the Flymo? Yes, but at just 6.8kg, there isn’t much in it. Does it cost more than the Flymo? Yes, I just said that… are you not listening? Look, what we have here is an admittedly larger approach to mowing your lawn, meaning it will require more space to be stored, but the benefits are almost myriad.

For a start, its blades are 32cm long, letting you cut more with less work and, designed for small- to medium-sized lawns, you can be assured of neat edging even if the area in question is a bit enclosed. Its large, chunky wheels also make it easy to manoeuvre even in long grass, while the 12m power lead and 1200W motor give you all the freedom and thrust you need to make short work of overgrown gardens.

What’s more, throw in a handy rear roller to help you attain those oh-so desirable, pro-finish stripes and a 31-litre grass box for clipping collection convenience, and it’ll be Pimm’s o’clock outside before you can blink.

Mountfield SP41

Mountfield

Best for: small garden-owning petrolheads

Designed specifically for use on small to medium-sized gardens (up to 250m²), the Mountfield SP41 is the mower for those who still harbour a deep suspicion of ‘elastic-trickery’, favouring instead a more traditional approach to lawnmower power: petrol.

Yes, an option still very much in demand, it would appear, this new mower model not only frees owners up from the limitations of power leads or the weight of built-in rechargeable batteries, it is also self-propelled, meaning that once it is engaged it drives itself forward, with only guidance required from the operator via the ergonomic handlebar. This lack of pushing makes it particularly ideal for the fiercely independent garden-goer who perhaps suffers with mobility or muscle issues; or, indeed, for those who are simply very lazy – let’s face it, it’s a factor which is going to appeal.

It has a nicely broad cutting width of 39cm, five different cutting heights ranging from 25-70mm, and a mighty 123cc STIGA ST120 Autochoke engine driving the SP41 ever onwards at 3.4km/h. The Mountfield also includes a 40-litre textile grass collector bag for ease of cutting clearing and will transform even the most grossly untamed grassy areas into something akin to the hallowed turf of Twickenham in next to no time.

Bosch Indego XS 300

Bosch-XS

Best for: the very laziest of small gardeners

Bish, bash and, indeed, bosh, as is oft uttered down here on the North Essex ‘manor’ I call my adopted home. I have absolutely no idea what is meant by it as I’ve never bothered to learn the local vernacular beyond the ability to reply to an “Alwight, geezer?” with an “Alwight, geezer!” in order to nicely blend in. But this, possible, Colchester-common mating call also brings us neatly to this automated offering from another Bosch entirely, the XS 300.

The obvious lawnmower of choice for the truly torpid, the XS 300 comes with what some people might view as a somewhat exorbitant price tag. Designed by Bosch’s finest brains for gardens of small to medium size, if you cannot abide the idea of getting your thumbs green or, indeed, you have such horrendous hay fever that getting cut grass in your nostrils signifies the start of a sneezing fate worse than Hell, then why not let a robot run all the risk?

Designed for use in gardens with a maximum 300m² lawn area, this smart bit of grass trimming kit features a ‘Logicut’ navigation system to mow grass in organised lanes, rather than some higgledy-piggledy manner like other automated offerings.

It’s capable of cutting to three different lengths, depending on what effect you’re after, and packs a powerful battery that delivers 45-minutes of blade spinning based on 45-minutes of charging. Built-in touch sensors stop the Bosch from obliterating objects left lying on your overgrown lawn and, to confound would-be lawn mower larcenists, if the Bosch is removed from outside of your pre-installed boundary wire, it locks down completely until reactivated by a pre-set PIN.

Clearly the laziest route to lawn management, but if you’re like me and you enjoy your garden wholly as a ready-made refuge for G&T-based relaxation, then forget the grass-cutting graft and turn to the tech.

Cobra HM381

Cobra

Best for: eco-friendly al fresco exercise freaks

If you thought the petrol-powered Mountfield SP41 was somewhat old-school when it comes to trimming the turf, what if I told you there was still a way to mow grass down to a minimum without the use of any environmentally unfriendly power having to be involved at all? Seriously, eschewing electricity completely in favour of good, old fashioned elbow grease, the HM381 from the hardcore-sounding Cobra needs no cable, no pre-charged battery, just you.

Yep, it’s a manual, alright! A mower you push along yourself, allowing your own energy to rotate the razor-sharp 38cm wide blades, ensuring a damn-good grass depilation as you go, at a neighbour-respecting relatively peaceful level of decibels.

Generally meant for use in small gardens only, unless you’re some kind of masochistic Joe Wicks-alike, as soon as the sun threatens to shine, you can have the compact Cobra out from the shed and at work in mere seconds, without having to untangle the countless Gordian Knots of a power cable or sit around impatiently waiting for a battery to charge as ominous dark clouds amass overhead.

With four height settings from 13 to 38mm and a grass bag included, a quick once-over every now and again will not only leave your garden grass ready to receive both your lounger and all your assorted sun-worshipping, but – as a decidedly welcome side-effect – the undeniable exercise you yourself will receive from pushing the Cobra about all spring will tone you to perfection by the time summer shows its tardy face.

Verdict

As mentioned earlier, I am the owner of a small garden myself – purposely so, due to me being more inclined to employ a policy of ‘scorched earth’ than carefully nurture the varying verdant areas in the manner they need. To that end a small lawnmower to fit my small shed has always been the order of the day, but which would I pick to replace my current grass-cutting incumbent from this sextuplet of slick grass slicers? Well, while the pricey Bosch Indego XS 300 appeals to the absolute nerd in me, even I have to admit that it’s all a bit too over-the-top for giving such a tiny area of turf a trim. So, for sheer convenience all-round, I’d go for the YardForce LM G32 – with no power lead to bother with and a bag attached to collect the clippings, it’s the easiest route to getting the garden ready, while still looking/feeling like you’ve achieved something; that’s a win-win right there.



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