Garden, Guide

March 20, 2017

Hand Mower: The Pros & Cons

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Recently there has been an increasing trend on the number of hand / push cylinder mowers about. Are these mowers of the past having a resurgence?

What is a Hand Mower / Push Cylinder Mower?

A cylinder mower has a blades curved around to create a cylinder shape. The blades are super sharp and as the cylinder rotates, they act on the fixed bottom blade with a scissor action to cut the grass. This differs from  a rotary mower that uses pure speed and power to smash through the grass leaf.

Like their more common counter parts, the rotary mowers, cylinder mowers can come in electric and battery form. Unlike rotary mowers, cylinder mowers can also come in push / hand power versions. These have a gear that takes the energy from the wheels as you push to turn the blades.


  • Zero Emissions
    • The only emissions are you as the operator walking behind it.
  • Cost
    • Running Cost – It doesn’t cost anything to get this out and mow. No petrol, no electricity, no nothing.
    • Initial Price – due to the simpler nature, there are less components to these mowers. So they are cheaper to buy in the first place. The cheapest start from about £30. Electric rotary mowers start at £60 and petrol rotary mowers from £130.
  • Cable Free
    • No cable dance – no more performing an intricate routine to work around your lawn without cutting the cable. No need for an extension lead.
    • Getting ready – no cables mean all you have to do is carry / wheel it onto your lawn. There’s no need to run an extension lead
  • Reliable
    • You’ll not need to panic about whether it will start when you get it out. With very few part, there’s not much to go wrong.
  • Storage
    • Because of the cylinder shape, these mowers are typically a lot more contact than a rotary and take up a lot less space in the shed. Many, like the Cobra Hand Push Cylinder Lawnmower HM38C, have folding handles so they take up minimal space.


  • Sharpening Cost
    • Sharpening a cylinder is not a job you can do at home, and it is a lot more expensive then getting a rotary blade professionally sharpened. Rotary blades will typically cost £5-10 to sharpen. You are looking at £40-60 to sharpen a cylinder depending on size. In most cases you would probably end up buying a new mower instead. Having said this, as long as your lawn isn’t too full of debris, you should get several years of use out of any cylinder.
  • Grass Collection
    • Smaller Bag – this means you will be emptying it more often
    • Messier – relying on the cylinder to throw the grass, collection bags are typically open so you may not catch every blade.
  • Cutting Width / Lawn Size
    • Because they are human powered, hand mowers are only made so big. The wider the cut, the harder you have to work pushing it. So unlike a petrol mower, they have a top size limit.
What About Stripes?

Most hand mowers aren’t equipped with rollers. A few like those from Webb are. They do a wide cut one with small light roller for easier edging. For the ultimate stripe, the Webb H12R (£85 from Mower Magic) has a a weighty solid rear roller to really flatten the leaves to give a defined stripe.