Best petrol lawn mower 2021: Keep your lawn trimmed with these petrol-powered lawn mowers
The best petrol lawn mowers make garden maintenance a breeze. Their advantages over electric or rechargeable mowers include being larger, so they can cut more grass at once, and more powerful, so they can chop through outcrops that would bind the blade of a machine with lesser cutting ability. You’re also not limited by the weather or the proximity of the nearest electrical socket and, with enough fuel, a petrol lawn mower can mow for hours without a break.
There are a few disadvantages as well, of course, such as the increased weight and all the messing about with petrol (which can be messy and dangerous and has a limited shelf life), but a petrol lawn mower is able to cope in conditions that would prevent even the best electrical mower from functioning. For this reason, they’re the backbone of many gardeners’ tool collections.
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How to choose the best petrol lawn mower for you
Are you sure you need a petrol lawn mower?
First of all, you need to decide whether you really need a petrol lawn mower in the first place. Electric and rechargeable mowers have enough power and range for most suburban gardens, and as long as you’re mowing on dry, flat ground, will generally be the better choice. That’s because they’re cheaper, lighter, easier to clean and maintain, and less likely to send your shed up in flames.
Where petrol lawn mowers come into their own is in the places electrical mowers can’t reach. If you want a self-propelled model that you can ride on or which drags you uphill after it, that’ll be petrol-powered. If you need to mow large swathes of grass, or areas beyond the reach of even the longest extension lead, then you’ll need petrol. If you want to mow in the rain, well, you can with a petrol lawn mower, but expect a long maintenance and cleaning session afterwards. That said, wet mowing isn’t great for the grass itself, as it can compact the soil (especially if it has a roller for leaving stripes), and even see the grass torn out by the root rather than cleanly cut.
Do petrol lawn mowers require more maintenance?
Maintenance is something you’ll need to factor in to your relationship with a petrol mower, as things like spark plugs and filters don’t last forever. You can either take it to be serviced or learn to do it yourself, and the latter can be a source of supreme satisfaction. You’ll also need suitable fuel storage, such as an approved unleaded container, and some sort of oil, too. The engines in mowers are simple and forgiving, but you can’t just throw any old junk in there, so check your mower’s requirements before you buy.
It should also be noted that petrol-powered garden machinery is among the most stolen property from sheds and allotments, so make sure yours is locked up and marked so the police can identify it if recovered.
What types of petrol lawn mower are there?
Once you’ve decided you really need a petrol lawn mower, there are a few different types to consider.
The most basic are the ones you push along, which are similar to an electrical one apart from the power source. Due to the construction of petrol mowers tending toward metal rather than plastic, these are heavier than electrical mowers and take more effort to push.
This brings us to self-propelled petrol lawn mowers, which drive their back wheels and creep forward slowly enough that you can walk along behind, holding onto the handle. Just like with electric mowers, you’ll need to keep your hands on the throttle of the petrol mower or it will stop cutting and probably stall.
Finally, there are the Rolls-Royces of the lawnmower world, the ride-on petrol mowers. More useful for a golf course than a suburban garden, these are large, serious pieces of machinery that will require much more in the way of maintenance, security and fuel.
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The best petrol lawn mowers to buy
1. Hayter Harrier 41 Autodrive VS 375A: Best self-propelled petrol lawn mower under £1,000
Price: £795 | Buy now from More Than Mowers
Self-propelled, with a variable speed control and a steel roller at the back for those oh so chic lawn stripes, this is a mower from the premium end of the market, and its price reflects this.
It’s also not a particularly large or heavy mower, so is ideal if you need to manoeuvre it around obstacles such as trees or awkwardly placed gnomes. With seven height settings, an engine that doesn’t need to be manually primed or choked, and a clever automatic adjusting cutter deck (made from aluminium) that increases airflow over long or wet grass to prevent it clumping up, this mower has been thoughtfully designed for regular use in a variety of weather and lawn conditions.
There’s more, too. It’s easy to clean, easy to empty, and cuts right up to the edge so you can more easily trim around flower beds and walls. It may be pricey, but if you’re mowing a lot, then it’s an investment rather than an expense.
Key specs – Minimum cutting height: 13mm; Engine capacity: 140cc; Cutting width: 41cm; Weight: 33kg
2. Hyundai HYM510SPE: Best self-propelled petrol lawn mower under £500
Price: £458 | Buy now from Amazon
We never thought we’d say this, but the Hyundai HYM510SPE is a bit of a looker as far as lawnmowers go. Cheaper and more powerful than the Hayter above, it’s also 10kg heavier (although its variable speed, self-propelled nature makes up for this) and would suit mowing in straight lines rather than dancing around the tulips.
With an electric starter, mulching attachment, and not one but two cup holders (seriously), this is a no-nonsense machine for the gardener with nothing but mowing on their mind. The cutting width of 51cm means you’ll need to do fewer passes than with narrower mowers, and with a 70-litre grass collection box on the back, you won’t be emptying it very often, either.
Key specs – Minimum cutting height: 25mm; Engine capacity: 196cc; Cutting width: 51cm; Weight: 43kg
3. Cobra AirMow 51 Pro: Best petrol hover mower
Price: £590 | Buy now from Amazon
How about a petrol-powered hover mower? If you’re not bothered about picking up what you’ve mown, then this is worth a look. Powerful yet lightweight, it’s capable of handling slopes up to 45 degrees, while the supplied wheels can be clicked down into place to tackle really uneven ground.
There’s a lot of injection-moulded ABS plastic in its construction, keeping the weight down and increasing manoeuvrability, while the reasonably quiet Honda four-stroke engine powers the blade and creates a cushion of air for the mower to ride on. There are three levels of height adjustment, so longer grass is no problem.
This isn’t a self-propelled model, so relies on the hovering effect of its rapidly spinning blade to make itself easy to push. With the wheels down, it’s just another push-along model, but its lightness, combined with the hovering and wide cutting area, means there’s nothing quite so manoeuvrable over smooth ground.
Key specs – Minimum cutting height: 17mm; Engine capacity: 160cc; Cutting width: 51cm; Weight: 25kg
4. Honda HRG 416 PK: Best budget petrol lawn mower
Price: £329 | Buy now from Amazon
This is a very basic model, but it has all you need to chop your way through lots of grass quickly, in a reasonably compact package that’s not too heavy, either.
There are no frills like multi-speed self-propulsion or cupholders on the HRG 416, only a four-stroke petrol engine and a spinning blade. Let go of the handle and the blade stops immediately thanks to a blade brake, and there’s an automatic choke for easy starting. Otherwise, there’s a steel cutting desk, a 50-litre grass box, and six cutting heights. You’ll find greater cutting widths elsewhere, and certainly more features, but this mower is easy to use and easy to clean and is the sort of tool that will keep on going for many, many years if looked after correctly.
Key specs – Minimum cutting height: 20mm; Engine capacity: 160cc; Cutting width: 41cm; Weight: 28.5kg