The manicured lawns of Wimbledon or Lord’s Cricket Ground are famous the world over for their perfect stripes and fine appearance, often regarded as the way a classic English lawn should be.
The ground staff at these arenas are well equipped to produce such fine turf, although the primary piece of equipment used to leave the unmistakable stripes is a petrol cylinder mower.
It isn’t only the famous sports stadiums of the world that rely on these machines to leave a fine finish; groundsmen at cricket clubs, golf clubs and croquet and bowls tournaments up and down the country will all make use of cylinder lawn mowers throughout the summer months to keep the playing surfaces in tip-top condition.
Cylinder mowers are relatively simple machines to use and in construction; a horizontally mounted cylinder of blades rotate on an axle, the cutting surface of these blades working against a fixed bottom blade, producing a scissor like cutting action that not only produces a fine finish to your lawn, but also reduces the chances of disease and fungal infection due to the extremely clean cut achieved. On full size machines a heavy rear-roller will leave the final touch that all users crave: a defined stripe.
The size and style of cylinder mowers varies greatly, from professional machines that are extremely heavy and robust to lightweight electric mowers that are designed for the smallest of urban gardens.
Still available today are hand propelled cylinder mowers. Not only are these the original style of lawn mower, invented in 1827 by Edwin Budding in Thrupp, Gloucestershire, they are the most environmentally friendly way to cut your grass. Excellent examples of this style of lawn mower are the Husqvarna 64 Hi-Cut Hand Propelled Cylinder Mower and the Bosch AHM 38 Hand Propelled Cylinder Mower. Both of these machines offer a razor sharp cut and even provide the operator with a brisk workout due to their hand-propelled design.
For the purposes of this article we will concentrate on domestic cylinder lawn mowers aimed at homeowners wishing to achieve a luxury finish to their garden lawn, which, incidentally, must have an even surface to allow the scissor action of the cutting mechanism to work properly.
As already mentioned, electric cylinder lawn mowers are ideal for small urban gardens where noise and pollutants can be particularly unwelcome. The smallest lawns will benefit from the Qualcast Elan 32 Electric Cylinder Lawn Mower; a 32cm cutting width in combination with a rear mounted, 31-litre grass collector will make navigating tight spaces in town gardens a breeze.
More traditional in design with a front mounted grass collector, the Allett Classic 12E is an excellent introduction into the world of cylinder mowers. A single-dial height of cut adjustment simplifies operation and 22.5 meters of electric cable allows you to maintain medium sized lawns without extensions.
From the same stable as the Allett Classic 12E come the Allett Kensington 12E and Allett Kensington 14E Electric Cylinder Mowers. Both machines benefit from a stainless steel front roller and self-propulsion with variable speed control, making manoeuvrability around borders and garden ornaments a less difficult task.
A very useful feature applicable to all full size cylinder mowers from Allett is the interchangeable QC™ Cassette System, allowing the operator to turn their cylinder mower into a powered lawn rake by installing an optional QC™ Lawn Scarifier Cassette. This excellent feature also allows for the easy removal of the cutting blade cassette for regrinding purposes, eliminating the need to take the entire machine to a workshop.
Two of the eight machines in the range to benefit from this system are the Allett Classic 14L and the Allett Classic 17L . With respective cutting widths of 35cm and 43cm, both models are powered by excellent Loncin 87cc petrol engines and have a 3-way drive system, giving the operator the choice of disengaging the blades whilst keeping the engine running, mowing without drive or mowing with the drive system engaged.
Allett also offer three petrol powered machines equipped with Kawasaki engines, the Allett Kensington 14K at 35cm, the Allett Kensington 17K has a 43cm cutting width and the largest model in the range, the Allett Kensington 20K offers a cutting width of 51cm. All three machines benefit from the QC™ Quick Exchange System; capable of accepting the QC™ Lawn Scarifier Cassette, these cylinder mowers will also accept the QC™ 10 Blade Cutting Cassette, enabling the finest of finishes to be achieved. If you do feel it is time to add a striped effect to your lawn a few considerations are worth bearing in mind:
· Try not to remove more than the top third of growing grass, even if the grass is long. Removing too much grass at once can unduly weaken it.
· Frequent mowing discourages weeds and produces a tight sward; therefore try to mow at least twice a week during peak growing periods.
· During periods of drought when growth is slow, leave the grass collector in the shed and allow the clippings to return to the lawn. This will help to retain moisture and add a little natural fertiliser.
· When buying a cylinder mower, pay special attention to the width of the machine and the natural topography of your lawn. A machine that is too wide will catch and snag on small curvatures in the lawn surface and scalp the turf. A narrow cutting width is better if your lawn is typically undulating.
In our next and final ‘lawn mowers’ series of articles, we will look at grass cutting machines that are best suited at dealing with overgrown and rough areas of grass and pasture. Often referred to as grass managers or field mowers, they come in a variety of styles, all with slightly different applications. Remember to call us at LawnMowers Direct on tel. 01245 383565 if you need any advice regarding your lawn care needs, we’ll be happy to help.