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Manual / Hand Lawnmowers Buyers Guide

Manual Lawn Mowers

Manual or Hand lawnmowers are often considered to be hard work in this age of automation, but they can often be the best choice for those with a smaller lawn.

Hand mowers are light weight and compact and therefore are very easy to store in a garage, shed or even cupboard.

Manual lawn mowers are almost silent and so you can cut at almost any time without disturbing others. Of course they are the most environmentally friendly mowers around, annd can even give you a bit of a workout!

Manual Lawnmower Suitability

Application Manual Mower
Small Gardens Yes Yes
Medium Gardens No No
Large Gardens No No
Rough Terrain No No
Long Grass No No
Finest Cut Yes Yes

Manual Lawnmower Cutting Methods

There are 2 main cutting methods that manual mowers use, frictional and contact free :


This is the more traditional method of cutting found on older designs or on the cheaper mowers. The blades of the cylinder actually come into contact with the the straight static blade at the bottom of the mower (the bed knife) as they slice along it. The frictional mower action is a bit like a pair of scissors as the blades come into contact together - it is this friction that can make a manual mower seem hard to push.

Contact Free

This type of manual mower is becoming more and more common. With this method there is a small gap between the cylinder blade and the bed knife whic gives rise to the name contact free. The gap is very small so the cutting action is almost the same as frictional but without the contact there is no friction generated by the blades. This makes contact free mowers much easier to push as there is no energy wasted overcoming the friction.

Grass Collection

Manual lawn mowers are available both with and without a grass collector, and there are advantages and disadvantages of both :

Advantages of having a grass collector :

  • The lawn will look better when cut if no cuttings are left behind to go dry and brown.
  • Collected cuttings can be used to make your own compost material.
  • Makes cutting easier because you are not having to go through grass that was left from previous cuts.
  • It can help prevent weeds from spreading because seed heads are removed.

Advantages of no grass collector :

  • You don't have to stop mid-cut to empty a full grass collector.
  • There is no need to worry about the disposal of the collected grass cuttings.
  • Grass can re-absorb nutrients lost through cutting by the mulching effect of the loose cut grass.

Maintaining a manual lawn mower

Because there are no motors or engines there is very little maintenance required for a manual mower, however as there are moving parts of course some looking after is required so your mower will continue to give your lawn a good cut time after time.


The mower should have any grass or debris that is stuck to the blades cleaned off after every cut, especially if the grass is damp or wet. Use a brush from a dustpan set for example to remove anything safely and easily.

Sharpening the blades

A blade on a good quality hand mower should stay sharp for several years. The best indication that your blades needs sharpening is when cutting the lawn becomes harder work. This can be confirmed by a closer inspection of the blades to see if the edges are true and sharp, or if the edges have rounded off slightly.

It is best to get your blades professionally re-sharpened at your local garden machinery stockist / service centre. They will normallly remove the cylinder and bottom blade are removed to complete the sharpening.

Winter Storage

When not using the mower for extended periods it should be put away clean and dry in a shed or garage - preferably somewhere with some ventilation and not too much moisture or condensation. You could spray the blades with WD40 or similar to provide a protective barrier against rusting.