Quite simply put, stripes add the finishing touch to a lawn, so it looks healthy and well cared for, it's like turning a good lawn into the best lawn that you've ever seen. What's more, striping isn't that hard to do either, with the right lawn mower, that is.
Some swear the only mower that can stripe a lawn properly is a big heavy old fashioned cylinder mower. Not true. The dominance of cylinder mowers in the domestic market is well and truly over, while in the professional and commercial market the large cylinder mower with its extremely cutting width and heavy rear roller is still the dominant product.
There's a wide range of reasonably priced, modern, high quality rotary lawnmowers at B&Q, Amazon and many good garden centres besides that will make your striped lawn the envy of the neighbourhood.
Each lawn mower in this review has been recommended in other reviews for its lawn stripes, and now it's time to see which one of the mowers has really earnt its "stripes".
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The 480SPER is a self propelled petrol lawn mower designed for medium sized gardens, but it can cover larger lawns quite comfortabley if need be. Powered by Hyundai's Euro 5 low emmissions OHV 139cc electric start four stroke engine with back up recoil starting cord, this petrol mower takes much less effort to use than the old cumbersome traditional cylinder mowers.
Assembly is extremely quick and for the most part, self evident, but for non mechanically minded owners a downloadable owners manual is available for free from Hyundai's UK's website, www.hyundai.co.uk .
The battery, its charger and 500ml of engine oil are all included in the delivery.
With a cutting width of 48cms, hard wearing pressed steel rotary blade, a split 38cm wide rear roller and single lever operated cutting height of 6 settings from 25mm to 75mm, the 480SPER is not only easy to use, but will make quick work of cutting the grass.
This lawn mower weighs in at a hefty 40kg and is purposefully on the heavy side to ensure the rear roller produces high contrast lawn stripes. However, because of the split roller, throttle control and simple clutch mechanism this mower is very manoeuvrable, an important factor to consider when putting stripes in the lawn.
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The 480SPER's controls are all within easy reach of the handle, including "operator presence control" (OPC) which cuts the engine should you let go of the handle, stopping the mower running away from you.
A large 70 litre durable polyester fabric grass collector with grass cutting level indicator, and the light-hearted addition of two cup holders on the handle reduces work breaks . Unfortunately the 480SPER does not come with a grass mulching option.
Cleaning and maintenance of the 480SPER is straight forward and Hyundai has included one of the best minor features to make life easier. The cutting deck has a hose connector for the cleaning of the blade and deck underside, making this chore quick and very easy to do. The handles are foldable, saving space for storage as well as making transporting the mower easier.
The Hyundai 480SPER is covered by Hyundai's 3 year "platinum" warranty, and spares are readily available from Hyundai dealers, agents as well Hyundai UK.
There are, however, a couple of disadvantages with this machine. While weight is needed for the rear roller to work properly, perhaps the 480SPER may be just a little too heavy.
While its competitors offer various options for grass cutting treatment, the 480SPER offers only the grass box option.
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■ Electric "push button" start. No frustration in pulling and pulling to start up the engine.
■ A cutting width of 48cms.
■ Cutting heights from 25mm to 75mm. The ability to cut longer grass, all controlled by one lever within easy reach of the handle.
■ Split rear roller. Providing some turning differential, advantageous for good striping, as well as making the 480SPER very manoeuvrable for its size.
■ All controls are within easy reach of the handle.
■ OPC. Makes sure the machine doesn't run away.
■ Spares readily and widely available throughout the UK.
■ Hyundai 3 year "Platinum" warranty for peace of mind.
■ 500ml of engine oil included. Just add petrol to start, a very nice customer service touch
■ weight. This machine weighs in ata massive 40kg!
■ No mulching option.
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Murray has been in business for 90 years and has seen the cylinder mower era pass, but without resting on their laurels , their petrol lawn mowers have evolved and this petrol mower designed for mowing a medium sized lawn, is probably one of their best. It was quite a shock to find out that many new buyers of the EQ500 were previously Bosch Rotak owners.
Assembly of the EQ500 is extremely straight forward and takes just a few minutes.
The EQ500 has a cutting width of 46cms and cutting heights from 28mm to 92mm in 6 settings, so cutting long grass down to a striped lawn is possible for this mower to do. With a recoil cord start Briggs and Stratton 150cc 500e series 4 stroke engine, with a maximum mowing speed of 3.6 km/h, rest assured your new lawnmower will be reliable. The EQ500 has a rear roller to help accentuate lawn stripes.
The EQ 500 is a 4-in-1 mower offering 4 options on grass clippings to be handled, rear or side discharge, mulching or bagging with a 60 litre fabric grass collector, all coming as standard.
With folding handles and its fabric grass collector the EQ500 can be easily stored away in a relatively small space.
For piece of mind, the Murray EQ500 is covered by a 2 year limited consumer warranty.
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While the EQ500 is powered by a Briggs and Stratton engine, possibly the best lawnmower's petrol engine makers, Murray very strangely offers only a recoil starter with no option of an electric starter.
Like the Hyundai 480SPER, the Murray EQ500 is a heavy lawn mower; using its weight to optimise its roller at the rear for best stripes results, but you have to wonder why the rear roller isn't split to give some turning differential for best manoeuvrability.
■ Powered by a Briggs and Stratton engine. This engine manufacturer has an international reputation for quality and reliability.
■ 60 litre grass collector. Reduces work breaks to empty the collector.
■ 4-in-1 grass cuttings disposal option. Cut grass mulched , bagged for collection or discharged from the sides or back
■ Range of cutting heights from 28mm to 92mm. Great for most cutting areas
■ 2 year warranty for peace of mind.
■ Recoil start only, no electric start offered
■ Weight of this mower. Extremely heavy, while good for striping grass, it reduces manoeuvrability.
■ 2 lever operation of cutting heights making it inconvenient and time consuming to adjust the settings.
■ Rear roller not split or any throttle control for any form of turning differential, making turning tightly very didfficult.
■ The price.
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Another established British company that has been in the lawnmower industry for over 50 years. Mountfield has over the years branched away from cylinder mowers into electric mowers as well as some of the best petrol rotary mowers on the market. Mountfield's Princess 42 is purportedly their lawn stripes specialist.
As with all modern lawnmowers, assembly of the Princess 42 is quick and extremely easy.
The Princess 42 is a corded electric mower with a cutting width of 42cms and cutting height of 25mm to 75mm with 6 settings, although the control lever felt extremely flimsy. This mower is designed for a medium lawn with the intention of producing accentuated stripes with its full width rear roller. This is something that the Princess 42 can achieve remarkabley well considering it weighs just a mere 14kg. With this mower being so light, it is highly maoeuvrable, something that you need when you are putting stripes in your lawn. Having said that though, 14kg is just perhaps too light.
While the Princess 42 has a generous 50 litre grass box, there are the options of discharge and mulching of the cut grass, which all come as standard features.
Mountfield have made great efforts with their customer service department, and it's well advised to take advantage of this free service. Just visit their website: www.mountfield.co.uk , enter your name and email address and you are immediately chatting to a real person; very professional and very efficient. It is also important to note that the Princess 42 comes with a 1 year warranty.
As with all corded electric lawnmowers, the issue of cord length is a source of constant debate and the Princess 42 is no exception. The power cable for the Mountfield Princess 42 is 15m long. The cord is just too short for cutting the grass of a medium sized lawn, and an very long extension cable is vital, for producing stripes, as the entire area of grass has to be mown to produce the best lawn stripes.
Assembling the grass box for the Princess 42 was fiddley at best, with pliers having to be used persuasively at one stage.
As touched upon earlier, the Princess 42 is a very light weight machine weighing in at only 14kg, and despite its feather weight, it produces stripes comparatively well, however it was felt that instead of the rear roller being made of lightweight plastic, it would have been better if the roller were made of something a little more substantial, metal perhaps. It would then produce better lawn stripes. While very probably being one of the best electric mowers for making stripes in grass, it is certainly not a patch on the best petrol engine lawn mower for stripes.
■ Cutting width of 42cms. Ideal for cutting medium sized lawns.
■ Processing of grass cuttings options. Choice of mulching, discharge or grass box. All coming as standard features.
■ Cutting heights from 25mm to 75mm in 6 settings, a good sound range that caters for most cutting situations.
■ Extremely manoeuvrable. One of the best lawnmowers on test for manoeuvrability.
■ Best customer advice and services department. Extremely knowledgeable, professional and efficient.
■ 1 year warranty for peace of mind.
■ Very light weight mower. 14kg is not the best weight for grass stripes.
■ The rear roller is solid full width, instead of split, resulting in no turning differential and an increased turning circle, which is far from ideal in striping.
■ The roller made of light weight plastic. Would be better if the roller was made from more substantive material.
■ The grass box is very awkward to assemble. Clipping it together was both fiddley and annoying
■ Power cord. At just 15m the cord was simply too short to be able to cover a medium sized lawn and an extension cable is necessary to complete the job.
■ The cut height settings lever is very flimsy and of poor quality, something which is not usually the case with mountfield. It did feel as if the lever could break at any moment.
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The Cobra RM40 SPC self-propelled petrol lawnmower is designed with medium sized lawns very much in mind.
The RM40 SPCi is powered by a Cobra DG450 series 140cc recoil cord starting 4 stroke engine, which drives a cutting blade of cutting width of 40cms, as well as propelling the mower along at 4kms/hr. The RM40 SPC mower has a single lever operated 6 setting cut height of 17mm to 75mm, making it one of the best mowers on test for cutting long grass.
The rear section of the RM40 SPC has a full width 38cm split roller fitted, and together with its rudimentary clutch, the RM40 SPC is one of the serious contenders for the best lawn mower for stripes, as its turning circle which is important for good srtriping, is very tight indeed compared to other mowers in this review.
Grass cutting is collected into a generous 60 litre grass box made of durable polyester cloth, making it easy to empty as well as being completely flattened for storage.
For when things go wrong, the Cobra RM40 SPC comes with a 2 year warranty, giving peace of mind.
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While the RM40 SPC may be a serious contender of for being one of the best lawn striping mowers in this review there are a couple of things which let it down.
For all its power and overall size the RM40 SPC's cutting width is disappointingly small. The lawn mowers petrol engine is recoil cord start only, something that can not only be very frustrating, but tiring as well. Continuing on, there is no mowing speed control, to lower the speed down from 4km/hr, some owners felt that this was simply to fast for cutting grass, and they were not in control of the machine.
While assembly of the RM40 SPC was by far the quickest and easiest to do compared to the other mowers on test. Having said that, the instruction manual any thing but easy to follow, firstly it was generic, and secondly it was machine translated, making it " of no use to man nor beast".
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■ Powerful 140cc engine. Combined with height of cut this machine can manage rough and long grass areas with relative ease.
■ Cut height of 17mm to 75mm in 6 settings. Ability to accommodate long grass.
■ A full width 38mm split roller contributing to turning differential, important for good striping and contributing to a tight turning circle.
■ A clutch mechanism that with the split roller gives the RM40SPC a very small turning circle, ideal for striping and increased manoeuvrability.
■ A 2 year warranty for peace of mind.
■ A disappointing cutting width of just 40cms. A small cutting width compared to its overall size, weight and engine capacity.
■ Its weight! This machine weighs just under 40kg.
■ Recoil cord engine stater. No electric starter or option available.
■ No control of mowing speed. Automatically set at 4km/hr. Feels extremely fast for many owners and gives the fear of being out of control.
■ The owner's manual is utter gibberish. This manual is a generic publication that has been machine translated and not proof read.
■ The price. This is the most expensive petrol lawn mower in this review.
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Being one of the cheapest lawn mowers on the market, the Easimow 340R is unashamedly aimed at the small to medium sized garden.
The EasiMow 340R despite its size, has an impressive cutting width of 34cms and a relatively powerful 1400W electric motor quite capable of covering a small lawn with ease. It goes without saying that that a small lawn still looks good with stripes. So Flymo fitted a rear roller to the EasiMow 340R and this pluckiest of electric lawn mowers fulfills that demand.
Assembly is lightning quick and all that is needed is an extension cord.
The EasiMow 340R cut height of 20mm to 60mm in 5 settings controlled by one lever situated at the front of the mower allowing sound cutting. The rear roller is full width but not split, however as the EasiMow 340R weighs only 10.8kg and is highly manoeuvrable, an unsplit roller wouldn't make the slightest difference.
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Cut grass collection is via a 35 litre grass box which is perfect for the size of garden the EasiMow 340R is designed for.
One interesting feature of the EasiMow 340R is the dual hand power control allowing ambidexterous operation. A welcome feature for all left handers!
Although the EasiMow 340R did produce stripes fairly well, there were a couple of disappointments. The major bug bear was that the power cord being just 10m is too short to mow the entire lawn and an extension is vital.
During assembly the grass box was incredibly fiddley to put together. Although the cutting blades are steel, they are easily prone to damage.
The Flymo EasiMow 340R does come with a 1 year warranty for added peace of mind.
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■ Cutting width of 34cms. Impressive for a small machine.
■ For its size and weight, the EasiMow 340R produced passable stripes.
■ Double power control levers for ambidexterous operation.
■ Comparatively large 35 litre grass box.
■ Very easy storage.
■ 1 year warranty for peace of mind.
■ Ridiculously short 10m power cord, to completemowing the garden a long extension cord is vital.
■ Grass box assembly very fiddley.
■ Cutting blades are easily damaged.
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It goes without saying that in the commercial and professional arena cylinder mowers still have an iron like grip on their niche, and it is now definitely a niche product that the they have become.
Today the domestic mowing market is no longer the exclusive domain of the traditional cylinder mower, it is well and truly the domain of the highly developed rotary mower.
With a good cutting width and a properly thought out roller design these modern rotary machines are more than a match for the somewhat archaic cylinder mower. You no longer have to be the slave to old fashioned and time consuming ritual of mowing and using a garden roller to get those beautiful stripes. Just by using a modern rotary mower will give that "best lawn" look at a fraction of the price, and more importantly, in a fraction of your precious time, leaving you less tired and more in the mood to enjoy your garden.
While all the machines that were tested in this review are of the highest high quality in their own right, there was only one that showed the best design, best performance and best striping capabilities at the best price.
This review's choice for the best lawn mower for stripes is the Hyundai HYM 480SPER