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                        6 min read

                        The ultimate guide to lawn mowers

                        The ultimate guide to lawn mowers

                        Maintaining a well manicured lawn requires the right equipment, and at the forefront of this stands the lawn mower. This machine plays a vital role in ensuring lawns of all shapes and sizes are kept tidy and inviting. This ultimate guide to lawn mowers covers everything you need to know about this machine, from its components and attachments through to popular models and safety issues to be aware of.

                        In this article:

                        1. What is a lawn mower?
                        2. Lawn mower components
                        3. Industries lawn mowers are used in
                        4. Types of lawn mowers
                        5. Sizes of lawn mowers
                        6. Lawn mower attachments
                        7. Popular makes of lawn mower in Australia
                        8. Potential hazards and safety issues with lawn mowers
                        9. What should a lawn mower risk assessment cover?

                         

                         

                         

                        What is a lawn mower?

                        A lawn mower is a motorised or manually operated machine designed to cut grass to a desired height in an efficient and precise manner. Lawn mowers come in various configurations and the choice of configuration is dependent on the size of the lawn being mowed and the operator’s appetite for manual labour.

                         

                        Lawn mower components

                        Lawn mowers have a few key components including:

                        • Motor or engine: these provide the power to the lawn mower and its blades.
                        • Cutting blades: rotating blades that slice through grass with precision.
                        • Wheels: allow the lawn mower to move and maneuver across various terrains.
                        • Handle or steering mechanism: used to control the direction of the lawn mower.
                        • Deck: encloses the cutting blades and grass collection system to ensure safety and efficiency.

                        Close up of a man using a compact lawn mower to maintain a golf course green

                         

                         

                        Industries lawn mowers are used in

                        Lawn mowers are used across a wide variety of industries. Some of these industries include:

                        • Residential landscaping: for the maintenance of small areas of lawn in suburban areas.
                        • Commercial landscaping: used by professional landscapers for the upkeep of parks, gardens and commercial properties.
                        • Sports field maintenance: fields require regular mowing to provide a safe and even playing surface for various sports.
                        • Golf course maintenance: lawn mowers are used to groom the greens, fairways and rough areas on golf courses to meet the standards of the sport.
                        • Agriculture: specialised lawn mowers are used for agricultural purposes including pasture management, hay production and crop maintenance.

                         

                        Types of lawn mowers

                        There are various different types of lawn mowers available for hire and purchase. Your choice of mower will be dependent on the location of the lawn, its purpose or industry and its size. The different types of lawn mowers include:

                        • Riding lawn mowers: these mowers feature a seat and steering wheel and are designed to efficiently mow larger areas.
                        • Zero-turn lawn mowers: ideal for maneuverability and mowing around obstacles due to their ability to pivot on the rear wheels.
                        • Stand-on mowers: feature a stand-on platform at the rear for enhanced visibility and control.
                        • Walk-behind mowers: a common, versatile mower used for smaller areas of lawn, available in self-propelled and push configurations.
                        • Robotic lawn mowers: automated mowers equipped with sensors and programming to navigate and mow smaller lawns autonomously.
                        • Wide-area lawn mowers: cover and cut large areas of grass in a single pass. They are best suited to large lawns and to improve productivity.
                        • Slope mowers: feature a low centre of gravity and specialised traction systems to cut lawns on steep inclines and terrain.
                        • Flail mowers: feature fails instead of blades to effectively cut through dense vegetation with ease.
                        • Outfront mowers: feature a front-mounted cutting deck to provide increased visibility and accessibility for hard to reach areas.
                        • Highway mowers: specially designed mowers for cutting roadside grass.
                        • Tow-behind mowers: used for large properties and agricultural settings and are usually attached to other machines such as tractors or all terrain vehicles (ATVs).
                        • Green and fairway mowers: engineered for precision cutting to deliver high quality turf.

                        Close up of a red and black compact lawn mower in a residential yard

                         

                        Sizes of lawn mowers

                        Lawn mowers vary significantly in size. The size is determined by cutting width, overall dimensions and engine power. There are three main size categories of lawn mowers.

                        Compact

                        Compact mowers typically have a smaller cutting width ranging from 16 to 21 inches. These mowers are lightweight and maneuverable, making them suitable for use on small lawns, or compact, residential areas.

                        Medium

                        Lawn mowers in the medium size classification generally have cutting widths of 21 to 42 inches. While these mowers are still known for maneuverability, they are also designed for efficiency in cutting lawns in larger areas such as large residential yards, parks and sports fields.

                        Large

                        Large lawn mowers have cutting widths exceeding 42 inches, ideal for improving efficiency. These mowers are commonly used in commercial landscaping, agriculture and the maintenance of large parks and sporting grounds.

                        It’s also worth noting the height, width and length of the lawn mower will also vary for each machine. This may have an impact on their ease of use and storage. Therefore, when selecting a lawn mower, it is important to consider not only the cutting width, but also its physical dimensions.

                         

                        Lawn mower attachments

                        The purpose of a lawn mower can be transformed through the use of attachments. Some of the most popular attachments include:

                        • Bagging attachments: used to collect grass clippings for disposal or composting, keeping lawns tidy and free from debris.
                        • Mulching kits: convert grass clippings into fine mulch which can be redistributed on the lawn to enrich the soil and promote growth.
                        • Sprayers: apply fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides to control weeds and pests or enhance lawn health.

                         

                        Close up of a red and black ride on lawn mower towing an attachment

                         

                        Popular makes of lawn mower in Australia

                        There is a large variety of lawn mower manufacturers worldwide but there are a few particular makes that are most popular in Australia. Some of these include:

                        Honda

                        Honda is a globally renowned machinery manufacturer known for its reliability and innovative engineering. In Australia, Honda mowers are favoured for their powerful engines and fuel efficiency. One of the most popular models of Honda mower is the HRX217 which features the Versamow system used to shred, bag or mulch leaves.

                        Husqvarna

                        Husqvarna mowers are highly regarded in Australia for their quality, durability and ergonomic design. Husqvarna offers a wide range of mowers including diesel, petrol and battery-powered models however, the Automower series of robotic mowers autonomously maintains lawns, helping these models to gain popularity amongst busy homeowners.

                        John Deere

                        Popular in the landscaping and agricultural industries, John Deere is trusted for its durability and reliability. The John Deere X700 ride-on mower is a favourite in Australia, ideal for residential lawns, while the ZTrak series is popular for larger lawns and commercial applications.

                        Masport

                        Masport mowers are popular among Australians for their quality manufacturing and grass collection capabilities. The President series is highly regarded for its steel decks and Briggs & Stratton engines, while Masport also has electric and battery powered mowers available for the environmentally conscious.

                        Rover

                        Known for its rugged construction and versatility, Rover mowers are popular in Australia for their ability to tackle harsh lawn conditions. Models like the Rover Rancher are favoured thanks to their heavy-duty frames and powerful engines, while more eco-friendly battery-powered options are also gaining popularity.

                        Victa

                        Victa is an iconic Australian brand that has gained major popularity since its establishment in 1952, known for its affordability and simplicity. Among popular Victa models is the Corvette series which feature Briggs & Stratton engines and alloy decks. This series is ideal for residential use, however Victa manufactures lawn mowers to meet many different needs.



                        Potential hazards and safety issues with lawn mowers

                        Like all machines, lawn mowers can be hazardous to operate. Some of the main hazards to be aware of include:

                        Contact with blades

                        Lawn mower blades rotate at high speeds and cause severe injuries when contact is made with them. Operators should wear sturdy, enclosed footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the rotating blades. It is also essential to turn off the mower and wait for the blades to come to a complete stop before performing any maintenance or adjustments to the machine.

                        Roll overs

                        Uneven terrain, slopes and obstacles can cause mowers to tip and roll over. Operators should exercise caution when mowing on inclines; it is recommended to mow across the slope rather than up and down to avoid the risk of tipping. Avoiding sudden manoeuvres can also help to reduce the risk of lawn mower roll over.

                        We’ve seen a number of avoidable lawn mower rollovers occur here at Ideagen Plant Assessor that have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities. Take a look at this article for further advice on how to reduce the risk of such incidents.

                        Carbon monoxide poisoning

                        Petrol-powered lawn mowers emit toxic carbon monoxide gas. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, it is crucial to ensure the mower is not operated indoors or in enclosed areas.

                        Burns

                        Lawn mower engines and exhaust systems can become hot during operation, posing the risk of burns when contact is made with them. Avoid touching these components during and immediately following use and allow them to cool completely before conducting maintenance or refuelling.

                        Debris ejection

                        Mowers can propel rocks, sticks and other debris at the operator at high speeds, posing a serious injury risk. Inspect and clear the lawn of any debris prior to operating the mower and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses and a face shield to reduce the risk of injury should debris strike the operator.

                        Noise

                        Lawn mowers, especially petrol-powered models, can generate high levels of noise during operation, which may exceed safe limits and pose hearing loss risks to operators and bystanders. Operators should wear hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs, while engineering controls including noise reducing mufflers and administrative controls such as scheduling mowing for appropriate times, should be implemented.

                         

                        Close up of a man maintaining the blades underneath a lawn mower

                         

                        What should a lawn mower risk assessment cover?

                        A thorough risk assessment should be carried out on lawn mowers prior to its first use and periodically throughout its lifespan. These risk assessments will help to identify any hazards that could pose risks to the operator and any other people in the vicinity of the mower. Some of the areas this risk assessment should cover include:

                        Hazard identification

                        A risk assessment should involve a comprehensive inspection of the lawn mower for signs of wear and tear, damage or malfunction that could become hazardous.

                        Risk evaluation

                        Assess the severity and likelihood of each identified hazard to determine the level of risk posed to operators, bystanders and property. 

                        Control measures

                        The next step in the lawn mower risk assessment should cover the control measures used to mitigate the risks associated with each hazard. This could include elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls or PPE, as stipulated by the hierarchy of control.

                        Maintenance and inspection

                        Establish a schedule for monitoring the controls implemented and maintain them to ensure the highest possible efficacy. Schedule future inspections to ensure they are conducted on time and hazards are not going uncontrolled.

                         

                        Need guidance on lawn mower safety and compliance?

                        Ideagen Plant Assessor can help! We have a team of machinery safety experts on hand to provide you with advice on how best to maintain the safety of your lawn mower and ensure its compliance with all legal obligations. Contact us today on 1300 728 852 or info@assessor.com.au.

                         

                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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