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Grass roots. A glossary of key lawn mower terminology. Follow



These terms are in alphabetical order. Many of them are explored in more detail elsewhere in these articles. Any term or phrase with more information available in these articles is clickable, so just click if you need to find out more. 

Ball Bearing Wheels: Wheels fitted with internal ball bearings decrease friction and increase efficiency, making the wheels run smoother for longer, and are always worth considering, adding to the working life of the machine.

Blade Brake: A safety mechanism that stops the blades from moving. This protects the operator when removing the rear grass collector from a mower. It is designed to stop the blades without switching off the engine, to avoid constant re-starting and save time

Cut and Drop: A basic mowing function where the blades of grass are cut and, rather than being collected, are dropped straight into the ground. This means the clippings help to fertilise the lawn as they break down and contribute organic matter to the growing process. (Not to be recommended if the clippings are clumping)

Cutting Deck: The body of the mower that surrounds and houses the blade and cutting action. The deck can be made from plastic, steel, or occasionally, alloy (aluminium alloy). The deck provides strength for the mower and protects the operator and plants and animals from the blade.

Cutting Height: The height above the soil line that the blades cut to. This is often adjustable (see Cutting Height Adjustment below)

Cutting Height Adjustment: A system by which you can lift or lower the deck to alter the length of the mower’s cut. Usually mechanical, it is generally operated by levers. Methods vary from an individual lever for each wheel, to one lever for front/one for back and, in advanced models, a central lever for the whole deck.

Cutting Width: This refers to the width of cut created by the revolving blade in the cutting deck. This may well be less than the width of the mower itself but this  measurement is the one used to work out how large your mower is and how wide your coverage and cut will be.

Drive System: The method of propulsion for a lawn mower. This varies from push/manual mowers to self-propelled mowers. Drives can be anything from single-speed to multi-geared variable speed, to non gear-change hydrostatic drives with infinite speed control.

Grass Comb: A series of ridges and grooves built into the front underside of a rotary mower’s cutting deck that disturbs and separates the grass blades, while straightening them for a more even cut.

High-Wheel: This usually means the mower has larger diameter wheels at the rear enabling easier turning and manoeuvring.

Mulching: A system of cutting where the discharge channel is shut off (Often by a mulch plug, see below) and the blades cut and re-cut the clippings until they are very small. They are then deposited into the lawn where they act as mulch, breaking down and acting as fertiliser to produce a greener lawn

Mulch Plug: This is part of the the ‘mulching kit’ that comes with some mowers, enabling the mulching function to work. It pushes into the channel at the rear stopping the clippings from flying back into the collector. Some plugs are separate and some are mechanical and a working part of the mower.

Push: A mower where your walking propels the mower and the engine/motor only powers the cutting action

Rear Discharge: The grass clippings are thrown out to the rear of the machine, either into a grass collector or directly onto the lawn.

Self Propelled: A lawn mower where the engine powers the wheels as well as the blades.

Side Discharge: Where side channel distributes the cut grass to the side of the mower. This is useful when conditions are too wet for mulching or collection and when grass is too long and rough. (You should be careful to rake up the grass afterwards though if it is long and sits in piles)

Swivel Wheels: Acting rather like castors these wheels add to the longevity of your mower. They are not fixed so, over time, will wear better and not wobble or fall off. They are rare but are becoming more popular. 

Turf Protecting Wheels: These are usually extra-wide patterned wheels, or tyres over wheels, that spread the weight of the mower and therefore reduce the amount of visible tracking left on your lawn. Particularly useful if the going is soft. (This can also be aided by using a rear roller machine). 

Recoil: A classic and time-honoured way of starting a lawn mower engine. It involved pulling a starting chord. Many recoil chords these days are mounted on the handle for ease and there are many ‘easy-start’ type systems to reduce the stress of pulling.

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