Lawnmowers come in larger variety of shapes, sizes and types than are usually available to the average homeowner at the local lawn and garden center. The number of blades a mower has and how they are mounted determine the lawnmower's type and purpose. Most mowers are rotary cutter mowers that have a single cutting blade, multiple blades or sharp discs that rotate around a vertically mounted axis or shaft. Additional variations to this common configuration allow a brush mower to clear an overgrown pasture covered with 2-foot tall grass and weeds and a grooming mower to leave a picturesque, level surface at the greens of our favorite golf course.
All lawn mowers were reel or cylinder mowers based on an 1830 invention until the rotary design came along in the 1930s. However, it would be another couple of decades before technology caught up with the design. Rotary mowers spin sharp blades or discs parallel to the ground, slashing the grass horizontally as the mower moves across the area. A cover over the blades pushes the cut grass back to the ground, preventing it from creating a cloud of debris that would impair the operator's ability to use the mower safely. Most walk-behind and tow-behind mowers today are rotary cutter mowers.
Blades and Discs
Although the basic design of the rotary mower is the same from mower to mower, variations in the blades and discs used in each type change the results. A specially shaped mulching blade converts grass clippings into a fine mulch. Several sharp blades spinning at high speed leave behind a more manicured finish. A series of sharp, heavy-duty discs makes quick work of tall grass and weeds.
The grooming or finish mower is a rotary mower that is towed behind a tractor. Several sharp blades spin at high speed while a floating linkage keeps the blade height level on uneven ground. The wheels are usually staggered to prevent compacting the finely manicured surface. Grooming mowers are used on golf courses, in parks or on the grounds of large estates.
The brush mower is a rotary machine designed for cutting yards and fields overgrown with grass and weeds. Multiple blades or heavy-duty discs set in a line across the width of the mower cut down heavy brush. Brush mowers are available as tow-behind tractor attachments for large jobs or as walk-behind mowers for smaller ones.
The reel mower, invented in 1830, moved grass cutting from manually swinging a scythe or sickle into the Industrial Age. The blades of the reel or cylinder mower are set horizontally around a cylinder that rotates as the mower is pushed forward, creating a scissor action that cuts the grass.