The majority of mowers used in clubs are cylinder mowers. These comprise of a multi-bladed continuous helix welded to a high carbon steel cylinder and hardened bottom blade cutting edge. In front of the cylinder can be a sprung rake or 'groomer' to notionally lift the grass and behind is a heavy roller. The roller gives rise to the characteristic 'stripes'. The blades on the cyclinder bear against the lower fixed cutting blade. On non-specialist mowers the bottom blade can be quite thick, e.g. 1/4". Together with the fixings on the mower this limits the minimum cutting height. It is possible to fit a 'shaver blade' which can help - it is simply a slimmed down blade.
A domestic mower may have three or four helical blades on the cylinder, but for a croquet lawn it is desirable to have 10-12. This increases the number of 'cuts per inch' and prevents a rippled finish on the lawn. On most mowers the cyclinder is geared to suit the number of blades and the 'cuts per inch' is independent of the speed of the mower.
A rotary mower is mostly powered by internal combustion engines . Such engines can be running on gasoline or other liquid fuels . Internal combustion engines used with lawn mowers normally have only one cylinder. Power ranges from two to six horsepower (1.5 to 4.5 kW). The engines mostly require a manual pull to start them, although an "electric start" is becoming a sales feature in some countries.
Rotary mowers powered by electric motors are increasingly popular. Usually, these mowers are moved by manual poweró the on-board engine or motor only "spins" the blades. These have the disadvantage of requiring a trailing power cord that limits its range and so these are only useful for relatively small lawns, close to a power socket. There is the obvious hazard with these machines of mowing over the power cable resulting in the rapid cessation of cutting activity, and risk of electrocution . Installing a residual-current device (GFCI) on the outlet can reduce the risk of electrocution. "Cordless" (battery powered) electric lawn mowers are also available for small lawns.
Rotary mowers typically have an opening in the side, or rear, of the housing where the cut grass is expelled. Some have a grass catcher attachment at that point to bag the grass clippings.
A popular alternative for larger lawns is the riding (or ride-on ) mower. These often resemble small tractors , with the cutting deck mounted amidships between the front and rear axles. An alternative layout for a ride-on is a rear-mounted engine with rear-wheel steering, and a front-mounted deck. These mowers are generally more maneuverable around tight corners than the tractor type, but are generally more expensive. Most of these machines cut using the horizontal rotating blade system, though usually with multiple blades.
Hover mowers are powered rotary push mowers that use a turbine above the spinning blades to drive air downwards, thereby creating an air cushion that lifts the mower off the ground like a hovercraft . The operator can then easily move the mower as it floats over the grass. Hover mowers are necessarily light in order to achieve the air cushion and typically have plastic bodies with an electric motor, although small petrol engines have been used. A different style of movement is often employed with hover mowers whereby operators swing the mower in an arc around themselves because there are no wheels touching the ground to impede movement in sideway directions.
Hover mowers can also be applied to very long grass and even light scrub , since their lightness permits most operators to lift the mower up and then let it sink slowly down while the blades progressively chop up the vegetation. The lifting action is made even easier when the mower is swung around with the handle held against the operator's mid-body to provide leverage.
Robotic lawn mowers represented the second largest category of household autonomous robots used by the end of 2003 . A typical robotic lawn mower requires the user to set-up a border wire around the lawn that defines the area to be mowed.
A pull mower is essentially the same as a manually pushed mower but the propulsion unit pulls the mowing unit instead of pushing it. Thus is the normal system when a tractor or animal-drawn mower is used.
Professional grass-cutting equipment (used by large establishments such as universities, sports stadiums or local authorities and suchlike) usually take the form of much larger, dedicated, ride-on platforms or attachments that can be mounted on, or behind, a standard tractor unit (a "gang-mower"). Either type may use rotating-blade or cylindrical-blade type cutters, although good-quality mown surfaces demand the latter.