“ Brand: Champion „
Over the years I've cut a lot of lawns. Actually, no, I've cut a few lawns a lot of time. I've done it with all manner of lawn mowers. I wouldn't say I've become an expert on the subject but I can say what I look for in a lawn mower, mostly through bitter experience.
My first memories of coming to grips with a lawnmower were when I was probably about 10. Dad had a monstrosity of a mower, a huge cast iron antique that must have been brought across by William the Conqueror. No motor; you had to push it. It was a cylinder type with smooth rollers so when you pushed it, it slid over the grass more than it turned the blades. The garden was on a slope so when the grass was finally cut you'd had more exercise than you'd get in a game of squash!
If there was one thing I promised myself it was that the day I owned my own garden, the first thing I would buy was a motorised lawnmower. For that I had to wait another 20 years.
I've tried just about every type of mower there is. However, in the final analysis there are really only two types, cylinder mowers and rotary mowers. Rotary mowers are also divided into two types, hover mowers and wheeled mowers.
Cylinder mowers are the more traditional type. They have a reputation for giving the lawn the stripe effect that so many gardeners appreciate but this is more to do with the roller at the back of the mower that these type usually have. My experience of cylinder mowers, however, is not favourable.
I used to have a Qualcast electric one. I used it for many years but I never really liked it. It suffered from the main problem all cylinder mowers have, they only work well if you cut the grass very often, usually about every three days. I'm sorry but life's too short!
Why is this a problem? It's to do with its ability to cut long grass. Grass grows at different rates, even in the same lawn. Once stalks get over a couple of inches they tend not to be dragged into the blades but simply bend under the mower as it passes. The result is a lawn with dozens of 3 to 4 inch grass stalks sticking up all over.
So, if not a cylinder mower, how about a rotary one? Well, there are two types of those, the hover type and the wheeled type. How about the hover type?
I used to have a Black & Decker one. Now, aside from the fact that in my experience B & D products are rubbish, their hover mower was probably no better, no worse than most of the kind. On the face of it they seem to have a lot going for them.
However, they have one major problem, you can't adjust the height at which they ride over the grass. They cut the grass at whatever height the downforce lifts the mower off of the ground. Any unevenness in the ground can affect the height, which means that sometime the grass may be left too long and sometimes it's cut right down to the soil.
Grass benefits from not being cut too short. I have found that so long as you leave grass about 1½ inches long it will thrive. Any shorter and it struggles and suffers from excessive moss growth; any longer and it just looks untidy.
The Champion is sold by FocusDIY exclusively. The Champion brand seems to be the house brand of FocusDIY and covers products across a large range of devices. They all share the red and black livery that identifies them.
The Champion is a rotary mower but runs on wheels rather than hovers on a cushion of air. The four wheels are all adjustable for height by unscrewing them with the handle in the middle of each wheel and by then screwing them into a different hole. The height of the back and front wheels can be set independently for precise adjustment.
The rear wheels can be removed completely and then the back of the mower runs on a full width roller if you want that striped effect. However, the height of the roller leaves the back of the mower lower than the lowest setting achievable with the wheels so the cut will also be low, even with the front wheels on the highest setting.
The body is made of tought but flexible plastic that seems more than able to shrug off the contacts with the sort of things you find around the garden, like tree trunks.
The rotary blade underneath the mower is shaped so as to act as a fan, to suck the cuttings up and throw them into a bin hung on the back of the mower. The bin is all plastic and has a fine mesh grill on each side, to allow the air to escape but retain the cuttings.
The on/off switch is a lever on the handle and only operates by pushing in a safety button with your other hand whilst squeezing the lever. This is to make it well-nigh impossible to switch the blade on by accident.
There is a reasonably long cable supplied but you will need an extension cable if your garden is more than average sized.
In operation the mower works extremely well. It is able to get pretty close to objects to trim the grass around things like birdbaths and rocks. You may still need a strimmer though although I havent found a need myself.
Ive been using mine now for around three years without a moments problem. The grass is left looking very tidy and all cut to an even length. As the mower blade induces a suction it also works very well at sucking up leaves and twigs at the same time.
This is definitely the best mower I have ever used. This model is the smallest in the range, it has a 13 inch blade, and is more than adequate for my garden. There are larger models for those with bigger gardens who want to cover as much ground as possible in each stripe.