Hover mowers vs. rotary mowers

One of the most common questions asked by our customers is; should I buy a hover mower or a wheeled rotary lawnmower? The rest of this blog post explains the subtle differences between these types of lawnmower to help you make an informed decision on which lawnmower to buy.

Before making any decision on which lawnmower to purchase, it’s important to understand the slight differences in how they work.

While both types of lawnmower cut the grass from above using a rotating cutting disc, there are a couple of subtle differences to be aware of.

A traditional rotary lawnmower has wheels. They are typically available in petrol and electric versions; however petrol operated machines are typically the preferred choice for people with larger gardens. The wheels on a rotary lawnmower limit the user to mowing the lawn in straight lines.

A hover mower is works slightly differently. It works by creating a cushion of air between the lawnmower and the grass, allowing the user to move the lawnmower in any direction making them much more manoeuvrable. Hover mowers are generally only sold as electric versions however some petrol hover mowers are available.

Now that you know the subtle differences between a rotary lawnmower and a hover mower there are some key things to consider before buying a new lawnmower.

1. Stripes or not

If you want to add stripes to your lawn then, the choice is simple. You should buy a wheeled rotary lawnmower with a rear roller like those found in the Flymo Chevron range. A rear roller adds stripes to the lawn by flattening the grass as you cut. Simply put, a rear roller acts as a weight on the back of your lawnmower which is used to flatten the grass. Hover mowers by their very nature cannot have a roller as the weight of the roller would prevent the lawnmower from hovering on the cushion of air that they generate and require to cut the grass. It’s worth noting that if you want stripes added to you lawn, you will need to leave the grass slightly longer so that you can bend and flatten the grass to create the darker patches of grass.


2. Shape of the lawn

Homeowners with irregular shaped lawns may find that a hover mower maybe the better lawnmower to buy. Because hover mowers ‘float’ on a cushion of air, this enables them to be moved in all directions including side to side. This makes mowing the lawn quick and easy, especially for those that just want to cut the grass as quickly as possible. The difficulty when using a rotary lawnmower on an irregular shaped lawn is that you will need to make a number of short movements to cut the grass in the hard to reach areas. This will increase the time it takes to cut the grass.

ultraglide cutting close to edges

3. The weight

The weight may be a key consideration when buying your next lawnmower. While one of the key benefits of a hover mower is that it can be moved in any direction, some older people may find that hover mowers can become too heavy to ‘swing’ around side to side. Because of this they prefer to opt for a wheeled rotary lawnmower. While this limits the user to cutting the grass in a forwards and backwards direction they can find them quicker and easier to use in the long run.

4. Slopes

When choosing between a rotary lawnmower or hover mower, one key consideration is whether the lawn you want to cut has any slopes. If it does, a hover mower may be the better option as they are often easier to push / pull up and down the slopes as they are lighter when walking forwards because of the cushion of air they rest on when cutting.


One key advantage hover mowers have over rotary lawnmowers is that generally when you first buy one, they are ready to use out of the box. Rotary lawnmowers will typically require a little more work to build before you can use it.

Overall when comparing hover mowers vs. rotary lawnmowers there is no clear winner. The perfect lawnmower is a largely down to personal preference and the type of garden you own. Before buying your next lawnmower you should consider the size and shape of your lawn as these will determine the type of lawnmower you should purchase.