Horticulture Magazine

The Best Hover Mowers For Effortless Lawn Care

orange hover mower on a garden lawn

Mowing a sloping, uneven or undulating lawn and getting a smooth and even cut is no problem if you have a good Hover Mower.

Furthermore, as you do not really have to push along a Hover Mower it is also easy and effortless to use.

Introducing the Hover Mower

One way or another, you need to mow your lawn. And you’re not going to use a manual push-reel mower from your grandpa’s day. So which kind of powered mower to choose – petrol, electric, cordless or hover? If you have a small lawn that is on uneven, sloping, or undulating ground then a Hover Mower is the right choice, particularly if you are elderly or infirm.

A Hover Mower is a specialised type of lawnmower which, in simple terms, one does not have to exert oneself to push and is very easy to handle. That’s because it ‘floats on a cushion of air.’ This is a phrase one often comes across in marketing literature and it is frequently (though not always) an apt descriptor of how Hover Mowers work. Actually, they really do create a cushion of air underneath them: back in 1964 a lawnmower innovator in Sweden, one Karl Dahlman, was inspired by the hovercraft and invented a mower that hovered by way of a powerful fan at the base whose downdraft caused the lightweight mower ‘float on a cushion of air.’ For his efforts, that very same year Dahlman was awarded a gold medal at the Brussels Inventors Fair.

It must be said that Hover Mowers are subject to specific and unexpected design flaws and production defects. This is the reason that many persons prefer more reliable petrol or electric mowers. But dismissing Hover Mowers as an entire product category is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. After all, no petrol or electric mower can even come close to matching the core strengths of a hover mower: easy and effortless mowing, high manoeuvrability, and getting a clean mow on verges and banks, and on uneven and undulating ground. Also, persons with back problems, and the aged and the infirm can mow with a good Hover Mower whereas they would be unable to handle even the best petrol or electric model.

Factors for Evaluation

If you carefully consider the pros and cons of each model so so as to eliminate those whose potential flaws or defects you just can’t live with, you can choose the right model for you. You’ll need to evaluate several factors. With reference to our selected models, these are:–

  • Power, measured in watts, starting from 1,000 and going up to 1,700.
  • Cutting widths of the respective blades, which range from 25 to 33 centimetres.
  • Span of cutting heights of the various models, from a low of 10 centimetres to a high of 40.
  • Metal or plastic blades, and whether any spares are included.
  • Build quality and sturdiness; however, because hover mowers need to be lightweight they can never be truly sturdy and of robust build quality.
  • The mower’s weight and the length of the electric cord.
  • Features, such as dual lever handles and grass collection bin.
  • Finally, there are subjectively estimated criteria, most notably the quality and comfort of the hovering, ease of use, and manoeuvrability.

As for the cost, all products reviewed underneath are affordable and their prices are clustered within quite a narrow range.

Our #1 Top Pick
Flymo Turbo Lite 270 Electric Hover Lawn...
Value Pick
Charles Bentley Electric Hover Lawn Mower...
Also Consider...
BLACK+DECKER BEMWH551-GB Hover Mower
Power
1400W
1000W
1200W
Cutting Width
27cm
28cm
30cm
Cutting Height
11-31mm
10-20mm
20-40mm
Cable Length
10M
6M
10M
Weight
5.1Kg
4.7Kg
5.9Kg
Warranty
2 Years
None
2 Years
Air Cushion
Price
£119.96
Price not available
£111.99
Our #1 Top Pick
Flymo Turbo Lite 270 Electric Hover Lawn...
Power
1400W
Cutting Width
27cm
Cutting Height
11-31mm
Cable Length
10M
Weight
5.1Kg
Warranty
2 Years
Air Cushion
Price
£119.96
Value Pick
Charles Bentley Electric Hover Lawn Mower...
Power
1000W
Cutting Width
28cm
Cutting Height
10-20mm
Cable Length
6M
Weight
4.7Kg
Warranty
None
Air Cushion
Price
Price not available
Also Consider...
BLACK+DECKER BEMWH551-GB Hover Mower
Power
1200W
Cutting Width
30cm
Cutting Height
20-40mm
Cable Length
10M
Weight
5.9Kg
Warranty
2 Years
Air Cushion
Price
£111.99

Last update on 2021-04-17 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here are our top five products in more depth:

Best Pick: Flymo Turbo Lite 270

Flymo’s model 270 may be outdated and the pin falls out of the handle but it is indeed ‘lite’ and hovers and handles so well on most kinds of lawns.

Cost: £119.96

Though the Flymo Turbo Lite 270 boasts a fairly powerful 1400-watt motor and has a respectable cutting width of 27 centimetres, it weighs a mere 5.1 kilogrammes. This compact and lightweight model has five cutting heights from 11 to 31 millimetres. The cutting heights are set by inserting and removing supplied spacers. This fine little kit is suitable for small lawns; certainly not anything more than medium-sized lawns.

It has no grass box; the finely cut grass clippings are dropped on the lawn where they eventually turn into a natural compost. However, the clippings also get stuck under the skirt of the mower, sometimes in clumps, and it can also block the vents. Therefore, regular cleaning with a hard bristle brush underneath the mower is necessary.

The body is made of metal and plastic while the blade is a durable metal one.

No matter the lay of the land – steep, bumpy, whatever – for the most part the Turbo Lite 270 is a champion ‘hoverer,’ is easy to handle and manoeuvre, can be moved effortlessly, and it gives a very good mow. It is also a reliable mower. 

It is not without its flaws, though. The main problem is that the pin that connects the handle to the mower body, located near the bottom of the right side of the handle, does not stay in place and constantly falls out. When this happens the handle comes apart from the body.

On a positive note the dual levers on the handle are easy to hold pressed. It helps when there is a lever on each side. Also, the handles fold down flat allowing the mower to be hung on a hook.

The build quality is acceptable to good. The 10-metre cord is fused in and is not removable.

Although the mower is not difficult to assemble, be warned that assembly instructions are next to no help.

Flymo’s Turbo Lite 270 is a discontinued model but it is still going strong, and because it has been discontinued it is available at a can’t-resist price.

On the strength of its hovering capability, easy mowing and manoeuvrability, metal blade, and reliability, the Turbo Lite 270 gets the nod as our Best Pick.

Flymo, a Husqvarna brand, provides a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Hovers very well, even on uneven and sloping ground.
  • Lightweight and compact kit is easy and effortless to use.
  • Reliable and gives a consistently good mow.

Cons

  • The pin connecting the handle to the body keeps falling out leading to the handle detaching.
  • Grass clippings get stuck under the skirt and need regular cleaning.
  • Adjusting the cutting height by adding or removing spacers is a bit of a nuisance.

Value Pick: Charles Bentley 1000W Hover Mower

Light in both weight and power, Charles Bentley’s mower is also ‘light’ in price but is a reliable ‘hoverer’ and handles and manoeuvres very well.

Cost: Price not available

With a just-adequate 1000-watt motor, Charles Bentley’s economical hover mower is meant for small lawns. Its 28-centimetre cutting width is derived from three small plastic blades that are propelled by a disk. Its cutting height is adjustable from 10 to 20 millimetres. Adjusting the cutting height is a chore – you have to open the nut, remove the white rotating disk, and adjust its seating.

Like the blades, the body is plastic while the handles are alloy.

To facilitate reduction in weight and size, this hover mower has no collection box. Grass clippings dropped on the soil become nature’s compost.

It has only one power lever on the right side of the handle, and the on/off button is on a casing on the right side as well. In these fraught, ultra-PC times lefties may feel discriminated against and end up taking a complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission!

Clips along the right rod of the handle keep the exposed cord between the casing and the mower’s motor snug against the handle.

The main thing, though, is that this kit is super-lightweight at only 4.7 kilogrammes, hovers well, handles easily, and is very manoeuvrable. Thus, the most important boxes get big ticks.

Loosening the two green knurled knobs allows the two-part handle to be slid in on itself, and loosening the two black knurled knobs lets you fold the handle for slim-profile on-hook storage.  

Unusually, this otherwise fine hover mower suffers from blades that are poor. The plastic blades are thin and brittle. Better quality replacement metal blades are very affordable, and subbing in such blades will eliminate the headache of broken blades. Excluding the plastic blades, build quality is quite good.

At only 6 metres, the electric cord is much too short and this is another ‘con.’

Charles Bentley’s hover mower is delivered in a flat pack. The instructions are not the best but assembly is a piece of cake. It comes with a set of extra plastic blades.

Notwithstanding the two negatives, this is a very nice little hover mower that is really light and easy to handle and also hovers well. At its price it’s a steal and is a sure-shot Value Pick.

Pros

  • Lightweight mower hovers well and can be manoeuvred effortlessly.
  • Assembling this one is child’s play, quite literally.
  • Remarkably inexpensive, it’s an excellent value for money.

Cons

  • The plastic blades are below par and are brittle.
  • Impossibly short electric cord.
  • Only one activation lever on one side of the handle.

Black+Decker BEMWH551

Pulled down by cutting height settings but boosted by good build quality, Black+Decker’s kit hovers and handles remarkably well on slopes and banks.

Cost: £111.99

A mid-power 1200-watt motor drives a disk that rotates two plastic blades for a wide 30-centimetre cutting width on Black+Decker’s hover mower. The cutting height can be adjusted to 20, 30, and 40 millimetres. It is well suited to small lawns.

The cutting heights leave something to be desired. A maximum cutting height of 40 millimetres is probably about eight millimetres greater than the maximum cut one could possibly want. More importantly, a minimum cutting height of 20 millimetres is probably eight millimetres too high than the necessary minimum.

Fair warning to southpaws: Black+Decker’s hover mower has only one activation lever and the power switch is located on a casing near the top of the handle, both on the right side.  

The two orange wing nuts midway on the handles allow the length to be adjusted to either of two positions, which is a useful feature. The handle is completely foldable by loosening the two black knobs on the sides of the body, allowing the mower to be hung up.

It has an ABS body and is of good build quality. Though the blades are plastic they are of acceptable quality.

In use it feels lighter than its 5.9 kilogrammes. It has a very good hover, and is easy to use and manoeuvre. It does not deal with bumpy ground too well but is brilliant on gradients and steep ground, besides gently undulating ground. It gives a consistently good cut.

The electric cord is ten metres, and the part between the casing and the motor is held in place along one side of the handle.

It is very easy to assemble. Black+Decker include 10 extra plastic blades and a key for blade replacement.

Pros

  • Very good hovering, and excels on slopes and verges including steep ones.
  • Good, above average, build quality
  • Supplied with ten extra blades and a blade replacement key.

Cons

  • Does not work well on bumpy ground.
  • Poorly-designed range of cutting heights as well as their steps.
  • Only one activation lever on one side of the handle.

Flymo Hover Vac 250

Of sub-par build quality, Flymo’s Vac 250 hovers and handles very well on level ground but not on uneven ground and has a hit-or-miss mow quality.

Cost: £79.99

Flymo’s Vac 250 has a very powerful 1400-watt motor but a not-so-wide cutting width of 25 centimetres. The cutting height is adjustable from 11 to 31 millimetres in four steps. This is set by adding or removing spacers which is done after you take off the blade – not exactly a convenient design.

Like most hover mowers this one is best suited to small lawns. Unlike most hover mowers, it has a grass collection box in which grass is compacted. It collects clippings fairly well but still sprays some grass here and there. How much grass it collects and how much it scatters depends on the lay of your land and your mowing technique. The 15-litre grass bin fills up quickly and requires frequent emptying.

It has two activation levers and the casing containing the on/off button is near the top of the handle in the middle.

Though the ‘Hover’ Vac 250 advertises itself as a hover mower it doesn’t do so well on uneven and undulating ground though it works just fine on flat ground on which it hovers perfectly well, and is easy and comfortable to use. On anything other than level ground it is not as easy to push and manoeuvre as other hover mowers, and, indeed, does not hover well at all. Part of the reason may have to do with its 6.5-kilogramme weight.

Another problem is that the pins that connect the handle to the body near the bottom keep coming loose and falling out.

This mower does not give a consistently good mow. Sometimes you get a patchy mow so you have to redo some parts of the lawn while other parts may look choppy or torn. However, if your lawn is level then, even if it is not exactly small, Flymo’s Vac 250 may work a treat.

The metal cutting blade is very durable but the same cannot be said about the mower as a whole. The build quality is sub-par; this is not a robust or durable model.

The electric cord is 10 metres. You can fold down the handle by loosening the orange wing nuts.

Assembly is quite easy.

Flymo, a Husqvarna brand, provides a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Quite a powerful motor for a consumer hover mower at 1400 watts.
  • On level ground it hovers and handles very well.
  • Features a grass collection box, though it is small and collection is dodgy.

Cons

  • Does not hover or handle well on uneven ground.
  • Does not give a consistently good mow, especially on less-than-level lawns.
  • Below par build quality puts a question mark on durability.

Flymo Glider Compact 330AX

Flymo’s powerful 330AX gives a good clean mow on level ground, collects grass, and has easy height settings but is flimsy and fails on bumpy ground.

Cost: £139.99

With a very powerful 1700-watt motor and a wide 33-centimetre cutting width, the Flymo Glider Compact 330AX will do for medium-sized lawns. This is not a hover mower but is a ‘glider;’ it has two little wheels. 

It has an acceptably-sized 22-litre box in which grass is collected and compacted. The box has a transparent window to let you monitor the amount of grass. Though far from perfect, it is fairly good at grass collection but the more grass it collects and compacts, the heavier and harder to handle the mower becomes. We advise regular emptying of the box to allow this mower to do its thing and ‘glide.’ Also, clippings stick between the motor and grass box and in crannies under the mower.

The metal blade’s cutting height ranges from 12 to 32 millimetres, and setting it is quick and convenient as all you have to do is turn a dial on the body of the mower. The minimum cutting height of 12 millimetres is only a specification which is not reflected in actual usage. The shortest cut you get will be between 15 and 20 millimetres.

It has two activation levers and the casing containing the on/off button is near the top of the handle in the middle. The handle locks into a single position that is unsuitable for tall persons as the position is rather low and so the force of pushing gets directed downwards rather than forwards. Short persons will find it easier to use.

This big boy really shines on flat, level ground. Though it doesn’t lead the list on manoeuvrability it is still quite good on this score, it is easy to handle, and glides well enough but still feels ‘heavy’ on dense grass. However, when it encounters uneven ground it becomes troublesome. As for bumps or dips, it cannot deal with them. Some defective units will kick up their heels; they refuse to live up to their name and ‘glide.’ 

If you can deal with these issues you will find that this mower usually gives a good, even mow. Sometimes you may need to make a second pass to get a clean cut but that is hardly a deal-breaker.

For a good-sized 9.4 kilogramme glider-mower Flymo’s Compact 330AX is very insubstantially built; it feels and is flimsy. It is foldable into a compact size for storage.

The 10-metre electric cord can be wrapped around two hooks on the side of the handle.

Assembly is relatively complicated and time-consuming.

Flymo, a Husqvarna brand, provides a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Very powerful motor for a consumer hover mower at 1700 watts.
  • On flat and level lawns it gives a good mow and collects grass well too.
  • Cutting height adjustment is quick and convenient by way of a dial.

Cons

  • Does not work well on uneven ground, and fails on bumpy ground.
  • On the heavy side for a consumer glider mower, it becomes difficult to move in dense grass.
  • Build quality is disappointing; this is a flimsy bit of kit.

How To Use A Hover Mower

First, wear proper, closed shoes when using any mower.

Avoid using any mower and especially a hover mower on wet grass as it will not work properly if your lawn is even damp. When your lawn is dry, grab the opportunity to give it a hover mow. 

Besides straight-line and back-and-forth movements, you can also move a hover mower from side to side – such manoeuvrability is one of the reasons that one uses a hover mower in the first place, and it also lets you turn on a dime, work the angles, and get into tight spaces. But there’s a catch: go side to side with a grass-collecting hover mower, and you’ll get clippings flying all over the place. When using such a hover mower be sure to eliminate, or at least minimise, any movements other than straight-line mowing.

Now to the key of effective and correct usage of a hover mower. 

Most persons who have used other mowers of any kind tend to push with a forward but also a downward force. In addition, the angle at which the handles of any mower attach to the body will transmit force to the body both forward as well as downwards – that’s elementary Physics. Also, handle height and angle being constant, the taller you are, the greater the distribution and transmission of your pushing force in a downward direction. This downward force works against and defeats the hovering mechanism, causing dissatisfaction with the hover. On the other hand, some persons may try to ‘help along’ the hover by exerting a gentle upward force or a slight lift as they push the mower. Do that, and the blades will spin harmlessly, merely touching the tips of the grass blades! And that’s cause for another type of complaint.

Imagine that you are a child that can reach only halfway up the handle, and whose pushing force will largely be distributed and transmitted in a forward direction through the handle to the mower body. Try to push a hover mower using this technique, without exerting yourself or forcing it, and pushing in a horizontal ‘line.’ You will most likely be well pleased with the results.

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