Ride-on lawnmowers

Find out how these diesel-powered cutting machines which you can drive help keep huge sports fields and lawns neat and trim

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Sit-on lawnmowers typically feature a diesel engine, which uses two drive belts: one to turn the wheels and one to turn the rotating blades. The controls are similar to a car’s, with gears, pedals and a steering wheel.

Most ride-on mowers have a series of rotary steel blades; these spin horizontally across the ground, creating upwards suction, which draws in the grass. The spinning blade cuts the grass very roughly and can cause discolouration due to bruising and tearing. Controls allow blade height to be adjusted, so they can be lifted and disengaged from the engine while the vehicle is being driven.

For high-quality lawns, a reel mower is used instead. These have a fixed cutting bar, which is positioned parallel to the grass; as the mower moves over the lawn a series of spiral blades attached to a reel above the fixed blade spin rapidly, pushing the grass past the bar. The gap between the reel and the bar is kept at approximately the thickness of a blade of grass, which ensures a super-clean cut.

Rollers are sometimes added to mowers to smooth the grass after it has been cut and to cover up any wheel marks. These are also responsible for creating the characteristic stripy look often seen on football pitches and ornamental lawns.

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