Regular readers of Take a Yard will know that when it comes to lawn mowing I’m a bit of a geek. My old man had me mowing our 1 1/2 acre lawn with both a ride-on and push mower from the age of 12, so when it comes to mowers I’ve been there and done that.
However, I’ve only ever used a hover mower to cut a small patch of grass at my late grandma’s house (she used to pay me with lemonade!) – so are they really any good?
Hover mowers are good if you have a small to medium-sized lawn that is bumpy, sloping or a non-uniform shape. Most hover mowers are electric, so you need to allow for cable length given your garden size. They can also be tiring to use as you have to swing them from side to side.
Let’s dive down into the subject of hover mowers in more detail, and discover how they work, how to use them, who makes them – and if you really need one…
Are Hover Mowers Worth It?
Given the spaceship-styled, sleek, molded bodies and snappy colors, you’d think that hover mowers were the latest and greatest in expensive, elitist yard gear. But you’d be wrong. Hover mowers have been around for decades – over 50 years. And, they are surprisingly affordable.
Are they worth it? That depends. If your yard is a vast expanse of green, then probably not. Vast expanses are not a hover mower’s forte. But if you have a yard that’s smaller than vast and is a real challenge to mow – thanks to all the flower beds, trees and topography – then read on.
What is the Advantage of a Hover Mower
If your lawn is medium to small, wettish, and has a weird shape with tight cutouts or a steep slope, then a hover-style mower may be for you.
We love the look of mowed lawns, but we don’t always love spending our precious weekend time mowing it. Going backwards and forwards in corners, around trees and flower beds is particularly aggravating. Going backwards and forwards seems like wasted time and energy.
With a hover mower, you aren’t limited to back and forth. You can swing from side to side into those weird little corners and around curves. Thanks to the hovering design, mowing over lumps, bumps and holes is easier, too.
Hover mowers are great for lawns with steep slopes. With a traditional wheeled mower, the weight of the mower either pulls you downhill or exhausts you pushing it uphill. A hover mower weighs a fraction of the weight – sometimes less than 20 pounds – and slopes are easy to mow.
Here’s an article from Motor Biscuit about whether hover mowers are any good.
Are Hover Mowers Better for Long Grass?
We looked at the reviews for several electric hover mowers. Many reviewers said that their mower didn’t perform well in tall grass or weeds. It simply didn’t have the power.
Bottom line is – hover mowers work best if you are a lawn lover who mows their lawn routinely and doesn’t have rough patches. Slightly swampy, lumpy, bumpy, and oddly shaped lawns – all fine. But grass that’s long and weedy, not so much.
Is a Hover Mower Good for Uneven Ground?
Lumpy lawns are great for hover mowers. Mowers with wheels can sometimes scalp lawns when one wheel falls in a hole. It’s harder to scalp your lawn with a hover mower.
A hover mower uses a fan to blow down against the ground to suspend the lightweight mower. The fan blows down in a circle wide enough that a hole in the ground won’t affect the height of the blade, so no scalping.
How Much Does a Hover Mower Weigh?
We looked at four of the top reviewed hover mowers. Their weights ranged from a rather heavy 43 pounds (the gas powered model, and that weight was without gas) to the slimmest electric model at just 14 pounds.
Are Hover Mowers Mainly Electric?
Yes. Hover mowers are mainly electric with power cords, but you can find a limited number of models that are gas powered and a couple that are battery-powered.
Many hover mower manufacturers are working on new models powered by batteries. The challenge is that hover mowers need to be lightweight and batteries are heavy. A battery strong enough to power both the blade and the fan would be, well, chonky.
Gasoline-powered hover mowers are powerful enough to chop down tall grass and weeds but they are heavy – over 40 pounds. Some folks find swinging heavy hover mowers from side to side to be a strain on their upper body.
For these reasons, most hover mowers are corded electric.
Are Rotary Mowers Better Than Hover Mowers?
That depends. It depends on the size, shape and slope of your lawn. And, it depends on your climate.
We’ve all had at least one rotary lawnmower. They may be heavy but they have wheels. You push them around or some propel themselves. They move backwards and forwards. They leave pleasing stripes on your lawn.
Rotary mowers are better if you have an expansive, square or rectangular, flat lawn. Rotary lawnmowers are better if you let your grass grow long and sometimes need to mow weedy patches.
Hover mowers look futuristic and weird. They don’t have wheels – they float on air. You can swing them from side to side in addition to going backwards and forwards. Mowing in a sideways direction saves mowing time if you have tight corners, trees and garden beds to go around.
Hover mowers are better if you have a small to medium lawn that you routinely mow. They are better if your lawn is not boxy or flat. If you have lots of mowing obstacles or steep slopes, then a hover mower will be better.
Hover mowers are better if you live in a damp climate. They won’t leave tire gouges in wet areas.
How Do You Use a Hover Lawnmower?
This how-to section is for a grass collecting, corded electric hover mower.
- Clean up your yard. Tennis balls, golf balls, small plastic toys, ropes, sticks, and – yup – dog poop.
- Consider what length you want your grass. If your mower is set higher or lower than what you want, adjust it now.
- To adjust the mower blade level, you’ll have to remove the blade. Make sure your mower is unplugged.
- Get on some heavy duty gloves.
- Use the manufacturer’s wrench tool to unscrew the blade.
- Check the manufacturer’s direction to see how many spacers you need for the grass height you want.
- Add or take off the spacers.
- Replace the blade and screw it hand tight with the wrench.
- Plan out your electric cord strategy. Cords can be a real pain, but a plan helps. Think through your mowing route so you don’t accidentally chop up your power cord.
- Find an outdoor electric socket outside your house. Most hover mowers come with a 15 foot power cord, but you may need more.
- If your mower’s handle is folded down, loosen the bolts and extend the handle.
- Get out the mower and move it to the grass closest to the power outlet.
- Lay out the power cord in a smooth pile. Untangle any knots and make sure the power cord looks good – no worn areas.
- Plug in your mower. Many folks like to fling the power cord over their shoulder.
- Pull on the safety lever and, with your other hand, depress the starter button.
- Start mowing. Mow forward in straight lines in rectangular areas and sweep side to side in corners and flower beds.
- When you are done, release the safety lever, turn off the mower and unplug the electric cord.
- Lift up the mower cover and take out the grass collected there. Dump the grass into your compost bin.
- Fold the handle up for storage and secure it with the tightening bolts or toggles.
- Carry your hover baby into the shed or garage.
Here’s an amusing “mow with me” video featuring the Flymo 330 electric hover lawnmower.
Are Flymo Hover Mowers Any Good? (Do They Collect Grass?)
Flymo has been manufacturing hover mowers for over 50 years. Flymo (short for flying mower) was developed by Swedish lawn mower manufacturer Karl Dahlman, who was inspired by Britain’s hovercrafts.
We checked on the Flymo website for hints and tips about their hover mowers. First, be sure you have a model with a grass collector. Flymo says, to collect grass, be sure to mow forward. The suction for grass collection is located at the rear of the mower, so moving it sideways in a sweeping motion won’t always pick up grass. Instead, move the mower forward.
Here’s a nice review of Flymo’s top models, with pros and cons.
Where Are Flymo Mowers Made?
Flymo, established in 1965, is a leading brand in the Husqvarna group, which employs 14,000 people in over 40 countries.
Summary: Pros and Cons of Hover Mowers
- Maneuverability. Ideal for small yards with lots of ins and outs like garden beds and tight corners.
- Lightweight. Hover mowers are easy to hang up or carry down steps.
- Great for slopes. The lightweight design won’t pull you down slope or wear you out pushing uphill.
- Good for lumpy yards. The fan maintains the height of the blade evenly over a bumpy yard.
- Can be tiring. Swinging them from side to side requires a different set of upper body muscles.
- Difficult to change trim heights. While wheeled mowers only take a few seconds to change heights, with most hover mowers you have to take off the blade and add or take away spacers.
- No pleasing lawn stripes.
- Mostly made of lightweight plastic, so it may not last as long as a wheeled mower.
- Most models are corded electric.
So there you have it – my detailed look into the world of hover mowers.
In the final analysis, it seems they have as many cons as pros – so I won’t be investing in one as with an acre of land I really need a gas ride on and push mower to get all the grass done.
I’m also a petrol head and love that smell of gas and grass cutting in the spring. Perfect! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >