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Mowing and lawn maintenance using one hand

Mowing is the job of cutting the grass regularly to keep your lawn tidy and healthy. Cutting the grass encourages strong growth and finer grasses for a smooth, even lawn. The average lawn will need 30 cuts a year, but bear in mind that the less you cut your lawn, the slower it will grow. Your lawn will also benefit from some annual or on-going maintenance.

Making mowing easier

  • To start most new electric powered mowers you have to press and hold in a safety button before you can then start the mower with a lever. On many models this can only be done using two hands at once, so try out controls before you buy.
  • If you use one hand you will need to choose a lightweight mower that you can manoeuvre without straining to operate the controls. Some hover type mowers are quite lightweight but they are not easy to carry and cutting longer grass can be difficult.
  • If you prefer to trim the edges of your lawn by hand, try kneeling on a comfortable kneeler or use strap-on knee pads, and trim with one handed grass shears or battery powered one-handed shears.
  • If you can’t cope with mowing the whole lawn, mow pathways, and leave the rest of the grass longer. Or perhaps consider reducing the size of your lawn.
  • If you have a close-cropped lawn it will need more frequent mowing. A longer 1-inch cut shouldn’t need mowing more than once a week in summer. Hard-wearing, slow-growing grass varieties are best if you are sowing a new lawn and avoid a fussy lawn shape with sharp curves as it will be more time consuming to maintain.
  • Clover, daisies and other ‘weeds’ will keep your lawn greener in dry weather and leaving them in place will mean that you don’t have to spend time weeding.
  • Lawns cut level with the path are easier to mow and try to plan the direction of mowing to avoid unnecessary turning, reversing or overlapping. If you find the upkeep of your lawn difficult, consider replacing it with an area of paving, or other hard surface.

Taking care when mowing

  • Using a mower can put a strain on the back, legs and arms. Mow a stretch at a time, and don’t overdo it.
  • Always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches and only work for short periods, to avoid strain.
  • When kneeling to cut the edges of your lawn, use a comfortable kneeler, keep your back straight and cut a small section at a time and avoid stretching too far.

Equipment and tools for:

Mowing the lawn

  • A lightweight manual ‘push’ mower might be the best option to use one handed or look for an electric mower with an automatic stop control which runs along the length of the handle – you just let go and the mower stops.
  • Bear in mind that a hover mower will need to be carried, rather than wheeled into place.
  • Avoid petrol mowers - these are powerful and the ‘pull’ start action can cause strain.
  • Cylinder blade mowers give the best finish, but are not so good on long or damp grass.
  • A lawn mower with grass box reduces the amount of debris in the lawn, and the need to scarify and sweep but take care when emptying the grass box and empty it regularly so it isn’t too full and heavy.
  • Battery-powered mowers don’t have cables to worry about and might be an option for you as they are gradually coming down in weight and in price – but try the controls before you buy to ensure they are suitable.
  • Automatic and Robotic mowers are now available from around £600 upwards. Although they are expensive, once they are set up they require little or no effort to use.
  • You can cut trips to empty the grass box with a mulch mower, which reduces the cuttings to a fine mulch and spreads it back on the lawn.
  • To trim the edges of the lawn, avoid an electric strimmer as they are difficult to control with one hand. Try using one-handed grass shears with adjustable blades or battery powered (rechargeable) one-handed shears. You can use an extension handle with both tools to cut the lawn edge from a standing position.

Have a look at the list of equipment and tools after the information on lawn maintenance.

Lawn maintenance

There are specialist companies that offer seasonal lawn maintenance and use machinery to quickly weed, feed, aerate and scarify your lawn. This can be a cost effective solution as it saves you the expense of buying equipment that will only be used once or twice a year – it also saves a lot of time and effort.

However, if you can invest some time and effort in maintaining your lawn, here is some helpful tips and information on equipment and tools.


This is spiking or puncturing the lawn with a garden fork or specialist tool to improve drainage and allow air to the roots. Lawns usually need aerating once a year– particularly if the soil is heavy and more likely to get compacted.

You can reduce the need to aerate the lawn by not walking on it in wet weather, not using a heavy mower, and not rolling the lawn.

  • Aerating the lawn by pressing the tines of a garden fork or aerator into the soil will be difficult with one hand so always ‘warm up’ with a few gentle stretches, do a little at a time, and keep your back straight. If you have strong legs, you can aerate the lawn by walking over it wearing spiked boards that fit over your shoes.
  • A light rotary aerating machine can be pushed along like a lawn mower to spike the lawn. It might take some forward pressure to push.
  • If you have strong legs, you can aerate the lawn by walking over it wearing spiked boards that fit over your shoes.


This is raking the lawn hard with a spring-tined lawn rake to remove the build up of old waste matter, or ‘thatch’. This allows in light, air and moisture for grasses to thrive and is usually needed annually.

Scarifying is the most arduous lawn maintenance task and will be too strenuous to do one handed. However, some mowers can be fitted with a scarifying tool but don’t forget to try the controls before you buy to ensure they are suitable for you.


A high-nitrogen feed in spring improves grass growth. Feeding with a higher-phosphorus feed in the autumn encourages root development.

  • A wheeled lawn feed applicator gives an even distribution of lawn feed. You can also apply one of the mixes of feed and weedkiller in this way.
  • Soluble feed or weedkiller can be applied using a spray attachment on your hose, or pump-spray and lance. Granular weedkiller can be easier to measure and handle with one hand than liquid forms.

One-handed lawn shears  

One-handed lawn shears

The blades can be adjusted to cut vetically for edging the lawn and horizontally for trimming the grass. These shears can be used with one hand.

Find out more about one-handed lawn shears

Battery powered shears with extension handle  

Battery powered shears with extension handle

These shears can be used with a telescopic extension handle for trimming the lawn, and without the handle for trimming hedges. The blades rotate from horizontal to vertical.

Find out more about battery powered shears with extension handle

Automatic lawnmower  

Automatic lawnmower

This battery-powered rotary mower works on its own, cutting your lawn and mulching the cuttings. The set-up on the lawn includes pegging a thin wire around the perimeter to guide the mower.

Find out more about automatic lawnmower