Choosing a Manual or Towed Lawn Roller

A garden roller is an excellent device to have at our disposal for keeping your lawn in pristine condition - but there are various things to take into consideration to ensure you choose the roller that's right for you.

While it is not the most common of lawn-related tools, a lawn roller is the device you need to help get new grass seed on its way, to flatten bumps and to make your lawn look level and professionally maintained.

It's worth taking some time to carefully consider the various types or roller available - it's certainly not prudent to buy a large and expensive towing roller if the size of your lawn and tasks you wish to undertake make a smaller manual roller a more sensible purchase.

Among the key things to bear in mind when buying a roller are size, material, weight, size of lawn, price and whether a manual or towable roller is your best option. Most rollers are green in colour but other options are grey, black, blue, brown, yellow and red.

The degree of success that can be achieved by using a roller on your lawn is closely related to the weight of the drum on the end of the roller and how well that weight can smooth out the lawn below. The heavier the roller, the more likely it can do a good job of compacting and levelling the soil below.  

With that said, it makes sense that a plastic, poly or steel manual model will typically be lighter in weight than a roller that is attached to a ride-on mower or mini tractor and is pulled along behind across a lawn. The exception to this is concrete, stone or cast iron manual rollers which are extremely heavy, but require a bit of muscle power to push and pull them around a lawn

Having a lighter weight model of roller doesn’t mean it won't do an acceptable job on most small to medium sized lawns - just means that it's unlikely to be as effective in flattening out very uneven soil because it just doesn’t have the weight and leverage to level it as effectively as a heavier device.  

A water or sand-filled poly or metal roller is perfectly capable to tackling the occasional bump or bulge in the lawn, or to get your grass seed initially established, and since that is what most homeowners use it for, then a manual model is certainly fit for purpose.

A benefit of a water-filled roller is that it can be emptied after use, making it very mobile and easy to move to a shed or garage for stores. Many polyethylene or metal rollers have detachable drum support frames and handles, which makes them very compact for storing away in the winter months.

If you have a very large lawn or one which requires some very intensive rolling work carrying out, it may be best to consider buying a heavy duty tow-behind roller which can be attached to a mini tractor or ride-on lawnmower.

Manual and tow-behind rollers come in a variety of drum sizes so it's important to choose one that fits the bill for your lawn size - you will be throwing away hard-earned cash if you buy a roller which is way too big for a standard size of lawn. The working width of roller cylinders ranges from 50cms to 120cms. 30, 35, 45, 60 and 70 litres are popular drum capacities for rollers which can be filled with sand or water. Most drum diameter sizes tend to fall in the 45 to 75 cms range.

Naturally your budget will play a part in determining which garden roller you choose. A cheap plastic manual roller, which will need to be filled with water or sand, will cost around £30 to £40, a tougher polyethylene roller will cost around £50 and a good quality metal roller will set you back anything from around £60 to £120. These are ideal for most domestic lawns which are small to medium in size. 

You will need to have a larger budget is you want to purchase a tow behind roller for use on a large lawn at industrial or commercial premises which have large grassed areas. The same applies in public setting such as playing fields and outdoor sports centres. Prices range from around £130 for a tow-behind roller, such as the Rhyas 40-inch wide steel towing garden roller, to around £300 for the Agri-Fab 45 roller which 36-inch polyethylene rust-resistant roller. 

It's definitely worth checking out a few reviews by previous buyers of popular rollers to help you find one that matches your needs. One thing is for sure - if you buy manual or towed roller that has a good reputation for being durable, efficient and value for money, you'll be investing in a wonderful gardening accessory that you certainly won't regret. 

The humble garden roller is most definitely a low-tech bit of gear in a high-tech world - but it will serve you faithfully for years when it comes to keeping your lawn in tip-top condition.