Garden rollers are wonderful devices for getting your lawn looking just the way you want it - but it's important to choose one which best suits your needs.
Rollers fall into two main categories - the type which is pulled or pushed along a lawn manually and the type which is towed behind a ride-on mower, mini tractor or other suitable vehicle.
The size of your garden will play a big part in deciding which roller is best for you - a push or pull along roller is suitable for most gardening enthusiasts with a small or medium-sized lawn. However, if you have a very large lawn you may be better off with a tow behind roller, assuming you have a suitable method of transport to pull it along.
There are various types of push-pull rollers which come in a range of sizes, weight and materials - equally there are several types of tow behind rollers to choose from. Let's take a closer look at the options available to you.
Plastic Garden Roller
These are very cheap to buy - often under £30 - and are perfectly adequate for most people with a standard-sized garden who do not need an extremely large or heavy roller. They are great for rolling areas of a lawn which has just been re-seeded to bed the seed in or for levelling freshly tiled soil in advance of adding seed with a lawn spreader. Most people fill the roller drum on this type or roller to provide the weight required - however, filling with sand via the side filler cap is also an option. These plastic rollers are ideal for light jobs in domestic homes but are not really up to very demanding work on large lawns or building sites. A benefit of this type of roller is that you can drain the water from it after use so it can be moved easily and stored away in a shed or garage.
Poly Garden Roller
The drum on these rollers is made from extra strong polyethylene material, making them more robust and durable than standard plastic push-along rollers. These devices are more expensive than basic plastic rollers and, once again, can be filled with water or sand. They are available as manual push rollers or tow behind rollers. A very popular range of towing polyethylene rollers are made by Agri-Fab - these are perfect for lawn levelling and packing down freshly laid turf sods. They are also rustproof and feature rounded edges to prevent the roller leaving any ruts in your lawn. If you fill a poly roller with water, using your garden hose, you can drain it out after use so it is easy to store away.
Steel Garden Roller
This is a popular choice of material for a garden roller which is available to buy as a manual or tow-along device. Steel rollers are excellent at packing down freshly sown seed and newly-laid turf. They are also very effective at correcting mounds on a lawn which have been caused by moles or winter frost heaves. Steel rollers are more durable than plastic rollers and their heavy-duty design offers additional pressure for levelling lawns. Many feature a handy scraper bar which keeps the drum free of any debris while rolling. Popular makes of steel rollers include the German-built Al-Ko GW50 Garden Roller which costs around £100. This can be filled for ballasting with sand or water and has an impressive 50cms working width. The Handy Garden Roller, which is a bit cheaper at around £50, is another big seller which achieves great results - it weighs around 72kg when filled with water and 120kg when filled with sand. It features soft grip folding handles.
Cast Iron Garden Roller
This type of roller was commonplace many years ago, but they are much harder to find these days - you'll find them being sold on eBay as antique tools for collectors. Old cast iron rollers are extremely heavy and robust, meaning they do a great job of levelling a lawn and bedding in new grass seeds to stop hungry birds eating them - these rustic rollers also look great as an ornamental garden feature.
Concrete Garden Roller
Concrete or stone lawn rollers, like their cast iron counterparts, are much harder to come by these days but if you come across one you can rest assured it will be incredibly heavy and capable levelling any lawn. The weight of this type or roller means it can be difficult to manoeuvre manually, so hooking it up to a ride-on mower, if possible, is a good idea.