A lawn roller is a simple tool designed to create a picturesque lawn.
You can use a lawn roller to iron out any lumps caused by raised soil or holes. Hard frost can also move the soil around, and a lawn roller can help neaten things out again if you notice things have gotten a little bumpy.
Lighter rollers are also great for preparing loose soil for reseeding or turfing, and most lawn rollers can be used for creating stripes on the lawn as well.
There is can be quite a lot of variation between different rollers, so the following information should help you find the best lawn roller for your specific garden.
Reasons for Using a Lawn Roller
You can use a lawn roller to flatten earth and prepare topsoil for seeding. When preparing to sow new seed, particularly on fresh earth, frequently rolling the area beforehand will ensure that all of the ground is evenly compacted. This will help prepare the foundations for a level lawn.
Additionally, you can use a garden roller to create stripes on the grass. Whilst some lawn mowers have a rear roller attached that will help create stripes during mowing, many do not. If you already own a lawn mower, but it doesn’t have a rear roller, using a lawn roller is another way to achieve these stripes.
Manual vs Tow-Behind Lawn Rollers
Generally speaking, the best lawn rollers for domestic gardens are manual rollers whilst towable garden rollers suit bigger spaces. However, it’s certainly worth knowing about the different types of lawn roller in a bit more detail.
Manual Lawn Rollers
Manual rollers are well suited to domestic gardens. They can be used by most gardeners and require physical manual force to move them around.
Seeing as these garden rollers aren’t as large as towable mechanical rollers, they are also useful for manoeuvring around trees and other obstacles in the garden.
For bigger gardens up to 750 m² you can probably get away with using a manual lawn roller. Of course, over large spaces using a lawn roller can get tiring. It’s best to get a wide lawn roller for a big lawn, to avoid doing too many passes.
Tow-Behind Lawn Rollers
A tow-behind lawn roller requires a machine to pull it along. As a result, these are large and serious pieces of kit – not a standard tool for a normal garden.
They’re extremely heavy, designed for huge lawns, orchards and small fields. If you have over half an acre of land, you might consider a tow-behind model.
They can be towed by a ride-on mower or garden tractor and obviously take all the hard work out of manually rolling the lawn. However, storage can be an issue due to their size, so these are really best suited to gardeners with a lot of land and some well-sized outbuildings.
Lawn Roller Width and Drum Capacity
Rollers come in various sizes, with variation in roller width and drum capacity.
Lawn Roller Width
The best lawn roller for a large garden will have a wide width. Narrower rollers are ideal if your lawn is smaller with a lot of trees, tight corners, or flower beds to navigate.
For medium/large gardens: a width of around 90 cm is recommended.
For small/medium gardens: a width of around 42 cm will be a lot easier to manoeuvre and navigate around obstacles.
A couple of things come into play when looking at drum capacity.
A high capacity drum means the lawn roller can be made heavier, particularly if filled with sand. This is better for rolling out bumps; however, naturally, a heavier roller will be harder to move around.
A smaller roller, with a maximum capacity of around 30 L, will be best for small to medium size lawns. This will strike a good balance between weight and efficiency. A 30 L drum will weigh approximately 36 kg when filled with water and 60 kg when filled with sand.
These rollers will generally be best suited to rolling soil, a well as flattening down mole hills and levelling out lumps caused by frost.
Rollers with a maximum capacity of around 60 L are best for bigger spaces and smoothing out larger bumps. A 60 L lawn roller will weigh approximately 36 kg when filled with water and 120 kg when filled with sand.
The narrower the garden roller, the more the weight will be concentrated over a smaller area. Therefore, looking for a narrower roller with a large drum capacity can also make sense if you have a lot of flattening to do.
Lawn rollers are generally made from either steel or plastic. There are advantages and disadvantages to having an all steel construction vs a poly plastic roller, which we’ll look at in more depth below.
Steel Lawn Rollers
Steel lawn rollers are heavy and robust. They don’t bend easily and won’t be damaged by stones in the soil. They also offer more weight than poly rollers of the same size. This is because the steel construction weighs more in itself, so even when comparing a steel roller and poly roller of the same capacity, steel will weigh more.
The main disadvantage of steel rollers is the time-old problem of rust. The drum of steel rollers can be prone to rusting down the metal seam where the pieces are welded together. Eventually, this may cause holes and leaking in steel rollers.
Poly Lawn Rollers
Poly plastic lawn rollers are softer on lawns. Some people prefer to use a poly lawn roller because the rounded edges are less abrasive on the lawn’s surface. This is particularly relevant when towing the roller. Using a poly lawn roller with round edges will stop dents and marks being made on the lawn whilst turning.
So, poly lawn rollers can be useful when towed across larger expanses of land, but they can also come in handy in domestic gardens. Smaller poly lawn rollers won’t exert too much pressure on the soil and are great for gardens that just need a light rolling.
Lightweight poly lawn rollers can be used after turfing, for example, when you don’t want to use a heavy roller.
An additional advantage of using a poly lawn roller is that it won’t rust when used frequently with water.
Filling Your Lawn Roller
Not only do you need to choose the right lawn roller, you also need to make sure you can fill it correctly.
A quality lawn roller can be filled with either water or sand.
Filling Your Lawn Roller with Water
Water is lighter than sand and is generally suitable for jobs that don’t require such a heavy weight, like rolling freshly aerated soil.
It’s easy to fill and empty a roller when using water. You can simply fill it using a hosepipe, and then empty it into watering cans, buckets, or flowerbeds when finished. It’s a cheap, hassle-free option because you already have everything at home.
Filling Your Lawn Roller with Sand
Sand is a better option for more demanding jobs.
Rollers with a large capacity (60 L+) can hold a huge amount of sand and become very heavy which is great for really uneven lawns. The disadvantage of sand is that it can be awkward to fill and empty the drum. Plus, will need to purchase the sand in the first place.
If you have a large roller, you might have to purchase over 100 kg of sand. This can be quite difficult to manage, as well as pricey.
Advice when using sand:
- Kiln-dried sand is the best type to use because it is fine and dry. Other sands can be too damp or claggy and make it difficult to fill the drum.
- Use a funnel to fill the drum with sand. Don’t try to do this job when you’re rushed for time – it can take around 40 minutes to fill a 30 L drum (depending on the size of the hole).
- Try using the roller with water first before moving on to sand. If water is sufficient for the job you want to do, it will put less strain on the grass. You want to use the least weight possible.
Back To Contents