If you saw someone rolling an enormous metal cylinder on their grass using a two-pronged handle, pushing this thing out in front of them while they slowly walk, you might think you've fallen into some kind of a time warp. But this is a lawn roller and actually, it has a pretty useful purpose.
You might even have occasion to use a lawn roller, at some point. If you do, you're going to need something that looks a lot like a metal cylinder with a simple handle.
Because as simple as it looks, the lawn roller is a sophisticated piece of equipment, and the kind you use really does make a difference. Many different factors go into choosing the best lawn rollers for your specific lawn needs.
What Does a Lawn Roller Do?
They actually do look like steamrollers, which are heavy pieces of equipment used for smoothing out asphalt. But lawn rollers are specifically designed for grass and not hard pavement or driveways. They can be pushed or pulled across grass to help complete a number of tasks.
Levels the Soil
Lawn rollers can smooth out the soil, leveling the ground. This repairs damage done by burrowing creatures, such as moles and gophers. It can also make the lawn more smooth for walking and playing outdoor games, such as bean bag toss or croquet.
A more flat, level lawn is much easier to enjoy. This goes for landscaping and garden areas, which can be much easier to work with if they're nice and level first. A more level lawn will look much nicer overall. The eye is naturally drawn to imperfections and automatically notices them.
It's like when everything in a room is perfect except for a single picture on the wall that's just a little bit crooked. That's the thing you see. A smooth, level lawn creates a harmonious landscape that's just more pleasing overall.
If you've ever planted new grass seed, you know what a chore it can be and how difficult it is to get that seed to take root. New grass seed is truly some of the most fragile and vulnerable stuff anywhere.
Birds and critters of all kinds will eat it right up if they get the chance, which means those seeds never get to root and grow in your soil. This is where a lawn roller comes in so handy.
The roller tamps those seeds down into the soil, where they'll be more likely to take root and begin to sprout. Since they're pressed down into the dirt, it's harder for birds and critters to get to them.
Lays Out Sod
If you're laying down brand-new sod, a lawn roller is a valuable ally. It can press down the sod, helping to ensure better contact between it and the soil below. This will also help the sod placement. It will be smoother and more level so it will grow more beautifully.
Well-placed sod will take root and begin to grow naturally and healthily to give you the lush, green lawn you want. Sod that isn't so well-placed will be patchy and unhealthy, leaving you with a bumpy, lumpy, and uneven lawn.
When Shouldn't You Use One?
A lawn roller can be an extremely useful tool for improving your lawn. But like everything else, it doesn't always have a positive effect. There are times when using one could do more harm than good.
If you use a lawn roller on your grass during the summer, for example, it can actually cause it to dry out and create dead and dying patches on the lawn. You don't want to go through a lengthy lawn treatment and end up causing a lot of damage.
On the other end of the weather, you shouldn't use a lawn roller if the soil is very wet. Wet soil is easier to compact, which is not what you want. The soil will get overly condensed. This means less air will get to it, which will again harm the health of the grass.
Compacted soil makes conditions tough for plants, which have difficulty expanding their roots in the denser conditions. This is why garden soil usually needs to be dug up and turned at least once a year to maintain good health.
The best time to use a lawn roller is on a mild, dry spring or fal day. The ground should be just a little bit damp, not wet and not dry. You can dampen the soil a bit with a sprinkler or hose as needed, but remember that you don't want the ground to be muddy.
Types of Lawn Rollers
Now that you know what they do, you might know that you need to use a lawn roller for your next big outdoor project. But that's when things get tricky. There are lots of options to consider and a lot to know about lawn rollers. The less you know about these devices, the more harm you could be doing to your lawn by picking the wrong one.
The broad strokes of lawn rollers are fairly basic. First, you'll have to choose between a push or a pull option. Both of these options are pretty straightforward. Either you push the roller out in front of you or you pull it behind you using some other device. Push lawn rollers are powered manually, which means that you're the one pushing them as you walk.
Next, you have to choose between a manual lawn roller or one that hooks up to a tractor. This all depends on the size of your lawn and whether or not you have access to a tractor, obviously.
If you maintain a very large lawn space and have access to a tractor, it'll save you a lot of time to find a lawn roller than connects to this piece of equipment. If you're working on a more standard home or business lawn, this might not be necessary. A simple manual lawn roller should be more than enough to do the trick.
Lawn rollers are typically made with either one material or a combination of steel and polyurethane. Steel is, of course, an extremely tough metal that is known for being durable and heavy.
Polyurethane is a synthetic plastic-like material that is also very durable but lighter in weight. Polyurethane lawn rollers are easier to store by nature because they're lighter.
Size and weight are significant factors for landscaping. If your lawn roller is too heavy, it can damage your lawn. However, it needs to be heavy enough to level your lawn and do its job. This is a rather delicate balancing act, and the decision might come down to the quality of your soil. If it's tough and lumpy, you might need a heavier option.
Weight also matters because you may have to push or pull the lawn roller across your lawn. You need to make sure you can physically do this
All these factors are a lot to consider but it's worth it to get the best tools for your beautiful outdoor space.
Choosing a Lawn Roller
Most steel lawn rollers are between 24 and 60 inches wide. Rollers made from steel are more stable on hillsides and more durable on rocky terrain. They don't puncture easily, so they can handle rough and rocky ground.
Steel lawn rollers are filled with water to make them heavier, so they'll effectively press into the soil and level out the ground. If your lawn is very bumpy, a steel lawn roller may be the only choice you really have. They're very tough and go in a straight line across uneven ground very well.
However, they don't turn easily. They're difficult to use in tight, small spaces and in areas where it's necessary to maneuver. They're also heavy, which can pose a physical challenge.
Polyurethane lawn rollers are somewhat smaller, typically 24 to 48 inches in length. Unlike steel, they don't rust. They are more maneuverable as well, so you can navigate more easily around trees, garden beds, and other lawn features. You can fill polyurethane lawn rollers with either water or sand to add more weight to them.
This may be the more practical option for smaller lawns, particularly lawns that have a lot of features and areas that require you to move around them. Rocks and debris can potentially puncture polyurethane lawn rollers, however.
Tow-behind lawn rollers can be connected to lawnmowers, which can be an elegant solution for tending to large areas, since you can cover two tasks at once.
This will only work, though, if the roller isn't too heavy for the mower. Anything that's more than 300 pounds shouldn't be pulled behind a lawn tractor or a lawnmower. This could damage both pieces of equipment.
Tow-behind lawn rollers also shouldn't be used on inclines of more than 10 degrees. On an incline of any degree, you need to tow rollers across hills, not up or down them.
Always use caution when operating machinery, no matter how simple that machinery may be. If you lose control of a lawn roller in front of you and suddenly have hundreds of pounds of water and steel barreling toward you, it could be a life-threatening situation.
Safety Note: Never push or pull a lawn roller up or down a hill. Go across, always.
Lawn rollers can weigh up to 100 pounds even when totally empty, which is already pretty intense. A large steel lawn roller can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds when fully filled.
Choosing the Best Lawn Rollers
Now that you know more about lawn rollers, what they do, and how they work, you should have some ideas about how to pick the right one based on your lawn needs and the size of your space.
According to reviewers, some lawn roller models stand out above other available options. Rollers by Brinly Hardy are very highly rated among consumers. Their tow-behind models are easy to use, well built, and highly popular with consumers.
S Afstar and Goplus also make highly-rated lawn rollers that many consumers and reviewers favor. Keep an eye out for these brands when you're looking for a trusted name.
Make sure to check the weight, material, and size stats when you’re choosing a lawn roller. All these things make a big difference, both to your lawn and your back.
Protecting Your Healthy Lawn
Lawn rollers do some specific jobs very well because they're specialized tools. However, you won’t need to use them very often to maintain a healthy lawn.
If you’re planting new grass seed or laying new sod, of course, it helps to have one around. But most of the time, you won’t need a lawn roller at all. For that reason, it's not a bad idea to share one with neighbors or friends, or to consider renting a roller just a few times a year.
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