Lawn rollers can be used upon laying a new lawn, to compact the topsoil and push down your freshly planted grass seeds. Once your lawn is flourishing, a roller can be used occasionally to eliminate problems such as molehills, worm casts and soil heaving.
Removing these unsightly issues creates a landscaped look, and also preps the area to lay decking or garden buildings. Other benefits to a flat lawn are that it is safer for infants or those with mobility issues, and creates a level playing field for sports and outdoor games.
Rollers are usually made of steel and come with an empty drum, which can be filled with water, sand or concrete, depending on how heavy you want it to be (you should use the lightest roller possible to avoid damaging your lawn). You then push the roller across the grass, leaving a more level lawn in your wake.
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On the surface, many models of lawn roller appear similar, so it can be difficult to know which one to choose. To help you decide on the best lawn roller for you, we’ve selected our top 5, based on factors such as weight, durability, and susceptibility to rusting, and detailed each of them below.
Our favourite lawn roller, with a large diameter drum for high-pressure, effective rolling
This heavy-duty Platinum Garden Roller is made from durable, powder-coated steel, that won’t rust (providing the coating isn’t chipped). It has a foldable handlebar with soft-touch padding around the top for comfortable operation.
The rolling drum is large, both in width (50cm) and diameter (42cm) and provides a high amount of pressure when filled with sand or water. This makes the roller well-suited to both bedding in seeds and levelling out established lawns.
Despite the chunky drum, the roller only weighs 13kg when empty, making it easy to move around. The drum has an effective scraper bar to clean the drum as you roll, and prevent any debris being thrown back onto the lawn.
The main flaw of this roller is one which is common to many similar designs; the filler hole on the drum has a very small diameter, which makes it difficult to fill with sand (although not impossible – it just takes time). This can be helped by using kiln dried sand, which is easier to pour.
Overall, this is an excellent example of a reasonably priced, high-quality lawn roller that will effectively level minor bumps in most lawns, and that comes with a reassuring 12-month warranty should there be any problems.
- Large steel roller for quick and effective rolling.
- Soft feel handlebar for comfortable operation.
- Full-length scraper bar to clean the drum.
- Weighs 13kg when empty – easy to transport.
- 12-month warranty.
- Small hole makes it difficult to fill with sand.
- Prone to minor imperfections in the surface of the roller.
A small steel roller, only suitable for compacting loose topsoil, with an attractive price tag
For a more affordable option, yet still made of durable material, try this Oypla Roller. For a very reasonable price, you get a galvanised steel lawn roller with a 30-litre drum and a built-in scraper bar to remove debris. It also has a collapsible handle for easy storage.
The drum is smaller than the Platinum roller, with a working width of 42cm, and a diameter of 30cm. This makes it more lightweight and manageable, and ideal for smaller gardens. However, it also means it doesn’t apply as much pressure, so it will work best on loose topsoil, rather than an established, ornamental lawn.
Another negative is that the roller isn’t the best quality and can be prone to rust (fill with sand rather than water to help prevent this). It’s also got a similar-sized filling hole to the Platinum (2cm in diameter), which means it takes a while to fill the drum with sand. You won’t find any padding or ‘comfort grip’ on the handle either.
As a small, manageable lawn roller for light use though, this one functions just fine – and you’ll struggle to beat it for value for money.
- Scraper bar to stop debris rolling back onto the grass.
- Compact size is ideal for smaller gardens with loose topsoil.
- Prone to rust.
- Not heavy enough for more established lawns.
- The small hole makes it difficult to fill with sand.
An extra-wide drum makes this galvanised steel roller ideal for large gardens
If you have a lot of ground to cover, you’ll most likely want a wider roller, that will allow you to complete the task more quickly. For larger lawns, the Costway Rolling Tool is the perfect solution.
Made from galvanized steel, this garden roller features a 63-litre drum of 90cm wide, enabling you to level almost twice the width of grass as the Platinum, and more than twice the Oypla, for every length rolled. As with the previous options, you can choose to fill it with either sand or water.
It is worth noting that, despite its large capacity, the diameter of the drum is only 30cm, so it still may not be heavy enough to remove particularly stubborn bumps from established lawns. It’s also the most expensive roller on our list (although not by much).
On the plus side, it’s easy to assemble and only weighs 13kg when empty, so it’s easy to move around and store away. Considering its large size, this is a pretty impressive and helpful feature.
Ultimately, if you have a large garden to maintain, this extra-wide lawn roller will save you a lot of time and effort, so we believe it’s worth the slightly higher investment.
- Made from durable galvanized steel.
- Easy to assemble.
- The extra-wide drum is perfect for large gardens.
- Weighs 13kg when empty, for easy portability.
- 30cm drum diameter might mean it’s not heavy enough for more established lawns.
- More expensive than some similar designs.
- No padding on the handle.
One of the best rollers for bedding in grass seeds and levelling established lawns
This Fox Roller is made from steel and has a 65-litre capacity, in a drum with a 50cm working width and 40cm diameter. The large capacity and diameter of the drum make it perfect for more heavy-duty tasks, such as levelling established or ornamental lawns.
There’s a scraper bar over the drum to keep it clean and prevent leaves and debris from returning to your lawn. It also has a comfort grip handle – a relatively minor detail which nonetheless makes pushing the roller a considerably more pleasant experience.
You can fill the roller with water, sand or cement, although be warned that the drum is prone to leaking when filled with water. The typically small filler hole also makes it awkward to fill with sand, although no more so than any of the rollers on this list.
This is our heaviest lawn roller (especially if filled with cement!) so it’s one we would recommend for only the most heavy-duty of tasks, as it risks over-compacting the soil.
- Large drum diameter of 40cm makes for a heavy roller, suitable for bedding in seeds and flattening established lawns.
- Comfort grip handle.
- Fitted scraper bar.
- Prone to leaking when filled with water.
- Difficult to fill with sand due to the small hole.
A lightweight, mid-range lawn roller with an impressive warranty
A medium-sized, 48-litre drum (69cm wide, 32cm diameter) makes this Wido Roller a good all-rounder for keeping your lawn flat and healthy – although it’s not the best choice for the most hard-core levelling tasks.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about this lawn roller is how little it weighs when empty – at just 9.5kg, it could be a great choice for the elderly or less physically able gardener, or for those who need to regularly transport the roller between lawns.
The roller is made from powder-coated steel and has a built-in scraper bar to stop grass cuttings and debris from going back onto your lawn. A 2-year warranty offers peace of mind in the case of any manufacturing faults.
You can fill the drum with either sand or water, but as usual, it’s not easy to fill with sand due to the small access hole (considering how common this complaint is, it can only a matter of time before manufacturers begin amending their designs). As this is the only real drawback though, we’d still recommend this roller for anyone looking for a good value option.
- Made from sturdy, powder-coated steel.
- Scraper bar to prevent debris returning to the lawn.
- Medium-sized drum makes it a good all-rounder.
- Lightweight and easy to transport.
- 2-year warranty.
- Difficult to fill with sand.
When Should You Use A Lawn Roller?
Firstly, it’s important to mention that it’s not a good idea to roll your lawn too often (certainly not more than annually), as this can overly compact the soil and restrict growth. Equally, if you have severe bumps in your lawn, rolling will not be effective – you will need to add soil to fill the crevices.
Having said this, there are times when using a lawn roller can prove useful. One such time is when planting or laying a new lawn, when you can use a roller to pack down the grass seeds and ensure they’re in the best position to grow.
Once your lawn is established, you might experience small bumps caused by animals – for example, molehills. In these circumstances, you can use a roller to apply pressure and even out the surface, improving the appearance of your lawn, and removing any trip hazards.
During winter, recurring freezing and thawing might cause soil heaving in your lawn (characterised by cracks in the soil and lifted plants). If this happens, you can use a roller at the beginning of spring to help restore the condition of your lawn.
A roller can also be useful to prepare your lawn prior to installing a garden structure or playing outdoor games such as mini-golf and bowling. Should you decide to use your lawn for these purposes, rolling it once in advance will ensure you begin with a level playing field.
How To Roll A Lawn
When rolling a lawn, there are some rules you should follow to ensure you achieve the best results and avoid damaging the soil.
Firstly, choose a roller that is the correct weight for your type of lawn and intended purpose. Using too heavy a roller can overly compact the soil, leading to the grass being starved of the air and water it needs for growth.
Once you’ve selected your lawn roller, assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions (this is generally a fairly quick and straightforward process, involving bolting a few parts, such as the handle, in place).
Next, fill the drum with water or sand to achieve your desired weight. For compacting topsoil or bedding in seeds, water should be fine. If you want to level out an established lawn, you might consider using sand to apply more pressure. Make sure to use kiln dried sand, so that you can easily pour it into the filler hole.
Choose a time to roll your lawn when the ground is damp enough to allow seeds and roots to be pushed in, but not so saturated that the soil will be overly compacted. Refrain from using a roller on clay soil, for the same reason.
To roll your lawn, begin in one corner, and push the roller over the entire length. Work methodically to cover your whole lawn, ensuring that you only roll each area once. Look back to admire your smooth, well-maintained lawn.