Best Push Mowers of 2023 [Reviews]
From old-fashioned reel cutters to high-tech electric motors, the push lawn mower is a staple tool of the urban and suburban household. With so many options out there, what are the best push mowers on the market?
We did the research to help you pick the best push lawn mower for your yard. We looked at the power, width of cutting deck, weight, special features, customer reviews, and price to come up with our list of the Top 10 Best Push Lawn Mowers. We’ve included a buyers guide and FAQ about push mowers, too.
What is a push lawn mower? Also known as walk-behind mowers, push mowers are the most popular way to keep small- to medium-sized lawns in shape. For yards under an acre in size, push mowers are an economical alternative to riding mowers.
Push lawn mowers cost anywhere from 50 to 1,000. We highlight push mowers here from all price ranges to give you the best choice in every class:
Speaking of economical lawn care equipment, new advancements in battery technology have led to a surge in electric mower production. These green machines can last for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, more than enough time to cover a typical suburban lawn.
In this article, we’ll review mowers in a number of different categories. From fancy self-propelled machines to budget-friendly options, the mowers on this list are the most reliable and best-reviewed products on the market.
To make it easy to compare prices, we also have listed multiple buying options, when available.
Top 10 Push Mowers — Reviews
|1. Best Gas Mower: Craftsman M105|
|2. Best Self-Propelled Gas Mower: Honda HRX 217VKA|
|3. Best Battery-Powered Mower: Greenworks 40V 16-Inch Mower|
|4. Best Self-Propelled Electric Mower: EGO Power 21-Inch Select Cut|
|5. Best Corded Electric Mower: Black Decker MM2000|
|6. Best Budget Mower: SunJoe MJ401-E|
|7. Best Reel Mower: American Lawn Mower Co. 1204|
|8. Best String-Style Mower: Black Decker 3-in-1 Cordless|
|9. Gas Mower: PowerSmart 21-Inch Mower|
|10. Runner-up Electric Mower: Snapper XD 82V MAX|
Best Gas Mower: Craftsman M105
If you’re looking for an affordable gas-powered mower, and don’t want to pay extra for features you won’t use, the Craftsman M105 is a surefire pick. It’s not the fanciest machine on the market, but its reliability, durability, and affordability separate it from the pack.
The 21-inch cutting deck and light weight make the Craftsman M105 one of the most efficient machines for the price. With an automatic choke, it starts with a single pull. The 6-inch front wheels and 7-inch rear wheels are equipped with heavy-duty zag-tread tires to tackle difficult terrain. The M105 can be set to side discharge, bag, or mulch clippings. Craftsman recommends this mower for suburban yards up to 11,000 square feet.
Power Source: 140cc gas engineDeck Width: 21 inchesDeck Height: 1.25-3.75 inchesMulching: YesBag Included: No; available for 10 extraPrice Range: Moderate
✓ Lightweight✓ Easy assembly✓ Extra oil included
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mowers for 2023
As we once again approach the mowing season, OPE Reviews wants to offer its recommendations for the best battery-powered lawn mowers in 2023. These mowers have really improved to the point where they work great on large lawns. Of course, anyone with a smaller lawn can also benefit. No matter what your intended use for a battery-powered lawnmower might be, our Pros give their thoughts and tell you which ones they love to use.
If for some reason your favorite mower isn’t listed—tell us why you think it should be included in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below!
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mower – What We Look For
Power to Cut Grass
With brushless motors, testing lawnmower power becomes more challenging. This is due to the ability of these motors to adjust power to meet the load on the cutting blade. To get a sense of real-world power, we cut an overgrown section of grass to around 4-inches and then see how short we can cut it.
The best battery-powered lawn mowers can cut these curated sections of grass at the lowest cutting positions without stalling out. It really lets us know how much working power the mower has.
Runtime and Cutting Area
Determining runtime on a battery-powered lawn mower combines several different metrics. We need to understand how much area we can cut on a single charge. To do this, we prepare our lawn by cutting it to a standard height. Then, we see how long we can mow on one battery charge as we cut it down to 3 inches.
Once we know that, we calculate the maximum area you should be able to mow without having to stop and change or recharge the batteries.
Quality of Cut
We test three basic things to determine the cut quality of each battery-powered mower. We look at the evenness of the cut, bagging efficiency, and the mower’s mulching efficiency.
To gauge evenness, we look for blades that stick out along a cut line. We also observe areas that may have been cut shorter than intended.
Measuring bagging efficiency looks at how much grass the mower leaves behind compared to how much it collects in the bag. Run three mowers over a similar section of grass, and the bags will likely tell very different stories as to how much grass gets collected.
Mulching efficiency takes in consideration the size of the grass clippings dropped by the mower as it makes a pass. It also looks to see if the lawnmower leaves behind any clumping or trailing along the path.
To understand how much noise each battery-powered lawn mower makes, we use an SPL meter set to slow response, A-weighted. In an open area, we measure the recorded decibels taken from a 5-foot, 8-inch operator’s ear.
We consider the quality of the battery-powered lawn mower by looking at the materials used. We also observe how well the mower is put together and how each major component physically functions. We’re looking for solid parts that will last well beyond the warranty period, rigid construction, and ample protection for any electrical components including the battery pack(s).
Mowing on Hills and Slopes
In Florida, we don’t encounter many slopes, but we do have access to some hilly terrain. We also encounter many lakes—most of which have sloped sides. And, of course, nearly every property out in the county has proximity to drainage ditches. We check both push mowers and self-propelled models to check how well they maintain traction when mowing uphill, downhill, and side-to-side along a pitch.
In addition to any standout features, here’s a list of the standard items we look for:
- Brushless motor
- Drive type and function
- Deck size and material
- Height range and adjustment
- Handle positions
- Rear/side discharge and bagging options
- Battery ports and functionality
Price and Value
Our professional reviewers really appreciate value. To us, value means more than just the price of a product. It combines what you pay against what you get. A more expensive product may present the best battery-powered lawn mower value if it performs far better than the budget brands.
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mower Buying Guide
As you’re deciding on the best battery lawn mower for you in 2023, consider how far these outdoor tools have come. Today’s battery-powered lawn mowers provide longer run-time, better cutting performance, and vastly improved features and ergonomics over the first models we started seeing back in 2014.
What’s Your Budget?
While you can buy a battery lawn mower for under 300, plan to spend at least 500 if you want something that comes from a reputable manufacturer and has features like a self-propelled mechanism. If you want premium features, expect that price to hit or exceed 700 (and Pro models can go even higher).
Looking back at gas lawnmowers, this may give you pause. After all, you can typically find a gas mower for a lot less money. You might even get something that has more power and additional features. The best battery-powered lawn mowers are more about what you don’t get: Noise, emissions, and yearly winterization hassles and costs.
Are Battery Riding Mowers Viable?
Several zero-turn and riding mowers exist in both the consumer and professional markets. Professional landscaping crews have options such as the Greenworks Lithium Z zero turn (they also have a battery-powered UTV). You can also look got brands like Green Machine.
Homeowners have many more choices. Brands like EGO, Ryobi, Greenworks, Cub Cadet, and others crowd the field—giving you lots of great choices. That wasn’t the case just several years ago.
We’ve reviewed many of these battery-powered zero-turn mowers. The downside comes in the form of potential increased up-front costs compared to similar gas ZTs. A second potential issue comes with charge times. One of the fastest charge times to date comes from Greenworks. Their ZTs use external dual battery chargers to top off batteries in just 90 minutes. For many other ZTs you might have to wait several hours to recharge all of the packs. That’s far longer than refilling a gas zero-turn lawn mower!
A third factor to consider involves longevity. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers are fairly new-to-market. That means we don’t yet fully understand the long-term maintenance or repair issues and required to keep these tools running for extended periods of time. Users of gas-powered ZTs can keep their tools running for 10 years or more with regular maintenance. With a fully-electric power plant, we simply don’t know what kind of service life to expect—even with proper maintenance routines.
Residential or Commercial Quality?
On the surface, there’s not a huge difference between commercial quality and residential quality walk-behind battery lawn mowers.
High-end battery-powered mowers match or exceed the power of comparable gas-powered mowers. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL lawn mower notably demonstrated more power than a popular commercial gas mower in recent testing. The EGO Select Cut XP —technically a residential model—also bests many gas models in our testing.
Commercial battery mowers add design and features that meet the needs of professional landscapers. Steel and aluminum decks come to mind as do more rigid methods of adjusting deck height. Pros also demand the best cut quality and excellent bagging performance. Lastly, mowers designed for landscaping professionals must be ready to operate for longer periods of time—and for multiple days of the week.
Brands such as STIHL, Makita, and Husqvarna—to name a few—rely on their dealer networks rather than big box stores. You get additional support during and after the sale that you won’t find at other retailers.
Battery-powered riding mowers are a completely different ballgame. With those, you’ll find a much greater difference in Pro-vs-residential design and performance, along with a massive gap in cost.
Self-Propelled or Push Mower?
Self-propelled drives don’t subtract much from overall runtime. If you can afford this feature, we recommend getting it. Rather than simply on or off controls, look for variable speed that lets you dial in a top speed and then vary your pace within that range. EGO, Milwaukee Tool, Ryobi, and others offer this feature. You may also want to try out the controls in the store or dealership before buying it. We can typically get a good feel for the ergonomics of a mower after playing with it for a few minutes.
Look for a mower that disengages its drive easily when you want to pull the mower back. Some systems have a hard time disengaging the self-propelled motor. These mowers require you to drag the drive wheels rather than letting them roll.
Classic push mowers also have their place—especially if you’re on a budget. These mowers typically drop 100 off the price of a comparable self-propelled mower and they cut just as well and with slightly higher runtime.
Bag, Mulch, or Side Discharge?
No matter if you tend to mulch or bag, we recommend getting a mower that has all three modes (including side discharge). There are times when you can use each throughout the year to your advantage.
The Ryobi AWD mower has an interesting integrated lever/gate system for switching between bagging and mulching modes. We love not having to remember where we placed the mulching plug! Nearly all push mowers include a bagging option—so figuring out rear or side discharge remains about the only decision here.
Deck and Blade Size
All of the best battery-powered lawn mowers use 21-inch blades for the most part. A couple have 20-inch blades and some vary in how they take that measurement. We appreciate brands that list the actual blade diameter (like Makita) as opposed to simply stating the deck diameter. The latter has no bearing on the cutting swatch.
Smaller push mowers work really well for tiny lawns or gardens. We know a gentleman who preferred a small 16-inch mower because he had to carry it up and down the stairs to mow his tiny backyard!
For those looking for a larger deck, both Greenworks Commercial and Greenworks Pro 60V have 25-inch mowers. Ryobi also just released a 30-inch riding mower that fits through gates—even with a bagger installed! Residential battery-powered riding mowers currently go up to 54 inches or larger while you can find commercial models with up to 74-inch decks.
Larger deck sizes really help when mowing lawns larger than 1/3-acre in size. When mowing a lawn less than that, standard 20- or 21-inch decks work really well.
Deck Height Adjustment and Cutting Height Range
Most consumers set their height once and leave it alone after that. Single-point height adjustments make it easy to adjust your cutting height. It’s certainly easier than adjusting each wheel manually.
Pros typically prefer 2 or 4-point adjustments. What they really want are stiff decks that don’t rock while you cut so that you get an even cut across any lawn. A 4-point height adjustment system offers the most rigid solution. This one is really about preference.
The majority of battery-powered lawnmowers have all the height range you need to cover a wide variety of grass species. If you prefer to cut at heights over 3-1/2 inches or under 2 inches, just double check that the mower you’re looking at has that option.
Multiple Battery Ports
When mowing lawns over 1/3 of an acre, you may benefit from multiple battery ports. We typically see three ways lawnmowers utilize these ports:
- The second storage port acts as a battery holder
- An active second port includes a manual switch for engaging the second battery
- Two active battery ports include automatic switching where you can use either port while mowing
Automatic switching seems to be common—and certainly the most convenient. You find this option on the higher-priced mowers. While we prefer that over manually switching or swapping batteries, it does save you from having to return to the garage, shed, or trailer to get another battery.
Why Buy a Battery-Powered Lawn Mower?
The best battery-powered lawn mower for you should get your lawn cut on one charge. No matter which model that is, they all share some common characteristics. There are no gas emissions and no gas engine to maintain. You still need to clean it off when you’re done, but the maintenance is much easier and takes less time.
They’re also quieter. The early bird gets the worm and if you want to start mowing at 7:00 on Saturday morning, your neighbors can probably sleep through it. of a night owl? Many battery-powered mowers have headlights, and you’re unlikely to disturb your neighbor’s Lord of the Rings marathon at 10:00 PM.
Those are some of the more obvious reasons, but one of our favorites is the ability to put the battery in and mow. There’s no cranking, no choke, and no fuel cut-off valve. As long as you have enough batteries to get the entire lawn cut, it’s an easier system to work with than gas.
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mower Overall
Pro Pick: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
The Milwaukee lawn mower simply prioritizes power above all. With a full 10 ft-lbs of torque (roughly exceeding a 200cc gas engine), the M18 Fuel self-propelled lawn mower can start up while nearly buried in grass. It is the strongest battery-powered walk-behind we’ve had our hands on for testing to date. It runs off a pair of 12.0Ah batteries, running as much as 60 minutes in light conditions. We clocked over 40 minutes when doing some major grass-cutting (removing 4 – 6 inches of growth).
With that said, the mower doesn’t come without some glitches. The drive bar introduces some thumb fatigue, for example. In the end, we found we could adjust our natural grip to overcome most of the strain when mowing for extended periods of time.
Milwaukee Tool designed this mower to handle professional use while offering the convenience of single-point height adjustments and vertical storage.
Price: 999 for the kit with two 12.0Ah batteries and a dual-port Rapid charger
Residential Pick: EGO 56V Select Cut XP 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
The EGO Select Cut XP Mower built upon the original EGO Select Cut mower—an instant favorite of ours with its stacked-blade system and solid performance level to go with its excellent cut quality. EGO stepped it up with the release of the Select Cut XP, taking everything we already loved and stepping up the torque to 8.3 ft-lbs. It can still use some help on the side/rear discharge, but if you bag or mulch like most people, it’s tough to find a better mower to maintain your lawn.
Price: 549 bare, 799 with a 10.0Ah battery and Rapid charger
Best Self-Propelled Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
As self-propelled models, our recommendations from Milwaukee and EGO top the charts in this category, too. Here are two more outstanding options for you.
Pro Pick: Makita ConnectX 21-inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
One of the biggest challenges with any battery-powered lawn mower is runtime. Makita put that problem squarely in its crosshairs and developed the ConnectX system. Unlike other designs, the 1200Wh power supply attaches directly to the top of the mower, offering more than 3x the capacity of most cordless mowers and running up to 3 hours continuously.
Similar to the 18V X2 (36V) XML08, the mower tops out at 2800 RPM with a 2300 RPM Quiet Mode and has a true 21-inch steel deck.
Price: 999.00 bare, ~1399.00 power supply (2348.00 for both)
Residential Pick: Ryobi 40V HP Brushless CrossCut 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Ryobi crushed it with the development of the 40V HP Brushless CrossCut self-propelled lawn mower, making huge strides over its previous generation of mowers. Matching up very well against EGO’s Select Cut XP, it’s a stacked blade design that offers excellent power and cut quality. Where it has a clear advantage over its competitors is on the side discharge. This mower distributes clippings far better than other battery-powered lawn mowers we’ve tested. Plus, Ryobi builds this mower in the US using global materials, and the kit is typically priced less than the EGO Select Cut XP mower.
Price: 749 with two 6.0Ah batteries and a Rapid charger
Best Battery-Powered Commercial Lawn Mower
Milwaukee and Makita both earned our recommendations as the top overall battery-powered lawn mowers on the commercial side. Greenworks Commercial is another brand worth considering thanks to improvements in its 25-inch model heading into the year.
Greenworks Commercial 82V 25-inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
The big deal for Greenworks Commercial is an improvement in power. The 25-inch mower now has the performance equivalent to a 160cc gas engine. Aside from that and a change in the color scheme, it’s still very similar to the previous version with side-by-side blades that overlap to cover a larger area without losing a ton of battery efficiency.
The entire Greenworks Commercial line got an overhaul coming into this year with tools that are lighter and higher performing, making it one of the emerging systems to keep an eye on as more areas of the country shift to battery power.
Best Cordless Push Lawn Mower
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless CrossCut 21-Inch Push Lawn Mower
If you don’t want a self-propelled drive system or you’re looking to save a little money, you can get a quality push mower with similar performance and features to the top models we already mentioned. Of those options, Ryobi’s CrossCut is our pick as the best battery-powered push mower. Essentially, it just removes the drive system and keeps the performance, cut quality, and other features, along with its US-built designation.
Price: 599.00 with a 7.5Ah battery and Rapid charger
Best Cordless Mower for Small Lawns
Skil PWRCore 20 18-inch Lawn Mower
The joy of a small lawn is that it doesn’t take long to cut and you can go with a smaller mower that takes up less space. A 17 or 18-inch deck is great for that kind of lawn. The good news is, you don’t have to sacrifice all the features of larger mowers to get.
Our top pick is the Skil PWRCore 20 18-inch lawn mower. It has the benefits of a brushless motor, folds up for vertical storage, and its 20V batteries are compatible with Skil’s entire line of PWRCore 20 lawn and power tools.
Price: 299 with two 4.0Ah batteries and a dual-port charger.
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mower for Large Lawns
Greenworks Pro 60V 25-inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
In our testing, the Greenworks Commercial 25-inch mower earned our pick as the best battery-powered lawn mower for large lawns. Currently, no one else comes close to its 25-inch cutting width in a walk-behind. With the pair of 4.0Ah batteries in the kit, we were able to cut for over an hour, easily covering a 1/2-acre. With a 599.00 price tag when you buy direct from Greenworks, it’s an excellent value, too!
Once you get close to 3/4 of an acre, you might want to consider a battery-powered riding mower.
Best Battery-Powered Riding Lawn Mower
Residential: EGO 52-Inch Residential ZT Mower (ZT4204L)
The EGO Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower shook up what you can expect from a battery-powered riding mower in 2021. This year, they’re stepping it up a level with a 52-inch fabricated deck and power equivalent to a 25HP gas engine. It keeps the comfort and refined controls of the original model, making the “Tesla of ZTs” even better.
Price: 6999 with six 12.0Ah batteries and onboard charger.
Commercial: Mean Green 74-inch EVO Zero Turn Mower
Mean Green is pushing the envelope further with a 74-inch deck on its flagship EVO ZTR. It delivers an impressive cutting width and day-long 8-hour max runtime. Combined with a 13 MPH top speed and 37 HP equivalent power, this is the battery-powered riding mower to get when you have a lot of property to cut.
There are a lot of accessories to choose from—including a solar canopy! Mean Green certainly lets you customize the mower to suit your particular commercial needs.
All of this innovation comes at a cost, though. You’re looking at a minimum of 28,500 to get in and closing in on 35,000 if you want the most runtime. That’s before you add accessories.
Best Budget Cordless Lawn Mower
EGO 56V 21-inch Self-Propelled Mower LM2102SP
If you’re shopping with a sub-400 budget, you don’t have access to the top-tier mowers, but you’re still in a range that has quality options. You can find budget self-propelled models in this price range, but we suggest stepping up in overall quality with the EGO LM2101 push mower.
It has a 5.0Ah battery that can run up to 45 minutes and covers a 1/4-acre lot well. You get single-point height adjustments, 3-in-1 discharge options, and vertical storage with a better build than most mowers in the same price range. When it comes to getting the best value battery-powered lawn mower, this is it.
Price: 399 with 5.0Ah battery and charger
Best Battery-Powered Lawn Mower: Options From Brands We Trust
Best DeWALT Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
DeWALT made some big improvements from its first-generation 2 x 20V self-propelled mower to the second. The DeWALT DCMWSP244 has far better runtime, low noise levels (even for cordless), and the build is sturdy. There are still some quirks in this one, though, and it’s not for everyone.
Price: 599 with two 10.0Ah batteries and charger.
Best Greenworks Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
If you like the design of the Greenworks 60V 25-inch mower, but don’t have a ton of lawn to maintain or want a smaller storage footprint, check out the Greenworks 60V 21-inch self-propelled mower. It’s effectively the same foundation and uses a single blade.
Price: 749.99 with two 4.0Ah batteries and a dual-port Rapid charger
Best Echo Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
Echo phased out its 58V battery lineup in favor of a completely new 56V eForce line (sorry, the old batteries are not compatible with the new tools) and that includes the revised Echo DLM-2100 lawn mower. This 21-inch self-propelled mower includes a 5.0Ah battery and charger in the kit.
Best EGO Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
For all the reasons we mentioned above and more, the EGO Select Cut XP is our pick for the best EGO battery-powered lawn mower.
Price: 549 bare, 849 with a 10.0Ah battery and Rapid charger
Best HART Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
HART stepped up big-time in the lawn and garden department this year with several new mowers to choose from. Our favorite is the HART 40V brushless 21-inch self-propelled mower (HLPM061US) for several reasons. It’s stronger and runs longer thanks to the pair of 6.0Ah batteries in the kit. It has a full 3-in-1 mulching/bagging/side discharge design, stores vertically, and has a beefier build than previous HART models. To top it all off, this one is made in the USA using global materials.
Price: 598 with two 6.0Ah batteries and a Rapid charger
Best Husqvarna Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
The Husqvarna 20-inch self-propelled lawn mower features a commercial-grade aluminum deck as well as a front bar to protect the battery/motor housing. The W520i notably is compatible with a battery backpack. It doesn’t fit as cleanly as the Makita ConnectX mower since you still need to run an adapter into the battery slots, but it does take the weight off of your back and keep you from being tethered. It also has a higher-than-normal cutting range that tops out at 4.5 inches.
Best Kobalt Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
Kobalt is quietly still making excellent battery-powered lawn mowers and the 80V line is where its performance peaks. The Kobalt 80V 21-inch mower (a rear-wheel-drive system) sports an upgrade to the handle system that makes folding it forward for vertical storage easier. In addition to its excellent cutting power, Kobalt also makes efficient use of its batteries, running up to 60 minutes with a 6.0Ah battery. Plus, its high 4 1/8-inch top cutting height is great for tall grass species and reclaiming neglected areas.
Price: 749 with two 4.0Ah batteries and a charger
Best Makita Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
If Makita’s ConnectX lawn mower is a little too high-priced for your budget, give the Makita XML08 lawn mower a shot. It has a very similar commercial-grade build and feature set while running on the 18V X2 (36V) system that’s compatible with Makita’s largest line of OPE and power tools. With room onboard for four batteries, you can still cover a decent area. Oddly, it’s not uncommon for the four-battery kit to be priced less than the bare tool.
Price: 899 (look for discounts) with four 5.0Ah batteries and dual-port Rapid charger
Best Milwaukee Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
There’s only one Milwaukee M18 FUEL lawn mower, but it’s a good one! Check out more in our review (click the headline) or read our summary above.
Price: 1099 with two 12.0Ah batteries and a dual-port Rapid charger
Best Ryobi Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
For the reasons we stated earlier, the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless CrossCut mower is their top battery-powered model currently.
Price: 799 with two 6.0Ah batteries and a Rapid charger
Best Skil Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
We see a lot of value with the Skil 40V self-propelled lawn mower. Running on the stronger PWRCore 40 line, this brushless mower has excellent all-around performance and cut-quality characteristics compared to others in the same price range. If you’re shopping in the sub-500 class, Skil has the best budget self-propelled lawn mower available.
Price: 399.99 with a 5.0Ah battery and Rapid charger
Best STIHL Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
STIHL has been a little more cautious in entering the battery-powered lawn mower market and upgraded the line with a couple of self-propelled models. Of the two available, the STIHL RMA 510 V is your top performer. It features a 21-inch steel deck (20-inch blade) with a tougher build than the 460 series and its 3.9-inch top cutting height is appropriate for taller grass species. The one downside is that this model runs through batteries quickly compared to other self-propelled mowers.
Price: 509.99 bare, 729.99 with AP 300 battery and charger
Best Toro Battery-Powered Lawn Mower
The first-generation Toro Flex Force 60V lawn mowers were excellent, though not quite able to compete with the best of the best. A new generation of 60V Max Super Recycler 21-inch self-propelled mowers is on its way with a sleek black color scheme and the promise of serious upgrades. The two models (one with and one without headlights) FOCUS on high airflow, excellent power, a Flex Handle suspension system, and a durable build. Along with all that improvement comes a steeper price tag, though.
Price: 649 bare, 799 with 7.5Ah battery and charger
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Best Manual Push Mowers – The one I’d buy
The scissoring action of a manual push mower is unique to these mowers. It’s great for the health of your grass, as it cleanly cuts as opposed to a gas mower, which uses blunt force to cut grass, and I find them strangely satisfying to use.
The best manual push mowers are:
Who’s Edwin Budding?
The reel mower was invented by Edwin Budding in 1830 and has remained pretty similar to the original design, just shows you can’t improve on perfection. Well, cast Iron is pretty heavy so, I guess there was some room for improvement.
Today we have lighter materials and thanks to mass production, you can pick one up for the price of a tank of gas, but are they any good? Well, yes some are if you’re cutting under a 1/4 acre yard. But if your yard is larger, or very hilly, you’ll need something with more oomph.
Gas, Electric or Push
I know most of you have already made up your mind, you want a manual push mower, but for anyone on the fence, let’s take a look at some of the factors, that maybe you haven’t considered yet.
Gas Powered – After you buy it, you’ve got to maintain it, buy gas, oil and don’t forget a dry garage to store it over the winter months. If it’s an expensive mower you really should think about insuring it.
Electric Mowers – Electric is fine but then there’s the stupid cord to wrestle, while you’re already wrestling the mower. What about battery-powered mowers? Yes, they’re good, as long as you remembered to plug in the charger, and you’ll really need two batteries because one usually isn’t enough, and they aren’t cheap.
Manual Push Mower – Before purchasing a manual push mower, consider your physical ability, while it’s not any more stressful than a good stretch of the leg, it will require constant physical exertion. Consider also the time, it won’t be as fast as a gas or electric mower. A manual push mower isn’t going to be practical for a large yard or tall grass.
What Makes a Great Push Mower?
Manual mowers are simple and that’s good, but there are a few key components that make a good manual mower a great manual mower. The manual push mowers reviewed here have most of these features. Where ever you choose to buy your mower, be sure to check for these features or you will likely be disappointed in its performance.
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Wheels – Strong wheels with good tires are very important.
Quality Wheels – This is essential for traction, as it’s the wheels that make the reel spin, if your wheels don’t grip the ground, you won’t cut grass. If the grass is in any way moist, cheap plastic wheels may slip and make cutting your lawn unnecessarily difficult.
Adjustable Cutting Height – At different times during the year you may desire different grass lengths. An adjustable cutting height will allow you to choose the desired cut. (Standard 2 inches) settings are better, obviously, and tool-less adjustment is the Duesenberg.
A Soft Hand Grip – Using a reel mower can be very physical, so it’s essential that the handgrip is comfortable, if it’s not, your hands may blister and you will tire easily.
Comfort – Because you’re pushing and pulling constantly, your hands need to be comfortable.
Blades – Four blades are standard, but five-blade reels are better. When to sharpen the blade will vary depending on your make of mower, the general rule is annual. If you’re kind to your mower, and by kind I mean, you don’t make it eat stones, it could remain sharp for years.
Lightweight – A heavy manual push mower will make cutting the grass extremely labor-intensive. And too light, will mean the wheels won’t grip the turf. Ensuring the manual push mower is the right weight will decrease workload and increase enjoyment dramatically.
Width – The width of your manual push mower is important as it determines the weight and time spent cutting. A wider mower will obviously be heavier but will cut more grass in less time than a narrow mower.
Adjustable Handle – Most won’t have adjustable, if you’re very tall, you may need to consider an adjustable length handlebar.
Collector – A collector is sometimes available as an option, but traditional users just allow the fine clippings to mulch into the lawn. The clippings are so fine they literally disappear. The two mowers reviewed here are not fitted with a collector.
Are Manual Push Mowers Hard to Use?
Manual push lawn mowers are easy to use, you do need to be in good health, but you don’t need to be marathon fit. If you can walk briskly, you can use a manual mower.
Some people enjoy cutting the grass while also getting in some exercise. Personally, I like them, I find the noise therapeutic, it’s got that nice slicing sound, very satisfying to use.
What Grass Type Will Manual Push Mower Cut?
Long or thick grass can be difficult to cut with a manual mower, Bermuda grass for example is extremely tough cutting. So check what type of grass you have before purchasing a manual push mower.
And you’ll have to be disciplined and cut regularly because if you let the grass get too long unlike a gas mower, a reel mower won’t cut it.
Now, let’s go ahead and look at two leading manual push mower makers, Scotts and Fiskers, and compare their offerings. We’ll begin with the Scotts mower.
Scotts the company was formed in 1868 by O.M. Scott, they traded as a seed company for the U.S. agricultural industry and later focused on lawn seed for the homeowner. You could say, they know grass.
Scotts 515-18S Ultra Cut has an easy push design, not unlike the Fiskars, they have eliminated reel bar contact. This reduces resistance, and that makes it easier to push. The Ultra cut is an 18″ reel with five blades and weighs 36 lbs. This is a premium mower. The quality in materials and workmanship is evident especially if you compare it to cheaper models.
This is a mower you’ll have for years, it’s likely it’ll become a family heirloom.
Front Throw – It’s got a front throwing chute and shield over the reel. Throwing the grass out front allows the mower to cut those clippings again, giving you a very fine mulch that disappears into the lawn. Its got a nine position height adjustment from 1″ to 3″ which is more than enough height options for any user. Show off!
Blade Reel – The Reel does all the heavy work. The blades and bearings collectively are known as the Reel. But the Reel won’t cut without the Bed-knife.
The Bed knife is a flat piece of steel that is positioned very close to the five-blade reel. The grass is corralled by the reel and directed at the bed-knife for clipping.
Scotts Reel and Bed knife are made from tempered alloy steel and together with top quality bearings keep the reel-spinning smoothly and quietly. Rear rollers are fitted, which flatten the grass and give you that really professional-looking strip lines.
Wheel – Top-quality wheels and tires ensure good traction which converts into reel speed.
Handlebars – The handlebars are a unique v shape, allowing for easy maneuvering in tight spaces. The v shape allows room for your body as you pull the mower towards you, clever.
The grip is soft padded and extends across the handlebars giving you lots of grip position choices. It looks pretty durable, but I wouldn’t let my dog chew on it.
Easy Push – Contact-less Reel.
Assembly – Like all the mowers, some self-assembly is needed, but it won’t challenge you. The handlebars are nicely made and assembly is made simple with tool-less thumbscrews.
Warranty – The Ultra Cut comes with a 1-year warranty.
Rollers – For the pro striped lawn look.
To Sum Up – This is my choice, I like quality tools and that’s what this is. I think if you take care of this mower you’ll have it for many trouble-free years.
Design, materials, and workmanship are all top-shelf. I want one! You can check out the Scotts here on Amazon.
Fiskars the company was formed in 1649 in Fiskars, Finland. The original company made its living as an Ironworks, and today it’s a global supplier of consumer products. The Fiskars 17″ Mower with StaySharp system uses precision ground cutting blades that don’t touch, this reduces friction, wear, and maintenance.
Reinvented – Fiskars have taken the manual push mower and made it their own. Like the Scotts the grass is thrown out the front, the operator is shielded by the reel cover. Its got four wheels which is great for stability, but a little clumsy in tight spaces. It’s well designed and made, no doubt, but it isn’t up to the Scotts standard. The wheels feel a little cheap.
Easy Push – Fiskars is fitted with a noncontact blade which as you know makes it easier to push. The marketing material states their mower is 40% easier to push and delivers 75% more power to the reel.
I don’t even know how you’d measure that. As an option, a grass catcher is available for this model, that will of course make it harder to push.
Soft Grip – Like the Scotts, the handlebars are nice in the hand.
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Weight – This thing isn’t light at 41lbs it’s heavier than the Scotts reel mower, but it’s on four wheels so you don’t really notice the extra weight. Height adjustment is like a regular mower, the pull of a lever, 1.5″ to 3.5″ simple! but you won’t cut grass taller than four inches.
All Grass Types – Fiskars claim this push mower will cut all types of heavy, thick grass even St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, and Bahia. So if you’re in the southern states, the Fiskars is a better fit for these tougher varieties.
Heavy Grass – Good at handling southern heavy grass.
Assembly – Like all the mowers, some self-assembly is needed. assembly on this than the Scotts but you won’t need the manual.
Warranty – The Fiskars comes with a 2-year warranty.
Self Assembly – It’s not difficult, maybe 10 minutes work.
To Sum Up – This is a good mower, and if I didn’t have the Scotts to compare it to, I’d say we have a winner. I don’t see this mower still in service in 15 or 20 years’ time, I just don’t get that from it.
On the upside, it’s better able to handle tough grass, more stable on its wheels, better warranty, and is easier to push. So if you can live with it not lasting as long as the Scotts, it’s a perfectly fine mower and you can check the price of the Fiskars here on Amazon.
Manual Push Mower Safety
These tools are sharp and would have your fingers off in a heartbeat, so respect is advised. If you need to work on the blade then lift the mower off the ground so the wheels are free from contact or lock the wheels from moving. These tools are pretty safe, but if you have small children, I would advise storing the mower out of reach. Unlike a gas mower, the manual mower is just as dangerous when not in use.
The manual push mower is a very Smart buy for those with a small garden. A spray of wd40 before every use will ensure your blade stays sharp and the wheels roll easily. A dull blade tears the foliage and causes damage and disease, evident by a yellowing of the grass.
Most reel mowers will only need bed knife adjustment every year and blade sharpening only every few years.
To winterize your push mower, give it a good clean, use a clean paintbrush and compressed air if you have it. I don’t like to use a power hose or a hosepipe, which causes rust in bearings and other hard-to-see places.
A good spray all over with wd40 will protect it over the winter months. Store undercover and out of the weather, preferably indoors over the winter. Now you have a head start on the new season. Check out this post, it covers “Winterizing your mower”.
What is the best reel mower for Bermuda grass? The Fiskars manual push mower has a noncontact reel and stays sharp technology which will make it easier to cut tough Bermuda grass.
Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.
I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.
The Best Lawn Mowers
A fter spending a whole season mowing a 4,300 square-foot lawn with self-propelled gas, electric and manual lawn mowers, we’ve selected the Honda – 21″ HRR216K9VKA as the best lawn mower. With a 160cc engine, the Honda’s cord-free, self-propelled operation gives you plenty of power to get through weeds and overgrowth. If you’ve got a smaller lawn and you don’t want to deal with gasoline and engine maintenance, the Greenworks – 22502 electric is a great option.
A fter spending a whole season mowing a 4,300 square-foot lawn with self-propelled gas, electric and manual lawn mowers, we’ve selected the Honda – 21″ HRR216K9VKA as the best lawn mower. With a 160cc engine, the Honda’s cord-free, self-propelled operation gives you plenty of power to get through weeds and overgrowth. If you’ve got a smaller lawn and you don’t want to deal with gasoline and engine maintenance, the Greenworks – 22502 electric is a great option.
Best self-propelled gas mower: Honda – 21″
Honda seems to have discontinued our winning pick but has released a new model that seems almost identical in features. The changes seem to be a different engine, adding 1 more height option, and a darker paint on the body. We have adjusted all the links to point towards the newer item.
Both models of self-propelled gas mower that we tested are well-built machines. This was a very close call, but Honda – 21″ has included design and ergonomic considerations that make it a better mower.
Honda has models in the 500 and 600 range which add features and functions you may be interested in: electric starting or the option to stop the blade and idle down the engine rather than shutting off and re-starting every time you need to stop, for example. We stuck to our 400 budget and feel confident that most will be happy with the performance of this machine on an average lawn like ours.
Honda’s small engines are rock-solid and reliable. Plenty of power and great design considerations — even the pull start was easy to use. If you need the power and speed of a self-propelled mower, this is your best bet for under 400.
Honda engines have a reputation for easy starting and this one is no exception. Even with just a pull-start (and needing to re-start every time we stopped to pick up a piece of debris), we never had any trouble getting this mower going.
Self-propelled mowers are heavy and can cause damage in wet soil when making a tight turn. Turning while in motion was very manageable on the Honda, but avoiding lawn damage with a heavy mower requires getting to know the wet spots on your lawn and developing a feel for the balance of the mower.
We tested the mowers in wet grass to see how they’d fare, and the Honda did stall on the wettest grass we tested — probably because the chute clogged up with the wet clippings we were bagging. Other reviewers claim their machine didn’t stall with wet grass, but very wet grass is definitely not something any mower is designed for.
After running electric mowers and manual mowers, the Honda was definitely louder, but it’s not like a straight-pipe Harley or a chainsaw.
Adjusting cutter height requires individual settings on each wheel — this is a bit annoying, but most people won’t have to adjust often.
Since the mower is pulling itself forward whenever the engine is going, variable speed control helps for working slowly around turns or near edges of a curb. Honda’s thumb-controlled walk-speed setting was easy to use and felt more natural than the “personal pace” adjuster on the Toro, which was another mower we tested.
Honda’s switch controlling the bagging/mulching flap is also nicer than the Toro’s lever, with a solid engagement that clicks reassuringly in place. Honda claims that their blade system cuts better with two blades, but with a yard the size of the one we tested it was difficult to tell the difference. Suffice it to say, the Honda and Toro both cut well.
The foldable handle has quick-release locks for folding and storing the handle, whereas the Toro uses spin-off fasteners that take more time. Honda also includes padding on the handles of their machine, where Toro leaves you with plastic.
We stored our mowers in a raised shed in the backyard. The shed isn’t super roomy, so storage size and maneuverability were something we noticed. At 84 pounds the Honda is still light enough to lift on its back wheels to roll in, but lifting it to move around in a tight space is noticeably more difficult than with the non-gas models.
- The Honda – 21″ HRR216K9VKA gave us trouble-free performance the first time and every time. No trouble with the pull-starter, the bagging system, or the blade adjustment.
- This mower is powerful enough to take on wet grass and mulches whatever twigs and leaves are on your lawn.
- While it’s hefty compared to electric or manual-powered mowers, Honda designed a handle-folding system that makes it relatively easy to store.
Best electric mower: Greenworks – 22502
Compared to the heavy gas mowers the Greenworks – 22502 electric powered mower feels incredibly light: at 56 lb, it’s about 30 lb lighter than the Honda. This makes it far easier to turn without skidding, not to mention easier to handle when you’re putting it away. There’s a lot of plastic involved in keeping that weight down, of course, but the Greenworks still feels more like a serious lawn mower than the other electric model we tested. It’s a simple machine and doesn’t need unnecessary bulk.
With a wide cutting path and easy-to use features, the Greenworks makes quick work of a lawn without the extra noise and smell of gasoline power.
The Greenworks mower has a 20-inch mowing width and height can be adjusted from 1.5 inches to 3.75 inches with seven height settings total. In the price range we tested, most electric mowers cut a much narrower track (the Sun Joe is a 14-inch and a comparable Black and Decker model is 15 inches) which means you’ll finish 20-30 percent more quickly with the Greenworks.
The Greenworks came ready to go for bagging, side discharge, and mulching, where the Sun Joe only lets you bag unless you buy extra accessories. Setup was a piece of cake, though we should note that the box it came in was not taped shut — the outer shipping box was secure and nothing was missing, but it was a possible sign of lax shipping quality control.
Greenworks made height adjustment very easy: adjusting one lever controls cutting height on the entire mower. On the other hand, the Sun Joe required individual wheel adjustments, as did the gas-powered models we tested.)
This mower has a side discharge chute, but it requires an attachment to keep open. You have to insert a plug in the back of the mower and add the chute on the side to spread clippings to the side.
One of the disappointing things we noted was that clipping shreds occasionally spray out from the catch basket around the perimeter of the deck. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s not something that happened with other mowers.
Dumping the clippings can be slightly awkward since there’s a crossbar that supports the handles. This is an issue on both electric models we tested, but not on the gas models (which have larger, more robust handlebars that don’t use a cross-brace.) This doesn’t stop you from removing the bag, but you have to be aware of where your hands are and bend in awkward ways.
Mowing with an attached power cord is not fun. You’re chained to the plug, dancing a tango with the mower to avoid the cable getting clipped. It’s manageable if you start near the plug and work going away from the cord, but annoying to say the least. Water in pools or puddles is also an electricity-related hazard you’ll have to pay attention to with a long cord.
Note that the Greenworks mower doesn’t come with an extension cord; you’ll need to buy a fairly heavy cord, at least 14 gauge if you’re going longer than 50 feet. 16GA is okay at 50 feet, but you’ll want something longer than that unless you have electrical outlets on every corner of your lawn. You’ll also have to coil the cable carefully after you use it, either a careful straight coil or over-under, unless you want to spend time every week untying a bunch of knots and dealing with a spiral-shaped cord after a year of twisting and untwisting it from sloppy coils.
We felt this mower was ideally sized for our lawn and having no exhaust fumes was great, but it still made a lot of noise relative to manual mowers. Plus, we really missed being cord-free after our time with the gas mowers.
- Like any electric mower, the Greenworks – 22502 20″ mower is lighter and easier to maneuver, but you’re tied to an electrical cord.
- Greenworks gives you a lot of mower for your money; it’s much more efficient and better built than the other electric mower we tested.
- It’s not as quiet as the manual mowers, but not having to deal with the noise and smell of a gasoline engine is a huge plus.
Best manual mower: Fiskars – Staysharp Max
The Fiskars – Staysharp Max is wonderfully simple. It’s solid and precise. Plus, with an 18-inch wide reel it covers ground more quickly than even the Sun Joe electric mower we tested (the Fiskars also costs more though.) Manual mowers use a scissor-like blade system that usually makes a grinding or swishing noise, but Fiskars takes pride in their carefully aligned blades and resulting lack of noise.
Before starting we knew we were going to be in love with manual mowers for the eco-friendly aspect, quiet operation, and lack of gas exhaust. The Fiskars mower was indeed very enjoyable to cut with.
Best Manual Mower: Fiskars. Staysharp Max
Quiet and smooth, this is a machine made to clip a smaller lawn that’s already in top condition.
A quiet mower means you don’t feel guilty bugging your neighbors if mowing early in the day or late in the evening. A great perk is that you can talk on the phone or listen to music with non-sealing earbuds while mowing with this machine.
We wore gloves while mowing (since you need to be even more diligent about clearing debris with a manual mower) but were surprised at how comfortable the padded handles are on the Fiskars.
Fiskars went for a very wide cutting area, two inches wider than the Great States mower. This lessens cutting time, but all that width makes it more cumbersome to maneuver in the shed. We feel that it’s well worth the tradeoff and had no issues maneuvering on the turf.
Out of the box, setup was pretty simple, requiring a few screws to connect the handles to the body. The handles fold up (without locking), which saves space, making storage easy compared to non-folding handles.
Adjusting height on this mower is even easier than on the gas-powered models — it’s just one lever in the front instead of adjusting four wheels individually. It’s also marked at 1 inch (shortest) to 4 inches cutting height. On other models you kind of just have to know the height range and wing it, so this was a nice touch on the Fiskars.
To give this manual mower a workout, we used the 1.5-inch setting on overgrowth at first. It was easy in some parts, but extremely difficult towards the end, in patches that weren’t even super tall. On subsequent mowings, it was a breeze. Unlike with gas or electric mowers, you definitely have to spend more time clearing the lawn of twigs and debris before mowing so you don’t jam up the mower.
The adjustable chute can let you direct clippings forward or backward as needed. There’s no included bagging option and even with the optional clipping-catcher this mower can’t suck up and pulverize leaves and small twigs like the powered mowers can.
With extra lawn-clearing time and smaller cutting width, a manual mower can be more work and will take longer than powered lawn mowers. However, if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint and don’t ever let your grass get overgrown, this may be the mower for you.
- Heavier than most manual mowers, the Fiskars Staysharp Max‘s 18-inch cutting width makes quick work of small lawns.
- Most manual mowers are somewhat quiet, but Fiskars has made a reel that’s almost noiseless.
- Great build quality, fit and finish; this mower is more expensive than a cheap plug-in mower and it shows.
Other products we tested
Toro – 22″ Recycler 20334
Immediately, we noticed the Toro 22″ Recycler’s excellent packaging: high-quality plastic wrap on all the parts and the engine keeps everything tidy during shipping.
While we appreciated the padding and a few control details on the Honda just a bit more, Toro really knows their stuff too. The handle and connectors on this mower are excellent.
One setup detail that lost Toro some points is how hard it is to add oil to the BS engine and check the level. Waiting for the oil to drip down into the crankcase so you can read the dipstick accurately is a tedious process and the min/max markings on the dipstick are not present as depicted in the manual. Instead, there are only dots. There’s very little room for error, so setting up the mower for the first time involved a lot of waiting/re-dipping to make sure we got the right amount of oil.
We had trouble with the electric starting system, too. We charged the starter battery as directed, but it didn’t work. The instructions for initial startup weren’t especially clear, either. The starter button didn’t work in an intuitive way and the manual talks about a key-start that our mower doesn’t have. So for our review, the tester started the mower manually, just like the Honda. The Toro we tested does include the electric starter at the same price as the Honda with pull-start only.
Wheel height adjustment on the Toro isn’t as easy as other mowers. You have to adjust each wheel individually. Plus, the front wheel height adjustment tab was bent on the machine we received.
Eventually, the first Toro we got had to be exchanged, since the metal tab on a wire that looks up to the blade control lever was broken. This rendered the machine unable to start. Home Depot swapped this out for us without a problem.
Toro’s “personal pace” drive speed feature works just fine, but we preferred the thumb control of the Honda. On the Toro, you have to hold the fixed handle in one hand and control speed with another handle that slides up and down. It’s not difficult to use, but it’s not as easy as Honda’s system.
Great States – 16″ 415-16
Unpacking the Great States – 16″ 415-16 mower was definitely a low point. Terrible setup instructions meant we had to undo the assembly we’d already done to fit the handles into the lower mower part. The plastic twist knobs that hold the handle fasteners together are poor quality, to say the least. In fact, you could cut yourself while tightening them. That being said, it’s a tool-free setup process.
At 16 inches of cutting width, (two inches less than the Fiskars, but much lighter overall), this machine is definitely more maneuverable. The quality of build feels lower than Fiskars, but not too bad considering it’s less than half the cost.
The cutting height on the Great States ranges from 0.5 inch to 2.5 inches compared to the Fiskars’ 1-4 inches. You really don’t need the 4-inch range unless you are cutting down overgrowth, but this might matter in a few cases.
The lack of motor noise and exhaust is still a great reason for choosing this manual model, but the cutting blade makes a grinding sound that’s louder than the Fiskars precisely adjusted cutter. The Great States is also slightly harder to push than the Fiskars.
This is a tool that gets the job done for less than 100 and will likely last for many years (with a design that’s been around longer than you probably have.) There are even folks with yards larger than ½ acre who happily use this machine to mow. When it comes down to details, though, the Fiskars is a much nicer mower.
Sun Joe – 14″ MJ401E
Setting up the Sun Joe 14″ MJ401E was drama-free, with a good (non-folding) attachment design for the surprisingly comfortable padded handles, but the budget price shows through: This mower looks and feels like a toy. While it is more agile than most of the other mowers, it is very plastic, very light, and very basic. At about 40 less than our winning electric model, this should be treated as a basic mower.
Sun Joe doesn’t even include the parts needed for mulching at this price point; If you only ever bag and need to stay within a low budget, this will get the job done. The relatively smaller clippings compartment fills up fast, though. We had to dump out 5-6 times on a small lawn, though that’s partly on account of some overgrowth we were chopping through.
Another disappointment was the very flimsy-feeling height adjuster, which uses a spring-loaded adjuster on each wheel axle and makes you turn the mower on its side to adjust. With three settings, it’s adequate for basic lawn care.
How we selected
For our lineup, we selected an assortment of manual, electric, and gas-powered mowers. As always, we tried to avoid products with consistently negative reviews that mention the same problems. We narrowed our selection to mowers from top brands with good reputations for warranty, reliability, and quality.
Lawn sizes have been shrinking. Recent census data shows that 95-percent of new houses sold have a lot smaller than ¼ acre (and the houses on those lots are getting bigger, leaving even less space for turf). So, we excluded riding mowers from our review and focused on the benefits of powered mowers relative to calorie-powered manual push mowers on a moderately-sized lawn.
We capped the price of the gas models at 400 since there were lots of good options. There are many other features to be had beyond that price range, but unless your lawn is bigger than 1/2 acre, it probably won’t make sense for you to spend much more.
How we tested
Our test lawns (front and back) total to around 4,300 square feet. We cut at the recommended height of 2.5 inches multiple times with each mower. Some mowers got a bit of an extra workout at the beginning of the season due to overgrowth, but we made sure to mow with them again once they reached normal heights to be fair.
Initial setup was one of the big differentiators for the mowers. Some had great instructions, while others were misleading and confusing. Each of these machines required some setup time since they come disassembled. The Great States mower stood out as most frustrating to set up.
We tested the bagging feature on all the mowers that included it. We also compared all of the features used for normal lawn mowing including setup of the cutter height and ease of storage.
Weight and size were some of the most important factors that we noticed. A bulky mower is more difficult to store and transport and extra weight also requires some practice to get clean turns and avoid damaging lawns.
Important features to consider
Mower type – This is typically recommended by lawn size, but there are plenty of options; even within the broader gas/electric/manual categories there’s much to consider.
Bagging and mulching options – Some people will want to bag their clippings. We found that while all of these mowers are capable of bagging, you’d have to buy a separate attachment for the manual mowers. Overall, the design of the bigger self-propelled mowers made removing and emptying the clipping bag easier than the electric models.
Self-propel or push-assist – This makes the work much easier, but it comes with noise, smell, maintenance concerns, and a CO2 footprint. On the flip side, people-powered mowers are quiet and pollution-free, but they’re only efficient if you’re mowing on a rigid schedule to minimize the amount you’re cutting with each pass.
Electric-powered mowers – Electric motors offer great performance, but until battery technology can improve, these models require power cords which introduces a set of compromises compared to other style mowers.
Cutting-height adjustment – This is something most people won’t be adjusting frequently, but it’s still something you’ll have to deal with at least once on all mowers.
Cleaning and storage – This is another big usability consideration. Each mower has its own set of folding-handle quirks, plus nooks and crannies that need to be brushed out or washed off.
How to properly mow a lawn
Mowing a lawn often includes other maintenance aspects like perimeter cleaning with a string trimmer and clearing clippings or debris with a leaf blower which we cover on those respective articles Below we’ll stick to strictly mowing tips.
The “stripe” pattern clearly visible on most sporting fields comes from the fact that mowers push the grass over slightly while they trim and alternating directions when mowing will create contrast in the way those ‘rows’ of clipped grass reflect sunlight.
Generally, the back-and-forth stripe pattern is also the most efficient way for you to mow at home. If you start by mowing around the perimeter a few times, you’ll have some “headland” room to turn around at the end of each long row without fussing about grass you might miss when you turn.
Cutting in a concentric spiral pattern from the outside perimeter is also viable if you’re looking to minimize the stripe effect; Some also find the right-angle corners easier than 180° turns.
(If you really want to get fancy, reel mowers or powered mowers with a roller attachment push the grass flat enough to create the contrast needed for the intricate patterns you sometimes see on ball diamond outfields. David Mellor, groundskeeper for Fenway Park, even wrote a book on the subject.)
The best practice is to rotate your mowing pattern 90 degrees (start at a right angle to your previous pattern) every few mowings to keep grass from being pushed down too much in one direction.
Types of grass
There are basically two “regions” of grass-growing in the United States: “warm-season” grasses in the South, “cool-season” grasses in the North, and a narrow “transitional zone” where it’s common to cross-seed types from both regions.
Seed producers like Pennington and Scotts have lots of great info about the different varieties you might have in your yard. It’s a good idea to get to talk with a lawn-care professional in your area who can help you understand the quirks of growing locally (especially weeds and disease).
The biggest difference between these regions and the varieties you’ll find there is in the timing of peak growth: warm-season grasses grow the most during the summer, then go dormant and turn brown during the cooler winter months; cool-season grasses grow the most in spring, slow down when it gets hot, then have another growth spurt in the fall before winter dormancy.
Grass height and mowing frequency
When you’re deciding how tall you want your grass, the most important thing to remember is that if your grass is too short, it can’t absorb sunlight. Photosynthesis doesn’t happen without leaf area, and all of the other qualities of good turf are dependent on that energy. Basically, longer is better for the health of the grass.
This is especially important in non-growing seasons: the grass will be stressed and needs plenty of leaf and root area (with stored energy from the growing season) to continue thriving. Mow when the air is cool and avoid mowing right before hot weather is in the forecast.
Some warm-climate species, like Bermudagrass, are cut as low as a half-inch on sporting fields. This requires daily mowing in quick-growth seasons, though. (And plenty of water to keep it healthy.) See our in-depth review we did on garden hoses too.
There’s another benefit to keeping lawn grass on the longer side. While the grass is soaking up all the sunlight with lush, long leaves, it’s keeping that sunlight away from any weeds that might be trying to start underneath.
As a rule of thumb, never remove more than a third of the leaf area in one mowing. So if you’re mowing down to two inches, mow again before the grass hits three inches. Pennington provides a handy chart of mowing height for common grass types.
Mulching grass vs. bagging
In very sandy soil mulching can cause some problems since there aren’t as many organisms to consume clippings, but in most cases mulching regular clippings back into the turf is highly recommended by grass experts and municipalities alike.
Earthworms, fungi, and other primary consumers in your lawn’s ecosystem thrive on the clippings and turn the mulch back into available nitrogen for your lawn. (So it’s not just easier than disposing of bags: it means less fertilizer!)
So long as you aren’t trimming off more than an inch of grass, and you aren’t mowing when it’s wet, the clippings should easily scatter down to soil level and form a helpful layer of worm-food. You can even mulch the leaves that fall off your trees!
All of the mowers we tested are mulch-ready except for the Sun Joe 401E, which requires an optional attachment to safely funnel the clippings (and any debris you may accidentally find in your grass) to the side. The other powered mowers will require a quick conversion from bag-mode with an included plug or a moveable flap.
Because bagging is occasionally beneficial (if you have to wait for your lawn to dry in the spring and the grass gets really long, for example) we also tested the bagging features of all the powered mowers. (Manual-power reel mowers aren’t very good at cutting tall grass, but you can get leaf-catcher attachments if you really don’t want to mulch.)
Mowing wet grass
While it’s good to mow when the air is cool, avoid mowing grass that is wet from watering or rainfall. When fibers in the leaves get wet they get tougher, so the cut takes more work and can leave a ragged edge on the leaf. It requires you to sharpen your blades more frequently, too.
Plus, if you’re mulching your clippings, wet mulch all over your lawn is just as bad as it sounds — clumpy and prone to get musty. If you don’t have a way to dispose of them within a few days, having bags of wet mulch sitting in your garage is even worse.
Mowing wet grass is just a bad idea. A little dew in the morning generally won’t slow you down much, but if the grass is soaked it’s best to wait for the sun to come out.
Mowers are tools and tools need to be taken care of if you want them to keep doing a job well. Storage in a clean, dry place should be a given, but there are a few specific tasks that you’ll have to get used to if you want a mower that will keep your lawn looking its best:
All cutting edges require routine sharpening, even mower blades. Plan on sharpening at least once a season if you don’t want to bruise or tear your grass. Checking the blades for uneven wear and other problems is Smart, but checking the grass to see how well you’re cutting is the surest way to determine the condition of your mower blades.
Sharpening more than once a season should only be necessary if you’re cutting heavier material like a lot of twigs (or the bane of every mower, hidden gravel/sand leftover from winter snow piles.)
Fiskars claims that the steel and tight-tolerance design used in their reel mower will cut cleanly for the life of the mower, but they still sell a sharpening kit and it works like all the other reel-mower sharpening kits. An abrasive compound wears away high spots and leaves a keen edge when you spread it on the blades and run the reel backward against the stationary cutting bar. (If dismounting drive chains or spinning mower reels with a hand drill aren’t your idea of fun, you can usually find a local handyman or landscaper who will do the job for you.)
Powered mower blades have edges more like axes and you can sharpen them in nearly the same way. A vise or other clamp to hold the blade steady and a carbide scraper or good steel file are all you really need to bring the edge back to a chisel-shaped apex that will be able to slice paper and keep your lawn looking crisp and green.
Winterizing gas mowers and oil changes
If your lawn is covered in snow (or simply not growing) for more than a month every year, there are storage tasks you’ll need to remember for gas engines. Old gasoline can go stale or dry out and create a layer of varnish inside your engine. You need to either add a stabilizer to your mower’s gas tank and fill it before storage (pretty easy, but the mower will be heavy) or get all of the gas out of the system.
Like your car, a mower’s four-cycle gasoline engine uses oil for lubrication, but unlike your car, it doesn’t run the oil through a filter to clean out debris. Nearly everyone will recommend annual oil changes before storage as part of a winter routine.
Top 3 Electric Lawn Mowers in 2023
Spark plugs in a mower should last for a long time, but you should check them annually or as directed in your owner’s manual. People fool themselves into replacing electrical components arbitrarily if mowers won’t start, but it’s well worth learning how to spot signs of failure as a part of annual maintenance.
Gas vs. electric vs. manual mowers
All the mowers we tested will cut well enough once the blades hit the grass. The biggest differences come down to how much effort is required from a homeowner to get there and cover ground efficiently.
Manual reel mowers
These are the greenest of mowers, powered by whatever you’ve had for breakfast. They’re relatively simple tools that do one job: they cut grass quietly and efficiently for as long as you can push them. Beyond the sustainability and simplicity, they’re lighter and easier to store: no cord, no gas, no worries. If you like the idea of augmenting your lawn-mowing cardio with a bit more resistance, you should consider a reel mower.
The biggest weakness to the reel mower is that it’s not effective with thick or tall grass. This is a tool that will make you regret every time you forget to mow by making you work much harder. Have a lot of overgrown weeds? You’ll want to look elsewhere.
If your lawn is big enough that just thinking about pushing a reel mower is exhausting, an electric-powered mower is one way to ease your burden without the weight, noise, smell, and maintenance concerns of a gasoline engine.
Even compared to the Fiskars Max, the electric mowers we tested were light and easy to maneuver. They’re still louder than the manual mowers, since there’s a 14-inch or 20-inch steel blade swinging around under the deck. However, your neighbors and family will still have less reason to complain about your Saturday-morning routine.
There’s not nearly as much to maintain on an electric mower as on a gasoline-powered mower, but keeping the deck clean and inspecting the cord for wear are still important tasks you’ll need to perform.
Managing the cord on an electric mower is similar to the annoyances of working with a household vacuum cleaner but on a larger scale. Running over the cord with the mower is, obviously, something you must never do. You also don’t want to trip on it, drop it in a pool, accidentally unplug it or plug it into a socket that can’t provide the 12 Amps of AC power needed by these engines.
Gas-powered self-propelled mowers
The bigger your lawn, the more you’ll appreciate the self-propelled mower: these machines are designed to help you cover a lot of ground quickly by pulling themselves along at up to four MPH. So, all you really need to do is steer.
The gas mowers we tested have engines that provide around five horsepower to get through thick or long grass. (These are very similar to the engines you’ll find on a small Go-Kart.) Naturally, having all of that internal combustion power at your fingertips also brings noise and smells that other kinds of mowers won’t have.
While your time mowing will be much easier, the biggest drawback to gas-powered mowers is in maintenance. Like a gas-powered car, these mowers need fuel, oil changes, and air filter and spark-plug checkups. Maintaining a small engine is very simple: you can do a mower oil change in minutes and even teach your kids how to do it. However, it’s not for everyone. Naturally, there are mechanics who will do all of these services for you, for a fee.
The bottom line
Mowing your own lawn is one of those rites of passage for do-it-yourself home ownership. Like other jobs you do around your house, it will save you money compared to professional care, but it may take you more time and involve more cursing than you expected. We hope one of these mowers will help make your weekly lawn chores more enjoyable and less frustrating.
If you’ve got a smaller lawn and you’re excited about the idea of a brisk walk back and forth across it every Saturday morning, the Fiskars is probably an ideal machine for you. Smooth, quiet and precise, like the scissors the company is famous for, the Staysharp Max reel mower can help you keep your lawn looking its best without the noise and complications powered mowers bring.
If you’ve got a few weeds that are invading your lawn or if you anticipate dealing with overgrowth after a wet spring, a powered mower will mean less straining — not to mention the time it’ll save. The Greenworks 22502 has a 20-inch cutting blade that lessen the number of rows you’ll need to walk. Plus, it’ll make quick work of just about any foliage found in an urban lawn-care setting. It’s ready to go for bagging out of the box, too.
And if you’ve got a lawn bigger than ¼ acre or if you think you’ll appreciate the one-switch conversion between mulching and bagging, the Honda HRR216K9VKA cuts a wide swath quickly and efficiently through leaves, twigs and tall weeds. A self-propelled machine takes a bit more maintenance than an electric, but annual oil changes might seem a small price to pay compared to the headache of dancing around a cord on a larger lawn.
Whether bagging or mulching, the Honda keeps up with your needs. It’s solid and simple to make the most of your mowing time.
These are the top gas, electric, and manual push mowers
Push mowers are great options for anyone with a yard on the smaller side. ZDNET chose the Honda HRN 166cc as our top pick, but we also reviewed battery-powered and manual reel push mowers for anyone looking for a more eco-friendly option.
Push mowers are ideal for smaller yards since they have more narrow cutting decks and are more stripped-back than their ride-on tractor cousins. Along with traditional gas-powered models, you can find a wide variety of electric and manual reel mowers if you’re in the market for a more eco-friendly way to care for your lawn.
Electric mowers use rechargeable batteries to power the blades and any self-propelled transmissions, and they have comparable power to their gas-using counterparts. The downside is that they have relatively short run times.- often just up to an hour.- so you’ll have to keep a back-up battery charged and ready to go if your yard is on the larger side or has a lot of obstacles to mow around.
Manual reel mowers have seen an uptick in popularity with homeowners who have very small lots, often under.25 acres. With smaller cutting decks and no need to keep fuel or batteries on-hand, they’re perfect for more compact storage when not in use and during the off season. They also can help you reduce your carbon footprint since they don’t expel any sort of exhaust or require any electricity, just some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
To help you find the best push mower for your yard, I’ve rounded up five of the best you can buy. I broke down their features, power sources, and price points so you can choose the one that best fits both your budget and your lawn care needs.
Honda HRN 166cc
Best push mower overall
Cutting width: 21 inches | Power source: gasoline | Self-propelled: Yes | Bagger included: Yes | Variable speed: Yes
The Honda HRN 166cc push mower snagged a spot in our list of the best lawn mowers you can buy, and it takes the crown as the best push mower available. The 166cc engine uses a mix of two-cycle oil and gasoline for power, while the 21-inch cutting deck works has two blades for ultra-fine clippings that either go into the included bagger attachment or re-feed your lawn with the side discharge chute. You can also adjust the cutting height to seven different positions with the easy-to-use levers for the perfect lawn every time.
The rear wheels work with the mower’s self-propelling drive train for an easier mowing experience, and you can control the speed with the intuitive push throttle to match your natural walking speed. You’ll also get peace of mind with the three-year warranty to replace damaged and worn out parts from regular use, so your Honda HRN push mower will last season after season.
Ego Power 56V
Best electric push mower
- Folding design for compact storage
- Two-bushel bagger attachment included
- Self-propelled and variable speed
- Weather-resistant cutting deck
Cutting width: 21 inches | Power source: 56V battery | Self-propelled: Yes | Bagger included: Yes | Variable speed: Yes
The Ego Power 56V was named our number one pick on our list of the best electric mowers, and for good reason. The rechargeable battery gives you up to an hour of run time with full power, which is perfect for yards up to half an acre. A push-button start eliminates frustrating rip cords for near-instant engine turnover, so you can get started mowing your lawn seconds after you set up the mower.
It comes with a bagger attachment to collect grass clippings, but you can also use the mulching feature to create ultra-fine cuttings to re-feed your lawn between professional treatments. The bagger holds up to two bushels of cuttings, so you can spend more time getting yard work done and less time emptying the container.
The 21-inch cutting deck can be set to six different heights with the simple lever, and you can control the self-propelled speed with the intuitive squeeze throttle to go as slow as.9 MPH or as fast as 3.1 MPH. The deck is made of durable molded plastic to resist rust and corrosion that can ruin traditional steel cutting decks. And the entire mower folds down for more compact, vertical storage; which is perfect for garages and tool sheds that are on the smaller side. Dual LED headlights illuminate your cutting row for safer operation if you need to cut your grass in the early morning or late evening.