My Lawn Mower Chute Clogs – Solved!
Just so FRUSTRATING!! Cutting tall, heavy grass, especially if it’s wet, will keep you busy clearing the chute all day.
So what’s going on? Why does my mower chute clog? The most common reason a mower chute clogs are because the grass is too heavy, but there are lots of other reasons:
How to Bag Grass Clippings
Lawnmower grass catcher troubleshooting is straightforward; most are common problems and easy to solve. In this guide, we’ll look at all the most common causes.
Grass height, weather conditions, and a worn blade will be the most obvious reasons for the tractor or walk-behind mower clogging. Very often, a dull, damaged, or worn blade is the root cause of a clogging chute.
If you need video help, check out the “Mower blade sharpening video” it walks you through the whole process step by step, from examining the blade, sharpening both on and off the mower, blade removal, blade balancing, refitting, including using a torque wrench to tighten blade bolt to spec.
Conditions Chute Clogging
As a guide, you should cut no more than 1/3 off a blade of grass at once. For best results, a mower shouldn’t be cutting more than an inch of grass, and the best lawn height is about 3″. Cutting regularly keeps the workload on the machine to a minimum, and it’s easier on your lawn.
Weather makes a big difference. Obviously, if the grass is damp, the mower is going to struggle to perform. But I understand, sometimes it’s necessary to cut wet grass when you need to get the job done.
A clogged chute can, of course, is a symptom of an underlying problem. Clearing the chute may not resolve the issue. Grass build-up or damage to the underside of the deck can cause the grass to catch and clog. The underside of the deck should be smooth so that the grass moves freely around the deck, up the chute, and into the bag.
Chute – Clearing the chute may not solve the problem. Check the chute for damage or old dry grass build-up.
Clean – Old grass on the deck can cause problems. Regular cleaning will prevent build-up and prolong the life of your mower.
Deck Wash Port – Clean the underside of the deck at the end of the season, as the acid in the grass eats away at the metal over the winter. Most mowers will have a garden hose connection on the deck, simply connect your hose and run your blades to clean the underside of the deck. This does a reasonable job of cleaning.
The wash-out port isn’t fitted to all mowers. It does a pretty good job of cleaning the underside of the deck.
Hose – Move your mower to a suitable location, as it leaves a bit of a mess. Just attach and turn on a garden hose. Start your mower to engage the blades. Run until the water runs clear – simple!
Deck Coating – After cleaning the deck and allowing it dry thoroughly, spray on a coat of WD40; it’ll help protect the deck over the winter and also help keep the deck grass-free in the spring. Better than that is applying a non-stick film, it works pretty well, and it’s easy to apply.
The best in the business – DuPont Teflon non-stick dry film, and you check out the price on Amazon.
Clean – Lift the front of your tractor, and secure it well before climbing under. A wire brush and paint scraper do the job.
To Prevent Clogging
To help prevent clogging, three options are common:
Option 1 – Quick fix is to spray the deck with WD40. It does help, but it won’t last.
Option 2 – Spray deck with DuPont Teflon coating.
Option 3 – Spray the deck with bed liner. Works on tractors, riders, and walk-behind mowers. Check out the video here.
Check Your Grass bag
A clogged grass bag is a common problem. Tractors and walk-behind mowers often get cleaned at the end of the season (well, some do), but bags rarely do. Symptoms of a clogged bag are not collecting or only a half-filled grass bag.
Examine your bag/box; when held to the light, you should be able to see through it. A stiff brush will remove the old grass, or use a power washer.
Consider buying a new grass bag if damaged. They are available to purchase, usually with or without the frame. Check if the bag/box sits correctly against the mower body. If it’s loose, the air and grass flow to the bag will leak.
Bag – Thatched grass on the inside of the bag is a common issue. It prevents airflow through the bag, which in turn prevents grass from entering the bag.
Clean – As a rough guide, you should be able to see through the bag. A stiff brush or, better, a pressure washer does a great job.
Check For Blade Damage
Two types of blades are common, the lift blade and the mulching blade. They are fitted to tractors, ride-on, and walk-behind mowers. A defective blade can cause vibration, uneven cutting, and poor grass collection.
No need to tell you a bent blade is dangerous and should never be repaired. A new blade, bolt, and washer is the way to go.
Examine – Check your blades for damage, misalignment, or bent or broken tips. Your blade is the business end of the mower and needs to be in top condition. Defective blades can cause vibration, uneven cutting, and poor grass collection. A mowing blade may look OK, but they do wear.
Mowing blades are engineered to cut and move grass; as they wear, they become much less efficient. A worn blade will cause clogging.
Timed Blades – Some deck setups will have an overlapping cut, although more common on lawn tractors than walk-behind mowers.
Toro Timemaster walks behind the mower and has a timed blade set up. To achieve this, the blades must be fixed at a set angle in relation to each other. This is done by using a toothed timed belt.
If one of the blades hits an object, the blades go out of time, or the belt can break. When the blades are out of time, bagging quality suffers, and a clogging chute is a symptom. In addition, badly timed blades usually damage each other. I wrote this detailed guide, including pictures, to help you replace your “Timed deck belt”.
Dull or Worn Blade
A dull or worn blade will cause clogging; as the carefully engineered blade wears, the trailing edge is less efficient at moving the clippings. The leading edge will also be worn from grit and debris, and sharpening sessions will likely have changed its shape.
The average mower should get a new blade every 3rd or 4th season. If the blade is in good overall condition, go ahead and sharpen it.
The Lift blade is also known as the 2 in 1, so-called because it bags and discharges. Lift blades vacuum the grass upright, before cutting and moving the clippings to the bag. Lift blades are specially designed for collecting grass and come in the low, medium, and high lift.
2 in 1 Lift Blade
Lift means sucking power; a higher lift blade will require a more powerful engine. The lift is created by curving upwards of the trailing edge of the blade.
If you like bagging – You need a lift blade.
A true Mulching blade is designed to cut grass, circulate it around the deck, cut it several more times, and drop it back onto the lawn as fine clippings.
You’ll know a mulching blade when you see it; the leading edge isn’t straight; it curves up and down. This results in several cuts to the same grass blade but at different heights – fine clippings.
If you’re not interested in mulching, then remove the mulching blade and fit a lift blade. It will always bag better than any hybrid mulching blade.
3 in-1 Blade
A true Mulching blade is not designed to collect. That got engineers thinking – Meet the hybrid mulching blade or 3 in 1. It attempts to do it all, mulch, bag, discharge. However, we all know it can’t be excellent at everything, and it isn’t.
Mulching has become quite popular, and manufacturers have responded by making a blade that tries to do it all but doesn’t quite succeed.
Check out the blade replacing video here, and if you need new blades, check out the Amazon link below.
Engine Performance Problems
It’s also worth considering if the throttle is set correctly; it should be set to fast/run when cutting. Is the engine running as it should? If the engine power is reduced, the mower may still cut well but will be less efficient at collecting.
A small-engine tractor or walk-behind mower should have a tune-up at the beginning of every season, regardless of how well it might be running.
I wrote these guides to help you tune up your own mower; it includes an oil grade chart and quantity for your engine; check out:
Stale gas is the number one most common cause of poor engine performance. It’s usually caused by letting gas sit in the mower over the winter. The bad gas can damage the carburetor causing 100 in repairs, and it’s not covered by your warranty.
This problem can be avoided by using a gas stabilizer; you won’t have to use it all season, just at the tail end. It’s simple to use, just dump the bottle of gas stabilizer into your gas tank and run the engine to mix it throughout the fuel system, that’s it. You can find a link to the fuel stabilizer I use here and a video on how to use it here.
The fix for bad gas – is to remove and clean the carburetor; if it’s badly corroded, you’ll need to replace it.
I wrote these easy-to-follow guides, including pictures on carburetor cleaning, which will help you find your problem and fix it fast.
Tune-up – Mowers like a tune-up at least once per season.
What Is Power Take Off (PTO)?
The PTO clutch assembly will not be fitted to all mowers, and so this may not be applicable. It’s fitted mostly to tractors, ride-on, and larger walk-behind mowers.
A PTO clutch is a unit fitted to the end of the crankshaft. The deck belt wraps around the PTO pulley; its function is to apply the power of the engine to the blades when a switch or lever is operated.
The PTO clutch, when worn, will slip, reducing power to the blades. This will be especially noticeable in taller grass. The PTO, if fitted, will be manual or electromagnetic.
If manual, it will likely have a lever and cable to operate – check that the cable is pulling the PTO. Both types can’t be repaired; they must be replaced.
PTO – Check the PTO system. The manual version is engaged by a cable. It lives on the crankshaft, right under the engine. Check that the cable is pulling the PTO lever all the way.
Fitting – Replacing the PTO isn’t difficult; air tools make it look really easy.
Tractor Belt Wear Problems
Belt wear is also a common reason for a chute to clog; check the deck-cutting belt for damage and general wear tear. A new belt will transfer more of the engine power to the cutting blades and will improve the cutting and bag-filling performance.
Belt types and lengths will be specific. Some brands will only work well using OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) belts.
Worn – A cutting deck belt that’s slipping will be less efficient at collecting. Check the belt for proper tension, cracking, glazing, or contamination.
Damaged – Damaged belts will cause vibration and poor general performance. A typical deck belt might last 3 – 4 years.
You may find these links useful:
Why is my lawnmower spitting out grass? Common reasons for grass trailing is grass-bag or box not sitting on the mower deck correctly. Check for gaps around the bag/deck interface and holes in the bag.
Grass not going into the lawnmower bag? When your mower isn’t filling the grass bag, first try cleaning the bag, if that doesn’t help, replace the cutting blade.
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.
And the best part. it’s free!
The 6 Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Michelle Ullman is a home decor expert and product reviewer for home and garden products. She has been writing about home decor for over 10 years for publications like BobVila.com and Better Homes Gardens, among others.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics including environmental science and houseplants.
If you dream of a lush, green lawn, but dread the maintenance involved in keeping it that way, then a self-propelled lawn mower can make your life easier. These mowers not only power the blades but also power the wheels to make your pushing requirements little more than guiding the machine across the grass.
Brock Ingham, gardener, landscaper, and founder of the website Bigger Garden, says, The main advantage of a self-propelled mower is that it requires less effort to operate than a push mower. This can be beneficial for people with large lawns or those who have difficulty pushing a mower due to physical limitations. Self-propelled mowers can also provide a more consistent cut, since the speed is controlled by the mower rather than the operator. Overall, a self-propelled lawn mower can make mowing easier and more efficient.
Henry Bravo, founder and editor-in-chief of SmartGardenHome.com, adds, Self-propelled lawnmowers are much easier to maneuver around obstacles, and they can handle uneven terrain without a problem. Plus, I can adjust the speed so I can mow quickly or at a slower, more leisurely pace. And I love that I can easily switch between mulching, side discharge, and bagging capabilities.
We bought and tested several self-propelled mowers, both gas and electric, and evaluated many others based on their power, the size of lawn they can handle, their options for handling grass clippings, their range of cutting heights, the easiness of using the mower, and their overall value.
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- Variable-speed self-propel
- Generous battery runtime
- Fast recharging
- Folds for compact storage
Earning the top spot in our tests is a battery lawn mower that rivals the power of a gas mower but without the smelly fumes, the oil changes, or the frustrating pull cord. Instead, this self-propelled mower from EGO has a 56-volt, 7.5-Ah battery that provides up to 60 minutes of runtime on a single charge; that’s enough to mow most lawns up to a 0.5 acre and more than enough for our small yard. We put the mower to the test in early spring, mowing a lawn just out of winter dormancy that was patchy, wet, and ferny.
Other than attaching the bag, assembling the mower was easy. And a mere press of the button brought it roaring to life. This mower has a 21-inch cutting deck and a one-hand lever that adjusts the cutting heights through six different settings for grass heights of 1.5 to 4 inches. We found it very easy to adjust.
The lawn mower easily handles all common types of lawn grass, including tougher warm-season varieties like Bermudagrass, zoysia, and St. Augustine. A few buyers have complained that it struggles to lift overly tall grass high enough for an even cut. However, we found that it struggled a bit in the wet grass as well, becoming stuck at one point in a ferny patch. Aside from that, it delivers a precise and crisp cut that is sure to impress.
The speed of the mower is variable, so you can set it to match your stride from a leisurely 0.9 mph up to a brisk 3.1 mph. As this was our first time using a self-propelled mower, there was a bit of a learning curve. At first, it felt like the mower was pulling us along. However, we soon got the hang of it and appreciated the ease of adjusting the mower’s speed. We also liked the adjustable handle, which made it more comfortable to mow.
We found that the mower was easy to maneuver, even around obstacles or sharp turns. As the self-propelled function does most of the heavy work, this is also a great mower for yards with slopes. At nine inches in diameter, the mower’s wheels are fairly large, and it is rear-wheel drive, which also helps when mowing over rough terrain or hilly areas. You can dispose of the grass clippings in the included 2-bushel bag, discharge them to the side, or mulch them into fine clippings to quickly decompose them into healthful lawn nutrients. This mower even has a LED headlight, so you can mow early in the morning or at dusk to take advantage of mild temperatures.
Most of the mower’s construction is heavy-duty plastic for weather and rust resistance, but that might not be as durable as steel, although we felt it seemed quite sturdy. Once you finish mowing, the handle folds all the way down for easy storage. We really appreciated this feature, as the mower doesn’t take up as much room in the garage. This mower comes with a 56-volt battery and a fast charger that has the battery ready to go in just an hour.
How It Performed Long-Term
We are extremely satisfied with the performance of the lawn mower, particularly with how long the battery lasts. It can easily handle mowing the lawn three times without requiring a recharge. Even when it does need to be recharged, it only takes around 20 minutes. The mower is also highly effective when dealing with thick, tall grass and can even tackle 10 days of uncut grass without issue. Additionally, it can handle damp grass and leaves with ease. Initially, it took some time to become familiar with turning it on and utilizing the self-propel feature, but once we did, mowing the lawn became a breeze.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Power Source: Battery | Weight: 62.6 pounds | Grass Discard Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Make your yard the envy of your neighbors with one of these top lawn mowers.
By Tony Carrick and Mark Wolfe and Glenda Taylor | Updated May 18, 2023 4:59 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
A good lawn mower is crucial for maintaining a lush, well-manicured lawn. With so many options and brands to choose from, selecting a mower that is appropriate for your yard can be challenging. To this task easier for you, we got our hands on some of the most popular options and put them to the test on our own lawns.
Whether you’re replacing an old mower for your current lawn or buying one to maintain a new property, it’s important to choose one that fits the size and terrain of the property. This guide explores the features and factors that are important to consider when shopping for the best lawn mower while reviewing some of the top models on the market.
We tested the following lawn mowers to find out how they would perform in terms of cutting ability, finish quality, and operator comfort. Read on to learn more about the criteria we used to select our picks. Then check out our lawn mower reviews to learn why we consider these models to be some of the best lawn mowers available.
- BEST OVERALL:Honda 21-Inch Walk Behind Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Craftsman M220 150-cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- BEST3-IN-1:DeWALT 2X20V MAX 21.5-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- BEST BATTERY-POWERED:Ego Power 21-Inch Mower
- BEST RIDING LAWN MOWER:John Deere S130 42-Inch Lawn Tractor
- BEST CORDED LAWN MOWER:American Lawn Mower 14-Inch 120V Corded Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:Toro 50-Inch TimeCutter Zero Turn Mower
- BEST ROBOTIC:Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY:Makita 36V XML03 Electric Lawn Mower
How We Chose the Best Lawn Mowers
All of the mowers included in our list exceeded quality standards established in our shopping criteria and proved worthy through testing. We selected each of the above mowers based on our previously mentioned shopping considerations. After sourcing the mowers and assembling the mowers according to the manufacturer’s instructions, we tested them in an average yard in order to gauge capabilities in several key areas. The most critical aspects we observed included general quality and durability, mowing power and cut quality, and operator comfort and convenience.
We also tested each according to its claimed abilities. Riding mowers were used for larger and sometimes rougher areas and were assessed for power, speed, and comfort. Walk-behind and push mowers were mostly restricted to testing on well-established and well-maintained lawn spaces and closely monitored for cut quality and user convenience. We actually pre-mowed the grass ahead of testing the robot mower since it is intended to maintain rather than reduce grass height.
Our Top Picks
We tested mowers that range from corded lawn mowers for small yards to powerful self-propelled gas lawn mowers for medium-size yards to riding mowers that can handle 3 acres or more. Read on to learn more about these mowers, how they performed during our grass tests, and why we think they are some of the best.
Honda 21-Inch Walk Behind Mower
Whether it’s a car, generator, or lawn mower, it’s tough to beat the reliability and durability of Honda engines—and such is the case with this self-propelled gas lawn mower. Its powerful GCV170 engine powers not just one but two blades, giving it a cleaner, more precise cut over most other gas-powered lawn mowers that have just a single blade.
With its rear-wheel drive, this mower is ideal to contend with yards that have slopes and more-rugged terrain. Its engine is formidable, and so are its features. An easy-to-use clip system makes it simple to switch between its three grass-clipping options—mulching, side discharge, and bagging—and the well-designed speed controls add to the quality of this premium self-propelled walk-behind mower.
In our tests, this Honda walk-behind mower’s high-quality components and thoughtful design really stood out. The engine layout and oversize gas gap made fueling up and adding oil easy and can simplify oil and filter changes. After a quick 5-minute assembly of the handle and bagger and adding fuel and oil, the mower started on the first pull. The engine ran smoothly and surprisingly quietly.
The variable-speed controller at first felt awkward until we realized that we could adjust the angle to any of five positions. The mower had plenty of power for mowing and driving the wheels, even in dense, tall grass, and on steep slopes. If the goal is to find a top-quality walk-behind mower that is easy to use and leaves a great-looking finish, this would make an excellent choice.
- Power source: Honda GCV170 gas engine
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- Twin-blade mowing system for finer mulching
- Auto choke for fast, easy starting
- Variable speed, 0 to 4 miles per hour
- Clip system makes changing cutting modes easy
Get the Honda lawn mower at Amazon or Lowe’s.
Craftsman M220 150-cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mow
Craftsman is a well-established, well-respected brand in the world of lawn mowers, and this gas-powered model is no exception. It boasts a powerful 140-cc engine and an ample 21-inch mowing deck, making it ideal for yards up to ¾ of an acre.
Large 8-inch rear wheels with heavy tread make it easy to push this mower, while six cutting heights offer versatility. The mower also offers three disposal settings: mulch, side discharge, and bag. And while this mower may lack the power assist of other walk-behind mowers, it is significantly cheaper, making it a good choice for those with level yards who may not need a self-propelled mower.
We liked the Craftsman mower’s affordability and simplicity. It only required about 20 minutes of easy assembly. The completed handle configuration was a bit less refined in appearance, the grip area is unpadded metal, and the blade and drive control cables are retained on the handle by heavy-duty cable ties.
After adding oil and gas, the mower started easily on the first pull. It had good power for cutting average lawn grass and pulling uphill, but it bogged down ever so slightly in tall, overgrown grass. The front-wheel-drive feature made turning easy, but a fully loaded bagger could weigh down the rear and cause it to lose traction (we did not experience this). The fuel tank size is adequate to mow about a half acre per fill-up. This could be an excellent value pick for a budget-minded shopper looking for a durable self-propelled mower.
- Power source: 150 cc Briggs Stratton gas engine
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Walk-behind
- Front-wheel drive assists the user while mowing; prevents strain while in use
- Easy to start, no priming or choke required
- Side-discharge, mulch, or bag for ease of cleanup after mowing
- Self-propelled feature is not adjustable; may not be suitable for some users’ preferences
- Non-padded grip could lead to hand fatigue with extended use
Get the Craftsman lawn mower at Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, or Blain’s Farm Fleet.
DeWALT 2X20V MAX 21.5-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
With mulching, bagging, and side-discharge capabilities, the DeWALT 2X20V MAX self-propelled cordless lawn mower has a better-than-average build quality and thoughtful design. Its heavy-duty 21.5-inch, 15-gauge stamped-steel deck adjusts to six different cutting heights from 1.5 to 4 inches. Running on two batteries and offering up to 60 minutes of runtime per charge, this mower is ideal for small to medium yards up to a half acre.
We set up a test area for the DeWALT mower in our yard, with about 10,000 square feet of lawn that included some short but steep slopes, weedy spots, and dense grass. We mowed the test plot three times, requiring just over two full battery charges each time. The DeWALT covered about 5,000 square feet per charge when adjusted to 2.5 inches high with the grass catcher in place. At 3.5 inches, that extended to about 8,000 square feet and 40 minutes of runtime. The controls were well laid out for easy operation, and the cushioned handle felt comfortable while we mowed. Also, this mower is a space saver. With its fold-flat handle and vertical storage capability, it only needs about 2.5 square feet of storage floor space.
The DeWALT 3-in-1 lawn mower features a security-key-enabled push-button start. Its adjustable font-wheel-drive self-propulsion eliminates half the work of mowing, lets you choose your own pace, and works on all kinds of terrain. The motor is equipped with auto-sensing technology that seamlessly increases torque when encountering tougher mowing conditions. In our tests, it was easier to turn than rear-wheel drive mowers. A removable discharge chute, grass catcher, and integrated mulch plug allow for quick conversion to your preferred method of grass-clipping disposal. Overall, the quality of the DeWALT 3-in-1 mower is better than most and is a solid choice for quarter- to half-acre lots.
- Power source: Two 20-volt, 10-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
- Deck size: 21.5 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- Heavy-duty steel mower deck with 3-way grass-clipping management
- Front-wheel drive self-propel system supports safe operation and smooth turns
- Powered by 2 rechargeable DeWALT XR 20-volt (V) lithium-ion batteries
- 2-stage brushless motor preserves battery life and automatically increases power for tougher mowing conditions
- Ergonomic cushioned hand grip are comfortable to use and reduce operator fatigue
- Heavy and cumbersome to maneuver manually without the self-propel feature engaged
- Takes a long time to recharge the batteries with the included DCB107 battery chargers
- The mower’s battery compartment has an awkward design
Get the DeWALT cordless lawn mower at Ace Hardware, The Home Depot (with 3 batteries), Tractor Supply Co., or Acme Tools.
Ego Power 21-Inch Mower
The Ego Power comes ready to mow, including a battery and Rapid charger. The advancements Ego has made with its battery-powered mower sets it atop the cordless models. It boasts 45 minutes of runtime, thanks to its brushless motor and large 56-volt, 5-Ah battery. With its 21-inch deck, the Ego is suitable for yards up to half an acre. The Ego Power also includes other features that make it an attractive buy, including speed controls that the user operates with an intuitive dial and bagging, mulching, or side-discharge capability.
Overall, the Ego Power cordless mower was easy and comfortable to operate in our tests. The preset self-propelled pace felt comfortably moderate but not leisurely. The mower had no difficulty cutting normal grass and did not bog down noticeably in thick, tall grass. Finish quality was good to excellent.
We did notice that mowing in “push” mode (without the self-propelled motor running) extended battery life by about 20 minutes to as much as 65 minutes per charge. Buying a second battery for extended runtime, or as backup for tougher mowing, may be a wise investment. This mower would be a good choice for small and midsize lawns up to about a half acre and for owners who want to reduce noise, exhaust, and fuel handling.
- Power source: 56-volt, 5-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- 45 minutes of runtime per charge; suitable for small- to large-sized yards
- Battery charges in less than an hour; suitable for multiple uses or yards
- Battery works with many other Ego Power tools
- Emits power similar to a gasoline mower
- Higher cost than gas mower with similar power
- Poor traction on slopes; may not be ideal for hilly yards
- Noisy drive system; may not be ideal for nighttime mowing
Get the Ego lawn mower at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s.
John Deere S130 42-Inch Lawn Tractor
Larger yards from ½ to 2 acres call for a bigger machine for mowing. The John Deere S130, with its 22-horsepower V-twin engine and 42-inch deck, offers excellent mowing ability plus performance and comfort features that extend its range of use. The 20 by 10-8 rear tires and wide stance provide excellent stability and help to cushion the ride. It features hydrostatic operation, single-lever throttle with spring-return choke, ergonomic deck-height adjustment lever, dash-mounted digital fuel gauge, LED headlights, and John Deere’s Easy Change 30-second oil change system. The included drop-pin towing hitch and PTO make it compatible with a wide range of John Deere branded and non-branded yard implements such as utility carts, spreaders, sweepers, snow blowers, and more.
In our extensive test, the S130 lawn tractor proved to be a comfortable, capable riding mower with good maneuverability in a wide range of conditions. It easily handled grassy slopes up to 13 degrees (4.5 vertical feet per 20 linear feet), which is the limit recommended by the manufacturer. Measured against leading competitors, it offered a tighter real-life turning radius thanks to superior weight balance, and a seat base that is 3 inches higher to provide a better operator vantage point.
The high, open-back seat was well cushioned and supportive while allowing excellent ventilation. The deck height, blade engagement, and throttle controls were well positioned for convenience and safe operation. Even with the slightly elevated price tag, this mower offers tons of value, making it an excellent choice for most larger yards.
- Power source: 22-horsepower V-twin gas engine
- Deck size: 42 inches
- Type: Lawn tractor
- High vantage point for optimal viewing of the yard and machine while mowing
- Tight turning radius allows for clean and even cutting paths
- Comfortable seat and controls make it easy for the user to mow the lawn
- Should not require much maintenance to keep running for years
Get the John Deere riding lawn mower at Lowe’s or a local John Deere dealer.
American Lawn Mower 14-Inch 120V Corded Mower
Corded lawn mowers make an easy, affordable choice for smaller yards where a gas-powered mower would be a hassle. This mower from American Lawn Mower Company can keep the yard looking great at a low price point, without worrying about the mess or expense of gasoline or batteries.
Its 14-inch deck suits smaller yards and smaller storage areas. At about 20 pounds, this mower is easy to maneuver for those who might struggle with a heavier model. It also has a surprising range of options, allowing one to bag or mulch clippings (though it oddly has no side-discharge option). It also offers a convenient single lever for height control, eliminating the need to make height adjustments for each wheel individually.
In our tests, this model delivered a rock-solid performance. Assembly, which entailed installation of the handle and cord retainers, took about 10 minutes to complete. It mowed well, even in dense, weedy grass, and the bagger worked well. The small size and lightweight build limit this mower’s practicality more than its corded motor does.
By starting close to the electrical outlet and mowing progressively farther away, we easily minimized the risk of cord damage or entanglement. As an affordable mower for small yards, with arguably the least environmental impact, this quiet, capable corded electric model could be the best choice.
- Durable, maintenance-free electric motor; eco-friendly compared to similar options
- Lightweight and easy to use; offers excellent maneuverability
- Offers bagging and mulching options for easy clean-up after mowing
- Not ideal for large-sized yards; suitable for only the smallest yards
- No side-discharge option; may not be ideal for some users’ needs
Get the American Lawn Mower electric lawn mower at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
Toro 50-Inch TimeCutter Zero Turn Mower
If spending an entire afternoon mowing the lawn isn’t a problem, those with yards that could house a couple of football fields require a mowing deck that can level large swaths of green in a single pass. With its massive 50-inch deck, the aptly named TimeCutter from Toro is ready for a big job. This large mower, which boasts a 24.5-horsepower engine, can reach speeds of up to 7 miles per hour, making it capable of handling yards of 3 acres or more.
Toro also makes sure the operator will be comfortable while covering all that ground with its adjustable MyRIDE suspension system that absorbs bumps in the lawn as well as vibrations from the engine. Plush seating provides support and comfort for longer mowing sessions. Toro also includes other useful features, including a foot-lever-assisted deck-height adjustment, toolless oil-change system, and a cupholder.
When we tested the 50-inch Toro TimeCutter, we timed its performance on a 1-acre area of an old field converted to lawn. The MyRIDE suspension system smoothed out the ruts and bumps for a comfortable ride at near top speed. It mowed the acre in 20 minutes, a blistering 3-acres-per-hour pace. The finish quality was excellent, and it used less than 3 quarts of gasoline. As a point of comparison, a 22-HP, 46-inch lawn tractor that has been used to mow the same area takes nearly an hour and uses more than 1.25 gallons of gas.
Even before factoring in the amazingly comfortable ride, we appreciated the prospect of mowing in one-third the time and reducing fuel and maintenance expenses by half on this large lot. For large grassy areas, it’s hard to beat the efficiency of a zero turn mower, and the TimeCutter makes an excellent pick.
- Huge mowing deck makes this model ideal for medium- to large-sized yards
- Shock-absorbing suspension system integrated; can tackle tough jobs without causing strain to the user
- Large engine is capable of cutting thicker grass varieties
Get the Toro TimeCutter lawn mower at The Home Depot or a local Toro dealer.
Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
Pushing the edge of lawn mower technology further is this robotic lawn mower from Worx. It functions similarly to a robot vacuum cleaner by mowing a preset area of up to a quarter acre on its own. The operator sets up wire barriers that the lawn mower won’t cross, ensuring it only mows in a set area. It has a laser eye that guides it around any obstacles that might be in the yard. A single front caster and two large rear-drive wheels carry it through the yard while allowing it to turn on a dime.
The Worx Landroid M can also connect to a Smart device, through which the user can program daily schedules or direct the mower to stop or start. It runs off the same 20-volt Worx battery that powers the company’s other yard tools and will automatically return to its charging station when the battery gets low.
Testing the Landroid M required a detailed setup process, but then the operation was almost completely hands-off. After installing the Landroid mobile app, the base station, boundary wire, and establishing the mower’s Wi-Fi connection, we programmed the robot for a daily mowing schedule. Setup and programming were straightforward with easy-to-follow instructions and tutorial videos on the Landroid app. The whole process took about 2.5 hours, including time taken to watch videos. The covered area included a sloped section, a narrow corridor, a broad contiguous area, and an off-limits landscape bed.
Landroid mowed on time every time and stayed inbounds without a problem. On an evening when rain moved in during the mowing cycle, Landroid’s rain sensor picked it up and sent the unit back to its base station to wait it out. The only challenge we encountered was that the mower initially did not dock properly after mowing because the base station was not sitting level. After fixing that issue, it simply worked.
A week after we installed the Landroid, the grass it cut still looked freshly mowed with the exception of the edges, while the adjacent lawn outside Landroid’s coverage needed to be cut. Those looking to infuse the time-, fuel-, and labor-saving benefits of robotics into their lawn care routine would do well to consider Landroid.
- Mows up to ¼ of an acre with ease
- Can be controlled via an app through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
- Brushless motor extends battery life; suitable for small to large yards
- Onboard rain sensor protects the mower from potential damage
Get the Worx robotic lawn mower at Amazon.
Makita 36V XML03 Electric Lawn Mower
The Makita XML03, an 18-inch, battery-powered lawn mower, comes with four included batteries, and the claim that it will mow up to 1/3 acre on a single charge, so we tested that claim. We marked out a 1/3-acre area on our lawn and mowed with the Makita XML03 six times over three weeks.
During testing, the Makita mower completed all but one mowing session without battery depletion—with a small battery charge remaining. However, when we tested the mower on damp grass, we depleted all four batteries before we could finish the session. Keep in mind that the Makita mower is not self-propelled, so ultimately, the mowing area will depend on user speed and grass thickness.
Operating at 3,300 rpm, its single blade matches the speed of gas-powered mowers, but dense grass resistance can hinder spinning speed. The trick to overcoming this issue is to mow more frequently—while the grass height is low enough, you’re not removing any more than 1/3 of the grass leaf.
The height adjustment (a single lever on the back right wheel) is convenient; the mower’s deck height range of 13/16 inch to 3 inches could have been improved. This limitation may impact those with specific grass types or desired cutting heights. Although a typical range of 2-1/2 to 3 inches covers many grass varieties, species such as tall fescue are often mowed at 3-1/2 inches high.
The Makita’s detachable grass-catching bag holds 1.7 bushels (16 gallons), which is on the small side, and we had to empty the clippings frequently. But overall, the Makita XML03 meets its mowing claims with reliable battery performance. It starts at the press of a button and is much quieter than gas-powered mowers, so you won’t upset the neighbors if you mow early on a Saturday morning.
- Power source: Two 18-volt, 4-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
- Deck size: 18 inches
- Type: Walk-behind
- Environmentally friendly battery power eliminates the necessity for carbon-emitting gas and oil
- Produces less noise than gas-powered mowers, ensuring peaceful early morning mowing without disturbing neighbors
- Comes with 4 batteries upon purchase, allowing for convenient swapping of charged sets when 1 set runs out
- Simple push-button start eliminates the need for tugging cords or priming pumps
- The relatively narrow 18-inch swath width may result in time-consuming mowing for larger yards
- The Makita XML03 lacks self-propulsion, making it challenging to push on inclines
- The grass-clipping bag has a small capacity, so frequent emptying may be necessary
Get the Makita Lawn Mower at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
What to Consider When Choosing a Lawn Mower
In addition to mower type, it’s vital to consider other factors like deck size and fuel requirements when shopping for a lawn mower. Ahead, learn more about these and other important characteristics of lawn mowers.
Types of Lawn Mowers
The first step to selecting the right mower is to decide which type of mower best suits the yard.
Walk-behind mowers consist of two different kinds of mower: push and self-propelled. Self-propelled mowers have power wheels that pull the mower forward. Some self-propelled mowers have an adjustment feature to increase or decrease the travel speed for improved operator comfort and convenience. Manual mowers have no power-assisted wheels and must be pushed manually by the user.
Lawn Mowing Hack for Better Results
Riding mowers include zero-turn mowers, lawn tractors, and rear-engine riding mowers. Zero-turn mowers, the most expensive lawn mowers on the market, have a motor that sits behind the operator and are controlled using two levers. The mowers get their name from their ability to pivot 360 degrees in place. Zero-turn mowers also have very broad mowing decks. Their size and maneuverability make them ideal for cutting large lawns with obstacles the user must drive around.
A lawn tractor looks similar to a farm tractor with its motor in the front of the mower. The user operates the tractor from a driver’s seat using a steering wheel. Lawn tractors have broad mowing decks but do not have the small turning radius of a zero-turn tractor. Because of their balance and traction, lawn tractors are well suited for mowing hilly terrain and may be used for other property management tasks like towing a utility cart or plowing snow.
Rear-engine lawn mowers are similar to lawn tractors but have their engines in the rear. Rear-engine lawn tractors typically have smaller decks, though they allow for greater visibility and nimbler handling for the operator.
The newest type of lawn mower, robotic mowers look similar to robotic vacuum cleaners, only they are larger and have bigger wheels that enable them to move through grass. Robotic lawn mowers can mow a yard automatically while being controlled via a Smart device.
These lawn mowers are powered by a rechargeable battery and can be programmed to mow the lawn at programmed times and intervals. Robotic mowers require the user to set up wires in the yard that create boundaries for the mower so it doesn’t wander away. They also use laser-eye technology that spots obstacles in the yard so the mower can evade them.
Self-propelled mowers come in different drive wheel options including front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive.
- Front-wheel drive mowers are easier to turn by allowing the operator to raise the front wheels and use the back wheels to pivot.
- Rear-wheel drive mowers place the bulk of the mower’s weight over the drive wheels, creating better traction for climbing inclines and slopes.
- All-wheel drive mowers are well suited for yards with more extreme slopes and rougher terrain.
Cutting Width and Yard Size
A mower’s deck size determines the width of the swath of grass it can cut with each pass and hence how quickly it can mow the lawn. A wider deck also makes a mower less nimble, which can make it awkward to mow small lawns with flower beds, trees, and gardens to navigate.
A walk-behind mower with a deck up to 22 inches is usually a good size for a smaller yard of up to about half an acre. Riding mowers with decks that range between 30 and 46 inches are a good choice for lawns up to 1 acre. Zero turn mowers and lawn tractors with 48- to 60-inch decks can be efficient choices for larger properties.
Lawn mowers can use three types of fuel sources: corded electricity, gas, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Electric mowers supply a constant source of power; however, they are limited by a cord that connects to a standard wall outlet. This makes corded lawn mowers somewhat awkward to use. However, they are extremely durable, have no batteries to recharge or replace, and are almost entirely maintenance free.
Gas-powered lawn mowers provide the greatest amount of power, run a long time on a single tank, and have no recharge time to worry about. However, gas mowers are loud, require more maintenance to keep in top condition than electric mowers, and produce exhaust fumes.
Battery-powered mowers run on lithium-ion batteries. They are easier to start than gas-powered lawn mowers and create no exhaust fumes; however, they are less powerful and are limited to about 45 minutes of runtime per charge. Battery-powered mowers are also significantly more expensive to purchase than gas mowers, and the batteries typically need to be replaced every 5 years.
Mowers come in two blade types: the more common rotary and the cylinder blade. Rotary blades are the type of blade found on most residential lawn mowers. They consist of a blade or blades that spin on a horizontal plane, cross-cutting the tops of grass blades to trim them to the desired height.
Cylinder blades, which can cut grass to a very low height without damaging it, have historically been confined to use on sports fields and golf courses. They consist of a rotating cylinder that is equipped with blades that wrap around the cylinder in a spiral pattern. The blades cut the grass using a shearing action that creates a cleaner cut than rotary blades, which can tear grass and leave a ragged edge.
While cylinder mowers (also known as reel mowers) make more precise cuts, they are not capable of cutting through taller grass. In fact, their cutting ability ranges from a height of about 1/16 of an inch to 1 inch. This limits this type of mower to varieties of grass that can survive being cut to a low height, such as Bermuda grass.
Mowers offer different grass-disposal options including side discharge, mulching, and bagging. Side discharge ejects the grass clippings out of the side of the mower onto the lawn. Mulching keeps the grass clippings under the deck, allowing the blade to cut them multiple times to produce a fine mulch that quickly incorporates into the soil. Mowers that support baggers collect the clippings in a bag at the rear of the mower.
Mowers come with additional features that make them easier to operate and maintain. Deck height adjustment allows the user to increase or decrease the mowing height for optimal lawn health. These useful add-ons include mowing decks with built-in wash-out ports that make them easier to clean, switches that make it easy to change between cutting options, and easy-to-operate variable-speed controls for self-propelled mowers.
Many riding mowers have LED headlights for nighttime mowing, drink holders, adjustable plush ergonomic seating, and many other convenient features.
For those who have concerns about maintaining a lawn mower or are wondering how big an engine the mower needs, read on for answers to these and other common questions.
Q. How long should a lawn mower last?
Most mowers can last about 10 years, depending on how often it is used and how well it is maintained.
Q. How powerful of a lawn mower do I need?
Engine sizes for walk-behind mowers range from 140 cc to 190 cc. For tough terrain with thick grass, a larger engine is usually a better choice.
Q. Can I replace the pull cord on a lawn mower?
Yes. In fact, replacing the pull cord on a mower is a fairly simple repair, requiring just a screwdriver and wrench.
Q. How long does a lawn mower’s battery last?
As a general rule of thumb, a riding lawn mower’s battery can last about 4 years. The rechargeable battery on an electric mower can last about 5 years.
Q. How do I clean my lawn mower?
To clean a mower, tip the mower over to access the deck. Remove any grass clippings or debris that may be wrapped around the blade or stuck to the bottom of the deck. Wet the deck with a garden hose, then spray the underside with an all-purpose cleaner. Scrub the deck with a brush, then rinse thoroughly. Turn the mower back upright and use a damp rag or paper towel to wipe down the housing.
Q. How often do I need to change spark plugs in my lawn mower?
Change the spark plugs in the spring at the beginning of the mowing season or after 100 hours of use.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with a background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor-living goods.
Additional research provided by Tony Carrick and Glenda Taylor.
This is the very best small lawnmower for smaller outdoor spaces
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If you only have a small yard, but it is too much to maintain with a weed eater, you need to invest in the best small lawn mower. Because let’s be honest: a heavy-duty mower is probably overkill — in price, noise, and size — for your tiny yard, but there are plenty of compact mowers designed to maintain smaller spaces. As we just said, this one we reviewed from Worx did wonders on our small yard.
While some small lawnmowers are gas-powered, this one works on two batteries to be kind to the environment — and so that you never run out of power. Small lawn mowers offer different mulching options so that you can feed your lawn as you mow, and this one that we love gives you the choice to either bag it up or mulch your grass back into the ground.
Yes, the Worx WG779.E Power Share from Amazon is pretty amazing. Our reviewer loved it and found it so easy to use to trim her unruly but small lawn. It’s a great option for people who have an ample lawn, but lack the space to store a larger machine as it folds, and even if your yard isn’t small (we’re jealous!) it can be used to mow up to 1/8 acre (AKA 5000 sq ft). Wow!
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Worx Power Share 40-Volt 14-in Mower is small but mighty. At only 29 lbs, this mower is easy to move around, and even lighter when you remove the batteries for storage and transit.
Equipped with patented torque technology, you have the capability to increase the power of this mower to Turbo if you’re cutting thick grass (but remember, this will use up more battery). For regular use, we found Eco mode was competent, especially for regular trims. The cutting base is 14 inches across and there are six height adjustments that range between 2.5 to 3.5 inches with an easy-to-use lever for height adjustments. You can either mulch your grass or bag up to.85 bushels before a ‘full bag indicator’ alert notifies you it’s time to empty the bag.
To get started, simply insert the safety button, depress then pull the handle lever and you’re ready to mow. The Worx lawnmower runs on two 20V 4.0 Ah batteries. Power Share advertises that this mower can mow 5,000 square feet with just one charge. However, this wholly depends on various factors like the thickness or height of your grass. Just keep an eye on the battery meter to know when you need to juice up and keep spares on charge. We found it capable of doing a good half hour or more of mowing before it was time to recharge which is plenty for the average yard.
So while we think this is the best small lawn mower, as we’ve already mentioned: you could find it a good choice for a larger yard too.
You can read our full Worx WG779E 40V Cordless Lawn Mower review for more.
How to choose a lawn mower for your small yard
If you have opted for a small lawn mower then it is likely your main concerns will be around how much power and ease of use you can get into a compact package. At one time, electric lawn mowers, including cordless battery-powered models were quite big and heavy to accommodate large battery packs for optimal run time. Luckily, technology has advanced and things like more efficient batteries and brushless motors mean you get greater run time in a smaller package.
Next, consider the cutting width. Most range from 12 inches to 21 inches. It might be tempting to go smaller for ease of movement and storage space limitations, but with edge-to-edge cutting, even the largest model on our list is a great choice if you are looking for a particularly compact lawn mower. That said, bigger will tend to mean weightier, so if you are concerned about lifting — perhaps due to a bad back — take the narrower model and be prepared for a couple of extra runs of your yard.
Finally, if storage is your main reason for buying the best small lawn mower, look at foldable options. Many compact lawnmowers have a foldaway handle and don’t forget the grass box. Our favorite one has a soft material grass box that flattens down. Some mulching mowers have no grass box at all.
Tips for getting the most from your small lawn mower
Lawnmowers aren’t as scary as you think. They’re easy to use if you know the right tips and tricks.
Energy reserve You don’t want to be halfway through mowing your lawn only to discover that you’ve run out of juice. If you purchase a gas-powered lawn mower, make sure you top up before each use and have a gas container with gas stored in your garage or shed in case you need more.
For those who buy a battery-powered lawn mower, you might want to consider buying a backup battery. The harder a battery-powered lawn mower has to work (like a lawn where the grass is higher or thicker), the quicker the battery will die out. If your main battery runs out of charge mid-way through mowing the lawn, just pop in the backup battery.
Never mow a wet lawn If your lawn is wet from morning dew or rain, make sure you wait until it’s dry before you mow the lawn. For one, wet grass is heavier so the lawn mower won’t be able to cut the lawn to the best of its ability. Dry grass stands straight up making it easier to cut. Secondly, wet grass clippings can damage the mower which is an easy way to ruin your day.
Clean the lawn mower deck Every once in a while, turn the lawn mower over and clean under the deck. Grass and grime can build up under there and on the blades, making your lawn mower less effective over time. If you have a gas-powered mower, make sure the gas tank is empty and the spark plug wire is disconnected if you decide to clean the deck with the garden hose. It’s not a bad idea to blow off the lawn mower with your blower after each use.
Be careful what you mow over Before mowing your lawn, try to pick up sticks and other debris that could ruin your lawn mower blades. It’s best to avoid stumps and vines as these can also damage or get wrapped around the blades.
Grass clippings are good for the yard Although some people hate the sight of grass clippings left on a yard, they can actually be beneficial to your yard’s health as they’re a natural fertilizer. A mulching feature on a lawn mower is a good option because it breaks down leaves and grass and helps it to decompose quicker. That said, bagging clippings – especially weeds or grass that’s really high – could be helpful at certain times.
How we review small lawn mowers
Yes, this small lawnmower has been tested by a Real Homes reviewer. Our Content Director of Lifestyle Ecommerce tested it for us in her backyard, and as you can already tell: she loved it.
Lindsey has been writing about homes since 2013, when she joined the Homebuilding Renovating team. Now, she spends her time reviewing and managing several homes titles, including Homes Gardens and Livingetc, helping with best practices for our ecommerce content.
Lindsey reviewed the Worx lawnmower back in 2023, and when speaking about it says With an impressive battery life, good range of movement, and edge-to-edge cutting, this cordless lawn mower is great value for money. Easy to use and store, I almost can’t wait to mow the lawn again.
What type of mower is best for small lawn?
Definitely go for a smaller size lawnmower, and one that’s cordless if you can for total convenience, otherwise a corded model will still work. just check its cord is long enough to reach around your lawn. Try and get one that folds if you don’t have much storage space for your lawnmower, and do consider its cutting width — the higher this number, the faster you’ll be able to mow your lawn. But remember, the bigger the width of the mower, the bulkier it will be to store. We’d always say to go electric over gas for the environment and for convenience and ease.
Can I use a trimmer instead of a lawn mower?
If you want to follow the won’t take up any room route to its logical conclusion, it may be tempting to just use your trimmer instead of a lawn mower. After all, if it’s just a small lawn, how hard can it be? Trust us, it’s very hard work, and you won’t get an even trim no matter how hard you try. Even tiny lawns need lawnmowers, although if yours is really very small, a hand-push one will probably suffice.
If you really don’t want to mow though, don’t! We love the look of a wildflower meadow — as do any garden visitors like bees and small creatures.