How To Measure The Deck Size of Your Lawn Mower
Like every other appliance and tool we use regularly, our lawnmowers eventually reach the end of their lifespans. Although they can last decades with proper care, there may come a time when they refuse to work correctly, and fixing them would be excessively expensive. So, you may find yourself looking for a new lawnmower.
Since your old lawnmower worked perfectly for your yard, easily maneuvering between ornamental trees and flowerbeds, you need a mower that matches its size. But how do you measure the deck of a lawnmower? Let’s find out.
What Is The Deck On A Lawnmower?
The deck on a lawnmower (also referred to as a cutting deck) is the part that protects the user and engine from the blades. It helps ensure safety in the event of blade malfunction and prevents debris from flying off the blades while mowing. Tiny rocks and stick debris could cause injury without the deck to prevent them from flying in the user’s face, so it’s an essential part of the setup.
How Do You Measure Deck Size On A Lawnmower?
Although measuring the deck size of your lawnmower seems like a straightforward task, it can be a bit tricky, especially if there are pulleys in the way of obtaining the correct measurement. However, it’s doable with a bit of effort, so here’s what you’ll need:
To make things easier, prop your mower up on a chunk of wood or a few bricks. This will elevate the mower, so you don’t need to lie on the ground to measure. Otherwise, you could push it onto a trailer or ramp to easily access the cutting deck.
Extend your tape measure across the widest point on one side of the deck (back or front) to the opposite edge. Try to keep the tape extended across the middle of the deck. Ensure you keep the tape measure level and account for the added with due to the anti-scalp rollers and discharge chute.
Note the size. To determine the area of the mower deck, you’ll need to measure the length of the deck. So, run your measuring tape along the top of the deck, extending the tap from front to back instead of side to side. Note your measurement, then multiply it by the width to determine the mowing deck’s total area.
If you have a riding lawnmower, you’ll need to elevate it before measuring in most cases, as the deck might not be easily accessible. Here’s what you’ll need:
If your mower’s cutting deck isn’t accessible from the topside or pulleys are blocking a clear measuring path, start by raising the mower. Chock the mower’s rear wheels to keep them in place, then raise the front of the mower by about 6 inches using a floor jack. Using your measuring tape, measure directly across the broadest part of the deck from one side to the other. Note your measurement.
If your lawnmower has a circular deck, find the widest part of the circle. Use your measuring tape to find the diameter of the circle, which represents the width of its cutting deck.
What Is The Deck Size Of A Lawnmower?
The deck size of a lawnmower varies based on the type of lawnmower in question. The cutting deck may be as small as 14 inches wide on the low end, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the cutting deck may be as wide as 72 inches.
Zero Turn Mowers
As the name implies, zero-turn mowers have the ability to turn on a dime. Unlike other riding mowers and lawn tractors, these mowers feature a mowing deck positioned in front of the machine. This allows users to easily maneuver the machine without an issue, making mowing much more manageable.
These mowers come in a few different cutting deck sizes, including the following:
- 36 to 42 inches: best for 1- to 2-acre yards
- 42 to 54 inches: Perfect for 3- to 4-acre yards
- 54 to 72 inches: Ideal for more than 4 acres
These mowers are considerably different than a generic gas-powered push mower. Unlike most modern lawnmowers, reel mowers are mechanically powered, so you have to push them to cut the grass.
On these mowers, the blades rotate vertically, unlike other mowers, where the blade spins horizontally (called rotary mowers). Reel mowers tend to be considerably smaller than most lawnmowers, as they usually feature a cutting deck with a width between 14 and 20 inches. They’re ideal for small yards of less than half an acre when purchasing a gas or electric lawnmower isn’t logical.
Gas And Electric Push Mowers
These mowers feature a small engine that spins the blades tucked underneath it. Some designs feature an attached bag for easy clipping removal, whereas others don’t have this feature. The engine may be powered via gas or electricity, depending on the particular model.
Generally, these mowers are manual, so you need to push them across your lawn. However, there are self-propelled varieties available that can drive themselves over your lawn with your guidance.
Gas and electric push mowers usually feature a cutting deck ranging from 16 to 30 inches in width, which is ideal for yards smaller than one acre.
Riding Mowers And Lawn Tractors
Like zero-turn lawnmowers, riding mowers and lawn tractors are ideal for larger yards with extra acreage of grass. Lawn tractors are multi-functional – they can do more than simply mow your lawn. Riding mowers, on the other hand, are merely for mowing.
However, since they’re similar in many aspects, they come in similar sizes. You can buy one of these mowers with a 36- to 42-inch cutting deck, which is ideal for 1- to 2-acre properties. Or, if you have a larger lawn with 3 to 4 acres of grass to cut, you might want to invest in one with a 42- to 54-inch cutting deck.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Better To Buy A Larger Lawn Mower?
While it might seem like bigger is always better, especially for lawnmowers, this isn’t always the case. Larger lawnmowers are usually more expensive, so it might not always make sense, especially if you have a smaller yard.
Generally, it’s best to stick with a reel mower or a gas/electric push mower if your yard is smaller than one acre. A reel mower works best for lawns smaller than half an acre, as it’s a reasonably small mower. Gas and electric push mowers are ideal for yards smaller than one acre.
If you have a larger lawn with several acres of grass, using a push mower or reel mower will take a long time. While it’s entirely doable to use one of these mowers on a massive lawn, it might make more sense to invest in a riding mower or lawn tractor, especially if your yard is three or more acres.
Do Smaller Lawnmower Decks Cut Better?
Although smaller lawnmower decks don’t necessarily cut the grass better, they can create a better result than a larger mower deck. They’re not nearly as heavy as their larger counterpart, so they usually don’t leave noticeable tire tracks.
On top of that, they tend to create a smoother cut. This is because the smaller cutting deck follows the ground’s contours, ensuring the grass is cut evenly all the way around. There’s also usually only one blade working, not multiple blades. Larger mowers with numerous blades can create uneven lawns, especially when one of the blades is bent or improperly set up.
My name is Matt, and I am the founder of Obsessed Lawn. I am very passionate about my lawn. keeping it looking beautiful but also safe for my family, friends, and our dog Liberty. I hope you find my website helpful in your quest for a great-looking lawn!
Lawn Mower Dimensions: How Big Are They?
Of all of the factors to consider when shopping for a lawn mower, size is probably the first one to take into consideration. This is because everybody has a different type of lawn and differing amounts of storage for the machine itself. When it comes to mowers, they really aren’t one size fits all. You might have already looked at a bunch of different lawn mower dimensions, but it’s hard to understand what their sizes mean without any context. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the standard lawn mower deck sizes and what they’re best suited for.
Standard Lawn Mower Dimensions (The Quick Overview)
When it comes to lawn mower dimensions, these are the two most common questions:
- How wide is a lawn mower/What size mower deck do I need for my yard?
- What is the right type of lawn mower for my lawn?
To answer these questions, it’s best to FOCUS on the size of the cutting deck. Below is a table with the standard deck sizes for each type of lawn mower and what size of yard they should be used with.
Dimensions for Different Types of Lawn Mowers
Now that you’ve got a pretty good idea of the standard lawn mower widths across the different types of machines, it’s a good idea to consider the rest of their dimensions. I’ll explain more about each type of lawn mower and throw some other standard lawn mower dimensions at you. Though each lawn mower deck size has a recommended yard size, these other details will help you narrow down exactly which lawn mower would be best for your yard.
Riding Lawn Mower Dimensions
When talking about riding lawn mower sizes, the first and most important measure is the deck width. Riding mower deck sizes typically range from 36 to 54 inches. However, the average riding lawn mower deck size is 42 inches. This is also true for lawn tractors. But, ride on mower width isn’t the only thing to consider.
You might be wondering, how long is a riding lawn mower? Well, they vary slightly but on average they are about 6 feet long. It’s important to know this if you are thinking about buying a riding mower because you’ll need to store it. While they aren’t quite as long as a car, they do take up a good amount of space. In addition, riding lawn mowers stand about 4 feet tall.
To determine what size riding mower is best for you, you’ll need to consider how large your yard is and reference it with the table above. Most people recommend riding mowers with a 36 to 54-inch cutting deck for yards that are 1 to 4 acres in size.
Zero-Turn Mower Dimensions
The dimensions of a zero-turn mower are actually pretty similar to most riding lawn mowers. On average, they will be about 4 feet in height, 6 feet in length, and 4 feet in width. The main difference is that some are built with larger cutting decks. This is seen with zero turn mower deck sizes within the 54 to 72-inch range. You won’t be able to find a non-commercial riding lawn mower or lawn tractor with this large of a deck. Since there is a big range of zero turn lawn mower deck sizes, they can accommodate many different yard types.
As seen in the table at the start of the article, 36 to 54 inch zero turn lawn mowers can be used in yards of the same area as riding mowers. However, when dealing with lawns over 4 acres, a zero turn mower width between 54 to 72 inches will give you a huge (and almost necessary) advantage.
Gas Push Mower Dimensions
Gas push mowers have a smaller range of sizes compared to riding and zero-turn mowers. Usually a push mower’s deck size is about 21 inches in diameter. But, there are mowers with slightly larger or smaller decks. Gas push mowers with larger decks tend to be self-propelled because of the added weight. Aside from the width, a standard push mower will be about 3 feet tall and 5 feet long (with the handle extended).
With gas-powered push mowers, you have a couple of options, smaller mowers in the 20-inch range, or wider 30-inch mowers. The best rule of thumb when choosing one or the other is to consider how large your yard is, and how many tight spaces you need to be able to fit into. The added width a 30-inch push mower provides can help a lot if you have a really big yard, but a smaller deck size can be really valuable if you have to do a ton of cornering or squeezing past obstacles.
Electric Push Mower Dimensions
The dimensions of most electric push mowers are almost identical to those of gas push mowers. A standard electric push mower will be about 18 inches wide, 3 feet tall, and 5 feet long. But, like other mower types, there are a bunch of options for mower width if you have the budget for it.
When it comes to the range of electric push mowers, the type of electric mower you get determines how much ground you can cover. Corded electric mowers, for example, are usually better for small to medium-sized yards. Extension cords tend to drop voltage as they increase in length, and can realistically only reach so far. Cordless electric mowers also tend to have a smaller range than most gas push mowers. This is because even the highest quality batteries won’t last as long as a tank full of gas. To combat this, a lot of manufacturers provide two fast-charging batteries to buyers. And because of this, high-end cordless mowers can be used for large yards as well.
Reel Mower Dimensions
Old-school reel mowers are simple but extremely effective. The standard width of a reel mower is 14 inches but there are some wider models. Like push mowers, they are roughly 3 feet tall but are usually only 2 feet in length.
Reel mowers are awesome for small yards but larger models can be used on any lawn up to a half-acre in area. Running solely on elbow grease, you won’t have to worry about running out of fuel.
Implications that Different Lawn Mower Dimensions Can Have
Deciding what size lawn mower you need can be a difficult choice. Let’s run through a few of the biggest implications that size can have when it comes to mowers:
Larger deck size/dimensions means fewer passes
As you can imagine, wider mowers cover ground more quickly. Shaving off an extra ten or twenty inches each pass makes a huge difference in the amount of time required to mow large yards. One of my neighbors made the switch from a lawn tractor with a 48-inch deck to a zero-turn with a 60-inch deck about two years ago and they were amazed how much faster they were able to get the job done. The ease of turning with a zero turn mower made a huge difference too.
But even a 6-inch difference between push mowers is noticeable. Still, if you have a small or medium-sized yard you probably don’t have to worry too much about going way up in size as you might only be able to cut your mowing time down a few minutes at best.
Smaller mowers are easier to store
Easy storage is a huge perk of using a smaller mower, especially if it’s a reel mower. I don’t know many people with a ton of extra space in their garage, so it’s worth considering how much room you want your lawn mower to take up. For instance, If you want a riding lawn mower you will almost need a full extra car stall’s worth of space to store it.
Size affects maneuverability
Taking corners and tackling hills are the biggest factors when it comes to maneuvering a lawn mower. Personally, I tend to prefer push mowers that are on the smaller side. This is because they are much easier to corner and are able to squeeze into tight places. The same is true when it comes to hills. Smaller cutting decks reduce the weight of the mower and are a little bit easier to push uphill.
Since I use my zero turn mower to cover the largest parts of the yard, and my push mower to get into the hard to reach places, I don’t need a push mower with a large deck. However, if you have a medium or large yard with hills and you don’t have a riding mower, a wider mower can be a huge advantage. Self-propulsion helps a lot with hills, and larger rear wheels can make a heavier mower easier to turn.
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the “lawn mower guru” (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
Комментарии и мнения владельцев
TRADE WARNING…Width of mower between tree trunk and curb. We all know how landscapers prefer larger wider professional mowers. Inadvertently resulting in an exponential increase of severe trunk gouging, especially to new Young trees. Regardless if a wide patch of mulch is void of any grass preventing need for mower or weed wacker to get anywhere near several hundred dollar landscape tree. Ironically it’s the very bag attachment bracket permanently affixed to the widest side of mower dimension that creates worst type of trunk tissue wounding. And most landscapers only use attachment to bag clippings in fall. Preferring not to have to haul bags of grass away. On a personal note as a professional arborist I wish I would see more landscapers pulling out the smaller mower. First to prevent said Hardscape damage as mentioned. But especially when having no choice but to cut grass after a rain event. As heavier equipment used creates more permanent soil compaction compared to smaller mowers. I mean we all hate surface tripping tree roots which are a direct result of severely compacted soil. With wetland tree species that more sensitive to root oxygen deprivation. Imagine how bad soil underneath must be if a root forced to grow on top of ground. This is why we purchased our first bright yellow mulching mower in 1976 and change cutting pattern each week to prevent wheels going over same location. Plus it looks cool with our house being on a corner.
Hi Scott, I will agree that sometimes lawn crews don’t show enough care when it comes to trees, whether it be gouging with a lawn mower or weed whacking around trunks. But at the same time, I understand that time is money. It’s not a good excuse, but it seems to be the reality. I guess the old adage “you get what you pay for” is true in this case. The only real way to get exactly what you want is to take care of your own lawn and yard if you can. Thanks for the Комментарии и мнения владельцев. Tom.
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.
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.
Wide Area Lawn Mowers
Wide Area Lawn Mowers, also known as “Finish Cut” Lawn Mowers come in a variety of sizes from 25 inches to 60 inches, and are used in places where a walk mower is preferred over a riding lawn mower but there is a need for increased productivity and/or quicker cutting. While bagging kits are available for many of these types of mowers, many of those kits are side of deck oriented, and are therefore not as convenient as mulching or the rear-bagging 30″ Toro. The Scag “V-Ride” is a Stand-on Mower that can also be used as a walk-behind Wide Area Lawn Mower.
In addition to servicing virtually all of these units, ASJ sells Wide Area Lawn Mowers from Husqvarna, Scag, Toro and Gravely.
ASJ Small Engines, Etc.
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