Lawn Mower Handle Extension for Tall People 3
Mowing the lawn can be a pain in the back, particularly if you are tall like me and find yourself hunching over to reach the handle. So, the way I see it, we should either get robot lawn mowers, or a lawn mower handle extension. In light of avoiding judgment day, I choose the latter. There are a variety of ways lawn mower handles can be extended, and I’ll go through these. First though, I’d like to mention the off-the-shelf solution, adjustable lawn mower handles.
Adjustable Lawn Mower Handles
Some lawn mowers allow you to increase the angle of the handle. This at first appears to be a good solution. The problem though is that it may bring your feet dangerously close to the mower. It may also make the mower more awkward to push.
A better option is a telescoping handle, which is gradually becoming more common. I haven’t tried any of these out personally so can’t say just how adjustable they are. But from the reviews and some common sense, I figure the adjustment is suitable for someone around 6′, but insufficient for someone my height, 6′7″. Of course though, a bit of adjustment is better than nothing. Another yard tool for cutting your grass that can now be found with an adjustable handle is the grass trimmer.
Lawn Mower Handle Extension: Additional Handle
Perhaps you don’t want to buy a new lawn mower. In this case, you could try attaching a handle extension. You can purchase one of these here. Alternatively, some people have taken to attaching bicycle bar-ends. But neither of these solutions may be long enough for the really tall among us. And another issue with handle extensions is that they do not extend the controls. The DIY solution is to use Velcro to hold the on-switch in the on position. Do that at your own risk though!
Lawn Mower Handle Extension: Spacer
Rather than putting an extension on the end of the handle, you could put a spacer somewhere in the middle. There are kits for this that are actually intended for mowing on a slope. Except for the tallest of people, these will extend the handle too far, but perhaps you could tweak it. The DIY solution is to use some aluminium or steel pipe, perhaps electrical conduit. You can then add whatever length you desire (the Universal Object Scaler can help you decide on a length). Hose clamps or bolts can hold the spacer in place. But the advantage of kits over the DIY solution is that they likely come with the additional wiring you will require.
My solution was to extend my push mower (I don’t have a ton of grass). This was a relatively simple tall solution. I just unbolted at the connection, and inserted a new piece of pipe. The new pipe of course first had to have holes drilled and ends hammered to a square shape.
Lawn Mower Handle Extension: Tilter
As I mentioned earlier, some lawn mowers allow you to tilt the handle up. For those that don’t, there is a nifty device that changes the angle at the bolt intersection. The great thing about this solution is that nothing has to be changed as far as the controls and wiring. The main issue though is that the mower is now closer to you. This, when combined with long legs, might be an issue.
Have you tried any of these solutions or perhaps one I haven’t mentioned? Or do you just get the neighbor’s kids to cut the grass for you?
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Riding Mower vs Zero Turn Mower: Which is best for your lawn?
Stuck in the weeds wondering whether a riding vs zero-turn lawn mower is right for you? We compile the facts and give a verdict.
Managing large lawns can feel impossible; between the sheer size and obstacles like trees or hills, it’s easy to struggle without the right equipment. Two of the most common mowers that can help gardeners and turf maintenance crews are the riding mower and the zero-turn mower. But which is better? With the help of STIGA expert Gary Whitney, we break down the riding vs zero-turn lawn mower debate into its essentials. differences, cut, hills, cost, and ease of use.
But what should customers consider as we cut to the facts behind these titans of mowing? Whitney suggests these tips: ‘What size lawn [you are cutting] and how tricky it is to cut as regards trees, borders, etc. The price that one wants to pay [for a mower]. Whether you want a battery-powered model which is kinder to the environment [over a gas-powered model].’
A riding lawn mower is exactly as it sounds. It has a plush seat and steering wheel and controls almost like a car to help you handle expansive lawns. Rather than having to struggle to push walk-behind mowers over hills and around obstacles, you can sit in comfort and have some fun while mowing.
A zero-turn mower, on the other hand, is a type of riding lawn mower rather than its own style. It has many similar features but is much more precise regarding manoeuvrability across the lawn.
Read on to discover our final verdict in the riding vs zero-turn mower showdown.
What’s the difference between a riding and a zero-turn lawn mower?
The main differences between the two mowers are steering and turn radius. A standard riding mower handles similarly to a car, with two front and two back wheels moving respectively to help you cut the lawn. The zero-turn mower instead can turn each of its wheels individually and go backwards using levers.
A zero-turn mower’s ability to control individual wheels allows for maximum precision and control, minimizing its turn radius to almost zero. This ability defines the zero-turn mower and brings ultimate precision while mowing around obstacles like trees or flowerbeds.
Is a zero-turn mower as good as a riding mower? Whitney says it is, using a STIGA model as an example: ‘Yes, in fact, the Gyro is powered by STIGA eMotion Technology, a unique electronic system developed to effortlessly govern direction, steering, and speed. The mower offers an extremely precise joystick, mounted on the armrest, which controls the vehicle, allowing it to turn on a sixpence…guaranteeing an enjoyable ride and taking lawn mowing to a new level.
The precision control and 360° turning radius facilitate mowing particularly close to the edges along bushes or lawns while simultaneously ensuring the best-possible visibility over the broader mowing area.’
When considering which of these two styles is best for your lawn, it is worth taking note of how many obstacles and edges you contend with as you mow. If you are mowing a lawn with plenty of trees and flowerbeds, a zero-turn mower may be best for you with its precise controls. If your lawn is simple, a standard riding mower may work best.
Riding vs zero-turn lawn mower: Which cuts better?
How well a mower controls means nothing if it cannot cut the grass well. You want to ensure a nice even cut and maybe even mow lawn stripes at the same time. Speed and precision are key factors in the quality of your cut.
When it comes to precision, the zero-turn mower is best. It can easily handle tight turns and walled edges much more efficiently than a riding mower can. Certain models can also come with handy cutting features, like STIGA’s Gyro model: ‘The new STIGA Gyro is a battery-powered drive-by-wire joystick system is much easier to use for both first-time zero-turn drivers and for those who are used to steering stick controls. With the garden tractors, you have the option of petrol or battery.
The larger battery STIGA version is very easy to use with all the controls simply actioned through the electronic dashboard. One touch gets you started. Another lets you switch between three STIGA Smart cutting modes – including Eco, which uses 40% less energy.’
When it comes to speed, faster is not necessarily better when it comes to cut quality. Just like rushing a task at work, faster speeds can mean sloppier finishes. The zero-turn mower is typically faster than its riding mower counterpart, but a riding mower typically has better cut quality as it takes its time before moving on. How fast a riding mower goes will depend on the model, but slow and steady wins the race in this case.
Which mower cuts better? We would recommend a zero-turn mower if you value precision and speed over cut quality. If you do not mind being slightly slower and getting a better cut for it, choose a riding mower.
Riding vs zero-turn lawn mower: Which is better for hills?
Hills help make lawns unique and beautiful. but they can be incredibly difficult for certain mowers to cut. Certain lawnmowers are better at handling uneven terrain than others. which will win in this riding vs zero-turn lawnmower showdown?
When mowing hills, safety is a key factor alongside cut quality. Riding mowers are often equipped with safety features like a safety cage or bag as well as rugged wheels and other attachments to help you stay safe. This combined with their slower pace and lighter build makes them much more capable of handling uneven terrain safely.
Zero-turn mowers typically have a much harder time with hills than standard riding mowers do, especially if they are wet. For all their speed and precision, zero-turn mowers are not recommended for especially hilly terrain. They do not have the same attachment and safety options that riding mowers do and are poor at handling wet or angled grass. Their large and heavy weight makes it much more difficult to make it up steep terrain.
If your lawn is particularly hilly or you live in a rainy area, we would recommend getting the riding mower over the zero-turn ones. It would also be best to ensure that you invest in one with proper safety features. Zero-turn mowers are best for more even terrain and sunnier areas.
That being said, innovations in the industry mean that zero-turn mowers are improving rapidly alongside their standard riding counterparts. It may be possible to find a model that will handle being put to the test on uneven terrain. Read customer reviews and take stock of the safety features to see if your desired zero-turn model can handle hills.
Riding vs zero-turn lawn mower: Which is cheaper?
Cost is a major factor when it comes to getting a new lawn mower. We all have a budget and want to get the most bang for our buck in terms of power, features, and more. Both riding mowers and zero-turn models cost thousands of dollars, but which is cheaper?
When it comes to the cost of a mower, it is not just the upfront purchase cost that matters. it is also the running cost. Mowers typically run on either gas or batteries, with battery mowers being both more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run. We recommend checking what fuel your desired model uses and factoring that in terms of maintenance and running costs.
Upfront, riding mowers are typically cheaper to buy than their zero-turn counterparts. You can often find standard riding models for 1200-10,000. this is around 30-50 percent cheaper than zero-turn models go for. With zero-turn mowers, you are paying for a complex machine that is highly advanced, meaning that it will cost you more. It is unlikely that you will find a new or good-condition zero-turn mower for less than 3000.
Consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend both upfront and on fuel in the long term. Try searching for seasonal deals or coupon discounts in your local area or online to see if you can get a good deal on a mower. If buying one upfront is not an option for your current budget, it may be worth looking into renting a riding or zero-turn mower locally until you are ready.
If you are on a budget, we recommend choosing a riding mower over a zero-turn model. It is a simpler machine that has been around for longer, meaning that it is typically easier to find cheaper models. If you have the cash to splash and need to invest in a more advanced machine, a zero-turn mower could be a good investment.
Riding vs zero-turn lawn mower: Which is the easiest to use?
The easier something is to use, the more likely it is that you will use it regularly. Lawnmowers are machines that need practice and work like any other, but the easier they are to work with the better.
The 10 Best Electric Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Sage McHugh has written for Dotdash Meredith since 2019. With over a decade of experience in consumer-oriented content, Sage has a passion for products and how they enhance our everyday lives.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Shereen Jegtvig is an author, fact-checker, and expert with over two decades of experience in health and wellness in the lifestyle space. In addition, she is a Developmental Editor for Dotdash Meredith where she reviews the work of other fact checkers.
Electric lawn mowers have many advantages over gas-powered models. For example, electric models don’t release exhaust fumes and can be significantly quieter and easier to operate, resulting in a much more pleasant mowing experience all around. “Electric lawn mowers come with many features to help owners stay safe, comfortable, and productive,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
We researched many different types of electric lawn mowers and tested several in our own backyards across the country. We then evaluated products based on their setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value and selected our favorites in a range of categories for this list. During our first run with the mower, we timed the assembly process and made careful notes about how clear and simple the included directions were. Following this, we utilized the mowers on three separate occasions, taking note of the grass length cut, the total area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to complete the task.
In our latest round of testing, we put six riding lawn mowers through their paces in our personal yards and selected the best electric ones based on its power, maneuverability, and noise level.
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- Powerful and easy to use
- Lightweight and foldable for vertical storage
- 60-minute runtime and recharging
- Relatively affordable
After testing other electric mowers across the country, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is our best overall pick because it is very easy to use, lightweight and compact, and offers additional power when you need it, all at a relatively affordable price. Self-propelled mowers make mowing—especially over hills and rugged terrain—much easier because the mower moves for you at your pace, while you simply guide it around your yard. This option is no exception. While we tested this mower, we almost found it too powerful at first, especially because it was our first time using a self-propelled mower. But once we got the hang of it, we turned it off and on easily, and adjusted the speeds when needed by using the levers on the handle. We found the self-propulsion helpful for going up small hills (the lowest speed was all we needed) and turned it off when navigating around obstacles.
We also appreciated the battery life and fast recharging this mower offers. Although it comes with just one EGO 56V ARC Lithium battery, it has a 60-minute runtime and only takes about the same time to recharge using the included Rapid charger. And while it only took 50 minutes to mow our lawn, we are happy to report that the battery did not run out. If you have other EGO products at home with the same battery, you could always swap in that battery if you have a larger lawn and want to continue mowing without much of a break.
Other user-friendly features we love include the easily-adjustable handle: You have two options for the height and three options for the angle, so you can pick the one that is most comfortable for you. We also found adjusting the cutting height to be a simple task, with six settings to choose from ranging in height from 1.5 to 4 inches. And when you are done, the handle is just as easy to fold, so you can store your mower vertically in your garage or shed. We do want to note that while we think this mower did a great job mowing in dry and damp conditions, once when mowing over a particularly wet area, an orange light came on and the mower stopped. However, once we moved the mower to a more drier area, we were able to start it again easily. The only other minor issue we reported is putting on the grass collection bag. We found it would be much easier with two people since it clips on tightly and it’s a bit hard to get around the support bar (it popped off a few times during this process). But other than those small issues, we think this is an excellent electric mower for navigating different types of terrain with ease.
How It Performed Long-Term
We’ve been testing this lawn mower for three months and are impressed with its long-lasting battery life. With the ability to mow the lawn three times before requiring a recharge, which only takes around 20 minutes, it is a reliable and efficient machine. This mower can effortlessly handle thick, tall grass and can even manage up to 10 days of uncut grass without any issues. While we initially experienced some issues with the mower stopping and a light running orange while mowing grass, we have since been able to handle damp grass with ease. Overall, this mower is ideal for individuals who may not have the hand or upper body strength to adjust tires or use a pull cord.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 62.61 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower
- Affordable, powerful, and compact
- Unlimited run time
- Seven cutting positions
- Bag, mulch, and side-discharge settings
We’ve tested the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower several times over the last few years, and it continues to stand out as the best affordable choice for small yards and tight spaces, even those with somewhat challenging terrain. In fact, while testing this mower in our latest round of testing, we had no issues navigating over divots, clumps, bumps, and other parts of our lawn that were uneven—we found that this mower powered right through them. Plus, the 12-amp motor is powerful enough for tough cutting and mulching, including the tall, spindly weeds in our yard. We didn’t report any issues mowing over slightly wet grass either.
The 20-inch cutting deck is narrower than some other options, but we found that it helped us get through the tight areas of our yard easily. Adjusting the cutting height (seven different heights ranging from 1.5 to 3.75 inches) is simple as well, and really is the only setting you need to worry about. However, we did note that the mower didn’t go quite low enough to cut some patches of clover. Although it’s budget-friendly, we love that you have three options for your grass clippings—bag, mulch, or side discharge—and you don’t have to purchase any of these features separately (which would add to the cost). The grass collection bag was easy to clip on, although we did spill some grass clippings the first time we removed it and noted that the bag was not even full. However, we think this won’t be an issue once we get the hang of it.
Although this electric model is corded, we appreciated the unlimited runtime and didn’t find the cord to be cumbersome. We did find ourselves holding on to the cord even though there was a cord restraint system that kept it in place, but we were able to mow the lawn easily with our other hand. It’s important to note that this mower must be used with a 14-gauge 50-foot extension cord or a 12-gauge 100-foot extension cord (not included). Overall, we found this to be a really easy lawn mower to set up (just a few screws are needed for the handle), use, and store (just fold the handle), and it continues to impress us with its performance and price.
Price at time of publish: 230
Cutting Width: 20 inches | Weight: 56 pounds | Power Source: Corded | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower
- Powerful performance
- 70-minute runtime
- Fast, 60-minute charging
- Lightweight and folds for storage
Although it is a little more of a splurge compared to other options we tested, The Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower stands out for its powerful performance (comparable to some gas models), and long, 70-minute runtime. We tested this mower on the first grass of the season and were quickly impressed by its ease of use and quiet performance (we thought it almost sounded like white noise), especially compared to gas models we’ve used in the past. Thanks to the self-propelled technology, it was a breeze to mow over uneven terrain, even over hills, with little effort on our part. It did take a little bit of time to select the right cutting height for our uneven lawn (the blade did get stuck a few times), but once we adjusted the height, we were impressed by the cutting performance. Luckily this mower offers seven adjustable cutting heights (1.5 to 4 inches), so you can easily pick the one you need. We also want to mention that like our best overall mower, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower, the self-propelled feature does take some time to get used to, and you may feel like the mower will run away on you at first until you figure out which setting you need for each part of your yard.
This model comes with two 40-volt batteries and a Rapid charger. Since only one battery is needed at a time, you will always have one ready to go should you need it. Our lawn took only 45 minutes to an hour each time to mow, and we never had to stop and recharge it to finish the job. However, we did have to stop the first time we mowed to empty the grass collection bag, which we found to be surprisingly small. It filled up after mowing about 25-30 feet of tall grass. The next two times weren’t as much of an issue because the grass wasn’t as overgrown. It was very simple to remove the full bag, but we found that it spilled easily and a few blades even spilled when the mower was in use (whether or not it was filled.) These few issues aside, we appreciated the bag, mulching, and side-discharge options for the grass clippings overall, although it is worth noting that it did not break up older leaves very well.
Like most of the mowers on this list, the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is easy to fold and store vertically to save space. We were equally impressed with all of the safety features. Although it has a simple, push-button start, the mower has a key that you can store separately so no one can accidentally start the mower. When ready to use, the key has to be inserted behind a flap. Plus, the mower only works while you are gripping a lever. The LED headlights provide extra light that might be helpful when mowing around dusk or dawn. Although this mower is a bit more pricey than our best overall (which is also a battery-powered self-propel model), we think it’s worth the extra cost for the power, long runtime, and extra battery.
Fixing a free lawn mower for cheap, fixing the safety bail bar handle. MTD Yard Machines Craftsman
How It Performed Long-Term
After three months of use, we can report that this lawn mower has continued to impress us with its ease of use and quiet operation. The self-propelled feature makes navigating hills and uneven terrain a breeze, and we were able to get up to 4 uses out of a single charge. The mower excels at cutting grass and collecting clippings, and while it may struggle with heavier weeds, we had no issues with damp grass. It’s worth noting that the grass bag became heavy with clippings, but overall, we are confident in recommending this lawn mower to anyone in need of a reliable and efficient cutting tool.
Price at time of publish: 799
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 75 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Relatively quiet
- Folds for compact storage
While testing, we found that the Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower was as easy to use as a corded vacuum. At under 30 pounds, this mower is very easy to push, even though it’s not a self-propelled model. It is corded, so you will most likely have to use an extension cord. However, you won’t have to worry about the battery running out, stopping to recharge a battery, or fumes from a gas model. We were also impressed by how quiet this mower was, especially compared to gas mowers we’ve used in the past. This mower was simple to set up—we just had to attach the bag and two parts for the handle.
Thanks to the 14-inch cutting deck, we found this to be a great push mower for navigating around tight corners and spaces. However, we do want to point out a few issues we came across while testing. We found that the grass collection bag filled up pretty quickly (after mowing about 20-30 feet). And when we mowed without the bag, we did notice that the grass would get stuck underneath the blades. As a great safety feature, the mower would immediately shut off. The grass was easy to remove though, and we were able to get back to mowing quickly. Also, it’s worth noting that this mower only has three settings for the cutting height, ranging from 1.12 to 2.52 inches. While you won’t get as a precise cut as other models, and you may have to stop to empty a bag or remove grass from underneath the mower when tackling long grass, we think this is a great budget-friendly push mower that is perfect for small lawns.
How It Performed Long-Term
We are still very satisfied with its performance, even after using it for three months. The grass has grown thicker and longer since we first tested the lawn mower, but we were able to adjust the height of the mower to handle it with ease. Even after it rained, we were able to cut through the grass without any problems. However, it should be noted that the grass catcher bag becomes heavier with damp clippings and more difficult to empty. Although we appreciate not having to refill the mower with gasoline constantly, we believe it would be more convenient if it ran on batteries rather than a cord. Having to connect the extension cord to different outlets in the yard can be a bit inconvenient. All in all, we believe it is a dependable mower for its price.
Price at time of publish: 108
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29 pounds | Power Source: Corded electric | Cutting Options: Bag, side-discharge
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor
- Powerful Performance
- LCD Screen and app for tracking battery life
- 13 cutting heights
- Many extra features
If you have a larger yard to mow, a riding lawn mower can save you time and energy with its speed and efficiency. While testing the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor we were impressed with its exceptional cutting performance, long battery runtime, and maneuverability. The electric mower has four steel blades that provide 13 different cutting height positions, ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches, for a very precise cut. We found that the mower was able to handle a variety of debris with ease, effectively chopping up sticks, leaves, grass clippings, and even short dandelions that normally would be difficult to cut. The cutting height can be adjusted using a manual lever on the mower’s right side. However, we did find that the lever was surprisingly close to your leg, which can result in unintentionally changing the cutting height, although we did not experience this issue ourselves.
While putting this battery-powered mower to the test after a rainy morning, we found that it had no trouble dealing with wet grass and cutting it evenly. Even when the grass was damp, the lawn mower effectively discharged the grass clippings. While we love that this mower gives you three options for grass clippings—bag, side-discharge, or mulch—note that you will have to purchase the bagger and mulching kit separately. We were also impressed with the riding mower’s quietness despite its size. When the cutting blades were not moving, the riding mower sound resembled that of a battery-powered ride-on car for kids. And, when the blades were spinning, the noise level was super low compared to traditional gas mowers.
The mower has an onboard LCD screen that lets you check the runtime and charging status and control the LED headlights, drive, and blade speeds. The battery percentage also appears on the digital display menu. You can even monitor the charging status while you are taking a break, using the Ryobi Riding Mower app. We found charging the mower to be a simple process. The battery arrived with just 23 percent charge, and it only took us about an hour to fully recharge. For each mowing session we did, only about 10 percent of the battery was utilized. While we would have preferred a physical speed control lever, we found it manageable to switch while driving. The mower has an accelerator pedal that allows for slow and precise maneuvering around obstacles while providing instant speed when necessary. The mower is also equipped with a backup beeping noise, which is intended as a safety feature but we found it annoying over time.
All in all, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-inch Battery Riding Lawn Tractor is a great riding mower that offers a quiet and efficient mowing experience that eliminates the hassle of gas and oil. While this isn’t the best choice for small yards, if you want to keep your large yard looking great without a lot of effort, this is an excellent choice with lots of extras.
Price at time of publish: 4,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 557 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 12 height settings
- Powerful performance
- LCD screen and app to monitor battery life
- Joystick steering
Zero-turn mowers are built to be fast and easily navigate obstacles, and the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower does just that. We put the riding mower through its paces and found it to be a highly intuitive and easy-to-operate machine. Instead of a steering wheel, this riding mower has a joystick that can be operated with just one hand, for better maneuverability while turning. The joystick gave us complete control over the mower’s direction and speed, from a complete stop to top speed. With its impressive turning abilities, we were effortlessly able to mow around trees in a single pass, a task that would have previously required about four passes with a different mower.
Setting the cutting height was equally simple, thanks to the conveniently located lever that offered twelve height settings ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. The mower even comes with a height-stopping key, that allowed us to adjust the mowing deck to our desired cutting height quickly. Overall, the mower did a phenomenal job of cutting the grass evenly. We did encounter some thicker grass areas in the yard, but we found that slowing down the mower’s speed allowed it to power through without any issues. We were able to mow our half-acre yard much faster with this mower compared to the Troy-Built Pony 17 HP 42-inch Deck Rider we previously used. In fact, it took us 40 percent less time to complete the task. It also is much quieter than the gas riding mower, and you don’t have to deal with flammable gas or oil changes.
The RYOBI 80V HP Brushless Riding Mower is equipped with two 80-volt, 10-amp hour batteries and two 40-volt, 12-amp hour batteries, providing ample power for extended mowing sessions. During our testing, we appreciated the ability to install up to three 80-volt and four 40-volt batteries, allowing us to extend the mower’s runtime even further. Charging the batteries was a breeze. We simply had to plug the charging cord into the rear of the mower to simultaneously charge all the onboard batteries. We were also delighted to find out that the 40-volt batteries can be used with different cordless Ryobi tools like trimmers and blowers, expanding the range of our outdoor power equipment collection.
And while it has many of the same features as the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery Riding Lawn Tractor, this option has the power equivalent of a 31-horsepower gas engine and the ability to cut up to three acres on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. It also offers an app to monitor the battery status and has an LCD screen onboard so you can control the LED headlights, blade and drive speed, as well as monitor the battery, runtime, and charging status. This is an expensive mower, but we think it is an excellent zero-turn option that will make your lawn look great quickly and efficiently.
Price at time of publish: 6,999
Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 700 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge
Toro 22 60V MAX Electric Battery SMARTSTOW Personal Pace High Wheel Mower
- Automatically adjusts to walking pace
- Nine cutting positions
- Vortex Technology results in finer grass clippings
- Quick-connect bagging and mulching
Toro’s cordless, walk-behind mower is a powerful and precise piece of machinery. It has a three-phase brushless motor that maximizes RPM and torque, and a 22-inch deck. While it may come with a fairly steep price tag, its advanced features make mowing hassle-free. There are nine different cutting positions available, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches, so you can make a clean cut even in tight spaces. Toro’s patented Vortex Technology also ensures finer grass clippings and a healthier lawn.
The mower comes with one battery that can run for up to 40 minutes, allowing you to cut up to 0.33 of an acre on a single charge. However, some users have reported the battery running out of juice in half that time. The mower’s 10-inch rear wheels provide excellent traction on tough terrain without damaging your lawn. It also features a self-propelled transmission that adjusts to your walking pace, making it easy to maneuver. Thanks to its quick-connect bagging system, you can easily switch from mulching to bagging. Despite its heavy weight, the Toro Recycler Walk Behind Mower folds up compactly for easy storage.
Price at time of publish: 729
Cutting Width: 22 inches | Weight: 95 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag, or side-discharge
Best for Small Yards
Worx WG779 Power Share 40-Volt 14-Inch Cordless Walk Behind Mower
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Dual charging port for batteries
- Battery charge indicator
- Batteries compatible with other Worx tools
The Worx Power Share Battery Walk-Behind Mower has a 14-inch cutting deck that can cut up to 0.12 acres per charge, making it an ideal choice for smaller yards. At 29 pounds, it’s light enough for almost any user to handle. This unit is equipped with two batteries and a dual charging port to maximize the recharging time. For added convenience, there’s an on-board battery charge indicator that lets you know when you’re running out of juice. Another great thing about these batteries is that they’re compatible with a variety of other Worx tools.
This mower has six height adjustments, and you can easily add more torque with the turn of a knob. It also has the ability to mulch or bag grass clippings, and you can easily gauge when the bag is full, thanks to its transparent plastic top. Keep in mind that this compact model is best-suited for smaller jobs, so you will need to limit your expectations when it comes to performance. According to some reports that we read, it has difficulty powering through tough grass, and it sometimes stalls on lips and edges.
Price at time of publish: 300
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29.1 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch
Makita 36-Volt Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower
- Powerful motor
- Durable construction
- 10 cutting heights
- Optional quiet mode
- Includes extra set of batteries
If you’re looking for a cordless, battery-powered option, this push mower from Makita won’t disappoint. The brushless motor is incredibly powerful, delivering up to 3,300 RPM. This tool is powered by two 18-volt batteries, but four batteries are included, so you can swap them out for extended run time. All together, the batteries deliver up to 43 minutes of runtime. The handlebar has a rubberized grip for user comfort, and the handles fold for compact storage.
The Makita Push Lawn Mower has an 18-inch commercial-grade steel deck for optimal durability. It features a wide range of cutting heights—10 settings ranging from 0.81 to 3 inches. Though it performs well on most turf types, this mower may struggle a bit in overgrown grass. It has the ability to bag, mulch, or rear-discharge clippings. There’s even a quiet mode so you can mow your lawn without disturbing your neighbors.
Price at time of publish: 599
Cutting Width: 18 inches | Weight: 60.46 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, rear-discharge
Worx Landroid Robotic Mower
- Fully automated
- Customize mowing schedules via app
- Navigates 20-degree slopes
- Detects rain and avoids obstacles
Tired of mowing the lawn? This fully automated, robotic lawn mower does all of the work for you. It can mow medium-sized lawns up to 1/4 acre in size. To set it up, you’ll need to put down a boundary wire around your yard and connect the mower to the app. You can start or stop the machine, set up a mowing schedule, and check the mowing progress via the app. The Landroid is equipped with an 8-inch cutting width, the height of which can be adjusted between 1.9 and 3.5 inches. Two brushless wheel motors give it enough traction to navigate 20-degree slopes.
If the mower encounters an obstacle, it will simply back away. For more precise detection, an additional collision is available at an additional cost. It can also be programmed to avoid certain areas of your yard. When the Landroid detects rain or the battery runs low, it will return to the docking to either recharge or wait until the lawn is dry. With all of these features, the Landroid Robotic Mower is certainly worthy of its steep price tag. One thing worth noting is that even though this robotic option gets fairly close to the edges of a yard, you’ll likely need a string trimmer for touch-ups every so often.
Price at time of publish: 2,000
Cutting Width: 8 inches | Weight: 48.5 pounds | Power Source: Battery | Cutting Options: None
After testing this mower in our own backyard, the EGO LM2102SP POWER 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower earns our top spot. This powerful mower offers up to an hour of uninterrupted runtime and is easy to use, thanks to self-propelled technology. We also love the adjustable and foldable handle for compact storage. If you’re looking for a more affordable option for your small yard, we found the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower to be compact and lightweight enough to navigate around obstacles with ease, and offers unlimited runtime, as long as you don’t mind a cord.
How We Tested the Electric Lawn Mowers
We tested eight walk-behind lawn mowers including gas, electric corded, and cordless, battery-powered models in our own yards across the country. After putting them to the test on our own lawns—ranging from small to large—we evaluated them on setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value. For the first use, we timed setting up the lawn mower and noted what assembly, if any, was required, and if the instructions were detailed and easy to follow. We also recorded the battery charging time if it was a cordless model. We then used the mowers on three separate occasions when the weather and growing conditions allowed and recorded the length of grass cut, the surface area of the yard mowed, and the time it took to accomplish the task. We noted how easy (or not) it was to start the mower, adjust the handle, adjust the speed (if self-propelled), and change the cutting heights. We also evaluated the different features including bagging, mulching, and side-discharge options (if included) for the grass clippings. Aside from evaluating each mower’s set up and features, after use, we noted how easy it was to navigate around obstacles, up slopes, and other challenging areas including uneven or tall grass. We then looked at the appearance of the lawn and noted if it looked evenly cut. We also noted all of the safety features as well as any extra features such as LED headlights, foldable handles for storage, cord management systems, and more. After testing, the top electric mowers were added to this list. In our latest round of testing, we tested six riding lawn mowers in our yards and evaluated them on the same criteria explained above. We conducted thorough testing and compared the results with our previous product recommendations in order to provide the best suggestions possible. We made adjustments to the categories based on standout performance, either by swapping out or adding new options.
What to Look for in an Electric Lawn Mower
Electric mowers fall into four main categories: push, self-propelled, riding, and robot mowers. Choosing the right model depends on the size of your lawn, budget, and how much labor you’re willing to put in. Push mowers require that you walk behind them and manually propel them. Since they lack many of the features that you’ll find on more advanced electric lawn mowers, push mowers tend to cost significantly less. Push mowers also require the most amount of labor, making them an ideal choice for small to medium-sized yards with relatively flat terrain. We like the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower because it is very easy to navigate around your yard and comes at a very budget-friendly price. Self-propelled mowers are equipped with technology that propels the wheels as you mow. These mowers are often significantly pricier than push mowers, but they require a lot less effort on the user’s part. A self-propelled mower like the Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21 Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower is a great choice for medium-sized to large lawns with sloped or uneven terrain. An electric riding mower is the most powerful option—and likewise the most expensive. Users must either sit or stand on the machine in order to operate it. With an ultra-wide cutting swath and the ability to navigate difficult terrain, a riding mower is well-suited for large yards with steeper slopes. We love the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Riding Lawn Tractor because it can cut up to two acres on a single charge and offers plenty of great features. Robot lawn mowers are typically programmed through an app, allowing them to operate autonomously with little to no effort. Some initial setup is required, but a robot mower can be programmed to mow your lawn automatically, avoid collisions and inclement weather, and more. Although they’re incredibly convenient, robotic models also have a shorter runtime and a smaller cutting width swath, limiting their use to smaller yards. Our top choice in this category, the Worx WR147 Landroid Robotic Mower, is almost 100 percent autonomous once it’s been set up.
Cordless electric lawn mowers run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A cordless model gives you more flexibility and portability because it doesn’t restrict your movement. However, you will have to be mindful of the battery life, which typically runs down between 30 and 60 minutes. Some cordless electric mowers come with extra batteries that can be swapped out to extend their runtime. You could also purchase a second battery to increase the operating time. That way, you don’t have to worry about running out of juice mid-task. Our top choice for a cordless model, Makita 18-Volt X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower, includes an extra set of batteries so users can mow longer without having to recharge. The biggest advantage to a corded electric lawn mower is that it provides unlimited power. Corded models typically cost less than their battery-operated counterparts. However, your movement is restricted to the cord’s length. A corded mower must be used with a heavy-duty extension cord, which is often sold separately. Most manufacturers recommend a 12-gauge or 14-gauge cord, but you should always refer to the owner’s manual to ensure safe operation.
Deck size refers to the width of the mower, and determines how wide a path it can cut. A wider deck size results in a wider cutting swath, allowing you to cover a larger area in one pass. The standard deck size on both push and self-propelled mowers typically ranges from 13 to 22 inches. Robotic mowers usually have a much smaller cutting deck between 5 and 10 inches. Riding mowers, on the other hand, can have a deck size as wide as 54 inches. A riding mower is best-suited for large lawns that normally take a good deal of time to mow. Our top pick for zero-turn, the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower has a 42-inch deck and 12 cutting heights to make short work of a big job, navigating around obstacles with ease.
Motor Power and Type
Cordless electric mowers that run on batteries produce anywhere from 18 to 20 volts of power. The higher the voltage, the longer the motor will run on a single charge. Likewise, a mower with a higher voltage will allow you to cover more ground in one pass. Higher voltage is usually necessary to mow large lawns and generate enough torque to cut through tall, dense grass. The amp rating is also important in determining how powerful an electric lawn mower is. For example, a 12-amp electric mower can power through tough grass, while a 6-amp model would struggle. A corded electric lawn mower typically draws between 6 and 13 amps from a standard outlet. The battery on most cordless models delivers about 18 amps per hour.
Brushless vs. Brushed Motor
Brushless motors are more efficient, because they don’t lose much energy through friction and heat, both of which could potentially damage the motor. Plus, you don’t have to worry about replacing brushes when they wear out. All of these factors contribute to a more reliable performance and less maintenance. Brushed motors, on the other hand, generate more heat, which explains their tendency to stall and overheat. Although brushed motors are more affordable upfront, you may pay more for maintenance in the long run. You’ll also need to replace worn-out brushes as needed, which is an additional expense.
Grass Bag Catcher
A grass bag catcher attaches to the side or rear of a lawn mower and collects grass clippings. Grass cuttings are collected in a bag at the same time as they are cut. This is a convenient feature because it saves you from having to bag or clean up the clippings yourself. With a grass-catching bag, your lawn will look neat and well-maintained after mowing.
An electric lawn mower with mulching capabilities will chop grass up finely and drop the clippings back onto the lawn. As the clippings decompose, they release nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, into the soil. Since mulching naturally improves the health of your lawn, it may need fewer fertilizer treatments.
Adjustable Cutting Height
Most electric lawn mowers have an adjustable cutting height, ranging from 1 to 4 inches, which allows users to cut a variety of grasses and tackle tall, overgrown lawns. As a general rule of thumb, the ideal height for cool-season grass is about 2 1/2 inches. When mowing, you should only remove about the top third of the grass blades.
“The lifespan of an electric lawn mower varies, based on make, model, and consumer care practices,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Just like other outdoor equipment, with proper maintenance, charging, and battery storage practices, then the electric lawn mower can easily meet the user’s expectations.”
- Regularly inspect the cords for nicks and frays, as well as the batteries for any damage or deformities.
- Confirm that all of the vents are free from debris.
- Be sure to only use batteries and chargers in conjunction with manufacturer recommendations.
In the case of electric lawn mowers, convenience comes with a cost. Push mowers are on the lower end of the price scale, but they also require the most amount of manual labor. Self-propelled mowers typically cost several hundred dollars more than push mowers, but they reduce the amount of manual labor that’s needed. advanced models, such as robotic and riding mowers, can be quite expensive, but they essentially do all the work for you. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to put in the labor or pay more to make your life easier.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019. To select the best electric lawn mowers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their motor type, power source, cutting width, special features, and overall performance. McHugh consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For additional insight, she interviewed Kris Kiser, president and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
Jenica Currie, Commerce Editor for The Spruce updated this list with insights gathered from testing various electric lawn mowers in our own backyards across the country. She also added additional picks and reporting.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure that we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all of these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
The Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers in 2023 for Making Your Yard Work Easier
These lawn mowers drive themselves, taking the load off you in the process.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 21, 2023
One of the perks of the warm-weather season is getting to spend time outside. If you own your own home and have a yard, it’s very likely that in order to enjoy your outdoor space, you need to mow the lawn. The larger the yard, the more work it will be to maintain. If you have a lot of grass to cut, you’d be wise to consider a self-propelled lawn mower especially now that there are a ton of sales just in time for Memorial Day.
The primary difference between a standard push mower and a self-propelled mower is that the former moves when you push it, and the latter essentially moves itself with only your guidance. Once the engine is running, all you have to do is squeeze a handle or push a lever and the mower will start moving forward with you as you walk.
Turning the mower around is your job, but once you have your heading, just keep the drive handle squeezed and escort the mower down the path, no pushing necessary.
Self-propelled law mowers take power off the engine and route it via a belt to a pulley on the transmission and axle. When you move the drive control lever on the mower handle, you tension the belt, causing the pulley to turn, and this drives the transmission, moving the mower forward.
Move the drive control lever back and the tension is released, the pulley stops turning, and the mower stops moving forward. The belt-driven transmission is a time-tested design to power the mower and take the load off you in the process.
What to Consider
A mower is like many consumer products in that the more features a manufacturer adds, the more expensive it becomes. But a longer or more eye-catching list of features isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes less is more. Here are the most important to keep in mind.
Front-wheel drive mowers tend to be less expensive than rear-wheel drive units. They can be easier to turn because you don’t have to disengage the drive wheels to do so. Simply push down on the handlebar to raise the front wheels off the ground. However, their traction isn’t as strong on hills or when the bag is full, as there isn’t as much weight over the drive wheels.
Rear-wheel drive mowers do cost more and aren’t as easy to turn, as you do need to disengage the drive—but this isn’t too much of a hassle. Rear-wheel drive mowers shine on hills and inclines, and when the grass bag is full. In either scenario, weight is shifted rearward and over the drive wheels, which enables superior traction, thus making the self-propel more effective.
An engine as small as 125 cc can power a mower, but most are somewhere in the 140 cc to 190 cc range. A large engine helps when powering through tall, lush grass or in extreme conditions, such as with a side discharge chute in place and mowing tall weeds in a border area. Also, the extra torque provided by a larger engine can improve bagging when the going gets tough (tall, leaf-covered grass in the fall). But if you mow sensibly and pay attention to deck height—and especially if you don’t let your lawn get out of control—an engine between 140 and 160 cc has more than enough power to get the job done.
A mower can have all four wheels the same diameter (7 to 8 inches), or it may have rear wheels that range from 9.5 inches to 12 inches in diameter. Larger rear wheels help the mower roll more easily over bumpy ground.
With some mowers you can start the engine with the twist of a key or the press of a button. It’s a great option, but a luxury. Keep the mower engine tuned and use fresh fuel with stabilizer added to it, and you’ll never have trouble starting.
Any number of mechanisms can control a mower’s ground speed—a squeeze handle, a drive bar that you press forward, even a dial. There’s no single right answer here. Look at the design and think about how you like to work. For example, if more than one person will be using the mower (and not all of them are right-handed), a drive control like that on a Toro Personal Pace mower might be the answer. Just push down on the bar to make it go faster. Let up on the bar to slow down.
A mower that can bag, mulch, and side discharge is known as a three-function mower, the most versatile kind. Two-function mowers bag and mulch or mulch and side discharge.
Mowers will typically have one, two, or four levers to control the deck height. Single-lever adjustment is the easiest to use, but it requires more linkage, which adds weight and complexity. If, for some reason, you find yourself varying deck height frequently, it’s a good option. Otherwise, two or four levers work just fine.
Only Honda makes a gas-engine mower with a high-impact plastic deck (there are battery mowers that have plastic decks). Otherwise, mowers generally have a steel deck, and a few manufacturers—Toro, for one—offer a corrosion-resistant aluminum deck. An aluminum deck won’t rot the way a steel deck will, but you still need to keep it clean.
This is a hose fitting mounted on top of the mower’s deck. When you’re done mowing, hook up a hose and run the mower to power wash the underside of the deck. We’ve had mixed results with these, but they’re better than just letting a mass of dried grass clippings accumulate.
MTD Lawn Mower Upper Handle Replacement #749-04681B-0637
expensive mowers come with a more durable bag with more dust-blocking capability. If you bag a lot, especially leaves or other lawn debris in the fall, then you need a mower with a higher quality dust-blocking bag. Having said that, if you rarely bag, the standard one that comes with a mower will last you the life of the mower.
Also called wide-area mowers, machines in this subgroup help homeowners better reconcile their need for more power and speed with the fact that they may not have enough storage for a tractor or zero-turn mower. A typical residential walk mower has a single-blade deck that cuts a swath from 20 to 22 inches wide. Wide-cut mowers (built for homeowner use) have either a single blade or, more typically, a pair of blades, cutting from 26 to 30 inches with each pass. Some of these are rated for light commercial use and have larger decks, in the 32-inch range, and engines that start at 223 cc and go up to about 337 cc.
Wide-cut mowers typically employ gear or hydrostatic drive transmissions, and they have top speeds of about 4 to 6 miles per hour. At their fastest, they move so quickly you have to trot to keep up with them. Needless to say, they’re overkill for small yards; only opt for one of these if you’ve got a significant plot of land that you need to keep tidy, but not one so large that you’d be better off going with a full-on riding mower.
How We Tested and Selected
We compiled this list based on Popular Mechanics mower testing and our knowledge of the lawn mower market at large. For our testing, we put mowers through the paces using our standard Popular Mechanics methodology: We cut turf grasses such as fescues and blue grass and rougher non-turf grasses like Timothy, clover, orchard grass, and wild oats, all in both normal and shin-deep heights. We mow uphill, downhill, and across the faces of hills. The maximum slope we cut is about 30 degrees.
That may not sound like much, but it’s about all you can do to stand on it, let alone push a mower up it or across it. We mow damp and wet grass to test general cutting performance and whether clippings accumulate on the tires. And we cut dry and dusty surfaces to see how well the bag filters under less-than-optimal conditions.
Honda HRN 216VKA
Honda mowers enjoy a sterling reputation. Having tested their walk and self-propelled mowers for the last 30 years, we feel confident that Honda’s entry level mower is a great choice for homeowners looking for power and durability. The HRN features a GCV 170 gas engine that’s built to withstand long hours of operation.
If you do your own maintenance (and most owners who buy this class of product do), you’ll appreciate the easily accessible spark plug and the fuel shutoff valve that enables better winter storage. Close the fuel shutoff and run the mower until it sputters to a halt. This will clear the carburetor of any gasoline, which will prevent the ethanol in it from disintegrating and causing running issues later on. Open the shutoff valve in the spring, add some fresh gasoline, and the mower should start easily.
All this maintenance stuff is great, but we can also tell you that our past test findings on other Hondas prove that their cut quality is outstanding for cleanliness. Sharp blades deliver a velvet-like finish. And their bagging ability is also quite good, in the same league with other well-bagging mowers from Toro.
In all, if you take mowing seriously, you should enjoy this Honda. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, consider the Honda HRX, which features a mower powerful engine and a composite deck that won’t rust and is renowned for its durability.
One note is that Honda has announced that it will cease selling lawn mowers in the United States after this year—so if you’re considering buying one, best do it sooner rather than later.
Toro Recycler 60-Volt Max Lithium-Ion
Toro mowers have garnered more recommendations from us than any other brand for two reasons: build quality and cut quality. These were amply demonstrated in our testing as the Recycler turned in the best ratio of cut area per amp-hour of battery in the self-propelled category, while at the same time not skimping on cutting, mulching, or bagging quality.
We attribute this outstanding mower performance to three features, all upgrades to the previous version of this machine. First, the air vent at the front of the mower deck seems to improve mulching and bagging performance. Toro calls it Vortex technology, a design that increases air flow under the deck. This helps to stand the grass for a cleaner cut, which improves mulching performance, and also allows better airflow into the bag when collecting the clippings.
Next, the company’s redesigned “Atomic” blade configuration appears to assist the air flow and clipping movement. Finally, the three-phase, 60-volt motor is exceptionally efficient, resulting in a large cut area for a single battery.
Toro has maintained features that make this mower work: rear wheel drive, a one-piece deck that’s all steel (no plastic nose), 11-inch wheels to help it roll over roots and crevices, and the same fold-forward handle that was an industry breakthrough when it was introduced some years ago.
Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower
This is one of Ryobi’s top-of-the-line mowers, and it’s American-made construction is something we wish we saw more of. It delivers a tremendous cut area with its two 6-Ah batteries providing a total of 12-Ah of capacity, and its X-shaped blade leaves a pristine surface in its wake.
Ryobi estimates the design should provide 70 minutes of run time; we didn’t time our cut, but it strikes as plausible. Its rear-wheel drive and reasonably aggressive tire tread pattern provide good hill climbing and sidehill cutting performance, and its bagging on all surfaces (level, sidehill, and uphill) is also commendable.
Other ease-of-use features include an easily installed or removed bag that mounts and dismounts straight up and down through the handle; deck adjustment is quick and easy thanks to a single-level deck height adjustment. The straight edge deck is polypropylene; it will never rust and needs very little care other than basic cleaning.
Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs Stratton Personal Pace
The Toro Timemaster 30-in. mower has been around for several years and has earned a reputation as a sturdy workhorse for homeowners who want to cut down on their mowing time. It’s also used by some professionals as well. A few years ago the Timemaster got a slightly more powerful Briggs and Stratton gas engine, so it should have no issues powering through most demanding mowing jobs.
The Timemaster is rear-wheel drive and features Toro’s Personal Pace drive system that’s used on many of its self-propelled mowers. This allows the mower to move at your speed by simply pushing down or releasing the handle, which is spring-tensioned.
With a 30-in. deck, Toro claims the Timemaster will help you reduce your mowing time by about 40% compared to using a standard-sized mower. You can mulch, back, or side discharge with the Timemaster, and the handlebar can be locked in a fully vertical position to reduce space consumption in storage.
If you have half an acre to a full acre of lawn to mow and prefer the experience of a walk-behind mower versus a tractor or zero-turn, the Timemaster is worth a look.
Craftsman mowers have been doing very well in our tests, so we can recommend this one because it’s so much like the many other of the brand’s models that we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a good blend of maneuverability and power, you’ll get it with this mower. Its front drive helps move it along and makes it easy to turn.
It’s important to note that front-drive mowers do lose some traction when running uphill, particularly with a full grass bag. But if your slope is less than 20 degrees, and you’re not bagging uphill, you’ll be fine. The side discharge will also help you handle tall grass. Adjust the two deck levers to bring the mower up to full height and have at the rough stuff.
The fact that this mower bags, mulches, and side discharges is a plus, enabling you to handle a wide range of mowing conditions, from early spring and late into the fall. Three-function mowers like this are our preference for that versatility.
Toro Super Recycler Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
This is a beauty of a mower, with a cast-aluminum deck and a smooth-running Briggs Stratton 163-cc engine. We tested the Honda engine-equipped version, and it was effective at both bagging and mulching, even in moist grass.
Equipped with rear-wheel drive and the Personal Pace system (the farther you push the drive bar, the faster the mower goes), it’s an effective hill climber and moderately effective on sidehill cutting. It has relatively small 7.5-inch tires on all four corners, which causes this Toro to bump up and down a bit on washboard surfaces. But the good news is that it’s equipped with a far higher quality tire than we’re used to seeing these days. We didn’t notice them pick up any grass on moist surfaces.
Other features we like include its forward-fold handle that has a built-in shock absorber that Toro calls a Flex Handle Suspension, and a high-quality grass bag that loads through the handle, from the top.
Are there special maintenance considerations with self-propelled mowers?
Yes. Both front- and rear-wheel drive mowers typically feature a drive belt, which can crack or wear out over time. Fortunately these belts are not difficult or particularly expensive to replace.
Secondly, you may have to replace the drive wheels occasionally. These wheels are driven with gears. there are typically teeth on the inside diameter of the drive wheel that line up with a gear on the axle. These teeth can wear out, especially if they are made of plastic. Higher-end mowers may feature drive wheels with a metal gear that meets the metal axle gear, which improves longevity of these components.
My lawnmower says I don’t ever have to change the oil, but just add oil when needed. Is this OK?
It’s not a good idea to never change the oil in your lawn mower. In a lawn mower, same as a car, oil degrades over time and is less effective at reducing heat and friction in metal components. Changing the oil in your lawn mower is easy to do and will significantly increase its service life. For most homeowners, changing the oil at the beginning or end of each mowing season should be sufficient, though there is certainly no harm in doing it more often.
Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.