Push mower cutting width. The Best Lawn Mowers Tested in 2023

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

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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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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.

Product Specs

  • 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

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

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.

Robotic

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.

Drive

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.

Fuel Type

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.

Blade Type

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.

Disposal Options

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.

Additional Features

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.

FAQs

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.

The Ultimate Lawn Mowing Machine �� New Ego Select Cut XP Speed IQ

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.

The Best Reel Mower for Your (Small) Lawn

We’ve reviewed this guide, added competitors, eliminated older models, and reconfirmed our decisions on our picks.

Reel mowers aren’t for everyone. They’re designed for small, flat lawns, and they take some effort to push around. But they provide exceptional cut quality and a completely unplugged mowing experience, so they offer things no other mower can. We think the best one is the Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower.

For the healthiest grass

The Scotts makes the cleanest cut, has the widest cutting path, and jams the least of any reel mower, and its unusually tall 3-inch max cutting height makes it more versatile for different grass types.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 145.

During initial tests with a golf course grounds crew and in years of follow up use, the Scotts-branded mower has the best cut quality of any of the mowers we’ve tested, and its unusually tall maximum cutting height of 3 inches makes it a versatile choice for different types of lawns and grasses. It has a 20-inch cutting swath—the widest available—and at 34 pounds, it’s light and easy to maneuver. It was also the only mower in the group that didn’t jam during testing.

Good cut, less elegant

This mower cuts almost as well as our main pick and has a taller cutting height, but it’s bulkier (making it harder to turn around) and more expensive.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 250.

If our main pick is sold out or otherwise unavailable, we also really like the Fiskars 18-Inch StaySharp Max Reel Mower. Its a solid mower with a 4-inch cutting height is higher than any other reel mower’s. In testing the Fiskars cut well, but it wasn’t on par with the Scotts and didn’t handle tall grass quite as well. It’s also heavier and bulkier, making it more of a chore to turn around, it also costs more than the Scotts.

For the healthiest grass

The Scotts makes the cleanest cut, has the widest cutting path, and jams the least of any reel mower, and its unusually tall 3-inch max cutting height makes it more versatile for different grass types.

push, mower, cutting, width, best, lawn

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 145.

Good cut, less elegant

This mower cuts almost as well as our main pick and has a taller cutting height, but it’s bulkier (making it harder to turn around) and more expensive.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 250.

Why you should trust us

We spoke with Jason Kruse, assistant professor of environmental horticulture and turfgrass specialist at the University of Florida. As his bio states, Kruse’s responsibilities include “managing the University of Florida turfgrass Envirotron teaching and research facility, planning and implementing turfgrass educational field days and leading the statewide turfgrass teaching design team.” The guy knows a lot about grass.

For testing, we enlisted the aid of the grounds crew of the Diamond Hawk Golf Course in Cheektowaga, New York, a bunch of people who are serious about mowing. While using the mowers, they picked up cut blades to carefully examine how cleanly the mowers cut; they also bent down to compare the color of the turf after each one made a pass, and pushed all the mowers around on various lengths of grass.

Here at Wirecutter, we’ve been covering lawn equipment since 2014. As for the specific topic of grass-cutting implements, we’ve written extensive guides to both lawn mowers and string trimmers in addition to reel mowers.

Since the first version of this guide, we’ve recommended the Scotts as well as the runner-up Fiskars, and we’ve continued to use both models in assorted locations, paying attention to their long-term performance and any ongoing maintenance needed.

Who should get a reel mower

Before getting a reel mower, you should be aware of their pros and cons. Simply put, a reel mower is not a direct replacement for a regular mower.

As one of our long-term testers said, “I love [my reel mower]. It makes mowing feel more like a pleasant way to spend time outside and less like something I need to grit my teeth and power through.” On the other hand, a second long-term tester stated that he regrets purchasing a reel mower and has “frequently considered selling it to get a cheap electric mower.”

Reel mowers are better for the lawn’s health. They snip the grass blades like scissors, while rotary mowers tend to shred grass blades. According to University of Florida assistant professor of environmental horticulture Jason Kruse, “The scissor-cutting action of the reel mowers results in less damage to the leaf tissue, which in turn puts the plants under less stress.” He continued, “They lose less water, are less susceptible to disease, and generally look better when cut with a reel mower.”

Reel mowers are also good for the operator’s health. Because you hand-push the mower and it isn’t motorized, it takes effort to use, especially if you have a large lawn. Keep in mind that the turning wheels are what rotate the blades, which adds to the resistance. So the task is not as simple as, say, pushing an empty furniture dolly, where you’re pushing the wheels and nothing else. According to a Livestrong.com article, (which in turn credits Harvard Medical School, among others) a person weighing 175 pounds would burn approximately 251 calories by pushing a reel mower—which the article refers to as a hand mower—for 30 minutes. This is 51 calories more than someone weighing 185 pounds pushing a mower with a powered blade for the same amount of time.

Reel mowers also require minimal maintenance and are much, much quieter than regular mowers. Aside from lubricating and sharpening the blades every few years, you don’t have a lot of upkeep to do on a reel mower. As for the noise, many users of reel mowers cite the gentle snipping sound the tool makes as a key benefit. Gas mowers, on the other hand, require gas, regular tune-ups, oil changes, and winterizing. They’re also noisy and smelly. As one of our long-term testers said, “I love [my reel mower]. It makes mowing feel more like a pleasant way to spend time outside and less like something I need to grit my teeth and power through.”

But for a reel mower to be practical, you need a fairly small lawn. Anyone with more than a quarter acre (roughly 10,000 square feet) will find weekly mowing with a reel mower exhausting. One long-term tester stated that he regrets purchasing a reel mower for the size of his lawn and has “frequently considered selling it to get a cheap electric mower.”. In contrast, another of our long-term testers has approximately 1,000 square feet of lawn, and mowing takes her about 20 minutes.

A reel mower works best with a strict adherence to a regular cutting schedule. If grass gets overgrown, a reel mower will merely push it down and roll right over it, so if you tend to go a while between mowings, you should stick with a regular push mower. One long term tester had to wait so long for the reel mower to arrive that once it got there, the grass had grown so high they needed to hire someone to cut their grass. And the necessary diligence goes beyond the schedule: Reel mowers can’t mow over twigs and leaves as gas mowers can, so additional attentiveness to pre-mow lawn cleanup is required, as well.

Reel mowers are troublesome on sloped or bumpy lawns. The torque that turns the blades comes from the wheels as you roll them along the ground. On an uneven surface, the wheels lose contact with the ground as they bounce or as the weight shifts on a slope. As one of our long-term testers put it, “Small dips can lead to grass getting missed, so I often end up mowing from two or three different angles to try and get it all.”

In fact, the results in general may not be what you expect. One of our long-term testers said that their mower “often totally misses taller strands of grass” and that they “have to go back and snip those with a pair of shears.” Also, on most reel mowers, the blades are inboard of the wheels, so you’ll have a wider gap of unmowed grass against a fence or a stone wall.

How we picked and tested

To figure out how to pick the best reel mower, we spoke to Scott Dunbar, superintendent of Diamond Hawk Golf Course in Cheektowaga, New York. He explained that reel mowers can cut much closer to the ground than rotary mowers. At the golf course, the crew uses reel mowers to cut greens and approaches but uses gas-powered rotary mowers for the rough. But the average homeowner isn’t cutting the lawn for use as a putting green—in fact, cutting your lawn too low is terrible for its health. Turf experts suggest never cutting off more than a third of your grass’s length; cutting too close to the ground can cause the grass to dry out and get scorched in the summer. This means that a mower’s minimum cutting height isn’t a useful measurement, since you’re unlikely to use that setting.

The maximum cutting height was a crucial detail. We used this spec as our primary factor in eliminating mowers from contention. Few reel mowers are able to get above 2½ inches, which may not be good for your lawn. “[Cutting height] is one of the primary complaints I have against the majority of reel mowers that are marketed for home use. Most residential grasses (both cool- and warm-season) have recommended heights of cut that are at the upper limit or even exceed the height of cut that is possible with some of the mowers,” said University of Florida turfgrass specialist Kruse. “While it would be possible to use the mower, the long-term health of the turf could suffer significantly,” he continued.

Other factors were also important:

  • How easy is the mower to adjust?
  • How hard is it to push?
  • How wide is it?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • What have other reviewers said about it?

We took our final four mowers to a golf course. There the grounds crew helped us adjust the blades to the exact same standard they used on their mowers so that the blades could cleanly slice a piece of paper. Over the next three hours, we pushed all four mowers back and forth on different-height grasses. On hand were course superintendent Scott Dunbar, a member of the grounds crew, a mechanic who maintains the course equipment, and an equipment salesman who happened to be at the course that day. These guys are all turfgrass experts who deal with grass and mowing equipment every day. They really took to the task of comparing these mowers, examining every aspect closely and answering all our questions about turf and cut quality.

Our pick: Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower

For the healthiest grass

The Scotts makes the cleanest cut, has the widest cutting path, and jams the least of any reel mower, and its unusually tall 3-inch max cutting height makes it more versatile for different grass types.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 145.

The Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower is the reel mower to get. Of the tested mowers, it offered the cleanest cut and the easiest adjustments, and it was the only one that didn’t jam. It also has a wide, 20-inch cutting swath—the widest we found—as well as height adjustments between 1 and 3 inches, which is a more versatile range than we saw on almost all of the other available reel mowers. At 34 pounds, it’s light and easy to turn around at the end of each mowing row, but it’s heavy enough that it doesn’t bounce around on slightly uneven turf.

The quality of the cut excelled against the competition. When our lawn experts were going back and forth with the mowers on a variety of grasses and lengths, they noticed that the Scotts model would leave a swath of totally trimmed grass with each blade snipped evenly across, no ragged edges to be seen. In contrast, the other mowers would leave a bunch of blades sticking up like chimneys after a house fire, requiring the testers to back up and go over the area again. The Scotts mower also never jammed up during testing, whereas all of the other mowers did.

The Scotts 2000-20 also snipped a wider path than most of the others. The Scotts is a 20-inch-wide mower, the widest size available (the measurement refers to the blade width, not the overall width). We tested another 20-inch model, the Lee Valley 20″ Mower, but that one was harder to push, and its cut quality was worse.

Our testers also gave the Scotts 2000-20 high marks for overall usability. At 34 pounds, it lands in the middle of our test group in weight but manages to hit the sweet spot between maneuverability and stability. The Fiskars StaySharp Max is heavier and harder to turn around at the end of a mowing row; by contrast, the lighter Lee Valley model bounced around on uneven ground and left a ragged cut as a result.

All of the adjustments on the Scotts mower are easy to make. For cutting height, it has two levers, one for each wheel. One other model we tested, the 16-inch Great States 415-16, required us to unbolt it each time we wanted to change the cutting height. Also, the height settings on the Scotts model are accurate; the 1-inch setting on the Fiskars, in contrast, actually cut much lower, practically scalping the lawn, before we readjusted it to a higher setting.

The Scotts 2000-20 has a cutting range of 1 to 3 inches. The vast majority of reel mowers top out around 2 inches, so we appreciated the ability to go taller, either for the health of the grass or for a less manicured look. A DIY Network article lists the ideal cutting heights for a variety of warm- and cool-weather grasses, and the capabilities of the Scotts land nicely in the strike zone for every grass mentioned. Our runner-up, the Fiskars StaySharp Max, has an even higher maximum cutting height at 4 inches, but it’s a much heavier mower with more difficult maneuvering, and it doesn’t cut as nicely.

The Scotts is easy to assemble, and doesn’t require any tools. The bolts that attach the handle have large plastic wing nuts, so tightening by hand is simple. If you ever need to take your mower apart—to fit it into a compact space like a car trunk or a small storage area—we found that the Scotts was easy enough to disassemble, too. You might need pliers to remove the small C-clips that attach the handle to the body of the mower, but otherwise it shouldn’t be a hassle.

Scotts stands behind their products. Erin Price, then Wirecutter’s Audience Development Manager, had a wheel fall off her Scotts push mower and the company replaced the entire mower for her. She told us, “I love my reel mower and perhaps love it even more now that the company was so helpful.”

It has performed well in long term testing. Two other Wirecutter staff members, who both happen to be women, also have Scotts Classics in their personal tool sheds, and they appreciate the mower’s simplicity and ease of use. Senior Photo Editor Rozette Rago had never used a reel mower before picking up the Scotts for her small, flat yard in LA, and found it quick to get used to. It was easy to figure out for two people who have never used it before. Wirecutter Producer Beth Niegelsky, who has used both the Fiskars and the Scotts, prefers the latter, “ I actually like the Scotts significantly more because it is SO much lighter.” She explained, “With the Fiskars, I basically couldn’t mow the hill of my front yard without feeling like I was doing something dangerous. It’s basically no problem with the Scotts.”

Senior Software Development Engineer Joshua Brewer had the Scotts for three years and recently replaced it for our lawn mower pick. Throughout his three years of usage, he highlighted that the Scott was “kinda fun to use.” He appreciated that it was easy to storetash, didn’t require fuel, and was quieter than a traditional lawn mower. However, the Scotts did squeak despite thorough maintenance, required multiple passes on his lawn, and his foam handle disintegrated after the first year. Overall, Brewer says The Scotts 2000-20 worked, but was much more laborious to use with a lush and dense lawn and worked a lot better when the lawn was more sparse. He’s much happier with the Ego LM2135SP now.

Supervising Editor Josh Lyon also has a Scotts and said there are bumpy parts of his lawn that he needs to go over one or two additional times, but that “the mower is so light and has such a smooth roll that even with the extra passes it takes half the time to do our entire lawn than with the gas-powered mower we used to have.” Overall, Lyon is very happy with the Scotts and says he’ll never go back to a gas mower.

Finally, even though it wasn’t a major factor in our decision, testers liked how the Scotts looked better than the other mowers (some found the Fiskars model’s oddball form to be off-putting). The Scotts 2000-20 is covered by a two-year warranty, and user reviews suggest that the manufacturer, American Lawn Mower, issues free replacement parts whenever a problem crops up.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

We analyzed the negative Комментарии и мнения владельцев at Amazon and found that most of the complaints center on the aluminum handle breaking, a plastic gear in the mechanism stripping out, or simply the realization that a reel mower is not the right choice for the owner’s particular lawn.

We investigated the plastic-gear complaint by removing the wheel of the Scotts mower and taking a look at the gear. As you can see in the photo above, it’s a pretty robust gear with deep teeth, and it interfaces with the teeth on the inside of the plastic wheel. The wheels turn as you push, and those teeth turn the plastic gear, which rotates the blades. Stripping it out is an issue to be aware of, but under proper use, the gear shouldn’t be a problem. And if it becomes one, replacing the gear is a 10-minute repair job. While it would be nice if both the wheel and the gear were made of metal, such a design would likely add money to the price tag and a significant amount of weight to the mower.

One of our long-term testers also noted that when the Scotts arrived, many of the screws holding the handle together were loose and fell out within a month. Once they were replaced, no further problems surfaced.

A close reading of the user complaints suggests that owners who were using the Scotts mower on tall or tough Southern grass had the most problems, but such difficulties are likely to be common among all push mowers and not just the Scotts.

This is the very best small lawnmower for smaller outdoor spaces

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If you only have a small yard, but it is too much to maintain with a weed eater, you need to invest in the best small lawn mower. Because let’s be honest: a heavy-duty mower is probably overkill — in price, noise, and size — for your tiny yard, but there are plenty of compact mowers designed to maintain smaller spaces. As we just said, this one we reviewed from Worx did wonders on our small yard.

While some small lawnmowers are gas-powered, this one works on two batteries to be kind to the environment — and so that you never run out of power. Small lawn mowers offer different mulching options so that you can feed your lawn as you mow, and this one that we love gives you the choice to either bag it up or mulch your grass back into the ground.

Yes, the Worx WG779.E Power Share from Amazon is pretty amazing. Our reviewer loved it and found it so easy to use to trim her unruly but small lawn. It’s a great option for people who have an ample lawn, but lack the space to store a larger machine as it folds, and even if your yard isn’t small (we’re jealous!) it can be used to mow up to 1/8 acre (AKA 5000 sq ft). Wow!

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid

The Worx Power Share 40-Volt 14-in Mower is small but mighty. At only 29 lbs, this mower is easy to move around, and even lighter when you remove the batteries for storage and transit.

Equipped with patented torque technology, you have the capability to increase the power of this mower to Turbo if you’re cutting thick grass (but remember, this will use up more battery). For regular use, we found Eco mode was competent, especially for regular trims. The cutting base is 14 inches across and there are six height adjustments that range between 2.5 to 3.5 inches with an easy-to-use lever for height adjustments. You can either mulch your grass or bag up to.85 bushels before a ‘full bag indicator’ alert notifies you it’s time to empty the bag.

To get started, simply insert the safety button, depress then pull the handle lever and you’re ready to mow. The Worx lawnmower runs on two 20V 4.0 Ah batteries. Power Share advertises that this mower can mow 5,000 square feet with just one charge. However, this wholly depends on various factors like the thickness or height of your grass. Just keep an eye on the battery meter to know when you need to juice up and keep spares on charge. We found it capable of doing a good half hour or more of mowing before it was time to recharge which is plenty for the average yard.

So while we think this is the best small lawn mower, as we’ve already mentioned: you could find it a good choice for a larger yard too.

You can read our full Worx WG779E 40V Cordless Lawn Mower review for more.

How to choose a lawn mower for your small yard

If you have opted for a small lawn mower then it is likely your main concerns will be around how much power and ease of use you can get into a compact package. At one time, electric lawn mowers, including cordless battery-powered models were quite big and heavy to accommodate large battery packs for optimal run time. Luckily, technology has advanced and things like more efficient batteries and brushless motors mean you get greater run time in a smaller package.

Next, consider the cutting width. Most range from 12 inches to 21 inches. It might be tempting to go smaller for ease of movement and storage space limitations, but with edge-to-edge cutting, even the largest model on our list is a great choice if you are looking for a particularly compact lawn mower. That said, bigger will tend to mean weightier, so if you are concerned about lifting — perhaps due to a bad back — take the narrower model and be prepared for a couple of extra runs of your yard.

Finally, if storage is your main reason for buying the best small lawn mower, look at foldable options. Many compact lawnmowers have a foldaway handle and don’t forget the grass box. Our favorite one has a soft material grass box that flattens down. Some mulching mowers have no grass box at all.

Tips for getting the most from your small lawn mower

Lawnmowers aren’t as scary as you think. They’re easy to use if you know the right tips and tricks.

Energy reserve You don’t want to be halfway through mowing your lawn only to discover that you’ve run out of juice. If you purchase a gas-powered lawn mower, make sure you top up before each use and have a gas container with gas stored in your garage or shed in case you need more.

For those who buy a battery-powered lawn mower, you might want to consider buying a backup battery. The harder a battery-powered lawn mower has to work (like a lawn where the grass is higher or thicker), the quicker the battery will die out. If your main battery runs out of charge mid-way through mowing the lawn, just pop in the backup battery.

Never mow a wet lawn If your lawn is wet from morning dew or rain, make sure you wait until it’s dry before you mow the lawn. For one, wet grass is heavier so the lawn mower won’t be able to cut the lawn to the best of its ability. Dry grass stands straight up making it easier to cut. Secondly, wet grass clippings can damage the mower which is an easy way to ruin your day.

Clean the lawn mower deck Every once in a while, turn the lawn mower over and clean under the deck. Grass and grime can build up under there and on the blades, making your lawn mower less effective over time. If you have a gas-powered mower, make sure the gas tank is empty and the spark plug wire is disconnected if you decide to clean the deck with the garden hose. It’s not a bad idea to blow off the lawn mower with your blower after each use.

Be careful what you mow over Before mowing your lawn, try to pick up sticks and other debris that could ruin your lawn mower blades. It’s best to avoid stumps and vines as these can also damage or get wrapped around the blades.

Grass clippings are good for the yard Although some people hate the sight of grass clippings left on a yard, they can actually be beneficial to your yard’s health as they’re a natural fertilizer. A mulching feature on a lawn mower is a good option because it breaks down leaves and grass and helps it to decompose quicker. That said, bagging clippings – especially weeds or grass that’s really high – could be helpful at certain times.

How we review small lawn mowers

Yes, this small lawnmower has been tested by a Real Homes reviewer. Our Content Director of Lifestyle Ecommerce tested it for us in her backyard, and as you can already tell: she loved it.

Lindsey has been writing about homes since 2013, when she joined the Homebuilding Renovating team. Now, she spends her time reviewing and managing several homes titles, including Homes Gardens and Livingetc, helping with best practices for our ecommerce content.

Lindsey reviewed the Worx lawnmower back in 2023, and when speaking about it says With an impressive battery life, good range of movement, and edge-to-edge cutting, this cordless lawn mower is great value for money. Easy to use and store, I almost can’t wait to mow the lawn again.

What type of mower is best for small lawn?

Definitely go for a smaller size lawnmower, and one that’s cordless if you can for total convenience, otherwise a corded model will still work. just check its cord is long enough to reach around your lawn. Try and get one that folds if you don’t have much storage space for your lawnmower, and do consider its cutting width — the higher this number, the faster you’ll be able to mow your lawn. But remember, the bigger the width of the mower, the bulkier it will be to store. We’d always say to go electric over gas for the environment and for convenience and ease.

Can I use a trimmer instead of a lawn mower?

If you want to follow the won’t take up any room route to its logical conclusion, it may be tempting to just use your trimmer instead of a lawn mower. After all, if it’s just a small lawn, how hard can it be? Trust us, it’s very hard work, and you won’t get an even trim no matter how hard you try. Even tiny lawns need lawnmowers, although if yours is really very small, a hand-push one will probably suffice.

If you really don’t want to mow though, don’t! We love the look of a wildflower meadow — as do any garden visitors like bees and small creatures.

What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need in 2023? Buying Guide

Spring is here and Summer is around the corner, it’s time to start mowing your lawn. Your scrappy little reel mower just isn’t cutting it anymore or you’re old mower is starting to fall apart. If you’re in the market for a new mower this is the right article for you. Technology has changed a lot with mowers, especially when it comes to battery-powered models, they now rival gas mowers. Let go of your old beliefs and consider your options. The first question you’re likely asking yourself is : What size lawn mower do I need? WE also discuss a range of topics, like : gas vs battery-power vs electric, self-propelled vs push mowers and a whole lot more.

What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need?

There are a lot of factors to consider before purchasing a lawn mower, but the most important one by far is size. And to start off, you need to measure your lawn area (if you don’t already know the number). Knowing the area of your lawn is very important.

Not just for mower sizing but also for deciding how much fertilizer or seed you need. There are online tools, but you can also do it the old-fashioned way with a tape measure or piece of string whose length you know. For square or rectangular lawns this process is quite easy, but if you have an irregularly shaped lawn there are some additional steps to calculating area.

Once you have the area of your lawn, you can start thinking about mower size. Based on various surveys, 10,000 sq. feet is the average lawn size in the United States. Yours may be above or below this number, so size your mower based on how much grass you have to cut.

  • 1 What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need?
  • 2 The Various Types of Lawn Mowers
  • 2.0.1 Walk Behind Mower
  • 2.0.2 Riding Mower
  • 5.1 What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need? | Buying Guide
  • 5.2 Consider the Lawn Size and Obstacles
  • 5.3 Larger Mowers Are Harder to Maintain
  • 5.4 Push Mower vs Self-Propelled
  • 5.5 Gas vs Electric Lawn Mower
  • 5.6 Gas vs Corded Electric Mower
  • 5.7 Gas vs Cordless Electric Mower
  • 5.8 Are Wider Decks Better?
  • 5.9 Mulching Mowers | Do You Need One?
  • 6.1 s:

Guidelines for Choosing the right size lawn mower for your lawn size :

The Various Types of Lawn Mowers

Much like pets, lawn mowers are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You have reel mowers, self-propelled walk behind mowers, zero-turn mowers, lawn tractors, etc. To make a long story short, it boils down to the following choice- do you want to walk or ride?

push, mower, cutting, width, best, lawn

Walk behind mowers come in two main varieties- manual, and self-propelled. Yes, there are also reel mowers/ cylindrical mowers. These are the cheapest, and most simple variety of lawn mower.

But good luck if you have a property over 2000 sq. feet, because they cut so much slower than an engine-powered mower. So the two real choices are between self-propelled and push mowers. Not all of us are physically fit enough to push a mower around the lawn for 2 hours.

Hey, if you want the workout then go ahead and get a push mower. Personally, I suggest spending the extra few bucks on a self-propelled model. You’re already making a bunch of noise, might as well get a mower that pushes itself around.

It’s especially handy if your property has slopes or hills. Pushing 70 or 80 pounds of weight uphill is extremely tedious (and you have to make multiple passes). The self-propelled mower category can be further divided into two sections-

Walk Behind Mower

The most popular type of lawn mower you’ll find. And for a good reason- they are plenty for an average American lawn under 10,000 square feet. With an 18 to 22 inch cutting deck, these mowers will trim a medium-sized lawn in 40 to 50 minutes.

I recommend rear-wheel drive over front-wheel drive, since it has better traction for slopes and bumpy terrain. The typical engine size on one of these is around 160 to 170cc. Unlike a chainsaw, these guys use 4-stroke motors so you don’t have to worry about mixing oil and gas.

Makita 18″ Walk Behind Mower / Ideal for Small or Large Yards

This 36V Makita mower is an excellent example of how far battery technology has come. It has the capacity to store four batteries onboard, allowing you to mow non-stop for two miles. Because it’s only 18″ wide, this is a great choice for small yards, but because it has a large battery capacity, it’s also ideal for a large yard. You can buy the model in a variety of kits to suit your needs. Overall, this is an excellent quality walk-behind mower. It’s certainly not the cheapest, but if you want quality, consider this mower.

Riding Mower

Lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers are like golf carts with giant blades spinning on the bottom. If you get one of these bad boys, you can mow half an acre in just 40 to 50 minutes. The typical riding mower has a deck width of 36 to 54 inches, with a speed of 4 to 8mph.

Deck width combined with speed can give you an idea of how fast the mower will cut grass. There is a handy online tool for calculating mowing speed based on those parameters. Zero turn mowers are faster in a straight line, and more maneuverable compared to lawn tractors.

Features To Look For In A Lawn Mower

Electric start, double blades, adjustable cutting height, etc. can make a big difference. If you have fun mowing your lawn, you’ll do it more often and that results in a healthy lawn with green grass. If you want a mower with mulching, side-discharge, and bagging capability you will have to pay extra over a basic model.

It’s all about balancing cost vs requirements. If you have a tiny 1000 square foot lawn, don’t go out there and buy a John Deere lawn tractor. It’s a pain to maintain that thing, since a basic task like sharpening the blades requires a removal of the entire deck (unless you own a mower jack).

But you don’t want to cheap out either. I feel like a mower with mulching capability is worth the investment, since it cuts down on cleanup time. And the mulch nourishes your grass.

If you have diseased grass in the lawn or a bunch of dead leaves to clear, you might need a mower that bags the clippings. Selecting a mower is all about understanding which features are the most beneficial to you. Size does make a difference, but it isn’t the sole determining factor.

The Most Popular Lawn Mower Size

A 21” rear-drive gas powered mower is one of the most popular lawn-maintenance tools. Why 21 inches and rear-wheel drive? Because a cutting width of 21 inches is ideal for lawns up to 10,000 square feet (the average U.S. lawn size).

Plus rear wheel drive on a mower generates better traction, especially on bumpy terrain. When you turn your mower, the rear wheels maintain better contact compared to the front ones (which lift up in the air). It should also be noted that rear-wheel drive tends to be slightly more expensive (for the same engine size).

We should also talk about the nuances of gas vs electric. You see, there is no doubt that gas mowers are still the most popular design. Mainly because so many homes already own one.

However, the percentage of electric lawn mowers is growing at an extremely fast rate. Mainly due to new buyers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of operating and maintaining a small gas engine. With an electric mower, you don’t have to worry about engine oil or spark plugs.

You simply plug in the mower or recharge its battery if it’s a cordless model, and you’re all set. Electric mowers are also quieter, something that your neighbors will surely appreciate every morning. And they generate zero fumes.

I will talk about electric vs gas mowers in more detail, because each side has its pros and cons. One thing is for sure though- the future is going to be all electric. I for one am looking forward to a future where our lawn maintenance equipment generates less noise and no polluting gasses.

Time | How Fast Do You Want To Mow Your Lawn?

Some people view mowing their lawn as a matter of maintenance, functionally no different from washing the dishes or cleaning a car. For others, it’s a hobby and much more personal. They actually enjoy spending more time in the lawn while carefully trimming each edge to perfection for that gorgeous look.

Depending on which side of the spectrum you fall into, a longer mow time might actually be a good thing. Personally, I feel like 75 to 90 minutes is the maximum. It’s plenty of time to feel involved in the process while also not being so long as to feel like a chore.

Remember- lawn maintenance consists of far more than just cutting the grass with a mower. You have to edge the lawn and trim places the mower can’t reach. Sometimes you’ll have to walk around with a weed whacker, taking out unwanted plants and shrubs.

And grass grows at different speeds depending on the season. Usually, people cut their lawns once a week during spring but twice a week during summer. On a workday, you’ll really appreciate a fast mower that can trim up the entire lawn before it gets too dark (no such urgency on weekends).

Lawnmower Brands | How Much Should You Spend On A Lawnmower?

You might be thinking which brand of lawn mower is the most reliable. I won’t review any specific brands or models in this article. But I can tell you that a mower shouldn’t be thought of as just another disposable tool.

Consider it to be a long term investment. Sure, buying a cheap 150 dollar machine from some obscure Chinese brand at home depot will get the job done. But if you’re serious about lawn maintenance, you should invest in something that will last.

Toro, Honda, Troy-Bilt, John Deere and several other companies make some excellent mowers. With proper care and maintenance, you can easily get 10 years out of these guys. If you do the calculations, it’s a lot cheaper in the long run compared to hiring lawn services.

What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need? | Buying Guide

Earlier, I talked about how lawnmower size can determine how fast you cut your grass. It is the deck width we’re talking about here, not the actual physical size of the lawnmower itself. Although the larger lawnmowers generally tend to have wider decks, but that’s another topic entirely.

You can upgrade the deck on a lawnmower, provided it has ample engine power to drive the new blade. An under-powered engine will struggle with wider decks, especially if you get into thicker and taller grass. Depending on how long the grass in your lawn is, you’ll also have to take engine power into consideration.

When it comes to mowers, it doesn’t hurt to go slightly oversize. And there are a few reasons for that-

  • A larger mower with a more powerful engine will have an easier time climbing uphill (self-propelled models only)
  • You can cut through thicker and taller grass, so there is more room for error. If your lawn hasn’t been mown in a while (maybe you were on vacation), a larger mower won’t struggle with overgrown grass.
  • Faster and longer blades leave clean cuts, with zero patches. Your lawn gets a nice, uniform shave.
  • Quicker mowing times let you FOCUS on other aspects of lawn maintenance. Like hedge trimming and edging.

Consider the Lawn Size and Obstacles

One acre is 43,560 square feet so do your math accordingly. Remember- these are approximate figures and you don’t have to adhere to them precisely. You may not find a 37” deck while looking for mowers, but there might be a 36” model (you get the idea).

Another factor to take into consideration is obstacles. A lawn is rarely one flat square piece of land with nothing in the middle. There are hedges, flower beds, trees, walkways, etc., meaning that your lawn mower needs to have a certain degree of maneuverability.

Otherwise, you’ll spend precious time clumsily tip-toeing between these obstacles. And waste even more time taking a hedge trimmer to smooth out the spots that you missed with your mower. A mower that can make tight turns and cut close to edges is preferable over one that is slightly larger but not as nimble.

Cutting speed is a function of both speed and deck width. And sure, a lot of these fancy new riding mowers or walk-behind mowers advertise themselves as really fast. But practical speed is very different from what you see on the box.

For example- if a zero turn mower is capable of doing 10mph, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will hit the same speeds on your lawn. A lawn has turns, slopes, ditches, furniture, and hedges. All that braking, accelerating, turning, and stopping means the average speed over a 30-minute period will be around half of the advertised maximum in a straight line on level ground.

To conclude- get a mower that’s sized appropriately for your lawn while still being capable of moving around obstacles efficiently. Owning a ginormous riding mower with a 72” deck is meaningless if it doesn’t fit through the gate of your lawn. A mower should also be able to maneuver around obstacles and climb up slopes.

Straight line speed is great, but practical speed is even better. Hence, zero turn mowers are so much quicker at cutting grass than lawn tractors (even with the deck width being constant). They can stop and turn on a dime, while also being faster in a straight line.

Larger Mowers Are Harder to Maintain

This is something a lot of new buyers just gloss over. A bigger mower is faster, but it’s useless without proper maintenance and care. I would rather have a 22” cordless walk-behind that I can take out twice a week than a 64” riding mower that works once every 3 months.

You see, mowers require basic cleaning and check ups. Just like a chainsaw or any other power tool. The blades and underside of your mower’s deck get covered in grass clippings and dirt after a while.

With a 21”walk-behind mower that weighs 90lbs, you can easily lift up the front end or tip the mower sideways. This lets you wash the deck or remove the blade for sharpening. Transporting the mower requires just one person.

But now, let’s move up in size to a zero turn mower or lawn tractor. These big boys can’t be lifted without a mower jack. So forget about sharpening their blades unless you have the proper tools.

And transporting a mower of that size requires a trailer attached to your car. You can’t just fold it up into the trunk. Oh, and storing a riding mower is also going to require more space compared to a walk-behind.

Either you build a shed for that thing, or hope there’s enough space in your garage. And then there’s tire pressure. If one rear tire has more pressure than the other, you will end up with a slanted cut on your lawn.

So now you have to monitor tire pressures and pump them up when needed. If something breaks down in the engine, you can’t just pop open your mower in a shed. After all, this is a miniature car and you will probably require professional assistance.

Clearly, a riding mower is cool and makes the process of mowing your lawn very pleasant. It feels good to sit in a cushioned chair and ride around the lawn while sipping on your favorite beverage. But you also have to bear the responsibility of additional maintenance for a mower of that size.

Push Mower vs Self-Propelled

Alright, we need to talk about propulsion. Clearly, there comes a point when self-propelled is the only choice you got. Nobody in their right mind would take on an acre of grass with a push mower unless they really wanted to spend as much time as possible.

There are 3 factors that will decide whether you go with a self-propelled mower or push mower:

For a lawn that’s in the 2500 to 7500 square foot range, I can definitely see a push mower working just fine. It will get the job done within an hour, especially if you go with a good brand like Honda or Toro. Electric mowers are slightly more complicated, particularly the corded ones. Because you are limited by the length of your power cord.

But with gas engines, up to 7500 square feet is doable. You also have to consider the fact that this is with flat terrain. The numbers are completely different with hills and slopes in the equation.

Even a medium-sized push mower with a 21” deck weighs around 80 to 90lbs. Electric models are lighter, but those are still in the 60 to 75lb range. Point is, you can’t make multiple passes with one of these uphill.

You need a self-propelled mower that doesn’t require the force of your own legs and back to push it up a slope. Especially if you have joint or back problems. Besides, it’s much better to have a mower that your wife and parents can use without straining themselves too hard. Because you won’t always be in the house. A mower’s value is diminished if only the most physically able person in the family can use it comfortably. I suggest taking these points into consideration, because self-propelled walk behind models aren’t exceedingly pricey these days.

I created a chart to give you some guidance on self-propelled vs push mowers:

General guidelines for choosing the right type of lawn mower.

This chart has some pretty wide ranges and doesn’t take into account physical ability. But you get the point, it’s a general guide. These are basic pointers on which type of mower to get, and you can adjust based on your own requirements.

If you’re elderly or a senior then I highly recommend buying a cordless self-propelled lawn mower because they are the easiest to maneuver and require the least amount of energy to push. We recently dedicated an article to answer to a common question we get : Best Lightweight Lawn Mower for the Elderly or Seniors. If you have any physical disabilities but still want to cut the lawn then you’ll also benefit from this mower guide. There’s a lawn mower for everyone, so don’t fret. Technology has come a long way.

Self-propelled mowers come in many different flavors. You have walk-behind models, lawn tractors, and zero-turn mowers. There are also some outrageously large walk-behind mowers like the Swisher Versa VTFC42 and DeWALT HW48.

But the large walk-behind mowers are primarily for professional use. As a homeowner, you’re much better off with a riding mower if you are getting something that size. Riding mowers have their pros and cons.

Increased maintenance is one of the big issues with riding mowers. It’s not that they break down often, but they are more complex machines compared to a walk-behind. The parts are expensive.

And you do need to consider deck width, because a mower should be able to go around obstacles in your lawn. Riding mowers are heavy and have tires with deep treads. These can leave marks depending on how soft the grass and soil are.

Gas vs Electric Lawn Mower

This is a debate that has been raging on ever since electric lawnmowers became viable. Before, people used to think that these are mere toys intended for tiny lawns under 1000 sq. feet but now electric mowers have proved their competence. Advances in lithium ion battery technology and brushless motor design have canceled out many of the weaknesses electric mowers used to have in the past.

One thing is for sure, electric mowers are way easier to operate and maintain. All you have to worry about is cleaning the deck and sharpening the blades. That’s it- no more fussing around with engine oil or gasoline.

You don’t need special tanks designed to store fuel. You just plug in a cord, or recharge a battery. And there is no cord to pull, you just push a button and the mower starts cutting.

It’s insanely easy to operate an electric mower, whether it’s corded or cordless. Cordless models obviously cost more since they use more advanced technology. However they also offer a much higher degree of freedom compared to corded mowers.

Gas vs Corded Electric Mower

A corded mower is restricted by the length of its power cord, so you need to have an outdoor outlet. And a small to medium-sized lawn because anything beyond 100 feet will be impossible for a corded machine. However, there are benefits to these simple electric mowers.

For starters, they are very cheap. Even cheaper than low-end 140cc gas mowers. And in terms of performance, they will do just fine with grass that is under 3” tall.

Corded electric mowers are also the lightest type of mower. They have all the benefits of electric mowers, and none of the downsides of gas. But if you have a large lawn (above 10000 square feet) or really thick grass, then perhaps you should look at gas or cordless power.

Gas vs Cordless Electric Mower

Cordless electric mowers are the future, and have made great advances in terms of both range and power. These days, a high-end cordless electric mower can keep up with some of the lighter walk-behind gas mowers in terms of cutting speed. And because you aren’t restricted by any wires, you can go as far as you want.

Provided you have charge, because 30 to 40 minutes of mowing will probably empty the battery. With cordless mowers, you either carry a spare battery pack or you get a model with really fast charging times. There are cordless mowers with mulching and bagging functions.

Most cordless lawn mowers are walk-behind models. But I have seen a couple of riding electric mowers recently. There’s the Ryobi RM480e and ZTR480ex (the latter is a zero turn model).

For now, Ryobi and Greenworks are the only two companies with serious products in the cordless riding mower segment. And these models are insanely expensive, even in comparison to gas-powered riding mowers. But as technology progresses and demand increases, I bet cordless riding mowers will be a common sight.

Are Wider Decks Better?

Not always. They sure cover a larger area, resulting in faster cuts. But if you put a wide mower deck on a really small property with lots of obstacles, it might actually end up posting a worse time than a smaller mower.

That’s because while you’re losing time braking and turning, the smaller mower is just cutting grass. Wider decks also require more blades. For example- a 64” riding mower typically has 3 separate blades under the deck.

It’s impossible to put a single 64” wide blade under the mower because that would require a comically large deck. And a massive engine to drive that behemoth of a blade. However, even with a powerful engine you lose plenty of power during transmission.

The 3 separate blades aren’t bolted directly to the engine. They spin slightly slower in comparison to a mower that has a single blade. As a result, the mower with a single blade can make cleaner cuts with its faster blade speed.

Having a wider deck with multiple blades also means that they don’t always follow the contour of whatever it is that you’re cutting. There will be small dips, rises, banks, etc. in the lawn. And certain portions of a wide triple-blade deck will just glide over these imperfections instead of contacting the grass.

Mulching Mowers | Do You Need One?

Having a mower that can also mulch in addition to cutting the grass is very beneficial. You get free organic fertilizer for your yard, and don’t have to worry about bagging the clippings. A mulching mower has an extremely fine set of blades designed specifically to chop up grass into tiny chunks.

These tiny chunks slip between the regular grass, and settle into the soil. Over time, they decompose into the earth and nourish the grass around them. You get green, lush grass in your lawn without having to spend lots of money on artificial fertilizer (provided there is ample water and sunlight).

Modern mowers usually have a 2-in-1 mulch and bag function built right in. But these aren’t available in the cheaper models. In my opinion, the extra versatility is well worth it.

Sometimes, bagging is preferable to mulching. Especially if you have tall, overgrown grass with weeds in the midst. Bagging is also great for removing leaves from your lawn.

How Long Does A Mower Last?

A well-built mower from any reputable manufacturer should last at least 7 to 10 years with good maintenance. But depending on climate conditions and other factors, the lifespan can vary. The length and type of grass you cut will also decide how long a mower lasts.

Cutting grass 3 times each week puts more stress on the mower as opposed to cutting once per week (duh?). So if you’re serious about lawn maintenance and want to cut multiple times each week for the best grass health, get a high quality machine that is built to last. If you’re using a gas-powered mower, make sure to winterize it.

Winterizing just means draining out all the fuel from your mower before storing it during winter. This ensures that old fuel doesn’t decompose and gum up the carburetor/ fuel lines. You also need to change the air filters and spark plugs periodically.

I Can’t Believe The Results! We Test The Latest 4×4 Robotic Lawn Mower

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Last Updated: July 13, 2023 at 10:57 PM / by Gio Sasso

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