Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower review – a great mower for small yards with not-so-great batteries
REVIEW – Battery-powered lawn mowers have several benefits over their gas-powered cousins: No more trips to the gas station, no need for oil, no worries about burning off all the gas before storing it away for the winter, less noise for your neighbors, and so on. Last year was the first time that I used a battery-powered lawn mower, and unfortunately that one was too small and quite underpowered. I’m back this year with another mower, this one from the well-known power tool maker, Ryobi. Will it have the power to mow my yard, which is a combination of weeds and Zoysia? Read on to find out more about Ryobi’s 18V ONE mower.
What is it?
The Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower is the latest in a long line of power tools and yard equipment that are powered by Ryobi’s ONE system, which uses lithium-ion battery technology intended to maximize power. This is a brushless push mower with a 16-inch blade that is intended for smaller yards. The mower comes with attachments for mulching or bagging as well as a pair of 4.0 Ah batteries and a charger. Ryobi is a Japanese manufacturer that “specializes in making pro-featured power tools and outdoor products truly affordable.”
Design and features
The Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower looks like every other battery-powered lawn mower. Nearly every visible part of the mower is plastic, except for the handle bars, the metal bars for the bagger, and the metal bars used to change the height of the mower. Its coloring is a mix of black and Ryobi’s signature bright yellow along with liberal doses of Ryobi and ONE branding. On top of the mower is a compartment for the safety key and the battery. The grass-catcher bag hangs off the back of the mower, and it can be replaced by a plug when mulching. Overall, there’s nothing new or interesting about this design, but as the old adage says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Installation and setup
When the box arrived, I was a bit fearful for its contents. The box was quite thin, and it had clearly taken a beating during transport. In addition, the single strip of lightweight tape that held the box closed had mostly popped apart, leaving a good bit of the box top open. Ryobi has a lot to learn about protecting large pieces of lawn equipment while they are in transport. Thankfully, as far as I could tell, nothing was broken or missing; there was, however, one random screw in the bottom of the box, and I still have no idea where it came from.
Ryobi included three different manuals, one for the mower, one for the charger, and one for the batteries. The mower arrived partially assembled, so I started with the mower manual to see how to finish the assembly. I don’t like this manual at all. It’s got a 1980’s vibe to it, and the style is not very helpful. The pictures are small, the steps to take are unclear, multiple languages are mixed in the text and make it hard to read, and so on. I figured out how to assemble this mower, but it’s safe to say that I did so despite this manual, not because of it.
Using the charger is super simple, just plug it in and then insert the battery. It can only charge one at a time. The charger has no less than three LEDs:
- Orange – indicates the battery is too hot or cold to charge
- Red – indicates the battery is charging
- Green – indicates the battery is charged
Once the batteries were charged—this takes about 90 minutes per battery—I inserted the safety key and a battery, and I was ready to go!
The Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower can either mulch or bag. If you want to mulch, there’s a plastic plug that can be inserted into the hole in the back of the mower. As I want to add the grass clippings around my blackberry bushes, most of the time I choose to use the bagger instead. The bag is a typical nylon bag that allows air to flow through while blocking the grass. It’s attached to the mower using a pair of metal clips, which is a standard approach. The bag itself isn’t really that big. I found that on average it only took just over two minutes to fill up; that means I’m going to be doing a lot of stopping and emptying. At least it’s easy to detach the bag, empty it, and reattach.
The airflow out of the back of the mower isn’t very strong. When I mowed grass that was damp, the bagger didn’t work very well, as all the grass jammed at the back of the mower. As long as the grass was dry, however, it worked just fine.
Perhaps the coolest feature on this mower is its height adjusting mechanism. On my gas-powered mower, I literally have to use a wrench to remove the tires to change the height; it’s horrible. On this Ryobi mower, however, all I have to do is use a lever located on the side of the mower; it simultaneously lowers or raises all four wheels. I think this is really slick. It has seven different mowing heights, anywhere from 1.5 to 4 inches in height. I typically kept the mower on the third lowest setting, and that worked pretty well for my yard.
Starting the Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower is easy. I hold down one of the handles and then press the button. I found that this mower starts up with one press every time.
Here’s most important question about the Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower: How powerful is it? Can it mow my lawn without stalling and stopping all the time? Although this mower still doesn’t have as much power as my gas mower, it has enough to mow all but the thickest clumps of grass in my yard. Those still caused the mower to stall, but rarely did they cause it to stop. Whenever I hit thicker grass, the battery gave more power to the engine to power through. This push mower is very usable. I am super happy with the power Ryobi managed to get out this ONE system.
I created a short video to show some of the features of the mower and to show how it worked in my yard:
How big of a yard is this mower good for? As I’ve mentioned, the grass catcher is pretty small. The blade length is 16 inches, which is quite a bit smaller than most entry-level, gas-powered, push mowers that are usually 20 or 21 inches. Ryobi estimates that each battery will last 40 minutes, but what I found was that they averaged far, far less than that. I never got more than 20 minutes of runtime from a fully charged battery.
Ryobi says that the 18V ONE Lawn Mower is designed for yards that are a quarter acre or less. Given the size of the blade and bag catcher, that estimate seems about right, but with these batteries, I think a quarter acre is quite rather optimistic. Either I’ll need to buy two or (more likely) four additional batteries, or I’ll have to mow the lawn over three days instead of all at once. Ryobi does sell extra batteries at Home Depot.
They also sell mowers in this line with larger blades, but you’ll have to pay for the larger mowers. This 16-inch mower is only 280, and the 21-inch mowers start at 500. They also a have a battery-powered riding mower, which looks amazing (but costs 5600!).
There’s a sturdy handle on top for picking up the entire mower, and as the mower is made out of plastic, I can pick it up with one hand.
For those who have a smaller garage or shed, the Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower can be stored in an upright position. To do this, I remove the bagger, loosen the four knobs, fold the handlebars out of the way, and then prop up the mower. It does save a bit of space.
What I’d change
The Ryobi 18V ONE Lawn Mower is part of Ryobi’s ONE line of power tools and lawn equipment. At only 16 inches, the blade is intended for smaller lawns, but it makes up for that with a smaller price tag. In my testing, I found this mower to be powerful enough to handle all the but the thickest patches of grass in my yard. I’m particularly fond of the height adjustment mechanism and its ability to fold up when stored. I’m very disappointed, however, with the total run time of the batteries; Ryobi says they will last for 40 minutes, but the ones I have actually last for less than 20. I like a lot of things about this lawn mower; if the batteries lived up to Ryobi’s estimated numbers, then I would recommend it without any hesitation. Given their very short run time, however, I can’t really recommend it to you, unless you’re happy buying more batteries or are willing to take three days to mow your lawn.
Price: 299 Where to buy: The Home Depot Source: The sample for this review was provided by Ryobi.
Powerful, long lasting and self-propelled, is the Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek the do it all mower for you?
Top Ten Reviews Verdict
The Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek offers a really viable alternative to gas with a maintenance free battery system that offers lots of range with dual batteries and lots of power. The 21-inch blade is great for edge-to-edge cutting while the quick adjusting deck height, handle and collection bag all make for easy use.
- – Awkward full extension handle start required
- – No battery indicator on mower
- – Slow charging
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The Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek battery mower is a mean, green, grass-cutting machine. It sits in the higher end of the battery mower market in terms of price and features with the likes of self-propelled drive and a brushless motor leading the feature set.
Ryobi has managed to get lots of power out of its 40V battery for this mower, which houses two, allowing you to get even more range. On dual battery setup you can use this to cover a good half acre plot on a charge.
The self-propulsion is called Smart Trek, by Ryobi, but it’s essentially similar to what the competition offer with a push to go system. Unlike a lot of the competition this offers a true 21-inch cutting blade for plenty of width when cutting your lawn.
Charging could be faster and there were issues like a lack of battery display on the handlebars. But performance was impressive with lots of power and a high spin speed. Plus you get a reassuring five year limited warranty.
Is this the best electric lawn mower for you? Read on to find out all you need to know.
Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek review: Design and build
The Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek offers a reassuringly weighty steel deck without adding to the overall weight of the mower too much. It strikes a great balance between light maneuverability and solid weight, to power over bumps and lumps. While the deck is a pretty standard 21-inches, the blade is too. Most of the competition with a 21-inch deck actually feature a 20-inch blade. This slightly larger blade not only means more width and a wider cutting area but also a far better edge-to-edge cut making this great for fine detail cutting in to edges.
The brushless motor is also an appealing feature as this should have longer life and more power efficiency than a brushed equivalent.
The single point height adjustment, becoming a popular feature on these types of mowers, is really welcome. It means you just need to pull the handle and lift or depress the deck to find the height you want easily.
The LED headlights are a nice addition that allow you to cut when it’s getting dark. Since these battery mowers are so quiet, it can be a genuinely useful feature when you want to cut at night when it’s cool, without annoying your neighbors.
The handle system is quickly adjustable and the bag is a simple clip in unit. Both of which are super easy to use. There is also a red kill switch key, should you want to do maintenance – although we find popping the battery out is just as reassuring. But it’s nice to see Ryobi putting pro level features in this model.
Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek review: Features
The Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek’s headline feature, according to Ryobi, is its Smart Trek self-propulsion system. This uses rear-wheel drive to help move the mower as you apply a little forward pressure on the handles. Rear-wheel drive, the company says, offers more traction when moving across the lawn.
This mower offers a three in one system meaning you can pick between bagging your grass, mulching it or side discharging it – although the side discharge accessory is sold separately. The bag itself is super easy to use thanks to the Easy-Life Single-Motion lock that is made for simple one handed use.
The height of the deck can be moved through seven levels, with that one handed pull and adjust system. This ranges from as low to the ground as one and a half inches right up to as high as four inches.
There is a dual battery bay which allows you to double the runtime of this mower, if you invest in a dual battery setup. When one runs out the other one kicks in, at which time you can pop the dead battery in a charger, allowing you even more juice when the second runs out and the first can be placed back in.
Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek review: Performance
The Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek battery mower has got lots of power with a good 2,800 RPM making it one of the faster spinning mowers out there. This power allows you to glide over maintenance cuts of a lawn but, on longer grass it can slow and struggle a bit. It’ll still cut through grass as deep as a month’s worth of growth, making that four inch top height useful, but just not as easily as shorter grass the whole time.
In terms of battery life you can expect the included 6Ah battery to get you about a quarter of an acre of average cutting done before it gives out. So just over half an hour or so. the STIHL RMA 510 V offers 45 minutes and the Greenworks 21-inch 60V MO60L410 offers up to 90 minutes. But if you have that second battery you’re good for an hour, or half an acre, easily. Also with the other battery charging you may be able to swap it back in after the second battery dies for even more range. That said charging is slow compared to some of the fast charging competition.
The self-propulsion might take some getting used to as power is added as you lean into the handle, which can be difficult to apply evenly on slopes. As such it’s not the smoothest to use right away but can be improved as you get better at judging how much you need to push and how much you need to just relax your arms.
To start it’s a simple button push, but you do need the arms at full length. This is done easily with a single point of adjustment but is a hassle if you change it each time you use the mower. That said you can fold the handle down for vertical storage, so you’re likely going to be messing with this anyway.
The deck height adjustment couldn’t be easier with that pull and move system that’s really hard to fault, especially with those seven points of height – it feels just right.
The grass collection bag is also very easy to use with a simple lift and release mechanism that makes it quick and easy to take off and attach again.
Should I buy the Ryobi 40V 21-inch Brushless Smart Trek?
If you want a super wide cutting area on a mower that offers plenty of power, easy adjustment features and LED headlights, this is ideal. It’ll also give you enough runtime to cover a lot of space and the option to add a battery for even more range.
However, if you want a more intuitive drive system, longer battery range and a bit more power there are other options that are similarly priced.
If you’re still set on a gas mower, then check out our round up of the best gas lawn mowers, while those with big lawns will want to take a look at our guide to the best riding lawn mowers.
Ryobi 40V HP 21-Inch Self-Propelled Mower RY401150
The Ryobi High-Performance tech has made its way to the 40V platform, and what better way to show it off than to throw it into a mower? The Ryobi 40V HP self-propelled mower uses a Cross Cut twin-blade system and Smart Trek adaptive speed controls. It looks to offer the power and performance of gas with the convenience of electric power.
Ryobi 40V HP Self-propelled Mower Overview
There are probably a few things worth mentioning with the Ryobi 40V HP self-propelled mower. We’ll start with the 40V HP battery platform Ryobi put in this system.
As a general rule, the 40V HP tool line uses tools with brushless motors. These deliver more power, performance, and run time. In the case of the Ryobi 40V HP self-propelled mower, that means you get up to 70 minutes of run time using the kitted pair of 6.0Ah batteries. Ryobi estimates that this should be ideal for lots of 3/4 of an acre or less.
The Ryobi RY401150’s Cross Cut multiple blade system employs technology similar to what we first saw with Yamaha MicroCut twin blades. It employs a pair of offset blades. These provide superior cutting and mulching while maintaining excellent airlift for bagging applications.
Finally, the Ryobi 40V HP Self-Propelled Mower features Smart Trek adaptive variable speed. This system intelligently and intuitively adjusts the mower’s self-propel speed to your natural walking speed. It senses how much pressure you apply to the push bar and reactively adjusts on-the-fly.
We’ve had mixed experiences with the Smart Trek system, but many folks love the effortless way in which it sets your walking pace. At 599, Ryobi is stepping into premium battery-powered mower territory. It does so, however, with an excellent value by including a pair of 6Ah 40V battery packs. That makes this mower capable of covering a lot of ground.
We look forward to completing our review of this mower shortly—at which point we’ll update this review with our findings. In the meantime, we wanted to get as much information out to our readers as possible.
Other Ryobi 40V HP Self-propelled Mower Features
- Push button for hassle-free starting
- Self-propelled rear-wheel drive
- Dual active battery ports
- 21 in. durable polypropylene deck is lightweight and resists corrosion
- 7-position, single-point height adjustment from 1 in. to 4 in.
- 3-in-1 mowing functions, mulching, bagging, and side discharge
- Easy lift single motion bag removal
- 1-touch aluminum handles for compact, vertical storage
- High-intensity LED headlights
- Includes 2 Ryobi 40-Volt 6 Ah batteries
- Includes a Rapid charger for 4X faster charging
The Ryobi 40V HP 21″ Self-Propelled Mower is sold exclusively at Home Depot. It comes with two 6.0Ah HP batteries and a Rapid charger, as well as a 5-year warranty on the tool and a 3-year warranty on the batteries. It retails for 599.
If you want to skip the Smart Trek system in lieu of a more conventional self-propelled system, you can save 100 on the Ryobi RY401140. It sells for just 499.
Ryobi 40V Crosscut Self-Propelled Mower Specs
- Model: Ryobi RY401150
- Voltage: 40V
- Motor: Brushless
- Self-propel system: Smart Trek
- Deck Size: 21 in.
- Cutting Height: 1.5–4 in.
- Deck Height Adjustments: 7-position single point
- Warranty: 5-year tool warranty and 3-year battery warranty
- Kit price (2 x 6Ah batteries): 599
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.
Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire. The Baltimore native also covered the technology scene for LocalBusiness.com and has been a regular contributor to the sports pages of The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.
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.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 93.61 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: 227
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.
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.
Price at time of publish: 99
Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29 pounds | Power Source: Corded electric | Cutting Options: Bag, side-discharge
RYOBI 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery 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 in. 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: 5,999
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
With a 22-inch deck and a three-phase brushless motor that optimizes RPM and torque, this cordless, walk-behind mower from Toro delivers a powerful performance. It offers an array of advanced features for hassle-free mowing, which certainly justify its fairly steep price tag. Nine cutting positions, ranging in height from 1 to 4 inches, ensure a precise cut, even in tight spaces. Plus, Toro’s patented Vortex Technology allows more air into the cutting chamber, resulting in finer grass clippings and a healthier lawn.
This mower includes one battery that can run up to 40 minutes, allowing you to cut up to 0.33 of an acre on a single charge. (However, we have read some complaints of it running out of juice in half that time). Its 10-inch rear wheels provide excellent traction on tough terrain without tearing up your lawn. Other impressive features include a self-propelled transmission that automatically adjusts to your walking pace. Thanks to a quick-connect bagging system, you can easily switch from mulching to bagging. Despite its heavy weight, the Toro Recycler Walk Behind Mower is easy to maneuver, and it folds up compactly to minimize its storage footprint.
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: 399
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: 1,159
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. While the grass is being cut, clippings are automatically transferred into the bag. 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 6 Best Walk-Behind Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product reviewer specializing in home, kitchen, and pet products. In her 6 years of experience as a product tester, she’s reviewed hundreds of items firsthand, and her work appears in publications such as PEOPLE, The Spruce, Homes Gardens, and more. Camryn is also the proud owner of a small homestead in Rhode Island, where she spends her spare time gardening, tending her many animals, and working through a never-ending list of home improvement projects.
In This Article
Summer is almost upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about lawn care. There are a wide variety of lawn mowers that you can use keep your backyard looking pristine, but it’s important to find the right option to fit your yard — and your budget. If you have a small- to midsize yard, a walk-behind lawn mower generally provides the right balance of value and efficiency.
Nicole Durden, senior merchant of outdoor power at The Home Depot, says that both gas and electric mowers can make lawn care an easier chore. “Depending on your yard’s size and terrain, a walk-behind mower is ideal for a yard that’s ¾ of an acre or less,” she adds.
Today, you can find walk-behind lawn mowers that are powered by gas, batteries, or even an extension cord, and to help you select the best product for your yard, we tested nine popular models, putting them through the paces over the course of 10 hours of testing. After many hours of mowing, we evaluated each walk-behind mower on its design, performance, useability, safety, and value.
The following are the best walk-behind lawn mowers that People Tested.
Honda HRN216VKA 21-Inch Gas Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- The mower is able to cut through dense and wet grass on the first pass.
- It starts quickly and reliably with just one pull.
- Thorough mulching abilities can handle wet leaves and grass.
- Good value for a lawn mower of its size and power.
- Bag latch can become clogged with clippings and may need cleanout prior to reinserting the bag.
- Self-propelled speed doesn’t respond well to slight increases.
In terms of all-around performance, our top-recommended walk-behind mower is this model from Honda. The gas mower has a self-propelled design that’s powered by a 4-stroke 166cc engine, yet we found that it was extremely easy to start up, only ever needing one pull to get the motor going. The tool has a 21-inch cutting deck and weighs around 75 pounds, but despite its substantial weight, the self-propelled design made it easy for us to operate and navigate around obstacles in the yard.
This Honda lawn mower did a phenomenal job while cutting, and it was able to cut through dense patches of grass and weeds on a single pass. We even tested it in slightly damp conditions, and it didn’t get bogged down at all. You can choose between rear discharge, bagging, or mulching grass clippings, and we loved that the mulching setting cut debris up into fine pieces that will help feed nutrients back into the lawn. It was even able to mulch wet leaves and grass without any issues.
While we were impressed with this mower’s overall performance, there are a few small caveats worth noting. The area where the collection bag latches to the mower frequently got clogged with grass pieces, and we had to clean it out before reattaching the bag. Additionally, the self-propulsion doesn’t respond well to gradual increases in speed — it tends to go from slow to fast with no options in between.
Price at time of publish: 549
Power Source: Gas | Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 74.75 pounds | Self-Propelled: Yes | Clipping Options: Rear discharge, bag, mulch
Sun Joe MJ401E-P2 Electric Lawn Mower
- This lawn mower is very lightweight, and it’s similar to operating a vacuum.
- Its small form is easy to maneuver and can fit into tight spaces.
- The mower is much quieter than a gas-powered mower.
- Grass collection bag fills up very quickly and may need to be emptied multiple times while mowing.
- Grass can get clogged underneath the mowing deck, which causes the mower to shut off.
If you have a small yard, chances are you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a push mower. Luckily for you, the Sun Joe Electric Lawn Mower is an inexpensive option that’s unbelievably easy to use and maintain. This lawn mower is half the weight of many other walk-behind models we tested, and its corded design makes it easy to mow a small yard without worrying about running out of power. In testing, we found that it requires very little effort to push — we’d compare it to pushing a vacuum cleaner across a carpet — and were impressed by how quiet it is while mowing.
This electric mower can get into tight spaces easily, thanks to its 14-inch cutting deck, but it can get stuck if you’re cutting thick grass — during testing, the mower shut off on us because the blades were clogged up. However, it was easy to clean out the cutting deck and continue mowing. The only major downside of this compact electric mower is that it solely bags grass clippings, and the collection bag is extremely small. We had to empty it two or three times while mowing a 400-square-foot area, which made the process take a little longer than expected.
Price at time of publish: 108
Power Source: Plug-in | Cutting Width: 14 inches | Weight: 29 pounds | Self-Propelled: No | Clipping Options: Bag
Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower
- Good value for a larger corded mower.
- The mower performs well on both dry and damp grass, as well as tall weeds.
- It has no problem driving over uneven ground.
- The mower is easy to push with one hand, even though it’s not self-propelled.
- It can be a bit bulky to turn or maneuver around obstacles.
- Clippings often fall out when emptying the collection bag, even if it’s not full.
The Greenworks Corded Lawn Mower is a great value if you don’t mind working around an extension cord as you mow. This electric model has a fairly large 20-inch cutting deck, and it offers side discharge, bagging, and mulching abilities, unlike other corded models we tested. We used it on both dry and damp grass, and it had no problems cutting either one, breezing right through tall weeds. It also did a good job capturing grass clippings in the included collection bag, though some do spill out when you remove the bag for emptying.
We tested this mower on a fairly uneven lawn, and thanks to its large rear wheels, it didn’t have any problem driving over divots that have posed a problem for other mowers. We were able to push the mower around with just one hand, holding the power cord with the other, but it does require two hands to turn the mower around, as it’s a bit bulky (and not self-propelled). Bottom line? With its affordable price and reliable performance, this mower is a good option for anyone with a smaller yard who wants a corded lawn mower with features.
Price at time of publish: 229
Power Source: Plug-in | Cutting Width: 20 inches | Weight: 56 pounds | Self-Propelled: No | Clipping Options: Side discharge, bag, mulch
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- The battery still had power left after 50 minutes of use.
- The handle can be adjusted to different heights and angles for maximum comfort.
- The self-propelled design is easy to maneuver and takes strain off your body.
- The mower did get bogged down on a wet patch of grass and ferns.
- The process to start the mower is a bit complicated and hard to understand based on the directions.
There are several benefits to battery-powered mowers like the EGO Power Self-Propelled Lawn Mower, including its lack of emissions, quiet operation, and minimal maintenance. This 21-inch lawn mower only comes with one 56-volt battery, but it was able to mow for 50 minutes with power to spare, making it a great option even for larger yards. On first use, we struggled to figure out how to start the mower — it’s not as simple as just pushing a single button — but once we conquered that hurdle, it was smooth sailing.
The self-propelled design was easy to maneuver around the yard, and we loved that it requires minimal effort, so it won’t strain your back. The mower delivered a clean, even cut, even when the grass was damp, and it’s easy and intuitive to adjust settings like the cutting height and mower speed. We did find that the mower would occasionally get bogged down in thicker, wet areas (for instance, it had trouble cutting through a patch of ferns), but this is the case with many mowers, so we don’t think it’s a dealbreaker.
Price at time of publish: 549 (orig. 576.45)
Power Source: Battery | Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 54.5 pounds | Self-Propelled: Yes | Clipping Options: Side discharge, bag, mulch
Honda 21-Inch Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
- The mower is easy to start without priming or worrying about flooding the motor.
- Self-propelled function locks into your desired speed, saving you from having to hold down a lever.
- There’s a setting that allows you to half bag and half mulch the grass clippings.
If you have a lot of ground to cover, we recommend this Honda HRX Lawn Mower. It’s powered by a 201cc engine that easily cuts through thick and dense grass, yet it’s incredibly easy to start up — we were able to get the mower going with a single pull, no priming needed. The Honda mower also has 4-in-1 functionality, meaning you can side discharge, bag, mulch, or shred grass clippings, and we like that there’s even an option to bag half and mulch half. This setting would definitely come in handy if you’re cutting longer grass.
This mower also stood out thanks to its convenient self-propelled design. The control bar has a knob that lets you select the speed you want, essentially locking the mower at that pace so you don’t have to worry about holding the lever down at the right pressure. It can also go quite fast — we found that a medium speed was comfortable for walking, but you could dial it up for faster mowing, if desired.
Overall, we had very few complaints about this self-propelled mower. It did take a little trial and error to find the right deck height and speed setting, but once that was done, the mower delivered a nice even cut every time.
Price at time of publish: 799 (orig. 989.99)
Power Source: Gas | Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 91 pounds | Self-Propelled: Yes | Clipping Options: Side discharge, bag, mulch, leaf shred
Ryobi 40V HP Brushless 21-Inch Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower
- Unbelievably quiet during operation — it almost sounds like a white noise machine.
- The battery-powered mower offers comparable power to a gas mower.
- The batteries lasted for more than three mowings (42 minutes total) without needing to be recharged.
- Self-propelled design makes it effortless to mow hilly areas.
- The grass collection bag is fairly small and needs to be emptied frequently.
- The mulching setting doesn’t do a great job on leaves.
The Ryobi Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Lawn Mower is our top pick for anyone with a hilly yard, as its self-propulsion abilities outperformed the competition in our testing. This electric mower has a standard 21-inch deck, and we found that it performs just as well as gas mowers thanks to its two powerful 40-volt batteries. It offers variable speed self-propulsion that lets you match the mower to your pace, and it had no problems tackling hills during testing. In fact, the feature can be too fast on straightaways if you turn it to max speed — we had to jog to keep up with it!
Because this mower is battery-powered, it’s much quieter than a gas mower, almost sounding like a white noise machine. It also impressed us with its runtime — we were able to mow a 2,000-square-foot yard three times without needing to recharge the batteries. While we loved the convenience and easy operation of this mower, it wasn’t totally perfect. The main negatives we discovered were that the grass collection bag is quite small and needed to be emptied frequently while mowing, and the mulching setting left behind quite a few dry leaves on the lawn.
Price at time of publish: 919
Power Source: Battery | Cutting Width: 21 inches | Weight: 75 pounds | Self-Propelled: Yes | Clipping Options: Side discharge, bag, mulch
Things to Consider Before Buying a Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
There are three main styles of walk-behind lawn mowers: gas, battery, and electric, also called corded. Gas mowers are usually the most powerful option, boasting large motors that can power through thick grass and weeds, but they’re also loud and require frequent maintenance, including oil and spark plug changes.
For these reasons, battery-powered models are becoming more popular: “Homeowners have been gravitating to battery power for a few years, and we’ll be seeing even more of that in 2023 with various laws and regulations and even HOA restrictions aiming to limit the use of gas,” explains Durden. “Advancements in technology are making it possible and practical for everyone to make the switch — we have several battery mowers that offer the same (or better) power than gas mowers today.” Battery-powered mowers are also quieter and don’t give off any harmful emissions, but they do have a limited runtime. Our top pick for a battery-powered mower is the EGO Power Lawn Mower.
Finally, there are corded walk-behind mowers, which tend to be the most affordable. These use an extension cord to plug into an electrical outlet, giving them an unlimited runtime, but you have to navigate around the cord as you mow, which is why they’re recommended for small yards.
The size of your yard will dictate which type of walk-behind mower is best for your needs. If you have a small yard that’s less than ¼ acre, a corded push mower will generally meet your needs. These are usually lightweight and have smaller decks, and they’re easy to operate and store.
For larger yards, you may want to upgrade to a self-propelled mower, such as the Ryobi Dual-Blade Mower, which moves forwards on its own using power from the motor. This means you don’t have to physically push the mower to move it around your yard, making the process less strenuous.
In terms of a gas vs. battery powered model, battery mowers do have a limited runtime — typically less than an hour, but it will vary by product — which may not be enough for yards that are an acre or more. However, keep in mind that you can always buy backup batteries, if needed.
The terrain of your yard is another factor to consider as you shop for a lawn mower. “If your yard is flat, a push mower will be the most affordable choice,” recommends Durden. “If your yard has hills, you may want to invest in a self-propelled mower that takes less manual effort.”
Walk-behind mowers with larger rear wheels — like the Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower — tend to handle better on uneven ground, so you may want to look for this feature if your yard has a lot of divots or ruts.
There are three main options for handling grass clippings while you’re mowing: discharging them out the side or back, bagging them up, or mulching them into fine pieces that will decay back into your lawn. Some lawn mowers, such as the Sun Joe Electric Lawn Mower only offer one option, while other models like the Honda Hrx 21-in Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower offer all three.
If you want a bagging mower, pay careful attention to the size of the collection bag in comparison to your yard. If the bag is too small, you may find yourself stopping to empty it frequently — a problem we ran into when testing the Ryobi Dual-Blade Self-Propelled Mower.
How We Tested
We researched today’s most popular walk-behind lawn mowers, and we selected nine top-rated models for testing, including three battery-operated, two corded, and four gas options. We sent each model to the homes of our testers, who are located in seven different cities across three states, and they tested each lawn mower over the period of several days.
We used each lawn mower three times, evaluating them on their ease of use, performance, power, safety features, and more. Each product was then scored on its setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value, and the highest-scoring products were selected for this round-up.
If you have a larger yard or a lot of hilly terrain, a self-propelled lawn mower will take a lot of the manual effort out of mowing your grass. “Self-propelled mowers are designed to automatically move forward from 1 to 3.5 miles per hour,” explains Durden. “They‘re recommended for yards of more than half an acre, especially those that are hilly or sloped. Some mowers offer variable speeds that come in handy when working near trees and garden beds.”
In general, you can expect to pay between 400 and 1,000 for a self-propelled lawn mower, and the more you’re willing to spend, the more power and features your mower will have. However, some of our top-rated models are only around 500, so don’t feel like you have to splurge to get a great tool.
If your lawn is only a few hundred square feet, you can probably get by with a reel-style lawn mower, but if it’s over ¼ of an acre, a walk-behind mower will make weekly maintenance much easier. The great thing about walk-behind lawn mowers is that there’s an option for every lawn size and budget. If you have a small yard, an inexpensive option like the Sun Joe Electric Lawn Mower will make quick work of your grass without breaking the bank.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Camryn Rabideau has been a professional product tester for six years, and she’s previously tested ride-on lawn mowers from popular brands like Ryobi and Husqvarna. While writing this article, she relied on firsthand insights from the People Tested team, who used these lawn mowers for a total of 10 hours. She also spoke with Nicole Durden, senior merchant of outdoor power at The Home Depot, for tips on selecting the right lawn mower for your home based on factors like your yard size, terrain, and budget.
What Is People Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.