The 12 Best Lawn Mowers of 2023

Keep your grass looking its best with the right lawn mower for your yard

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RYOBI 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

 The Spruce / Linnea Covington

Whether you enjoy the time spent outdoors laboring in the sun or consider it just another item to check off your to-do list, regularly giving your lawn a "haircut" with your lawn mower is a necessary task for maintaining a green, lush, and healthy lawn.

Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, says, "Picking the perfect lawnmower doesn't have to be a chore. At its core, it's about understanding your specific needs and matching them with the performance capabilities of the equipment. First, make sure you consider the size of your lawn, as not all mowers can accommodate different sizes. It’s critical to accurately estimate how large an area you need to cover in order to select the appropriate model.

"Power is also an important factor to assess when selecting a mower, with electric versus gas being two primary choices. Consider noise level, convenience, and how often you plan to use it before deciding between these two options. Finally, ask yourself what extras you'd like: bagging capability, mulching capabilities, variable height settings, etc. The features that are most important differ from person to person, so define yours first before making a purchase decision."

We evaluated lawn mowers based on type, power, maneuverability, noise level, ease of use, and overall value. Our top pick, the Honda Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower, is a powerful mower that is loaded with great features, including variable speeds that match your stride, seven cutting heights, a 4-cycle engine that requires no mixing of gas and oil, and a twin-blade design for superior cutting ability.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Honda HRN216VKA 21-Inch Gas Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Honda HRN216VKA 21-Inch Gas Self-Propelled Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Automatically matches your walking speed

  • Powerful engine

  • Starts easily

  • Cuts grass very cleanly

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic wheels

  • Requires periodic oil changes

  • Somewhat heavy

This powerful, highly rated gas lawn mower from Honda has a GCV 170-cc engine with auto-choke technology, so it's much easier to start than many other gas mowers; just pull the cord and it roars to life. It has a 4-stroke engine, so you can fill the tank with straight unleaded gasoline. There's no need to mix the gas with oil, as in lesser mowers with 2-stroke engines. Once you start walking, this self-propelled mower automatically matches its "stride" to yours up to 4 mph, making it almost effortless to cut your lawn. However, you can turn the self-propelled feature off if you want, turning this into a regular push mower. The handle adjusts to two different height positions to match your own height, which is especially useful if you are shorter or taller than average.

With a 21-inch cutting deck, you can quickly work your way across lawns up to 1 acre in size, including lawns with hills or uneven terrain, thanks to the rear-wheel drive. There are seven settings for the cutting height, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches, and changing the setting is as simple as moving a lever. The mower has Honda's MicroCut Twin Blades System, which provides exceptionally clean cuts to minimize grass wear-and-tear, while reducing the clippings to very fine pieces that can be mulched, bagged, or side-discharged. The mower comes with a 1.9-bushel clipping bag. To set your clipping disposal preference, just slide the clip to the desired setting. No need for tools or fuss. And when you're done mowing, the handle folds down for easy storage.

On the downside, like many gas mowers, you will need to change the oil in this one periodically. Honda recommends changing the oil after the first month of use and then every six months after that, using SAE 10W-30, API SJ or later for the best performance. Also, this lawn mower has plastic wheels, which some buyers felt were not as durable as rubber wheels. Still, it rolls well over most typical yard terrains without a problem, and handles even tall or thick grass with ease. All in all, we recommend this gas lawn mower for homeowners with fairly large yards, a desire to keep the lawn looking its best, and an equal desire to not have to work excessively hard to carry out that task. The Honda HRN216VKA Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower makes mowing the lawn as easy, and dare we say pleasurable, as a walk-behind mower possibly can.

Price at time of publish: $549

Cutting Width: 21 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 81 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge

Best Budget

Sun Joe MJ403E 17-Inch 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher

Sun Joe MJ403E 17-Inch 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher

Tractor Supply

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Grass collection bag included

  • Easy to maneuver

What We Don't Like
  • Most components are plastic

  • You'll need to take care not to mow over the extension cord

Electric lawn mowers can be expensive, but with this corded model, you get fine performance and lots of great features at a reasonable price. You'll need to purchase an extension cord separately that's at least 12-gauge and a maximum of 100 feet, but there are no batteries to monitor and no need for gas. Just plug it in, press the "On" button, and the 13-amp motor springs to life, ready and able to cut even fairly tall grass, as long as the grass is dry. The cutting deck is 17 inches wide and has adjustable cutting heights from 1 inch to a little less than 3 inches. Although this mower has all-terrain wheels, we think it is best used on fairly flat lawns that are no more than 1/2 acre in size.

You have two options for the grass clippings; you can bag them in the included 12-gallon bag or mulch them and let them disperse onto your lawn. At a mere 31.5 pounds, this is a very lightweight mower that's easy to maneuver, but it achieves that low weight by being made almost entirely of very heavy-duty plastic. While that's no problem for the average yard, don't expect the mower to last for long if you routinely mow over rocks, sticks, or rugged terrain. Still, for someone who just wants a reasonably priced mower to keep the grass looking good, this is a great bargain.

Price at time of publish: $169

Cutting Width: 17 inches | Power Type: Corded electric | Weight: 31.5 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch

Best Electric

Makita 36-Volt Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower

Makita 18-Volt X2 LXT Lithium-Ion Push Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Long battery run time

  • Includes four batteries and fast-charger

  • Quiet Mode

What We Don't Like
  • No side discharge

  • Might struggle with very tall grass

  • Somewhat heavy

Put away the gas can and the extension cords: This lawn mower is battery powered, running on two 18-volt batteries for a total of 36 volts. You get four batteries with the mower, as well as a dual-port fast charger, so you can have two batteries in use and two being charged. This gives you up to 43 minutes total of run-time and lets you mow a lawn up to 1/3-acre. The steel cutting deck is 18 inches wide and has 10 cutting height settings ranging from slightly below 1 inch to a hair less than 3 inches. The mower also has Makita's extreme protection technology (XPT) which protects the brushless motor from dust and moisture for continued peak performance.

If you head out extra-early in the morning to get your mowing done, you (and your neighbors) will appreciate the Quiet Mode setting, which greatly reduces the already not-too-bad sound level of the machine. You can mulch or bag your clippings in the included 16-gallon bag, but there is no option for side discharge. And while this mower cuts very cleanly through medium-height grass, it can struggle a bit with overly tall lawns, so it's best to mow regularly if you want the best performance. It's also a bit heavy, so is best for use on relatively flat lawns.

Price at time of publish: $399

Cutting Width: 18 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 60 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch

Best for Small Yards

Greenworks 25022 12-Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower

Greenworks 25022 12-Amp 20-Inch 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Great value

  • Cord lock keeps plug connected

  • Seven deck height settings

  • Easy to assemble, turn on, and store

What We Don't Like
  • Requires appropriate extension cord

  • Possible to mow over extension cord if you aren't careful

If you have a small lawn that's no more than 1/4 acre (a typical size for a suburban lawn in many parts of the US) and you don't mind attaching your lawn mower to an outdoor-rated extension cord, we recommend the Greenworks 3-in-1 Lawn Mower. We tested this mower in one of our own backyards and found it simple to assemble (less than 15 minutes), easy to turn on, and comfortable to use. We also had no trouble folding down the handle when it was time to store the mower.

This electric corded push mower has a 20-inch steel cutting deck (the width of the cutting path) that can be set to seven different heights ranging from 1-1/2 to 3-3/4 inches, so you can get the perfect cutting height for your type of grass. The powerful 12-amp motor starts up at the push of a button; no frustrating struggles with a pull cord. And once it's running, it has no trouble neatly slicing through even long or thick grass. A cord lock helps keep it from accidentally unplugging while you work.

While testing, we appreciated the three options for the grass clippings: shoot them out onto the grass as-is from the side of the mower, mulch them first, or bag them for disposal—we found it very easy to attach and detach the bag, and easily dumped the clippings into our compost bin. The lawn mower comes with a 50-liter collection bag, but note that you will need to purchase a 16-gauge 50-foot or 14-gauge 100-foot extension cord for operation, and you have to navigate around the cord as you mow. However, you won't have to worry about battery run-time, as with a cordless mower, nor will you have smelly fumes as with a gas mower. Plus, this is a very reasonably priced lawn mower that performs very well over flat lawns or gently sloped terrain.

Price at time of publish: $165

Cutting Width: 20 inches | Power Type: Corded electric | Weight: 52 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge

Best Self-Propelled

EGO LM2102SP POWER+ 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower

EGO LM2102SP POWER+ 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower


What We Like
  • Matches walking speed

  • Runs for up to 1 hour on a single charge

  • LED headlights

  • Good on slopes or hills

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you're looking for a lawn mower that does most of the work for you, leaving you to mostly just lend a guiding hand, then you'll like this self-propelled lawn mower, which uses its own power to keep moving forward, instead of relying on your push. Best of all, you can set the mower's "walking speed" to match your own pace, from a leisurely 0.9 mph to a more brisk 3.1 mph. Powered by an included 56-volt, 7.5 Ah battery, the mower can run up to 1 hour before needing a recharge, meaning you'll be able to mow just about any lawn up to 1/2-acre on a single charge. Nor does this powerful cordless mower shirk at tough grasses like Bermudagrass, zoysia, or St. Augustine; it cuts cleanly through any of the common lawn grasses.

The cutting deck of this mower is 21 inches wide and can be set to six different cutting heights between 1-1/2 and 4 inches with a simple one-hand adjustment. You can set it to mulch the grass clippings, spew them as-is out the side, or collect them in the included 2-bushel bag. There are even LED headlights, so you can easily see your path even if cutting at dawn or dusk. And with rear-wheel drive, the mower handles hills, slopes, and uneven terrain quite easily without much effort from you. While admittedly more expensive than many of our other picks, we feel this powerful mower is worth the higher price due to its many useful features and premium performance. It includes the battery and fast-charge charger. As with all EGO tools, the battery is interchangeable with all other EGO products.

Price at time of publish: $649

Cutting Width: 21 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 62.6 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge

Best Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch Manual Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch Manual Reel Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Very reasonable price

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Only weighs 19 pounds

  • Adjustable blade height

What We Don't Like
  • Can wear you out on large lawns or tall grass

  • Might get jammed on sticks or rocks

No cords to keep track of, no smelly gas fumes, no battery run-time to monitor: With this old-fashioned, environmentally friendly manual reel mower, it's just you, your lawn, and the snip-snip of the four blades as they rapidly spin while making perfect cuts through your grass. As it's entirely powered by your own muscle exertions, you probably aren't going to want to cut more than a very small patch of grass with this mower, but you could mow up to 1/4-acre or so if you have the energy. The mower has a 14-inch deck and adjustable cutting heights from 1/2-inch to 1-3/4 inches. It can handle grass that's no more than four inches high easily, especially fine-bladed cool-season grasses like bluegrass, fescue, or rye. You'll need to clear out sticks, small rocks, and other debris, however, as they can jam the blades if you mow over them.

There's very little maintenance with this mower; you'll need to sharpen the blades every few years, and for best performance, wipe them off after cutting the grass. That's about it. The clippings deposit right onto the grass, where you can leave them or rake them up if desired. American Lawn Mower Company does sell a separate catch-bag for this manual mower, however. For homeowners who don't have a large lawn, want a very reasonably priced mower, are concerned about environmental issues, or just enjoy working outdoors, it's hard to beat this excellent manual reel mower. And at only 19 pounds, it's easy to maneuver.

Price at time of publish: $90

Cutting Width: 14 inches | Power Type: Manual | Weight: 19 pounds | Cutting Options: Not applicable

Best Push Mower

Troy-Bilt TB110 21-Inch 2-in-1 Gas Push Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt TB110 21-Inch 2-in-1 Gas Push Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Powerful engine

  • Maneuvers easily

  • Very clean cuts

What We Don't Like
  • Requires oil changes

  • No side discharge

  • Fumes

This traditional gas push mower has lots of power, handles very well even on tight turns or slopes, and unlike many gas models, starts easily without priming or choking. The 140cc Briggs and Stratton engine provides plenty of oomph as the mower cleanly and evenly trims your grass to any length between 1-1/4 and 3-3/4 inches. The cutting deck is 21 inches wide, and the Troy-Bilt TriAction cutting system uses a rake guard, symmetrical deck and specialized blade to deliver a clean, even cut for a beautiful lawn without much effort on your part. There's nothing too complicated about this lawn mower; it's very easy to adjust the cutting length, it maneuvers easily on its 11-inch rear wheels, and the 4-stroke engine means you don't need to mix oil with the gasoline when fueling up.

On the downside, you will need to change the oil periodically, using a 10w-30 oil. Troy-Bilt recommends changing the oil completely after the first 5 hours and then every 50 hours after that, or at least once per year. Like all gas mowers, this one emits rather smelly fumes and is louder than electric mowers. But it's still hard to beat the power and steady performance of a gas mower. You can mulch the grass clippings or catch them in the included bag, but there is no side-discharge setting for this mower.

Price at time of publish: $399

Cutting Width: 21 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 66 pounds | Cutting Options: Mulch, bag

Best Battery-Powered

RYOBI RY401110-Y 20-Inch 40-Volt Cordless Push Lawn Mower

RYOBI RY401110-Y 20-Inch 40-Volt Cordless Push Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • LED headlight

  • Easy to store

  • Long run-time

What We Don't Like
  • Side discharge attachment sold separately

This battery push lawn mower gives you up to 48 minutes of run-time, thanks to the powerful 40-volt, 6.0 Ah battery and brushless motor. Suitable for lawns up to 1/2-acre, this reasonably quiet and zero-emission mower has a 20-inch cutting deck with 7 cutting heights ranging from 1-1/2 to 4 inches, so you can cleanly cut even tall or thick grass with ease, as long as it isn't wet. It can handle gentle slopes, but is not the best at cutting over rough terrain or hills. Start-up couldn't be easier; just push the power button and you're on your way. No smelly fumes or cords to worry about.

You can mulch your grass clippings or catch them in the included easy-lift bag that is very simple to remove from the mower without fuss or strain. However, you'll need to purchase a separate attachment if you want to discharge the clippings from the side of the mower. There is a LED headlight that comes in handy when mowing very early in the morning or after dusk, and once you're finished for the day, the telescoping handle collapses for easy storage. While not the largest cutting deck, this is a great lawn mower if your lawn isn't too big or if you need to work your way around obstacles such as tree trunks.

Price at time of publish: $299

Cutting Width: 20 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 56 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch

Best for Large Yards

Toro Recycler 22-inch Personal-Pace Self-Propelled Gas Mower

Toro Recycler 22-inch Personal-Pace Self-Propelled Gas Mower


What We Like
  • Matches walking speed

  • No oil changes necessary

  • No need to mix oil with gas

  • Powerful engine

What We Don't Like
  • No side discharge

  • Pull cord start

If you have a large lawn that's 1/2 acre or even a little more, your lawn has hills or uneven terrain, and your grass tends to be tough or tall, then you need the power of a gas mower. With this self-propelled offering from Toro, not only do you get a 163 cc Briggs & Stratton engine that keeps on going even when the going gets tough, you also get a 22-inch cutting deck for mowing a wide swath of grass at each pass. Plus, it includes a 4-point adjustable cutting height of 1-inch to 4 inches and Toro's Vortex Technology that provides more airflow to the engine for superior performance. Nor do you have to carry out complicated oil changes on this mower; just check the oil level occasionally and top it off when required. And thanks to the 4-stroke engine, there's no need to mix oil with gasoline when fueling up—just plain unleaded gasoline is all you need.

But perhaps the greatest feature of this mower is its Personal Pace Auto-Drive, which allows the lawn mower to automatically set its "walking speed" to your own without any need for you to do anything beyond continuing to walk forwards. The rear-wheel drive means the mower easily handles hills and slopes. You can set the mower to bag the grass clippings or mulch them, but you'll need to order an optional side chute if you prefer side discharge. On the downside, like most gas mowers this one has a pull-start cord, not an auto-start button, but most buyers felt it was easy to start with just one pull of the cord.

Price at time of publish: $499

Cutting Width: 22 inches | Power Type: Gas | Weight: 80 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch

Best Riding

RYOBI RY48111 48V 38-Inch Electric Riding Mower

RYOBI 38-Inch 100Ah Electric Riding Mower


What We Like
  • Up to 2.5 hours run-time

  • Tight turn radius

  • LED headlights

  • Can tow attachments

What We Don't Like
  • Clipping bag sold separately

  • Very expensive

While sitting atop this battery-powered riding lawn mower, you'll find no smelly gas fumes, not a lot of noise, but plenty of power to mow up to 2.5 acres. This mower neatly slices through whatever grass you throw its way at speeds of up to 8 mph in forward, and 3 mph in reverse, with three brushless motors providing superior torque and powerful performance. The cutting deck is 38 inches across and the cutting height has 12 settings ranging from 1.5 to 4.5 inches for clean, level cuts. And it's very easy to handle; with a 16-inch turn radius, you can make tight turns around obstacles or at the edge of the lawn. The mower has no problem in climbing up or down slopes with up to a 15-degree incline and can tow attachments such as spreaders or tillers that weigh up to 600 pounds.

An onboard control panel lets you easily put the mower in forward, neutral, or reverse, turn on the LED headlights, check the battery power level, or set the mower into cruise control for the ultimate in easy mowing. There's even a cup holder to keep your favorite beverage close at hand. And once the battery needs a recharge—it can run up to 2.5 hours straight before that happens—you simply plug the mower into the included charging station, which must be plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet. The mower can discharge the clippings from the side or mulch. It's capable of bagging, as well, but you'll need to purchase the bag separately. While this riding lawn mower is undeniably an investment, it's well worth the expense if you have a very large lawn and prefer a mower that is environmentally friendly, relatively quiet, and easy to maintain.

Price at time of publish: $3,199

Cutting Width: 38 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 678 pounds | Cutting Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge

Best Robotic

Worx WR155 Landroid M Robotic Lawn Mower

Worx WR155 Landroid M Robotic Lawn Mower


What We Like
  • Can be set to any mowing schedule you'd like

  • Automatically returns to charging station when necessary

  • Automatically stops mowing when grass is wet

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Requires you to lay out perimeter wires before initial use

If you'd prefer to remain comfortably indoors while someone—or something—else does the mowing for you, then the WORX WR155 Landroid M is the mower of your dreams. This robotic lawnmower can handle lawns up to 1/2-acre in size, and once you set out the perimeter wires to keep it safely contained and download the Landroid app into your phone, you're ready to set it loose. With its 8-inch cutting width and adjustable cutting heights from 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches, your Landroid will work tirelessly to keep your lawn looking its best. When it's time for the 20-volt, 6-Ah battery to recharge—it can get up to 90 minutes of run-time before that happens—the Landroid will guide itself to the charging dock and settle down for the 1.5 hours it takes to recharge. Then it's back to work if you desire; you can set up whatever mowing schedule you'd like in the app, but it's a good idea to let the mower run frequently so the grass doesn't get too high, which could bog it down. The grass clippings are extremely fine and left as mulch on your lawn.

If the Landroid bumps into an obstacle, it automatically stops and then heads in a different direction. While its movements across your lawn look random, it's actually following a complex algorithm that lets it cover the entire yard without missing spots. The blades will automatically lift when going over rough terrain, but don't set your robotic mower into an area that's very rugged or full of rocks. Nor can it handle inclines of more than 20 degrees. But it "knows" when the grass is too wet for mowing and will automatically return to its dock when it rains. It also easily handles narrow pathways and can cut right up to the edges of your lawn, something other robotic mowers struggle with. While this isn't an inexpensive option, it's definitely worth it if you don't want to have to take time out of your schedule for regular lawn maintenance.

Price at time of publish: $1,500

Cutting Width: 8 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 21 pounds | Cutting Options: Mulch

Best Zero-Turn

Ryobi RY48140 48V 54-Inch Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Ryobi Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower

The Home Depot

What We Like
  • Long battery run-time

  • Mows up to 3.5 acres

  • 12 cutting heights

  • Easy maintenance

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Learning curve for steering

  • Only for use on flat lawns

If you have a very large lawn, then it may be worth considering Ryobi's 54-inch zero-turn mower, which can mow up to 3.5 acres on a single charge of its 48-volt, 115-Ah battery. This beast of a machine has five brushless motors, and as its name implies, can turn on a dime, making extremely sharp turns in place. That means you can easily avoid obstacles, as well as carry out precise mow lines back and forth across the lawn. The heavy-duty steel cutting deck is a whopping 54 inches wide and has 12 cutting heights ranging from 1.5 inches to an impressive 4.5 inches. It's quite speedy as well, with a maximum forward speed of 7 mph and a maximum reverse speed of 4 mph. Unlike regular riding lawn mowers with steering wheels, this has two steering levers—one for each back wheel. That can present a bit of a learning curve initially, but once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult to steer the mower.

You can mulch or side-discharge the grass clippings, and with three precision-cut blades, the cuts are very even and clean, without tearing or shredding the ends of the grass. There's an onboard control panel that lets you easily control the direction of the mower, switch into a slow speed or slow-blade setting, turn on the LED headlights, or check the battery life. The battery can run up to 2.5 hours before needing to recharge, and once it does, you can easily do so by plugging the mower into a standard 120-volt outlet. You can also tow spreaders, tillers, or similar yard equipment that weighs up to 500 pounds behind the mower, making it very versatile. On the downside, however, zero-turn mowers should be used only on flat or very slightly sloped lawns, as they are more prone to rollovers than other riding mowers, and they can get bogged down if the ground is too wet.

While this mower is overkill for a small yard or anyone who just wants a simple lawn mower, it's worth the splurge if you have a very large lawn and want lots of extra features; this mower even has two cup holders built right in.

Price at time of publish: $5,499

Cutting Width: 54 inches | Power Type: Battery | Weight: 796 pounds | Cutting Options: Side discharge, mulch

Final Verdict

If you want a powerful mower that’s self-propelled to make the pushing easier, matches your stride as you walk, and gives the grass a very clean, even cut, then our top pick, the Honda HRN216VKA Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower, should make you happy. But if you’d prefer an electric lawn mower, then the Makita 36-Volt Push Lawn Mower, which can mow up to 1/3-acre before needing a recharge of the batteries, is our recommendation.

What to Look for in a Lawn Mower

Types of Lawn Mowers

There are three basic types of lawn mowers: those you ride, those you walk behind and push, and the newest type, robotic lawn mowers that handle the work for you. But within the riding and walk-behind categories, there are several types to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. Generally, walk-behind mowers are suited to lawns less than 1/2 to 3/4 acre in size, while riding mowers are ideal for lawns that are larger than an acre.

Reel Lawn Mowers

Reel lawn mowers, or manual lawn mowers, are the most basic type. Basically, a reel lawn mower consists of a handle attached to a reel with four or five cylindrical spinning blades perched atop a pair of wheels. There is no engine or motor; you supply all the power by pushing the tool across your lawn. Reel lawn mowers are inexpensive, environmentally friendly, quiet, and quite effective, but they are best only for very small, flat lawns, as pushing these mowers can be quite a workout.

Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, notes, “Manual lawn mowers are ideal for the budget and space-conscious homeowner. They don't require gasoline, cords, or lines, just a sharp blade and elbow grease from the user.” We especially like the American Lawn Mower Company Push Reel Lawn Mower.

Push Lawn Mowers

Push lawn mowers are the type you probably picture in your mind when thinking of a lawn mower. While you still have to do the pushing, these lawn mowers don’t require nearly as much effort as using a reel lawn mower, as they have an engine or motor that spins the blades independently of your pushing exertions.

Gas-powered push mowers, including the Troy-Bilt TB110 21-Inch Gas Push Lawn Mower, are excellent for larger lawns, as they are quite powerful and work well over hills or slopes. However, they tend to be loud and they emit smelly fumes. Plus, you’ll need to have a supply of gas on hand.

Cordless, or battery-powered push mowers are fine choices for smaller lawns. We especially like the Makita 18-Volt Push Lawn Mower. There are no fumes to deal with and they are much quieter than gas mowers. However, they aren’t as powerful and you’ll have to pay attention to the battery’s charge level. Corded lawn mowers, like the reasonably priced Sun Joe 17-Inch Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher, which plug into an electrical outlet and require an extension cord, are not as popular or common as they once were, but are another good option for a fairly small lawn.

Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers

Self-propelled lawn mowers, such as the EGO Power+ 21-Inch Self-Propelled Mower, are basically push mowers that use their engine or motor to power the wheels as well as the blades. This means that while you need to do a light amount of pushing to control the direction and speed of the mower, it handles all the heavy work for you. That makes them a great choice for larger lawns or lawns that are sloped. Like push mowers, you’ll find both battery-powered and gas options in this category. You’ll pay more for a self-propelled lawn mower than a regular push mower.

Whether you prefer a push lawn mower or a self-propelled mower, Noah James recommends, “No matter which type you choose, be sure to pick one with sharp blades, sturdy construction, and adjustable settings that accommodate your needs both today and into the future. That way you'll be able to stay ahead of taller grasses and enjoy years of clean cuts ahead.”

Riding Lawn Mowers

Riding lawn mowers fall into two types: lawn tractors with the engine in front and rear-engine mowers with the engine in the back. The Ryobi 38-Inch 100 Ah Electric Riding Mower is the second type. Both types, as the name suggests, have a seat allowing you to ride the mower while using a steering wheel to direct its course. These expensive lawn mowers are best for very large lawns, lawns with a lot of slopes, or for users who cannot do a lot of walking or pushing of a walk-behind mower.

Noah James recommends riding lawn mowers for people looking to save time, energy, and stress on their joints. You can cut a lot of grass in a short amount of time with these powerful mowers, but they require quite a bit of maintenance and a designated storage area. Many can also be used to pull tillers or grass seed spreaders, as well. While most riding lawn mowers are gas-powered, there are some rear-engine models that are battery-powered instead. 

Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers

Zero-turn lawn mowers are riding lawn mowers with pivoting front wheels that allow them to make 180-degree turns so you don’t have to make large curves to mow back and forth across a lawn. These very expensive lawn mowers were once only the tools of professionals, but are now becoming more popular with homeowners that have big properties. Most zero-turn mowers are gas-powered, but there are battery models now, as well, including our favorite from Ryobi, the RY48140 48-Volt, 54-Inch Battery Zero-Turn Riding Mower.

Robotic Lawn Mowers

Noah James says, “Robotic mowers take the tediousness out of mowing altogether. They're fully automated machines that can even self-adjust to changing heights on their own.” These battery-powered mowers work on their own as they mow, but are constrained by boundary wires set by you to keep them from wandering out of your yard or across your flowerbeds. The guidewires also help the robot find its way back to its charging station when needed.

A robotic lawn mower can handle a fairly good-sized lawn, including gentle slopes. These mowers mulch the grass clippings as they cut, returning the clipped grass to your lawn where it breaks down into helpful nutrients. Many robotic lawn mowers are “smart” and can be controlled via Wi-Fi or cellular connection on your phone, but some only have onboard controls. On the downside, these are expensive and you’ll need to take the time to set up the guidewires before letting the robot loose. Our best robotic pick is the WORX WR155 Landroid M Robotic Lawn Mower, because it offers a variety of convenient features in addition to doing most of the work for you.

Deck Size and Cutting Height

The deck of a lawn mower is basically the width of the swath it can cut in one pass. When a lawn mower’s name or description includes inches, such as 21-inch, that tells you the mower’s deck size. Note that the lawn mower itself is wider than the deck size, which can be important when deciding where you’ll store the tool when not in use, as well as determining if it will fit between trees or other obstacles on your lawn.

Generally, a larger deck size means you won’t have to make as many passes to mow your entire lawn, but also generally, the larger the deck, the harder to maneuver the mower. So don’t automatically assume you should buy the largest lawn mower available. Instead, choose a mower that suits the size of your lawn.

As a rough guideline, reel mowers generally have decks that are between 14 and 18 inches. Push lawn mowers have a larger deck range of 16 to 30 inches, with a deck of 21 or 22 inches being a good size for the average suburban lawn. Riding lawn mowers have much larger deck sizes. Roughly, you’ll need a riding lawn mower with a 36 to 42-inch deck for mowing one or two acres, and a deck size of 42 inches or more if you need to mow more than two acres. 

Cutting height indicates the height to which the mower will cut your lawn. Most lawn mowers have adjustable cutting heights so you can tailor the height to your particular type of grass and desired lawn height. Generally, a range of 1/2-inch to 4 inches is common.

Grass Clipping Options

As the lawn mower cuts the grass, the clippings have to go somewhere, leading to the three common cutting options: bagging, side discharge, or mulching. 

Bagging mowers have a canvas bag that collects the clippings as you mow, leaving your lawn looking clean and tidy. You’ll need to empty the bag, however, which can be heavy and awkward. Side-discharge mowers simply shoot the grass clippings back out onto the lawn. They decompose eventually, but look untidy while they do so, and an overly heavy layer of grass clippings can encourage fungal disease or weakness in the underlying lawn. Mulching lawn mowers also shoot the clippings back out onto the lawn, but clip them into very small pieces before doing so. The finely cut clippings decompose much faster than uncut clippings, so are better for the health of your lawn. Some lawn mowers let you choose between two or three of the above cutting options, while others only have one option.

Drive Type

Self-propelled lawn mowers have three drive options: front wheel, rear wheel, and all wheel.

  • Front-wheel drive mowers are best for fairly flat lawns or lawns with obstacles such as rocks or trees, as they are easy to pivot on their back wheels for making sharp turns. They are generally easy to steer, as well. 
  • Rear-wheel drive mowers are a little harder to steer, but are better for mowing up and down hills or uneven terrain. You’ll pay more for these mowers than for one with front-wheel drive.
  • All-wheel drive mowers are the most expensive option, but also the best for tackling very uneven or hilly lawns.
  • How often should you replace a lawn mower?

    If you take good care of your lawn mower, paying attention to regular maintenance and storing it properly in between uses, you can expect the tool to last five to ten years or even longer. However, gas lawn mowers usually last longer than battery mowers. 

    Some signs indicating it’s time to shop for a new mower include clouds of smoke from the exhaust, unusual engine noises, cracked or damaged shafts, inability to start the mower or keep it running, or excessive vibration. Of course, you might also want to buy a new mower if you redo your yard to include a much larger or smaller lawn, or you move to a new home with different landscaping needs.

  • What type of lawn mower lasts the longest?

    You can usually expect a gas-powered walk-behind lawn mower to last longer than a battery-powered mower. However, there are many variables that affect the longevity of a lawn mower, including how often you use it, the type of grass you’re cutting, the terrain you mow over, and how well you take care of your mower.

  • What is the best month to buy a lawn mower?

    If you’re in the market for a new lawn mower, you’ll typically find the best selection at your local home improvement center in the spring, when the growing season gets underway and homeowners start to think about beautifying their yards. But the summer holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day, as well as Father’s Day to a lesser extent, usually mean big sales on outdoor equipment and tools, including lawn mowers, so this might be a good time to purchase that mower you’ve been eyeing. If you can wait, though, and are willing to take a chance on not finding the exact model you most want, retailers usually sharply cut prices on lawn mowers at the end of autumn as they want to make room for seasonal winter products.

  • How often should you change your lawn mower oil?

    The oil (and oil filter, if it has one) on your gas-powered lawn mower should be changed after every 50 hours of use, assuming it does not have a filter. If it does have a filter, you can change it every 200 hours. At a minimum, change your oil at least once per season. It’s important to change the oil in your lawn mower to reduce friction between its moving metal parts and protect the life of your engine.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.

For this roundup, she considered dozens of lawn mowers of various types, evaluating each for durability, features, power, effectiveness, ease of use, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative, as well as reviews and information on landscaping websites. Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance also provided expert input.

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