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Whether your yard is small or covers several acres, a high-quality lawn mower is essential to keep your grass manicured and maintained. We researched and tested lawn mowers from top brands, evaluating maneuverability, durability, safety features, and noise level.
Our top pick is the RYOBI 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower, a cordless electric mower that is powerful, quiet, and relatively easy to maneuver, even on hills.
Here are the best lawn mowers.
Best Overall: RYOBI 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower
Easy to push, even on hills
Side discharge accessory sold separately
Harder to maneuver around corners
Our best overall pick for most yards is the RYOBI 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower. It holds its own against gas-powered models, has a 20-inch deck that mulches and bags, and an optional side-discharge chute (sold separately). It can run for up to 40 minutes per charge.
We sent this mower to our tester to try at home. They were particularly impressed by the power of the self-propelled feature and found that it could cut through thick, dense grass with ease. They also appreciated that there were seven cutting height options. While it was a breeze to push up hills, it was harder to maneuver around corners, though it's so lightweight it's easy to lift.
In addition to power and versatility, this mower offers other great features, like high-intensity LED headlights that allow you to see better at dusk. The mower has an onboard battery storage compartment where you can stash an extra battery, so you can swap it out quickly if you need a charge in the middle of mowing. We also love that it has handles that can adjust to your height, lock in place, and fold nicely for more compact storage.
Best Budget: Sun Joe MJ403E 17-Inch 13-Amp Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher
Grass collection bag included
Easy to assemble
Good customer service
Most components are plastic
No side discharge
For those with small yards, the Sun Joe Electric Lawn Mower is an unbeatable value. This corded electric lawn mower has a 17-inch deck and offers both mulching and bagging capabilities, and it’s extremely lightweight—just over 30 pounds—making it easy for anyone to handle.
This lawn mower is quick and easy to assemble, but many of its components are plastic, so they’re not the most durable. There are seven cutting heights to choose from, and the included 12-gallon grass collection bag is easy to detach and empty when you’re done cutting.
Best Gas: Toro Recycler 22 in. Personal Pace Self Propelled Gas Walk-Behind Mower
Push-button electric start
Matches walking speed
No oil changes necessary
No side discharge
The Toro Recycler Self-Propelled Gas Mower is a top choice among gas-powered walk-behind mowers for a few reasons. It boasts a 22-inch durable steel deck, and its personal pace auto-drive system allows you to adjust the mower’s speed to your walking pace for a more comfortable operation. It’s powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine, but it’s unbelievably easy to get going thanks to a push-button electric start.
This self-propelled mower has bagging and mulching abilities, and there are nine cutting height positions to choose from. The brand’s recycler cutting system allows more air into the cutting chamber to help cut grass clippings into very fine, clumpless pieces, and the mower’s wheels have an improved tread pattern that offers more traction. Plus, this gas mower doesn’t require oil changes—you can simply top off the oil as needed.
Best Self-Propelled: EGO LM2102SP POWER+ 21" Self-Propelled Mower
Matches walking speed
Generous run time
Handles tall grass well
Most components are plastic
The EGO POWER+ Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower makes it easier than ever to maintain your lawn. This battery-powered unit is extremely quiet and easy to use, and it requires very little maintenance. However, it will blow you away with its ability to cut through tough grass, and it boasts an impressive 60-minute runtime per charge.
This mower has a variable speed self-propel system that you can adjust to match your walking pace, and its 21-inch cutting deck has six height positions. It can bag, mulch, and side-discharge grass clippings, and it comes with a 2-bushel grass collection bag. The battery charges up extremely quickly, and the whole unit folds flat and stands vertically for easy storage.
Best Riding: RYOBI RY48110 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
Generous run time
Great performance, even in thick grass
Easy to maintain
No mulching capabilities
One of the best riding lawn mowers available today is the RYOBI 38 in. Electric Riding Lawn Mower. It’s powered by 75Ah batteries and can run for up to two hours on a single charge, making it ideal for properties up to two acres. In testing, we found that the riding power performs reliably and can even handle thick, overgrown grass, and we loved how quiet it is compared to gas-powered mowers.
This electric mower has dual brushless motors, and its 38-inch deck features two blades for a clean, level cut. The machine features 12 deck height positions, as well as cruise control and USB charging to ensure you’re comfortable. Our testers did note that the seat is somewhat stiff and can be uncomfortable when used for long periods, but overall, this machine is a worthwhile investment, especially for those with medium- to large-sized yards.
Best Reel Mower: American Lawn Mower Company Push Reel Lawn Mower
Cuts grass up to 4 inches
Adjustable blade height
Gets jammed on sticks
Requires more manpower
If you have a small yard or a patch of grass that you can’t cut with a traditional mower, a reel mower like this one is an affordable and eco-friendly solution. The American Lawn Mower Company Reel Mower has a 14-inch cutting width and four heat-treated alloy steel blades that can cut through grass up to 4 inches tall. It weighs just 20 pounds, making it easy for anyone to handle, and there's virtually no maintenance necessary.
Despite its manual design, this mower still allows you to adjust its blade height, and its blades only need to be sharpened once every three to five years. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to pick up sticks (even small ones) and other debris in your yard, as these will jam up the reel mower.
Best Lawn Tractor: John Deere S120 42 in. 22 HP V-Twin Gas Hydrostatic Lawn Tractor
Ergonomic, adjustable seat
Wide range of accessories available
“30-second oil change” system
Bagging and mulching kits sold separately
Mowers like the John Deere S120 Gas Lawn Tractor offer more versatility than other ride-on units. In particular, this lawn tractor can be outfitted with a variety of accessories, including tow-behind carts or spreaders, bagging systems, lawn sweepers, and even a snowblower or plow in the winter. The mower is powered by a 22-HP engine, and it features a 42-inch cutting deck with a deep design for a better cut.
This mower has a fully-welded steel frame and cast-iron front axle for unbeatable durability, and there are 13 different cutting heights. Its ergonomic seat has a 15-inch back and 10 adjustable positions. The mower offers cruise control for comfort while cutting large areas. Plus, to make maintenance easier, the S120 has the brand’s “30-second oil change” system, which lets you change the oil without any tools.
Best Zero-Turn: Toro 75746 42 in. 22.5 HP TimeCutter Commercial V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Ideal for large yards
Built-in washout ports
Includes white glove delivery
Learning curve with handles bars
If you want to be able to cut a large piece of property quickly and efficiently, the Toro TimeCutter Zero-Turn Riding Mower is just what you need. This splurge-worthy mower has a large 42-inch deck that makes wide cuts on every pass, as well as a zero-degree turn radius, which makes it easier to turn around and head in the other direction. (The handlebar controls do take some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from a traditional riding mower.)
This mower has a 22.5 HP engine and can travel up to 7 miles per hour when mowing. There’s an under-cubby storage compartment, as well as a cupholder, to keep you comfortable during operation, and washout ports make it easy to clean out the cutting deck with your garden hose. Plus, the mower comes with white glove delivery, where a rep can review safety and operation information with you.
Best for Small Yards: Greenworks 20 in.12-Amp 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower
Cord lock keeps plug connected
Unlimited run time
Not the best for mulching
Requires appropriate extension cord
For those with small yards, the Greenworks Electric Corded Lawn Mower is a workhorse that comes at an unbeatable price. The corded mower has a 20-inch cutting deck and can be set to mulch, bag, or side discharge grass clippings, and its powerful 12-amp motor does a good job cutting through thick grass. There are seven cutting heights to choose from, and the mower starts up quickly via push-button.
The caveat of this mower is that it does require a 14-gauge 50-foot or 12-gauge 100-foot extension cord for operation, and you have to navigate around the cord as you mow. It has a cord lock to prevent the plug from accidentally disconnecting, as well as a cut-off switch for safety.
Best for Hills: Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower
Good traction on hills
Tight turning radius
Compatible with a variety of accessories
Bagging and mulching kits sold separately
Limited cutting heights
The Troy-Bilt Bronco Gas Riding Lawn Mower can power up hills much better than other mowers, making it a top choice if you have a sloped yard. This model is powered by a 19 HP engine, and it has an automatic transmission with a foot pedal that drives just like a car. The mower features a 42-inch cutting deck with dual blades, but one of the downsides is that there are only five cutting height positions.
Because it’s technically a lawn tractor, this mower can be used with a variety of attachments, including a hauler, snow blower, and more. As is, it can only be used to side discharge grass clippings, but the brand does offer bagging and mulching kits separately. The mower has a fairly tight 18-inch turning radius that makes it easy to navigate around obstacles, and it has automatic headlines for those times you’re driving it at dusk.
The RYOBI 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Mower is our top choice for most lawns—this self-propelled electric model is powerful, easy to push, and can run for up to 40 minutes per charge. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly mower, we recommend the Sun Joe 17-Inch Electric Lawn Mower/Mulcher. A great value, this corded electric mower is lightweight and easy to handle and offers mulching and bagging options.
What to Look for in a Lawn Mower
There are many types of lawn mowers available today, and two of the biggest choices you’ll have to make are whether you want a walk-behind or riding mower and whether you want gas, electric, or battery power.
"A riding lawn unit is easy to maneuver, especially on flatter land, and prevents the operator from experiencing fatigue as they are sitting while mowing," explains Caroline Skelton, Go-To-Market Manager for Riding Lawn Equipment at John Deere. "These units come in a variety of speeds and horsepower ratings, depending on the needs of the operator. In recent years, zero-turn mowers have become more popular, as they are ideal for a variety of terrains and larger properties. With a zero-turn mowing deck, operators can easily cut close to objects such as trees or shrubs."
When it comes to fuel type, gas mowers have a reputation for being more powerful, but they require more maintenance. Today’s electric and battery-powered mowers are often comparable in performance to gas mowers, and they’re quieter and more eco-friendly.
The size of your yard will dictate how large a deck your lawn mower should have. If you have 0.5-acre or less, you’ll do fine with a 20- to 30-inch deck. However, if you have more than an acre of land to mow, you’ll want a bigger mower with a deck of 40 inches or more—this will decrease the number of passes you have to make while mowing, decreasing the time it takes to trim your lawn.
Most lawn mowers have a combination of side discharge, mulching, and bagging capabilities, each of which has its own benefits. Side discharge simply tosses grass clippings back onto your yard, while mulching cuts them up into fine pieces to deliver nutrients back to the lawn. If you don’t want grass clippings on your lawn at all, you may prefer a bagging mower, but keep in mind that you’ll have to empty the collection bag frequently.
Lawn mowers come in both front-wheel drive (FWD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) options. FWD mowers perform best on flat, even terrain, and they’re often easier to steer. However, RWD mowers are better for hilly or uneven terrain, as they provide more traction at the center of the mower.
How do you choose the best lawn mower for your yard?
When selecting a lawn mower for your home, you’ll want to consider the size of your yard, the terrain, as well as any obstacles, such as trees and landscaping features. If you have a small yard, corded lawn mowers are an economical and low-maintenance option—as long as you’re willing to work around an extension cord. For landscaping with numerous obstacles, a regular push mower might be a better choice. Self-propelled mowers are ideal for hilly terrain, as they’ll save you from having to manually push the unit up a slope, and for anyone with multiple acres of lawn, a riding mower is the way to go, as they make it quicker and easier to cut large areas.
How do you sharpen lawn mower blades?
"Always make sure your mower blades are sharp for an even cut," says Skelton "Dull mower blades can shred grass tips, creating entryways for disease and giving a brown, dried-out appearance to your lawn." Luckily, it’s fairly easy to sharpen lawn mower blades at home using a drill attachment. Start by removing the blades from your mower and securing them in a vise. From here, all you have to do is insert the cutting edge into the sharpening attachment, press the drill trigger, and run the attachment along the blade. Repeat this process on both edges of the blade to keep it in balance.
How often should you change your lawn mower oil?
The oil (and oil filter, if it has one) on your 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?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance contributor for The Spruce. As someone who grew up on a 70-acre farm and owns a 5-acre parcel herself, she’s no stranger to lawn mowers, and she’s written extensively on them. She’s also personally tested the RYOBI 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower.
While selecting lawn mowers for this list, she looked at factors such as their deck size, power source, special features, and warranty period. She also spoke with Caroline Skelton, Go-To-Market Manager for Riding Lawn Equipment at John Deere, for insights on choosing and maintaining a lawn mower.