Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
A self-propelled lawn mower looks a lot like a regular push mower, but it operates quite differently. It has a drive system that activates when you squeeze the bail (the bar on the handle). This causes the rotary to start spinning, which then allows the mower to self-propel using its own power.
This type of lawn mower is ideal for people with sizable lawns or hilly yards, as it doesn't require much effort as a push mower. You essentially just walk behind it while steering it in the right direction. So, which self-propelled grass cutter is right for you? We searched far and wide to find standout gas-powered, electric, hill-friendly, front-drive, and rear-drive mowers for a range of lawn sizes and budgets.
Here, the best self-propelled lawn mowers for easy-breezy grass cutting.
Best Overall: RYOBI 40-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Brushless Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
RYOBI is a favorite among homeowners for cordless yard equipment, so it should come as no surprise that the brand makes the best self-propelled lawn mower. Though it moves with the power of a gas mower, the 40-Volt Brushless model (RY401120-Y) runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It comes with its own charger, too, which makes maintenance a breeze.
It powers up with the push of a button, and the high-capacity battery can cover up to a half-acre of grass on a full charge. The built-in bag ensures a clean lawn with no trimmings in sight, and it's super easy to empty, thanks to a lock-and-release design. This self-propelled mower also has seven different settings for grass height and folds down for effortless storage.
Best Budget: Troy-Bilt 140cc 550e Series 2-in-1 Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower
The Troy-Bilt TB200 is an efficient gas-powered grass cutter with an agreeable price tag. Featuring a Prime 'N Pull starter and a Stratton engine with single-speed front-wheel drive, this self-propelled lawn mower is powerful and easy to maneuver.
It has a TriAction system that uses a symmetrical deck, a rake guard, and a special blade to produce an even cut. And you can quickly adjust the cutting height using the levers on the side.
Best Electric: Snapper XD MAX 82-Volt Electric 21 in. Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Kit
If you prefer electric mowers, you can't go wrong with the Snapper XD (model 1687914). With a reliable lithium-ion battery, a sturdy steel mowing deck, and variable speed transmission, this self-propelled lawn mower isn't messing around.
You can mulch, discharge, or bag your grass for up to 90 minutes on a full charge. And since it comes with two batteries, you won't have to pause your lawn mowing session when one runs out. We also like that this lawn mower operates quietly and has seven different cutting heights.
Best Gas: Honda 3-in-1 Variable Speed Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower
For those who like gas-powered cutters, the Honda 3-in-1 Variable Speed Lawn Mower (model HRN216VKA) will not disappoint. It has a powerful GCV170 engine and automatic choke for temperature regulation.
This self-propelled mower adapts to the speed of your stride and has variable speed control, plus five handle positions and seven cutting heights. You can also slide the clip director when you want to switch between bagging, mulching, and discharging—no special attachments needed.
Best for Hills: Cub Cadet SC500Z 3-in-1 Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower
The Cub Cadet SC500Z was made for hilly yards. With rear-wheel drive, caster wheels on the front, variable speeds, and soft rubber grips to minimize vibration, this self-propelled mower has excellent control and traction.
It's easy to maneuver and push up steep inclines and around tight corners. Uphill, downhill, in circular motions—wherever you point it, it goes. Also, you can choose between mulching, bagging, or discharging.
Best for Large Yards: EGO Power+ Select Cut Self-Propelled Mower
If you're working with a large yard, you might consider the EGO Power+ Select Cut (model LM2135SP). This cordless walk-behind lawn mower runs on an advanced lithium fuel-gauge battery, offering over an hour of grass cutting on a full charge.
It's even more powerful than gas mowers and is easy to control, thanks to the brand's Touch Drive Technology. Additionally, it has an innovative cutting system with three interchangeable blades.
Best for Small Yards: Toro Recycler 22 Gas Self Propelled Lawn Mower
The Toro Recycler 22 (model 20379) makes mowing a small yard a nearly effortless task. It has 11-inch rear wheels, a durable steel deck, and runs on a gas-powered Honda engine. Considering how efficient it is, this lawn mower is surprisingly lightweight and compact.
With front-wheel drive and variable speeds, it has excellent traction on uneven terrain and is easy to maneuver around tight corners. Not only that, but it lives up to its name by returning the nutrient-rich grass clippings back into the soil.
For an all-around reliable mower with multiple customization options, the best option is the Ryobi 40-Volt Brushless Self-Propelled Lawn Mower. The lithium battery can cover half an acre of lawn on a full charge, and the bagging system makes for easy cleanup (view at Home Depot). But if you prefer gas-powered cutters, you can't go wrong with the Honda 3-in-1 Variable Speed Lawn Mower, which has an impressive engine, automatic choke, and adaptable speed technology (view at Home Depot).
What to Look for when Buying a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Before buying a self-propelled lawn mower, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the various types. The two main categories are electric and gas-powered. Gas mowers usually have more force, and you don't have to worry about the battery dying. However, today's electric lawn mowers run on advanced lithium-ion batteries and can offer more than an hour of grass cutting before they need to be recharged.
Then there are front-drive and rear-drive mowers. Front-drive models are best for flatter terrains and are generally easy to steer. Rear-drive grass cutters, on the other hand, have better traction and are usually best for hilly areas. Additionally, all lawn mowers have engines, which can vary in terms of power and efficiency.
You'll also want to consider the size of your yard. Since battery-operated mowers typically run for a little over an hour, you might want to get a gas-powered model if it takes you longer than that to mow your lawn. However, some options come with two batteries, allowing you to resume your mowing session when the first one runs out.
Both gas and electric lawn mowers are suitable for smaller yards. That said, you'll want to look for one that's easy to maneuver around tight corners, as less square footage usually means more turns.
Self-propelled lawn mowers often have multiple cutting options. For one, you can usually choose between several grass-cutting heights. Also, many models allow you to set it to discharge, mulch, or bag your grass. Some even cut grass into super-fine pieces and then return the nutrient-rich clippings back into the ground to fertilize your lawn.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This guide was written by Theresa Holland, an experienced commerce writer specializing in home and garden content. Having spent countless hours researching landscaping products and yard care tools not only for her professional writing but also for personal use, she's well-versed in the world of grass cutting. You can check out more stories by Theresa on Byrdie and MyDomaine.