Get Your Yard Ready for Spring With the Best Lawn Mowers We Tested (2024)

The two most important decisions you'll need to make when shopping for a lawn mower are the type of power you choose—gas, electric, or battery—and whether you prefer a walk-behind or riding model. To help you find the right option for your yard, we tested nine walk-behind lawn mowers and six riding mowers in our yards, which ranged from less than a quarter of an acre to over 5 acres.

Aside from gas- and electric-powered engines, Noah James, professional landscaper andowner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance, says there are a few other important things to keep in mind, "Consider noise level, convenience, and how often you plan to use it before deciding between these two options."

After testing each mower for six months during different weather conditions and over different types of terrain—from flat lawns to sloping properties with trees and other obstacles—we evaluated each unit's ease of use, setup, design, safety, performance, and value.

While testing, we found that walk-behind mowers (including self-propelled) are a great choice for lawns less than an acre. Riding mowers generally cost more, but they save time and effort in keeping lawns over an acre in great shape. Here are the best options for your yard.

Now Testing! We are currently testing six different lawn mowers, including the Toro Self-Propelled Mower, Husqvarna Automower, and Greenworks Pro Crossover Riding Mower. We will provide an update on our testing findings soon.

What We Like

  • Handles short through tall grass with ease

  • Runs for up to one hour on a single charge

  • Easy to adjust cutting heights

  • Good on slopes or hills

What We Don't Like

  • A bit of a learning curve to the self-propelled feature

After six months of testing through different weather and grass conditions, the Ego Power+ 21-inch Self-Propelled Mower is our top pick for most yards. We found it easy to use on different terrains and around obstacles, and we loved how it kept our grass nicely manicured all season long.

Powered by an included 56-volt, 7.5 Ah battery, the mower can run up to one hour before needing a recharge, meaning you'll be able to mow just about any lawn up to 0.50 acre on a single charge. Our small Iowa lawn (less than a quarter acre) was easily completed before the battery ran down. However, if you have a bigger lawn, we love that the battery is compatible with other Ego Power+ tools (like cordless leaf blowers and hedge trimmers), so you can easily swap it out with another without having to wait for it to recharge.

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Overall, we loved how easy it was to start, remove, and empty the bag, and adjust the six different cutting heights (between 1.5 to 4 inches) of this mower. Even after we were away for 10 days, the mower tackled the tall, thicker grass without an issue, and thanks to how easy it is to adjust the cutting height, we could easily move it up and down with one hand when we came across any uneven areas. Mowing leaves or damp grass was also easy, and we never encountered any issues with the mower getting clogged.

We like that 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. We kept it on the slow side, and it was easy to mow up and down a small slope as well as around trees. But if you'd rather push the mower yourself, you can shut the self-propelled feature off and operate the mower without it.

Keep in mind that if you've never used a self-propelled mower before, it might take a little bit of getting used to. We found that there was a slight learning curve to adjusting the speed and not letting the mower pull us rather than us guiding it. Plus, the instructions weren't as clear as we'd like. However, once we became accustomed to the feel of the mower propelling itself, it was very easy to maneuver around trees and other obstacles.

This mower includes three different ways to deal with the grass clippings, which we also found easy to use: It can mulch the grass clippings, spew them as-is out the side, or collect them in the included 2-bushel bag. It has LED headlights, so you can easily see your path, even if cutting at dawn or dusk, and folds to save storage space.

Cutting Width:21 inches | Power Type:Battery | Weight:82 pounds | Cutting Options:Bag, mulch, side-discharge

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What We Like

  • Long run time

  • Easy to store

  • LED headlight

  • Includes two batteries

What We Don't Like

  • Some leaking of grass around the clippings bag

For lawns up to 0.75 of an acre, we found this self-propelled battery-powered lawn mower from Ryobi to be a powerful and easy-to-use option. Thanks to the powerful 40-volt, 6.0 Ah battery and brushless motor, it gives you up to 70 minutes of run time (10 minutes more than our best overall). Like our best overall, the Ego Power+ Mower, it has a 21-inch deck, but it provides even more cutting heights (seven ranging from 1.5 to 4 inches), so you can cleanly cut even tall or thick grass with ease.

While testing, we found that it handled slopes and bumpy ground with ease. Start-up couldn't be easier; just push the power button, and you're on your way. We found it easy to assemble and really appreciated how easy it was to use all of the settings without a struggle or any confusion.

We gave this mower a try for our very first mowing session of the season, so the lawn was close to six inches high and had a light covering of dead leaves. The mower had no issues with the tall grass and cleanly sliced right through it with ease. We did find that while trying out the clippings bag, some grass blew out around the bag’s edges, but other than that, it did an excellent job of cleanly cutting the lawn.

On the subsequent two test mows, the mower performed beautifully, and we found it easy to maneuver. We kept the self-propel speed on the lowest setting for most of our test period, as it is quite fast on high.

Similar to the Ego, you can mulch your grass clippings, discharge them to the side, or catch them in the included easy-lift bag. The bag is very simple to remove from the mower without fuss or strain, although we found it a bit tricky to replace. There is an 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 mower folds for compact vertical storage, a feature we especially loved.

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While there are many similarities between this and our best overall option, the Ryobi provides a little more runtime, and if you are already using tools in their 40-volt system (like a snow blower or pressure washer), you can use the same batteries.

How It Performed Long-Term

We used this mower weekly over a six-month period and have fallen even more in love with the self-propelled feature that helps us tackle uneven ground and hills with little effort. We also appreciate the long battery life: We were able to mow our very small lawn up to four times without a charge! Our only complaint is that the mower does not collect weeds or leaves and just leaves them in the grass, so we have to collect them ourselves after they are cut. Other than that one small wish, we are impressed with all of the mower's features and performance and have had no other complaints.

Cutting Width:21 inches | Power Type:Battery | Weight:75 pounds | Cutting Options:Bag, mulch, side-discharge

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What We Like

  • Long battery runtime

  • Very comfortable ride

  • Powerful performance

  • Exceptionally quiet

What We Don't Like

  • Initial mower received was defective, although customer service was excellent

This is a battery-powered riding mower, but it certainly doesn’t lack for power; Ryobi claims its four included batteries—two 80-volt, 10-amp hour and two 40-volt, 12-amp hour—provide the equivalent of 31 horsepower and can handle up to 3 acres of lawn on a single charge. While the lawn we tested this mower in isn’t that large (a half-acre property in Iowa), we didn’t come close to draining the batteries during our testing sessions. And we agree that this riding mower is loaded with power.

But that’s not all we loved about this zero-turn mower. Unlike other riding mowers we tested, this one uses Ryobi’s iDrive joystick rather than a steering wheel, pedals, or levers to steer the machine and control its speed. We found it very easy to use, and it made driving the mower a lot of fun. The mower has a 42-inch deck (double the length of our best overall pick), a cutting height range of 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches that is easily set with a single lever, and four cutting blades; we found that it easily handled tall grass, thick weeds, wet turf, and small lawn debris without a hitch.

We also found it very quiet—we were able to converse with nearby family members with the mower powered on. It also has excellent suspension that absorbs bumps and vibration, making the ride very smooth and comfortable. And as with all zero-turn mowers, it turns on a dime, making it easy to maneuver around all manners of obstacles.

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We also loved all of the extras: It has headlights, cup holders, and USB ports for powering up your phone. It discharges clippings to the side, but you can purchase a bagger or mulching kit separately if desired.

Note that we had a bumpy start when we initially received this zero-turn mower, as our first machine had an electrical defect that rendered it unusable. However, the manufacturer not only sent a technician to attempt to figure out the problem but ultimately quickly replaced the mower with a new one that arrived fully assembled and ready to go. We were impressed with the excellent quality of service.

How It Performed Long-Term

After testing at home for six months, we continue to be impressed with this riding mower's consistent performance in a variety of weather conditions. Even with the riding mower's battery life below 50 percent, we had no issue cutting our half-acre lawn. However, we still avoid using it on a slope in our yard when it's wet to avoid slipping. We love not having to deal with gas exhaust on hot days and appreciate the quiet operation. While it might not be the best choice for everyone's budget, it's a great zero-turn mower to splurge on, and we found that it saves you time, especially compared to tractor models we've used in the past.

Cutting Width:42 inches | Power Type:Battery | Weight:700 pounds | Cutting Options:Side discharge

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What We Like

  • 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

  • Lowest cutting height misses very low weeds like clover

  • Tricky to empty clippings bag without spilling

If you have a small lawn that's no more than 0.25 acre (a typical size for a suburban lawn in many parts of the US), we recommend the Greenworks 3-in-1 Lawn Mower, a mower that impressed us when we tested it in the past. During our latest round of testing, we tested this model again in one of our own backyards on three separate days and found it simple to assemble (It only took around 10 minutes to be up and running), 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 and appreciated its small size. Overall, we continue to be impressed with this push mower's features, performance on flat lawns or gently sloped terrain, and value. While the grass was still not quite recovered from its winter dormancy on our testing days, there were a fair amount of tall weeds, and the mower easily chewed through them as well as through the patchy areas of grass. On the downside, the lowest cutting height wasn’t quite low enough to reach some patches of clover.

We found it very intuitive to adjust the cutting height—no need to read the instructions—through the seven settings that range from 1.5 to 3.75 inches. That covers the most common types of lawn grass.This electric corded push mower has a 20-inch steel cutting deck. 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.

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We ran it over some small bumpy areas of lawn and over fallen leaves without any hiccups or difficulties. Even wet grass was easy to mow cleanly. We tested all 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, although we did find that it was easy to spill the clippings while doing so. The mower mulched well, leaving a dense coating of clippings across the lawn.

While it comes with a 50-liter collection bag, 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. A cord lock helps keep it from accidentally unplugging while you work, although we would have liked another clip to keep the cord out of the way while mowing. 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.

How It Performed Long-Term

After using this lawn mower for six months, we adjusted the cutting height and found that it cut through thicker and taller grass without any issues, even during changing temperatures. Although the damp grass made the bag heavier to empty, it was still easy to cut. During each use, we continued to find this mower to be easy to use and never reported any technical difficulties or hiccups. We do want to note that it's good to have the right length of extension cord so that it doesn't get in the way of reaching all areas of your lawn, but we had a fairly small lawn, so it wasn't too much of an issue.

Cutting Width:20 inches | Power Type:Corded electric | Weight:56 pounds | Cutting Options:Bag, mulch, side-discharge

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What We Like

  • Matches walking speed up to 4 mph

  • Powerful engine

  • Starts easily

  • Cuts grass very cleanly

What We Don't Like

  • Clippings chute occasionally clogged with grass

If you are looking for a powerful gas-powered lawn mower, you can't go wrong with this self-propelled model from Honda. We loved that it started on the first pull every time; no struggling with a pull cord as with many other gas mowers. We found it very easy to maneuver many tree roots on our property, leaving our lawn looking even and smooth, with no ragged edges or missed spots. Plus. it effortlessly tackled even thick grass and slightly damp grass without hesitation.

This mower has a four-stroke, GCV 170-cc engine with auto-choke technology, 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 two-stroke engines. With a 21-inch cutting deck, you can quickly work your way across lawns up to an 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. We did not need to look at the instructions for switching the cutting heights; the controls were quite intuitive and easy to understand at a glance.

Once you start walking, you can adjust the “stride" of this self-propelled mower for speeds up to 4 mph. However, we found that this was somewhat tricky, as small adjustments to the speed paddle sometimes resulted in big jumps in the mower’s speed. 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.

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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. We found it very easy to set all three options, and we were especially impressed by how well the mower reduces grass clippings into mulch.

Our only other complaint with this mower was that while the 1.9-bushel clippings bag was very easy to remove, grass clippings often clogged the receptacle, making it tough to get the bag back in place without scooping out the clogged grass.

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. This lawn mower has plastic wheels, not rubber, but it still rolled well over dry and damp grass without a problem, and it handled even tall or thick grass with ease. When you're done mowing, the handle folds down for easy storage.

How It Performed Long-Term

We tested this gas lawn mower for six months, and it exceeded our expectations. What really impressed us was how quickly and easily it sliced through areas of thick grass and tough weeds. We put the mower through its paces in hot, humid, and dewy grass environments, and it has performed well in all of them. This mower has shown to be dependable and long-lasting because it performed admirably even in the most extreme conditions.

Cutting Width:21 inches | Power Type:Gas | Weight:82 pounds | Cutting Options:Bag, mulch, side-discharge

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What We Like

  • Zero-turn radius

  • Powerful and fast

  • Very comfortable ride

What We Don't Like

  • A bit of a learning curve to use hand levers

  • No headlights

If you have a yard up to 4 acres in size and you want the power and performance of a commercial riding mower, we recommend this beast from Toro. It has a 50-inch deck that allows you to cut wide and cut fast; the top speed is 7 mph. We tested this mower on a property with a lot of trees and other obstacles and definitely found the zero-turn function to be handy as we easily swung around whatever came our way, yet still managed to mow cleanly, very close to all obstacles.

It did take us a bit of time to get the hang of using hand levers to control the mower's speed, direction, brakes, and blade engagement, but once we did, we found it very easy to maneuver. We slipped a bit while mowing a wet slope, but otherwise, we had no problems tackling tall and thick grass, wet grass, and small yard debris like twigs and leaves. It's also very easy to set the cutting height, which ranges from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches.

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Some riding mowers can be rather bumpy or have a lot of vibration, but thanks to Toro's MyRide suspension system, we found this mower to be very smooth and comfortable, even when mowing over rough terrain. It gave the lawn a very even cut, leaving our lawn looking professionally groomed. The clippings shot out far enough to the side to avoid unsightly clumps. If you prefer a bagger or mulching kit, you can purchase those separately.

While it does require periodic oil and filter changes, it's designed to make the procedure as easy as possible, with no tools required. We appreciated the built-in cup holder but did note that, unlike many other riding mowers, this one does not have headlights. Still, while admittedly an investment, we feel the power and performance of this commercial-quality mower make it worth the cost if you have a large property.

How It Performed Long-Term

After six months of testing, we continue to be impressed by the performance and quality of this mower. While there was a bit of a learning curve at first, now we have no issues using it at all, and in fact, we find ourselves mowing the lawn more often (one to two times a week). Just note that depending on the obstacles in your yard, you may still need to use a trimmer and push mower—we've found that certain areas are hard to maneuver around and require additional tools to keep our yard looking its best.

Cutting Width:50 inches | Power Type:Gas | Weight:694 pounds | Cutting Options:Bag, mulch, side-discharge

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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

  • 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 lawn mower can handle lawns up to 0.50 acre in size, and once you set out the perimeter wires to keep it safely contained and download the Landroid app onto your phone, you're ready to set it loose. While we didn't personally test this mower on our own lawns, it consistently receives excellent reports from both pleased buyers and landscaping experts.

With its 8-inch cutting width and adjustable cutting heights from 1.5 to 3.5 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 won'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 in an area that's very rugged or full of rocks. Nor can it handle inclines of more than 20 degrees.

This mower "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 worth it if you don't want to have to take time out of your schedule for regular lawn maintenance.

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

What We Like

  • 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

Although we didn't test this manual mower, it's consistently one of the highest-rated reel mowers by pleased buyers. We like that it can tackle up to 0.25 of an acre and is lightweight and easy to maneuver at 19 pounds. 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.

This mower has a 14-inch deck and adjustable cutting heights from 0.50 to 1.75 inches. It can easily handle grass that's no more than four inches high, 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.

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

Final Verdict

After six months of testing, the Ego Power+ 21-Inch Self-Propelled Mower is our best overall pick. We love that it is powerful enough to tackle tough grass and terrain, but lightweight and simple to use. But if you are looking for something that's best suited for large lawns with slopes and other obstacles to mow around, our best for large lawns pick is the Toro Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower.

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How We Tested the Lawn Mowers

We tested 15 lawn mowers in our own yards, which range from very small to fairly large, and include a variety of lawn grass types as well as grass heights. Mower types included gas models, battery mowers, and corded models, as well as riding mowers, push mowers, and self-propelled mowers.

We started by timing how long it took to unbox the lawn mower and carry out any required assembly or preparations for use. We noted how easy it was to assemble the mower and whether or not the included instructions were clear.

During the initial testing period, we used the lawn mower to trim our grass on three separate occasions, each time noting the date, the weather conditions, the length of the lawn, the amount of grass cut away, and how long it took to mow the entire lawn. We also noted how easy or difficult it was to start the mower.

Once mowing was underway, we evaluated the mowers ease of use, including the ease of carrying out adjustments to cutting height, handle angle on push mowers, speed (for self-propelled mowers and riding mowers), and clipping-disposal options. We then noted how easy it was to maneuver the mower around obstacles or up and down slopes. We also observed how cleanly the mower cut the grass, especially through thick or tall patches of lawn or across wet grass.Riding mowers were also evaluated for the smoothness of the ride and the comfort of the seat.

After completing the mowing session, we noted if the gas tank required a refill on gas mowers and if any battery life remained on cordless mowers. We also considered the ease or difficulty of removing the grass-clippings bag (if included), dumping out the clippings, and then reattaching the bag.

After our three-week testing period, we continued testing the lawn mowers for over six months as part of our regular lawn maintenance. We then reported additional insights, noting if there were any changes to the battery life (for electric models), how the mower handled different temperatures or weather conditions, and any technical issues or changes to the appearance of the mower.

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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. Depending on the type of mower, there are gas-powered, cordless, and corded options available.

  • Gas-powered push mowers, like the Honda 21-Inch Gas Self-Propelled Lawn Mower (our best gas option), 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. They don't produce fumes and are much quieter than gas mowers. However, they are typically less powerful, and you’ll have to pay attention to the battery’s charge level.
  • Corded lawn mowers, like our best budget mower, the Greenworks 20-Inch 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower, 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, such as our best overall pick, 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, including our best self-propelled pick, the Ego LM2102SP POWER+ 21-Inch Cordless Self-Propelled Mower, which is a battery option. You’ll pay more for a self-propelled lawn mower than a regular push mower.
  • Riding lawn mowers fall into two types: lawn tractors with the engine in front and rear-engine riding mowers. Both lawn tractors and riding mowers have a seat allowing you to ride the mower while using a steering wheel, joystick, or pedals to direct its course. These expensive lawnmowers are best for very large lawns, lawns with a lot of slopes, or users who cannot do a lot of walking or pushing a walk-behind mower. You can also attach a lawn sweeper to them to effectively gather up grass cuttings and other debris. Many can also be used to pull tillers or grass seed spreaders, as well. While these powerful mowers can cut a lot of grass in a short amount of time, they require quite a bit of maintenance and a designated storage area.
  • 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. Most zero-turn mowers are gas-powered, but there are battery models now, as well, including our best battery zero-turn mower from Ryobi, the 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Zero-Turn Riding Mower.
  • Robotic lawn mowers are battery-powered and work on their own as they mow. They 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.
  • Reel lawn mowers, or manual lawn mowers, like our best reel mower pick, the American Lawn Mower Company Push Reel Lawn Mower, are the most basic type. They consist 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.

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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-inches, 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 whether 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 0.50 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 more quickly than uncut clippings, so they are better for the health of your lawn. Some lawn mowers let you choose from two or three of the above cutting options.

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 they 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 10 years or even longer. However, gas lawn mowers usually last longer than battery mowers.

    Some signs that 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 if 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 that 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 has 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 a freelance writer, covering home improvement and gardening topics for The Spruce since 2020. 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 list, she relied on input from our team of testers, but also considered dozens of other 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.

Our Experts:

  • Noah James, professional landscaper and owner of Liberty Lawn Maintenance
  • Jenica Currie, editor for The Spruce
  • Daniela Galvez, senior editor at The Spruce

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How do I get my lawn mower ready for spring? ›

How Do I Prep My Lawn Mower For Spring?
  1. Change the Oil. First, place a container under the mower's drain plug. ...
  2. Grease It Up. ...
  3. Replace the Plugs. ...
  4. Clean or Replace the Air Filter. ...
  5. Sharpen the Blades. ...
  6. Change Belts (For Self-Propelled Units Only) ...
  7. Charge or Change Battery (For Mowers with Electric Start Only)

What brand of lawn mower is the most reliable? ›

A Consumer Reports survey of almost 20,000 subscribers found some brands to be more reliable than others. When it comes to gas-powered push mowers, the survey found Murray and Troy-Bilt push mowers are more reliable than Toros. For bigger jobs, gas-powered self-propelled mowers will do some of the work for you.

What setting should I mow my lawn in the spring? ›

When you're ready to give that first mowing in the spring, lower your mower height 1 or 2 notches so you're mowing your grass about 3 inches tall. Be careful not to scalp your lawn. This low mow will cut off the brown winter grass blades and open up the soil to the warm spring sunlight.

What lawn mower makes yard work feel like a breeze? ›

Zero turn lawn mowers provide expert movement, making them the ideal choice for cutting medium to large lawns. When you're looking for an upgraded machine to make lawn care a breeze, a zero turn lawn mower is the best choice.

What should I do before my lawn is spring? ›

Clear debris from lawn and landscape.

Clean up anything you missed in the Fall. Remove sticks that have fallen over the Winter. Raking up leaves and build up of thatch will allow your grass to breathe.

How do I make my grass green in early spring? ›

  1. Remove debris. Kick off your spring season by clearing away leaves, furniture, and other debris. ...
  2. Apply iron-rich fertilizer. Enhance your lawn's deep green color and promote healthy growth with a high-iron fertilizer like Iron Boost. ...
  3. Encourage more sunlight. ...
  4. Overseed early spring grasses. ...
  5. Water deep and mow high.

How much should I pay for a good lawn mower? ›

Above $400 you could be paying for gimmicks, but under $200 and you're missing out on mowers that mow right to the edge of a lawn, or mowers with mulching plugs. All in all, the experts recommend spending around $200 for a good mower. Whenever someone asks for a lawnmower recommendation, this is my choice.

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

New Models are Hitting Showrooms — One of the reasons that March and April are the best months to buy a riding mower is that you can shop the new models. This is the most popular time of year for manufacturers to release their latest and greatest.

What mower do professionals use? ›

Recommended Commercial Push Mowers: The 30-inch Toro TurfMaster HDX and Exmark Commercial 30 X Series are reliable and competitively priced mowers that will save you a LOT of mow time. For smaller yards or yards with access/obstruction issues, Toro and Exmark also offer commercial 21-inch models.

What's the best height to cut grass? ›

In the summer, keep both cool-season and warm-season grasses slightly taller. Cut cool-season grasses to 3 or 3 ½ inches. Mow warm-season grasses to 2 or 2 ½ inches. In summer, grass can be kept a bit higher to prevent weeds, help shade the soil line, and maintain water in the soil.

Should I leave grass clippings on my lawn? ›

As a general rule, grass clippings of an inch or less in length can be left on your lawn where they will filter down to the soil surface and decompose quickly. Remove longer clippings because they can shade or smother grass beneath causing lawn damage. Don't throw out bagged grass clippings as yard waste.

What time of day is best to mow? ›

However, most professional gardeners would agree that between 8 AM and 10 AM is the best time of day to cut your grass. The reason for that is that lawns need time to heal before evening. Grass needs the benefit of the day to dry and heal before dusk settles.

What is the best lawn mower for bumpy ground? ›

Zero-turn radius mowers or "ZTR mowers," are designed with a tight turning radius for lawns of 1 to 3 acres or more. They are also one of the best riding mowers for rough terrains.

How not to use a lawn mower? ›

Never insert hands or feet into the mower to remove grass or debris. Even with the motor turned off, the blade can still be spinning. Use a stick or broom handle instead. The machine must be turned off and the spark plug disconnected (or power cord unplugged for electric models) before attempting to remove the object.

What does a stressed lawn look like? ›

How to spot heat and drought stress. When your grass is stressed, footprints that would normally spring back up stay down and limp for longer than 30 minutes. As stress worsens, your grass tips will brown. At its worst, browning tips progress to brown patches across your lawn.

How to start a lawn mower after winter? ›

In a nutshell, start by unscrewing and removing the carburetor cap, which is near the primer button. Then spray the carburetor with a carburetor spray, and while you're at it spray the cap as well and clean it out with a paper towel or cloth. Screw the cap back on, and you're all set!

How long to wait before cutting grass in spring? ›

It's best to wait until the grass has grown over three inches in length until mowing for the first time to allow it time to build up strength.

How to dewinterize a lawnmower? ›

Cleaning and De-winterizing: Start by draining and replacing any old fuel in the mower before turning it on. Then, do a quick inspection of basic maintenance points like the oil, spark plugs and air filters to make sure they're in good condition. Do a quick check of the pull cords, ensuring they aren't frayed.

Should you mow before spring fertilizer? ›

When spring arrives, removing this layer of organic material from the lawn is highly recommended. This will allow the grass to breathe and grow more healthily. Before applying fertilizer to the lawn, it's important to mow it first to clear away any thatch.

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