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8 lawn mowers for every kind of lawn this year

We spoke to landscaping experts to learn how to shop for a lawn mower and rounded up some top-rated options for lawns of every size based on their advice.
From self-propelled lawn mowers to push lawn mowers, we rounded up highly rated options for landscaping newbies and experts alike.
From self-propelled lawn mowers to push lawn mowers, we rounded up highly rated options for landscaping newbies and experts alike.Amazon

Taking care of a lawn requires you to get your hands dirty and often involves heavy machinery that can be exacting to maneuver. And before you can get down to the nitty-gritty work of lawn care, you’ll want to gather the right supplies, from a garden hose to more nuanced gardening tools. One of the biggest — and perhaps most frustrating — purchases for any homeowner is a lawn mower, as there are countless models on the market that differ in everything from fuel type to cutting width.

LEARN MORE How to shop for a lawn mower

We spoke to gardening and landscaping experts about how to shop for different types of lawn mowers, including riding lawn mowers and push mowers, and rounded up some top-rated options across fuel types, cutting widths and price points based on their guidance.

Top-rated lawn mowers to shop

To identify what makes for a great lawn mower in different use cases, we consulted experts about the most important features to consider.

Experts recommended looking at the type of lawn mower, fuel type and cutting width to determine which one best fits your size lawn — electric lawn mowers, for example, are best for smaller yards, around a quarter-acre, while riding mowers are better for larger yards comprising one acre or more).

Below, we recommend best-in-class lawn mowers based on expert guidance and accounting for fuel type, engine size and battery run time — we also detailed the cutting width, cutting height and grass expulsion method for each.

Best battery-powered push lawn mower: Greenworks

Greenworks 20-Inch Push Lawn Mower

This highly rated battery-powered mower features a 4-in-1 system to expel grass clippings, including bagging, side discharge, mulching and leaf pickup, the brand says. Its 20-inch cutting width makes it a good option for medium-sized and large lawns. Greenworks also offers a self-propelled option for less physical labor. This mower has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 1,100 reviews on Amazon.

  • Cutting width: 20 inches
  • Cutting height: 1 inch to 4 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging, side discharge and mulching

Best gas-powered push lawn mower: Troy-Bilt

Troy-Bilt 21-Inch Push Lawn Mower

This gas-powered push mower from Troy-Bilt features a 21-inch cutting width for medium or large lawns, along with a 140 cubic centimeters (cc) engine that can be suitable for more even terrain, experts said. It also equips two methods of grass expulsion — rear bagging and mulching — to fit your preference. A dual-lever height adjustment with six options simplifies toggling between cutting heights from 1.25 inches up to 3.75 inches high, according to the brand. The mower has a 4.3-star average rating from more than 2,300 reviews at Home Depot.

  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.25 inches to 3.75 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging and mulching

Best electric push lawn mower: BLACK+DECKER

BLACK+DECKER 15-Inch Push Lawn Mower

For smaller lawns, this corded electric lawn mower uses a 10-amp motor to power a metallic blade that clears a 15-inch path in a single pass, according to the brand. This BLACK+DECKER mower has a 4.2-star average rating from more than 2,200 reviews on Amazon.

  • Cutting width: 15 inches
  • Cutting height: 1 inch to 3 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging

Best gas-powered self-propelled lawn mower: Honda

Honda 21-Inch 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

This rear wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower from Honda employs a Smart Drive system, which means you can control its speed up to 4 mph via levers on the handle. It has a 21-inch cutting width, which experts told us can be good for yards one acre in size or more, and a 170cc engine to handle more rough and uneven terrain. The mower has two blades, which allows for a finer cut, the brand says. In addition to mulching, the mower also offers bagging and discharging. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 5,000 reviews at Home Depot.

  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Cutting height: 1 inch to 4 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging and mulching

Best battery-powered self-propelled lawn mower: EGO

EGO Power+ 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

With a 21-inch cutting width and a 60-minute run time on a single charge, per the brand (the highest on this list), this battery-powered self-propelled mower can be a great option for larger yards and reducing the physical strain required with a push mower. It also features an adjustable deck that lets you choose your cutting height between 1.5 inches and 4 inches, according to EGO. This mower has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 5,100 reviews at ACE Hardware.

  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5 inches to 4 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging, mulching and side discharge

Best battery-powered riding lawn mower: RYOBI

RYOBI 42-Inch Riding Lawn Mower

This battery-powered riding lawn mower has a 42-inch cutting width, which is a great option for larger lawns of two or more acres, experts previously told us. It also features 12 manual deck adjustments so you can comfortably situate your feet and legs while you mow, according to the brand. RYOBI says the mower has up to 2.5 hours of run time on one charge, and you can use the cruise control feature to simplify your mowing experience. This mower has a 4.3-star average rating from more than 900 reviews at Home Depot.

  • Cutting width: 42 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging, mulching and side discharge

Best gas-powered riding lawn mower: Toro

Toro 50-Inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

For even larger yards that need more power than an electric riding mower, this zero-turn gas-powered mower has a large 50-inch cutting width and a 23 HP engine, which our experts noted can be efficient for uneven yards of more than three acres. The brand says this mower lets you control your mowing speed in three modes: 4 mph in trim mode, 5.5 mph in tow mode and up to 7 mph while mowing. The mower’s shock-absorbing dampeners can make rides smoother on uneven terrain, according to Toro. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 500 reviews at Home Depot.

  • Cutting width: 50 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: bagging, mulching and side discharge

Best robotic lawn mower: Worx

Worx Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower

This battery-powered robotic lawn mower from Worx has an 8-inch cutting width and can be programmed to mow smaller yards up to one-fourth acre, according to our experts. The mower can be controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi using the Landroid app and has a run time of 90 minutes, according to the brand. As with most robotic lawn mowers, Worx says the Landroid collects grass clippings and leaves them behind to use as nutrients in your yard.

  • Cutting width: 8 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5 inches to 3.5 inches
  • Grass expulsion method: mulching

How to shop for a lawn mower

Your lawn and what it looks like will determine the best lawn mower for you, experts told us. Below, they break down the most important features to pay attention to across fuel type, cutting width, engine size and more.

Fuel type

Most lawn mowers are powered by one of three types of fuel: electricity, gas or batteries.

  1. Electric lawn mowers need to be plugged into a power outlet to run. Electric mowers are better for small and flat lawns since they “don’t cut quite as well as some other options, which might force you to have to cut over the lawn several times to be satisfied,” explained David Steckel, a home expert at Thumbtack.
  2. Gas lawn mowers require gasoline in order to operate and are better suited for larger lawns, according to Michael Hill, a garden and landscape expert at Garden Guidepost. But Hill cautioned that they tend to be louder and are less eco-friendly since they emit fumes.
  3. Battery lawn mowers run on chargeable batteries and can work for both large and small lawns, depending on the size of the battery. Battery lawn mowers are great for “long range and mobility,” said Hill. However, he noted that their functionality is limited to the amount of time they can be used in a single charge.

Type of lawn mower

There are a few different types of lawnmowers on the market: push lawn mowers, manually propelled lawn mowers, riding lawn mowers and robotic lawn mowers, classified according to how they are moved around the lawn.

  1. Push lawn mowers need to be physically pushed. These machines are best for smaller and flatter lawns since they require more physical labor than other types of mowers, but they are typically more affordable (and help keep you active), said Bryan McKenzie, a gardening expert at the Bumper Crop Times, in our guide to push mowers.
  2. Manually propelled lawn mowers, aka self-propelled lawn mowers, don’t need to be physically pushed in order to move — they just need to be guided. Self-propelled mowers are usually either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive (more on that below).
  3. Riding lawn mowers, like the name suggests, are designed so you can ride on top of them while you mow the lawn. These mowers, which resemble a tractor, are better suited for larger lawns that are around one acre or larger. Learn more in our guide to riding lawn mowers.
  4. Robotic lawn mowers are exactly what they sound like: All you have to do is set them up, indicate a boundary and they will mow the lawn for you. This type of lawn mower is usually best suited for smaller lawns of ¼ acre or less, though larger models can be used on lawns up to half an acre, according to Hill.

Grass clipping expulsion

Lawn mowers can also be categorized by how they handle grass clippings. Some models equip lawn sweepers to collect the grass clippings like a vacuum to be disposed of later. Mulching mowers, meanwhile, will break them down and distribute them around the lawn as a fertilizer of sorts. Other mowers utilize a side discharge system that directs the grass clippings back onto your yard using a side discharge chute.

Front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive

Like cars, self-propelled lawn mowers differ in how the engines distribute power to the tires. Typically, these are either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, though occasionally you’ll also find all-wheel drive models.

  1. Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are ideal for level terrain lawns with lots of turns since the front wheels pull the mower forward and allow for more movement, according to Hill.
  2. Rear-wheel drive lawn mowers are best for moving in straight lines and are better for hilly terrain due to the traction from the rear wheel. “They tend to be a bit more expensive compared to front-wheel drive lawn mowers,” said Hill.
  3. All-wheel drive lawn mowers work well on uneven terrains since they generate power from all of their wheels, though rear-wheel drive mowers usually do the trick.

Type of blade or cutter

There are two main types of lawn mowers that impact the height and precision of a cut, the benefits of each dependent on how you want your lawn to look, according to Steckel.

  1. Cylinder mowers have cylinder or horizontal blades at the front. This type of cutter provides a more precise cut — as close as 3/16 of an inch — and the cutting height can be raised up to about an inch, according to Steckel. Due to their lower cutting height, this type of mower is best for lawns that you want to keep as short and even as possible.
  2. Rotary mowers use only a single blade that rotates horizontally. This type of mower is better for tall grass, though it “can’t cut as close as cylinder mowers,” according to Hill. Steckel added that the cutting height for rotary mowers is typically higher than cylinder mowers and can be adjusted up to 4 inches high, though it doesn’t usually go below 1/2 inch.

Cutting width

A lawn mower’s cutting width measures the size of the strip the lawn mower can cut. According to Hill, you can determine the ideal cutting width for your lawn mower based on the size of your lawn:

  1. For a smaller lawn, typically around one-fourth of an acre, the ideal cutting width is 28 to 35 centimeters (up to 14 inches)
  2. For a medium-sized lawn of half an acre to one acre, the ideal cutting width is 35 to 40 centimeters (14 inches to 16 inches)
  3. For a larger lawn of one acre or more, the ideal cutting width is 40 centimeters and upward (16 inches and up)

Keep in mind that this advice doesn’t always apply, especially when it comes to larger mowers like riding lawn mowers that typically feature cutting widths of at least 30 inches for smaller lawns of one acre or less, according to our experts. Make sure to pay attention to what each brand recommends for its lawn mowers to make the most informed decision — many listings will include the recommended acreage or square feet intended for a lawn mower. Some retailers, like The Home Depot, also offer handy guides that you can use to shop for specific mowers.

Engine size

The engine size of a gas-powered mower can determine whether it can handle larger lawns and tougher conditions. The engine sizes of typical gas-powered lawn mowers range from 140 cubic centimeters to 190 cubic centimeters, according to McKenzie.

“You should give preference to the higher cubic centimeters (cc) if you are planning to mow in tougher conditions, such as tall, wet or thick grass, and mulching and cutting weeds,” he added.

For riding lawn mowers of any type, McKenzie said the engine power (measured in horsepower, or HP) typically ranges from 10.5 HP to 24 HP for the largest models, which are equal to 150cc and 360cc, respectively.

“The rule of thumb is that you need [anywhere] from 10.5 HP to 18 HP (150cc to 270cc) for yards below three acres,” McKenzie said, adding if the lawn is uneven or hilly, you need at least 15 HP to 19 HP (225cc to 285cc). For all kinds of lawns above three acres, 40 HP (300cc) or more is recommended.

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