Which type of lawn mower is right for your yard?


With the growing season now in full swing, the grass in your lawn is likely inching higher each day. To keep your yard from looking overgrown, every home dweller should invest in a quality mower.

There are a few factors to consider before rushing off to buy a new lawn mower, however. For those with more extensive yards, you’ll want a riding mower or a self-propelled mower. Riding mowers save you time and energy and are best for large plots of land. Self-propelled mowers work well on uneven terrain, require less effort to push and are cheaper than riding models.

Riding lawn mowers

Most lawns under half an acre don’t need a riding mower. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them for smaller spaces, especially for those with limited mobility. If faced with a sizeable overgrown lawn, a riding mower is your best friend. They cut through tough grass with ease while you sit and steer comfortably.

Riding mowers are available with decks ranging from 30 to 50 inches. To mow larger areas in the least amount of time, a wider deck is most effective. Like the car you drive, a riding mower also features a manual or automatic transmission.

For quality riding mowers, expect to spend between $1,000 and $4,000 depending on brand, size, power and features.

Riding mower pros

  • Minimal effort: Riding mowers don’t make you push or pull any heavy equipment.
  • Speed: Most riding mowers mow at speeds between 4 and 8 miles per hour. That lets you cut larger areas in a fraction of the time.
  • Multi-purpose: Many riding mowers do more than cut grass. Adding attachments such as a snowplow, aerator or pull cart makes your mower a year-round machine.
  • Extra features: Some features found only on riding mowers include headlights, cup holders, storage compartments and cruise control.

Riding mower cons

  • Cost: The unbeatable convenience of riding mowers comes at a high price. Though worth the investment for expansive yards, if you’re on a tight budget, they may not be practical.
  • Maintenance: More complex engines mean more maintenance. This includes oil changes, filter changes, tire pressure adjustments and more.
  • Safety hazards: Despite additional safety features, there is an increased risk of rollover when driving on steep hills or inclines.
  • Maneuvering: Riding mowers don’t perform well if you need to mow tightly around trees, gardens or other obstructive objects.

Top gas-powered riding mower

Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-inch 19-Horsepower Automatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-inch 19 HP Automatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower

You can comfortably mow a couple of acres in no time with this automatic, Troy-Bilt gas-powered mower. It features a convenient foot pedal and low-effort maintenance.

Sold by Home Depot


Self-propelled lawn mowers

For those with in-between lawns that feel a little too big for a push mower but aren’t large enough for a riding mower, a self-propelled mower is your best option. Offering assistance as you mow, you don’t have to use all your strength to push a heavy lawnmower up a hill or over long distances.

Self-propelled mowers come in various deck sizes and you can find gas-powered options with both two- and four-stroke engines. Two-stroke engines are cheaper and lightweight, but four-stroke options last longer.

Whichever style you choose, on average, expect to pay between $250 and $1,000 for a decent mower.

Self-propelled mower pros

  • Price: While more expensive than classic push mowers, you can save a significant amount compared to riding mowers.
  • Less effort: If you’re used to a push mower, enjoy the assisted propulsion designed to cut down on the effort required.
  • Great for hills: If your yard isn’t flat, a self-propelled mower gives you an extra boost. You can safely and efficiently mow up and down hills and embankments.
  • More precision: They’re easier to maneuver than some push mowers and have a better turning radius than many riding mowers.

Self-propelled mower cons

  • Smaller mowing area: Self-propelled options aren’t designed for multi-acre plots of land. Unless you want to spend all day mowing.
  • Not self-driving: These mowers assist you in cutting your grass but don’t take away the manual labor associated with mowing.
  • Less power: Self-propelled mowers hold their own in overgrown yards. But, they’re usually slightly weaker than riding mowers.

Top gas-powered self-propelled mowers

Toro Recycler 22-Inch SmartStow Walk-Behind Gas Self-Propelled Mower

Toro Recycler 22 in. SmartStow Walk Behind Gas Self-Propelled Mower

This easy-to-stow Toro mower is great for space-saving and quickly cutting mid-sized lawns without hassle.

Sold by Home Depot

Honda 21-Inch NeXite Variable-Speed Gas Self-Propelled Mower

Honda 21 in. NeXite Variable Speed Gas Self-Propelled Mower

A great all-around option, this Honda mower is capable of more than clipping your grass. The four-in-one feature lets you decide between mulching, bagging, discharging and leaf shredding.

Sold by Home Depot

Top electric self-propelled mower 

Greenworks 40-Volt 21-Inch Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

Greenworks 40V 21-Inch Brushless Self-Propelled Mower

You don’t have to worry about adding gas or oil to this environmentally friendly Greenworks mower. It features a 60-minute runtime and variable speeds.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a riding mower or a self-propelled mower?

There is no quick-and-easy answer. Factor in the size of your yard, the amount of physical labor you’re willing to put in and your budget. That should give you a clearer picture of which mower would work best. Both have their advantages, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference and need.

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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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