Your lawn serves so many purposes. It is a beautiful indicator to passersby of the care you take with your property. It is a soft and lovely place for the whole family to play. And, unlike unattractive hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt, grass can help to decrease noise pollution, clean the air, reduce temperatures, trap carbon dioxide, improve soil, and reduce erosion from storm water runoff. The most important tool for protecting that incredible resource is the right lawn mower. That can mean a lot of different things depending on your particular lawn. But fear not – we have all the info you need to narrow down your choice, plus reviews of 12 great products. The best lawn mower for you is little more than a click away!
Types of Mower
There are two basic types of push mower: reel and rotary. Then, of course, there are riding lawn mowers that can be categorized as lawn, garden, or zero turn mowers. Finally, a relatively new entry to the market is the robot mower that works much like a robot vacuum.
Reel mowers usually don’t have motors and their blades turn in response to pushing the mower across the lawn. Reel mowers have blades that come together to clip like scissors. They are basic and very lightweight machines with no complex mechanical parts to break down. With no need for an external power source, reel mowers are also extremely environmentally friendly.
The downside to a reel mower is that it has no ability to bag the grass clippings, so you either have to rake afterwards or let the clippings remain on the lawn. They can also be tiring to use as there is no force behind the cut other than what you put in. When grass has gotten long or thick, even more effort is required.
Rotary mowers use a fuel source to power spinning blades – power could come from gas, electric, or battery power. They are much better able than reel mowers to cut through dense vegetation and crunch up twigs in their path. Rotary mowers are more likely to have a grass collection bag, too. Though some people swear that the quality of the cut is much cleaner with a reel mower, if you have any significant amount of land to mow, you’ll want a rotary model.
Many rotary mowers are also self-propelled, meaning that they have a drive wheel that turns and moves the mower without the user needing to push. This can save a ton of energy! Self-propelled mowers may power the front wheels, rear wheels, or all wheels.
Lawn tractors are smaller and lighter, but that can be okay if you need to navigate around a lot of tight landscaping. Garden tractors are larger and heavier, which is great if you have a huge lawn or will need to do additional tasks like tilling or cultivating.
Zero turn mowers, on the other hand, are sleek, high-performance machines that power through mowing at up to 8 mph and can turn on a dime. They can ultimately save you time in mowing, but there is a learning curve to successfully navigating one. Zero turn mowers are also more expensive, and usually cannot be used to tow attachments because they have delicate hydrostatic motors.
Gas, Battery, or None
For this, it is really a matter of personal choice. Reel mowers are completely man powered, relying on you to push them through the grass. Since they are very light, this isn’t so difficult, but it can be tricky if the grass is high.
Gas powered mowers are the most common. They can run a lot longer than a battery-powered mower between “fill-ups”. Gas mowers also cut just as well when the gas tank is almost empty as they do when the tank is full. However, gas mowers are really loud when they’re running and release a great deal of exhaust.
Battery-powered mowers are more environmentally friendly. They don’t have any emissions and run much more quietly than gas-powered models. However, battery life isn’t likely to exceed an hour before you’ll need to recharge, and the cutting power may diminish as the battery nears empty.
Gas mowers are usually heavier and will need a careful mix of oil and ethanol-free gas to run. Battery-powered mowers don’t need any extra supplies, but we do recommend purchasing a secondary battery in case you run out of juice in the middle of the job.
Other Factors to Consider
There are other features to think about when choosing the best lawn mower for you and your yard.
The cutting deck refers to how large an area of grass will be cut on a single pass. The larger your yard, the larger you want your cutting deck to be, so you can get the job done in as few passes as possible. However, if you have a lot of landscaping or other obstacles in your yard, a smaller cutting deck allows for easier navigation around them.
Ergonomic features are those that don’t contribute to the basic function of the machine, but keep users safe and comfortable.
Padded steering wheel
The vibrations that you feel in your hands and arms while mowing can eventually cause numbness. Over time, it can even lead to permanent nerve damage. A padded wheel reduces the amount of vibration taken by your hands and wrists.
Full suspension seats
Unless your lawn is perfectly flat, you will experience some bumps and jolts as you mow. A suspension seat helps absorb the shock of those bumps and prevent back and neck pain.
High, padded seat backs
Some riding lawn mowers have seats that are little more than a platform to perch on. If you choose one with a high seat back and arm rests, you will have much better stability upon the mower. If the whole seat is thickly padded, that adds a great deal to your comfort.
Now, shall we go shopping?
TOP 10 Best Lawn Mower
TOP 10 Best Lawn Mower
Following are in-depth reviews for 12 different lawn mowers, all reviewed very highly by users.
1 American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
As with most things, there is no need to get more than you need when it comes to lawn mowers. If you have a nice compact yard with even terrain, this sturdy reel mower from the American Lawn Mower Company can do exactly what you need and save the planet at the same time. There are no exhaust fumes to breathe and no electricity to waste.
It is a small lawn mower with a 14” cutting swath and 8.5” composite wheels. The 4-blade ball bearing reel gives you a clean, scissor-like cut every time. But just because this mower is basic doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have features. You can adjust the cutting height of the blades anywhere between 0.5"-1.75" to get the look you want.
There is very little maintenance required. All you’ll ever need to do is grease the wheels occasionally and sharpen the blades a couple of times per season. However, these blades are made of strong heat-treated alloy steel and stay sharp for a long time.
20 x 24 x 42.5 in.
90 day warranty
- Light and nimble
- Doesn’t throw rocks
- Near silent operation
- Can’t cut pine needles or sticks
- Not ideal for rolling terrain
- Somewhat narrow cutting swath.
2 Great States 304-14 14-Inch, 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower, 14-Inch, 5-Blade
Great States also offers a small lawn mower that is light and super easy to maneuver. Like the American Lawn Mower Company model, it has a 14” cutting swath, 8.5” wheels, and the blades can be adjusted between 0.5"-1.75" for a clean, even cut.
The blades are heat-treated alloy steel, which helps them stay nice and sharp. However, this mower has a 5-blade ball bearing reel instead of a 4-blade reel. The handle is T-style and cushioned for your comfort.
Put it together easily out of the box with no need for tools. You will be enjoying the clean cut and nearly silent operation of this mower for years to come.
20 x 24 x 42.5 inches
90 day warranty
- No need for oil or gas; no fumes or emissions
- Easy assembly
- 5-blade reel stays sharp for a long time
- Will get stuck on twigs
- May leave taller weeds standing
- Challenging to push in thick grass
3 Fiskars 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower (6208)
Fiskars offers a reel mower that exceeds the competition in terms of cutting swath. This model can take down an impressive 17” in one pass. It also features advanced technologies that make this mower 30% easier to push, even though it is nearly twice as heavy as other models. Part of that is that it has four wheels instead of two for greater stability.
The patent-pending InertiaDrive Reel offers 50% more cutting power than the average reel mower, meaning that it does not get jammed up by twigs or weeds. Another unusual feature of this mower is its grass discharge chute that throws clippings forward and away from your feet. There is also an optional grass collection bag available for purchase separately.
The StaySharp Cutting System is precision engineered to keep the blades from touching, which reduces wear and tear and keeps the blades sharp season after season. The wheels are inset so that you can edge closer to fences and landscaping than with other reel mowers. You can count on the Fiskars to cuts all types of grass, even thick southern varieties.
23.5 x 18 x 13.8 in
2 year warranty
- Handle adjustment feature for users of different heights
- Easy to push; more power than an average reel mower
- Responsive customer service
- On the heavier side; difficult to lift
- Struggles to cut damp grass
- Not ideal for rough terrain
4 Greenworks 20-Inch 12 Amp Corded Lawn Mower 25022
Moving on from reel mowers, here is an excellent electric lawn mower. It has a cord and everything. Now, that can present some problems in terms of navigating, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate the steady and consistent power that doesn’t run down like a battery.
This mower is a striking green and gray color with a strong 20-inch steel deck and a powerful 12 Amp motor. It starts with the touch of a button; there is no difficult rip cord to pull. The Greenworks is easy to push and maneuver with ample clearance provided by 10 inch rear wheels and 7 inch front wheels.
You can get the exact cut you want with the 7-point height adjustment feature that has a range between 1 ½ and 3 ¾ inches. For the clippings, you can choose whether to mulch, rear bag, or side discharge. When you’re done mowing, this model stores easily with a foldable handle to save space.
26.9 x 16.1 x 18 in
4 year warranty
- Quiet operation and no emissions
- Folds up for easy storage and transport
- Simple to set up and to use; powerful performance
- Extension cord must be purchased separately
- Power cord will need repositioning as you mow
- Wet grass may clog the collection bag
5 Snapper XD 82V MAX Electric Cordless 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawnmower Kit with (2) 2.0 Batteries & (1) Rapid Charger, 1687914, SXD21SPWM82K
The other type of electric lawn mower is battery-powered, like this one. This Snapper XD battery-powered mower comes with 2 powerful 82V lithium ion batteries and a rapid charger. You’ll get about 45 minutes of charge per battery. With two available, you should have enough juice to manage small to medium-sized yards.
Beyond battery life, another limitation of battery mowers is their power capacity. Not all of them are strong enough to get through high grass, but this one is. The mower is equipped with load sensing technology that adjusts the power to the blades when conditions change. Forward motion is also assisted by the self-propelled transmission that turns the rear wheels and saves you a lot of energy in pushing.
The cutting deck is 21” and can be set to 7 different blade heights. It is a 3-in-1 mower that allows for rear bagging, side discharge, or mulching. The handle is comfortably padded to keep you comfortable while mowing. The Snapper can be stored in any position, including vertically, to save space.
44.5 x 21.5 x 19 inches
5 year warranty mower, 2 year warranty batteries
- Power does not diminish as battery drains
- Sturdy construction and impeccable cutting performance
- Very long warranty
- Need to stop self-propulsion to turn the mower
- Charger only holds one battery at a time
- Handle on collection bag may snap if you use it to bear the weight of a full bag
6 Troy-Bilt TB220 159cc 21-Inc h FWD High Wheel Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
If power is your main concern, you’ll want to get a gas mower. Nothing else is quite as strong, but it does come with the trade-off of noise, vibrations, and smoggy emissions. This Troy-Bilt is powered by a 159cc OHV engine and front-wheel drive transmission. It is a self-propelled lawn mower for ease of use and rolls along smoothly on 8x8” tread wheels.
There is a 21” steel cutting deck and the option to side mulch or rear bag. The one-bushel collection bag is ample and comes with your purchase. The height adjustment feature can be set at one of three stop positions between 1.25” and 3.75” – it is controlled via two levers, one for the front wheels and one for the back. The tri-action cutting system provides a clean and precise cut every time.
Since gas-powered mowers vibrate a lot more than battery-powered while they mow, it is important to have some ergonomic features that minimize the effects of this. The Troy-Bilt has a padded handle for your comfort.
36.7 x 24 x 17.8 in
2 year warranty
- Starts easily with one or two pulls
- Superior traction, even on hills
- Variable speed so you can set the pace
- Starter cable cover is plastic
- Grass clippings collect around blades; needs frequent cleaning
- May need to cool down to restart
7 Husqvarna LC221AH, 21 in 163cc Briggs & Stratton Walk Behind Mower
Sometimes the hardest part about mowing the lawn is getting your gas-powered mower started! Husqvarna guarantees you will always be able to start this mower with 2 pull. The engine is a 163cc Briggs & Stratton that never requires an oil change, so that’s one less thing to think about.
This Husqvarna is easily maneuverable, especially because it features all-wheel drive propulsion. All you have to do is steer. The 21”cutting deck is satisfactory, but the premier cut blades offer superior results. There is a variable speed control function that lets you set the pace at which this mower moves. If you happen to be left-handed, you will especially appreciate the Dual Trigger Drive activation, which lets you toggle the speed setting with either hand.
This is a sturdy mulching mower constructed of 15-gauge steel. It comes with a rear mounted collection bag in case you prefer not to mulch the clippings. The only downside we could find to this mower is that it doesn’t have a padded handle. That can be addressed after your purchase with a cut piece of foam pool noodle.
39 x 24 x 20.2 inches
3 year warranty
- Starts and cleans up easily
- Powerful all-wheel drive
- No need to change oil
- Tall weeds may tangle in the axles
- Relatively small collection bag
- Customer service can be difficult to access
8 Yard Machines 140cc 21-Inch Push Mower
If all you need is a basic, affordable rotary gas mower, check out this Yard Machines model. It is ideal for small to medium sized yards of relatively flat terrain. With no self-propulsion, you might not like it for rolling terrain. But it is relatively lightweight and has high clearance provided by 11” rear wheels and 7” front wheels. Users report that it is not too difficult to push and maneuver in optimal conditions.
The mower has a 140cc OHV engine, 21” steel cutting deck, and dual level height adjustment. You can discharge mulched cuttings from the side of the machine, but it is unfortunately not designed to support a collection bag.
This Yard Machines mower comes almost entirely assembled so you can get started within minutes of unpacking it. Just one or two pulls gets the machine started and you can count on it to power through even thick, tall grass. Though it is a stripped down model without a lot of extras, it reliably does its primary job of mowing grass.
36.6 x 23.9 x 17.5 in
2 year warranty
- Well-built with excellent value for money
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Starts with one or two pulls
- No padding on the handle
- No collection bag available
- Owners’ manual is limited
9 Swisher ZTR2454BS Response 24 HP 54" Zero Turn Mower
For really large yards with a lot of trees or landscaping, you’ll want a riding lawn mower. Otherwise, you could be at it all day. This one from Swisher is a zero turn model that offers the utmost in navigational control. It has a large 54” cutting deck with 3 Gator mulching blades. The engine is a 24 HP Briggs & Stratton and the transmission is a powerful hydrostatic model.
Because this is a ZTR mower, it has no steering wheel but rather two joystick controls positioned on either side of the seat. Once you practice a bit, you will find that this mower more responsive than traditional tractors. Swisher is particularly good for this, with a patented Rapid Response Control System. This machine has a top speed of 8 mph in both forward and reverse.
The mower deck is adjustable to heights between 1.5” and 4.5”. You can toggle between cutting heights right from your seat with the foot-assisted deck lift. Though it is a gas powered vehicle, it starts quickly with an electric assist starter. There are nice extra features built in, including a full seatback, a cup holder, and a storage bin. If you want to either tow or push attachments, you will be glad of the hitches on the front and back of this machine.
79 x 63 x 45 inches
3 year warranty
- Plenty of ergonomic features
- Make 360 degree turns
- Large cutting deck
- Requires regular maintenance
- Much larger than traditional tractors
- Fairly costly
10 Ariens IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series #915223
Another well-reviewed zero turn lawn mower is the Ariens IKON-X. It is built to last with a 10-gauge steel frame and has a powerful 23 HP/726 cc Kawasaki FR V-Twin engine. You get an ample 52” cutting swath via offset blades that make it easier to cut your grass right up to the edges. The 4-point dual arm deck hanging system sets the cutting height and is controlled by a dial.
There are a couple of downsides to this mower. One is that it is not available for sale in California due to higher emissions. There is also no collection bag available for it. However, users rave about the results provided by this mower, describing the lawn as “like a carpet.”
You will stay comfortable while mowing in the high-backed padded seat with armrests. The handlebars are padded for comfort and arch up over the user’s legs while seated. This Ariens mower arrives fully assembled and handles beautifully.
78 x 41 x 64 inches
3 year warranty
- Offset blades make it easy to edge mow
- Beautiful carpet-like results
- Zero turn radius
- Poorer fuel efficiency
- No bag available
- Mulching kit sold separately
11 Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46-Inch Gas Powered Riding Lawn Mower
A zero turn mower provides the most nimble handling, but a regular lawn tractor does a great job, too. Standard lawn tractors also have better traction on hills, so if you lawn is not primarily flat, you probably don’t want a zero turn model. Try this Craftsman riding mower instead.
It has a 46” cutting deck, CVT foot pedal transmission, and an 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton gas engine. A couple of features make it ideal for rough terrain. First, it has 15” front wheels paired with 20” rear wheels, which offers extra clearance over bumps. The tires have nice deep treads for even more traction that won’t tear up up your turf. Though it is not a ZTR model, it is highly maneuverable. This mower allows you to keep the cutting blades engaged even in reverse, which means you rarely have to cover ground twice.
There are ergonomic features that help you stay comfortable while you mow, including the mid-back seat that provides crucial lumbar support. The seat is attached to a spring suspension system that absorbs the shock of bumps. The steering wheel is comfort padded to reduce the vibration felt in your hands and wrists.
70 x 47 x 35.5 inches
2 year warranty
- Keep cutting even in reverse
- Excellent traction
- Easy to clean out and maintain
- Cutting deck is on the smaller side for a riding lawn mower
- Seat supports only up to mid-back
- Foot pedal is stiff
Robot Lawn Mower
12 Worx WG794 Landroid Pre-Programmed Robotic Lawn Mower with Rain Sensor and Safety Shut-Off
Just for fun, here is a robot that could be an ideal lawn mower for small yard spaces. After all, mowing is not that fun even though the results are worth it. The Landroid from Worx comes fully programmed and is easy to set up and use. You set the mowing frequency and pattern, and the Landroid takes care of the rest.
This lawn mowing robot is able to navigate tight spaces and has a shock sensor system that allows it to avoid obstacles. It can mow on inclines up to 20 degrees. It has a 28 volt rechargeable battery and when this runs down, the Landroid automatically returns to the base to charge. It can also sense rainy weather and will cease mowing until conditions improve.
You can set a cutting height anywhere between 1.6” and 1.4” via five set positions. Most users prefer to let the mower trim the grass lightly on a regular basis, keeping the blades as healthy as possible while never letting the lawn get overgrown. The maximum surface area the Landroid can handle is ¼ acre.
Because it is battery powered, there are no emissions. It also runs nearly silently, so you can let it do its work overnight or in the early morning without disturbing anyone. Your perimeter is defined with a boundary wire.
22 x 15 x 9.5 in
3 year warranty
- Works quietly and reliably with no effort from owner after setup
- Clippings are tiny; no need to rake
- Replacement blades are inexpensive
- Controls only from the unit; no phone app
- Installing perimeter wire can be time consuming
- You will still need to edge trim
In the end, the best lawn mower for you depends both on the size and layout of your yard and your personal feelings about mowing in general. Go for the robot mower if you really hate doing it at all. On the other end of the spectrum, if you like to multi-task mowing and exercise, a reel mower can get your heart pumping and protect the environment at the same time. Whatever you choose, we hope we have been able to provide the info you need to make your choice.
Sarah Eberle qualified and became a member of the Landscape Institute in 1980. Over the last 26 years she has practised landscape architecture and garden design, running her own business in Devon.
During the 1990s, Sarah joined Hillier Landscapes as Design Director, where she is still a shareholder but also runs her own practice in Hampshire.
Sarah has an esteemed record in RHS shows, having won eight Gold medals, Best in Show and the George Cook award for innovation twice at Hampton Court. Sarah has also exhibited at Tatton Park and BBC Gardeners’ World Live.