Lawn Mower Comparison Guide

by Mark Madsen | Updated 10/25/19
lawn mower comarison guide

Comparing Lawn Mower Types

Given the wide variety of lawn mowers available – there are literally hundreds of different types to choose from – you should think carefully before you buy. Take a close look at your lawn and your needs before you begin the process of purchasing a mower.

If you’re purchasing a new mower for your new home, be sure to figure out how much lawn you have. Figure out the square footage of all the lawn you’ll be mowing; most lawn mower recommendations are based on lawn size in square feet, or even acres if your lawn is larger.

If you’re replacing your old lawn mower, you might already have a good idea of what type is best for you and which you prefer.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Take a good look at your lawn. Walk around the yard and determine what obstacles you might have to deal with. Are there trees, shrubs, walls, stones, ponds? If so, an electric cord mower could be problematic as the trees and walls will inhibit your movement.

Is your lawn smooth or uneven? Is it level or on a slope? Self-propelled mowers are easier to use on slopes, but a push mower is the best choice for an uneven lawn.

2. Take a critical look at yourself. Do you like getting some exercise from mowing your lawn or do you see it at just more work? Would you feel comfortable changing oil and spark plugs on your mower or would you like to dispel with such work? If you don’t like mowing and don’t like maintenance work, you should consider buying a good-quality mower that does the job quickly. You might even want to consider hiring a gardener to do your mowing.

3. How much are you willing to spend? Will you be living in the same house in 5 years? Are you prepared to spend more to get a high-quality mower or do you prefer a less expensive but also less reliable one? When you buy a new lawn mower, you do get what you pay for.

Reel Mowers

Reel mowers are quiet, inexpensive and nonpolluting. When you push a reel mower, it turns a cylinder of curved blades against a stationary knife and cuts the grass a lot like a pair of scissors would. The mower is safe to operate and needs virtually no maintenance for years other than periodic blade adjustment. You should not have to sharpen the blades for years.

Reel mowers are made for small, flat lawns up to a quarter-acre in size. They are not suitable for high grass.

Click here to read about my recommended Reel Mowers.

Electric/Battery Powered Mower

If the grass area on your yard is small, you mostly have trees and flowers or your lawn is divided into a front and back yard, you should consider an electric mower. Electric mowers are quite similar to gas push mowers except that an electric motor is replacing the gas engine. Under the motor there is a cutting blade and the cutting width is slightly narrower than with a gas mower.

Electric mowers are light and quiet and easy to use. The only thing to worry about is the electric cord; you’ll have to use this to run your mower so it should not be longer than about 100 feet.  If you don’t want to deal with the cords, consider going with a battery powered lawn mower, which can normally run about 45 minutes to 1 hour on a full battery charge.  They’re just as powerful as some gas powered mowers and they’re friendly on the environment.

Learn more about Battery Powered Electric Mowers.

Gas Push Mowers

Gas-driven push mowers are still the most common lawn mowers for homeowners.

They have a gasoline engine sitting on top of the mower deck, turning the horizontal blade. Gasoline engines have improved over the years – they are less noisy than they used to be, but they are still loud enough to wake the neighbors on a Saturday morning and they still pollute the air.

Push mowers don’t have driven motors so they have to be pushed over the lawn. There are many brands to choose from and I have spent a lot of time comparing mowers in this category; keep in mind you get what you pay for. Push mowers like this are best for lawns up to half an acre in size. I highly recommend a mulching mower.

Click here to read about my recommended Gas Push Mowers.

Self Propelled Walk Behind Mower

 If your lawn is larger than a half an acre or it’s hilly, you should seriously consider a self-propelled mower. Their front or rear wheels are driven from the engine, usually with a variable speed control.

These mowers are easier to push and use and they are suitable for carrying clipping bags that would be very heavy to handle with a push mower. Rear wheel drive mowers have more traction on hills, but front wheel drive mowers have better maneuverability in corners if you push the handle down and lift the front wheels while turning.

Self-propelled mowers are often bigger and heavier than push mowers. On the other hand, you can get the job done faster and on some models you can enjoy great features like electric starters.

Click here to read about my recommended Self Propelled Mower.

Riding Mowers

Riding mowers, also called garden tractors, are great for lawns bigger than ½-acre in size and comprised of any kind of grass.

A ride-on mower will cost you quite a bit more than a walk-behind mower, so be sure to consider your needs and how often the mower will be used if you are considering a riding mower.

Although a riding lawn mower is a larger investment than other mowers, they have distinct advantages over smaller models. Certainly, one benefit is the riding feature – great for a hot day with a lot of lawn that needs mowing. They can mulch or side-discharge the lawn clippings.

Robot Mower – Automatic Mower

The newest trend in gardening is certainly the Automatic Robot Lawn Mower. This new mower, also called a “robomower”, literally does the work for you. They can mow the lawn during the night and then return to their charging station when the battery gets low.

The benefits of robot mowers are numerous. You don’t have to push or ride a mower to get your lawn mowed, you don’t have to deal with clippings, you free up some of your precious weekend time, and the mulch it creates is a healthy alternative to your lawn over fertilizer.


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