What Kind of Lawn Mower Should You Buy?

The size of your yard may be the biggest factor to consider when choosing your next mower.
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red lawn mower in yard

If the grass actually is greener on your neighbor's side, it might be time for you to invest in a new mower. But you may be wondering, "What kind of of lawn mower is right for me?" Our infographic and guide below will help you choose the perfect lawn mower for your yard and budget.

Buying a Lawn Mower

lawn mower infographic

What Kind of Lawn Mower Do You Need?

Riding or Walking?

The first decision you'll need to make is whether you'll walk or ride your mower. Consumer Reports suggests a riding mower for lawns that are greater than a half-acre, or 21,780 square feet. You're still allowed to buy a riding mower if your yard is smaller, but be prepared for eye-rolling from your neighbors.

Otherwise, you should consider the many options in walking mowers. You can choose between motor-powered or man-powered; gas or electric; self-propelled or push; and more.

Consider Grass Clippings

Before you get to mowing, you'll also want to determine what you want to do with the cut grass. Are you a bagger who collects your clippings? A mulcher who wants their grass cut into confetti bits then tossed back on the ground to nourish the lawn? A side-discharger, who'd like the clippings blown out of the side of the mower?

Take Yard Incline Into Account

Finally, consider the terrain you're cutting. A 15-degree slope is roughly the maximum angle you can cut safely. But if your lawn does have a lot of slopes, you might not want to be lugging a huge mower up and down it.

4 Top Types of Lawn Mowers

So, what kind of lawn mower should you buy? Read on for further details about each type.

Best for Eco-Conscious Buyers: Manual Reel Mowers

What They Cost: From $66

Best for small, flat lawns, manual reel mowers have a certain bucolic charm, likely because they were the standard among households in the first half of the previous century. But they're also great for those who wish to be eco-friendly, as these push mowers emit no pollution. They also make little noise, require little upkeep, and can be had at a fraction of the cost of a powered mower. We've seen models start around $66 on average.

SEE ALSO: What to Look for When Buying a Fan

But cutting grass with a manual mower is hard work, especially if the grass needs more than a 1" haircut. These machines also don't trim well close to objects like trees, so even basic landscaping requires some hand-trimming.

Best for Small Lawns: Electric Battery Mowers

What They Cost: From $169

While corded electric mowers exist, they seem to come with more restrictions than not, and a cord-free model can usually handle the same job. Electric battery mowers operate from a battery enclosed in the housing, and are less cumbersome than corded models. These mowers can start at the flip of a switch and just need to be plugged in to recharge; plus, electric battery mowers are emission-free at point-of-use.

The downsides? For many models, the recharge time can be lengthy, close to a full day in some cases. And batteries can be heavy, making the mower more cumbersome to push. Additionally, these mowers generally only run for 30 to 45 minutes and are best for cutting yards that are smaller than one-third of an acre, according to Consumer Reports. They're really only suited for specific situations by those standards. On average, these models start around $169, so they're definitely an investment when compared to a simpler rig like a reel mower.

Best for Mowing Up to a Half-Acre: Gas-Powered Mowers

What They Cost: From $173

There's a lot to be said for modern gas-powered mowers. They're efficient, powerful, durable, and dependable when properly maintained. Some even come with electric starters, freeing the user from those old rope-yanks. Yet these machines are still noisy, which is why you should wear ear protection while mowing. While we're at it, wearing eye protection is also a good idea; all mowers can kick up small pebbles and other debris.

Look for a gas lawn mower that has side-discharge, bagging, and mulching options included.

Most gas lawn mowers are powerful enough to cut yards that have been allowed to grow a bit beyond ideal. Look for a lawn mower that has side-discharge, bagging, and mulching options included with the unit, not as additional purchases. These models have an average starting price of $173, so you definitely don't want that cost to creep higher because of adding on accessories.

A washout port (the place to screw in a hose and wash out the cutting chamber after you mow) is also a useful feature, along with a blade brake (which allows you to empty the clippings bag without stopping the mower). And padded grips help prevent numb hands.

But no matter the bells and whistles, be prepared to maintain your gas-powered mower with regular blade sharpening, oil changes, filter cleaning, and spark plug replacement. It's generally easy to find these items at your local home and garden stores, like Home Depot and Lowe's.

Best for Larger Lawns: Self-Propelled Gas Mowers

What They Cost: From $280

If you don't fancy pushing a heavy mower around your lawn all day, you might consider investing in a self-propelled unit. It harnesses the power of the mower to pull itself along the yard, vastly reducing the amount of work needed to manicure your grass. Of course, we're calling these mowers an investment for a reason: self-propelled mowers can be as low as $280, but more often start around $300.

Readers, what type of mower do you prefer? Share your lawn-maintenance thoughts in the comments below!


DealNews Contributing Writer

Tom Barlow is a freelance journalist specializing in lifestyle and consumer issues. In addition to DealNews, his writing has appeared on many websites, including Forbes.com and Aol's DailyFinance.com.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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3 comments
r10kindsofpeople
I've been using a battery electric for about 10 years now and I'd never go back to gas. Noise and vibration are much lower than gas, I'm not breathing gas fumes the whole time, and while I'm sure the batteries add weight, the electric motor is much smaller than the engine for gas, so my sense is that it's an even trade or a little in favor of electric...and mine uses 3 lead-acid motorcycle batteries. I told you I've had it for a while. Speaking of, I know nothing about small engine maintenance and repair, but swapping out one of the motorcycle batteries when it failed was a breeze and pretty inexpensive. Had to replace the charger connector once, a 5 minute job once I had the connector.
My lawn takes about 45 minutes to mow and when the mower was new, I could do it twice without a recharge.
djrichardson
I am getting up there in age, and I prefer a self-propelled gas lawn mower. Going up the gentle slope of my lawn, I can engage the front wheel to get up the hill with just guiding the mower.
JacktheDude
I've owned both gas and battery powered mowers and I prefer the maintenance-free feature of electric mowers. Gas powered mowers need to be emptied for long-term winter storage, they can't be stored upright, need oil changes, and are too loud. The biggest downside to battery powered mowers is their prices and poor battery life. However, some mowers have multiple battery ports... though the price of a single battery is usually over $100.