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The Best Lawn Mowers, According to Experts

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I’ve been mowing the lawn for well over two decades now, and I’ve used my share of mowers, but I’m a DIY kind of lawn guy, not an expert. So to get recommendations for the best lawn mowers for use at your home, I found some people who are. First, the experts advised, those shopping for a mower need to consider three things: their budget, yard size, and desired grass-cleanup method.

Sara Bendrick, licensed landscape contractor and STIHL spokesperson, says that when it comes to budget, “Consider the investment over time. While a battery-powered mower may be a slightly more upfront investment, over time you will have less fuel, oil, and maintenance costs, balancing out the total cost of ownership.” For reference, a decent battery-powered lawn mower will cost more than $400, and that’s on the lower end and without the battery and charger, no less; gas mowers can be found for hundreds less, but every gallon of gasoline will add up over the years.

Concerning property size, ECHO senior product manager Jason Wilk says that as a general rule of thumb, a walk-behind lawn mower is recommended for those with yards a half-acre or less. But also consider your yard’s terrain. “Properties with relatively flat lawns are great for standard push mowers,” he says, “but if the property has hills to navigate, a self-propelled model will take some of the strain out of mowing.”

Walk-behind mowers use one of three power sources: gasoline, a battery, or a power cord. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. With gas, there’s no pausing to recharge a battery, but there is an environmental cost. A battery gives clean power but needs charge time, and a cord gives endless power but has the physical limitation of cord length. Wilk also noted that deck size was important to consider, as the larger the deck, the wider the cutting swath of the mower and the faster the job will be done.

For disposing of cut grass, lawn mowers offer functions like bagging, mulching, and side discharge of the grass. Frank Rossi, the chief science officer with the lawn-care company Sunday, who is also a professor at Cornell University and the holder of a Ph.D. in Turf Science, advises that bagging is the cleanest way to mow, but mulching with grass clippings can promote grass growth, while side-discharging the cut grass can let you mow without stopping to empty the bag — what you choose is just a matter of preference.

Best overall lawn mower

This is the lawn mower I used each and every week to mow my very own lawn, so I know this: All factors considered, from price to ease of height setting to the power and variable speeds of its propulsion to its precise cutting, it’s the best mower I have ever used. I did a lot of research before I settled on it, and I’ve never once regretted giving over garage space to the eForce model. Which is good, because even with the grass bag removed and the handle folded down, it still takes up a lot of space. Keep the grass bag removed and the mower set to side discharge if you want to mow for a longer stretch than the grass bag would allow, and then later rake your trimmings. (I often do this.) And if you want to mow in the early morning or in the fading light of the evening, it has bright LED headlights that will illuminate your way.

Best lawn mower for smaller properties

I have tested this exact unit firsthand and can confirm it has plenty of cutting power and that its self-propulsion system, which can move the mower along at nearly three miles per hour, makes mowing easy work. The issue is that the mower can’t cut much more than 3,000 square feet without a battery swap, and buying a second battery costs almost half the base price of the lawn mower itself. Buying the mower with a second battery and charger? Oh, it gets pricey! But for a smaller property (one with a tenth of an acre of grass, give or take), the STIHL RMA 510 V mower’s seven cutting heights, 19.8-gallon grass-catcher bag, and 21-inch deck width will have your mowing done fast. And while this is a physically large mower, it can be stored upright, so its footprint in the garage or shed can be small, which again makes it a good choice for homes with limited space.

Best corded lawn mower

If you want to go electric but don’t want to pay for a pricier battery-powered mower, go with the amazingly well-reviewed on Amazon 3-in-1 Electric Corded Lawn Mower from Greenworks, which uses a power cord connected to an AC outlet to run its reliable 12-amp motor. It has seven height settings, which ECHO’s Wilk advises will help with grass trimming in various seasons. “Look for a lawnmower that allows easy adjustment to the cutting height,” he says. This mower also has huge 10-inch rear wheels, a necessity in tall, thick grass and varied (or even rugged) terrain. Sure, you need to trail a cord along behind you as you work, and that can get annoying, but this corded mower will also never run out of battery charge or gasoline.

Best gas lawn mower

“Gasoline-powered push mowers are a better fit for much larger properties, heavily overgrown grass, or remote locations where charging batteries is not practical,” says Bendrick. And this one from Honda is a workhorse — with a 21-inch deck and a 4.6-star overall rating with more than 6,675 reviews on Home Depot’s website — that can handle those environments with aplomb. This mower — that’s compliant with California’s strict emissions laws — has three self-propelled speeds; it can bag, mulch, or side-discharge; and its auto-choke feature ensures the engine enjoys steady, proper combustion even when starting up or in colder conditions. Gas mowers also excel at “mulching tall, wet grass,” per Sunday’s Rossi. So if you live in a rainy part of the world, that’s another reason to consider this one.

Best (less expensive) gas lawn mower

“Generally, a good mower gets the job done effectively and efficiently every time you need it without fail,” says Bendrick, adding that this mower hits all those notes — basic, reliable, affordable — plus it’s simple to operate and maneuver. While it’s not self-propelled, and its cutting width of 17 inches isn’t huge, it’s ideal for smaller yards that are relatively flat. The PowerSmart gas mower is lightweight, easy to push, powerful enough for lush grass, and works well as a bagger or mulcher, or when discharging grass out the side. When the 0.21-gallon gas tank is full, you can expect between an hour and a half and two hours of run time from the engine, which should be plenty of time to mow most private properties.

Best manual lawn mower

The technological bridge between the scythe and the gas mower is the manual mechanical mower. “While the trend in landscaping is to move toward battery-powered mowers, there is still a place for old-school push reel mowers for those looking for an ecofriendly, low-cost option that offers a precision cut. However, reel mowers require more effort by the user and are best suited for small areas,” says Bendrick. The rather narrow 16-inch cutting width and the fact that you’ll have to rake up every blade of grass also mean a longer time commitment, but the results will look as good as you get with a powered mower. This manual mower allows for cutting height adjustment between one and 2.5 inches, is basically silent while being operated, and can hang on the wall when not in use. Also, the $105 price is hard to beat.

Best autonomous lawn mower

We might not have flying cars or teleporters yet, but if there were any doubt that we’re living in a futuristic age, look no further than the robotic lawn mower. “Autonomous mowers are now a functional, viable option, and in many ways, they’re less expensive over time,” says Rossi, citing the man hours you stand to save. The Husqvarna Automower 430XH costs two grand on sale, but as this GPS-navigated smart mower cuts the grass for you, you can be getting some work done that will help pay it off. And unlike what you may have experienced with a robot vacuum that misses half the crumbs in the kitchen, this autonomous mower will not leave patches of grass sticking up all over the place: Its cutting paths are calculated meticulously and its motor and blades are as powerful as that of any other noncommercial mower out there. The weather-resistant mower is rated for yards as large as 0.8 acres, can handle 45-degree hills, and can cut for more than two and a half hours on one charge. Also, when its battery gets low, it heads back to the charging station of its own volition.

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The Best Lawn Mowers, According to Experts