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Lawn Mower Buying Guide

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Mowing your lawn not only keeps it looking beautiful and perfectly manicured, it also maintains healthy grass and discourages weeds and lawn diseases. Before you begin shopping, find out how large your lawn is and what type of terrain you have (flat, hilly, etc.), as these factors will determine what type of lawn mower you should purchase. In this guide we breakdown the types of lawn mowers and other important mower features so you can find the right one to suit your needs.

​Types of Lawn Mowers

gas mower

Gas-Powered Walk-Behind Lawn Mowers

This is the most popular type of mower. Walk-behind gas mowers allow the operator to easily cut thick grass. This type of mower can be self-propelled or pushed by the operator.

  • Ideal Lawn Size and Terrain: small to large, less than 1/2 acre, flat or uneven
  • Benefits: high-powered, wide-cutting swath, handles all types of grass, longer cutting time
  • Things to Consider: high maintenance, less eco-friendly

Push mowers are the traditional form of gas mowers. They are propelled forward by the operator, so they are better suited for flat, level lawns. There are three options for getting rid of cut grass in a push mower: side discharge, mulch, and rear bag. Side discharge is the easiest and most common way. As you mow, the grass is expelled out the side, leaving it to breakdown on the lawn. Mulch lawn mowers chop the grass into fine pieces, which will release nutrient-rich nitrogen into your lawn. A rear bag will produce a perfectly clean look for your lawn because the cut grass is expelled into a bag behind the mower.

Self-propelled mowers make mowing easy on the operator, as they propel themselves forward while also cutting the grass. Front-wheel drive mowers are ideal for flat yards, while rear-wheel drive mowers offer more traction at the center of the mower for tackling hilly and uneven terrain. If you have a larger lawn, consider an all-wheel drive mower. This offers lots of power at all four wheels and makes it easy to mow large, uneven yards.
electric mowers

Electric Lawn Mowers

Electric mowers are quieter, more eco-friendly, and require less maintenance than gas-powered models. They are powered by a cord or a battery (battery-powered mowers are cordless). Both versions give you the option to turn grass clippings into mulch, which releases natural fertilizer nitrogen into your lawn. 

  • Ideal Lawn Size and Terrain: less than 1/3 acre, flat
  • Benefits: no emissions, quiet, easy start up
  • Things to Consider: corded vs. cordless options, narrower cutting swath (range from 14 to 20 inches), choose from bagging, mulching, or discharging clippings

Corded mowers must remain plugged in as they mow and should be used on flat lawns that are free of debris, including rocks, twigs, and more.

Cordless mowers give you more freedom, but must be charged overnight before use. This type of mower can be self-propelled or pushed by the operator. The voltage of a cordless mower's battery should be considered, as a larger battery will allow you to cut grass for longer and get a cleaner cut.
reel lawn mower

Reel Lawn Mowers

Reel mowers cut grass using a reel of blades that spins as the operator pushes. This type of mower is available with different amounts of blades and in different widths. If you are cutting heavier grass (Bermuda or St. Augustine), pick a mower with more blades. For thinner, smaller grass (Kentucky bluegrass), opt for a mower with fewer blades. The wider the reel mower is, the faster you will cut grass. If your yard is large, consider purchasing a wider mower.

  • Ideal Lawn Size and Terrain: less than 1/4 acre, flat
  • Benefits: lightweight, quiet, eco-friendly since no pollutants are expelled, low maintenance, less costly
  • Things to Consider: features are limited, manual push operation, easily jammed by twigs and debris, will discard cut grass back onto the lawn

ride on mowers

Ride-On Lawn Mowers

Riding mowers are ideal for large lawns (bigger than 1/2 acre) and uneven terrain. Here are the three main types of ride-on mowers:

  • Riding Mowers and Lawn Tractors: These standard tractors are mostly used for mowing large lawns, but can also seed and fertilize your lawn, too.
  • Garden Tractors: These powerful tractors are ideal for large lawns and heavy-duty tasks, such as heavy hauling and shrub removal.
  • Zero-Turn Mowers: These mowers offer superior speed, maneuverability, and control for large lawns. Zero-turn models can cut mowing time in half, compared to standard riding mowers.

tow-behind mowers

Tow-Behind Lawn Mowers

Often used by landscapers and greenskeepers of golf courses, this style of mower is towed behind an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or tractor. Here are the three main types of tow-behind mowers: 

  • Gang Reel Mowers: Gang reel mowers do not have an engine and can be towed up to 4 miles per hour. They cut like scissors, giving the look of a well-manicured lawn. However, twigs and other debris can jam the blades. This type has the largest cutting swath, up to 11 feet wide.
  • Trail Mowers: With a high-powered engine mounted on top, trail mowers are more like average lawn mowers. Though they're smaller, trail mowers cut grass just as quickly as gang reel models because they can be towed faster. Twigs and debris are no match for trail mowers.
  • Trail Cutters: Meant to clear brush rather than cut grass, trail cutters are equipped with steel cutting bars that swing back and forth. 

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