When trying to decide which mowers are the best for what they need, consumers have not only a wide variety of different mower models to consider but also have to figure out which of these models are best for their particular yards. And this can be a confusing and time-consuming task for anyone—but especially for people who aren’t as familiar with lawn equipment as professional are.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Today I’ve decided to tell you about the different types of lawn mowers available, the types of yards they’re good for and their particular pros and cons. Here’s my beginner’s guide to choosing a lawnmower. I hope that it helps you sort through all of the mower reviews quicker and more efficiently.
Reel Lawn Mowers
Yard Size: Small (around a quarter acre)
Pros: Inexpensive, environmentally friendly, quiet, low maintenance, better for some grasses
Cons: Uneven cutting, has to be pushed manually, doesn’t edge well
Reel lawn mowers are some of the most inexpensive lawn cutting products on the market today. Even the best reel lawn mower ever made was probably no more than $250 and the majority of them can be found for anywhere from $50 to $100, which seems perfect for those who may be on a tight budget.
They are also quite environmentally friendly because they are powered by human labor and don’t require gas. Which also happens to make them very quiet as well. And as far as maintenance goes, all they really require is having their blades sharpened and maybe for them to be oiled once in a while.
And since they use a sharp blade that moves at a slower speed to cut through the blades of grass, instead of the bludgeoning that many gas-powered mowers basically do to grass, the result is a lawn that is thicker, has fewer weeds and fewer bugs. Which is probably why so many golf courses use them.
However, reel mowers also have their drawbacks as well. For instance, the blade on some of the cheaper reel mowers usually cut the grass unevenly and if you look at most reel lawn mower reviews, you’ll notice that they aren’t the best for edging either. Their blades just aren’t driven as powerfully as motorized lawn mowers. Another drawback is that they require a lot of work to use, so they really shouldn’t be used for anything but small, flat yards.
Gas Lawn Mowers
Yard Size: Small to Medium (up to a half acre)
Pros: More powerful than reel or electric motors, not very expensive, good on varying types of terrain
Cons: Noisy, not environmentally friendly, noisy, requires maintenance, more expensive to use
Gas lawn mowers (the push type) are the next step up from reel mowers. While prices can fluctuate, and some models can be found at a discount, these models usually cost anywhere from $150 to $350, which means they have a fairly low price.
They are also fairly powerful. The best gas lawn mowers have no problem cutting through high grasses and tough weeds and they can often handle a wide range of different terrains, although they do require more effort to push up hills than self-propelled ones.
However, since they are gas powered, they also have a few drawbacks, as you’ll notice when you look over gas lawn mower reviews. One is that they require gasoline, so that means they not only pollute the air but how much it costs to operate them depends on current gas prices. They also require quite a bit of maintenance: For instance, adding gas, oil and filter changes, blade sharpening and spark plugs.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers
Yard Size: Medium
Pros: Powerful, less effort required, mow more evenly, better for slopes
Cons: More expensive than gas push mowers, high maintenance
Self-propelled lawn mowers are the next type of mowers I want to talk about today and can be usually be bought for anywhere from $250 to $800, which makes them more expensive gas powered mowers but less expensive than say riding mowers.
If you look at several self-propelled lawn mower reviews, you’ll see that they’re generally liked pretty much. That’s because they can cut through the toughest of grasses, don’t require a lot of effort to use and seem well suited to cutting grass on slopes. They are also good for yards which are about a half an acre.
However, even the best self-propelled lawn mowers can require a lot of maintenance and they usually have a lot more things that can go wrong with them. For instance, I once had one in which the belt to the self-propelled drive broke and had to be replaced. And this is in addition to all of the other maintenance required by these mowers (spark plugs, oil changes, etc.).
Electric Corded Lawn Mowers
Yard Size: Small
Pros: Low maintenance, quiet, environmentally friendly, cheaper to operate, inexpensive
Cons: Cord limits mobility and distance, not good for high or tough grasses, need to be alert during use
One of the main advantages that the best electric corded lawn mowers have is that they are usually pretty inexpensive; I have even found some as low as $85. And if you read a lot of electric corded lawn mower reviews, then you’ll notice this is probably one of the main reasons they’re bought.
However, that isn’t the only positive feature of these mowers. They also require less maintenance than gas mowers (after all, they don’t need gas, spark plugs or oil), they don’t pollute and because electric power is usually cheaper than gas power, they are inexpensive to run as well. Not to mention that most of them are very quiet.
With all those positives, you might be in a big hurry to run out and buy one. Unfortunately, these mowers also have a number of problems. For instance, cord length usually limits how far you can mow and you have to be careful not to run the cord over (though some models use a clip that solves this problem). And they also aren’t very good for cutting tall or very tough grasses and weeds.
Electric Cordless Lawn Mowers
Yard Size: Small
Pros: Low maintenance, quiet, environmentally friendly, don’t have to worry about cord
Cons: May require frequent charging, doesn’t handle tall or tough grasses, battery lifespan
Reading several electric cordless lawn mower reviews, I see that these models are usually well liked. Which is understandable considering that they are pretty quiet and don’t require a cord to be used. And while they aren’t inexpensive (they cost $150 and up), they aren’t too expensive.
Since they don’t use gasoline, they are also very environmentally friendly and fairly inexpensive to operate. And since they are cordless, they are much safer to use than their corded cousins because you don’t have to worry about running over an electrical cord. However, you do have to worry about overly wet surfaces as they may cause damage to the mower.
Although they’re pretty decent, even the best electric cordless lawn mowers have their flaws. One of the biggest flaws is that these mowers don’t handle tough grasses or even tall ones that well. They just don’t have enough power. And another problem with them is that they’re batteries only last from 60 to 90 minutes before they have to be recharged. And as far as upkeep is concerned, while they’re pretty low maintenance, it still should be noted that their lithium-ion batteries have to be replaced every 5 to 8 years.
Rear Engine Riding Mowers
Yard Size: Medium
Pros: Usually cheaper than other types of riding mowers,
Cons: Less stable and has smaller decks than other riding mowers
Rear engine riding mowers start at around $700 and can get as high as several thousand dollars. Even so, they are usually cheaper than other comparable riding mowers. They are also built for one job and one job only; and that’s cutting grass. Which is something they do very well.
If you read rear engine riding mower reviews, then you’ll see that these machines do a pretty good job of cutting grass and are pretty decent for medium-sized yards (yards under an acre), thanks to their medium-sized decks which cut less grass at a time than larger deck platforms.
However, even the best rear engine riding mowers have their flaws. One of which is that they are fairly unstable on slopes. Since all of their weight is focused in the rear, they can tend to overturn, if used aggressively, and may lose steering when they’re really being pushed. Something that needs to be considered if you have a hilly yard.
Yard Size: Large
Pros: Good for yards over an acre, good on slopes or hills, often come with additional features
Cons: Requires more storage space than other mowers, requires maintenance
Lawn tractors are the next type of riding lawn mower I want to talk about. If you look at most lawn tractor reviews and product descriptions, you’ll see that they start out at about $1000 and can be as expensive as over $4000, all depending on what features or accessories they come with. A decked out lawn tractor can be very inexpensive indeed.
They are very useful for large yards and the best lawn tractors are very good on slopes or hilly ground. The ones that I’ve used have easily gone up and down even the steepest of slopes. And since these mowers usually have a 42 to 54-inch cutting swath, grass cutting can usually be done in no time flat.
The only problems I’ve ever had with lawn tractors is that they require more storage space (they can take up a 4×6 storage shed) and they require more maintenance than some other mowers. You not only have to worry about the usual maintenance issues you do with other gas-powered devices (spark plugs, gas, oil, etc.), but you also have to worry about the starting battery and the belt for the deck drive.
Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower
Yard Size: Large
Pros: Easy to maneuver around objects, fast mowing,
Cons: Not suitable on slopes, requires practice to use, can be more expensive than a comparable tractor
If you’re looking for a mower that can cut close to trees and other obstacles, then you might want to look at some of the best zero turn riding lawn mowers. Most of them start at around $2500, which may make them a little more expensive than comparable lawn tractors but they do have a few key benefits than just being able to mow grass close to an object.
One of these key benefits is this mower’s ability to cut grass in a very short period of time. These mowers have decent sized decks and speedy transmissions that allow them to zip around your yard in no time flat. Which also makes them fun to drive, too!
However, they also have areas in which they don’t do so well. For example, if you check out zero turn riding lawn mower reviews, then you’ll notice that it takes most users quite some time to learn how to handle these machines effectively, especially if you don’t have experience in using them.
Another drawback to these mowers is that they aren’t well suited for use on slopes. This is often due to the casters on the deck digging into the hill as the mower attempts to climb it. There’s been more than one occasion that I had one of these mowers dig up a portion of my yard as it was climbing a slope. It’s just a little something to keep in mind.
Well, that’s my beginner’s guide to lawnmowers. Hopefully, I’ve given you the information you need to determine which mower is right for you and your yard.