The Unicorn that wasn’t
in March, 2017 I purchased a Greenworks 21” 60 volt cordless lawn mower that mentioned in the manual an optional heavy duty blade that promised improved bagging and mulching performance at the expense of higher power drain on the battery. So, I searched the internet and queried Greenworks in a vain attempt to purchase one. Nothing at all could be found for a year, but then in March, 2018 I purchased a switch for my Greenworks Twin Force from a new greenworks.ordertree website, and decided to try again. This time the part number for the heavy duty blade showed up and the website accepted my order. But then there was silence, so after a week I emailed customer service to inquire on the order status, and was told the the item was backordered and there was no information as to when or even if the item would ever be available. Since I had not been billed, I just left the order in place and forgot about it. Anyways, a few days ago about four months after placing the order I noticed a charge on my credit card from ordertree, and when I checked my greenworks.ordertree account later that day I saw that the status had changed to “shipped”, and there was a UPS tracking number. The blade showed up yesterday, and I tried it out today, although with my lawn dried up from the summer heat and drought, I have no way to tell how much of a difference it makes. The only apparent difference between the stock blade and heavy duty blade is the shape of the tips. Whereas the stock blade has a substancial taper at the ends, the heavy duty blade has almost none, which I assume creates more lift to improve mulching and bagging, but also consumes more power that reduces runtime.
The difference between the two blades can be seen in the attached photo:
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Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET’s Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, Smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn’t writing, she’s volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Greenworks Pro 60V 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Design
21-inch Steel Deck
Greenworks goes with a 21-inch steel deck with a 20-inch blade on this model. With all the sand we have in Florida, we prefer having the steel deck, especially on self-propelled models where the extra weight isn’t as big of a deal.
Single-Point Height Adjustment
Like many battery-powered models, the Greenworks Pro 60V 21-inch lawn mower features a single-point height adjustment. Rather than having to set the cut height at each individual wheel, this conveniently lets you adjust the height with 7 positions from 1.38 to 4 inches.
Greenworks Pro 60V 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Updates
One of the more interesting new features of the Greenworks Pro 60V 21-inch self-propelled mower is its dual battery port. Several push mowers have implemented dual ports, but not all feature automatic battery switching the way Greenworks does. When the mower senses that one battery has run out of juice, the mower begins to draw power from the second battery.
When the mower switches over, you’ll know it. There’s a brief surge in the drive pace as it shifts from a nearly depleted battery to the other at its full charge state.
We really like the battery level gauge on the handle. It indicates which battery pack the mower currently draws from, and how much power each battery has at any given time. This feature is a dramatic improvement over bending over, opening the battery compartment, and mashing the button on the battery to figure out how much power you have left to work with.
Greenworks isn’t playing games with their kit option on this mower. It comes with two 4.0Ah Ultra Power batteries so you don’t have to buy a second battery to use both ports. They also include a dual-port charger so you can set it and forget it until it’s time to mow again.
When you run into thicker grasses, the new Greenworks Pro mower adjusts the speed of the blade to maintain cutting performance. It’s yet another benefit of having a brushless motor. However, this mower features a Turbo Mode as well.
Say you’re running over your septic tank where the grass tends to grow thicker. The auto speed adjustment might kick the blade RPM up, but there’s a governor limiting the top end to help you preserve the best runtime. Turbo Mode acts like a manual override that tells the mower to engage its full cutting potential regardless of efficiency.
For those of us who keep up with our lawns regularly, this might not be a feature we’ll likely ever need to use. In fact, we were able to complete all of our testing in Bahia and St. Augustine without engaging it. However, it’s a great feature to have if when the weather or vacation keeps you from staying on a regular schedule. The extra power reduces your runtime, so only use it when you need it.
Vertical Storage/Handle Adjustment
The older version of this mower was perfectly capable of vertical storage. The new 60V lawnmower improves this feature significantly by changing the handle mechanism. Rather than having to bend over to the base of the mower to release or adjust the handle, Greenworks now provides two latches toward the top of the side bars. Simply pull the latches up with the fingerholds, move the handle to where you want it, and release. The handle locks into place. The same mechanism lets you completely fold it over for storage.
Greenworks Pro 60V 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Performance
Blade and Self-Propel Controls
The handle and control system is new for this version. Rather than using the standard dual bars to engage the self-propelled mode and blade, Greenworks opted for a pair of levers. They work independently of each other, so you can hold down either or both sides to engage the blade and drive systems.
Compared to the dual metal bars on a lot of mowers, the new control levers require very little effort to engage, so they make it a bit easier to use. The downward sloping handles in combination with two handle heights also seem to help everyone on our testing team find a comfortable grip.
The speed range is just about right. The lowest let us slow down to cut really thick patches without cutting half-swaths and the top end had enough speed for our tallest tester in the lightest grass.
Like we saw on the 25-inch version, the back wheels don’t disengage as soon as you release the drive levers. You need to push it forward a bit to unlock them. It can be a bit frustrating if you have a lot of areas that require you to mow forward into and then pull out.
Power and Runtime
Overall, mowing with this mower is a pleasant experience. The 60V mower rolls smoothly and the self-propel drive is confident in thick grass. Though it feels sturdy, it doesn’t necessarily feel heavy. Of course, it’s a lot quieter than gas mowers and you’re not dealing with emissions, yanking on a pull cord, or gas cans.
We cut our lawn to 5 inches before starting our testing. With the mower set to 3 inches on the deck height, it gave us a range of light to moderately thick grass and the mower did a great job keeping its RPMs high enough to cut well. We didn’t have to kick it into Turbo, but there were certainly sections we chose to in order to get the best mulching.
As far as runtime goes, we were able to cut for 35 minutes before the first battery switched over. The second took us a total mowing time of 1 hour, 4 minutes—a little more than Greenworks’ estimate of 60 minutes.
Greenworks packs everything you need to bag, mulch, or side discharge. It’s effective at mulching and bagging, and they improve a bit in Turbo mode.
The side discharge doesn’t distribute grass as widely as a gas mower does, though. It seems to keep most of it within a mower width or two.
If you don’t need the full hour of runtime, consider swapping out the stock blade for the high-lift blade Greenworks includes. You’ll lose some runtime, but pick up more efficient bagging and mulching. For most lawns 1/4-acre or less, we’d recommend making that switch. You shouldn’t need any additional batteries to finish the lawn on one set.
That blade should help with your cut evenness as well. While we had a handful of stragglers popping up with the standard blade, the high-lift blade did a better job of pulling them up and leaving a cleaner look.
We’re not disappointed with the results in cut quality, but this is an area Greenworks can improve to match the top battery mowers available.
Greenworks Pro 60V Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Price
The Greenworks Pro 60V 21-inch self-propelled lawn mower is available at Tractor Supply or direct from Greenworks. It comes as a kit with two 4.0Ah batteries and a dual-port Rapid charger for 599.99 and has a 4-year warranty on both the mower and the battery.
Greenworks did a nice job with the design of their 21-inch self-propelled mower and it’s a good all-around option, though the wheel release when you’re backing up may be a frustration for some folks. If your lot is in the 1/4 to 1/2 acre range, the 2 x 4.0Ah kit is a good fit. If you’re pushing toward the top of that range or just want to get done faster, consider the 25-inch model.
Greenworks Pro 60V 21-inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Specifications
Power 21″ Select Cut Mower with Touch Drive Self-Propelled Technology
Using your mobile device camera, scan the QR code below and follow the on-screen directions to see how this item looks in your space.
Technical requirements: iOS Version 11 and later or Android 8 and later.
The Select Cut Multi-blade Cutting System is equipped with three, interchangeable lower blades; the Mulching Blade, High Lift Bagging Blade and Extended Runtime Blade.
Buy Now: Order Online and Ship to Home
The EGO POWER 21″ Select Cut Self-Propelled Mower delivers performance that exceeds the power of gas. The Select Cut Multi-Blade Cutting System is equipped with three interchangeable lower blades: the Mulching Blade, High Lift Bagging Blade, and Extended Runtime Blade. The Mulching Blade comes installed on the lawn mower and is ideal for weekly mulching, giving you the mulching quality expected from a high-end gas lawn mower. The High Lift Bagging Blade provides extra suction ideal for bagging, leaving your yard free of clippings. The Extended Runtime Blade provides an optimal balance of cut quality and runtime for all around performance. All three blades can be used interchangeably based on your desired cut. The Upper Blade is used in combination with the lower blade chosen to slice the grass into fine fragments, greatly enhancing cutting performance with all grass types. EGO Touch Drive self-propelled technology puts complete control of the self-propel system in the palm of your hands by using pressure to engage the system. Easily control the variable speed with a dial positioned at your fingertips for safe and convenient operation. The Select Cut cordless lawn mower harnesses the power of the industry’s most advanced 56V ARC Lithium batteries to deliver up to 60 minutes of runtime on a single charge with the recommended 7.5Ah battery. Three-in-one functionality delivers your choice of mulching, side discharge, or bagging your grass clippings; an easy-access two-bushel grass collection bag is included. This electric lawn mower includes bright LED lights for added visibility when mowing at dawn or dusk, and it folds for compact storage between cuts. Experience Power Beyond Belief with the EGO POWER 21″ Select Cut Self-Propelled Lawn Mower.
Who this is for
If you want to be able to stand the sight of your yard this summer, you’re going to need a lawn mower. Anything larger than a half-acre gets into riding-mower territory, but a self-propelled push mower is perfect for a half-acre or less. Going at a pace of about 3 mph (roughly average walking speed), it will take about an hour to cut this amount of grass. (If you have a particularly small lawn, a reel mower is an option—but it’s quite hard work.)
If you already own a gas mower that’s less than a decade old, you will probably not notice a tremendous difference by upgrading to a newer gas mower. Upgrading to a cordless model is a more noticeable change you could immediately appreciate.
The Best Reel Mower for Your (Small) Lawn
After 30 hours researching and testing reel mowers, we think the Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower is the best pick for manual lawncare.
How we picked and tested
As a result of our years of lawn mower evaluation, we’re sure that most people will be happiest with a self-propelled, electric cordless option. Honestly, it all comes down to convenience. Every single element of a gas mower that is considered a nuisance—from the fiddly start-up to the annual maintenance schedule—is gone. Cordless mowers start with the push of a button, are easier to maneuver, and don’t need oil changes, gas, spark plugs, or air filters. They’re much quieter, they don’t smell, they don’t produce emissions, and they’re easier to store in the off-season. The run time has limitations, and charge times can be slow, but the latest models close the performance gaps between cordless and gas.
All that said, there are many capable—and several excellent—gas mowers available. Whatever type of mower you need, here are the criteria we feel matter most in making a selection:
Rear-Wheel Self-propulsion: Self-propelled mowers make life easier. With the mower moving itself across the lawn, all you have to do is throttle and steer, rather than forcing the mower’s full weight up every incline and over every bump. Self-propelled cordless mowers are all rear-wheel drive (RWD), which is preferred over front-wheel drive (FWD), because the mower’s traction improves as the grass bag fills and adds weight over the rear wheels. A self-propulsion feature adds to a mower’s price, but it’s a feature we feel is well worth it, and this requirement doesn’t narrow the field by a whole lot. It does, however, weed out the most bare-bones machines.
Performance as a mower: We researched which mowers could perform the best from a lawn-care perspective—which could make cleaner cuts in grass or promote turf health. We’ve measured this performance firsthand over years of long-term testing and in tests of new contenders against our established recommendations.
User interface and features: In years of tests, we’ve found most midrange mowers perform at a comparable level; most can cut the grass just fine. That led us to place an emphasis on user interface features—how difficult is it to adjust the push-bar height, or to raise and lower the mowing deck? Can you intuitively control and adjust the self-propulsion? Is the bag a pain to put on and take off? Are there other design details that make startup smoother, reduce engine maintenance, or make storage easier?
Cost: We looked at cost in terms of long-term value. Gas mowers are cheaper up-front, generally, but they carry long-term costs that cordless mowers avoid. Those include supplies (like gas, oil, stabilizers, air filters, and spark plugs) and the time and labor of caring for one: getting gas, changing the oil, and emptying the tank at the end of the season. With cordless mowers, a large percentage of the price tag is the battery. Most companies offer a series of outdoor tools (leaf blowers, string trimmers, hedge trimmers, etc.), all compatible with the same battery. And they cost less if you buy them without a battery. So for a high cost up-front, a cordless investment may open the door for an affordable expansion into that manufacturer’s other tools.
Charge time and run time: For cordless candidates, we looked at these two primary factors, which determine whether a battery will be adequate or frustrating. Because these two elements are so important, we looked only at mowers that used at least a 40-volt battery.
and reputation: The best mowers out there have proved satisfying for the most number of people for the longest amount of time. That led us to closely consider the differences among a smaller group of about 50 established, well-regarded models from major brands, often covered by comparable warranties of about three to five years.
Best overall lawn mower
The best lawn mower
The self-propelled Ego LM2135SP’s battery runs for an hour and easily mows down overgrown grass—and it spares you the noise, emissions, and maintenance of a typical gas mower.
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For the best in convenience, battery run time, cut quality, and value, we recommend the Ego Power Select Cut Mower LM2135SP. Compared with a gas mower, it’s quieter, doesn’t create exhaust, and requires almost no maintenance. Among other cordless models, the Ego LM2135SP has among the longest run time and shortest charge time. This Ego has a redesigned control interface that allows you to control the propulsion with either hand. It also cuts with two blades, making for a finer cut and better mulching. Rounding out the features are two forward-facing LED lights, an easy-to-use cutting-height adjustment, and a battery port that faces the battery gauge toward the operator. The battery, which is good for a solid hour of mowing, is compatible with Ego’s other lawn tools, such as the company’s leaf blower, chainsaw, and string trimmer.
Most people report getting roughly 60 minutes of run time from a full charge of the Ego’s 56-volt, 7.5 Ah battery, which is included with the purchase. We confirmed the run-time figures in tests of this pick and our runner-up in March 2019 and in 2020. In several hour-long sessions of strenuous cutting on tough grass in Los Angeles, running this mower across hills (some of which were steeper than its recommended 15-degree max), the battery never died before we expected it to. If anything, it exceeded the hour-long window by about 10 to 15 minutes. An added bonus: Once the battery was too low to power the mower blades, it still had enough juice to operate the self-propulsion function, letting us drive the mower back to the charger. Compared to older Ego batteries, this one has a ring of lights that give you an approximate gauge of the remaining charge (the previous generation communicated with a red light only when the battery got critically low). The battery regularly recharges in 60 minutes or less. (Recharge time is another advantage for Ego, as competitors’ charge times range from an hour and a half up to almost five and a half hours.)
In the mowing tests, the two-bladed Ego showed a superior cut-quality compared with our runner-up, and this is the primary reason we’d choose this model over the older version. We’ve put the mowers on some rough tufts of knotty crabgrass, knee-height rye grass, and thick purple stalks of weeds, and although the runner-up never bogged down, the LM2135SP did a better job of lifting overgrown grasses as it cut, mincing up fine mulch and effectively cutting through tall growth without pushing the grass flat. This second blade elevates the Ego into some territory that was formerly exclusive to mowers like the highly regarded Honda HRX series, making the case for cordless that much stronger.
A new-for-2020 speed-control system can be operated with your thumbs on either hand—a more versatile setup than the single, oversize, right-handed trigger on the 2019 version. Photo: Rozette Rago
With its onboard indicators displaying battery life and other troubleshooting diagnostics, the Ego is quite intuitive for anyone new to cordless mowers. Photo: Rozette Rago
A new-for-2020 speed-control system can be operated with your thumbs on either hand—a more versatile setup than the single, oversize, right-handed trigger on the 2019 version. Photo: Rozette Rago
Controlling the Ego is easy and intuitive. As with many mowers, the Ego has a metal bar (called a bail) that’s held against the handle to activate the blades. To activate the RWD self-propulsion, you press one of two buttons in the upper corners of the handle, and a central dial controls the mower’s speed. A couple of subtle changes set this mower apart from other models: The speed-control system can be operated with your thumbs on either hand—a more versatile setup than the single, oversize, right-handed trigger on the runner-up. Second, although the mower can move at a brisk pace if you want it to, the slowest speed setting available is unusually slow. This is quite handy if you’re backing in and out under a tree or in another tricky area, if you’re mowing across a hill and taking care not to let the mower slide or roll away, or if you just need to take it slow to make sure you’re not about to mow over an obstruction.
Random aside: Without the stink of gas engine exhaust in your face, the smell of mowing the grass while using Ego is entirely different and much more pleasant; unfortunately, the allergens are exactly the same.
The Ego has a number of other convenience features. The headlight, something not found on gas mowers, gives some illumination as the day starts to end. The single-adjust height control, a rarity on gas mowers, allows you to set the cutting height with a single lever. On most gas mowers, cutting height has to be adjusted at each individual wheel. The Ego has seven cutting heights, between 1½ to 4 inches—a wider range than on most cordless mowers, which top out at around 3½ to 3¾ inches.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Although the two-handed self-propulsion control is a more convenient setup than the one-handed paddle design seen on competitors, it does make accidentally engaging the self-propulsion a little too easy. Usually this isn’t an issue, but often the moments when you’re grasping to get a better grip on the handle are the times you least want to engage the self-propulsion. For example, if you are mowing across a hill, there’s a brief moment during a turnaround when the mower is pointing up or down the hill. When adjusting your grip to make those turns, you may inadvertently tap the throttle, destabilizing your stance or your grip on the mower. If anyone from Ego’s reading this, they’ll probably say we’re mowing on too steep a hill, but hey, sometimes life throws a steep hill at you.
We think that the hour or so of run time is going to be enough for anyone keeping to about a half-acre, but if that’s not enough, additional batteries are available to extend run time infinitely. But batteries are costly. Depending on the Ah, they currently range in price from about 140 (2.5 Ah) to about 250 (5.0 Ah), and up to about 450 for a 7.5 Ah battery. They all fit, and with a second one on the charger while one is on the mower, you can really minimize or eliminate downtime.
Because the Ego is cordless and loaded with electrical components, the company does not recommend using a hose to wash out the underside of the mowing dome. Instead, the mower needs to be put on its side and the dome wiped off or scraped clean, using a plastic scraper. Because there is no gas or oil to leak out, this process is much easier than with a gas mower.
Finally, Wirecutter writer Kit Dillon, who loves his Ego mower, uncovered an issue with an older version of our pick, where the wires for the self-propulsion function run up the handle to the operating switch. “The wiring is super thin and where the arm bends over itself over time this wire breaks,” he explained. “The annoying thing is the wire is so thin it will sometimes break inside the sheath, which makes it difficult to diagnose or even find what section to repair.” Because of the large number of YouTube videos devoted to the problem, it’s clear that this isn’t an isolated incident. We’re not sure if this problem happens with this current version of the mower, but looking through the customer feedback at Lowe’s, we found a number of people saying that their mower won’t start, which makes us think the issue persists in newer models.