Best small lawn mower: 5 compact mowers for easy lawn care
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If you only have a small yard, but it is too much to maintain with a weed eater, you need to invest in the best small lawn mower. A heavy-duty mower is overkill – in price, noise and size – but there are plenty of compact mowers designed to maintain smaller spaces.
Some are battery powered so you won’t need to store gas either, others offer mulching options to feed your lawn as you mow. One can even be stored under a workbench. What they all have in common though is that while they lack in size, they match the power of some of our bigger picks for the best lawn mower.
These mowers are also a great option for people who have an ample lawn, but lack the space to store a larger machine. We have deliberately looked for models that pack as much cutting width into that deck as possible, even in a fairly small package.
Reasons to avoid
The Worx POWER SHARE 40-Volt 14-in Mower is small but mighty. At only 29 lbs, this mower is easy to move around, and even lighter when you remove the batteries for storage and transit.
Equipped with patented torque technology, you have the capability to increase the power of this mower to Turbo if you’re cutting thick grass (but remember, this will use up more battery). For regular use, we found Eco mode was competent, especially for regular trims. The cutting base is 14 inches across and there are six height adjustments that range between 2.5-3.5 inches with an easy to use lever for height adjustments. You can either mulch your grass or bag up to.85 bushels before a ‘full bag indicator’ alert notifies you it’s time to empty the bag.
To get started, simply insert the safety button, depress then pull the handle lever and you’re ready to mow. The Worx lawnmower runs on two 20V 4.0 Ah batteries. POWER SHARE advertises that this mower can mow 5,000 square feet with just one charge. However, this wholly depends on various factors like the thickness or height of your grass. Just keep an eye on the battery meter to know when you need to juice up and keep spares on charge. We found it capable of doing a good half hour or more of mowing before it was time to recharge which is plenty for the average yard.
So while we think this is the best small lawn mower, you could find it a good choice for a larger yard too.
Reasons to avoid
If you hate loud, big, smelly lawn mowers, then look no further than the Sun Joe MJ401C Push Lawn Mower.
This battery-powered lawnmower cuts a 14-inch-wide path and collects the grass in a 10.6 detachable gallon bag. Those who choose to upgrade to the Pro version (it’s not much more), will also receive a rear discharge chute. There are only three different cutting heights, designated as ‘short, medium, and tall,’ that range between 1.18-2.52 inches.
This Sun Joe runs on a rechargeable 28-volt lithium-ion battery which can manage about a quarter acre on one charge. Those with small lawns should be able to mow their entire lawn in one go, however, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup battery on hand because it takes up to four hours for one battery to charge.
As well as the long battery charge, the other thing we didn’t rate was how much wider it is than the cutting deck. It just means you can’t get quite as close to edges and from a storage and size point of view, seems like wasted space.
Reasons to avoid
With a 16-inch cutting base (making it the second widest on our list), you’ll be able to get your yard mowed in a quicker amount of time with the Greenworks G-MAX 40V lawnmower. Although it isn’t self-propelled, at only 37.5 lbs, you’ll easily zip around your yard and finish in no time.
Powered by a 40V 4Ah Li-Ion battery, Greenworks advertises that you can get about ½ acre or up to 45 minutes of battery time with one charge. Some users note that the time is more accurately 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the battery life indicator to see if you need an extra charge (or a backup battery) to finish the yard.
A single lever lets you adjust between five different cutting heights in the range of 1.25-3.375 inches high. Last but not least, this lawnmower comes with a rear bag to catch grass clippings. However, we suggest you go with the mulching option. It’s less clean-up and is good for your yard.
Reasons to avoid
Although the Troy Bilt XP lawn mower is 21 inches wide – meaning it’s an average-sized lawn mower – it has a unique SpaceSavr design that makes it perfect for those who don’t have a lot of space. It basically folds into a compact shape so you save up to 70% more space than a traditional lawn mower. It can be stored under a tool bench or upright in a shed, and it won’t leak oil or fuel in the vertical position.
This Troy Bilt XP lawn mower is heavier than others on this list at 78 lbs, but it’s the only one with self-propelling technology, which means it propels forward on its own so you’re basically just guiding it to the right spots. The height of a cut – from 1.25 to 3.75 inches – can be adjusted in six different positions with the fingertip levers on the wheels. This small lawn mower has a TriAction cutting system so it pushes out finely mulched clippings. However, it does come with a 1.9-bushel rear bag. Just remove the discharge chute and clip it to the handle when not in use.
How to choose the best small lawn mower
Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
If you have opted for a small lawn mower then it is likely your main concerns will be around how much power and ease-of-use you can get into a compact package. At one time, electric lawn mowers, including cordless battery powered models were quite big and heavy to accommodate large battery packs for optimal run time. Luckily, technology has advanced and things like more efficient batteries and brushless motors mean you get greater run time in a smaller package.
Next, consider the cutting width. Our picks range from 12 inches to 21 inches. It might be tempting to go smaller for ease of movement and storage space limitations, but with edge-to-edge cutting, even the largest model on our list is a great choice if you are looking for a particularly compact lawn mower. That said, bigger will tend to mean weightier, so if you are concerned about lifting – perhaps due to a bad back – take the narrower model and be prepared for a couple of extra runs of your yard.
Finally, if storage is your main reason for buying the best small lawn mower, look at foldable options. Many compact lawn mowers have a foldaway handle and don’t forget the grass box. The Greenworks and Worx models on our list have soft material grass boxes that flatten down. Some mulching mowers have no grass box at all.
Tips for getting the most from your small lawn mower
Lawn mowers aren’t as scary as you think. They’re easy-to-use if you know the right tips and tricks. Read below to find out more.
Energy reserve You don’t want to be halfway through mowing your lawn only to discover that you’ve run out of juice. If you purchase a gas-powered lawn mower, make sure you top up before each use and have a gas container with gas stored in your garage or shed in case you need more.
For those who buy a battery-powered lawn mower, you might want to consider buying a backup battery. The harder a battery-powered lawn mower has to work (like a lawn where the grass is higher or thicker), the quicker the battery will die out. If your main battery runs out of charge mid-way through mowing the lawn, just pop in the backup battery.
Never mow a wet lawn If your lawn is wet from morning dew or rain, make sure you wait until it’s dry before you mow the lawn. For one, wet grass is heavier so the lawn mower won’t be able to cut the lawn to the best of its ability. Dry grass stands straight up making it easier to cut. Secondly, wet grass clippings can damage the mower which is an easy way to ruin your day.
Clean the lawn mower deck Every once in a while, turn the lawn mower over and clean under the deck. Grass and grime can build up under there and on the blades, making your lawn mower less effective over time. If you have a gas-powered mower, make sure the gas tank is empty and the spark plug wire is disconnected if you decide to clean the deck with the garden hose. It’s not a bad idea to blow off the lawn mower with your blower after each use.
Be careful what you mow over Before mowing your lawn, try to pick up sticks and other debris that could ruin your lawn mower blades. It’s best to avoid stumps and vines as these can also damage or get wrapped around the blades.
Grass clippings are good for the yard Although some people hate the sight of grass clippings left on a yard, they can actually be beneficial to your yard’s health as they’re a natural fertilizer. A mulching feature on a lawn mower is a good option because it breaks down leaves and grass and helps it to decompose quicker. That said, bagging clippings – especially weeds or grass that’s really high – could be helpful at certain times.
How we test the best small lawn mowers
We have tested some of the mowers on this list in person either for Real Homes or our sister site, Gardeningetc. Where we have not been able to be hands on with the mower itself, we use third party reviews and have experience of the mower brand so that we can vouch for its quality.
We are working our way through hands on testing as many products as we can. See more about our testing process.
Commercial Grade Self-Propelled Push Mowers
There’s no substitute for dependability and durability. That’s why our push mowers are simple to maintain and built to withstand grueling day-in and day-out commercial mowing duties. Self-propelled rear wheel drive, easy to detach rear baggers, heavy-gauge steel decks with reinforced edges, sturdy push bars and solid, dense rubber wheels combine to deliver the strength to stand up to the most demanding commercial use.
Kawasaki FJ180 179cc
21″ or 25″ Deck
When Push Comes To Shove, There’s Just no Better Push Mower
The patented, proprietary two-speed, heavy-duty transmission is built tougher with over-sized gears and with needle and ball bearings throughout. The Blade Spindle assembly is built stronger with a forged spindle shaft for optimum strength and a die cast aluminum housing that dissipates heat faster. The powerful professional-class engine starts quickly and is always up to the task of all day mulching and mowing, and at speeds up to 5 mph.
Made To Be Pushed
Without Pushing You
The self-propelled drive system, with its High-Low gear and rear wheel engage, pulls it’s weight around effortlessly. Our handles are adjustable for any size operator and the self-propel engage bar is ergonomically positioned for easy operation. It’s the Bad Boy of push mowers and the choice of lawn professionals.
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When selecting the correct lawn mower that will meet your needs, you should consider your yard size and landscape, clipping disposal options and engine preference. And depending if you want a little workout or none at all, choose from Push Mowers, Self-Propelled Mower models.
The cutting deck on your gas lawn mower will determine how your grass clippings will be managed. The options include:
Mulching Mowers:Mulching mowers feature a high dome deck that contains clippings as they are cut into fine pieces and redistributed to your lawn, adding helpful nutrients.
Bagging Mowers: Bagging mowers provide your cleanest-looking lawn option. A rear bag collects clippings for disposal or composting. Rear bags, as well as mulching mowers, are most convenient for mowing near fences, trees and other obstacles from either side of the mower.
Side Discharge: disperses clippings across the lawn as you mow. It is most effective with high grass or wet lawn conditions that prevent bagging or mulching.
How to Chose Between Push Mowers and Self-Propelled Mowers
Push Mowers: Best for smaller, flat yards up to 1/4 acre with few obstacles. The operator pushes the mower as the gas engine powers the blade. These simple to-operate mowers are economically-priced.
Ideal for inclines, uneven or hilly terrain and for yards between 1/3 to 1/2 acre. The engine powers both the blade and the wheels. Available in front, rear wheel or all-wheel drive for even greater traction.
Additional Features to Consider when Purchasing a Gas Lawn Mower
Electric Key Start: Starts with a simple turn of an automotive-style ignition key.
Speed Control: Self-propelled models feature variable speeds for adjustment without stopping the mower. You’re able to easily slow down around obstacles and speed up in open areas.
High Wheels: Rear high wheels improve maneuverability and reduce effort on hilly or uneven terrain.
Deck Wash-out Port: Your garden hose connects to the deck port to clean and maintain air flow.
Count on True Value for all your lawn care needs. In addition to our gas lawn mowers, we also carry a line of riding, electric and reel mowers. Troy-Bilt, Husqvarna, Black Decker, and DeWALT to name a few. Get ready to add curb appeal to your home today.
RM130 Trail Blazer
- Powerful 140cc OHV autochoke engine
- 21″ deep dome steel deck
- SureCut blade
- 3-in-1 design (side/mulch/rear)
- Dual-Lever, 6-position height adjustment
- 7″/8″wheels F/R
- Adjustable handles with comfort grip
Powerful 140cc OHV autochoke engine
Equipped with a 140CC OHV engine with autochoke for simple ease of start.
3-in-1 Deep Dome Steel Deck with SureCut Blade
Gives you the option of side discharge, mulching, or rear bagging your grass clippings.
Adjustable Handles with Comfort Grip
Absorbs vibrations and provides maximum user comfort.
With 3-in-1 discharge capabilities and our innovative SureCut blade system, you can mulch, bag, and discharge without messy clumps. The RM130 Trail Blazer also features a powerful 140CC OHV autochoke engine, as well as a 21″ cutting deck to make quick work of any sized lawn.
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Honda Dominates the Best Gas Push Mowers, According to Consumer Reports
Lawn mowers are handy in the warmer months, but they eventually break down and need to be replaced. While you’ll usually pay over 450,000 for the average push lawn mower, it’s possible to get one for less than 500.
Of course, it’s hard to know which ones to buy with so many makes available. Finding an affordable lawn mower might also mean sacrificing some performance and longevity. If you need something that excels at both, Honda is one of the best lawn mower brands.
Consumer Reports loves Honda lawn mowers
According to Consumer Reports, the Honda HRX217HZA is currently the best gas walk-behind mower. Consumer Reports tests its mowers in three key areas: side-discharging, bagging, and mulching.
A mower with good side discharging means that the discharge chute will disperse grass clippings evenly. Mulching refers to the fineness of the clippings and how evenly they’re spread across your lawn. Finally, you want a mower with a bag that doesn’t fill up too quickly.
The Honda HRX217HZA has excellent mulching abilities, and testers could fill up the mowing bag completely with no leakage. However, it can’t side-discharge lawn clippings as smoothly or evenly as other mowers.
Some reviews say that the HRX217HZA runs smoothly with electric starting but will never start after one pull. This mower also has excessive noise levels while standing behind it, so you’ll probably want headphones or earbuds.
However, this Honda mower has excellent handling and doesn’t lose momentum during extended lawn trimming sessions. It also has a convenient blade-brake clutch to conceal the blade at the press of a button. With this, you can safely step away from the handlebar with the engine engaged.
The Honda HRX217HZA usually retails for around 980. If that’s out of your price range, the Honda HRN216PKA is excellent.
You get near-perfect side-discharging, mulching, and bagging performance for just 460. It’s also easy to start, provides a perfectly even cut, and handles just as well as the HRX217HZA mower.
Unfortunately, the Honda HRN216PKA’s cheap price point does come with a few quality shortcuts. The wheels are less durable with their plastic construction, and many owners report minor manufacturing flaws.
Despite having a perfect reliability rating, the pull-starter is prone to wearing out after a few years. The mower still starts, but it requires a few extra pulls.
How do Consumer Reports judge the quality of lawn mowers?
To start, Consumer Reports takes each mower to testing grounds filled with 1,800 pounds of grass seed. Once everything has grown, the lawn mower will cut 500,000 square feet of grass, which amounts to 3,000 pounds of clippings. In addition to even ground, each mower is driven over ditches and slopes to get the complete picture of its performance.
When a mower is relatively quiet and has more convenient features, it will also have a higher score. Like vehicle scores, Consumer Reports also takes the surveys from actual owners into account when ranking lawn mowers. This allows Consumer Reports to understand better how well each mower holds up after several years.
Why a good lawn mower is important
A healthy lawn keeps your property looking neat, manages the insect population around your home, and encourages even growth. That’s why it’s essential to find a lawn mower that will do its job without wearing out too quickly.
Since lawn mowers are a steep investment, proper research beforehand is required to get your money’s worth. Fortunately, it’s easier to find your perfect mower with resources like Consumer Reports and quality manufacturers like Honda.