First time lawn mower. How to choose a lawn mower: Everything you need to know…

Lawnmower buying guide: How to choose the best lawn mower

A lush, leafy green lawn is what many gardeners dream of having. And for that, you need a good lawnmower.

first, time, lawn, mower, choose

In fact, the lawn is often the largest area of the garden. So having a high-quality lawnmower that suits your grass and garden size is vital. In fact, I think it’s the most important gardening tool you can own.

But shopping for a lawnmower can feel overwhelming. There are so many different types and the jargon is confusing. Often the models get more expensive, but the added extras are hard to identify.

So I’ve put together a lawnmower buying guide. It is completely independent and objective. I am not reviewing or recommending specific models or brands, or trying to sell you anything.

The buying guide simply aims to explain the different features and show which type of lawnmower is best for different garden sizes, styles and power requirements.

Lawn mower types


Cylinder lawn mowers have cylindrical blades that rotate vertically at the front of the mower. They cut against a fixed blade at the bottom. The cylinder should have multiple blades – three or more is best.

Cylinder lawnmowers are best for flat lawns that you want to keep short and well-manicured. They can be electric, petrol-powered and push mowers.


Rotary lawnmowers have a single blade that rotates horizontally underneath the mower, like the propellers of a plane.

Rotary lawn mowers are the most versatile type and will cope with most types of grass. They are better than cylinder mowers at cutting longer and rougher grass.

A rotary mower may be powered by mains electric, rechargeable battery or petrol engine.


Hover lawnmowers hover above the ground, making them easier to push and adept at mowing uneven surfaces. They are a good choice for unusual-shaped lawns and cheaper than other types.

However, hover lawnmowers are not always suitable for larger gardens. They are usually electric powered and have rotary blades.

Lawnmower power options

Electric lawnmowers

Most lawnmowers are powered by mains electricity. This is the best choice for small and medium-sized gardens. The mowers are smaller, cheaper to buy and easy to store.

Check that the cable will allow you to mow to the end of your garden before you buy.

You should expect to pay £100 to £200 for an electric mower. Hover lawnmowers are cheaper, starting at around £50.

Cordless lawnmowers

Cordless battery-powered lawn mowers are a hassle-free garden mower. They have all the benefits of an electric mower but you don’t need to worry about a cable.

However, they can be more expensive than mains electric models because of the battery. Modern lithium ion batteries are lighter and last much longer than traditional nickel-cadmium versions, but they are more costly.

You should expect to pay £300 to £500 for a cordless lawnmower.

Petrol lawnmowers

Petrol-powered lawn mowers are the best choice for large gardens where a mains cable would be unsuitable. They are bit more expensive but much more powerful and faster at cutting. They are also easier to manoeuvre around large objects.

first, time, lawn, mower, choose

However, bear in mind that petrol lawnmowers will need servicing like car engines, and you will need to check and top-up the oil.

You should expect to pay £150 to £500 for a petrol lawnmower, depending on your power requirements.

Push lawnmowers

These are generally small cylinder lawnmowers that you simply push along with your muscle power. They are best for small gardens and don’t use electricity or produce noise and emissions.

However, push lawnmowers are not suitable for larger or sloping gardens or people who have difficulty pushing.

You should expect to pay £40 to £100 for a push lawnmower.

Lawn mowers for different garden sizes

Think of your lawn as a tennis court. A full-size court would be a medium lawn, half the court or less would be a small lawn. Anything bigger is a large lawn.

  • Small lawn (up to 100 sq m): electric and cordless lawn mowers.
  • Medium lawn (100 – 250 sq m): electric, cordless and petrol lawn mowers.
  • Large lawn (250 sq m): petrol lawn mowers.

Other lawnmower factors to consider


Some electric and petrol lawnmowers are self-propelled. This means that you don’t need to push them – simply steer them in the right direction!

It makes mowing much easier, especially with large lawns and heavy machines. Some models come with adjustable speeds, so you can set it to a comfortable walking pace.

Grass box

It is generally advised to collect grass clippings rather than leaving them on the lawn. Most lawnmowers collect the clippings in a box at the back. This is better than mowers that leave you to rake them up afterwards!

If you have a medium or large lawn, look for a high-capacity grass box. This will cut down how often you need to stop mowing and empty the box.

Mulch mowers

You can also get lawn mowers that chop up the grass clippings very finely and push them back into the lawn as mulch. These are sometimes called recycling mowers. The mulch adds nutrients back into the lawn.

The fine shredding helps the clippings break down quickly so they don’t smother the rest of the grass. Mulching mowers are expensive but a good choice if you don’t have anywhere to dispose of grass clippings.

Cutting width

A lawn mower’s cutting width refers to how wide a stripe the lawnmower can cut. A larger cutting width will reduce how much time you spend mowing the lawn.

Here’s a handy guide using the lawn sizes from above.

  • Small lawn: 300mm cutting width.
  • Medium lawn: 350-400mm cutting width.
  • Large lawn: 400mm cutting width.

Cutting height

Cutting height refers to how high the grass will be when you have cut it. Most lawnmowers have adjustable cutting heights – you simply move the blades up or down.

This helps you dictate the height of the grass, and leave it longer in autumn or during dry periods. Cutting height ranges are usually 20mm to 60mm – see my section on proper mowing technique below for advice.

Rear roller

If you want the striped lawn finish you see on football pitches, you need a lawnmower with a rear roller. The heavier the mower and its roller, the longer your stripes will last.

Rear rollers also allow you to mow right up to the edge of the lawn.

Mowing edges

If you have lots of lawn edges, it is worth looking for a model that can cut right up to the edge. Generally cylinder blades or versions with rear rollers are better at this.

Any mower with inset front wheels or a grass collection comb is also great for mowing edges – no need to go back round with a strimmer.

Robot lawn mowers

Robot lawn mowers are becoming more commonplace these days. The technology is getting better all the time and they can now recognise obstacles and lawn edges. And they are a lot more affordable, though still not cheap.

Robot lawnmowers are for you if you really, really hate mowing the lawn. There is some set-up involved as you have to lay a perimeter wire. Then just leave the mower to get on with cutting. Some models even ‘self-park’ into a charging station after mowing.

Proper mowing technique

Now you have the best lawnmower, you need to get your mowing technique sorted too. A great-looking lawn needs a regular mowing regime that encourages the grasses to develop fine leaves. It also keeps the growth lush and dense, and stops weeds and moss spreading.

The single biggest mistake most people make when cutting the lawn is to cut too low. This is known as ‘scalping’ the grass, and can seriously weaken it.

For normal lawns that get wear and foot traffic, keep the grass around 5cm high. For ornamental lawns that don’t get used much, you can go as low as 2.5cm.

Always remove leaves and grass clippings after mowing and feed the lawn in spring and autumn with special lawn fertiliser. Make sure you choose the right one – spring feeds encourage leafy growth and autumn mixtures build stronger roots.

How to choose a lawn mower: Everything you need to know about buying a new mower

Whether you’ve moved to a home with a larger yard, bought your first house, or are upgrading your current lawn mower, the buying process can be overwhelming. In this how-to guide, I’ll walk you through the different types of mowers, proper storage and maintenance, and how to choose the best type of lawn mower for your yard.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.

As I mentioned in my guide on how to choose a snow blower, I worked for several years in a factory and warehouse that produced powered lawn equipment, including lawn mowers. While my experience is mostly with Cub Cadet, Craftsman, and Troy-Bilt branded equipment, it can be applied to other brands as well since all lawn mowers use the same basic parts and operation principles. In this guide, I’ll explain the different types of lawn mowers you can buy, the pros and cons of gas and battery-powered units, and how to best match a mower to your lawn.

Table of Contents

Push and self-propelled mowers

If you live in a suburb or small town, you’re probably more familiar with this type of lawn mower than others. Push mowers have a very simple design, since they’re basically an engine mounted to the top of the cutting deck, with wheels and a control handle for maneuvering. This makes them smaller and more compact, which is great news if your garage or tool shed is on the smaller side or has a lot of equipment stored in it.

The 5 best push mowers: Top gas, electric, and manual walk-behind lawn mowers

Push mowers are great options for anyone with a yard on the smaller side.

There are two main types of push mowers: self-propelled and ones you have to push. Self-propelled models have a special transmission that provides power to the rear wheels in order to produce forward momentum. These have become very popular with homeowners, since they don’t require as much effort to operate, which also reduces user fatigue. A self-propelled mower also will have a variable speed clutch, which you can adjust to match your natural walking speed. The downside to a self-propelled lawn mower is they are often much heavier and more expensive than their manual push counterparts, so keep that in mind when comparing models.

Manual push mowers rely on human power to move forward, which means they’re a bit lighter, but that also means that they’re not ideal for lawns with inclines or rough patches; you’ll get very tired very quickly trying to maneuver your manual push mower over bumpy spots and ditches. There’s a sub-type of manual push mower that has seen a resurgence in popularity lately: the manual reel mower. This type of push mower still relies on human power to move forward.

If you choose a gas-powered push or self-propelled mower, there’s a bit more to getting it up and running than you may think. Since these models have two-cycle engines (where a single piston makes two rounds for every single turn of the drive shaft), they require a special mix of gasoline and two-cycle oil to run correctly. This not only gives the engine what it needs for the internal combustion process, it also provides adequate lubrication for all moving parts, because, unlike a typical four-stroke engine, a two-stroke model doesn’t have a dedicated reservoir for circulating oil. Fortunately, you can buy pre-mixed fuel from places like Home Depot and Lowe’s if you aren’t comfortable mixing the two yourself. And buying the pre-mix means you won’t have to worry about storing lots of different chemicals for just a few pieces of equipment.

TruFuel 110 ounce pre-blended 2-cycle fuel

Reel mowers are basically a set of three to seven blades mounted on a rotating barrel, a pair of wheels, and a control handle. They were first invented in 1868, but didn’t catch on until the post-WWII suburban boom. Most reel mowers measure just 16 inches across, which means they’re best suited for very small lots (think.25 acres or less). As more homeowners look for environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral lawn care solutions, reel mowers like the Troy-Bilt TB16R have been favored, since they don’t require fuel or batteries to run or any maintenance other than blade sharpening.

Riding mowers

The 5 best riding mowers: Top gas, electric, and zero-turn lawn mowers

We look at zero turn, electric, and commercial models to suit a variety of mowing situations and budgets.

Riding lawn mowers are just what they sound like, though they are sometimes also called lawn tractors. They’re all mostly very similar in design, but there is a sub-type called zero turn, which we’ll go over in more detail in a bit. Riding mowers are best suited for lawns that are an acre or larger, since they have larger engines and cutting decks that range from 30 to 72 inches. Most larger suburban lawns will benefit the most from a cutting deck that ranges between 30 and 46 inches.

Riding mowers outfitted with 30-inch cutting decks are known as mini riders, since they’re more compact than full-size models. These kinds of riding mowers are great for yards that are a touch too large for a push mower but aren’t big enough to justify buying a full-size rider. The more compact build is great for storing in smaller garages and tool sheds, but even though they’re small, that doesn’t mean they skimp out on power.

The Troy-Bilt TB30B, which I featured in my list of the best riding lawn mowers, is built with a 10.5HP Briggs and Stratton mower, which provides enough power to handle lawns between.75 and 1 acre as well as inclines and any rough patches your yard may have. It has enough oomph for hauling a small wagon for moving tools and gardening supplies, a lawn sweeper for cleaning up grass clippings, or a spreader accessory to re-seed patchy areas of your lawn.

Troy-Bilt TB30B

Full-size riding lawn mowers, like our No. 1 pick, the Husqvarna YTH18542. are most often equipped with either a 42- or 46-inch cutting deck that is outfitted with two sets of cutting blades. This gives you a more even cut on each pass, and the midsize cutting decks still give you enough maneuverability to get around most obstacles, such as trees, lampposts, and mailboxes. Larger decks, 50 to 72 inches, give the mower a wider turn radius, so they’re much more suited to yards with either established, mature trees or minimal obstacles, since it will be a bit more tricky to maneuver around them. Larger cutting decks also may have an array of three or four sets of blades, which ensures a neat and even cut on every pass, but means there’s a bit more maintenance needed to keep everything in good working order.

While gas-powered engines are by far the most common in riding mowers, there are several electric models you can choose from if you’re looking to either cut down on how much maintenance you choose to perform or for a more eco-friendly solution to caring for your lawn. Some electric riding mowers, like the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT. have built-in batteries that you can recharge with a regular extension cord. While others like the Greenworks Pro 60V CrossoverT use an array of removable batteries, which are often compatible with other battery-powered lawn equipment from the same brand, like string trimmers and leaf blowers. And this is great news if you’re looking for something that will be easier to integrate into your workshop, since you won’t have to worry about buying and maintaining a special battery for each piece of equipment.

There are more features to consider when shopping for a riding lawn mower, such as transmission types, attachments and proprietary features, and gas engines versus electric motors. But we’ll go over those in-depth in their own sections.

Zero turn and commercial mowers

Zero turn mowers are a sub-type of riding lawn mowers, so called because they have a zero-inch turn radius. By using either rear wheel as a pivot point, you can spin on the spot, which makes it very easy to maneuver around lots of obstacles and oddly shaped sections of your lawn. Zero turn models are a bit trickier to learn how to drive, since most use a lap bar system for steering; though there are models that use traditional steering wheels, they’re much more expensive.

The 5 best lawn mowers: Top gas and electric-powered mowers

How you can make short work of your yard work.

Zero turn models also require more storage space, since they tend to be larger than traditional riding mowers. While their cutting decks are usually around the same size (42-50 inches are the most common deck sizes for zero turns), their frames are much larger, so they can accommodate features like roll protection bars and sunshades. So you’ll have to measure a section of your garage or tool shed (as well as the door width) to make sure you have enough space for a zero turn.

Commercial grade mowers are designed and intended for use in large-scale landscaping and lawn care for golf courses, city maintenance, and sports complexes. But if you live in a rural area and have a large plot of land to take care of, a commercial mower can be a great piece of equipment to have in your workshop. With commercial grade mowers’ larger cutting decks of 60 or 72 inches, you can make short work of multi-acre properties, and they often have either zero turn capabilities or very-small-turn radiuses so you can easily work around stands of trees, outbuildings, and fenced-in areas.

The biggest drawback of commercial grade lawn mowers is their staggering cost. I featured the John Deere 1570 TerrainCut as my pick for the best commercial mower on our list of the best riding mowers you can buy, and it starts at almost 28,000. There are financing options available, but that’s still quite a bit of cash to spend on lawn care. Places like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell a few commercial grade models, like the DeWALT Z260. which are a bargain, comparatively. But they are still a hefty investment at 8,000-10,000.

Robot mowers

Robot mowers are a relatively recent innovation in lawn care. They operate much in the same way as robot vacuums and mops, autonomously going about maintaining your lawn with or without a set schedule. Many robot mowers work with Bluetooth connections, GPS tracking, and companion apps to let you set operation times and no-go zones and check on things like battery levels and other statuses so you can plan maintenance.

These models are almost invariably battery-powered, which means you have to also maintain a base station for the unit to travel to and from for both battery charging and storage. The best place for a base station is somewhere that is relatively safe from the elements (to protect electrical contacts and wiring from moisture damage) and open enough for safe and simple maneuvering when it’s time for the robot to start mowing. Many robot mowers also require you to set up a boundary wire similar to an invisible fence for pets. The mower detects the signal from this wire and stays within your yard, so you never have to worry about it accidentally driving into the street or over your neighbor’s prized tomato plants.

Due to the limited amount of boundary wire as well as shorter runtimes and very small (8 to 10 inches) cutting widths, robot mowers are better suited for lawns that are about.5 acres or less. You’ll also have to get used to the idea of a mower that doesn’t make neat, organized passes over your lawn. While there are a few models out there that use a guide wire for precise travel paths, most robot mowers mow in a random pattern similar to a robot vacuum bustling around your living room and bumping into your dog. That may sound stressful and like a recipe for lawn care disaster, so manufacturers have accounted for this. Robot mowers have shorter runtimes of about an hour, but they also mow much more frequently than you would with a push or riding mower. This means that while it may not get to every part of your lawn during a particular mowing session, it will get to it the next time, so you’ll always have an evenly mowed lawn and one that you never have to lift a finger to maintain.

Since robot mowers are such a new technology, like commercial and zero turn mowers, they’re a pricey investment. The Worx Landroid L. which I featured as my pick for the best robot mower, starts at around 2,100, making it one of the more affordable options out there. Others, like the Husqvarna AutoMower 450X retail for around 4,100, and have premium features like Alexa compatibility for voice control, anti-theft alarms, and the ability to program different cutting schedules and pattern profiles for different sections of your lawn for the perfect cut every time.

If you purchase a robot mower directly from brands like Husqvarna, you also may be able to opt for professional installation of the guide or boundary wires and base station, and other professional help setting up your new mower for the first time. I highly recommend spending the extra money for professional installation. That way, you know for sure things are set up and connected correctly, and you don’t have to spend a whole weekend frustrated and cranky because you have to dig trenches for 1,000 feet of wire.

Transmission types

This section mostly applies to riding mowers, though push and self-propelled models also have different transmission types like adjustable throttles or single-speed. You may be more familiar with the variable speed manual transmission type; the riding mower will have two separate levers, one for adjusting the cutting height and another for setting the forward and reverse speeds.

These transmission types are great since you can set and forget your speed and FOCUS more on obstacles, pets, and people that may be nearby. However, they also can be trickier to maneuver, since you really don’t have a way to control your momentum other than a single brake pedal. The variable speed manual transmission is a relatively simple part, so mowers built with one tend to be on the more affordable side.

The other transmission type is the hydrostatic variable speed. You can think of it as similar to automatic transmission in cars and trucks: you just press the pedal and the transmission does the work of shifting gears for you. This makes driving your lawn mower similar to driving a car, which also makes them easier to get used to. Instead of control levers, a hydrostatic mower will have forward and reverse pedals, and the harder you press them, the faster you go. This makes it very intuitive to maneuver around obstacles and tricky terrain, since you don’t have to fully stop your mower, manually adjust your speed, and then resume your path. Hydrostatic transmissions are a more complicated part to build, so prepare for that to be built in to the final retail price of your riding mower.

Gas engines vs. electric motors

As I mentioned before, gas-powered mowers are by far the most common type you’ll find when shopping. They’re relatively inexpensive to produce, since the technology is well-established, and their engines offer more horsepower for handling inclines and large lots. And while you might save a bit of cash on your initial purchase, you’ll end up spending more on maintenance throughout the life of your mower.

Gas-powered engines require regular maintenance, which we’ll go over in more detail later, in order to stay fuel efficient and powerful enough to actually cut your grass. The costs for things like oil, replacement filters, and spark plugs can add up over time, so make sure you account for that when shopping for a new lawn mower.

Electric-motor lawn mowers have become very popular in recent years, not only because they don’t require nearly as much maintenance as their gas-powered counterparts, but also because they’re a more eco-friendly solution to lawn care. Since they don’t burn fuel, they don’t produce any emissions, which is great news for anyone who lives in neighborhoods or under the mandates of Homeowner Associations that restrict that sort of thing. They’re also much quieter than gas models, so if you need to mow in the early morning or late evening, you won’t have to worry about bothering your neighbors.

The 5 best electric lawn mowers: Top alternatives to gas-powered

By using either a rechargeable battery or extension cord, you can ditch the gas can for a greener way to care for your lawn.

Electric mowers aren’t quite as powerful as gas models, but they still have enough juice to mow lawns up to 2 acres (depending on the model) or haul wagonfuls of tools, mulch, or potting soil. Many also use the same types of batteries that are found in equipment like string trimmers and leaf blowers, so if you buy the same brand, you’ll be able to use the same batteries. This means you won’t have to purchase and maintain special chargers and batteries for a single piece of equipment, making them easier to integrate into your workshop. That also means that you can keep multiple batteries at-the-ready to swap out if you need to use your mower longer than the usual 60 minute runtime you can get out of a fully charged unit.

Electric mowers are a relatively new technology, so they tend to be more expensive, but you can find electric push mowers, like the Ego Power. for less than 500. Unfortunately, electric traditional riders and zero turns are going to be about 1,000-1,500 more than their gas-powered counterparts, but the trade-off is that you’ll get longer runtimes of about 90 minutes.

Storage and maintenance considerations

Regular maintenance and proper storage are two of the best ways to extend the life of your lawn mower and keep it in good working order season after season. Gas-powered models require oil and filter changes at the beginning of each mowing season as well as blade sharpening and fuel treatments. Additives like STA-BIL protect gasoline that may be in the holding tank or fuel lines from being contaminated with moisture from rain, snow, and even humidity. If there is water mixed with your fuel, the engine won’t run properly, and you could severely damage internal parts such as pistons. Regular oil and filter changes keep debris from building up inside the engine, which improves fuel efficiency and maintains consistent horsepower.

Electric lawn mowers don’t have traditional engines to take care of, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular service routines as well. Before you mow your lawn for the first time in the spring, you should thoroughly inspect the battery connections, housing, and wiring of your electric lawn mower for corrosion or other damage. If you see corrosion on the battery contacts, you can clean it off with a wire brush and some CRC Electronics Cleaner

Make sure you wear gloves and safety glasses to protect your skin and eyes from flying debris and splashing chemicals. Once the contacts are fully dry, you can insert the battery and use your mower. If you see any damage to the wiring, do not try to repair it yourself. Not only could this void your warranty or cause more damage, you also could get some serious injuries from accidental electric shock; check your operator’s manual for customer service contact numbers and warranty information. You may be able to get replacement parts sent out to you for free, or you’ll be directed to a local repair center to replace the damaged parts.

Blade sharpening

Blade sharpening is a lot easier and faster than you think it is, but it can be an intimidating process if you’ve never done it before, especially if you have a riding or zero turn mower. For push and self-propelled models, make sure the gas tank is empty (or very close to empty) and that the rip cord is disabled. That way, you won’t have any accidental startups that can lead to lost fingers. You’ll then flip the entire unit over and locate the blade spindle and holding bolt. You’ll use a ⅜-inch socket wrench to remove the bolt, paying special attention to how it’s threaded; some spindle bolts are reverse-threaded. This means that instead of righty tighty, lefty loosey, it’s the opposite, and you’ll turn it to the left to tighten or to the right to loosen.

Once the bolt is removed, you can take the blade off of the deck. You’ll want to closely inspect the entire blade, not just the cutting edge, for damage. Severe cracks and nicks can’t be repaired on your own, so you may have to purchase entirely new blades. You can find the correct replacement part number in your operator’s manual, or on the mower brand’s website; places like Lowe’s and Home Depot often carry aftermarket parts, so you most likely won’t have to find a special shop for new blades.

For reel mowers, you’ll be able to sharpen the blades while they’re still in the frame. You’ll run a flat metal file over each cutting edge a few dozen times, carefully rolling the barrel to sharpen the next blade. Make sure you chock the wheels with something to keep the reel mower from creeping forward or backward while you work; you don’t want to start filing and have the mower move, causing you to get cut.

For riding and zero turn lawn mowers, you’ll have to remove the entire cutting deck to safely access the spindle bolts and blades. The most common wrench size you’ll need for the holding bolts is ¾ inches, but your mower may have larger or smaller ones. You’ll also probably have to disconnect several belts and cables and remove cotter pins. You can either follow an official assembly manual from your lawn mower’s manufacturer, or you can follow along with a video tutorial; there are thousands on YouTube, and you can search your specific make and model to be extra sure you’re doing things correctly.

Once you have the deck removed (and all bolts, washers, and cotter pins tucked away so they don’t get lost), you’ll remove the blades from the spindles like you would on a push mower. Again, paying attention to how each bolt is threaded. If you’re having trouble getting bolts to come loose, a spritz of a rust penetrating oil like WD-40 will often do the trick.

To actually sharpen your blades, all you need is a vise and a flat metal file. You’ll first secure the blade in the vise, then set your file to the angle of the cutting edge, running it along the length of the blade. You don’t have to apply a lot of pressure, and you don’t need your blades to be razor sharp, either. A few dozen passes along each cutting edge should bring your blades back to true; you can test the sharpness by running a sheet of paper along the cutting edge. As long as it makes a mostly clean cut, you’re good to put the blades back on your mower.

MTD Genuine Parts 2-pack 42-inch deck multipurpose blades

When you get ready to put your gas-powered lawn mower into storage for the winter, you’ll want to add the directed amount of STA-BIL fuel treatment to the gas tank, start the engine, and let it run in a well-ventilated area for about five minutes. This ensures that the chemicals get through all parts of the engine and every fuel line so you don’t get s of moisture or stale fuel. You also should invest in a cover for your push. riding. or zero turn mowers to keep dust and debris from working their way into the engine compartment.

For electric mowers, you’ll want to do a final inspection for cracks, corrosion, and other damage, since cold weather can widen splits in plastic parts, while salt and snowmelt can make metal parts rust very quickly. Once you’ve looked everything over, remove the battery to prevent it from leaking inside the mower and causing damage. If you can’t remove the battery, try to place some foam board insulation around it to keep out as much cold air as possible; the battery will naturally drain over time if the mower isn’t regularly used, but by insulating it from the worst of cold weather, you can slow down the process so you don’t have to worry about replacing a dead battery come springtime. And like gas models, you’ll want to invest in a cover to protect from debris.

Budgeting for a new lawn mower

I’ve made mention in each previous section of how much to expect to pay for various types of lawn mowers, and that’s because there really isn’t such a thing as a budget-friendly lawn mower, unless you’re looking at manual reel mowers; there are simply expensive and not-as-expensive options.

A manual reel mower, with its extremely stripped-back and simplified design, will retail for under 200, which is great if you have a tiny yard and don’t have a ton of extra money to spend on a new mower. Push mowers can be found within the 300-500 range, while self-propelled models can cost as much as 1,000.

Riding lawn mowers have a fairly wide range of from just under 2,000 for a residential mini rider to the aforementioned 28,000 for commercial grade models. You can expect to pay about 2,500 for a decent, traditional riding mower that will tick most of your must-have boxes, but if you want all the bells and whistles, you’ll have to pay almost 4,000. Zero turn mowers are the most expensive kind of riding mower, with base models retailing for around 3,500 and premium models selling for as much as 8,000.

first, time, lawn, mower, choose

Robot mowers retail anywhere from 2,000-4,000 before accounting for the cost of any sort of installation service. This includes the mower itself, the base station, and boundary or guide wires to set up around your lawn.

There are factors that can affect the price of a lawn mower, such as whether it has a gas engine or an electric motor, premium features like cruise control or USB charging ports for your phone, the transmission type, and even which brand you choose. So make sure you account for everything you need your mower to do when sitting down to make a budget before shopping.

It’s important to finalize a budget before you even start looking at lawn mowers, not only to keep you from accidentally overspending, but to also narrow down your choices. A solid budget also will let you get the most value for your money, which means you can find a mower that not only covers the basics, but you also may be able to get a few extra perks like a USB charging port or a larger cutting deck to save you a bit of time when it’s Mowing Day.


You’ve been given a staggering amount of information, but it’s important stuff to know so you don’t end up buying a mower that doesn’t do what you need it to or that you end up hating because it’s too big for your garage or a hassle to maintain. Knowing what types of mowers there are and how they work makes it easier to find the perfect fit for your lawn so it not only looks great when you cut your grass, but also lets you get the most work done in the least amount of time.

What is the best lawn mower to buy?

That’s a pretty objective question, but I’ve got a short list of picks covering a wide variety of use cases:

The Husqvarna YTH18542 is my pick for the best traditional riding mower, while the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is the best zero turn model. If you need a push mower, the Honda HRN 166cc model is the best one, while the Ego Power is the perfect electric mower. And if you really like the idea of a robot mower, the Worx Landroid L is my top pick.

Do new lawn mowers require assembly?

Most riding mowers come almost fully assembled if you order them directly from the brand retail site, and you’ll just have to attach the seat and steering wheel; which is easy enough with a socket wrench. If you buy from a store like Home Depot or Lowe’s, you might not even have to do that.

However, if you want a new push mower, you’ll have to block out an afternoon to put it together, since in order to fit into the shipping box, it has to be left in pieces. But don’t worry, you won’t have to know how to connect a motor to the blade spindle, though you will have to set up the control handle and attach the wheels.

How do you start a mower for the first time?

For push and self-propelled mowers, you’ll want to locate the priming button on the motor and push it 3 times. This provides the engine with enough fuel to get started since they still use a carburetor rather than a fuel-injection system. Then you’ll either press the start button or yank on the rip cord to get the engine running.

For riding mowers, you’ll sit in the seat to activate the safety switch, then press on the brake pedal and push the throttle lever all the way forward to the choke setting. You’ll then turn the key in the ignition, and when the engine starts up you’ll let it run for 30 seconds before moving the throttle lever from choke to your desired level. Then you can release the parking brake and get mowing!

How to Start a Push Lawn Mower

This article was co-authored by Jeremy Yamaguchi. Jeremy Yamaguchi is a Lawn Care Specialist and the Founder/CEO of Lawn Love, a digital marketplace for lawn care and gardening services. Jeremy provides instant satellite quotes and can coordinate service from a smartphone or web browser. The company has raised funding from notable investors like Y Combinator, Joe Montana, Alexis Ohanian, Barbara Corcoran and others.

There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 687,782 times.

Starting a lawnmower can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. While there are some differences between lawnmowers, the same basic technique works for many of them. With a little practice and some elbow grease you’ll be starting your lawnmower like a pro in no time!

Starting the Lawnmower

Prepare to start the lawnmower. Move the lawnmower to an open, grassy area. Clear away any children’s toys or rocks. [1] X Research source

Make sure your mower has gas and oil. If your mower has a 4-stroke engine, you can check the oil by opening the oil fill cap or dipstick. If your mower has a 2-stroke engine you’ll need to mix oil in the gas. Make sure you mix the the right kind of oil with the gas, and in the proper ratio for your engine.

  • If the spark plug isn’t firmly attached, refer to your user manual. You may need to take the lawnmower to a mechanic to have it fixed.
  • Have a mechanic change the spark plug once a year. [2] X Research source
  • If your mower doesn’t have a prime button, skip this step. However, double check the user manual to be sure.
  • If the mower is cold, set the choke. The choke helps provide a richer fuel-air mixture to the engine, which helps it stay running until it warms up. Once the mower has been running for a few minutes turn off the choke.
  • If it doesn’t start or make any noises at all, the spark plug may not be attached. Check the spark plug and try again.
  • If it sputters and sounds like it’s trying to start (but doesn’t) you may not have enough gas in the tank.

Diagnosing Problems

  • You MUST disconnect the spark plug before doing this. Otherwise, you risk the lawnmower starting with your hands inside of it.
  • If the starter is still stuck after clearing out the debris, see a mechanic.
  • If your lawnmower is smoking and won’t stay on, take it to a small engine a mechanic. Your mower may need servicing.
  • Check your user manual to see if it addresses this issue. Some models have “quirks” that can be easily fixed if you know how to do it.
  • Always be careful when changing the height of your lawnmower. Make sure the mower is off and the spark plug is disconnected.

Taking Care of Your Lawnmower

  • If your lawn mower doesn’t have a dipstick attached to the oil lid, look for a “fill” line inside the oil tank. If the oil level is below that line, add more oil.

Learn how to easily and quickly drive a zero turn lawnmower for beginners

  • If you decide to change the oil yourself, remember to properly dispose of the leftover oil by taking it to a recycling facility. Used oil can contaminate groundwater and damage the environment.
  • Never attempt to work on machinery alone. If you get hurt, no one will be around to help you.

Lawn Mower Buying Guide | Consumer Reports

  • Avoid filling the gas tank too high. If you do, the gas may spill out and cause a fire.
  • If you’re not sure what kind of gas to use, refer to your user manual.
  • To care for your lawn during a hot summer, mow high and water deeply and infrequently. [11] X Research source
  • Choose a fertilizer for your lawn depending on whether you want to achieve growth, replenish missing nutrients, or develop stronger roots. [12] X Research source
  • Once you figure out what works for your lawn, stick to that plan and see it through.

Community QA

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It is likely that the fingers on the starter clutch are staying open when you pull it so they are being tapped by the metal cup on the fly wheel that they grab onto when the pull starter is being engaged. It’s a typical sound for older used mowers and nothing to be too concerned about. If it continues after it’s started it could be the result of a rod knocking in the engine, at this point replace the engine or the mower.

Thanks! We’re glad this was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. As a small thank you, we’d like to offer you a 30 gift card (valid at Use it to try out great new products and services nationwide without paying full price—wine, food delivery, clothing and more. Enjoy! Claim Your Gift If wikiHow has helped you, please consider a small contribution to support us in helping more readers like you. We’re committed to providing the world with free how-to resources, and even 1 helps us in our mission. Support wikiHow

Mistakes Everyone Makes When Buying A Lawn Mower

Buying the right lawn mower is essential to maintaining your grass. The wrong one can damage it and the right one can keep it vibrant and healthy. According to Taskeasy, regular lawn maintenance results in stronger grass, even growth, and faster recovery. Your lawn puts up with a lot. They deal with seasonal changes, pests, bacteria, and more. It’s your job to make sure it stays healthy.

In order to do that you need a good lawn mower. One that suits your yard and its needs. But there are many different types of lawn mowers and each one has specific features. People too often make huge mistakes when buying a new lawn mower. You could buy one that isn’t comfortable, that doesn’t do the job right, or that constantly breaks down on you. If you want to ensure you’re buying the right lawn mower for your yard, it’s important to know the most common mistakes people make.

Buying the wrong size mower

If you type lawn mower into Google, you’re going to get a ton of results. You’re also going to see that there are a lot of different-size lawn mowers available. And choosing the wrong size for your lawn can cause massive damage without you even knowing it. That’s why knowing ahead of time the size mower you need will help you get long-lasting results. reports that there are four different types of lawn mowers. Ride-on, walk, power, or drive. And there are even more types under each of those. For example, lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers are types of ride-on mowers, whereas push or self-propelled mowers are types of walk mowers. All are vastly different in size and it’s important to buy the right one. You can determine this by the size of your yard, your own personal comfort, and your needs. You’ll also want to take into account how many obstacles you’ll be mowing around, according to Cut Grass Pro. But, in general, the smaller your yard, the smaller the mower you can get away with buying.

Going for the cheapest option

Cheaper isn’t always the better option. That’s especially true for the lawn mower you buy. Whether you plan to mow a lot or a little, you might still want to splurge on a high-quality mower that’s going to get the job done. Every mower has its pros and cons. What matters is what you need it to do. While it’s fine to look at cheaper options when shopping, don’t be afraid to test out the larger mowers.

That isn’t to say cheap mowers aren’t an option. There are simple mowers that work and work well. According to The Spruce, a reel or push mower is perfect for all sorts of people. This mower is quieter, environmentally-friendly, and, yes, cheap. But it doesn’t chop twigs and cannot be used as a leaf shredder. This is why knowing the type of features you need is important. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, then the simplicity of the push mower may appeal to you. But if you’re looking for your lawn to garner long-lasting results and be the envy of your neighbor, spending some extra money on a larger mower is the better choice.

Buying the wrong mower for your lawn

The size of your yard and your own personal needs should be considered when you’re buying a new lawn mower. Knowing these will help you determine whether you buy a ride-on mower, a push mower, or a power mower. Buying the wrong size can make it difficult to get the job done in a timely manner. As noted by Briggs Stratton, the smaller your yard, the smaller mower and mower deck you need.

Larger yards, particularly those with hills and dips, would benefit from a ride-on mower as this will give you better visibility and mobility around obstacles like trees and shrubbery. If you don’t know the size of your yard while shopping, do your best to get some kind of estimate. Taking the time to measure it will also help you narrow down your options. And if you need more help in figuring out the size, ask a friend or family member to give you an extra hand or perspective.

Buying a mower that isn’t powerful enough

It’s true that different mowers have different power levels. This is due to many factors including the blades, the type of mower, and whether it’s gas or electric. Knowing how much power you need for your lawn is essential before buying a new one. When deciding on lawn mower power, you have two options: gas or electric. According to Quicken Loans, there are pros and cons to both, and doing a little research will help you choose the best option for you.

Electric mowers are more modern and while they’re better for the environment, they may limit your mowing time depending on how long the charge holds. There are cord options available but that could limit your mobility. Gas mowers cut grass easier and have been around a lot longer, but they’re heavier and require more maintenance. You also have the option to buy a push mower, which doesn’t require any type of power source except for your own strength.

Choosing the right power source

Do you prefer gas, electric, or environmental? When buying a new mower, it’s important to know what type of power source you want. This will help you narrow down your choices and FOCUS on the other features you’ll need. One way to determine what type of power source is perfect for you is to consider your budget. In fact, 20 Something Finance reports that switching to a push mower could save you money in the long run.

Push mowers don’t require any power source except for you. Electric mowers need electricity to get them moving. There are cord and cordless options, but either one will run up your electric bill. Gas mowers need gas and depending on how much you mow, you could be spending a lot. When deciding on which power source is right for you take into account these three things: your budget, your yard size, and your health. They will help you determine which type of mowers you can start looking at.

Buying a mower you can’t start

There’s nothing worse than wanting to mow your lawn and being unable to start your machine. There could be many reasons why your mower won’t start, but if you find you have constant trouble starting it, you may want to reconsider buying one just like it. Most gas mowers have a pull string start and that, according to Briggs Stratton, is one of the most common reasons mowers won’t start.

Other troubleshooting problems could be losing power in the middle of mowing, a smoking mower, or the blades not spinning properly. This is why regular maintenance is important. If you buy a mower that won’t start no matter what you do, don’t wait to take it to get serviced. It could need a new spark plug, something could be caught in the blades, or the filter might be dirty. When buying a new lawn mower, make sure to learn everything you can about the reasons why it won’t start and schedule a time to check all those troubleshooting areas.

Not reading the user manual

The user manual is there for a reason. When you buy anything, be it a piece of furniture, an electric device, or a piece of equipment, chances are it came with a user manual. Companies don’t give you these for no reason. User manuals are vital to learning everything you can about your new purchase. If you start using a new mower before reading the manual, you’re bound to make costly mistakes. These mistakes could lead you to ruin the mower beyond repair, and you’ll need to buy a new one.

Many companies will have the user manual online as well as in print. Angi notes that this is a good way to find all sorts of information about your mower. You can go to the company for assistance. Whether you need to change the oil, find out why your mower isn’t starting, or looking for safety tips, refer to the manual or the company’s website. Don’t ignore that manual! Always read it when dealing with something you’re not sure about. It will save you so much hassle and wasted time.

Schedule regular maintenance

No matter what type of lawn mower you have, it’s important to schedule regular maintenance on it. This includes sharpening the blades, washing it down, cleaning the mower deck, and more. The more you take care of your mower, the longer it will last. Each mower requires different maintenance and it’s a good idea to know when and how you should do it.

Gas mowers often need the mower deck cleaned, and The Spruce reports that it’s best to do this at least twice during the mowing season. Push mowers may only require you to clean the blades and wipe down the exterior. Ride-on and drive mowers should be taken to experts, especially if there is something wrong with the motor. Your lawn mower, like any outdoor equipment, should never be overlooked when it comes to maintenance. Schedule time on your calendar to do a run-through and be sure to use that trusty user manual, as it will tell you all the areas you should check.

Have a secure spot to store it

Lawn mowers are large pieces of equipment. Even the smaller, push ones take up a lot of space. You should take the time to dedicate a home to your mower. A spot it can live during the mowing season as well as the off-season. Briggs Stratton suggests storing your lawn mower in a dry place. Somewhere it will be protected from outside elements. Garages and sheds are the most popular storage areas.

Don’t pile things on it or leave it somewhere that’s difficult to get to. And never store it beside a furnace or mechanism with a pilot light. Before storing it away for the off-season, give it a good clean and remove the battery. You might also want to drain the fuel. Before using it for the first time during the mowing season, take it out and give it a test run. Make sure everything is intact, and, if need be, give it a quick wash or some minor maintenance. This way you know it’s good to go when it’s time to get to work.

Learn your town’s waste regulations

Lawn waste, like any other waste, has regulations, and they vary from state to state. Before you begin mowing for the season and disposing of yard waste, it’s a good idea to take some time and study your town’s specific guidelines. According to Waste Management, most yard waste consists of tree trimmings and branches, leaves, plants, and brush and grass clippings. Soil, bricks, and stones are not allowed, as they’re too heavy.

You should also learn when your town picks up lawn waste. This will help you figure out the best mowing schedule. Having a schedule that coincides with lawn waste pickup will mean you won’t have bags loitering in your yard for days. Of course if the weather doesn’t permit you to stay on schedule, you may have to adjust, but it’s always good practice to mow your lawn as close to the pickup day as possible. You could even coordinate with a neighbor and suggest putting your waste out together. And, if you’re a gardener, you could start a compost pile, and turn that yard waste into something amazing for your garden.

Take your comfort into account

Mowing is a strenuous activity and it can do harm to your body if you’re not careful. When you’re buying a new lawn mower, be sure to take your health and your physical limits into consideration. You may have been able to push a gas-powered mower a few years ago, but now it’s tough for you to do that. You might want to switch to a ride-on mower. If you experience more pain sitting than standing, a push mower may be your best bet. If you’re not 100% sure, you can always check with your doctor.

There isn’t one mower that works for all physical types, which is why it’s important to know your limits. And don’t be afraid to test out different mowers to learn your comfort levels. You can also learn some neat tricks from ScienceDirect, which tested various different positions when mowing, to show you how to position your hands for maximum comfort. Ergonomics extends far beyond your workspace setup. So when you’re looking for a new lawn mower, consider what will be best not just for your yard, but for your health as well.

Choosing the right blades

Your lawn mower’s blades are the most important feature. Yes, your gas mower needs gas and your electric mower needs electricity, but without good blades, it won’t matter. The blades cut the grass. So while the machine you choose is key, the blades are even more so. And like mowers, there are many different types of blades and each serves a specific purpose. Knowing the type of blades you need will give you a better idea of the kind of mower you’re looking for.

iGo Pro reports that choosing blades or replacing the old ones is fairly easy. All you need is the mower’s serial number and you’ll be able to find replacement blades quickly. They also suggest that sharpening your blades comes down to how often you mow and the length of the grass you’re cutting. Your goal when choosing the right blades is to figure out which ones cut your grass the best. Do you mow on a regular basis or do you let your grass grow a few inches before cutting? Once you know your schedule, you’ll be in a better position to find the right blades for your lawn mower.

Learn your town laws

Lawn mowers, especially gas and electric ones, are noisy. How many times have you been enjoying a calm spring breeze only to hear it interrupted by a lawn mower? There isn’t much you can do to limit the noise unless you buy a push mower. And it might surprise you to learn that some towns have laws about lawn mower use. That’s why it’s good to know what you can do with one as well as when and where.

Most laws center around driving your lawn mower. HotCars reports that the United States has some interesting laws when it comes to ride-on mowers. For example, did you know that in some states you can get a DUI while driving a lawn mower? You also can’t operate one if your license is suspended and don’t even think about bringing them onto a highway. These laws may seem silly, but they’re in effect for a reason. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your town laws as they may have time restrictions on when you can mow and how often. It never hurts to know the law, even for yard work.

Not knowing your lawn size and its obstacles

Yards are an extension of your home. Many people decorate them because they want an outdoor oasis to relax in when the weather is nice. If you decorate your lawn with furniture or other large items, you’ll need to take those into account when you’re buying a new lawn mower. Why? Because if the stuff is too difficult to move, buying a mower you can’t maneuver easily is going to make the work harder.

This is why knowing your yard size and its obstacles is important when buying a mower. Remember that push or reel mowers are ideal for smaller yards, as mentioned in Wirecutter, because they don’t require a lot of effort to move around. But if you have a gas mower or a ride-on mower, moving around decor might be harder than you think. If you’re able to move furniture and decorative pieces easily, then the size of your mower will be less important. But if you have fountains or heavy statues, then a smaller mower will be your better option. Your goal is to make mowing your lawn as simple as you can possibly make it.