Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills and 2 to Avoid
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My lawn care business has recently acquired a new client who’s commissioned us for a few lawn care services, including lawn fertilization, weed control, and routine lawn mowing.
Careful inspection of his sprawling lawn indicates that the cost of lawn care services will be expensive due to the massive size of the lawn and its rough, hilly terrain.
Since a push lawn mower isn’t going to cut it, I’m going to have to use a specialized riding lawn mower for hills for this job.
Riding lawn mowers come in different deck sizes and a variety of great features. This includes options like rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive systems, excellent traction, soft-touch steering, and robust engines such as a Briggs Stratton engine. Most riding lawn mowers do a remarkable job at leaving a cut lawn looking like velvet.
But that doesn’t mean that all riding lawn mowers are suited to every yard and its owner. Some riding mowers are designed to handle extreme mowing conditions like tall grass, wet grass, and overgrown grass. Others work better for mowing grass on slopy and/or bumpy terrain.
I tested over 20 riding lawn mowers for hills to find out how they’d perform on slopes in terms of cutting ability, finish quality, and operator comfort. From all my research, here are the 10 best riding lawn mowers for hills.
In a rush? These are the ones I recommend. But keep reading if you want more info on each.
- Best Riding Mower for Hills:Husqvarna Riding Mowers for Hills
- Best Battery-Powered Mower for Hills:Ryobi Electric Riding Lawnmower
- Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills:Toro Zero-Turn Mower
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The Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills
John Deere X500 Select Series
John Deere is a leading American manufacturer of agricultural machinery, forestry machinery, lawn care equipment, and a wide range of riding mowers.
Of all the John Deere riding lawn mowers, the X500 Select Series is the best. Why you ask? Well, for starters, the Series is available in several different deck sizes, including 48 inches and 58 inches.
Further, the X500 Series boast a 24 HP (17.9 kW) iTorque power system, and an FS730V engine. They also feature a V-twin air-cooled design that offers unmatched power and performance.
Regarding slopes, the X500 Select Series can climb steep inclines without any hiccups, making them one of the best riding lawn mowers for hills.
The John Deere X500 mower comes with 24×9.5-12 turf tires, which provide superior traction on rough and uneven terrain. They are equipped with a K72 hydrostatic transmission integrated with a transaxle.
For peace of mind, they are backed by a 4-year/500-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The Exmark Quest E-Series mowers are in a league of their own and come loaded with innovative features. They allow you to mow at a speed of 2.8 acres per hour, and travel at 7 mph.
Further, the Quest series riding lawn mowers feature zero-turn functionality. This means the turning radius is effectively zero.
Exmark lawn mowers are also more fuel efficient so you won’t use much gas to cut your lawn. The Exmark Quest E-Series feature floating decks that are connected to the frame through a suspension system and respond well to bumps and inconsistencies on any terrain.
But that’s not all – the Exmark Quest mowers can be ordered in 42-inch and 50-inch cutting decks and are powered by a robust 22-horsepower Kohler engine.
In terms of fuel tank capacity, the Exmark Quest lawn mower come with a large 3-gallon tank, so you won’t have to waste time filling up frequently.
Adding to this, the Exmark Quest Series are equipped with commercial-grade tires that provide increased traction and superior handling.
These riding lawn mowers from Exmark come with two Hydro-Gear ZT-2100 hydrostatic transmissions and operator presence controls.
The Bad Boy Maverick riding lawn mower for hills is billed as the first commercial-grade mower with an integrated drive system and features the company’s patented EZ-ride system.
It features a ton of improvements over its predecessor that collectively make for a comfortable ride and cleaner cut lawn.
These improvements include new front forks and a plush padded seat that make long mowing rides a joy. The Bay Boy Maverick riding lawn mower is equipped with a Hydro-Gear 3200 Series integrated drive system and rests sturdily on a heavy-duty, all-steel, all-welded frame.
It comes with an independent front and rear suspension system that makes it easy to cut on uneven terrain.
The Bad Boy Maverick lawn mower is powered by one of three engines:
- Kohler Confidant ZT740 747cc – 25hp
- Kawasaki FS730 726cc – 24hp, or
- Briggs CXI27 810cc – 27hp.
In addition to all that, it comes with maintenance-free spindles and a deck lift pedal complete with a deck dial adjustment system. For a residential riding lawn mower for hills that showcases commercial-grade capabilities, the Bad Boy mower is hard to beat.
Top 5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers For Hills 2022 Reviews
Cub Cadet offers a massive range of riding lawn mowers. Most models do a remarkable job of cutting grass on hills and slopy terrain.
The Cub Cadet mowers feature a one-stacked deck that’s made from stamped and fabricated material. They are built the latest electronic fuel-injected technology (EFI), which reduces fuel use by over 25 percent.
Cub Cadet lawn mowers are built for both great performance and total comfort and come with adjustable seating, comfort-grip steering, and excellent ergonomics.
They boast automotive-grade corrosion resistance that protects the machines against wear and tear, and responsive handling.
Most, if not all, Cub Cadet riding lawn mowers are powered by award-worthy KOHLER 7000 Series twin-cylinder engines, so you can expect nothing less than superior performance on the job site.
They are backed by a 3-year/no-hour limit warranty against any manufacturer defects.
Husqvarna is another big name in the lawn and garden tool space and they offer a wide range of mowers. Their gas-powered models are equipped with great features, and some even come with 20-inch, heavy-duty tires and an automatic transmission system.
The Husqvarna TS 354XD riding lawn mower boasts power-packed performance and unbeatable capabilities in its class.
It’s tucked away neatly in a heavy-duty frame that’s made from 11-gauge bolted steel, topped with paint to prevent rust. The hood of the Husqvarna TS 354XD is also crated with solid steel, which greatly reduces the paint fade compared to plastic.
Unlike most other models in this segment, the Husqvarna TS 354XD lawn mower for hills is fitted with an oversized, extra-thick deluxe steering wheel. It features a soft touch inner surface for better ergonomics.
Adding to its long list of features is a handy cruise control system, which allows the user to maintain a consistent speed over uneven and hilly terrain. There’s also a rugged brush guard located at the front and an easy-access fuel cap, so you don’t have to open the engine hood to fuel up.
The Husqvarna TS 354XD lawn mower is factory-fitted with bright LED headlights that allow you to operate the machine in low-light conditions.
It comes with a ClearCut fabricated cutting deck with reinforced steel for maximum durability and a pressure-lubricated, two-cylinder Kawasaki engine with an oil pump and oil filter.
When it comes to comfort, the Husqvarna TS 354XD lawn mower doesn’t disappoint with a high back seat and armrests for added support when mowing.
Other noteworthy features of the Husqvarna TS 354XD riding lawn mower include a deluxe gauge package that includes an ammeter and hour meter gauges and an electronic locking differential.
My neighbor recently invested in a Craftsman lawn mower and after using it a couple of times, I can vouch for its excellent performance and durability. Craftsman lawn mowers are built tough, highly affordable, and do not scrimp on key features.
The Craftsman TURNTIGHT riding lawn mower is one of the company’s top-selling models and provides a 42-inch cutting path. It is equipped with a 19.5 HP KOHLER, single-cylinder engine, and a foot pedal hydrostatic transmission for smooth riding.
The TurnTight lawn mower by Craftsman is engineered for optimized cuts, thanks to its 42-inch stamped steel deck that allows users to cut up to 1-1/2 acres of lawn.
The Craftsman TurnTight comes with a soft-touch steering wheel and a cut-and-sew high back seat that provides superior comfort. It also features shock-absorbing front-end protection with a brush guard to protect the machine against dents and scratches.
The Craftsman TurnTight lawn mower comes with a 3-gallon fuel tank and offers 12 mowing heights to choose from. It is backed by an impressive 3-year warranty against any manufacturer defects.
Remington offers two riding lawn mower models to choose from – a 38-inch riding mower and a 42-inch lawn tractor, both of which come with similar features like bagging and mulching capabilities.
The Remington 42-inch riding lawn tractor is fitted with a CVT – Continous Variable Transmission (aka automatic transmission) so you just have to pedal and go.
It features a powerful 420cc Remington engine and easy toolless deck removal. The 42-inch Remington riding lawn mower also features a deck wash and can be assembled in a few minutes.
The 38-inch Remington mower comes with user-friendly features such as a cup holder and bright LED headlights. It is equipped with a 7-speed transmission and is powered by a Remington 420cc engine.
Both the Remington 38-inch and 42-inch mowers are backed by a 2-year warranty against any manufacturer defects.
Troy-Bilt Riding Lawn Mower for Hills
Troy-Bilt has a sizeable range of mowers for hills, but the Pony 42-inch hits the sweet spot. If you have a larger lawn, you can step it up a few notches to the 46-inch Bronco, which comes with a best-in-class 541cc Kohler engine.
The Troy-Bilt Pony 42 isn’t just a showstopper, it is also loaded with several premium features such as a rugged and reliable 42-inch steel deck.
It is one of the few riding lawn mowers that comes with a step-through frame – making it easy for users of all heights to get on and off the machine.
The Troy-Bilt Pony 42 lawn mower for hills is equipped with a robust 500cc Briggs Stratton engine that is engineered to deliver plenty of power, making it easy to tackle overgrown grass.
It features the company’s patented 7-speed Shift-on-the-Go transmission, which adjusts the speed automatically according to your needs.
The Pony 42 provides an 18-inch turning radius, allowing you to easily get around obstacles in your lawn. It is fitted with a dash panel control and is protected by a limited manufacturer warranty.
There are very few electric models available in the riding lawnmower segment such as the Ryobi battery-powered model. It showcases a sleek footprint and offers up to 2.5 hours of runtime/up to 2.5 acres per charge.
The Ryobi battery-powered mower is a low-maintenance model, given that there are no belts, spark plugs. filters or gas fill-ups to deal with. It is equipped with 3 powerful brushless motors that collectively deliver gas-like power.
Adding to this, the Ryobi electric riding mower comes with cruise control and doesn’t do much more than whisper during operation. It is a multifaceted mower, in that it can mulch, discharge and bag, and comes with an adjustable 12-position manual deck.
Even though the Ryobi is a battery-operated mower, it can travel pretty quickly at 7 mph and provides a 38-inch cutting swath. This electric riding mower for hills comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty.
Zero-turn mowers are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners, and Toro offers a wide range of models. Toro zero-turn mowers are a great choice for hilly terrain, owing to the integrated MyRide comfort system. Make sure you know the best practices on how to use a zero turn mower on hills and slopes.
This suspension system is equipped with a suspended, full-floating rear and front shock adjustable operator platform that absorbs the bumps so your body doesn’t have to.
Further, Toro zero-turn mowers come with IronForged decks that are crafted from 10-gauge high-strength steel and a reinforced deck shell. The deck shell is equipped with 6-inch spindles and belts that are made from bulletproof material.
Toro zero-turn mowers are designed for commercial use, yet are a perfect choice for residential lawns. The company offers a total of 33 riding mowers to choose from, so you can rest assured there’s a model to suit your needs.
These mowers are available in up to 60-inch cutting widths. The Toro Titan Max is a big bad and powerful zero-turn mower and is built with commercial grade components such as G-force generating hydros.
It comes with integrated LED light bars and rugged Hyper-styled two-toned aluminum alloy wheels. The Toro Titan zero-turn mower is fitted with a pro control damper system, storage areas, and cup holders.
BEST Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023 [Reviews]
Old-fashioned push lawn mowers are great for small urban and suburban lawns – but they don’t cut the mustard for rural and exurban homeowners. Ride-on mowers are the standard for keeping large lawns beautiful and tidy.
Riding mowers come in all shapes and sizes: commercial-grade zero-turn mowers, compact rear-engine designs, high-tech electric models, and more. Finding the right fit for you can be a hassle.
That’s why we’ve reviewed over two dozen ride-on mowers, and found the top 9 today. We looked at power, width of cutting deck, weight, special features of riding mowers to come up with our ranking. We’ve also included a helpful buying guide and FAQ to make your shopping experience a breeze.
Riding mowers range in cost from less than 2,000 to 4,000 or more. To make your choice easier, we have listed the general price (fluctuate) for each riding mower on our list:
- “Inexpensive” – less than 2,000
- “Moderate” – 2,000 to 4,000
- “Expensive” – Above 4,000
Here are Lawn Love’s picks for the top 10 riding lawn mowers:
Top 10 Riding Lawn Mowers — Reviews
|1. Best Overall: Husqvarna YTH18542|
|2. Best Electric Riding Mower: Ryobi RY48111|
|3. Best Zero-Turn Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1|
|4. Most Bang for your Buck: John Deere S120|
|5. Cub Cadet XT1|
|6. Troy-Bilt Pony|
|7. Ryobi 42-inch Zero Turn Mower|
|8. Husqvarna Z254|
|9. Toro 42-inch Timecutter|
Best Overall: Husqvarna YTH18542
Husqvarna’s YTH18542 riding mower is designed to be compact and durable while providing enough power to cut any medium-to-large sized lawn.
Designed with maneuverability in mind, this tractor-style mower has a tight 16-inch turn radius. A single foot pedal controls a hydrostatic drivetrain for smooth transitions between forward and reverse.
The 18.5-horsepower engine is made by Briggs Stratton, America’s most reliable small engine manufacturer. The YTH18542 can reach a top speed of 7.4 mph, making it one of the fastest tractor-style mowers on the market.
Despite its compact size, Husqvarna has packed a ton of features into this machine. The 42-inch deck uses air induction to keep your grass from flattening under the mower, ensuring a clean cut every time. Dual anti-scalp wheels protect your lawn from the mower deck when passing over uneven terrain.
Husqvarna offers a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty on new mowers.
A clipping bag and mulching kit are sold separately to increase this lawn tractor’s utility. The YTH18542 is also compatible with Husqvarna’s whole line of tow-behind accessories.
Power Source: 18.5 HP Briggs Stratton Intek engineTransmission: Foot-operated hydrostatic transmissionTop Speed: 7.4 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 6 positions, 1.5 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Compact for storage and maneuverability✓ Durable steel construction✓ Reliable Briggs Stratton engine✓ High-end hydrostatic transmission✓ 3-year warranty||✗ Attachments sold separately✗ No fuel gauge|
Best Electric Riding Mower: Ryobi RY48111
An improvement on the original RY48110, Ryobi’s new generation of riding mowers features a state-of-the-art 100 amp-hour battery, allowing for up to 2.5 hours of continuous mowing on a single charge.
The 38-inch cutting deck can fit into tight spots and create precise cuts around garden beds and landscape features. Three separate brushless motors power the wheels and two blades, delivering cutting power comparable to a gas-powered mower. The Ryobi RY48111 has a top speed of 8 mph, making it the fastest mower on this list.
The RY48111 also is the quietest riding mower on the market, never exceeding 70 decibels. What this means: You can mow bright and early without disturbing the neighbors.
Other things we liked about this riding mower:
- Active cruise control delivers consistency on long stretches of lawn.
- Mulching capability: This mower comes equipped with mulching capability, with an optional collection bag sold separately.
- Cool features: The RY48111 has LED headlights, a cupholder, and a USB charging port.
- Battery charges overnight with a standard 120V power outlet. This mower is the most energy-efficient choice for yards under 2.5 acres.
Power Source: 100 Ah battery, 3 brushless motorsTransmission: NoneTop Speed: 8 mphDeck Width: 38 inchesCutting Height: 12 positions, 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Low-maintenance – no gas, filters, belts, or spark plugs✓ Zero emissions✓ Quiet✓ Compact for storage and maneuvering✓ Mulching included||✗ Can cut only 2.5 acres per day|
Best Zero-Turn Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
A top-of-the-line mower for residential markets, Cub Cadet’s Ultima series makes short work of the largest lawns. Driven by a 22-horsepower Kohler engine, this machine can reach a forward speed of 7.5 mph.
A fully adjustable racing-style seat provides ultimate comfort while operating the ZT1. The lap bar control is also adjustable in three dimensions to ensure precise maneuvering. Dual LED headlights help you cut in low-light conditions, and the rubberized cockpit floor reduces vibrations.
The 20-inch rear wheels and 11-inch front wheels offer enough traction to tackle gentle hills, and are engineered to protect your turf while pivoting. A 3.5-gallon gas tank lets you spend more time mowing and less time refueling.
Cub Cadet offers a three-year, unlimited hour powertrain warranty and a lifetime warranty on the frame. The ZT1 also comes in a 50-inch version for added efficiency and coverage. Cub Cadet has also recently released the Ultima ZT1 56V MAX60 electric zero-turn.
Power Source: 22 HP, 725 cc Kohler 7000 series twin-cylinder engineTransmission: Dual hydrostatic transmissionsTop Speed: 7.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 15 positions, 1 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Powerful 22 HP engine✓ Fully adjustable seat and controls✓ Best-in-class warranty||✗ No gas gauge✗ Attachments sold separately|
Most Bang for your Buck: John Deere S120
If you have thick grass or heavy brush on your property, the 22-horsepower John Deere S120 delivers heavy-duty power at an affordable price.
The high-torque engine makes the S120 great for cutting thick grass and hauling heavy loads. John Deere makes a wide range of tow-behind and front-mounted accessories, such as spreaders and snow plows. This little lawn tractor does the work of more expensive models with ease.
The S120 has large 22-inch rear wheels and an 18-inch turning radius. The high-back seat is fully adjustable, including lumbar support.
The 100-series also includes the inexpensive S100 and the highly acclaimed S180. The entire line is compliant with the CARB California emissions standards and is backed by John Deere’s 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Power Source: 22 HP V-twin engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 13 positions, 1 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ High horsepower engine✓ California-compliant✓ Easy-to-read gas gauge||✗ Slow✗ All accessories sold separately|
Cub Cadet XT1
The XT1 is Cub Cadet’s most popular lawn tractor. Powered by an 18-horsepower Kohler engine, this machine is designed with comfort in mind. It features a wide-bottomed, high-backed seat with adjustable back support and an ergonomic, anti-vibration steering wheel.
A smooth hydrostatic transmission, responsive steering, and cruise control make the XT1 easy to operate. A proprietary paint protects the tractor from corrosion. A quick-connect deck wash system lets you plug in an ordinary garden hose for easy cleaning.
This Cub Cadet has long-lasting LED headlights and is backed by a three-year powertrain warranty and five-year chassis/axle warranty.
Power Source: 18 HP Kohler 5400 Series single cylinder engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 5 positions, 1 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Best-in-class warranty✓ California-compliant✓ Comfortable||✗ Slow✗ All accessories sold separately|
If you’re looking for a budget option but still want a tractor-style mower, the Troy-Bilt Pony is your best bet. Though the Pony isn’t the most powerful mower on the market, it has all the features you need to keep a medium- to large-sized lawn neatly mown.
Built around a reliable 15.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine, this Troy-Bilt lawn tractor can easily tackle regular mowing jobs. The 7-speed “shift-on-the-go” manual transmission is designed to smoothly move from one gear to the next.
- Automatic headlights that adjust to low-visibility conditions
- A cupholder to help you stay hydrated on hot summer days
- 2-year limited warranty
Power Source: 15.5 HP single cylinder Briggs Stratton engineTransmission: 7-speed manualTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 5 positions, 1.25 to 3.75 inchesPrice Range: Inexpensive
|✓ Reliable Briggs Stratton engine✓ California compliant✓ Affordable||✗ Low power output✗ Manual transmission✗ Few cutting height options|
Ryobi 42-inch Zero Turn Mower
Ryobi’s mastery of electric power doesn’t end at rear-engine mowers. Ryobi went all-out to design an eco-friendly zero-turn mower that can hold its own against its gas competition.
Powered by four separate motors, one for each driving wheel and one per blade, this zero-turn mower distributes exactly the right amount of power to the components that need it most. The 75 amp-hour battery can last up to 2.5 hours of constant mowing, making short work of yards up to 3 acres.
A 7 mph top speed and fast, responsive turns let you mow farther and faster than other electric mowers. The battery charges overnight from a standard 120-volt outlet. A digital meter keeps track of the battery level and hours of use. This zero-turn mower has powerful LED headlights, two cupholders, and a USB charging port.
This Ryobi mower doesn’t quite produce enough power to tackle thick brush or wild growth, but it is perfectly capable of handling standard grasses. This mower comes with mulching capability, and a bagging system is sold separately.
Power Source: 75 Ah battery, 4 brushless motorsTransmission: NoneTop Speed: 7 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 12 positions, 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Expensive
|✓ Low-maintenance – no gas, filters, belts, or spark plugs✓ Zero-emission✓ Fast and powerful✓ Mulching included||✗ Narrow mowing deck✗ Can run for only 2.5 hours a day|
This Husqvarna zero-turn mower is ready for heavy-duty work with a 26-horsepower engine and a 54-inch cutting deck. With the most powerful engine on this list, the Z254 makes short work of lawns and fields.
Though the Husqvarna Z254 costs more than the Cub Cadet mentioned above, customers with massive yards or dense, wild growth areas can benefit from the added power.
Because of its FOCUS on cutting power, the Husqvarna Z254 is a little slower than other zero-turn models on the market. It has a single-lever deck height adjustment with six positions. The Z254 uses Husqvarna’s air induction system to keep grass upright for a cleaner cut. This zero-turn mower also is equipped with a “ready start” system for easy operation.
Power Source: 26 HP Kohler engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 6.5 mphDeck Width: 54 inchesCutting Height: 6 positions, 1.5 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Powerful 26 HP engine✓ Wide cutting deck✓ Easy-start||✗ No gas gauge✗ Seat not adjustable|
Toro 42-inch Timecutter
The last entry on our list, the Toro Timecutter series features a “Smart Speed” system that automatically adjusts the lap bars’ sensitivity to your operating pace. How cool is this? It has three modes of operation that redirect engine power:
- Mow mode is focused on speed, topping out at 7 mph.
- Tow mode focuses on wheel torque, with a top speed of 5.5 mph.
- Trim mode directs power to the cutting deck, reducing the top speed to 4 mph to plow through thick brush.
Other things we like about Toro’s Timecutter:
- Cupholder and an under-seat storage cubby in the cab.
- Tire fenders, which protect the engine and the operator from mud and debris.
- Shock-reducing dampers that keep the steering bars steady when you hit bumps.
CUB CADET LAWNMOWER’S Dirty Little Secret Revealed!
Toro offers a 3-year, unlimited-hour residential warranty. The Timecutter is compliant with California emissions standards. Owners of larger yards should check out their 23hp 50-inch version and 23hp 54-inch model.
Power Source: 18 HP Kawasaki V-Twin EngineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 7 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Multiple operation modes✓ Comfortable cab||✗ Low engine power✗ No gas gauge|
Buyers Guide: Riding Lawn Mowers
Buying a ride-on mower is a big decision. With so many options available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. This buyers guide will walk you through the types of riding mowers on the market and outline the important factors to consider. We’ll also explain how we came up with our rankings.
Types of Riding Lawn Mower
Riding lawn mowers are not all the same. While most ride-on mowers run on gasoline, several electric mowers have hit the market in recent years. Whether gas or electric, riding mowers tend to come in three general body shapes.
Rear-engine riding mowers are the most compact and least expensive model. The engine (or electric motor) is mounted behind the operating seat. This gives rear-engine mowers great front visibility but can affect their turn radius. With smaller cutting decks, rear-engine mowers can fit through gates and are great for medium-sized lawns.
The standard riding lawn mower for over a century, the lawn tractor has a front-mounted engine that powers the wheels and cutting deck. Lawn tractors typically have cutting decks around 42 inches, though higher-horsepower tractors may be larger. Recent models may have automatic or hydrostatic transmissions, though many are manual.
The zero-turn mower has been around since the 1960s and has risen to prominence in the last 20 years. These high-tech machines use a hydraulic system to control the two powered wheels independently, allowing them to rotate on a dime.
Zero-turn mowers are typically controlled by a pair of levers across the operator’s lap and can be tricky to maneuver without practice. Their shape allows zero turns to sport wider decks. Zero-turns are usually a little more expensive but are the best choice for large yards.
With fossil fuels on the decline and rising gas prices, it may be the right time to invest in a battery-powered riding lawn mower. New advancements in green technology have led to some truly impressive eco-friendly lawn mowers from several manufacturers. With batteries that last up to three hours on a single charge, electric mowers can deliver similar power outputs to gas models.
What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower
Riding lawn mowers are complicated machines, and it’s important to consider a variety of specs when comparing them. We looked at several details and features to determine utility and cost-effectiveness for our top 9 picks.
An important stat for any tool, the power of a riding lawn mower’s engine will determine your top speed and your blade torque. Gas engines of this size usually measure in terms of horsepower (HP), while large batteries measure amperage per hour of use (Ah).
Consider a higher-horsepower engine if you plan to cut thick brush or wild growth. Low-to-medium power is usually adequate for standard grass lawns.
A wider machine increases your coverage on each pass across the yard. Wider machines are more efficient, but require more power to operate and are therefore more expensive.
Adjustable decks are standard in modern lawn mowers. Most of them can cut grass between around 1.5 inches and around 4 inches, with several increments in between. This feature is usually more a matter of preference than necessity.
Manufacturers like to add comfort and utility features to their riding lawn mowers to make them stand out. Features like cupholders, USB chargers, and anti-vibration steering wheels are great for getting more enjoyment out of mowing. Some models include mulching kits or leaf bags, while other manufacturers sell them as separate attachments.
The most important factor in choosing the right mower is your budget. Riding mowers are a big purchase, and we recommend you shop at a few different vendors and local dealers to find the best deal. We quantify the above features and compare them to cost, to help you get the best value.
FAQ About Riding Lawn Mowers
Our research shows that the best riding lawn mower is the Husqvarna YTH18542. We chose this as our top riding mower for its reliability and utility relative to price. Other standouts: We also found that the best zero-turn mower is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 and the best rear-engine mower is the electric Ryobi RY48111.
Hydrostatic drivetrains rely on hydraulic fluid to transfer power from the engine to the blade or wheels. Because there are no gearboxes involved, power can smoothly increase and decrease along the drivetrain without the need for manual shifting.
This increases engine efficiency and allows power to flow differently to each part of the machine. Zero-turn mowers use this method to supply power to both wheels independently.
Riding lawn mowers are a big investment. Although some budget riding lawn mowers will cost under 2,000, the majority of residential-use models are priced between 2,000 and 4,000. Plan to spend around 3,000 on a new ride-on mower, or shop around local dealers for discounted on pre-owned machines.
When to Call a Lawn Care Pro
Riding lawn mowers are a hefty investment and they take up space in your garage. If you’d rather a lawn care pro keep your grass green and healthy, we can help. Lawn Love pros can give your yard a professional manicure at affordable prices. Call 800-706-4117 to see how a professional lawn care crew can show your yard some Lawn Love.
Lawn Love participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other retailer affiliate programs. Lawn Love may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock photo with text overlay
Best Riding Lawn Mower Reviews 2023
Tired of spending the best part of your Saturday walking behind a lawn mower? You’re not alone and our team has pulled together our recommendations for the best riding lawn mower in 2023. Whether you’re a homeowner or commercial Pro, or you’re on the hunt for a lawn tractor or zero-turn mower, we have you covered. Thinking about making the switch to battery power? We have thoughts on electric riding lawnmowers as well.
Considering walk-behind mowers? Check out our Best Lawn Mower main page.
- Best Commercial Riding Mower (Find a Dealer)
- Best Residential Riding Lawn Mower (Buy at Tractor Supply)
- Best Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower (Buy at Acme Tools)
- Best Lawn Tractor (Buy at Tractor Supply)
- Best Consumer Electric Riding Lawn Mower (available at Lowes or Home Depot)
- Best Riding Lawn Mower For Small Lawns (Buy at Lowes)
- Best Riding Lawn Mower For Medium Lawns
- Best Riding Lawn Mower For Large Properties
- Best Riding Lawn Mower For Hills
- Best Riding Lawn Mower For The Money (Buy at Tractor Supply)
- What We Look For In The Best Riding Lawn Mower
- Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews
Best Commercial Riding Lawn Mower
Hustler Hyperdrive Series Zero Turn Lawn Mowers
Professional lawn care crews who FOCUS on residential lawns (affectionately known aa “mow and blow” crews) have to hit a lot of lawns every day during the mowing season and they’re tough on their equipment. Exmark, Hustler, and Scag all come up frequently in conversations about the best commercial mower, and our top choice is the Hustler Hyperdrive series.
While the Super Z series is likely more popular, the Hyperdrive series adds additional durability to the transmission system, keeping your downtime to a minimum.
Deck sizes range from 60 to 72 inches and there are 35 to 40 HP engine options from Kawasaki and Vanguard. For those of you who like to mow at speed, you can run up to 16 MPH on this model. No matter what your mowing style is, Hustler has a 3,000-hour warranty on the hydraulic system and a 5-year/1200-hour warranty on the full mower.
Price: Contact your local dealer
Best Residential Riding Lawn Mower
Toro Timecutter Series Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers
For residential use, we recommend Toro’s TimeCutter as the best residential riding lawn mower for a variety of reasons. What it boils down to is that you get an excellent balance of performance, comfort, and reliability for the price.
The line currently includes 17 models (including CARB-friendly options). Deck sizes start at 34 inches for small lawns and run up to 60 inches for those of you with acreage to maintain. The base-level models are an excellent value for most people, but if comfort is a high priority, step up to the MyDrive models to get an upgraded suspension and easier ride.
Best Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTX6 Series Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
While Toro earns our pick as the best overall riding mower for residential use, Cub Cadet’s Ultima ZTX6 series is the creme de la creme for those of you with a bigger budget. Earning our choice as the best residential zero-turn riding lawn mower, the ZTX6 is at the top of Cub Cadet’s residential-focuses Ultima line.
These mowers bridge the gap between residential and Pro needs, giving you a ride and performance that feels more professional while keeping the overall price down from premium professional mowers. The ZTX6 comes with a 25HP Kawasaki commercial-grade engine and either a 54 or 60-inch deck size. If you prefer a steering wheel over lap bars, there’s now a ZTXS6 option that has you covered.
Price: 8999.00 – 9299.00 (10299.00 for the 60-inch ZTXS6)
Best Lawn Tractor
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro FAB Series Lawn Tractor
Cub Cadet lawn tractors are very popular and consistently earn high ratings from owners. If you’re looking for the best lawn tractor among them, we recommend the XT1 Enduro FAB series. They’re a bit more expensive than others in the XT1 line, but they upgrade from a 13-gauge stamped steel deck to an 11-gauge fabricated steel one, improving the long-term durability.
Available with a 50 or 54-inch deck, these mowers are suitable for covering larger lawns than lawn tractors in the 30 – 48-inch range. Thanks to a Kohler 24HP engine, they have better overall performance than most of its competition as well. While they don’t turn as tight as a zero-turn, they do have a 16-inch turning radius that gives them a tighter turn than others.
Best Electric Riding Lawn Mower
Try as we may, we couldn’t pick just one electric ride-on lawn mower as the best. However, we do have three that stand out from the rest.
Commercial: Greenworks Commercial 82V OptimusZ Series Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers
Greenworks was one of the first to push into the commercial electric zero-turn lawn mower market and they have learned a lot over the years. The culmination of that experience and the best of today’s technology come together in the Greenworks OptimusZ zero-turn and earns our recommendation as the best electric commercial riding lawn mower.
The line includes both ride-on and stand-on models, and we even got to see an operational prototype of a fully-autonomous version. Focusing on the ride-on models, there are 48 – 60-inch deck sizes with either 18KWh or 24KWh battery packages. On the 60-inch mower, the larger battery bank can run up to 8 hours on a charge.
The top speed is impressive, reaching up to 16 MPH with the blades on. Security is already onboard thanks to the combination of 4G and GPS connections. If all that sounds great, but you’re still not sure it can hold up, keep in mind that Greenworks backs these mowers with a 5-year/2,000-hour warranty.
Residential: EGO 56V E-Steer Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
EGO is making it easier to transition from gas to battery power and into the zero-turn market with the 56V E-Steer riding lawn mower. It takes the lap bars and exchanges them for a steering wheel, making for a much more approachable mower if you’re not used to traditional ZT steering. Beyond that, the design team shifted the controls/info screen onto the steering wheel where they’re easy to keep an eye on while you’re mowing.
The mower sports a 42-inch deck with cutting speeds between 4 and 8 MPH and matches the power of a 22HP gas engine. For the power source, EGO uses the same 556V batteries that power its other mowers and handheld tools. With a full load of six 12.0Ah batteries, expect to cut nearly four acres on a charge. With the four batteries that come with the mower, there’s enough juice to cover 2.5 acres.
Price: 5999.00 with four 12.0Ah batteries and onboard charger (scheduled for May 2023 launch)
Residential: Ryobi 80V iDrive Series Zero Turn Lawn Mowers
Ryobi’s iDrive zero-turn lawn mowers break the mold of lap bars, but not with a steering wheel. It uses joystick controls, making you feel a bit more like a lawn-cutting fighter pilot (without the missiles, of course). While it certainly breaks the norm, our crew was able to adjust to the steering quickly.
There are three deck sizes covering 30 to 54 inches and they primarily use 80V suitcase-style batteries for power. These mowers also have slots to use Ryobi’s 40V batteries if you need to extend your runtime beyond what the 80V packs offer.
The power ranges from a 28HP – 42HP gas equivalent with runtime covering 1 – 4 acres, depending on which model you go with. Plus, this mower uses the CrossCut stacked blade system to give you better cut quality than you’d get with single blades.
Price: 5999.00 – 7999.00 ready to mow
Take a look through our full list of Best Electric Lawn Mower recommendations!
Best Riding Lawn Mower For Small Lawns
John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor
Lawn tractors are great for small to medium-sized lawns and the John Deere S130 lawn tractor is our choice as the best riding lawn mower for small lawns. The S100 comes in at a lower price, but moving up to the S130 is worth it in our opinion.
Both feature a 42-inch mowing deck, but the S130 has a significantly stronger 22HP V-twin engine and it has John Deere’s super-easy 30-Second Oil Change system. The S130 also upgrades with cruise control and an electronic PTO system. Overall, it balances ease of ownership and performance well while keeping a safe distance away from the price of zero-turn mowers.
Best Riding Lawn Mower For Medium Lawns 1 Acre to 5 Acres
Husqvarna Xcite Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers
The best riding lawn mower for medium-sized lawns is the Husqvarna Xcite. There are two models available featuring a 54-inch 10-gauge deck that’s a great size for those 1 – 5–acre properties.
What’s exciting about the Xcite is a combination of innovative features and a design that feels more Pro even though these target residential users. Starting from the top, your start/stop and blade engagement controls are on the lap bar ends where you can easily reach them with your thumbs. Then there’s the suspension system. 4 bar links and 10 adjustment settings let you customize the setup based on your size, weight, and preferences to dial in a comfortable ride.
Depending on the model, you get either a 24HP or 26HP Kohler engine with a top speed of either 7 or 9 MPH. On the business end, Husqvarna puts stock blades that can go up to 5 years without needing to be sharpened. Husqvarna targeted a Pro feel with the convenience and ease of ownership homeowners crave with the Xcite and they nailed it.
Best Riding Lawn Mower For Large Properties
Exmark Lazer Z Series Deisel Zero Turn Lawn Mowers
When it comes to maintaining large areas where you need a cleaner cut than a bush hog leaves behind, there are a few large-deck options. Leading the pack in size and with a robust professional resume’, the Exmark Lazer Z Deisel is our choice as the best riding lawn mower for large properties.
When we say large, we mean it. The Lazer Z diesel line includes 60, 72, and 96-inch options along with a monstrous 144-inch model. Ang get this—Exmark rates the largest mower’s cutting rate at up to 11.5 acres per hour! In terms of productivity, that’s going to be tough to beat.
These mowers aren’t cheap, though. They start at just over 27,000 and the 144-inch model is over 35,000.
Price: Starting at 27,099.00
Best Riding Lawn Mower For Hills
Cub Cadet Pro Z 972 Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
If you have hills, you need both power and traction to mow effectively. In our team’s opinion, the best riding lawn mower for hills is the Cub Cadet Pro Z 972 series SD/SDL models. What sets these mowers apart is a combination of their dually rear wheel and steering wheel designs.
Four rear wheels help prevent the back end from slipping, even in wet conditions. The steering wheel makes it easier to manage on slopes and there’s an option for a pivoting seat that keeps you more upright on those hills. As part of Cub Cadet’s commercial mower lineup, you can expect a commercial-level build and high-end comfort features as part of the package.
Best Riding Lawn Mower For The Money
Toro Timecutter 42-Inch Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
What’s the best riding lawn mower for the money? For that, we return to the Toro TimeCutter series. Specifically, it’s the 42-inch 75746. This isn’t the least expensive 42-inch in the line, and it’s not the most expensive, either. By upgrading from the entry-level version (3299), you’re moving from a 15.5 HP Briggs Stratton engine to a much stronger 22HP Kohler engine. up to a more durable 10-gauge fabricated steel deck.
If your lawn is 2 acres or less, this model offers the best balance of performance, durability, comfort, and price. But what if you have more then 2 acres? Stick with the Toro TimeCutter and move up in deck size to match your lawn.
What We Look For In The Best Riding Lawn Mower
Lawn Tractor or Zero Turn?
When you’re choosing the best riding lawn mower for your lawn, the first thing to decide is which style you want.
Lawn tractors have several advantages. They tend to be a smaller overall size, are less expensive, and are easy to use with their steering wheel/pedal control systems. The downsides are that they tend to be slower and don’t reach larger deck sizes. They also aren’t as efficient in your mowing pattern because they require a larger turning radius.
Zero-turn lawn mowers make it easier to efficiently mow straight lines. While they’re more expensive, larger, and can take some time to get used to lap bar controls, you can get larger deck sizes, they have higher speeds, and they’re better for large properties. If comfort is a high priority for you, you’ll find better options with ZTs and lawn tractors.
Gas or Battery?
Now that battery-powered riding lawn mowers are at a point where they really can replace gas, the conversation is shifting away from just power and runtime.
Gas mowers tend to be less expensive and you can usually find someone to service/repair them within a reasonable drive of your home. The trade-off is the noise, emissions, managing fuel and oil, and more required maintenance.
Battery-powered mowers have a push-button start system that’s ready when you are, assuming you charged the batteries. They’re remarkably quiet compared to gas, have no emissions, and your HOA isn’t going to suddenly rewrite the rules to eliminate them. Maintenance primarily boils down to blowing off the deck and maybe rinsing under the deck. The primary downsides at this stage are that you don’t have as wide of a selection as gas, they’re more expensive, the batteries need replacing every 3 – 5 years, and there aren’t nearly as many service centers close by.
Durability and Reliability
As you go up in price from entry-level riding lawn mowers to mid-range and high-end models, there are significant changes. A more powerful engine is only part of it. The design of the engine and its quality typically improves as you move up the line, giving you a more reliable engine to go along with the higher performance of more horsepower.
You also see the strength of the build improve. Some of it is the thickness of the metal or moving from stamped steel to fabricated steel on the deck. Other components come into play as well, with higher quality transmissions and electronics packages improving.
Generally speaking, if you’re looking at an entry-level model, see if your budget has room to move up into the middle or even high end of the line. The durability and reliability you gain are worth it in the long run.
The deck size you need depends on the property you’re mowing. 42-inch riding lawn mowers are a good starting point for lawns up to an acre or where you need to squeeze through a narrow gate. If you have more than an acre, go ahead and look at models up to 60 inches.
Realistically, it’s a matter of finding the right balance between how much lawn you have to cut, how much storage space you have available, and what your budget is.
Speed is primarily a concern for professional lawn crews who need to move from one property to the next quickly or on campuses with significant travel distance between the shop and where they’re mowing. They usually want a mower with a top speed over 10 MPH.
Even homeowners can make their mowing chores more efficient with some decent top-end speed, though. 7 MPH or more is a good benchmark for those models. If you tend to take your mowing more casually, 5 – 6 MPH is just fine.
The larger your lawn, the more time you need to spend in the driver’s seat of your riding lawn mower, and the more comfort comes into play. Entry-level mowers are going to bounce you around more than mid-range and high-end models. Look for a seat with plenty of cushioning, an adjustable tension knob, and enough travel for you to sit without having to scrunch up.
Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews
Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested anything or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers? That’s not us. We won’t recommend anything unless we’d actually use it ourselves, and we don’t really care who the primary retailer is. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.
We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.
Each year, we bring in and review more than 350 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.
Pro Tool Reviews consults with innovators in the technology and design of tools to gain a broader grasp of where these products fit and how they work.
We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites. We consult with them extensively on testing methods, categories, and practical applications.
Our site will provide more than 500 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers. That includes objective evaluations of individual tools and products.
The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.
The Best Lawn Mowers of 2023
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases made through the links below may earn us and our publishing partners a commission. were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
The Honda HRX217VKA is powerful, heavy and ideal for larger lawns. Read
Ego Power LM2135SP
This mower is powerful, comfortable, and a joy to use. It performed extremely well mulching and driving itself uphill. Read
Honda has produced superior power equipment for many years and this mower, which operates with rear-wheel drive, is no exception. Read
Kobalt KM 5080-06
The electric Kobalt KM 5080-06 was flexible and easy to operate, and can run bagged or bagless. Read
The Hart HLPM061US performed well across terrains and has a simple to use speed control. Read
Until just a few short years ago, gas lawn mowers were king. As more consumers are seeking eco-friendly cars, homes, and, yes, power equipment, advanced battery technology answers the call.
Today, consumers can drive an electric car, thrive in a solar-powered home and maintain their property with battery-powered equipment. But are the new electric push lawn mowers as good as the old internal combustion mowers? We decided to find out.
We tested gasoline, electric-corded, and battery-powered lawn mowers from the leading brands. We were eager to see if the battery-powered mowers could handle a large yard as well as the tried-and-true gasoline models. We weren’t disappointed. The Honda HRX217VKA (available at Amazon) came out on top as Best Overall, edging out its predecessor and our previous winner, the Honda HRN216VKA.
For the non-gasoline mowers, the Ego Power LM2135SP (available at Walmart) is our choice for Best Electric Lawn Mower. This mower set-up was quick, and it handled our testing well. The Ego Power also includes features not found on similar electric models.
The Honda HRX217VKA was a pleasure to use.
- Power source: Gas
- Self-propelled: Yes
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Rear discharge or shred leaves
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 113 lbs
Quiet and powerful, the Honda HRX217VKA 21-inch NeXite lawn mower is the one to have for larger spaces. It is not designed for small yards, and you won’t be darting in and out of flower beds and shrubbery.
It is a pleasure to use. We had tested Honda mowers before and were familiar with their operation and overall product quality. The HRX217VKA did not disappoint. Easy to assemble and set up right out of the box, it started on the first pull of the cord.
Right away you can feel the heft of this mower with its innovative NeXite deck and powerful motor. It’s heavier than most mowers, but it feels planted on the lawn and tracks perfectly. It’s a mower for large lawns, and it makes the most difficult cuts a breeze.
With its 200cc motor and Select Drive Control, this mower easily cuts, bags and mulches the heaviest grass with ease. The Select Drive Control is almost intuitive as it lets you adjust the walking speed with a variety of settings.
The controls on the mower are large and easy to use. You can set the mower to bag or mulch or anywhere in between. Its user-friendly platform is clearly marked. You will use this lawn mower for years and years to come.
The Ego Power LM2135SP is the best electric lawn mower we’ve tested.
- Power source: Electric/battery
- Self-propelled: Yes
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Side discharge
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 88 lbs
Until a few years ago, those who preferred not to buy an internal combustion mower had little choice. But advanced battery technology has finally arrived and the benefits can readily be seen in the Ego Power LM2135SP, a 21-inch self-propelled electric mower. This cordless mower with a cutting width of 21 inches utilizes a 56-volt lithium ion battery to power through up to 60 minutes of lawn cutting.
The Ego Power is powerful, comfortable, and a joy to use. Even though the battery only lasted about an hour, the mower performed extremely well mulching and driving itself uphill. It has plenty of torque and is capable of doing anything a gasoline-powered mower can do. It is clean, easy to use, and efficient.
The set-up on this mower was the easiest of the bunch. The handle slides and folds across the mower with ease, making storage a snap. Adjusting it to a personal height takes seconds.
A quick 50-minute charge on the battery and you’re ready to go. The battery charger even has a cooling fan that improves charging times and keeps the battery cool.
Like some of our other mowers, the Ego Power has twin blades that improve mulching and keep the trips to empty the rear bag to a minimum. Cutting height is achieved with one easy-to-access lever.
Operation is straightforward, and the composite deck makes the mower light and easy to maneuver around yard obstacles. Simply depress the power button, pull the green handle and the blades begin to spin. Dual buttons on the handle make engaging the self-propel feature safe and comfortable.
The Ego Power comes with LED headlights for convenience, and it was the only mower we tested that could propel itself when the blades were not spinning. This was a nice feature that eliminated pushing the mower back to the garage.
Other Lawn Mowers We Tested
Previously our pick for best lawn mower, the Honda HRN216VKA is a 21-inch self-propelled gas mower that’s a great choice for any yard. Honda has produced superior power equipment for many years, and this mower, which operates with rear-wheel drive, is no exception. It can handle the toughest lawns with ease and won’t take up much room in the garage.
The set-up was easy and the mower started on the first pull. Its smooth engine is quieter than the other gasoline mowers, and it has more than enough power to cut and mulch the grass even while going uphill.
The Honda has a stacked and offset blade design that produces smaller clippings, which allows for better mulching and bagging. This means more efficient cutting and fewer stops to empty the grass bag. The bagging and mulching options can be easily and safely selected, once the mower is off, by using one lever on the mowing deck.
The innovative self-propel system is comfortable on the hands, provides adequate speed control, and can even be adjusted for those who are taller or shorter. Folding the handle for storage can be done quickly. This Honda lawn mower even has a gas shut-off valve for off-season storage.
- Power source: Electric/battery
- Self-propelled: No
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Side discharge
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 66 lbs
The Kobalt 80V 21-inch electric mower is a great choice for anyone that wants an affordable, flexible, compact mower that is easy to maneuver and doesn’t require extension cords or gas cans. The mower is strong enough to chop through thick grass, and offers a highly adjustable cutting height.
At 66 pounds it is very easy to operate, with the ability to go bagged or bagless, and you can fold up the push handle for compact storage.
The main draw here is the 80V battery system, which gives you an hour of runtime in our testing, enough to cut about 7,500 square feet on a full charge. It also works in a variety of other Kobalt tools, and spares will run you right around 150. Charging the battery takes around 45 minutes when it’s dead, and it just pops into the battery slot and the mower can turn on with a press of a button if the safety key is inserted—much easier than having to use a traditional pull start.
Overall if you need a nice, basic mower to get the job done and want to go cordless, this is an excellent choice. It cuts clean lines, it’s easy to use, it can handle most lawns with ease, and the light weight makes it much easier to move up and around slopes and hills.
Especially if you’re planning to invest in a range of electric tools, this is a good system to buy into.
- Power source: Electric/battery
- Self-propelled: Yes
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Side discharge
- Drive: All-wheel
- Weight: 89.5 lbs
This Hart lawnmower was a pleasant surprise.
After removing it from the box and charging the batteries, we fired it up and took it out to the thick, lush grass.
It performed beautifully; its powerful electric motor cut through the lawn with ease and even increased its revolutions when we cut thicker grass. This mower easily handles a larger lawn.
The Hart mower moved with power and confidence through the lawn, and the simple-to-use speed control was right there at your fingertips. While our winning Honda gas mower has a sophisticated Select Drive System, the Hart’s simple slide bar works as well or better.
This excellent lawnmower has the power and convenience of mowers costing much more.
The Toro is a worthy competitor to the top-ranking mowers on this list.
This Toro lawn mower has the largest cutting area at 22 inches, and it is powerful and comfortable to use, thanks to its Personal Pace self-propel system.
To engage the self-propel, simply push the lever forward a bit and the mower begins to move forward, push it a little more and the mower moves faster. After a couple of rows of cutting, you will see how easy it is to regulate speed. This system is not as intuitive as some of the others, but it still works quite well.
Another great feature: The Toro has Briggs and Stratton’s check-don’t-change oil system that never requires an oil change.
Storage is also a snap as the handle folds down and the mower can be stored vertically.
- Power source: Electric/battery
- Self-propelled: No
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Rear discharge
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 58 lbs
At just 58 pounds, this mower makes cutting small lawns a lot of fun. The rear discharge chute allows you trim close to trees, beds, and shrubbery. I found myself zipping around obstacles using only one hand.
This is a simple machine with one battery in the center. Charging time is quick, and once the battery is in you’re on your way.
This is not a lawn mower for the back 40. With a 20-inch cut and a small electric motor, it is just not capable of handling larger lawns. But for most mid to small yards, this mower can clean up the area in no time.
Light and easy to store, this is the perfect mower to keep a lawn looking great.
- Power source: Electric/battery
- Self-propelled: Yes
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Side discharge
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 78 lbs
The 21-inch Ryobi RY401150 40-volt brushless mower set up quickly and easily right out of the box. It includes double blades and cuts clean and clear.
This mower comes with two batteries that can be installed in the top of the machine. One notable drawback is that only one battery powers the mower at a time—cut your grass for approximately 30 minutes and when the first battery is depleted, you stop and move a switch to engage the second battery. Ryobi says that the batteries will last for 70 minutes, but stopping to change batteries seems counterproductive.
Otherwise, the mower performed well and completed all of the tests. It has a one-lever height adjustment and is light enough to maneuver around obstacles. It has plenty of power and handled the hill with little strain.
While both the Ego Power and Ryobi were solid performers on the electric front, the Ryobi was let down by its self-propel controls. The controls are located under the bar, but the lever is vague and unresponsive. Because the lever is designed for thumbs only, you need to push the lever in an awkward manner to get the mower up to speed.
- Power source: Electric/corded
- Self-propelled: No
- Cutting options: Bag, Mulch, Side discharge
- Drive: Rear-wheel
- Weight: 65 lbs
For a corded mower, the Greenworks 25022 lawn mower performed quite well. The set-up was easy, and once it was plugged in, it started right up.
Of course, before you use the mower there is the time-consuming task of unearthing your extension cord, unraveling it, and finding a suitable outdoor plug. Once plugged in, the mower embraces its purpose with ease.
It has a powerful 12-amp electric motor that may not conquer larger lawns, but is perfect for smaller yards and trimming duties. Not to mention it offers clean and even mowing.
Not being self-propelled, it takes some effort to push the lawn mower and cord uphill and then navigate a path back so as to not cut your cord.
Its small size makes storage a breeze.
The 14-inch Sun Joe MJ401E lawn mower is the easiest to store. Its diminutive size makes it the perfect lawn mower for small yards and trimming duties. It’s light enough to pick up and move, and it comes with an easy-to-use bagging system.
Still, this is not a lawn mower for cutting the typical suburban lawn, as its lightweight, short wheel base and small wheels make it a little unstable over roots and ruts.
Of all of the lawnmowers tested, the Sun Joe provided the most difficulty when it came time to adjust the height of the blades. The mower utilizes solid axles, front and rear, and the axles are located in a three-notch system under the mower. To change the height of the cut, you need to pull the spring-loaded axles from their positions and move them up or down. It’s a challenging exercise.
The Sun Joe is corded, so cutting area is limited. To its credit, it’s powerful enough when running, but the limited scope means you will have a hard time tackling an entire yard.
The Craftsman M220 is one of the more cumbersome mowers we’ve tested. Set up was more involved—to adjust it to my height I had to first kneel on the floor and remove two fasteners from the bottom of the handle and then pull the handle out of the body. Another two fasteners at the base of the handle allowed me to set the handle angle. The better mowers have release buttons and adjusting levers that allow the operator to make these adjustments quickly and safely while standing.
The mower started on the first pull and seemed to have enough power to tackle any lawn. However, the two levers on top of the handle—one to start and one for speed of self-propulsion—are difficult to operate. Both are difficult to grab if your hands are small to medium, and the levers are too far from the handle for comfortable operation. They’re also not intuitively placed; you have to look each time you make a pass.
The biggest disadvantage of this mower is that it is equipped with front-wheel drive. When self-propelled mowers first came out many years ago, a front-drive system was easy for manufacturers to design and implement and the homeowner didn’t have to push dead weight. The design worked for many years because there was nothing else. But over the years rear-drive systems were developed and it produced a more balanced, more comfortable cutting experience.
When cutting a lawn, the operator naturally has some weight on the handle. Add to this the weight of the grass in the bag off the back of the mower and you have a very light front end. Because the weight of the mower is not over the wheels, the front wheels tend to spin and grasp through each pass. This results in uneven lines, a hard to control mower (especially on a bumpy terrain), premature wearing out of the plastic front wheels, and difficulty trying to trim around obstacles. This antiquated front drive system really lets this mower down.
- Controls are cumbersome
- Front Drive System limits control and comfort
- Not nimble around obstacles
How We Tested Lawn Mowers
We spent the summer mowing a half-acre New England lawn, over and over again.
Kevin Kavanaugh is a retired public school teacher and a product tester for Reviewed. Kevin has been cutting lawns for just about 50 years. He has always been intrigued by all things mechanical, be it watches, power equipment, vintage bicycles, or classic cars.
Ray Lane is a retired supermarket store manager, avid golfer, and product tester for Reviewed. His lawn is the envy of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and he has used several push mowers over the years. At 83 years of age, his input on the mowers was critical, specifically when evaluating ease of starting, maneuverability, and safety.
We tested lawn mowers on both flat land and hills to test maneuverability and power.
After ordering from retailers like Lowe’s and The Home Depot, we assembled each mower and took note of the ease of the set up and how quickly we could adjust the handle to our preference. We then added gasoline, a battery, or an electrical cord to get the mower ready. We evaluated at the ease of setting the cutting height, first testing a high cutting height and then a lower one.
We took each mower on a few passes of an uncut half-acre lawn, measuring approximately 22,000 square feet, noting how it cut at a high height and a lower height while we monitored both the bagging and mulching features. Then we took each mower up and down a grassy hill to see how they performed. Our final test was testing storage capability.
What You Should Know About Lawn Mowers
Self-propelled lawn mowers can take some of the effort out of walk-behind mowing.
There are two basic types of walk-behind mowers: push and self-propelled.
The push type of mower is usually smaller, lighter, and easier to store. They are used primarily for smaller, level lawns. They are perfect for cleaning up areas that larger riding lawn mowers may miss. They can be run by gasoline, cords, or battery.
Self-propelled lawn mowers usually have a larger cutting diameter and can move on their own through operator controls. These mowers can also be powered by gasoline, cords, or battery. Since they take the brunt of the pushing away, self-propelled mowers are perfect for larger lawns up to a half-acre, and they can easily handle hills and sloped lawns. These self-propelled mowers aren’t fully robotic lawn mowers so you still have to do some work guiding them around your yard.
What Is A Self-propelled Lawn Mower?
The first self-propelled lawn mowers started to appear in the late-1960s. As suburbia grew and lawns got larger, pushing a heavy steel mower around on a summer afternoon wasn’t what most people wanted to be doing.
The first self-propelled mowers had primitive front-wheel drive systems that worked well enough, but the mowers often moved along too slowly. Sure, you weren’t pushing but you were caught in a slow-moving lawn-cutting procession. Early mowers either moved too slowly or too fast to match a natural walking speed.
Today’s mowers offer a much better propulsion system. The Honda NeXite Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk Behind Self-propelled Mower with Select Drive Control, for example, allows a variety of walking speed settings. Owners can literally dial in their preferred walking speed so that they become one with the mower, not being pulled and not having to push.
The Ego Power Select Cut 56-Volt Brushless 21-in Self-propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower even allows the operator to drive out to the lawn without the blades turning. That is a great feature.
Today’s self-propelled mowers reduce operator fatigue and make cutting the grass easier than years ago. Self-propelled mowers make cutting on hills safer and more efficient. And with modern speed options they make a summertime chore a little more enjoyable.
Gasoline, Corded Electric, or Battery—Which Lawn Mower is Right for You?
Battery-powered lawn mowers can be powerful and efficient.
Gasoline-powered lawnmowers have kept lawns manicured for decades. They are powerful, reliable, and affordable, and come with features such as self-propelled movement, mulching features, and self-cleaning availability. They are powerful enough for large lawn care jobs and can tackle any lawn from a quarter- to half-acre acre. Any lawn bigger than that would necessitate a riding mower.
But gas-powered mowers emit dangerous carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, require yearly maintenance, and require the storage of gasoline and oil. This may not be suitable for some consumers.
Corded electric mowers have been around for years and were historically the choice of consumers who had smaller lawns and didn’t need the more powerful gasoline mower. While powerful enough to get most cutting or trimming jobs done, the one obvious drawback to a corded mower is the electrical cord.
For any yard worthy of mowing, a long electrical extension cord is required to power the mower. This can be a minor annoyance, such as having to keep the cord free from getting tangled in trees and bushes, to a major annoyance when you drive over it and cut it into small pieces.
However, corded electric mowers require no gas, oil, or maintenance and, other than a blade sharpening from time to time, can perform reliably for years.
Battery-powered cars, power equipment, and tools have been around for a long time. The electric motors were strong and reliable enough, but the battery was not. Just a few years ago, an electric car could expect to go only 100 miles on a charge, and power tools and equipment didn’t last long either. In the past few years, battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds.
Electric cars can expect hundreds of miles on a charge and power tools and equipment can last a full day. This lithium battery technology found its way to lawnmowers and it has created a viable option for those consumers who don’t want gas and don’t want a cord. These battery-powered mowers are powerful, efficient, lightweight, and green. Many now use brushless electric motors, which are more efficient, produce more torque, and are longer lasting than the older electric motors with brushes.
How often should I mow my lawn?
Cutting the lawn too often and only cutting it when it gets overgrown are both unhealthy for a lush, beautiful lawn. The rule of thumb in the lawn-care industry is to keep the grass between 3 inches and 3.5 inches in length. This allows the grass to be long enough to thrive in hot, summer weather.
When cutting grass, never take more than a third of the blade at once. In other words, never cut more than an inch or so. Not only does this cause clumping of grass on the lawn or in the mower bag, but it takes too many nutrients and moisture from the grass itself.
After the late winter fertilizer treatments and the often heavy rains, lawns start to come to life. You’ll find that the grass will need cutting every 4 to 5 days in order to remove just enough length. As the summer wanes on and the temperature rises, the grass will grow a bit slower and a once week cutting is adequate.
It is also important to keep the blades of your lawnmower good and sharp. Since the lawnmower blades are often made of steel, they will develop a dull edge after a season of cutting. A dull edge on a blade will tear the grass and not cut it. This may result in browning of the tips of the grass and put more stress on the mower as well.
While you are under the deck checking those blades—and always disconnect the spark plug wire before going under the mower—be sure there is no old clumped up grass clinging to the mower deck.
Meet the testers
Director, Content Development
TJ is the Director of Content Development at Reviewed. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled Cranberry Capitol of the World, which is, in fact, a real thing.
Kevin Kavanaugh is a retired public school teacher and a product tester for Reviewed. Kevin has been cutting lawns for just about 50 years. He has always been intrigued by all things mechanical, be it watches, power equipment, vintage bicycles, or classic cars.
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Make your yard the envy of your neighbors with one of these top lawn mowers.
By Tony Carrick and Mark Wolfe and Glenda Taylor | Updated May 18, 2023 4:59 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
A good lawn mower is crucial for maintaining a lush, well-manicured lawn. With so many options and brands to choose from, selecting a mower that is appropriate for your yard can be challenging. To this task easier for you, we got our hands on some of the most popular options and put them to the test on our own lawns.
Whether you’re replacing an old mower for your current lawn or buying one to maintain a new property, it’s important to choose one that fits the size and terrain of the property. This guide explores the features and factors that are important to consider when shopping for the best lawn mower while reviewing some of the top models on the market.
We tested the following lawn mowers to find out how they would perform in terms of cutting ability, finish quality, and operator comfort. Read on to learn more about the criteria we used to select our picks. Then check out our lawn mower reviews to learn why we consider these models to be some of the best lawn mowers available.
- BEST OVERALL:Honda 21-Inch Walk Behind Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Craftsman M220 150-cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- BEST3-IN-1:DeWALT 2X20V MAX 21.5-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- BEST BATTERY-POWERED:Ego Power 21-Inch Mower
- BEST RIDING LAWN MOWER:John Deere S130 42-Inch Lawn Tractor
- BEST CORDED LAWN MOWER:American Lawn Mower 14-Inch 120V Corded Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:Toro 50-Inch TimeCutter Zero Turn Mower
- BEST ROBOTIC:Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST ECO-FRIENDLY:Makita 36V XML03 Electric Lawn Mower
How We Chose the Best Lawn Mowers
All of the mowers included in our list exceeded quality standards established in our shopping criteria and proved worthy through testing. We selected each of the above mowers based on our previously mentioned shopping considerations. After sourcing the mowers and assembling the mowers according to the manufacturer’s instructions, we tested them in an average yard in order to gauge capabilities in several key areas. The most critical aspects we observed included general quality and durability, mowing power and cut quality, and operator comfort and convenience.
We also tested each according to its claimed abilities. Riding mowers were used for larger and sometimes rougher areas and were assessed for power, speed, and comfort. Walk-behind and push mowers were mostly restricted to testing on well-established and well-maintained lawn spaces and closely monitored for cut quality and user convenience. We actually pre-mowed the grass ahead of testing the robot mower since it is intended to maintain rather than reduce grass height.
Our Top Picks
We tested mowers that range from corded lawn mowers for small yards to powerful self-propelled gas lawn mowers for medium-size yards to riding mowers that can handle 3 acres or more. Read on to learn more about these mowers, how they performed during our grass tests, and why we think they are some of the best.
Honda 21-Inch Walk Behind Mower
Whether it’s a car, generator, or lawn mower, it’s tough to beat the reliability and durability of Honda engines—and such is the case with this self-propelled gas lawn mower. Its powerful GCV170 engine powers not just one but two blades, giving it a cleaner, more precise cut over most other gas-powered lawn mowers that have just a single blade.
With its rear-wheel drive, this mower is ideal to contend with yards that have slopes and more-rugged terrain. Its engine is formidable, and so are its features. An easy-to-use clip system makes it simple to switch between its three grass-clipping options—mulching, side discharge, and bagging—and the well-designed speed controls add to the quality of this premium self-propelled walk-behind mower.
In our tests, this Honda walk-behind mower’s high-quality components and thoughtful design really stood out. The engine layout and oversize gas gap made fueling up and adding oil easy and can simplify oil and filter changes. After a quick 5-minute assembly of the handle and bagger and adding fuel and oil, the mower started on the first pull. The engine ran smoothly and surprisingly quietly.
The variable-speed controller at first felt awkward until we realized that we could adjust the angle to any of five positions. The mower had plenty of power for mowing and driving the wheels, even in dense, tall grass, and on steep slopes. If the goal is to find a top-quality walk-behind mower that is easy to use and leaves a great-looking finish, this would make an excellent choice.
- Power source: Honda GCV170 gas engine
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- Twin-blade mowing system for finer mulching
- Auto choke for fast, easy starting
- Variable speed, 0 to 4 miles per hour
- Clip system makes changing cutting modes easy
Get the Honda lawn mower at Amazon or Lowe’s.
Craftsman M220 150-cc 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mow
Craftsman is a well-established, well-respected brand in the world of lawn mowers, and this gas-powered model is no exception. It boasts a powerful 140-cc engine and an ample 21-inch mowing deck, making it ideal for yards up to ¾ of an acre.
Large 8-inch rear wheels with heavy tread make it easy to push this mower, while six cutting heights offer versatility. The mower also offers three disposal settings: mulch, side discharge, and bag. And while this mower may lack the power assist of other walk-behind mowers, it is significantly cheaper, making it a good choice for those with level yards who may not need a self-propelled mower.
We liked the Craftsman mower’s affordability and simplicity. It only required about 20 minutes of easy assembly. The completed handle configuration was a bit less refined in appearance, the grip area is unpadded metal, and the blade and drive control cables are retained on the handle by heavy-duty cable ties.
After adding oil and gas, the mower started easily on the first pull. It had good power for cutting average lawn grass and pulling uphill, but it bogged down ever so slightly in tall, overgrown grass. The front-wheel-drive feature made turning easy, but a fully loaded bagger could weigh down the rear and cause it to lose traction (we did not experience this). The fuel tank size is adequate to mow about a half acre per fill-up. This could be an excellent value pick for a budget-minded shopper looking for a durable self-propelled mower.
- Power source: 150 cc Briggs Stratton gas engine
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Walk-behind
- Front-wheel drive assists the user while mowing; prevents strain while in use
- Easy to start, no priming or choke required
- Side-discharge, mulch, or bag for ease of cleanup after mowing
- Self-propelled feature is not adjustable; may not be suitable for some users’ preferences
- Non-padded grip could lead to hand fatigue with extended use
Get the Craftsman lawn mower at Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, or Blain’s Farm Fleet.
DeWALT 2X20V MAX 21.5-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
With mulching, bagging, and side-discharge capabilities, the DeWALT 2X20V MAX self-propelled cordless lawn mower has a better-than-average build quality and thoughtful design. Its heavy-duty 21.5-inch, 15-gauge stamped-steel deck adjusts to six different cutting heights from 1.5 to 4 inches. Running on two batteries and offering up to 60 minutes of runtime per charge, this mower is ideal for small to medium yards up to a half acre.
We set up a test area for the DeWALT mower in our yard, with about 10,000 square feet of lawn that included some short but steep slopes, weedy spots, and dense grass. We mowed the test plot three times, requiring just over two full battery charges each time. The DeWALT covered about 5,000 square feet per charge when adjusted to 2.5 inches high with the grass catcher in place. At 3.5 inches, that extended to about 8,000 square feet and 40 minutes of runtime. The controls were well laid out for easy operation, and the cushioned handle felt comfortable while we mowed. Also, this mower is a space saver. With its fold-flat handle and vertical storage capability, it only needs about 2.5 square feet of storage floor space.
The DeWALT 3-in-1 lawn mower features a security-key-enabled push-button start. Its adjustable font-wheel-drive self-propulsion eliminates half the work of mowing, lets you choose your own pace, and works on all kinds of terrain. The motor is equipped with auto-sensing technology that seamlessly increases torque when encountering tougher mowing conditions. In our tests, it was easier to turn than rear-wheel drive mowers. A removable discharge chute, grass catcher, and integrated mulch plug allow for quick conversion to your preferred method of grass-clipping disposal. Overall, the quality of the DeWALT 3-in-1 mower is better than most and is a solid choice for quarter- to half-acre lots.
- Power source: Two 20-volt, 10-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
- Deck size: 21.5 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- Heavy-duty steel mower deck with 3-way grass-clipping management
- Front-wheel drive self-propel system supports safe operation and smooth turns
- Powered by 2 rechargeable DeWALT XR 20-volt (V) lithium-ion batteries
- 2-stage brushless motor preserves battery life and automatically increases power for tougher mowing conditions
- Ergonomic cushioned hand grip are comfortable to use and reduce operator fatigue
- Heavy and cumbersome to maneuver manually without the self-propel feature engaged
- Takes a long time to recharge the batteries with the included DCB107 battery chargers
- The mower’s battery compartment has an awkward design
Get the DeWALT cordless lawn mower at Ace Hardware, The Home Depot (with 3 batteries), Tractor Supply Co., or Acme Tools.
Ego Power 21-Inch Mower
The Ego Power comes ready to mow, including a battery and Rapid charger. The advancements Ego has made with its battery-powered mower sets it atop the cordless models. It boasts 45 minutes of runtime, thanks to its brushless motor and large 56-volt, 5-Ah battery. With its 21-inch deck, the Ego is suitable for yards up to half an acre. The Ego Power also includes other features that make it an attractive buy, including speed controls that the user operates with an intuitive dial and bagging, mulching, or side-discharge capability.
Overall, the Ego Power cordless mower was easy and comfortable to operate in our tests. The preset self-propelled pace felt comfortably moderate but not leisurely. The mower had no difficulty cutting normal grass and did not bog down noticeably in thick, tall grass. Finish quality was good to excellent.
We did notice that mowing in “push” mode (without the self-propelled motor running) extended battery life by about 20 minutes to as much as 65 minutes per charge. Buying a second battery for extended runtime, or as backup for tougher mowing, may be a wise investment. This mower would be a good choice for small and midsize lawns up to about a half acre and for owners who want to reduce noise, exhaust, and fuel handling.
- Power source: 56-volt, 5-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
- 45 minutes of runtime per charge; suitable for small- to large-sized yards
- Battery charges in less than an hour; suitable for multiple uses or yards
- Battery works with many other Ego Power tools
- Emits power similar to a gasoline mower
- Higher cost than gas mower with similar power
- Poor traction on slopes; may not be ideal for hilly yards
- Noisy drive system; may not be ideal for nighttime mowing
Get the Ego lawn mower at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Lowe’s.
John Deere S130 42-Inch Lawn Tractor
Larger yards from ½ to 2 acres call for a bigger machine for mowing. The John Deere S130, with its 22-horsepower V-twin engine and 42-inch deck, offers excellent mowing ability plus performance and comfort features that extend its range of use. The 20 by 10-8 rear tires and wide stance provide excellent stability and help to cushion the ride. It features hydrostatic operation, single-lever throttle with spring-return choke, ergonomic deck-height adjustment lever, dash-mounted digital fuel gauge, LED headlights, and John Deere’s Easy Change 30-second oil change system. The included drop-pin towing hitch and PTO make it compatible with a wide range of John Deere branded and non-branded yard implements such as utility carts, spreaders, sweepers, snow blowers, and more.
In our extensive test, the S130 lawn tractor proved to be a comfortable, capable riding mower with good maneuverability in a wide range of conditions. It easily handled grassy slopes up to 13 degrees (4.5 vertical feet per 20 linear feet), which is the limit recommended by the manufacturer. Measured against leading competitors, it offered a tighter real-life turning radius thanks to superior weight balance, and a seat base that is 3 inches higher to provide a better operator vantage point.
The high, open-back seat was well cushioned and supportive while allowing excellent ventilation. The deck height, blade engagement, and throttle controls were well positioned for convenience and safe operation. Even with the slightly elevated price tag, this mower offers tons of value, making it an excellent choice for most larger yards.
- Power source: 22-horsepower V-twin gas engine
- Deck size: 42 inches
- Type: Lawn tractor
- High vantage point for optimal viewing of the yard and machine while mowing
- Tight turning radius allows for clean and even cutting paths
- Comfortable seat and controls make it easy for the user to mow the lawn
- Should not require much maintenance to keep running for years
Get the John Deere riding lawn mower at Lowe’s or a local John Deere dealer.
American Lawn Mower 14-Inch 120V Corded Mower
Corded lawn mowers make an easy, affordable choice for smaller yards where a gas-powered mower would be a hassle. This mower from American Lawn Mower Company can keep the yard looking great at a low price point, without worrying about the mess or expense of gasoline or batteries.
Its 14-inch deck suits smaller yards and smaller storage areas. At about 20 pounds, this mower is easy to maneuver for those who might struggle with a heavier model. It also has a surprising range of options, allowing one to bag or mulch clippings (though it oddly has no side-discharge option). It also offers a convenient single lever for height control, eliminating the need to make height adjustments for each wheel individually.
In our tests, this model delivered a rock-solid performance. Assembly, which entailed installation of the handle and cord retainers, took about 10 minutes to complete. It mowed well, even in dense, weedy grass, and the bagger worked well. The small size and lightweight build limit this mower’s practicality more than its corded motor does.
By starting close to the electrical outlet and mowing progressively farther away, we easily minimized the risk of cord damage or entanglement. As an affordable mower for small yards, with arguably the least environmental impact, this quiet, capable corded electric model could be the best choice.
- Durable, maintenance-free electric motor; eco-friendly compared to similar options
- Lightweight and easy to use; offers excellent maneuverability
- Offers bagging and mulching options for easy clean-up after mowing
- Not ideal for large-sized yards; suitable for only the smallest yards
- No side-discharge option; may not be ideal for some users’ needs
Get the American Lawn Mower electric lawn mower at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
Toro 50-Inch TimeCutter Zero Turn Mower
If spending an entire afternoon mowing the lawn isn’t a problem, those with yards that could house a couple of football fields require a mowing deck that can level large swaths of green in a single pass. With its massive 50-inch deck, the aptly named TimeCutter from Toro is ready for a big job. This large mower, which boasts a 24.5-horsepower engine, can reach speeds of up to 7 miles per hour, making it capable of handling yards of 3 acres or more.
Toro also makes sure the operator will be comfortable while covering all that ground with its adjustable MyRIDE suspension system that absorbs bumps in the lawn as well as vibrations from the engine. Plush seating provides support and comfort for longer mowing sessions. Toro also includes other useful features, including a foot-lever-assisted deck-height adjustment, toolless oil-change system, and a cupholder.
When we tested the 50-inch Toro TimeCutter, we timed its performance on a 1-acre area of an old field converted to lawn. The MyRIDE suspension system smoothed out the ruts and bumps for a comfortable ride at near top speed. It mowed the acre in 20 minutes, a blistering 3-acres-per-hour pace. The finish quality was excellent, and it used less than 3 quarts of gasoline. As a point of comparison, a 22-HP, 46-inch lawn tractor that has been used to mow the same area takes nearly an hour and uses more than 1.25 gallons of gas.
Even before factoring in the amazingly comfortable ride, we appreciated the prospect of mowing in one-third the time and reducing fuel and maintenance expenses by half on this large lot. For large grassy areas, it’s hard to beat the efficiency of a zero turn mower, and the TimeCutter makes an excellent pick.
- Huge mowing deck makes this model ideal for medium- to large-sized yards
- Shock-absorbing suspension system integrated; can tackle tough jobs without causing strain to the user
- Large engine is capable of cutting thicker grass varieties
Get the Toro TimeCutter lawn mower at The Home Depot or a local Toro dealer.
Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
Pushing the edge of lawn mower technology further is this robotic lawn mower from Worx. It functions similarly to a robot vacuum cleaner by mowing a preset area of up to a quarter acre on its own. The operator sets up wire barriers that the lawn mower won’t cross, ensuring it only mows in a set area. It has a laser eye that guides it around any obstacles that might be in the yard. A single front caster and two large rear-drive wheels carry it through the yard while allowing it to turn on a dime.
The Worx Landroid M can also connect to a Smart device, through which the user can program daily schedules or direct the mower to stop or start. It runs off the same 20-volt Worx battery that powers the company’s other yard tools and will automatically return to its charging station when the battery gets low.
Testing the Landroid M required a detailed setup process, but then the operation was almost completely hands-off. After installing the Landroid mobile app, the base station, boundary wire, and establishing the mower’s Wi-Fi connection, we programmed the robot for a daily mowing schedule. Setup and programming were straightforward with easy-to-follow instructions and tutorial videos on the Landroid app. The whole process took about 2.5 hours, including time taken to watch videos. The covered area included a sloped section, a narrow corridor, a broad contiguous area, and an off-limits landscape bed.
Landroid mowed on time every time and stayed inbounds without a problem. On an evening when rain moved in during the mowing cycle, Landroid’s rain sensor picked it up and sent the unit back to its base station to wait it out. The only challenge we encountered was that the mower initially did not dock properly after mowing because the base station was not sitting level. After fixing that issue, it simply worked.
A week after we installed the Landroid, the grass it cut still looked freshly mowed with the exception of the edges, while the adjacent lawn outside Landroid’s coverage needed to be cut. Those looking to infuse the time-, fuel-, and labor-saving benefits of robotics into their lawn care routine would do well to consider Landroid.
- Mows up to ¼ of an acre with ease
- Can be controlled via an app through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
- Brushless motor extends battery life; suitable for small to large yards
- Onboard rain sensor protects the mower from potential damage
Get the Worx robotic lawn mower at Amazon.
Makita 36V XML03 Electric Lawn Mower
The Makita XML03, an 18-inch, battery-powered lawn mower, comes with four included batteries, and the claim that it will mow up to 1/3 acre on a single charge, so we tested that claim. We marked out a 1/3-acre area on our lawn and mowed with the Makita XML03 six times over three weeks.
During testing, the Makita mower completed all but one mowing session without battery depletion—with a small battery charge remaining. However, when we tested the mower on damp grass, we depleted all four batteries before we could finish the session. Keep in mind that the Makita mower is not self-propelled, so ultimately, the mowing area will depend on user speed and grass thickness.
Operating at 3,300 rpm, its single blade matches the speed of gas-powered mowers, but dense grass resistance can hinder spinning speed. The trick to overcoming this issue is to mow more frequently—while the grass height is low enough, you’re not removing any more than 1/3 of the grass leaf.
The height adjustment (a single lever on the back right wheel) is convenient; the mower’s deck height range of 13/16 inch to 3 inches could have been improved. This limitation may impact those with specific grass types or desired cutting heights. Although a typical range of 2-1/2 to 3 inches covers many grass varieties, species such as tall fescue are often mowed at 3-1/2 inches high.
The Makita’s detachable grass-catching bag holds 1.7 bushels (16 gallons), which is on the small side, and we had to empty the clippings frequently. But overall, the Makita XML03 meets its mowing claims with reliable battery performance. It starts at the press of a button and is much quieter than gas-powered mowers, so you won’t upset the neighbors if you mow early on a Saturday morning.
- Power source: Two 18-volt, 4-Ah lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
- Deck size: 18 inches
- Type: Walk-behind
- Environmentally friendly battery power eliminates the necessity for carbon-emitting gas and oil
- Produces less noise than gas-powered mowers, ensuring peaceful early morning mowing without disturbing neighbors
- Comes with 4 batteries upon purchase, allowing for convenient swapping of charged sets when 1 set runs out
- Simple push-button start eliminates the need for tugging cords or priming pumps
- The relatively narrow 18-inch swath width may result in time-consuming mowing for larger yards
- The Makita XML03 lacks self-propulsion, making it challenging to push on inclines
- The grass-clipping bag has a small capacity, so frequent emptying may be necessary
Get the Makita Lawn Mower at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
What to Consider When Choosing a Lawn Mower
In addition to mower type, it’s vital to consider other factors like deck size and fuel requirements when shopping for a lawn mower. Ahead, learn more about these and other important characteristics of lawn mowers.
Types of Lawn Mowers
The first step to selecting the right mower is to decide which type of mower best suits the yard.
Walk-behind mowers consist of two different kinds of mower: push and self-propelled. Self-propelled mowers have power wheels that pull the mower forward. Some self-propelled mowers have an adjustment feature to increase or decrease the travel speed for improved operator comfort and convenience. Manual mowers have no power-assisted wheels and must be pushed manually by the user.
Riding mowers include zero-turn mowers, lawn tractors, and rear-engine riding mowers. Zero-turn mowers, the most expensive lawn mowers on the market, have a motor that sits behind the operator and are controlled using two levers. The mowers get their name from their ability to pivot 360 degrees in place. Zero-turn mowers also have very broad mowing decks. Their size and maneuverability make them ideal for cutting large lawns with obstacles the user must drive around.
A lawn tractor looks similar to a farm tractor with its motor in the front of the mower. The user operates the tractor from a driver’s seat using a steering wheel. Lawn tractors have broad mowing decks but do not have the small turning radius of a zero-turn tractor. Because of their balance and traction, lawn tractors are well suited for mowing hilly terrain and may be used for other property management tasks like towing a utility cart or plowing snow.
Rear-engine lawn mowers are similar to lawn tractors but have their engines in the rear. Rear-engine lawn tractors typically have smaller decks, though they allow for greater visibility and nimbler handling for the operator.
The newest type of lawn mower, robotic mowers look similar to robotic vacuum cleaners, only they are larger and have bigger wheels that enable them to move through grass. Robotic lawn mowers can mow a yard automatically while being controlled via a Smart device.
These lawn mowers are powered by a rechargeable battery and can be programmed to mow the lawn at programmed times and intervals. Robotic mowers require the user to set up wires in the yard that create boundaries for the mower so it doesn’t wander away. They also use laser-eye technology that spots obstacles in the yard so the mower can evade them.
Self-propelled mowers come in different drive wheel options including front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive.
- Front-wheel drive mowers are easier to turn by allowing the operator to raise the front wheels and use the back wheels to pivot.
- Rear-wheel drive mowers place the bulk of the mower’s weight over the drive wheels, creating better traction for climbing inclines and slopes.
- All-wheel drive mowers are well suited for yards with more extreme slopes and rougher terrain.
Cutting Width and Yard Size
A mower’s deck size determines the width of the swath of grass it can cut with each pass and hence how quickly it can mow the lawn. A wider deck also makes a mower less nimble, which can make it awkward to mow small lawns with flower beds, trees, and gardens to navigate.
A walk-behind mower with a deck up to 22 inches is usually a good size for a smaller yard of up to about half an acre. Riding mowers with decks that range between 30 and 46 inches are a good choice for lawns up to 1 acre. Zero turn mowers and lawn tractors with 48- to 60-inch decks can be efficient choices for larger properties.
Lawn mowers can use three types of fuel sources: corded electricity, gas, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
Electric mowers supply a constant source of power; however, they are limited by a cord that connects to a standard wall outlet. This makes corded lawn mowers somewhat awkward to use. However, they are extremely durable, have no batteries to recharge or replace, and are almost entirely maintenance free.
Gas-powered lawn mowers provide the greatest amount of power, run a long time on a single tank, and have no recharge time to worry about. However, gas mowers are loud, require more maintenance to keep in top condition than electric mowers, and produce exhaust fumes.
Battery-powered mowers run on lithium-ion batteries. They are easier to start than gas-powered lawn mowers and create no exhaust fumes; however, they are less powerful and are limited to about 45 minutes of runtime per charge. Battery-powered mowers are also significantly more expensive to purchase than gas mowers, and the batteries typically need to be replaced every 5 years.
Mowers come in two blade types: the more common rotary and the cylinder blade. Rotary blades are the type of blade found on most residential lawn mowers. They consist of a blade or blades that spin on a horizontal plane, cross-cutting the tops of grass blades to trim them to the desired height.
Cylinder blades, which can cut grass to a very low height without damaging it, have historically been confined to use on sports fields and golf courses. They consist of a rotating cylinder that is equipped with blades that wrap around the cylinder in a spiral pattern. The blades cut the grass using a shearing action that creates a cleaner cut than rotary blades, which can tear grass and leave a ragged edge.
While cylinder mowers (also known as reel mowers) make more precise cuts, they are not capable of cutting through taller grass. In fact, their cutting ability ranges from a height of about 1/16 of an inch to 1 inch. This limits this type of mower to varieties of grass that can survive being cut to a low height, such as Bermuda grass.
Mowers offer different grass-disposal options including side discharge, mulching, and bagging. Side discharge ejects the grass clippings out of the side of the mower onto the lawn. Mulching keeps the grass clippings under the deck, allowing the blade to cut them multiple times to produce a fine mulch that quickly incorporates into the soil. Mowers that support baggers collect the clippings in a bag at the rear of the mower.
Mowers come with additional features that make them easier to operate and maintain. Deck height adjustment allows the user to increase or decrease the mowing height for optimal lawn health. These useful add-ons include mowing decks with built-in wash-out ports that make them easier to clean, switches that make it easy to change between cutting options, and easy-to-operate variable-speed controls for self-propelled mowers.
Many riding mowers have LED headlights for nighttime mowing, drink holders, adjustable plush ergonomic seating, and many other convenient features.
For those who have concerns about maintaining a lawn mower or are wondering how big an engine the mower needs, read on for answers to these and other common questions.
Q. How long should a lawn mower last?
Most mowers can last about 10 years, depending on how often it is used and how well it is maintained.
Q. How powerful of a lawn mower do I need?
Engine sizes for walk-behind mowers range from 140 cc to 190 cc. For tough terrain with thick grass, a larger engine is usually a better choice.
Q. Can I replace the pull cord on a lawn mower?
Yes. In fact, replacing the pull cord on a mower is a fairly simple repair, requiring just a screwdriver and wrench.
Q. How long does a lawn mower’s battery last?
As a general rule of thumb, a riding lawn mower’s battery can last about 4 years. The rechargeable battery on an electric mower can last about 5 years.
Q. How do I clean my lawn mower?
To clean a mower, tip the mower over to access the deck. Remove any grass clippings or debris that may be wrapped around the blade or stuck to the bottom of the deck. Wet the deck with a garden hose, then spray the underside with an all-purpose cleaner. Scrub the deck with a brush, then rinse thoroughly. Turn the mower back upright and use a damp rag or paper towel to wipe down the housing.
Q. How often do I need to change spark plugs in my lawn mower?
Change the spark plugs in the spring at the beginning of the mowing season or after 100 hours of use.
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Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with a background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor-living goods.
Additional research provided by Tony Carrick and Glenda Taylor.