If you dropped your keys in the grass and you’re having trouble locating them, it’s probably time to give the lawn a trim. Whether you’re new to lawn maintenance or you’re looking to get a new lawn mower, a self-propelled lawn mower could be the right pick for you. Rather than the lawn mowers you sit on — aptly called a riding lawn mower — self-propelled lawn mowers push themselves, and you just guide the mower to wherever you want it to go.
Self-propelled lawn mowers are easier to use than push mower, which are powered by your own movement, and they’re apt for most residential lawns. Self-propelled lawn mowers are good for going over bumpy and hilly areas, but you’ll probably pass out if you try to use it on your multi-acre property as they do require a decent amount of effort to use. We found a self-propelled lawn mower for every kind of person at every budget — these are the seven best self-propelled lawn mowers of 2021.
Best Overall Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Honda HRN216VKA 3-in-1 Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
The gas-powered Honda HRN216VKA houses a powerful motor with variable speed control, with the ability to adapt to the speed of your stride. Because it is a three-in-one lawn mower, the HRN216VKA bags, mulches and discharges without the need for additional tools or accessories. There are five height settings and seven cutting heights, plus with rear wheel drive, hills are just as easy to mow as flat areas. The lawn mower is backed by a three-year warranty, and regular maintenance is uncomplicated.
Best Splurge Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Dewalt DCMWSP244U2 Walk Behind Self-Propelled Mower
Dewalt is a trusted brand of power tools, and a lawn mower falls under that purview. The electric-powered lawn mower from Dewalt has two batteries and two chargers for extra-long runtimes with shorter charging times. The mower has a sensor that adjusts its torque when going over overgrown patches. Reviewers rain praise 0n its ability to cut through grass with ease, and the fact that it folds down to be so compact makes it a great addition to the shed.
Best Budget Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Craftsman M220 Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
The cheapest mower on this list is good on the wallet and also good for your lawn. Housed in the Craftsman M220 is a trustworthy and powerful motor, and it’s armed with a 21-inch, three-in-one deck for mulching, bagging and discharging. There are also six height adjustments for fine-tuning how high you want your grass.
What to Look for in a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Tip #1: Gas Mowers vs. Electric Mowers
Gas mowers tend to trend lower in price than their electric counterparts though they do require you to get a little messy considering you have to refill the gas and change the oil. They also run longer and don’t require long charge times in between trimmings. Gas mowers tend to be louder (think motorcycle revving), but they do work exceptionally well when going through overgrowth.
Electric mowers used to be tethered by cables, but the advent of rechargeable batteries have really pushed electric mowers to popularity. They generally don’t last very long, so they’re more suited to smaller yards. Electric mowers require less maintenance than gas options, and they tend to be lighter in weight and smaller, making them easier to store.
Tip #2: Two Function vs. Three Function
Mowers will either be two function, which bag or mulch, or three function, which allow you to bag, mulch or discharge (either from the side or the rear). More expensive models will offer three functions, though some cheaper models may have the three-in-one function. Not everyone will need the choice for mulching and discharging, so don’t think a three-function mower is always better — it depends on whether or not you need those functions.
Tip #3: Consider Lawn Size
Your lawn size is going to dictate a lot of what you look for in a lawn. Smaller lawns won’t require you to find a mower with super-long runtimes, and you also won’t need mowers with a wide deck. Larger yards may mean you want to look for a gas-powered mower, which typically lasts longer than an electric-powered one. You can also get a wide-cut mower, which means you cut more grass at once, requiring you to make fewer passes across your lawn.
Tip #4: The Drive
Not all lawns are completely flat, and that’s when it’s time to consider drives: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive mowers are ideal for flat terrain, and they’re also a little cheaper than other mowers. They’re easier to maneuver and steer like a charm. Rear-wheel drive mowers put the power into the back wheels, which makes it easier to go over hills. With all-wheel drive mowers, you’ll have some of the best control over bumpy terrain but you will have to shell out a bit more money.
Best Electric Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: EGO POWER+ LM2100SP Self-Propelled Cordless Electric Lawn Mower
With variable speeds between 0.9 and 3.1 miles per hour, the EGO POWER+ LM2100SP lawn mower is easy to use (also thanks to its relatively light weight) and easy to store (thanks to its compact design). It’s a three-in-one lawn mower with six cutting height adjustments, between one inch and four inches. Reviewers laud the lawn mowers ease of control and quiet engine, while also being able to mow wet (which we advise against) and dry grass without much hassle.
Best Gas Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt TB200 2-in-1 Gas FWD Self Propelled Lawn Mower
The all-terrain Troy-Bilt TB200 is an excellent gas-powered mower option for those looking to keep away from the electronics of an electric-powered motor. Choose between rear- or all-wheel drive depending on the terrain, so there’s never any complications whether you’re on a slope or flat land. It has really good handling, making it easy to maneuver small and large yards with ease.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Hills: Toro Recycler 21466 SmartStow
The push-to-startToro Recycler 21466 SmartStow is well-equipped to tackle whatever lawn you put in its path, but it really does do a great job with hills. The mower moves at your pace, without requiring self-adjustment, and the 22-inch deck makes light work out of a tedious chore. The rear 11-inch wheels get excellent traction so you can easily go up and down hills even if they’re slippery. With nine cutting positions, the Recycler has some of the best fine-tuning when it comes to grass height, and the ultra-fine clippings make for premium nourishment for your lawn.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Large Yards: Greenworks Pro MO60L427 Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
This Greenworks Pro has all the takings of a lawn mower meant for large yards. It has a wide 25-inch steel cutting deck, and it’s equipped with two batteries that switch from one to the other for 60 minutes of runtime. Bright LED lights allow you to mow at night, if you’re just dying to get your lawn manicured at any time of day, and the lawn mower is backed by a four-year warranty. Because it folds down easily, the mower can be quickly and efficiently stored until it’s time to tackle grass again.
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