Whether you’ve got acres of lawn or simply a small spot of turf, you’ll want a capable mower that finishes the job.
Consumer Reports has evaluated all types of lawn mowers for mulching, bagging, ease of use, and maneuverability, and assessed features that save you effort and time. We also asked more than 13,800 readers to sound off on mower brand dependability.
Turns out you do not need to pay top dollar to obtain an excellent lawn mower or tractor. Some designs cost hundreds as well as thousands of dollars less than our top-scoring machines, yet they perform nearly too. But our tests likewise show that paying just a little more often purchases a lot more lawn mower, especially at the lower end of the price spectrum.
Oh, and, naturally, trim smart. All the gas-powered makers we checked discharged more than 85 decibels, the level at which we suggest hearing defense.
Types of Lawn Mowers and Tractors
Your choices for the best walk-behind or riding lawn mower range from spending plan manual-reel designs ($ 100) to lawn tractors and zero-turn-radius riders that can cost $4,000 or more.
The only energy needed to move these old-school yard cutters is yours. You push to turn a series of curved blades– it’s that easy. Making these best for environmentally-conscious home owners. Note: We have not evaluated these in a while, so– for now– you won’t currently find scores.
Pros: These mowers do not contaminate, and you do not have to keep gas, plug in a power cable, or charge a battery (typically– see below). They’re quiet, low-cost, and reasonably safe. And you’ll get an exercise unless you opt for a design that uses a battery-powered motor to spin the blades while you push.
Cons: Most can’t cut turf that’s taller than 1 1/2 inches or trim closer than 3 inches around challenges. Cutting swaths are normally a small 14 to 18 inches broad. These super-green mowers do not disburse clippings like a rotary variation, so you’ll require a bag (or a rake) if you’re fussy. And be gotten ready for some exhausting pushing if you let your yard grow too high.
Upkeep: A manual-reel mower will require an occasional blade change and honing.
Best for: Unless you have a small yard, you might wish to re-think this option since it takes commitment.
These can be found in gas (primarily) and electrical. The latter use a cord or battery, however their propulsion rapidly consumes a charge. Gas designs generally have a four-stroke engine, with a 160- to 190-cubic-centimeter displacement– a measure that replaced horsepower on walk-behinds.
Pros: Many gas self-propelled lawn mowers cut a 21- or 22-inch swath, can manage long or thick lawn and weeds, and can bag, side-discharge, and mulch clippings. Electrics start with the push of a button and produce no emissions.
Cons: Gas lawn mowers are loud and produce emissions. Four-wheel drive offers the most traction (more than front-wheel drive) on hilly lawns, especially uphill with a full bag of clippings. But lawn mowers with AWD can be hard to press when the engine is off since all 4 wheels are connected to the transmission.
Upkeep: Gas engines require routine tune-ups and oil modifications. Electrics need little maintenance beyond blade sharpening.
Best for: They blend ease and efficiency and are good for a lot of lawns.
These been available in gas and electrical designs. The gas versions we have actually tested have a four-stroke engine, usually with a 140- to 190-cubic-centimeter displacement. Our most current tests validate that bigger or higher-torque engines don’t always suggest higher-quality mowing. Electric models use a motor (powered by a cord or battery) to turn a rotating blade.
Pros: Like their self-propelled counterparts, the majority of gas push mowers also cut a 21- or 22-inch swath, can deal with long or thick yard and weeds, and can bag, side-discharge, and mulch clippings. Cord and cordless electrics start with push-button ease and produce no exhaust emissions. Most provide a rear bag and a mulching mode that cuts clippings carefully enough that they settle in and fertilize the lawn as they decompose. Today’s cordless designs run longer per charge than previous designs.
Cons: And much like gas self-propelled mowers, gas push mowers are loud (so use ear protection) and produce emissions. Electrics take a smaller sized bite with each pass– about 18 to 20 inches wide.
Upkeep: For gas, plan for regular tune-ups and oil changes. Electric needs just occasional blade honing.
Best for: Medium to small lawns with little incline.
These gas-powered, front-engine riding makers are typically priced comparably with older, smaller, and less-capable rear-engine riders.
Pros: The majority of designs mow a 42- to 48-inch swath and can bag, mulch, and side-discharge clippings. Some cut an even larger swath and deal four-wheel steering for tighter turns. All accept snow blowers and other tools, though the add-ons are usually costly and a chore to connect and separate. (Designs costing about $2,000 and up have transmissions that are better fit to these accessories.)
Cons: Bagging packages are additional and have the tendency to be expensive– a major factor the majority of tractor owners mow in side-discharge mode. And even today’s cleaner machines create exhaust emissions and need lots of storage space.
Upkeep: Gas engines require routine tune-ups and oil modifications.
Best for: If your yard determines a half-acre or bigger and you have actually got a large shed, barn, or garage, this is for you.
The ZTRs we evaluated are gas-powered, other than for one electric model.
Pros: These are similar to the mowers landscapers use, with a rear engine and rear-wheel steering. Maneuverability readies. Some have steering wheels, though the majority of have twin steering levers that let you power the two rear wheels separately– with one in forward and the other in reverse, you turn circles in place. They can also side-discharge, bag, and mulch clippings and normally mow a 42- to 50-inch swath.
Cons: Costing more than the majority of tractors, they don’t cut also. Rear-steering wheels can wreck grass during turns. They can lose traction and be hard to control on hills, and their lever manages need practice. Exceptions include mowers that have steerable wheels rather of levers. Bagging kits can be costly.
Upkeep: Gas engines need tune-ups and oil changes. Electrics require a minimum of blade sharpening.
Best for: For a large yard with great deals of obstacles, consider a four-wheel-steer tractor.
We have actually just seen gas-powered designs in this classification.
Pros: If the normal lawn-tractor leviathan needs more storage area than you have, this rider is more compact. When it comes to our top picks, cutting can be excellent in both side-discharge and mulch mode, and the exact same chooses ease of use.
Cons: For most of those checked cutting can be less than remarkable. Where these often fall short remains in maneuverability– due to a jerky equipment drive, instead of the smooth hydrostatic drive on many tractors. You’ll need to engage the blades the old way, with a lever. We likewise discovered that those tested weren’t fantastic at distributing clippings or completely filling a bag. You also might not get higher-end features like a high-back seat or a fuel gauge you can examine while seated.
Upkeep: Gas engines need regular tune-ups and oil modifications.
Best for: Pick this one if you have actually restricted storage area and a medium-sized lawn or bigger.
Robotic lawn mowers buzz along within a wired boundary.
Pros: These mow-bots are developed to crisscross arbitrarily, reversing instructions when they reach the wire or an obstacle, and go back to a charge station when essential. You can set a schedule and the lawn mower will start by itself– although we suggest someone keep an eye on it. Another plus: They produce no emissions.
Cons: You need to establish a perimeter wire to mark the mowing borders. Efficiency varies commonly and cut quality is frequently less than a conventional mower’s, and they’re expensive.
Upkeep: Regular blade honing and cleaning underneath.
Best for: Techies who have a flat, obstacle-free lawn, and can monitor a mower.
What to Consider Before You Buy
Lawn Mowers: Consider Convenience.
Easy mode changes. A lot of lawn mowers enable simple mode changes– going from mulching to bagging– without tools.
Washout port. When it’s time to tidy up, a washout port accepts a tube connection for clearing clippings below the lawn mower deck without the need to tip the maker.
Lawn Tractors: Consider Comfort.
Hour meter. This indicates the length of time the engine has run considering that the last oil modification or other maintenance. A couple of models from Cub Cadet can connect to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, to track upkeep and order parts.
What’s your landscape? Get a tractor that best matches the size and slope of your property. And, if your backyard looks like an agility training obstacle course, you might wish to think about a Zero-Turn-Radius model favored by experts.
Easy mode modifications. For tractors, this function is less common and takes a single blade through multiple mowing modes instead of needing to change blades. Mulching or bagging with a riding lawn mower typically requires a package costing $50 to $500.
Power steering. Numerous tractors now use car-like functions such as this one. You’ll normally pay a premium for it, so feel in one’s bones that we have not discovered that standard steering tractors required more effort in our tests.
Translucent fuel tank or a fuel gauge. A tractor with a translucent fuel tank or a fuel gauge shows at a glimpse when you’re running low.
High-back seat and cup holder. The first is more helpful and comfortable than a traditional seat, and the second is for when you’re sweltering in the hot sun– you’ll value it.
Cruise control. Similar to a car, cruise control lets you secure a ground speed with a riding mower.
Features We Favor on Mowers & Tractors
Depending upon how much you want to spend, there’s a large selection of lawn mower functions and alternatives offered. Don’t fill up on those that you won’t use– it’s best to cut costs and the lawn.
Lawn Mowers: Removable Battery
For cordless electrical models, this option is handy due to the fact that the battery lasts longer if left within a particular temperature level range. It’s likewise much easier to lug a battery within, particularly if you don’t have space to store the lawn mower inside your home. More recent engines (like one from Briggs & Stratton) have a lithium-ion battery you can separate and charge indoors.
Artisan is among the marketplace leaders in mower and tractor sales. Many designs in the Craftsman line are made by Husqvarna; others are made by MTD. Artisan lawn tractors run the price spectrum from gear-drive models priced at about $1,000 to totally featured, hydrostatic-drive units that cost more than $2,000. The majority of Craftsman yard tractors include Briggs & Stratton engines, and the 42-inch-deck models are amongst the most popular. Most of Craftsman walk-behind mowers are gas-powered, but the company uses corded- and cordless-electric designs. Many designs feature either a Honda or Briggs & Stratton engine and have side-discharge, rear-bag, and mulching modes. Craftsman also markets a line of garden tractors and zero-turn-radius riders.