Three best self-propelled lawn mowers
Your grandfather pushed a reel mower around the yard, working up a sweat. Your next mower can move itself.
Isn't technology awesome?
Today's self-propelled mowers take the aches and pains out of grooming lawns, pushing up slopes and through high grass with ease. Your job is to walk behind and guide -- and watch the neighbors' faces flush with envy.
Most models combine the best features of a modern mulching mower with the added convenience of a dual-purpose motor that spins the cutting blade and sends power to the wheels to move it forward.
Intrigued? Read on to find out what you need to know before making a purchase.
Considerations when choosing self-propelled lawn mowers
Self-propelled mowers have become the industry standard. They are rugged, dependable, versatile and, above all, convenient. Better yet, they've never been more affordable.
Front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive
Self-propelled mowers come with either front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive. Many models have controls that allow the user to adjust the mower's speed to his or her walking pace. That's an option that you will come to love.
All-wheel drive is the priciest way to go but well worth the investment if you have a large, hilly yard. Front-wheel drive is the least expensive and fine for flat lawns, while rear-wheel drive provides superior traction on slopes.
Gas or electric
Another choice to make is whether to go with traditional gas power or the new generation of quality cordless electric models. The best electric mowers can operate up to an hour on a single charge, covering more than a quarter-acre. They're also lightweight and easy to maneuver, quiet, and environmentally friendly.
See the recommended models below for a sense of how souped-up the motor should be. Most mowers are adequately powered, but more is generally better when it comes to taming big, uneven lawns.
Self-propelled mower features
Width: The best mowers have a cutting width of 22 to 20 inches and offer the triple option of side discharge, mulching mode, or rear bag.
Height: When comparing models, see how many cutting height adjustments are allowed. Top-rated mowers offer several, allowing you to choose the best look for your lawn.
Other features: Other important features are a variable speed drive system, as noted above, and a relatively new innovation -- an electric start on a gas mower. That option reduces emissions and eliminates having to yank a cord. Well worth spending a few extra dollars.
Safety: Lawns can be covered in twigs, leaves, and other debris. When mowing, especially without the bag in place, debris can become airborne. It's essential to wear safety glasses to reduce the risk of injury.
Some gas-powered mowers also generate considerable noise, so ear protection may also be necessary. As always, read the operating manual carefully before use.
Self-propelled mower prices: Self-propelled mowers range from about $250 for a basic front-wheel drive model to more than $700 for all-wheel-drive with all the best features.
Self-propelled lawn mowers we recommend
Our take: We love this powerful and versatile all-wheel-drive mower that allows you to control the pace.
What we like: The 190cc engine powers all four wheels, conquering all types of terrain. Variable speed control is a great feature. Large 22-inch cutting width.
What we dislike: Expensive. Some owners say the discharge opening clogs sometimes.
Our take: Affordable front-wheel-drive choice for small- to medium-size yards with flat lawns.
What we like: With a 21-inch mowing deck and a 159cc engine, this mower gets the job done. Dual-level height adjustment. Side discharge and mulching capabilities.
What we dislike: Only one forward speed.
Our take: An outstanding rear-wheel-drive machine that is highly rated by professionals, offering precision and power.
What we like: Unique twin blades create a handsome, uniform finish. Variable speed control, 21-inch cutting deck, and a 187cc engine that is best in class.
What we dislike: Expensive and loud.
William Miller is a writer at BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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