Types of lawn mowers
A lawn mower is a term that describes a broad category of machines that use revolving blades to cut grass. The most primitive lawn mowers have fixed grass cut height and are not adjustable. The majority of lawn mowers available on the market today have master levers that let you adjust the height of the cut.
Lawn mowers can be manual, with blades powered by muscle, or automatic. Automatic lawn mowers are usually powered by an electric motor or by an internal combustion engine that uses gasoline just like a car would.
What type of lawn mower is right for me?
If you have a very small lawn or a garden, the simplest unpowered walk behind mower with a fixed grass cut height may be right for you. Such mowers usually cost between $50 and $100.
Walk behind Lawn Mowers
If you have a larger lawn and are looking for speed and efficiency, you should consider electrical or gasoline engine powered walk behind lawn mowers. Prices for these mowers start around $135 for smaller walk behind mowers and go as high as $1,500 for large professional quality devices.
If you have a number of very large lawns, consider getting a riding mower. Such mowers resemble small tractors, have bigger engines and can cut grass at a speed of several miles per hour. They usually use special tires designed to be very gentle with the grass.
Such mowers typically have gasoline-powered engines and gasoline tanks that carry a gallon of gas or more. Prices for riding mowers start at about $1,000 and go up to about $3,500 for professional-grade mowers with engines of 20+ horsepower, multi-bladed systems, parking brakes and other advanced features.
Large Multi-blade Mountable Mowers
The largest multi-blade mowers are being used with full-sized tractors and are suitable for properties such as large golf courses, public parks, and complex terrains.
Finally, there are several models of robotic mowers available on the market today. However, just like with any brand new technology, a lot of them have limitations and issues when it comes to getting stuck in the grass and mowing uneven lawns. There are also theft and security issues. Robotic mowers are also quite expensive with prices starting at about $1,000 for the simplest robotic mower.
For most people reading this guide, a walk behind lawn mower will be an excellent choice because of its versatility, ease of use and efficiency.
What to pay attention to when choosing a walk behind lawn mower
Here are the most important factors you need to consider when deciding on what walk behind lawn mower you want to buy.
Width of the mower
The larger the width of the mower, the more grass you will be able to cut in one pass. For walk behind mowers, width usually varies between 14 inches for the small inexpensive models and 21 inches for high-end models.
Type of power
There are three types of power that you will find in walk behind lawn mowers.
Corded electric engines
Corded electric mowers are the most inconvenient as you always need to be close to a source of electric power and you need to pay attention to the cord when cutting grass.
Cordless (battery-powered) electric engines
When looking at battery-powered mowers, pay attention to how long the mower will last on a single charge. If you have several large lawns that you prefer to cut at once, a battery-powered mower may not be a good choice for you as you may need to recharge it several times to complete the job. The advantage of battery-powered walk-behind lawn mowers is that you do not need to deal with gasoline, which means no smell, no risk of leakage and higher overall safety. Such mowers are also much quieter compared to gasoline-powered mowers.
Gas engines typically have more power than electric engines, which comes very handy if you have a large yard or a tough terrain. If you run out of gas, you can quickly refill the mower and continue working immediately.
The limitation of a gas engine is that it requires regular maintenance. You will need to keep the tank filled and check oil levels and filters on a regular basis. Gas mowers are also much louder compared to electric mowers.
The size of the engine
Find out the size of the engine. Engine sizes in walk behind mowers typically range from 140 cubic centimeters (cc) to 190 cubic centimeters. The bigger the engine, the easier it is to use the mower in tough conditions such as when cutting weeds, cutting tall and wet grass or mulching leaves.
How long does the mower last on one charge or fill-up?
If a mower has an internal combustion engine, find out the size of its fuel capacity tank. The size of the tank in a walk behind lawn mower is important for the same reason the size of the fuel tank is important in your car: the bigger the tank, the less often you have to refuel.
If a mower is powered by a battery, find out for how long it will last on a single charge. Next, think about the size of your property and decide if the mower with this battery size is going to be right for you.
Self-propelled versus walk behind (or push, or reel) mowers
A self-propelled mower actually pushes itself to reduce the amount of work you’ll have to do compared to a push mower. With a self-propelled mower, you simply walk behind it to control its path, but you don’t have to push it.
There are three kinds of self-propelled mowers: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
Front-wheel drive mowers are a great solution for flat terrains. Rear-wheel drive mowers have more traction at the center of the device, which is helpful if you have to mow grass on uneven lawns. All-wheel drive units have power delivered to all four wheels and are suitable for both flat and hilly lawns.
Walk behind lawn mowers typically treat clipped grass in one of three ways:
- Mulch it, which means repeatedly cutting it until the particles become small and then discharge them
- Discharge clippings right away without cutting them
- Collect clippings and save them in a bag attached to the mower
There are mowers on the market that have all three of these functions.
Some mowers only have two. Mowers with two functions either a) store the clippings and mulch them or b) mulch them and discharge the clippings the way they are.
It goes without saying that if you want maximum versatility, you want a walk-behind lawn mower that can perform all three of these functions.
Additional functionality and things to pay attention to
The location of gas and oil tanks in mowers with gas engines
You want a mower that’s easy to fill up, not the one where you have to perform an aerobic exercise every time you need to add gas to the tank. This is why you want to make sure that both gas tank and oil-fill are conveniently located.
If you decide to get a walk-behind lawn mower with an internal combustion engine, it will have an air filter just like the one in a car. Make sure that the filter is easy to remove and replace. If you have to do a lot of work in dusty and dirty conditions, choose a mower with a large filter and a dirt-trapping surface area.
If a mower has a blade brake clutch, you will be able to stop the blade without stopping the engine. Walk-behind mowers that have this function are usually $75 to $100 more expensive than their counterparts, but this function is very useful and will extend the life of your mower if you spend a lot of time removing debris or toys from the lawns when using the mower.
If a mower has a wash-out nozzle, you’ll be able to connect the nozzle to the deck of the mower and use water to wash out grass clippings and debris from under the deck.
The bigger the wheels of the mower, the easier it will be for you to move your mower through rough terrains.
How they get you: how to make sure you are not overpaying when buying a walk-behind lawn mower
When you are buying a car, you will often see the MSRP for a stripped-down version without any features that you really want. Once you add all the features and options that you are really interested in, the price of the car will go up significantly and may even double.
When buying an inkjet printer, you will often pay very little for the printer, but a lot for the ink later. A cheap printer will also often come without the cords and without other basic accessories that you will have to purchase separately.
Some lawn mower manufacturers use similar strategies when selling their mowers. This is why you want to carefully inspect what is included in the price of the mower. Here are some examples:
If it’s a plug-in electric mower, is the cord included?
If it’s a battery-powered mower, is the battery included? Is the battery charger included?
How many years does the battery last and what is the replacement cost?
Is the grass catcher detachable? Is it included? If it’s not detachable, how long does it last, is it easy to replace and how much does it cost?
Below you will find an reviews of some great walk-behind lawn mowers.
American Lawn Mower 1204 – 14-inch Manual Lawn Mower
This is a very simple, yet durable and efficient mower. It offers a precise, scissor-like cut. This mower is a great choice for most turf grasses. It works especially well with cold-season grasses such as rye and bluegrass.
It is made of alloy steel, has 8.5-inch polymer wheels and a 1-blade reel with an adjustable roller.
The handle is plated with zinc and has plastic grips for comfort.
The cutting height is adjustable and varies between 0.5 of an inch and 1.5 inches. The cutting width is equal to fourteen inches.
The mower weighs 19 pounds. It has a limited 90-day warranty.
The width of the mower is 14 inches, which is just 2 inches more than a foot. It is a great solution if you have a townhouse or a very small yard. If you have anything larger than that, you may want to look at push mowers that have a width of 18 or 20 inches.
This mower will also not cut well through twigs and branches. However, it does a great job of maintaining a lawn with grass of fairly uniform length.
The relatively small size of the mower makes it easy to store even if you don’t have a lot of space.
Sun Joe Model MJ401E – 14-Inch Corded Electric Lawn Mower With Grass Bag
Sun Joe MJ401E is a 14-inch mower that has a 12 Amp electric engine, meaning no need for gas, air filter or tune-ups. There is no battery, which means that you’ll need to keep the mower plugged into a power outlet to operate it. This is why you probably will need to buy an extension cord to use with this mower.
The manual states that you need a 14 gauge cord for extensions under 100ft. For extensions over 100ft, you will need a 12 gauge cord. Make sure that you get the right cord because using a 16 gauge extension cord is a sure way to burn out the motor of your mower very quickly.
This mower is a great maintenance mower, meaning that it will do a great job if you cut your grass often and don’t let it grow too high.
The mower starts instantly with a push of a button and has a safety switch that prevents it from starting accidentally.
You can tailor the cutting height with a 3-position height control. The height ranges from 1.18 inches to 2.52 inches.
The mower comes with a detachable grass catcher, making the disposal of clippings really easy.
The mower weighs only 29 lbs and comes with a full two-year warranty.
GreenWorks 25302 – 20-Inch Cordless Lawn Mower
GreenWorks is a great brand that has a number of walk behind mowers, including a 16-inch one, a 19-inch one, a twin force 20-inch one and others. Always pay attention to the numbers in the model description to make sure that you are getting what you are looking for. For example, GreenWorks 25322 is a 16-inch mower. This review is for GreenWorks 25302, which is a twin force 20-inch mower.
This mower has an innovative smart cut technology that changes the power or the runtime of the engine based on the thickness of the grass. Automatic battery switchover eliminates downtime by getting the power to the engine from the second battery once the first one is depleted.
GreenWorks 25302 has dual blades for better cut and mulching quality.
This cordless mower has a Li-Ion battery system that can power multiple tools. The mower comes with a 4AH battery, a 2AH battery, and a charger. It takes about 2 hours to charge the 4AH battery. The mower also comes with a grass catcher bag.
This mower is not self-propelling, but it is very light and easy to use. It has a 4-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.
GreenWorks 25022 Corded 20-Inch Lawn Mower
GreenWorks 25022 is a corded mower that has a height adjustment switch with 7 positions. It is a very sleek-looking model with great aerodynamics and a lot of great features.
This mower has 7-inch front wheels 10-inch rear wheels making it easy to use on uneven terrains. It also has 3-in-1 functionality, meaning that it has side discharge, mulching, and rear bagging capabilities. You can vary the cut from 1.5 inches to 3.75 inches.
The deck of the mower is made of metal. It is thin, yet very durable.
The height adjustment is easy because of strong metal controls that have positive stops.
One of the negatives of GreenWorks 25022 is that the motor can get very dirty during mower use because it is not sealed. The screws that hold the cover of the motor are not easy to remove, which makes cleaning the motor a hassle. Once you remove the cover, you can clean the motor with compressed air or a leaf blower to make sure that your mower lasts for a long time.
The mower does not come with a cord, which means that you need to buy a cord separately. Everything else that you may need is included.
The mower weighs 56 lbs and comes with a 4-year parts and labor warranty.
Black & Decker CM2040 20-Inch Cordless Mower
This 20-inch cordless mower has a great design and is a pleasure to use. The mower only weighs 43 lbs.
It has 6 height settings that range from 1.5 inches to 4 inches. It only has one blade.
It comes with a 15-gallon grass collection bag.
It also includes two 2.5AH 40V Max Lithium Batteries and a charger for the batteries. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge one of the batteries. The batteries last between ten and fifteen minutes depending on the height and thickness of the grass. Once you use a battery with the mower, plan to leave it untouched for about 30 minutes after use. The batteries do get hot during usage and will not accept a charge while still hot.
The batteries are also compatible with other Black & Decker battery-powered tools.
The mower has a variable speed motor that conserves battery power for greater runtime. This mower is a 3-in-1 model, meaning that you can use it for mulching, bagging or side discharging.
Black & Decker CM2040 is not self-propelled, but it is easy to use because of its light weight.
Making a decision about what mower to get
All of the mowers described in this review are excellent devices. Start with thinking about the size of your property, it’s features and your goals. How often will you use the mower? Will you only use it to cut grass or will you mulch leaves, too? Is the terrain even or not? Is it generally clean or will you have to move a lot of debris and toys? Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to choose a walk-behind lawn mower that’s right for you.