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Best Zero Turn Mower Under 3000 [Qualified Mechanic’s Review 2023]
I’ve reviewed 13 top value mowers and found the best zero turn mower under 3000. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on the best zero turn mower! The mowers in this 2023 review are all great value, but there are definitely some standouts.
Since first publishing this review last year, the for zero turn mowers have gone through the roof. It is, unfortunately, almost impossible to find one under 3000!
Our winner, the Cub Cadet ZT1 54, is now just shy of 3500. That’s still great value, don’t get me wrong, it just doesn’t quite fit the “under 3000” bill.
Husqvarna’s Z254 isn’t available anymore and their newer models, the Z254F (aprox 4200) and the Z248F (aprox 4000), are much more expensive than 3000.
Bad Boy’s MZ42 is now 3299, not bad value – you get a whole lot of mower for that. However, for another 250 or so – I recommend you go for the Cub instead.
Despite the changing prices, I’ve left our winners’ technical details and why I think they’re the best cheap zero turn mowers listed below.
If you don’t want to read right through the tech specs, here’s a summary of my recommendations:
- Our best zero turn mower for large yards is the Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima.
- The best zero turn mower under 3000 for small yards is the Bad Boy MZ 42, closely followed by Snapper’s 360Z. Unfortunately, the 360Z is no longer available so we really only have the two winners above!
Both of these mowers are maneuverable and easy to store, but the Bad Boy came out on top because of its exceptional deck construction.
I’ve included 13 zero turn mowers under 3000, something for everyone! Use the table of contents for a quick overview or scroll down for what to look for in the best zero turn mower.
- Size of the Cutting Deck
- Power and Engine
- Hydrostatic Transmission
- Mowing Speed
- Gas Tank Capacity
- Which Zero Turn Mower Under 3000 Has the Best Warranty
- 1. Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima Zero Turn Mower – 2999
- 2. Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 3. Bad Boy MZ 42″ Zero Turn Mower – 2999.99
- 4. Snapper 360Z 19HP 36″ Zero Turn Mower
- 5. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ Zero Turn Mower
- 6. Troy Bilt Mustang Z50 Zero Turn Rider – 2899
- 7. Husqvarna Z242F 42″ 18HP Zero Turn Mower
- 8. Cub Cadet ZT1 50 Ultima Zero Turn Mower – 2999
- 9 and 10 – Cub Cadet ZT1 46 and ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mowers – 2699
- 11. Husqvarna Z142 42″ Zero Turn Riding Mower
- 12 and 13 Troy Bilt Mustang Z46 and Z42 Zero Turn Mowers – 2499
What to Look for in the Best Zero Turn Mower [Buyer’s Guide]
The best zero turn mowers offer excellent maneuvering capabilities and high-quality performance. You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy one, as we’ve seen in the list above, all under 3000.
Size of the Cutting Deck
I’ve listed zero turn mowers here today with cutting widths between 34″ and 54″. You can get bigger ones as well, but you’re looking at spending more money.
- Less than 42 inches. This is the best choice for small to medium-sized yards, especially those with many obstacles. Properties up to 1 acre.
- Between 42 and 46 inches. Best for medium-sized yards with obstacles. These mowers also generally fit in the back of your pickup, so you can transport them from one property to another, or around the farm. Properties up to 1 acre.
- Between 48 and 50 inches. These zero turn mowers are best for larger yards, between 1 and 3 acres. These mowers have a very decent cutting width so you can mow large areas quickly.
- Over 50 inches. These are best for large yards. Our biggest one today was a 54″ cutting width, but you can get much bigger. These zero turn mowers tend to be wider so more stable on uneven ground. Yards over 3 acres.
Power and Engine
You need power if you want to mow your lawn efficiently. This is why the horsepower of the engine should be the very first thing that you look for.
The higher the horsepower is, the faster your lawn can be cut, plain and simple.
How much power you need in your zero turn mower depends on a few things.
- The size of the deck. The bigger the deck, the more power you need.
- The grass. Tall, thick grass needs more power than a manicured lawn that’s mowed regularly. If you’re skimming the lawn every week, you’ll need less power. Wet, tall grass can be a struggle for zero turn mowers with smaller engines.
- The size of your property. On smaller properties with neat lawns, you get away with less power. On bigger properties and acreage, you want as much power as you can afford.
Look for zero turn mowers with a full pressure oil system, the ones that actually have an oil filter. The old splash-fed technology is antiquated. Twin cylinders tend to have more grunt than single cylinders.
Engines with OHV are best. Some engines are underhead valve, which is very old fashioned. That’s what they had in cars 100 years ago. Nonetheless, they do seem to be pretty good and reliable. Motors like little Briggs engines, even single-cylinder underhead valve ones, seem to go and go. –
Dan, Qualified Mechanic Small Engine Specialist
Dan really likes Kohler engines. He made a good point in comparing some of these zero turn mowers with my John Deere mower. Mine has a 22HP engine with a 42″ deck. It has plenty of grunt, never really bogs down unless you try and mow tall grass too fast.
Some of the mowers in this list have 54″ cutting decks. You really wouldn’t want any less than 24-26HP engines in these mowers, especially if you’re on a larger property.
Being zero turn mowers, they’ll all have hydrostatic transmissions.
The difference between a standard mower and a zero turn mower is the transmission.
In a standard mower, you have one transmission set up, which drives the back wheels. In a zero turn, you’ve effectively got two transmissions (in one unit), each driving a separate wheel.
With this setup, one wheel can go backward and the other forwards. This is what makes a zero turn mower turn on the spot, in zero space. The wheels are fully independently controllable with the steering bars.
If you happen to come across a “zero turn” without hydrostatic transmission, don’t go there. You don’t want anything but hydrostatic.
Most of the zero turn mowers in this list have a top speed of 7.5mph, although a couple were slightly less.
This is not something I’d put too much consideration on unless you have a perfectly flat golf-course type lawn that allows you to “race” across it.
The slower you go, the better it mows. – Dan
Gas Tank Capacity
The higher the fuel capacity, the fewer times you will have to stop to refill your tank. The smallest gas tank today was 3 gallons, but most were around 3.5, so not a lot of difference.
If you’re mowing long-distance, the bigger the better.
Which Zero Turn Mower Under 3000 Has the Best Warranty
The better the warranty on your zero turn mower, well… the better. There’s no such thing as a warranty that’s too long!
- Husqvarna zero turn mowers: “Bumper to Bumper”, 3 years. Steel reinforced stamped deck shell only – 10-year limited warranty. Fabricated deck shell and steel guard deck shell – limited lifetime warranty.
- Cub Cadet zero turn mowers: 3 year / unlimited-hour warranty. Limited lifetime warranty on frame and fabricated deck shell.
- Troy-Bilt zero turn mowers: 3-year limited residential. Limited lifetime frame warranty.
- Snapper zero turn mowers: 3-year limited residential. Lifetime frame warranty.
- Bad Boy zero turn mowers: This warranty is more intricate. They’ll repair or replace for 2 years or 200 hours, unless it’s used for commercial, industrial, or rental purposes. Belts are covered for 90 days, seats for 1 year (excluding suspension seats). You will need to pay for the transport of the mower to the service place, or for a service call out. I didn’t see details on this for the other mowers, so it may be the same for them. I suppose Bad Boy are at least transparent with this… I do think though, that if something is wrong with your brand new mower and it’s a manufacturing fault, they should carry the responsibility for this! There are more rules, like the engine. They don’t cover the engine, they’re covered by their respective manufacturers. I recommend you read the entire warranty document before purchase.
Any of these mowers purchased through TractorSupply can also come with their “Protect your Purchase” plan. A 1-year service plan costs 299.99 and 2 years costs 389.99. They’ll fix it, replace it, or reimburse it for you.
Let’s Review Our Top 13 in Detail!
Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima Zero Turn Mower – 2999
This is our best zero turn mower under 3000 for large yards.
- 24 HP 725cc KOHLER 7000 series V-twin automatic OHV engine
- 54″ cutting deck
- Great mower for slight, rolling hills. Suitable for yards up to 4 acres with several obstacles
- Lap bar-controlled dual-hydro transmissions
- Open frame design with hinged/removable floor pan. Gives you easy access to the deck and the engine for maintenance
- Finance available
- 3.5 gallon fuel tank capacity
- Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transmission
What We Didn’t Like
- Collects a lot of grass on the deck. It compacts inside the spindle covers, on the pulleys, and the tension spring. Does come with hose attachment for deck cleaning.
- Some customers mentioned the tires don’t have a lot of traction, making it only suitable for slight hills.
Cub Cadet Ultima Series Zero Turn Mowers
Cub Cadet offers a few zero turn mowers under 3000 in their Ultima series.
They’re all well-priced, but our pick here is the Cub Cadet ZT1 54 zero turn mower.
For the price, it’s not worth choosing the others as you’re getting a more powerful engine and a bigger mower deck.
Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
This is our runner-up for best zero turn mower under 3000.
One of the best budget zero turn mowers on the market is the Husqvarna Z254 zero turn riding mower.
Yes, it’s just over 3000, I apologize for that, but it’s only 100 over and it’s worth it. This lawnmower offers a very powerful engine and a wide cutting deck of 54 inches that makes it very efficient to cut large lawns.
- 54″ cutting deck
- 26 HP Kohler engine
- Max speed of 6.5 MPH
- Park brake system that automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved outward or inward
- Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck made of heavy flat-stock steel
- spring-assisted deck lift
- LED lights
- Chrome-plated valves
- Big cooling fan
What We Liked
- Lots of torque delivered by the powerful 26 HP Kohler engine
- Very user friendly
- Good for heavy-duty use
- Compact size
- Very efficient performance overall
- Maintenance-free transmission
Bad Boy MZ 42″ Zero Turn Mower – 2999.99
The Bad Boy MZ 42″ zero turn mower under 3000 is the underdog in our review today, and it got a boost up from 9th position to best in class after speaking to Chad Belding of The Fowl Life and Bad Boy Mowers.
Chad provided some very helpful feedback about his mowers and why he believes the Bad Boy zero turn mower is “ the best-built mower in its class for the best value”.
Now, my mechanic husband is the main reason this mower got moved up to top position for best small zero turn mower under 3000.
The main things you want in a mower are a fabricated deck, decent deck steel thickness, and the spindle shaft size. You don’t see anyone listing the spindle shaft size, but the other details should be readily available. The most important part about a mower is the mowing part, so a tough deck is a must.
Once a deck is bent, it’ll never mow straight again. You can have a great mower but if the deck’s bent, it’s useless. A weak deck will need constant repairs, deck straightening, new spindles – hopeless.
Chad informed us that their deck is fabricated, 7-gauge steel.
Compared to, for example, Cub Cadet’s ZT1 54 at 11-gauge, Snapper’s 12-gauge, and Troy-Bilt’s 13 gauge, that’s a helluva lot thicker and tougher.
This is personal to us. We have a great John Deere mower, great engine, plenty of power. But it’s never, ever mowed straight. Right from the get-go, it’s mowed with ridges in the grass. The flimsy pressed deck was bent straight from the shop.
Dan’s put in a huge amount of bracing to hold the deck together. It’s tough now but it still doesn’t mow straight.
This is more an issue when you’re in rough country. If your lawn is a bowling green, you’ll get away with a thinner deck, but if you’re on a rougher country property like we are, the deck is all-important.
Chad also mentioned the Bad Boy MZ has a cast-iron spindle, not aluminum. Dan says he’d like to see billet steel, but since you can’t get that, cast-iron is definitely better than aluminum. Chad recommends this mower for properties up to 1 acre.
This is a really great zero turn mower for small yards. It has a 36″ cut which will get your lawns done in no time, and being a zero-turn, you’ll zoom around flower beds and obstacles.
What I really like about this mower is the integrated rear cargo bed. It’s a little carry platform where you could store a bag of fertilizer to disperse while you’re mowing, or anything else you might want to take with you.
As Snapper says: “Haul dirt, carry tools and flowers, and of course, cut the grass with the 360Z Zero Turn Mower”
- Fully 12-gauge welded steel frame
- 19HP Briggs Stratton engine
- Integrated rear cargo bed with 50lb capacity
- Thick-walled front axle
- Durable steel mower deck
- 36″ cutting width and 7 cutting positions from 1.5″-4.5″ height
What We Liked
- Easy access maintenance points
- 3-years limited residential warranty
- Integrated cargo bed with rail system so you can use third-party ATV/UTV accessories like tool clamps and cargo nets
- Very comfortable, adjustable seat
Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ Zero Turn Mower
The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ is the cheapest zero turn mower on my list today. It is a great choice if you want to go with a zero-turn pivot lawn mower that is also very simple to operate.
The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit has the smallest deck/cutting size of all the zero turn mowers under 3000 on my list, at 34″, with a twin blade system.
This means it’s one of the easiest zero turns to maneuver around smaller yards and obstacles, but is not the best choice if you have acres and acres of mowing to do.
When you compare this mower’s 34″ cutting capacity to the top 2 mowers in the list today, you’ll see that you can mow nearly twice as much in one sweep with those two.
The Cub Cadet ZT1 54 and the Husqvarna Z254 both have a 54″ cutting capacity.
For that reason, this is my favorite mower for small yards today. If you have the space though, I recommend the two bigger mowers at the top of my list.
- 452 cc Troy-Bilt engine
- Dual hydrostatic transmission
- Reinforced heavy-duty frame
- 8-position height adjustment. Adjust the cutting height from 1.25″ to 3.75″
- Limited lifetime frame warranty on the frame and a 2-year limited/120-hour warranty on the other components
What We Liked
- Compact enough to fit through most standard gates and is easy to store in the garage or shed
- Easy to maneuver around flower beds and obstacles
- Excellent warranty
What We Didn’t Like
- You need to buy attachments like a rear bagger or mulch kit separately
- Tires are quite small
- Mows well, except for wet grass
- Turns a bit jerky in tighter turns
- Exposed drive belt sometimes jumps off with twigs or things like pine cones
- Difficult to see the gas level without removing the gas cap
- 50-in cutting deck
- 679cc V-twin OHV Troy-Bilt engine
- Dual EZT 2200 transmission
- Support of deck wheels and a front roller to smooth over bumps
- Adjustable high back seat
- Built in America
- 3.5 gallon fuel tank
- Heavy-duty, full length, fully welded, 2-in tubular frame
What We Liked
- A comfortable ride with the adjustable high back seat
- Built in America
- Limited lifetime frame warranty
- Large 50-in deck
- Foam grip steering controls
- Easy to use and maneuver
What We Didn’t Like
- The guard sits quite high, which means cut grass blows a distance. Use caution if you have rocks etc. on your property in case they shoot out
- Hard to see how much gas you’ve got left
- Can be a bit hard to get out of the crate
Troy-Bilt Zero Turn Mowers
Troy-Bilt’s zero turn mowers are quite similar to Cub Cadet’s, although possibly not as popular, as you can see by the number of reviews.
Their mowers are of great quality, however, so don’t discount them because of the lack of reviews. Have a look at this video, “overtesting” Troy-Bilt mowers.
- 23 HP Kawasaki FR691V series Twin-cylinder engine
- 50″ cutting deck
- Open frame design with hinged/removable floor pan. Gives you easy access to the deck and the engine for maintenance
- Great mower for slight, rolling hills. Suitable for yards up to 4 acres with several obstacles
- Adjustable lap bars with soft-touch ergonomic hand grips
- 3.5 gallon fuel tank capacity
- Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transmission
- Financing available
What We Liked
- Cuts from 1″ to 4.5″ and it’s a level, even cut
- Goes about 7mph forward and 3.5 in reverse
- The seat is adjustable and comfortable
- Headlights to be able to see and maneuver at night
- The deck has a hose attachment to enable you to clean underneath the deck
What We Didn’t Like
- The deck has a lot of vibration and can “jump” when you engage it
- Gas tank could do with a fill level indicator of some sort. You have to pull the seat over or open the gas cap to see the fuel level
- Choke lever is in an awkward location. Can be confused with the PTO but pulling the choke instead.
9 and 10 – Cub Cadet ZT1 46 and ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mowers – 2699
I’m not going into a lot of detail on these two, mainly because they’re very similar to the ZT1 54 and ZT1 50, with different deck sizes.
These two are a bit cheaper than the other two, so the choice is up to you. Value wise, I recommend the two zero turn mowers above. You’re getting more power and bigger cutting width for not much more money.
The 300 you save with the ZT1 42 and ZT1 46 is not worth it when you look at the extra HP you get and the bigger deck size.
The only reason to consider one of these two is the more compact size due to the smaller cutting deck. They’re similar in features to the ZT1 50 and ZT1 54.
Husqvarna Z142 42″ Zero Turn Riding Mower
This mower mainly didn’t make it to the top because it’s not available anywhere that I could find, and Amazon, for example, doesn’t know if it will be in stock again.
It may well be an outdated model. I’m listing its features for inclusion purposes anyway, in case it does become available.
This zero turn mower offers a bit less power than several other competitors but still has a very wide cutting deck at 42 inches.
- 17HP Kohler engine
- No-maintenance zero-turn transmission
- Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck
- Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
- ZT-2200 transmission
- Air induction technology, meaning that air is drawn from the top to the bottom of the deck.
- 3.5 gallon gas tank
What We Liked
- Pretty decent Kohler engine. Not like the 24HP Cub, but still not too bad for the price
- Excellent maneuverability for rounded corners and tight conditions
- 3-year warranty
What We Didn’t Like
- You need to buy mulching kits and bagger attachments separately
- Lower engine horsepower than several competitors, but still suitable for residential use
12 and 13 Troy Bilt Mustang Z46 and Z42 Zero Turn Mowers – 2499
The Mustang Z46 exactly the same as the Z50, especially for deck size. The Z46 is 46″ and the Z50 is 50″. The price difference is 200, so you need to decide whether the extra 4″ of cutting size is worth 200. The Z42 has a 42″ cut.
They have the same engine, so you may find the Z46 has a little less trouble in tall, wet grass because it has less to push. However, bogging down was not mentioned by any Z50 owners.
That’s Our Top 13 Best Zero Turn Mowers Under 3000
All in all, my top pick for a zero turn mower at or under 3000 is Cub Cadet’s ZT1 54 Ultima.
This zero turn lawnmower offers plenty of grunt, a great size cutting deck, great warranty – couldn’t ask for more.
A very close second zero turn mower for large yards is the Husqvarna Z254 mower.
For small yards, our winners are Troy-Bilt’s Mustang Fit and Snapper’s 360Z. Both are maneuverable, have good engines, and are easy to operate.
Snapper came out on top because of its innovative carry platform on the back the ability to use third-party ATV accessories with it.
But honestly, any of the zero turn mowers that I covered here today represent a solid choice, each has its own merits, pros, and cons.
Hopefully, my list of features for each helps you make an informed decision and you’ll end up with the best zero turn mower under 3000!
Do you have a zero turn mower? Thinking of upgrading? Let me know what you think in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев! I’m upgrading my John Deere to a zero turn in the near future, which is why my next article will be zero turn mowers under 5000.
I’m on 10 acres so I want to compare mowers under 3000 with mowers under 5000 to make the best choice possible. Any recommendations are much appreciated!
Elle is the founder and visionary of Outdoor Happens. She adores wild gardens. Makes sense, considering she’s never been very good at fitting into boxes, sticking to neat rows, or following the rules. Elle is a qualified permaculture teacher with a diploma in horticulture and naturopathy. She lives on a farm with cows, sheep, horses, chickens, and a bunch of horses. Passions include herbalism, fermentation, cooking, nature, animals, and reading. View all posts
John Deere F525 Mower: Taking a Look Back in Time
Those who are responsible for maintaining a highly landscaped lawn can turn to John Deere for a mower that suits all of their needs. The John Deere F525 is one example of a mower that, upon its release in the ‘90s, catered to casual and professional landscapers alike.
John Deere F525 Mower: Features Specs
Best-suited for customers that worked with 1/2 to 3 acres of land, the John Deere F525 Mower – which was in production between 1990 and 2002 – was designed for easy maneuverability and came with features that made it optimal for trimming. Let’s take a look back at some of the features of this memorable John Deere lawn tractor.
The 3-wheel design of the John Deere F525 was designed to provide excellent maneuverability while the mower was in use. The steering tire stayed within the path cut by the mower deck. This gave users one less thing to worry about as they worked around obstacles that came in contact with the machine. The steering wheel of the machine also provided operators with the familiarity they enjoy.
Engine and Transmission
The 17 horsepower KHI engine of the mower was pressurized and had filtered lubrication for a longer life. It also had a fixed jet carburetor for precise control of the air-to-fuel ratio. The KHI hydrostatic transmission allowed for fast, easy control of the mower’s direction and speed. An internal charge pump maintained a constant oil supply to the transmission for proper lubrication during use. Together, the engine and transmission had a low center of gravity, providing operators with more stability, especially on slopes.
The foot controls of the John Deere F525 made the mower simple to use and maneuver. Two pedals were all operators needed to select speed and direction without removing their hands from the steering wheel. There was also a master stop brake to return hydrostatic foot control to neutral and disengage PTO when necessary.
The operator of the John Deere F525 had a high back seat, which could be adjusted up to six inches fore-and-aft. Low fuel, oil pressure, and charge lights appeared on the front of the mower where operators could monitor them while working. Lights were also positioned for the utmost visibility, even in bright sunlight.
Mower Deck Options
The 38-inch mower deck had a narrow width, which was optimal for operators who wanted to pass through areas, such as gates. It also required minimal storage space when the mower was not in use. The 48-inch deck enhanced trimming capabilities and could be easily removed or mounted without the need for tools.
For more information about the F525 or other lawn tractor models, contact your local John Deere dealer today.
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Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews 2023
Deciding on the best self-propelled lawn mower isn’t as easy as it used to be. Do you need commercial or residential quality? Do you want to use gas or batteries for power? How much grass do you need to cut? Are you a mulcher or a bagger?
Having tested dozens of the best walk-behind lawn mowers from entry-level residential to the top professional models, we got our Pro team together to choose our top mowers in a range of scenarios.
One of the big things changing in the market is Honda’s announcement that the brand is exiting the lawn mower market. While you can still buy Honda mowers until they run out of stock, 2023 marks the end of production. We still highly recommend them, but due to the news and iffy availability, we’re not considering Honda as part of our choices this year.
Want to see more, including ride-on and robotic recommendations? Read out Best Lawn Mower Reviews main article!
Best Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
Commercial: Exmark Commercial X-Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
As we bid adieu to Honda this year, the HRC series still gets two thumbs up from us while you can get them. From there, we turn to Exnark and its Commercial X line that complements its Lazer Z zero-turn mowers well. Some professionals will certainly turn to the higher-capacity 30-inch model, but we expect the 21-inch model will find its way onto more trailers.
Exmark wisely uses a Honda 163cc GXV engine with a legendary reputation for reliability. It’s fed by a generous 1-gallon fuel tank and turns the blade at tip speeds up to 18,500 fpm. There’s also an option for a Kawasaki FJ180V engine if you’d like to step up to a 179cc engine.
The deck is 1/4-inch aluminum construction that keeps the weight down (112 pounds) while maintaining high durability. The deck is adjustable from 4.5 inches on the high side all the way down to 1 inch while the drive runs at speeds up to 4.2 MPH.
Residential: Toro Super Recycler Series 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Toro runs deep in the residential lawn mower sector and our favorite among them is the Super Recycler series. Getting the best of all the technology Toro has to offer, our top recommendation (model 21565) includes the Personal Pace drive system and the Smart Stow design that allows you to vertically store the mower even though it’s a gas model.
It uses a 163cc Briggs Stratton engine that produces 7.25 ft-lbs of torque and just under 17,000 fpm blade tip speed.
Toro touts a commercial-grade construction on this model and includes a lighter aluminum deck rather than steel. In addition to that, you get outstanding cut quality, especially on the mulching side (you better with the name Super Recycler!). Wrapping it up, the Personal Pace drive system adjusts to your walking pace so there are no levers or dials to adjust.
Best Self-Propelled Electric Lawn Mower
Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find the best battery-powered lawn mower, you could only find residential models. Now, there’s an emerging class of professional-grade options and we have picks for both Pros and homeowners.
Professional: Milwaukee M18 Fuel 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
There aren’t many true commercial self-propelled lawn mowers with lithium-ion power sources. Milwaukee launched their effort in 2022 with a monstrous 10 ft-lbs of torque that tops what you typically see from a 200cc gas engine. It’s more than just muscle, though. Its blade and deck combine to handle mulching and bagging better than most.
As you roll into fall, the mower’s high-lift mode keeps the blades at 3300 RPM to help pull those lightweight leaves and clean up your lawn. Other features include 180° LED lighting, LED battery indicators facing you, variable speed thumb bar (in addition to the speed wheel), a durable build, and much more.
Price: 1099.00 with two 12.0Ah batteries and dual-port Rapid charger
Residential: EGO Select Cut XP 21-Inch Lawn Mower with Speed IQ
The evolution of EGO’s flagship mower is interesting. It started with the dual-battery Peak Power model that raised the bar of what lithium-ion is capable of. Then, we saw the first stacked-blade SelectCut options that improved cut quality and effectiveness in tall grass. The two technologies combined in the SelectCut XP. Now EGO adds Speed IQ to the mix.
Speed IQ is a self-propelled drive system that automatically adjusts to your pace. However, it’s not a spring-loaded set of handles like Toro uses on its Personal Pace models. Instead, there’s a sensor doing some serious engineering magic… and it works like a charm from our brief time with it at Equip Expo 2022 (formerly GIE).
Price: 599.00 bare, 999.00 with a 12.0Ah battery and Turbo charger
Best Large Walk-Behind Lawn Mower
Commercial: Greenworks Commercial 30-Inch Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Can a battery-powered commercial mower really displace gas models? Greenworks Commercial has an 82V 30-inch model that got our attention at the Equip Expo in late 2022, and it’s hard to ignore as a legitimate option. It has the power to replace a 200cc gas engine with blade speeds up to 16,000 FPM. On a full charge, it can cover up to 2 acres.
There are drive system features worth considering as well. Independent hub wheel motors engage what Greenworks calls the Easy Turn System (ETS), making the mower easier to maneuver. Another big deal is that there is a powered reverse function—something that’s incredibly helpful with the weight of mowers in this class. The controls are all up next to your hands and there’s even a display to help you keep track of your battery levels.
Price: 1999.99 bare, 2999.99 with three 8Ah batteries and a dual-port charger
Residential: Toro TimeMaster 30-inch Personal Pace Mower
With 10 ft-lbs of torque delivered from its Briggs Stratton 223cc engine, the 30-inch Toro TimeMaster is our pick as the best large walk-behind lawn mower. Not only does it deliver big power to turn its time-saving 30-inch blade, but it also features Toro’s Personal Pace self-propelled drive and Spin-Stop that lets you stop the blade without shutting off the mower.
It all adds up to big-time savings on larger lawns. Grab model 21200 if you want an electric start or the 21199 if you don’t mind a recoil start and want to save 100.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for the Money
Toro’s 21-inch Recycler (21352) offers an excellent value for budget-minded homeowners. It’s a Made in the USA rear-wheel drive system powered by a Briggs Stratton 140cc engine. It comes ready to mulch, bag, or side discharge and you don’t have to worry about changing the oil. Just check the levels and add more when it’s necessary.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Brand
No one in the self-propelled lawn mower market dominates like Honda. Their engines enjoy a reputation for quality and durability every other manufacturer is shooting for, and their mowers are simply outstanding.
They typically run at a premium, though. Both Honda mowers and Honda-powered mowers are more expensive than similar designs from other brands. The big kick in the pants is Honda leaving the market, though.
That opens the door for Toro. There are a lot of Toro models we recommend for good reason and hit a wide range from budget-friendly homeowner mowers to commercial zero turns. It’s one of the best-selling brands of walk-behind mowers.
Getting hard sales figures is tough to come by, and it’s always possible we missed the mark. However, we see more Honda and Toro walk-behind mowers on commercial trailers and residential lawns than any other brand.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Bagging
You don’t have to ditch your current self-propelled lawn mower and buy a whole new one to improve your bagging efficiency. In most cases, adding a high-lift blade to your current mower will make a significant difference. With the exception of electric mowers, you don’t need to worry too much about matching the brand making the blade, but you do need to match the arbor style and the length. The package should tell you which brands it is compatible with.
If you’re still in the market for a new mower, higher RPMs make for better airflow and bagging. Check mowers with a 160cc or higher engine and compare the top blade speeds. You can always swap blades, but you can’t change the speed.
Pro Tip: If you have a 2-point or 4-point deck height adjustment, set the front wheels of your mower one notch higher than the rear to improve bagging.
Best Self-Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower
Similar to a high-lift blade for bagging, you can improve your mulching efficiency with a mulching-specific blade. These usually have additional cutting edges that cut the clippings more times before they drop back into the grass. Keeping the blade sharp ensures you get the best mulching results every time you mow.
If you’re in the market for a new mower, look for a 160cc or higher engine to give you the torque you need to keep your blade speed high in thicker grass. Remember, you can always add a mulching blade, but you can’t make up for an underpowered engine.
Pro Tip: You get the best mulching results if you’re only taking an inch or two off the top of your grass, so make sure you stay on top of lawn maintenance during the peak cutting season.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower – Priorities
Best Rear-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for Hills: YBravo Gen II 25-inch Commercial Mower
After running into issues with other commercial walk-behind mowers, we turned to YBravo 25-inch commercial mower to take care of a 3-acre soggy field that our ZTs only bogged down in. Its Kawasaki 180cc engine kept the blade turning where others simply stalled.
When it’s time to move out of the radio station swamp and you’re going for a more professional look, its cut quality is excellent as well. Available in a 21-inch and the 25-inch model we tested, Ybravo is worth serious consideration.
If you have a Bad Boy dealer closer to you, check out the same model sold under the Bad Boy brand name.
Best All-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Toro 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower 21472
AWD mowers are what you turn to for work on slopes and uneven terrain where it’s possible to have a wheel or two lose traction. For the best all-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mower, we like the Toro 21472 Personal Pace model.
Its 22-inch deck is on the larger size of standard mowers and the Personal Pace system is easy to work with once you get used to it. If you switch between mulching and bagging, the mower’s lever system is super simple.
Packing plenty of power with its 163cc Briggs Stratton engine, it’s not so much that it destroys the competition. It’s that its performance is excellent and the innovations are genuinely helpful while keeping its price in check.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Recommendations
Not every mower earns an award, but there are several other models we recommend that didn’t find a place earlier in the article. Check these options out if one of the others doesn’t fit your needs.
Best Lawn Mower Buying Guide – What We Look For
Gas vs Battery
Gas power still wins the day when you’re highest priorities are keeping your purchase price down and your power level high. With advancements in battery and motor technology, the OPE world is shifting towards battery power, though. It’s cleaner and quieter to run and requires less maintenance.
However, you have to look at premium models to get true gas power, and runtime can be a limiting factor. It’s also less likely you have a service center nearby that can get you back up and running quickly if there’s a problem.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, there are a lot of battery-powered options available. Once you get beyond that size, you need to consider how many batteries you’ll need and legitimate options really start to thin out once you hit 1/2 an acre. With larger lawns, newer battery-powered zero turn mowers are a legitimate option.
Take a deeper look at the comparison between gas and battery power in this article.
Commercial vs Residential
This might be better titled “professional vs homeowner” considering there are both commercial and residential professional crews. Regardless, commercial mowers are built with better components and commercial engines, creating a machine that is built to last for years of high-hour daily use.
If you’re a homeowner mowing once a week or so, a good residential mower can still last for 5 or 10 years (or more) if you take care of it. It just uses components and engine designs better fit for occasional use.
Engine Size and Cutting Power
If you stay on top of your mowing and cut quality isn’t a high priority, an engine as small as 140cc is likely fine.
Move up to the 160cc–180cc class for better performance when the grass is thicker and taller, or when you want to make sure you get excellent mulching, bagging, and/or clean cuts. The greater power improves lift and is less likely to bog down in thick patches.
When you’re looking at deck sizes beyond 22 inches, you should start looking for engines in the 180cc–200cc range (or higher) to ensure it can keep the RPMs high while it’s cutting such a large swath.
We look for three major components of cut quality: evenness, mulching size, and bagging efficiency.
Evenness is pretty straightforward. When we’re testing, we look for grass blades that weren’t cut and indications that there wasn’t enough lift to clip all of the blades at the same level.
When mulching, smaller clippings are better since they drop down closer to the base of the remaining grass. We also look to see if a mower is prone to leaving trails and clumps.
For bagging, it’s all about how much grass is collected, if the chute tends to clog while we’re cutting, and how much grass is deposited back to the ground.
One of the major benefits of battery-powered mowers is the lower noise levels compared to gas, but that doesn’t mean gas mowers have to be obnoxious. We expect higher levels than battery-powered models and that is typically the case.
When we test noise levels, we measure from our operator’s ear to get an idea of what the person using the mower should expect. Even though some mowers are quieter than others, we still recommend hearing protection when you’re using a gas model.
How efficient gas mowers use fuel has a very direct effect on your wallet, especially when you’re mowing every day as a Pro.
Fuel efficiency testing is more than just a runtime calculation. The cutting swath of a mower comes into play, especially on those 25 and 30-inch models. With larger lawns, it’s possible to get more cutting done per gallon of gas with an engine that uses more gas per hour.
21 or 22 inches is pretty standard for most mowers. Jumping up to a 25-inch or 30-inch mower may seem tempting, but it’s not for everyone.
If your lawn is a 1/4-acre or less, the time you gain with a larger deck might not mean a whole lot of time savings. Where you really gain some time is on lawns that are a 1/2-acre or more.
Keep in mind, larger deck-size mowers are heavier. When you have to mow wet or soggy areas, the weight can work against you.
Steel vs Plastic (Poly) Deck
The vast majority of gas mowers have steel decks while battery-powered models have a much higher percentage of plastic poly decks.
Those poly plastic decks are tougher than they look, but they probably won’t hold up as well as steel in the long run. It’s still highly unlikely that you’ll wear through one before it’s time to replace the mower, though.
However, there’s a whole lot more design flexibility that comes with poly decks, and engineers can do some amazing things to help with airflow that directly affects cut quality along with bagging and mulching efficiency.
Here in Florida, we have a lot of St. Augustine grass that we cut at 3 1/2 inches, so we prefer a mower that has at least a 4-inch maximum deck height.
Depending on what species of grass you have, you might be able to get away with a lower height, but 4 inches is a good all-around benchmark.
On the low end, most of us aren’t cutting golf course greens (you’d use a reel mower for that, anyway), so the minimum deck height usually isn’t an issue.
However, if you use a blade that dethatches or scalps for maintenance or re-seeding, you might want to make sure the deck height gets low enough—typically 1 1/2 inches or less.
Single-point height adjustments are the easiest since you can raise or lower the deck with just one lever. It’s common on battery-powered lawn mowers, but not so much on their heavier gas counterparts.
Part of that is because the single-point mechanisms tend to introduce additional flex into the system and the weight of a gas mower puts more strain on the mechanism. So while we generally prefer single-point, we understand why gas mowers may opt away from them.
Pro Tip: Set the front wheels one notch higher than the rear wheels to improve bagging efficiency on 4-point or 2-point adjustable mowers.
If you’re really OCD, more height adjustments mean more precise cutting. Realistically, most of us are going to find a good height on any mower as long as it hits the maximum and minimum heights we mow at.
Setting the Speed
The type of speed adjustment your self-propelled lawn mower has can make or break your experience. There are pull levers, thumb push levers, full push bars (Toro’s Personal Pace), and iterations on those.
Try it at the dealer before you buy it. If you hate working the mechanism for a couple of minutes, imagine what it’s going to feel like after 30 minutes or an hour.
Front-Wheel Drive, Rear-Wheel Drive, or All-Wheel Drive?
Front-wheel drive lawn mowers are typically the least expensive and work well for even terrain. They also help you turn the easiest since you lift up the drive wheels as you make your turns.
Rear-wheel drive mowers add some cost but create better traction on hills and slopes. They’re particularly good at pushing the mower’s weight uphill where front-wheel drives start to lose traction as they try to pull the weight.
All-wheel drive mowers are the most expensive and generally do the best job on hills, slopes, and uneven terrain. On particularly bumpy areas where it’s likely one or more wheels will lose traction, it’s the best bet.
Larger wheels tend to handle bumps and uneven terrain better than smaller wheels according to manufacturers. However, it’s a claim that Consumer Reports says isn’t really the case.
If you’ve used a gas engine, there’s a good chance you’ve worn out your arm pulling the cord to start it. There’s no doubt that having an electric start on your mower can take away a lot of the frustration.
It won’t make up for poor maintenance, though. A well-maintained mower starts easily on the first or second pull. That begs the question as to whether the electric start is worth an extra hundred dollars.
It’s totally up to you, but if it’s in the budget, we want it.
Mulch, Bag, or Side/Rear Discharge?
Most quality mowers are 3-in-1, meaning you can bag, mulch, or side/rear discharge. Less expensive models often only provide options for bagging and mulching. Which one you choose depends on what type of grass you have, how fast it grows, and your personal preference.
In central Florida where St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Bahia dominate our landscapes, the summer heat and rains make our grass grow incredibly fast. Most of us mulch out of necessity since we almost need a dumpster for the volume of clippings we create.
Most lawn mowers have 3 handle positions you can set. For tall guys like me or average-height guys like Clint, it helps you find a more comfortable grip. Some mowers opt for 2, or sometimes just 1 handle position.
Value is more than just price. We take a broad look at the performance and features compared to the price to determine the value of each mower.
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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
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.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
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.
The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023
These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023
When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?
Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.
How Zero-Turn Mowers Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.
When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.
Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.
As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.
Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower
Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.
Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.
In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.
But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.
Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.
How We Select and Test
There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.
We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.