The 7 Best Lawn Mowers of 2021

By Corrie Pelc


If there’s one outdoor chore that universally everyone complains about, it’s mowing the lawn. Usually, the grievances stem from using a lawn mower that is loud, dirty, hard to push, and—especially back-in-the-day—hard to start and unreliable.


The good news is that lawn mowers have come a long way from your summers as a teen. Now lawn mowers are quieter and easier to both use and maintain, helping to make lawn mowing less of a complaint and more of a delight.


With so many lawn mower options available today, how do you know which is the right one for your lawn? We’ve put together what we hope will be a very informative and helpful guide in helping you pick a lawn mower for your needs.

best lawn mowers

Image via Wet & Forget


How Do Lawn Mowers Work?


The main mechanism of any lawn mower is the blade—that's what cuts the grass. In today's modern lawn mowers, the blade is housed in a casing called the mower deck, which is normally made of steel or some other super-tough material. As the blade—or blades—spins and cuts the grass, the deck keeps the grass and anything else on the lawn from flying around and hitting the person using the lawn mower or anything else in the general vicinity.


On top of the mower deck and blade is the body of the lawn mower, which will either need to be pushed or guided by using a handle or steered if it's a ride-on lawn mower. Additionally, each lawn mower will have a way to get rid of grass clippings, either by depositing them into an attached bag or by gently dispersing them back onto the lawn, creating a convenient mulch cover.


Generally, lawn mowers are powered in one of two ways—gas or electric. For gas lawn mowers, you'll need to take into account the oil consumption as well as the gas usage. Electric mowers can either be corded or cordless, meaning they're powered by a rechargeable battery. 


Lawn Mower Types


Brand aside, there are plenty of types of mowers to choose from, and which one you choose will depend on a few factors of your lawn, like size and terrain.


Lawn mower engines are measured in "cc", or cubic centimeters, and can range from 140 cc to 190 cc. This is the measurement of the capacity of the cylinder in the mower's engine. Larger engines are better for tougher cutting conditions, like tall, wet grass and weed mowing. The average recommended range for an at-home lawn mower is around 160 cc.


Push Mower Types


A push or walk-behind mower is commonly recommended for yards smaller than one quarter-acre.


If your lawn is bigger than 2,500 square feet (about the size of a regulated tennis court), we recommend self-propelled lawn mowers, which work on a self-driving system and rely on you only having to steer it in the right direction. A self-propelled lawn mower typically has a bar that the user engages to start the propeller, and releasing the bar will turn the engine off or stop the blade, depending on the mower. Self-propelled mowers will save time and energy, because you won't have to expend extra effort in pushing the mower through challenging areas in your yard, like thick grass.


Self-propelled mowers will come with either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, each one with unique benefits. Generally speaking, mowers with front-wheel drive are easy to turn and are best suited for flat-terrain lawns that might have obstacles like trees, corners, and lawn ornaments. Meanwhile, rear-wheel-drive lawn mowers can tackle bumpier terrain like hills and slopes and are ideal for wide-open spaces with fewer obstacles to mow around.


Riding Lawn Mower Types


Riding lawn mowers allow you to sit while mowing, take up more space, and cover ground faster, so they work best in yards bigger than a quarter-acre. There are two main types of riding lawn mowers: zero-turn mowers and tractor mowers.


Pro Tip: One acre of land is approximately 43,560 square feet. For reference, a football field is 48,000 square feet.


Zero-turn mowers are sit-down mowers equipped with two levers that control motors attached to their respective wheels on each side. Pushing the levers forward causes the mower to propel forward, while pulling backward will reverse the machine. To turn right, the user will push the left handle forward and vice versa to turn left. Once you get the hang of the steering mechanisms, zero-turn mowers are easy to maneuver and can quickly make 180-degree turns to mow patches you may have missed in a previous turn.


On the other hand, tractor mowers are a great option if your yard is over one acre big and is filled with slopes and hills. Tractor mowers are comfortable, and since they have bigger wheels and a stronger center of gravity, they can tackle slopes that zero-turn mowers can't. Like a car, a tractor mower has a gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel. Keep in mind that lawn tractors have a wide turn radius, which will leave a patch of unmowed grass around each turn, so you will need to circle back to be sure that every blade is cut.


How to Select a Lawn Mower


Here are some factors we considered in deciding on our list of the best lawn mowers:


Choose Your Fuel: Overall, there are two main types of fuel when it comes to lawn mowers—the traditional gas-powered and the more recent electric-powered. For electric lawn mowers, you can choose between having a battery that needs to be recharged every time you mow or use a corded electric lawn mower, which can go for longer but is more restricted in terms of distance and mobility.


Know Your Lawn Size: Another major factor to consider is the size of your lawn. For example, battery-powered and electric corded lawn mowers are a better option for smaller yards, as they have some restrictions in either needing a recharge or being plugged in to operate. Also how large your yard is will determine if you need a walk-behind lawn mower — either a push or self-propelled model, depending on your needs — or a ride-on, tractor-style lawn mower. 


How Do You Like Your Clippings: Most of today’s lawn mowers will offer both bagging and mulching options for clippings. With bagging, the lawn mower will collect the grass clippings and place them in the attached bag. And with mulching, the mower will cut the clippings more finely and then disperse them as you continue to mow. In time, the mulched clippings will break down and return to the soil of your lawn, helping to provide nourishment. A third option a lot of the best lawn mowers offer is a side discharging option for the mulched clippings, so instead of dropping them behind the lawn mower they shoot them to the side. 


What Are the Best Lawn Mowers for 2021? 


To help you figure out the best lawn mower for your particular lawn, each lawn mower on our list has been evaluated and ranked for these main factors: 




  • Price: Thankfully there are great lawn mowers out there for all budgets. Keep in mind, some of the pricier mowers are known to withstand more usage, so consider that when determining your investment.
  • Mower Type: Is the lawn mower a walk-behind—push or self-propelled—or ride-on? If you have a lot of lawn to mow, or you're not as spry as you once were, this factor will be very relevant in your decision-making.
  • Power Type: Is the lawn mower powered by gas, corded electric or cordless batteries? This will determine for how long and how far your mower can go.
  • Engine Power: The more powerful the engine, the faster and more efficient the lawn mower.
  • Mower Start: How the lawn mower starts—is it a pull-start, push button or something else? It may seem like a small factor to consider, but it will play into how convenient it is to start and stop the job, as well as how easy it is to pause or take breaks.
  • Weight: How much the lawn mower weighs is important when you’re pushing it around your lawn. 
  • Mower Deck Size: The size of your lawn will help you determine the size cutting deck you need—generally the larger the lawn you have to mow, the larger the cutting deck you'll want. And the size of the blade inside the lawn mower will normally be the same size as the cutting deck, so a mower with a 48-inch cutting deck will have a 48-inch long blade.
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: Most of the lawn mowers on our list offer various heights the mower deck can be set to, allowing for different heights of grass.
  • Cutting Dispersal: As mentioned before, almost all of today’s lawn mowers offer at least two options for collecting grass clippings—bagging them or mulching them and dispersing them behind or to the side of the mower.
  • Adjustable Handle: Does the lawn mower’s handle adjust for different heights? This will play into how comfortable your mower is to handle.
  • Oil Change System: Does the lawn mower require oil changes, and if so, how easy are they to do? Mower upkeep can become more challenging if you have to weigh this factor into your workload.


We're ready to take a look at our top picks for lawn mowers for 2021!


Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: Toro Recycler 20332 22 Inch SmartStow Personal Pace Gas Walk Behind Self Propelled Lawn Mower


~ $380 at The Home Depot

best self-propelled lawn mower

A mid-priced, solid lawn mower for those who want a gas-powered, self-propelled option for smaller lawns.


If you're looking for a hassle-free, low-maintenance lawn mower, you'll definitely want to check out the Toro Recycler 20332 22 Inch SmartStow Personal Pace Gas Walk Behind Self Propelled Lawn Mower. Featuring a generous 22-inch steel mower deck and Toro's Recycler Cutting System, your yard will benefit from the nourishment provided by the ultra-fine clippings as the mower drops them back down onto the yard. You can also opt to bag your clippings and easily dispose of them with Toro's quick-connect bagging system. This mower features front-wheel drive and a variable speed control system that automatically senses and adjusts to your walking pace, and its 11-inch rear wheels means it's easy to navigate over rough terrain. The mower will never require an oil change—just top it off with oil as needed before each use. And the mower's handle is adjustable to two different heights and then folds away for easy storage. 


Ideal for: A low-maintenance, gas-powered, self-propelled lawn mower for yards up to a 1/2 acre.




  • Price: Mid-priced at about $380
  • Mower Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
  • Power Type: Gas
  • Engine Power: 163cc
  • Mower Start: Pull-start
  • Weight: 78 lbs
  • Lawn Size: Up to a 1/2 acre
  • Mower Deck Size: 22 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 9 cutting options between 1 and 4 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bag, mulching, and side discharge
  • Adjustable Handle: 2 handle heights available
  • Oil Change System: No oil changes needed—just add more oil when necessary


Pros:



  • Self-propelled
  • No oil changes ever needed
  • Recycler Cutting System provides ultra-fine clippings to help nourish your yard
  • Comfortable to use with adjustable handle heights and variable speed control


Cons:



  • Not a good pick for lawns larger than a 1/2 acre 


Best Push Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt TB130 Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower with 3-in-1 TriAction Cutting System


~ $335 at Walmart 

best push lawn mower

A push walk-behind, gas-powered lawn mower with a number of excellent features at a moderate price. 


If a push walk-behind lawn mower is more your jam, the Troy-Bilt TB130 Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower with 3-in-1 TriAction Cutting System may be exactly what you're looking for. This mower's lower weight—only 60 lbs.—and larger 11-inch rear wheels makes it easy to push and navigate over your yard, no matter what gets in the way. Troy-Built's TriAction® cutting system combines a rake bumper, specialized blade and symmetrical 21-inch steel cutting deck to produce finely-mulched clippings that can either be dispersed back to the lawn from the back or side through the included mulch kit, or collected in the mower's 1.9 bushel rear bag. Built in the USA, this Troy-Bilt push mower with 3-in-1 TriAction Cutting System offers six cutting options from 1.25 to 3.75 inches, and will never need an oil change thanks to Troy-Bilt's Check, Don't Change engine.


Ideal for: Push mower lovers who are looking for a machine that is easy-to-use with lots of beneficial features for small yards. 




  • Price: Mid-priced at about $335
  • Mower Type: Push walk-behind
  • Power Type: Gas
  • Engine Power: 159cc
  • Mower Start: Pull-start
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Lawn Size: For smaller lawns no more than ¼ acre
  • Mower Deck Size: 21 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 6 cutting options between 1.25 to 3.75 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bag, mulching and side discharge
  • Adjustable Handle: Not that we can see
  • Oil Change System: Oil changes not required—just top off with oil before each use


Pros:



  • TriAction® cutting system provides finely-mulched clippings for a healthier lawn
  • No oil changes needed
  • 11-inch rear wheels make rough terrain easy to navigate


Cons:



  • Handle not adjustable
  • Best for lawns of a ¼ acre or less


Best Ride-On Lawn Mower: RYOBI 48V Brushless 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower


~ $2,800 at The Home Depot 

best riding lawn mower

A battery-powered ride-on lawn mower that quickly, quietly, and efficiently mows for up to two hours on one charge.


If you're looking to quickly and quietly mow up to 2 acres, consider the RYOBI 48V Brushless 38 in. 75 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower. Powered by 48V 75Ah batteries and two brushless motors, this zero-emission mower can mow for up to two hours—or approximately two acres of mowing—per battery charge. Equipped with a 38-inch cutting deck, the mower's dual blades can be adjusted up to 12 positions from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. Super quiet, this battery-powered ride-on mower also offers cruise control, LED headlights, and a USB port so you can charge your phone while mowing. This RYOBI riding lawn mower is charged between mows through a standard 120-volt outlet.


Ideal for: Those with mid-sized lawns who want to do it in an eco-friendly and comfortable way.




  • Price: Expensive at $2,800
  • Mower Type: Ride-on
  • Power Type: 48V 75Ah battery
  • Engine Power: N/A
  • Mower Start: Keyed start
  • Weight: 595 lbs
  • Lawn Size: 1/2 to 2 acres
  • Mower Deck Size: 38 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 12 cutting options between 1.5 to 4.5 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bag, mulching and side discharge
  • Adjustable Handle: N/A
  • Oil Change System: N/A


Pros:



  • Super quiet mowing
  • Zero-emissions
  • Can mow for up to two hours on one battery charge


Cons:



  • Rather expensive
  • Batteries require charging between mows


Best Electric Corded Lawn Mower: American Lawn Mower Company 50514 14-Inch Corded Electric Mower


~ $125 on Amazon

best electric corded mower

Small lawn owners rejoice—this is an electric lawn mower that provides excellent maintenance for small lawns in an eco-friendly way.


If you like the idea of an electric lawn mower but don't want to have to wait for batteries to charge, a corded electric lawn mower may be the best option for you. With more than 1,770 ratings and 4.5 stars on Amazon, the American Lawn Mower Company 50514 14-Inch Corded Electric Mower starts with just the push of a button and can tackle tough mowing jobs for small lawns with a 14-inch steel blade that cuts at five different heights between 1 to 2.5 inches. This eco-friendly mower runs on an 11 Amp brushless motor that offers gas-like power and efficiently without any emissions, and at only 21 lbs., is easy to push and navigate around a small yard. The American Lawn Mower Company mower will mulch and disperse clippings or collect them in its 16-gallon grass bag that is fitted with an indicator that alerts you when it's time to empty it. 


Ideal for: Small yard owners who want an electric lawn mower without needing to rely on batteries.




  • Price: Economically-priced at about $125
  • Mower Type: Push walk-behind
  • Power Type: Corded electric
  • Engine Power: 11 Amp
  • Mower Start: Push button
  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Lawn Size: 1/4 to 1/2 acre
  • Mower Deck Size: 14 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 5 cutting options between 1 to 2.5 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bagging and mulching
  • Adjustable Handle: Multiple handle positions
  • Oil Change System: N/A


Pros:



  • Economically priced
  • Eco-friendly
  • Very lightweight for easy control and navigation


Cons:



  • Push mower
  • Corded power limits the distance you can go
  • Rather small cutting deck


Best Battery-Operated Lawn Mower: EGO Power+ LM2102SP 21 Inch 56V Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Mower


~ $550 at Ace Hardware

best battery-operated lawn mower

An eco-friendly self-propelled lawn mower built for all types of weather.


If you are looking for an eco-friendly lawn mower that can work even in inclement weather, then you'll want to consider the EGO Power+ LM2102SP 21 Inch 56V Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Mower. Powered by a 56V 7.5 Ah Lithium battery, this mower can mow for up to 60 minutes on a single charge and features a weather-resistant build and bright LED headlights so it can operate in all types of weather conditions. Its 21-inch cutting width offers six cutting heights and clippings are bagged, mulched or side dispersed. The mower's self-propelled function offers variable speeds between 0.9 to 3.1 MPH, so you can find a speed that matches your walking pace. The mower also folds up for compact vertical storage. 


Ideal for: Those who want a battery-powered lawn mower that can operate in all types of weather. 




  • Price: Bit pricey at $550
  • Mower Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
  • Power Type: 56V 7.5 Ah Battery
  • Engine Power: N/A
  • Mower Start: Push button
  • Weight: 54.5 lbs
  • Lawn Size: 1/4 to 1/2 acre
  • Mower Deck Size: 21 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 6 cutting heights between 1.5 inches to 4 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bagging, mulching, and side dispersal
  • Adjustable Handle: 3 heights
  • Oil Change System: N/A


Pros:



  • Can run for up to 60 minutes on one battery charge
  • Weather-resistant construction
  • Offers variable speeds to match your walking pace


Cons:



  • Takes 60 minutes to recharge the battery
  • Only suitable for smaller lawns


Best Gas-Powered Lawn Mower: Honda HRX217VKA 21 in. NeXite Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk-Behind


~ $630 at The Home Depot

best gas-powered lawn mower

A highly-ranked gas-powered lawn mower with lots of benefits for ease of use. 


With almost 1,200 reviews and 4.75 stars on Home Depot’s website, it's no surprise the Honda HRX217VKA 21 in. NeXite Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk-Behind is our top pick for the best gas-powered lawn mower. This self-propelled lawn mower features a GCV200 Honda engine and a 21-inch NeXite® mower deck that is dent- and rust-proof and comes with a lifetime warranty. The deck houses a dual blade system with seven cutting height adjustments from 0.75 inches to 4 inches. The fuel-powered mower offers Honda's 4-in-1 Versamow System™ with Clip Director® that can bag, mulch, discharge, or shred leaves without any additional tools or attachments. And for ease of use, Honda's Select Drive allows you to dial in the exact speed that matches your walking pace as you walk behind it from 0 to 4 MPH.


Ideal for: Those looking for a highly-ranked lawn mower with lots of bells and whistles.




  • Price: Bit pricey at $630
  • Mower Type: Self-propelled walk-behind
  • Power Type: Gas
  • Engine Power: GCV200 Honda engine
  • Mower Start: Pull cord
  • Weight: 89 lbs
  • Lawn Size: 1/2 to 1 acre
  • Mower Deck Size: 21 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: 7 cutting heights between 0.75 inches to 4 inches
  • Cutting Options: Bagging, mulching, discharge and leaf shredding 
  • Adjustable Handle: 3 heights
  • Oil Change System: Initially after the first month/5 hours of use, then every 6 months/50 hours of use


Pros:



  • Variable pace system matches your walking speed
  • 4-in-1 system for bagging, mulching, discharge, and leaf shredding 
  • Large-capacity 2.5-bushel bag capacity


Cons:



  • Pull cord start
  • Oil changes required


Best Robotic Lawn Mower: Husqvarna 967622505 Automower 430X Robotic Lawn Mower


~ $2,600 on Amazon

best robotic lawn mower

A great option for those who are interested in spending money on the newest option in the world of lawn mowers.


Basically the Roomba equivalent of a lawn mower, the battery-powered Husqvarna 967622505 Automower 430X Robotic Lawn Mower can handle medium to large-sized lawns of up to 0.8 acres and can mow for up to 145 minutes on a single charge. When the battery runs out, the mower returns to its charging station to juice back up. The Husqvarna 967622505 Automower 430X Robotic Lawn Mower uses a patented GPS system to map out your lawn so it knows which areas have been covered so it can adjust its mowing pattern as needed. Through Automower® Connect, the mower can be fully operated through a smartphone app—including setting the cutting height—or connected to smart home devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. And this robotic lawn mower can manage slopes of up to 45 percent thanks to its large, coarsely-treaded tires.


Ideal for: Those who truly hate to mow their lawn and would rather they never have to think about it. 




  • Price: Very expensive at $2,600
  • Mower Type: Robotic
  • Power Type: 5 Ah Battery
  • Engine Power: N/A
  • Mower Start: Graphic menu; smartphone and smart home connectivity
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Lawn Size: Up to 0.8 acres
  • Mower Deck Size: 8.7 inches
  • Lawn Cutting Heights: Electric height adjustment through app; cutting heights between 0.8 inches to 2.4 inches
  • Cutting Options: Mulching
  • Adjustable Handle: N/A
  • Oil Change System: N/A


Pros:



  • Super quiet
  • Intelligent mowing cycle keeps your lawn perfectly mowed at all times
  • Weatherproof


Cons:



  • Batteries take about 65 minutes to recharge between mowings
  • No bagging option


The History of the Lawn Mower

Lawn mowers have come a long way since the very first lawn mower was invented back in 1830 by an English mechanic named Edwin Beard Budding, which was based on the same cross-cutting machinery he worked on and repaired in textile mills at the time. This prototype of a reel lawn mower—which uses blades that spin vertically to cut the grass in a "scissoring action"—was followed by the first US patent for a reel lawn mower in 1868 by Amariah Hills of Connecticut. 


In 1919, the world saw the first gas-powered lawn mower thanks to Colonel Edwin George of the United States. And although electric lawn mowers were first developed in the 1930s, consumers did not really take to them until much later.


How to Get the Most Out of Your Lawn Mower

Lawn mowers can be an investment, but the good news is that with a little know-how and some proper maintenance, they can last for many years. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your lawn mower:




  • Read the Manual. As with any new piece of equipment, first and foremost always take the time to read the instruction manual accompanying your new mower so you can learn about all of its features to get the most out of it.
  • Know Your Maintenance. Whether it's making sure the oil is topped off, the batteries are charged, or the mower is gassed up to go, make sure you know the proper maintenance procedures for your particular lawn mower and follow them. 
  • Stay Sharp. The blades are the most important part of the lawn mower, so keeping them sharp is vital as dull blades will not keep your lawn looking its best. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for sharpening the blades, and when in doubt, go to a professional.
  • Keep it Clean. Clean your lawn mower after every use to remove any clippings that may clog the mower, and to keep it from developing any rust on any of its metal parts. The instruction manual should include proper cleaning procedures for your particular model.
  • Store it Properly. When you're done with your mower, store it in an area that will protect it from the elements, such as a shed or the garage. You may even want to consider a lawn mower cover if you'll be storing it for a long time during the winter season.


Do you have a lawn mower that you absolutely love? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

Comments

Join the conversation

Next