Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews of 2020
Snapper XD 82V MAX Electric Cordless 21-Inch Self-Propelled Lawnmower Kit
Best cordless electric lawn mower
A battery-powered self-propelled lawn mower designed to give a whole new meaning to the concept of power.
1 Snapper XD Review
Whether you want to mow your lawn or look for a cordless tool ideal for a landscaper, the Snapper XD will surely fit the bill. This workhorse comes equipped with a Briggs & Stratton 82V lithium-ion battery and can withstand whatever your yard is throwing at it.
Its 21-inch steel deck and 3-in-1 grass clipping management system will let you manicure the lawn in a breeze. You can even deal with all types of grasses thanks to the 7 easily adjustable cut heights.
Its 2Ah battery provides up to 45 minutes of run time; we would have liked a more powerful one, but you can replace it with 4Ah or 5Ah batteries to extend the life cycle. To counterbalance this fact, at least the battery recharges fast, and you’ll even get two of them with your purchase.
If you don’t mind the shorter run time though but aim for the power, this is undoubtedly the best cordless self-propelled lawn mower you can get.
Greenworks M-210-SP 40V Brushless Self-Propelled Mower
Best residential self-propelled lawn mower
An outstanding cordless lawn mower, easy to maneuver and powerful enough to mow your lawn quickly.
2 Greenworks M-210-SP Review
Perfect for yards up to half an acre, the Greenworks M-210-SP is the best self-propelled mower for homeowners. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of our top pick, but it’s still mean enough to get rid of your grass in a breeze.
Its durable 21-inch steel deck adjusts to 7 cutting heights and can easily slice through all types of grasses. Moreover, you’ll even get the praised 3-in-1 grass clippings management system.
The 40V battery is another nice treat. You won’t get two, only one, but the one that comes with it boasts an extended runtime thanks to the 6Ah it provides.
Another thing we like is the dual battery port design that lets you keep one stored on the mower while the other one fuels the machine, for uninterrupted cutting.
Craftsman M215 159cc 3-in-1 FWD Self-Propelled Gas Powered Lawn Mower
Best gas-powered self-propelled lawn mower
A powerful gas engine makes this lawn mower ideal for heavy-duty residential and semi-commercial applications.
3 Craftsman M215 Review
As powerful as our best-in-class but operated by a gas engine rather than batteries, the Craftsman M215 is an excellent choice for larger lawns.
Super-easy to start thanks to the auto-choke recoil, the mower impresses with a 21-inch cutting swath and variable speed control for seamless moving around your yard.
Like our top picks, it comes with a 3-in-1 grass clippings management system, but it only has six cutting heights. Nevertheless, that’s still enough for most applications, so it’s hard to see this as a drawback.
A thing that we like is the front-wheel-drive that makes it easier to turn and maneuver around obstacles. It’s ergonomic and powerful, but keep in mind that it’s loud and requires more maintenance than the cordless lawn mowers.
PowerSmart DB8620 3-in-1 196cc Gas Self Propelled Mower
A budget alternative
This gas lawn mower is affordable yet still suitable for mid-sized lawns.
4 PowerSmart DB8620 Review
If you’re looking for a capable lawn mower but are on a budget, the PowerSmart DB8620 could be it. This self-propelled lawn mower comes with a 196cc engine that delivers high power in a compact package.
It has a 20-inch mowing deck, which is small enough to fit in tighter spaces yet wide enough to mow a mid-sized lawn in a breeze. Eight height adjustments make it very easy to cut anything, from grass to weeds or overgrowth.
Furthermore, the 8-inch rear wheels provide incredible stability on all terrains. The unit is also easy to start and boasts 3-in-1 side discharge, bagging, and mulching. Reliable and capable, this lawn mower is an excellent choice if you don’t mind a louder noise and more maintenance as long as you get the best price point.
What is a self-propelled lawn mower?
At first glance, a self-propelled lawn mower looks just like a regular gas or electric push mower. Indeed, both machines, alongside the reel mowers, are varieties of the walk-behind kind. The difference between them is the presence on the self-propelled of an extra drive system, which pushes the mower along as you guide it.
The extra drive system is a true life-saver on big lawns or on hilly terrains, as you won’t have to make the effort of actually pushing a heavy mower.
Because self-propelled lawn mowers move on their own, they are also a great choice for the elderly or physically impaired people who don’t have the force to push a mower without aid.
How do self-propelled lawn mowers work?
Self-propelled lawn mowers come with a speed control lever positioned either on the handle or incorporated as a separate shifter. When engaged, the drive system pushes the mower for you, and all you have to do is stand behind it to maintain or change the direction.
While all self-propelled lawn mowers work in the same way, there are important differences between the speed and drive systems that can determine whether or not the mower is suitable for your yard.
Self-propelled lawn mower speed
Self-propelled lawn mowers can have either single or variable speeds, and we recommend to steer clear from the former because it reduces your control. If the speed is too slow, it may take too long to finish the task. If it is too fast, the mower might provide uneven cuts, especially on thicker or longer grass, and it might also have scarce mulching capabilities.
Variable speeds, on the other hand, let you decide how slow or fast to go depending on your physical condition or the condition of your lawn so that you can achieve even cuts.
Lawn mower drive system
When it comes to the drive system, you will be able to pick from either front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive.
- Front-wheel drive: Works best on flat terrains but its greatest feature is that it helps you navigate around obstacles with incredible ease. You can reduce traction and maneuver the machine into tighter spots and corners by simply pushing down on the handle to lift the wheels a little bit.
- Rear-wheel drive: Is ideal for hilly terrains, because you won’t be able to influence traction when pushing down on the handle. However, these mowers are harder to maneuver around obstacles.
- All-wheel drive: These are perhaps the best self-propelled lawn mowers, allowing you to cut across a variety of flat and hilly surfaces. They are also fairly easy to maneuver in awkward spaces, but they are usually more expensive.
Gas vs. electric self-propelled lawn mower
One of the things you’ll have to decide when buying a lawn mower is whether you want a gas or electric model.
- Gas lawn mowers: Impress with high power and torque. They can deal with all types of grass and are suitable to use on larger lawns. On the other hand, they are quite noisy and banned in some regions and states due to their emissions. Nevertheless, these machines are preferred by professionals.
- Electric lawn mowers: Can be either corded or cordless, but the cordless electric lawn mowers are much more popular. They are powered by batteries which may have shorter or longer run times. Despite this drawback, they are comparable with the gas mowers in terms of power and are becoming increasingly popular especially among homeowners due to their lower noise and zero level of emissions.
Which one is right for you?
If you are a homeowner looking to manicure your lawn, a cordless electric lawn mower is undoubtedly your best choice. Some of the top-rated models come with powerful batteries that can easily match a gas mower in terms of power and capabilities.
If you mow lawns for a living, a gas machine might suit you better, as you won’t have to worry about battery life and run time.
Lawn mower cutting width and height
You might have decided which is the best self-propelled lawn mower for you, but there are a few other things to weigh in before hitting the market. Two of the most important features of a lawn mower are the cutting width and height.
Mower cutting width
Self-propelled lawn mowers are usually designed for yards between 1/2 and 1 acres, and most of them come with cutting decks in the 18-22 inches range. While these widths are ideal for the indicated yard sizes, you must pay attention to any present obstacles.
- If there are many obstacles in your yard, such as trees, flower beds, or even garden furniture, a narrower deck could be easier to maneuver.
- If you have few obstacles, a wider deck can help you finish your chores faster.
Mower cutting height
Depending on the type of grass you have, you might need to set the cutting deck lower or higher to maintain your lawn healthy and beautiful throughout the summer.
In broad lines, cold-season grass should usually be cut shorter, at heights between 0.5 and 2.5 inches, while warm-season varieties should be cut at heights between 2 and 4 inches.
Luckily, most self-propelled lawn mowers have adjustable cutting decks that let you choose the preferred height between 1 and 4 inches.
However, you should check the specific model you want to buy and make sure its cutting height settings match your needs.
Grass clippings management
Self-propelled lawn mowers can have either 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 clippings management systems.
- The 2-in-1 function: Lets you mulch or bag the clippings. The mulch function shreds the clippings and throws them on the lawn, where they act as a fertilizer. However, because it is not recommended to mulch the lawn in late spring and early fall, the bag function gathers the clippings for you for easier disposal.
- The 3-in-1 function: Consists of mulch, bag, and side discharge. The latter is ideal for utility mowing or larger lawns if you don’t want to empty the bag too often.
How to fix and adjust a self-propelled lawn mower
If you’re wondering how to adjust and fix a self-propelled lawn mower if it stops performing, here are a few maintenance tips that can help you.
Lawn mower maintenance tips:
- Clean the cutting deck immediately after mowing to keep the blades sharp for longer.
- If you have a gas mower, check its oil level and spark plugs regularly to prevent leaks and clogs.
- Remove the batteries from the mower during winter and recharge them regularly to prolong their lifespan.
- Oil all moving parts – and especially the blades – regularly.
- Store your mower in a shed or garage if it rains and during winter.
Other things to consider
If you want to make sure that yours is indeed the best self-propelled lawn mower, don’t forget to check the following features.
- Ball-bearing wheels: Self-propelled mowers may have either bushing or ball-bearing wheels. The latter is easier to push, and it will really make a difference on hilly terrains or if the mower is on the heavier side.
- Break-blade clutch: Lets you release the handle control without stopping the engine, so you can stop mowing if needed and resume work from where you left it without having to restart the motor.
- Vertical storage design: Helps you save space in your shed or garage by collapsing the handle and storing the mower vertically against a wall.
- Wash-out fittings: Let you attach a garden hose to the mower to clean grass clippings and weeds quickly and easily.
- No oil change: Saves you the hassle of changing the oil on a gas mower. You’ll only have to top it up periodically.
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower for the Money
Greenworks M-210-SP 40V Brushless Self-Propelled MowerBest residential self-propelled lawn mower
An outstanding cordless lawn mower, easy to maneuver and powerful enough to mow your lawn quickly.