Buying a new lawn mower or tractor can be a serious investment, so the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute teamed up with Roy Berendsohn, Senior Home Editor at Popular Mechanics, to give you the best recommendations on the market right now. Overall, our top picks for the best lawn mowers to buy in 2020 are:
Best Overall Lawn Mower: Honda Variable Speed 4-in-1 Gas Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Best Value Gas Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower with 3-in-1 TriAction Cutting System
Best Value Electric Lawn Mower: Greenworks 40V Cordless Electric Lawn Mower
Best Walk-Behind Gas Lawn Mower: Toro Super Recycler Gas Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
Best Walk-Behind Electric Lawn Mower:EGO Cordless Electric Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Mower
Best Robotic Lawn Mower: Husqvarna AUTOMOWER 315X Robotic Lawn Mower
Best Riding Lawn Mower: Husqvarna Hydrostatic 46-in. Riding Lawn Mower
Best Compact Riding Lawn Mower: Cub Cadet 30-in. 382 cc Gas Rear Engine Riding Mower
What is the best type of lawn mower for my needs?
The size and slope of your yard will be the main factors for choosing the right option, plus your willingness for physical exertion and the time you have to dedicate to mowing your lawn. The two main classifications are walk-behind or riding mowers:
- Walk-behinds come in three basic types: manual lawn mowers, where you’re doing all the work without any assist from a motor or engine; push lawn mowers with an engine or motor to power the blades; and self-propelled lawn mowers, where an engine or motor powers the wheels and the blades.
- Riding mowers are available in both manual and automatic transmissions (much like how you control a car) as well as hydrostatic, which uses fluid instead of belts for power transfer. Zero turn tractors are essentially suped-up riding mowers and enable better handling and higher speeds than traditional tractors, as you control rotation with a pair of levers as opposed to a wheel (i.e., turning one will move you in a circle). If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown of the types of mowers, we recommend you check out Popular Mechanics‘ lawn mower buying guide.
As a simple rule of thumb, you should get a walk-behind mower if you have less than ½ an acre. Berendsohn says instead of considering the overall lot acreage, it’s better to look specifically at how much cutting space you have. When factoring in just grass, he recommends a walk-behind for anything less than 10,000 square feet, which is just shy of a quarter of an acre for comparison. Anything more and you’ll want to opt for a riding option.
What other features matter when it comes to lawn mowers?
Once you determine the type of mower or tractor you’ll want, there are a slew of other considerations you should be mindful of:
- Bonus and advanced features: For riding mowers, extras like an ergonomic seat and cup holder may not be lead determinants, but sure are nice to have! While we’re at it, cruise control is definitely another nice-to-have, as is automatic drive for adjusting speeds. Some tractors have the ability to switch mowing modes without a manual blade change required – super handy! For cordless electric walk-behind machines, some have removable batteries which makes storage and charging simpler.
- Warranty: This is a product category where you want to look for a robust warranty to ensure if something goes wrong you’ll be covered.
- Wheel size: You’ll want to consider both the front and rear wheels. You’ll want taller rear wheels if you’re going over rougher surfaces.
- Cutting options: Mowers can mulch, discharge (either to the side or rear), or bag clippings. Some mowers can only support one type of cutting option, some two, some all three. Depending upon what you are trying to accomplish and how frequently you cut your lawn will determine what’s ideal for you.
- Storage space: Most electric push models can be placed vertically to save storage space, but only specific gas models can handle vertical storage, as it requires special engine seals to ensure gas won’t leak out.
- Budget: Of course, you’ll have to factor in your budget when weighing these features out. In the end, it will be a trade-off of performance, comfort and durability. Lawn mower models start at a few hundred dollars, but prices can climb well into the thousands.
The Good Housekeeping Institute’s engineering team has looked at lawn mowers in the past for ease of use and performance capabilities. While a full battery test has not been completed recently, based upon brand experience, speaking with other industry experts, and knowledge of specifications and engines, these are the picks we feel are worthy of beautifying your lawn:
Article by Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping Institute and Lynn Redmile, Good Housekeeping Institute