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Push Mower Buying Guide

A push mower, or walk-behind mower, is effective on 1/2 acre or less. Compare the different types to find the best push mower for your lawn.

Types of Push Mowers for Different Landscapes

Types of Push Mowers for Different Landscapes.

The size of your lawn is a factor in choosing a push mower that's right for you, but also consider slopes and obstacles, such as trees and flower beds. If your lawn is larger than 1/2 acre, you might want to think about choosing a riding mower. Take a look at Lowe's Riding Mower Buying Guide to see what's available.

Gas Push Mowers

Gas Push Mower.

Gas mowers are a good choice for larger yards up to 1/2 acre in size. A gas mower provides more power than an electric mower and doesn't have the restriction of a battery charge or power cord. Most crank with a pull start, but some feature an electric starter that eliminates the need to use the pull cord. Gas mowers need the right fuel — follow the manufacturer's requirements and read Fueling Power Equipment for tips on keeping your machine running properly.

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Self-Propelled Mowers

All-Wheel-Drive Push Mower.

While traditional push mowers can be a good choice for lawns up to 1/3 acre, if you have a larger yard, hilly terrain or want to mow with less effort, consider a self-propelled mower. There are three types to choose from:

  • Front-wheel drive (FWD) mowers are good for level terrain. Since the drive wheels are in front, they allow you to tip up and turn the mower more easily than some other drive systems.
  • Rear-wheel drive (RWD) provides more traction at the center of the mower, helping you mow hilly terrain more easily. Some models allow you to disengage the drive system, giving you the turning ability of a FWD model.
  • All-wheel drive (AWD) models provide power to all four wheels, giving you benefits in both level and hilly yards.

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Push Mower Features and Options

Cordless Push Mower.

Once you've decided on the type of mower that best suits your lawn, look for features and options that make the work more efficient:

  • Voltage (V) on a cordless mower and amperage (amps) on a corded mower both indicate power output. Higher measurements mean more power.
  • A dual-battery system on a cordless mower extends the cutting time.
  • Engine torque measures — in foot-pounds (ft-lbs) — the force that keeps the mower blades spinning. Higher torque offers a better cut in tall or thick grass.
  • Engine displacement describes the size of the cylinder in a gasoline engine. Manufacturers measure displacement in cubic centimeters (cc). A higher cc measurement means a more powerful engine that can handle heavier cutting.
  • A no-prime engine lets you start a gas mower more quickly and easily.
  • Cut width indicates how wide a swath of grass you can mow in a single pass.
  • A self-propelled mower is either single-speed or variable-speed. A variable speed mower lets you set your own pace. You can control the speed of some mowers with either hand.
  • A blade brake clutch stops the blade from spinning but allows the engine to keep running. This feature lets you empty the grass collection bag without restarting the mower.
  • Dual- or single-lever height adjustment makes changing the height of the cut easier than adjusting a lever at each wheel.
  • Large rear wheels and front caster wheels make a mower more maneuverable.
  • A deck wash port connects to a garden hose to help you clean the underside of the cutting deck.

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Caution

Always follow the mower manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions, including instructions on safety gear.

Mowing and More

Mower Attachment and Power Base.

As an alternative to a standard push mower, look for outdoor equipment that has flexibility to handle mowing and other jobs around the landscape and throughout the season. These systems reduce storage and maintenance requirements by using one engine and multiple, optional attachments — such as a mower deck, a pressure washer, a leaf blower and a snow blower. See this Troy-Bilt system — available exclusively at Lowe's — in action.

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Electric Push Mowers

Corded Electric Push Mower.

Electric push mowers are effective for relatively flat lawns measuring 1/3 acre of less. They start with the flip of a switch and are quieter and run cleaner than gas push mowers.

Cordless mowers feature rechargeable batteries and give you more mobility than corded models. Lithium ion batteries with higher voltages — 40 or 80 volts — give you a longer runtime than lower-voltage models. Charge times vary by battery and charger, ranging from 30 minutes for quick-charge batteries to 2 or 3 hours.

Corded mowers don't require recharging, offering unlimited runtime. However, the power cord restricts the operating area, making it a challenge to mow large lawns or those with trees or other obstructions. Corded mowers require a suitable extension cord. Follow the device manufacturer's specifications for compatible extension cords and see Power Cord Safety Tips.

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Good to Know

Some cordless mowers use batteries that can also power equipment such as string trimmers, hedge trimmers, blowers and chainsaws. If you have several compatible devices, you can use one battery while others are charging.

Reel Mowers

Reel Mower.

If you have a small, flat yard and don't want to rely on power cords, batteries or gasoline, a reel mower is an option. This type can be effective with lawns 1/3 acre or smaller, but a smaller cutting width means more time and exertion. As the operator pushes the mower, a set of rotating knives — the reel — spins against a fixed blade. The cutting action is similar to that of scissors. These mowers can give a cleaner cut than power mowers. Reel mowers are also emissions-free and quiet. However, you may need to mow more often since they struggle in taller grass.

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Handling Grass Clippings

Push Mower with Bagging System.

The design of the cutting deck on a mower determines where grass clippings go as you cut.

  • Side-discharge mowers direct the clippings back out onto the lawn — helpful if you have grass that is coarse or tall. If the clippings are thick, you need to rake them up and dispose of them.
  • Mowers with bagging systems collect clippings, keeping your lawn looking clean without raking and reducing the spread of weed seeds. In the fall they're also useful for clearing leaves. Keep in mind that emptying the bag — especially for large or tall lawns — adds time to your mowing and you must dispose of the clippings.
  • Mulching mowers have decks designed to contain the clippings, allowing the blade to cut them to a smaller size. The clippings fall onto the lawn as mulch to add nutrients to the soil. Mulching works well if you mow regularly and the grass isn't too tall.

Many mowers quickly convert between these configurations so you can choose the one that works best for your lawn or for the conditions each time you mow.

Some areas don't allow yard waste in landfills. If you rake or bag clippings and your community doesn't have a collection program, you can compost some of them. Read Composting 101 for information on turning yard waste into nutrients for your soil. If the clippings are free of weed seeds and you haven't applied pesticide to the grass in the past month, you can use them as mulch around the yard. See Landscaping with Mulch for tips on using mulch.

Push Mower Maintenance Considerations

Push Mower on a Dropcloth.

Cleaning and blade care are necessary for the best performance and longevity of any mower, but there are additional maintenance requirements based on mower type. Reel mowers have a set of knives you need to sharpen by hand and that are not as easy to replace as blades on other mowers. Cordless mowers and some gas mowers require battery care. All gas mowers need regular oil, air filter and spark plug changes. They have additional requirements for winter storage. See How to Maintain a Push Mower to get an idea of good maintenance practices for mowers.