Lawn Mower Buying Guide (What to Look For)
This lawn mower buying guide explains how to choose the right mower for different lawn cutting needs. Describes things to consider.
This lawn mower buying guide offers buying tips because what is important to consider isn’t always mentioned in the sales brochure.
If you want the lowdown on mower quality and durability, don’t forget to ask the person who spends their time fixing lawn mowers for a living.
This lawn mower buying guide is based on over 25 years of hands-on repair experience. It’s what I look for when determining quality and value.
Among the most important factors in deciding which lawn mower to buy is the yard it needs to mow. You want a lawn mower capable of cutting the yard with ease, not one that will struggle because of yard size.
You may also want to avoid expensive features you don’t need, especially if they are included for an additional price.
While most people would call these an option, sometimes sales pricing doesn’t make it clear you have a choice.
Types of Lawn Mowers – Testing
There are several types of lawnmowers to choose from, including gas-powered, electric, and manual push mowers.
Consider which type is best for your needs and budget but before doing that, assess the yard it will cut.
For smaller yards or lawns with tight spaces, a manual push mower, especially an electric or battery-powered mower, may be the best choice.
These types of mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver, and they don’t require the use of gasoline or a power outlet. Consider a brushless mower, too.
For larger yards or lawns with more open space, a gas-powered or cordless electric mower may be more efficient. These types of mowers tend to have more power and a wider cutting deck, which allows you to cover more ground in less time.
If your yard has a lot of hills, or uneven terrain, a self-propelled mower may be a good choice. These mowers have a drive system that helps push the mower forward, making it easier to mow up and down slopes.
For yards with a lot of trees or other obstacles in your yard, a mower with a rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive system may be better suited to your needs. These types of mowers are more agile and can handle rough terrain more easily.
A yard over an acre in size will typically need a riding mower if you want to comfortably cut it in a reasonable amount of time. According to manufacturer recommendations, a new riding mower is ideal for yards of between one and three acres in size, depending on the manufacturer.
The width of the cutting deck determines how much grass you can cut in one pass. A wider cutting deck will allow you to cover more ground in less time, but it may also be harder to maneuver in tight spaces.
If you have a small lawn with tight corners and curves, you may want a lawn mower with a smaller turn radius, which will allow you to maneuver more easily around obstacles.
On the other hand, if you have a larger lawn with fewer obstacles, a lawn mower with a larger turn radius may be more efficient, as it will allow you to cover more ground with each turn.
A lawn mower with a turn radius of 16 inches or fewer is considered to have a small turn radius, while a turn radius of 20 inches or more is considered to be large. Most lawn mowers fall somewhere in the middle, with a turn radius of around 18 inches.
Look for a lawnmower with adjustable cutting heights, so you can customize it to your grass type, desired length, and time of year. It’s best to keep your grass at a moderate height, as this will help it stay healthy and strong.
For cool-season grasses (such as bluegrass, fescue, and rye grass), I recommend a cutting height of 2.5 to 3 inches.
For warm-season grasses (such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysia grass), a cutting height of 1 to 2 inches is generally recommended.
During the growing season, it’s generally a good idea to leave your grass a little longer than you normally would, as this will help it stay healthy and strong.
During the dormant season (when your grass is not actively growing), you can cut it a little shorter, as the grass is not as vulnerable to damage.
Lawn Mower Power Source
No lawn mower buying guide is complete without discussing mower power sources. Each type of power source provides additional benefits and drawbacks, and each needs to be considered for individual needs.
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers are the most common type of lawn mower. They are generally the most powerful and offer the longest run time, but they also produce emissions and require regular maintenance (such as oil changes).
Electric lawn mowers are becoming more popular due to their low maintenance and zero emissions. They are quieter than gas mowers and are generally easier to start, but they may not have as much power and may have a shorter run time (depending on the size of the battery).
Corded electric lawn mowers are similar to cordless electric mowers, but they are tethered to an electrical outlet by a cord. They offer unlimited run time, but the cord can be a nuisance and may limit the areas of your lawn that you can reach.
Battery-powered lawn mowers are similar to cordless electric mowers, but they use a removable battery that can be charged and replaced as needed. They offer a good balance between power, run time, and convenience, but the batteries may need to be replaced over time, which can be expensive.
Ease of use
Several factors can affect the ease of use of any lawn mower. When looking for a new lawn mower, get your hands on the mower and check the following.
Weight: A lighter lawn mower will be easier to maneuver than a heavy one. You should be able to handle the mower with ease.
For that reason, how much does a lawn mower weigh is an important question to ask.
Handle design: A lawn mower with a comfortable, ergonomic handle will be easier to use than one with a poorly designed handle.
Cut height adjustment: A lawn mower with an easy-to-use cut height adjustment mechanism will be more convenient to use than one that requires a lot of effort to change the cut height.
Starting mechanism: A lawn mower with an easy-to-use starting mechanism (such as a push-button start) will be more convenient to use than one with a difficult-to-use starting mechanism (such as a pull-start).
Maintenance: A lawn mower that is easy to maintain (such as one with an easy-to-clean air filter or a simple blade replacement process) is more convenient to use than one that requires a lot of maintenance.
Determine your budget and look for a lawn mower that fits within it. Keep in mind that more expensive models may have additional features or be made of higher-quality materials, but they may not necessarily be the best fit for your needs.
Tip: Be patient and wait for a good sale! Once you know what type and size of mower is right for you, wait for it to go on sale. The best lawn mower discount sales tend to happen towards the end of a mowing season, when retailers want to make room for new mower models.
Read online reviews from other customers to get a sense of mower reliability and performance. To weed out fake reviews, you can visit several major sites that sell lawn mowers, like Amazon and several major hardware stores.
If you read the same complaint over and over on different sites, it’s possible the mower model may have a manufacturing defect or weakness. Excessive vibration is a sign of poor craftsmanship that can lead to other performance problems. If people complain of excessive vibrations, consider choosing another model.
Hint: Talk to several small engine mechanics and ask them for their opinion too, some lawn mower models are more problematic to maintain and repair than others. An experienced small engine mechanic will know which mower brands and models have frequent mechanical issues.
Lawn Mower Warranty Considerations
All warranties are not created equally. Make sure to read the warranty and understand it before deciding to spend a little more for the added protection it provides, or deciding to save your money and turning it down.
Length of coverage: Make sure you understand how long the warranty lasts. Some warranties only last for a year, while others may last for two or more. The longer the warranty lasts, the better.
Coverage: What is covered under the warranty? Does it cover just the engine, or does it also cover other parts of the mower, such as the blades and the drivetrain? The more comprehensive the coverage, the better.
Exclusions: Are there any exclusions or limitations on the warranty? For example, some warranties may not cover damage caused by abuse or neglect. The fewer exclusions, the better.
I could write an entire lawn mower buying guide about warranties, but each is different, so I recommend taking the time to read yours.
Transferability: Is the warranty transferable if you sell the mower to someone else? If you don’t intend to sell the mower within the warranty period, the transferability doesn’t matter. If you have a long warranty and might buy a new mower before it ends, you’ll benefit from a transferable warranty.
Claim process: How do you go about making a claim under the warranty? Is it a straightforward process, or is it difficult to get repairs covered under the warranty? A warranty is only as good as how easily you can have it honored.
Take the time to research all aspects of any major purchase. A little research ahead of time can help avoid potential regrets later.
I hope this lawn mower buying guide has helped you consider something you may have overlooked on your search for the right lawn mower.