Self Propelled Lawn Mowers: A Quick Introduction
A good self propelled lawn mower is a must-have for any homeowner – and the key to achieving beautiful lawn stripes. Unlike regular push mowers, self-propelled mowers (sometimes called walk-behind mowers) use power from the motor to drive the wheels.
The operator simply walks behind at their own pace while the mower cuts the grass. Not only does this make mowing easier, but it can also leave a more consistent final cut.
We’ve assembled this self propelled lawn mower buyer guide to help you navigate the many options available on the market. So that you can find the perfect mower to fit your needs.
The Top 8 Self Propelled Lawn Mowers
Best All Round Choice
1. Greenworks Pro MO80l00
⤍ Electric push button start
⤍ 7 point cutting height adjustment
⤍ Rear wheel self propelled
⤍ 21 inch cutting width
Greenworks is an established brand in the mower market, and continue to fine-tune their offering every year. The MO80L00 is an impressive all-rounder and would be a great choice for the vast majority of people reading this review. You can buy it with or without the battery and charger.
The reliable brushless motored mower is fitted with self propelled read wheel drive, making running this tool refreshingly simple. You start the mower with a simple push button, meaning it is very easy to run. The motor is fitted to a 21-inch steel deck with, which provides a solid cut across a range of grasses and different sized areas. Furthermore, innovative technology automatically increases the speed of the blade when more power is needed, giving you the best cut possible.
As this mower is cordless, it makes a great choice for those of you with a lack of power outlets or a big space to mow where cords usually don’t reach. The battery should last around 2 years, making it a decent investment. Customer reviews suggest you can get around 45 minutes out of a full chrage.
Height adjustment is another key feature. This makes it easy to change settings quickly. There are 7 height options available. This machine also features a variable speed system connected to a standard rear-wheel-drive setup, so owners can select their most comfortable setting. With a bag, mulch, and side-discharge options, this mower will have settings to suit everyone’s needs. The vertical storage feature allows you to save up to 70% of the space used on storage in your garage.
All in all, this mower has an impressive set of features at a very reasonable price point. We would judge it to be a solid all-round self-propelled mower and a great choice for most buyers.
Best High End Mower
2. Honda HRN216VKA
⤍ New GCV170 Honda engine
⤍ Highly-regarded Micro-Cut Twin Blade System
⤍ Smart Drive speed control
⤍ Heavy-duty steel deck and large grass bag capacity
⤍ 3 Year warranty
If you’re looking for an absolutely premium self-propelled mower, then look no further than the Honda HRX216VKA. Using the cutting surfaces of its Micro-Cut Twin Blade System, this mower achieves a highly accurate cut, keeping Honda firmly in position as the industry leader when it comes to high precision garden machinery.
This mower integrates Smart Drive speed control for simple yet precise control of speed, making the mowing process adjustable and convenient. It also features an optimized 21-inch heavy-duty deck, making it a strong and sturdy choice for all kinds of terrain. Being made from steel, it is also extremely durable.
With a dual-lever height adjustment system, adjustments to height are easy and quick. There are 7 different cutting heights to choose from. Air flow on this mower is optimized for mulching and bagging cut grass, and the Micro-Cut Twin Blade System creates a superior cut quality with smaller clippings. This means this Honda mower is perfect for mulching and bagging. The 3-in-1 system with Clip Director does this in a versatile and simplistic way.
Another amazing thing about this mower is that it can handle large-capacity grass bags, meaning if you’ve got a lot of lawn to mow, it’s a great investment. The large mower bags are balanced for easy unloading. A 2-position quick release handle allows you to comfotably adjust mowing position or to fold the handle over for storage. You also get a 3-year warranty thrown in, so you know you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
The all-new GCV170 engine also comes equipped with Honda’s auto choke system for easy starting.
If you’re looking for a very highly regarded mower that should last a lifetime, this Honda model will be an excellent choice that won’t let you down.
Best Affordable Choice
3. PowerSmart PS7218SR
⤍ Competitively priced
⤍ Large rear wheels handle bumps well
⤍ Foldable handle for easy storage and transport
⤍ Gas-powered engine
⤍ 3-in-1 bagging and mulch features
A very affordable mower, the PS7218SR from PowerSmart features a gas engine and rear wheel drive system. Being gas-powered, this is by no means the most efficient mower in our review but should offer a good pace for most owners. Fitted with a standard 21-inch steel cutter deck, this machine uses larger rear wheels to help it negotiate bumpier lawns without any problems.
PowerSmart is widely regarded for its inexpensive yet durable garden machinery. It’s nice to see that attention to detail apparent in their use of a very solidly constructed bag on this mower. Buyers with limited garage space will also appreciate the foldable handle for easy storage and transportation. This will save you space and keep your garage organized.
The adjustable cutting depth features 5 different height positions, a good range for a more affordable lawn mower, competing with the higher-end models. It works well on overgrowth and all other types of grass. You also get a 3-in-1 side discharging and mulching system which allows you to spread key nutrients onto your lawn easily. The large rear-mounted 14.6 gallon container with easy release system rivals that of the higher-end models as well.
Finally, the PowerSmart PS7218SR also comes with a 3 year warranty. All in all, a solid mower at a very competitive price.
4. Ryobi Brushless Self Propelled Mower
⤍ Cordless electric mower
⤍ Lithium-ion battery
⤍ Collapsable handle
⤍ Lightweight and storable
⤍ Compact 20-inch deck
Ryobi continues to push the boundaries for what we can expect from electric garden tools, and tis Brushless Self Propelled Mower continues this impressive trajectory. Converting gas-power die-hards by the day, this mower leaves a trail of great customer feedback across this internet. But how does it stack up in this review?
There is no doubt that the cordless electric system brings some obvious benefits, not least in requiring no pull start. In addition, you won’t have to worry about storing fuel for this machine and the mess associated with it. The Ryobi is also surprisingly light, and with its fold-up handle it can be easily stowed away on a shelf, unlike a conventional push mower.
All that said, this mower is clearly targeted at a lighter-use residential market and may, therefore, be unsuitable for heavier duty or commercial applications. With a relatively narrow 20-inch deck, this mower is one of the smallest in the review, and although the power from the 40V 6.0Ah Lithium-Ion battery is impressive, it cannot be removed and switched out for longer jobs.
In a smaller suburban setting though, this mower will really shine and give you quiet, clean, and simple cutting in a way no gas mower ever could.
5. Craftsman M215
⤍ Competitively priced
⤍ Made in the USA
⤍ 6 position height adjustment 1.25”-3.75”
⤍ Bagging or Mulching modes
⤍ Folding handle
Made here in the US at Craftsman’s factory in Tupelo Mississippi, the M215 boasts a 140cc Briggs and Stratton motor on a standard 21-inch cutting deck. Although it is one of the more basic mowers in this review from a functionality standpoint, the rugged simplicity of this mower is not to be overlooked.
Fitted with a simple single-speed setting, this mower allows the user to select from either bag or mulching modes depending on their needs. Continuing the theme, this mower provides 6 sensible cutting heights rather than the more complex settings available from other manufacturers.
For owners looking for a compact package, the folding handle will be a welcome addition and will help this mower fit into the tightest of garage spots.
In summary, the M215 is a great USA manufactured option, and although not equipped with all the functionality you might find on other mowers, it will still do an excellent job of keeping your lawn in great shape.
6. Snapper XD 82V MAX
⤍ Electric self propelled cordless mower
⤍ 45min run time per battery
⤍ Step Sense Technology varies speed automatically
⤍ 2 Lithium Ion Batteries Included
⤍ 21 inch steel mower dec
The widely regarded Snapper XD 82V Max mower is another machine setting new standards for cordless electric self-propelled machines. With a full feature set comparable to many of its gas-powered contemporaries, this mower is a great choice for any gardener looking to go electric.
Like all electric cordless lawnmowers, the two most obvious features for anyone moving over from gas will be the huge reduction in noise and the simple button start. Gone are the days of pulling the start cord in frustration!
Once up and mowing, this machine borrows many of the features from Snapper’s regular gas range, including the 21” steel cutting deck and 3-in-1 discharge/bag/mulch options. While most mowers are limited to 6 heights of adjustment, Snapper added the seventh option to the XD to really dial in your settings.
The really interesting features come back to the electric powerplant however, with Snapper’s Step Sense technology definitely worthy of a mention. This feature allows the mower to sense the speed at which you are walking to speed up or slow down the mower accordingly. Many buyers who find themselves constantly tweaking their speed will find this feature a welcome addition!
Furthermore, the addition of interchangeable batteries will get many buyers excited, for whom the standard 45min run-time per change is not quite enough to complete the job.
Another excelled electric cordless mower, we highly recommend this machine to anyone who is looking to make the switch from gas.
7. LawnMaster MEB1216K
⤍ 16-inch mowing swath
⤍ Large bag capacity
⤍ Compact and lightweight
⤍ One-touch height adjustment lever
⤍ 6 different cutting positions
LawnMaster’s MEB1216K is an extremely affordable, if small, mower. It is great for smaller gardens and domestic use, but may not be very good on tougher terrains and bigger areas of lawn.
Carrying a 16-inch cutting width with a steel blade, the 12 Amp motor provides a decent speed and cutting efficiency. There are 6 cutting positions to choose from, ranging from 1-inch to 3-inch, giving a resonable range of cuts for an inexpensive mower. The LawnMaster also features a one-touch height adjustment lever, making height adjustment super simple and quick.
This model is foldable and lightweight at only 32lbs. The wheels are a decent size, and rotate easily, making it simple to control. There is an adjustable handle and the grass collection rate is efficient. It can handle an 8 gallon large-capacity grass bag, making it comparable to some of the more expensive models.
Reviewers are pleased with this product, especially for the price. It is therefore an excellent choice if you’re looking for a mower which is a bit more compact and easy to run whilst sticking to a tighter budget.
8. Troy-Bilt TB210 12AVA2MR766
⤍ Troy Bilt 159cc Motor
⤍ Deck wash cleaning adaptor
⤍ Tri-Action cutting system
⤍ Front wheel drive
⤍ 2 year warranty
Troy Bilt has been a staple of US machinery stores since the 1940s and has a wealth of experience in mower design. The TB210 is their latest self propelled offering, and includes many of the standard features you would expect to find on a traditional gas-powered self propelled mower.
The motor is Troy Bilt’s own 159cc model, which features the Check Don’t Change oil fill top-up system, which is designed to save you needed to do a full oil change in favour of regular top-ups.
The motor is connected to an industry-standard 21-inch deck with 6 height settings. Unusually, this mower features a front wheel drive system, which is not often found on gas mowers of this type. Operators can vary the speed to their preference using the traditional controls, and select from the usual mulch, bag and side discharge settings for their cuttings.
Built largely in the USA, this mower is a great choice for any intermediate level buyer looking for a mower that won’t break the bank.
What To Look For When Buying A Self Propelled Lawn Mower
Most mowers in this review feature a variable speed setting feature, and the Snapper XD even detects and adjusts speed automatically. Although this feature adds some complexity and cost, we do feel that it’ll make your life more comfortable in the long run. Most electric mowers will come with this feature as standard. Perhaps if you’re looking to save some cash you could opt for a single-speed.
Engine sizes will vary from 125cc up to almost 200cc on the largest mowers. Typically motors in the 150cc range will be adequate for all but the heaviest workloads. Servicing will obviously be a consideration, and we recommend asking your local service center which motor brands they are most comfortable to make your life easier in the future.
Most motors are pull start – which some people will prefer from a simplicity standpoint – but there are electric-start models available like the Lawn Boy 17734. Electric power packs are now also available and work very well for light residential work.
Size And Storage
With many buyers having limited garage space storage is often a concern. Most manufacturers have now realized this, and almost all mowers will now feature folding handles and other storage innovations.
If you’re especially tight on space you might look to an electric mower such as the Ryobi. These are lightweight enough to be lifted onto a shelf for safekeeping.
Depending on your lawn area and storage options it might be worth considering other lawnmower options. A riding lawn mower is a great upgrade to a self propelled mower and will quickly cover a larger lawn area.
Self propelled mowers come with a variety of wheel types and sizes depending on their target application and price considerations. Generally, larger wheels on the rear of the mower will help it ride over bumps in the lawn and continue to mow smoothly. Mowers with smaller wheels will tend to bounce more on a bumpy lawn.
All the mowers in this review feature adjustable deck heights. It is worth taking a moment to consider how much you value your grass cut height. Some, such as the Honda, will give you very precise cutting, which comes at a higher price point than some of the more simplistic machines. Grass cut height is important when considering protecting your lawn from weeds. A thicker and taller lawn will help to stop weed growth, especially in the spring.
Most self-propelled mowers are equipped with a single rotating blade underneath the deck with two cutting surfaces. This is perfectly adequate for most applications, but for very precise cutting you may want to consider more advanced blades. For example, the Micro-Cut system from Honda has improved performance.
Along with ease of care, deck material has always been a key consideration in the longevity of your mower. Cut grass contains a lot of moisture, not to mention lawn care chemicals and fertilizer. These can all cause corrosion of your cutter deck. Honda and some of the electric mower companies have got around this issue by using hard-wearing plastic decks. But those sometimes come at a higher price. A steel deck is absolutely fine, but you should be prepared to regularly clean it after use. Always store your lawnmower in a warm dry place after use.
Bagging & Mulching
Almost all mowers in this test are fully featured, allowing you to select whether to mulch, bag, or discharge your clippings. It’s worth some quick consideration to make sure you have the options available to suit your requirements for the perfect lawn. Clippings left on your lawn can be unsightly and damage growth. Using a rake or a backpack blower to remove them is a good idea.
Electric cordless mowers do offer some substantial noise reductions when compared with their gas counterparts. If you live in a very densely populated area we think they are definitely worth a look. A quieter mower will also mean you can mow at times when you previously wouldn’t – such as early in the morning or late at night. Electric machines probably won’t be suitable for everyone. But with the technology is rapidly improving and they are going from strength to strength.
Self Propelled Lawn Mower FAQs
Unlike traditional push mowers, self propelled mowers use power from their motor to propel them forward. This is often done using a rear-wheel-drive system connected to a variable speed setting, allowing the operator to select a speed that most comfortably matches their walking speed. Generally, these mowers are much more comfortable to use than push mowers.
This will obviously depend on your specific use case, but for most owners the Lawn Boy we have selected in this review will be a great choice. We encourage you to dig into our review in detail to see the pros and cons of each mower though.
Small yards will likely benefit from an electric option, such as the Ryobi mentioned in this review. Electric mowers have progressed greatly, and will happily cut most small yards. Most importantly, they are much quieter than gas versions, making them a great choice in city environments.
Yes! Electric mowers have progressed greatly in recent years, with new offerings like the Ryobi and Snapper XD providing a very full set of features. These two mowers are now cordless as well, so they can be used on tight lawns without concern for running over the cable.