Self Propelled Lawn Mowers: A Quick Intro
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.
Our Picks: The Top Self Propelled Lawn Mowers
Best All Round Choice
1. Lawn-Boy 17734
⤍ Electric start
⤍ 6 point cutting height adjustment
⤍ Variable speed
⤍ 8” rear wheel
⤍ 21 inch cutting width
With heritage back into the 1950s, Lawn Boy is an established brand in the mower market, and continue to fine tune their offering every year. The 17734 is an impressive all-rounder and would be a great choice for the vast majority of people reading this review.
The reliable 149cc Kohler motor is fitted with an electric starter, making firing this mower up refreshingly simple. The motor is fitted to a 21-inch cutting deck with Lawn Boy’s Tri-Cut system, which provides a solid cut across a range of grasses.
Height adjustment is made via their two point system – making it easy to change settings quickly and easily. There are 6 height options available, covering the normal range of 1.25” to 3.75”.
This machine features a variable speed system connected to a standard rear-wheel-drive setup, so owners can select their most comfortable setting. With bag, mulch, and side-discharge options, this mower will have settings to suit everyone’s needs.
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 HRX217K5VYA
⤍ 187cc Honda Motor
⤍ Highly-regarded Micro Cut blades
⤍ Select Drive speed dial
⤍ Impact and corrosion resistant plastic deck
⤍ 5 Year warranty
If you’re looking for an absolutely premium self propelled mower, then look no further than the Honda HRX217K5VYA. Using the 4 cutting surfaces of its Micro Cut blades, this mower achieves a highly accurate cut, keeping Honda firmly in position as the industry leader when it comes to high precision garden machinery.
An interesting innovation fitted to this machine comes in the form of the plastic mower deck, which is both exceptionally hard-wearing and corrosion-resistant. This approach offers a significant advantage over traditional steel or aluminum decks, which can deteriorate in the presence of fertilizer and lawn treatments.
From a control perspective, this mower features Honda’s Select Drive speed dial, allowing the operator to easily change speeds and make small adjustments. With a top speed of 4mph, this is one of the faster mowers in the review – no doubt the result of using one of the largest engines.
The GCV 200 motor also comes equipped with Honda’s auto choke system for easy starting, and their Roto Stop feature to enable you to leave the motor running with the blades disengaged.
If you’re looking for a very highly regarded mower that should last a lifetime – the Honda HRX217K5VYA will be an excellent choice that won’t let you down.
Best Affordable Choice
3. Husqvarna LC221RH
⤍ Competitively priced
⤍ 11” Rear wheels handle bumps well
⤍ Foldable handle for easy storage and transport
⤍ Good quality bag
⤍ Bagging and mulch features
A very affordable mower, the LC221RH from Husqvarna features a Honda motor and rear wheel drive system. With a maximum speed of 3mph, this is by no means the fastest mower in our review but should offer a good pace for most owners. Fitted with a standard 21-inch cutter deck, this machine uses larger rear wheels to help it negotiate bumpier lawns without any problems.
Husqvarna is widely regarded for its expertise in other types of garden machinery, including chainsaws and leaf blowers. 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 Honda engine comes equipped with an auto-choke mechanism, making starting this mower much easier than older models.
All in all, a solid mower at a very competitive price.
4. Ryobi RY40190
⤍ Cordless electric mower
⤍ Lithium-ion battery
⤍ Collapsable handle
⤍ Lightweight at 55lbs
⤍ Compact 20-inch deck
Ryobi continues to push the boundaries for what we can expect from electric garden tools, and the RY40190 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 5.0AH 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 lawn mowers, 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 Snappers 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 a 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. Lawn Boy 17732
⤍ 21-inch mowing swath
⤍ Large bag capacity
⤍ Variable speed
⤍ Traditional pull start motor
⤍ Kohler XTX OTV Engine
We’ve already discussed Lawn Boy’s electric start mower, but the 17732 version packs in many of the same great features with a traditional pull start, and hence a lower price point.
Carrying a 21-inch steel cutting dome, this mower is comfortably mid-sized when compared to other mowers in the review, albeit very slightly on the heavier side at 66lbs. The Kohler XTX powerplant is connected to a rear wheel drive system, providing steady a reliable power for long mowing sessions. Speed is controlled by Lawn Boy’s excellent variable speed system, which is perfectly adequate for most buyers’ needs.
The 17732 features the same Tri-Cut cutting system found on the electric start model, and the large bag which comes with the mower will help reduce time wasted emptying cuttings.
For those that want all the great features of a Lawn Boy mower but without the added complexity of the electric start feature, this mower will be an excellent choice.
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 which 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.