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Self-Propelled Lawnmowers Reviewed

Keeping your grass trimmed can be a chore. Yes, it’s necessary to keep your yard looking great. It also helps keep your grass healthy. But it still can be tiring, sweaty working under the summer sun. So it’s natural to look for ways to make it easier. A self-propelled lawnmower is one of the best ways to minimize the exertion needed for this yard work task.

What Makes A Self-propelled Lawnmower Stand Out 

A self-propelled mower provides all the functionality of any lawnmower. But it has a distinct advantage in that its motor pulls it along. That means less effort from you. You still have to guide it, but you don’t exert all the energy involved in pushing it across the lawn. 

If you have a small yard, that may seem unnecessary. And it probably is. A push mower may suit your needs if your yard is smaller than 4500 feet or so. 

But if your yard is larger, you’ll know how exhausting it can be to push around a machine that weighs around 80 pounds on average. Some models can even weigh nearly twice that. Even with wheels, it takes a lot of energy to manipulate such a machine!

Of course, even larger lawns may call for a ride-on mower. We recommend that once we’re talking about ¾ of an acre or more, but it depends on your own preference (and energy level!)

Having trouble getting the edges in shape? Check out these string trimmers to tidy things up!

What To Look For In A Self-propelled Lawnmower

Most of the features of a self-propelled mower are the same as those of a standard push mower. That means that you need to take into consideration the same aspects of the machine as you would with any mower. The only additional area to consider is the self-propelled feature.

The propulsion system may be rear-wheel drive (RWD) or front-wheel drive (FWD). Your choice should depend on what your lawn is like.

a quality self propelled lawnmower can make getting the yard work done easier

FWD mowers are ideal for large, flat lawns. If you need to turn around or navigate obstacles, all you have to do is tip the mower back to lift the front wheels and make your turn. 

If you have an incline to your yard, though, you probably want to get an RWD model. Rear-wheel drive is much better at helping propel the mower up the hill. Front-wheel drive tends to struggle a bit in these conditions.

Most self-propelled mowers have a single speed, although some models have variable-speed drives. The fastest can go up to about 4 mph. That’s quite a pace, considering the average walking speed is only 3.1 mph. That means it’s likely overkill for most people. However, if you’re  making a living with this or have a very large yard that you want to get done quickly, it is an option.

Have a small yard or just want extra exercise? A reel mower might be for you!

Both gas and electric mowers are available with the self-propelled feature. Gas mowers burn a small amount of extra fuel but the motors are usually efficient. But if you want to go for electric, you’ll likely choose battery power for your large lawn. But you’ll burn through the battery faster than without the propulsion. That means you might not get the whole lawn done on one battery.

We should mention, too, that even with a self-propelled mower, you don’t have to engage the propulsion all the time. There may be parts of your lawn where it’s easier to handle the mower without the power assist.

Lawnmowers can be loud – hearing protection is a great option!

Our Picks For The Best Self-propelled Lawnmowers 

There are a number of great self-propelled mowers available. Let’s look at a few here. We’ve included both gas and electric models as well as single-speed and variable-speed ones.

Greenworks PRO 21 in. 80-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Self Propelled Mower

  • Power source: Battery
  • Self-propulsion speeds: 1.1 -3.8 mph
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Deck size: 21 inches
  • Rear-wheel height: High (10 inches)
  • Cutting height: 7 options
  • Cutting options: Mulch, Side-Discharge, Bag
  • Start type: Push button

This model makes it debut in 2021, but is already drawing rave reviews. Its range of speed and battery life are its two biggest selling points.

With a wide range of speed settings, this mower works well for anyone and for any thickness of grass. The highest setting is pretty fast, and you’re not likely to use it often. The lowest is good if you’ve kind of let things get out of hand. It’s also helpful if you’re getting a pre-teen to learn how to mow; it matches their pace better. (Remember, never leave children unattended with power tools!)

The battery life is great, too. Greenworks says a single battery can get you an hour of use. In real-life situations, of course, it’s always a bit less – but it’s still actually really good! Our battery lasted about 45 minutes and let us do a regular maintenance cut of about a quarter of an acre.

Not only that, but two batteries are included, and they only take about 30 minutes to charge. That means you can normally switch back and forth without any down time.

It runs quietly, as well, at under 80 dB. So it won’t be annoying to the neighbors! And it won’t even bother you much, either.

For mulching, it uses a mulching plug to spread the clippings. A mulch bag is also included.

The headlights are a nice feature, as well, for those times you have to cut at dawn or dusk.

There’s a four-year limited warranty on this product.

Honda 21 in. 3-in-1 Variable Speed Gas Walk-behind Self-propelled Lawn Mower

Honda gas powered self-propelled lawnmower
  • Power source: Gas
  • Self-propulsion speeds: 3 speeds
  • Drive type: Rear
  • Deck size: 21 inches
  • Rear-wheel height: High
  • Cutting height: 7 positions
  • Cutting options: Bag, mulch
  • Start type: Pull cord

This Honda mower offers another good choice in self-propelled mowers. It offers 3 speeds for forward movement. Switching between them is just a matter of turning a control knob. 

The blade speed is regulated by the machine; there is not a separate control for this. 

The maximum cutting height for this model is a standard 4 inches. One of the great features of this is the twin-blade feature which cuts the grass into smaller pieces. That makes it better for mulching, but it also means it packs better into the bag when you use that feature.

It uses regular gasoline, so there’s no need to make a special trip for two-cycle fuel.

The deck is made of 16-gauge steel. Fiberglass materials nowadays are equally sturdy, but steel sounds better.

One issue that seems to come up repeatedly is that the rear wheels seem to lock when you try to pull the mower backward. That is when the self-propelled system is deactivated of course. This seems to happen somewhat regularly and is something to be aware of.

The standard manufacturer’s warranty is for three years.

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. Briggs and Stratton Personal Pace Self-Propelled Walk-Behind Gas Lawn Mower 

toro timemaster review
  • Power source: Gas
  • Self-propulsion speeds: Single
  • Drive type: Rear
  • Deck size: 30 inches
  • Rear-wheel height: High wheel
  • Cutting height: 7 positions
  • Cutting options: Bagger, Mulcher, Side-discharge
  • Start type: Pull cord

This Toro mower is larger than the others we’ve looked at, with a 30-inch deck. Coupled with the rear-wheel-drive system, this will definitely help get your yard done faster. Of course, if you have to worry about moving around lots of trees and rocks, that larger deck may be a disadvantage.

Like other mowers, the self-propelled system doesn’t need to be engaged. However, this is a heavy machine that weighs in at 140 pounds, so most of the time you’re going to want all the help you can get. The wheels do roll smoothly, but that’s still a lot to push.

The top forward speed of this mower is 4.5 mph.

This model is great for hills and uneven terrain. It will work on even ground, but it’s more ideal for inclines. The seven cutting levels, from 1¼ inches to 4½ inches, offer great flexibility.

The Time Master isn’t a commercial mower, but it’s definitely great at cutting down the time it will take to get your own lawn mowed.

There’s a three-year warranty on this mower.

RYOBI 20 in. 40-Volt Brushless Lithium-Ion Cordless Self-Propelled Walk Behind Mower

ryobi self-propelled mower with 2 batteries
  • Power source: Battery
  • Self-propulsion speeds: Single
  • Drive type: Rear
  • Deck size: 20 inches
  • Rear-wheel height: High
  • Cutting height: 7 positions
  • Cutting options: Bagger, mulcher
  • Start type: Push button

Ryobi’s 20-inch battery-powered mower is a good option for yards that are big enough to benefit from a self-propelled model without being too big. That’s an issue in general with battery-powered mowers, of course. This model has about 40 minutes of battery life for each battery. Fortunately, two batteries are included, so you can have one charging while using the other. 

That is generally enough for a couple of thousand square feet. It does take time to recharge the batteries to full, of course.

The mower runs very quietly, which is a great advantage for your own hearing and for keeping the neighbors happy, too.

The mower weighs in at just 57 pounds, which puts it under the other models we’ve looked at.

The cutting height ranges from 1½ inches up to 3¾ inches. That’s a slightly smaller range than most other mowers and can make it necessary to go more slowly.

Ryobi offers a five-year limited warranty.

Toro Recycler 22 in. Self Propelled Lawn Mower

toro 22 inch self-propelled mower
  • Power source: Gas
  • Self-propulsion speeds: Variable
  • Drive type: Front
  • Deck size: 22 inches
  • Rear-wheel height: 10 inches
  • Cutting height: 9 positions from 1 – 4 inches
  • Cutting options: Bagger, mulch, side discharge
  • Start type: Push button

If your lawn is flat, you’ll find this to be a great value for the money. You’ll also save on oil changes – none are required with this system!

The variable-speed mower adjusts to your walking preferences and the needs of your lawn. It can cut the grass from one to four inches high with an amazing 9 different height settings, too.

The Briggs and Stratton engine provides 6.25 foot-pounds of torque and does a decent job cutting.

One downside is that the clippings bag is smaller than many others, which means it needs to be emptied more often. It is easy to take off and put back on, but still a small annoyance.

Overall, it’s a decent machine that comes in at the low end of the price scale for self-propelled mowers. So if you don’t want to spend a lot, it’s definitely worth looking at. 

There’s a three-year “guaranteed to start” and full 2-year warranty on this mower.

Conclusion

Mowing the lawn is a time-consuming and draining task. Fortunately, self-propelled mowers can help make it easier. They are available with all the features of any walk-behind mower. But your back, arms, and legs will feel much less stressed at the end of the day when you let the mower’s motor do most of the work!