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How To Choose A Lawn Mower - Buyers Guide

What you should look for when buying a lawn mower for your backyard and the pros and cons of different types of mowers. Lawn mowers are available in an ever expanding selection, as shown in Figure 1, but there are a few things that will determine what mower you should buy. The size of your garden, ongoing costs, ease of use, and environmental and safety concerns are all things to consider when you're looking at lawn mowers.

Assortment of lawn mower styles
Figure 1 - Assortment of lawn mower styles

Lawn Mower Features To Consider:

Ignition system:

A major consideration when buying a lawn mower is how easy it is to start. Electric mowers are relatively hassle free - a simple switch - however gas fueled lawn mowers have a variety of mechanisms with different claims to ease of use. The most common and traditional type is a ripcord which pulls the engine into life. This can be back-breaking and frustrating on some models, however moving the cord up the handlebar can be even more awkward.

Always test the start mechanism yourself before you buy, to make sure you won't have any problems starting the motor yourself.


Look for blades made from a strong material such as hardened steel. They will cut cleaner and last longer. Also, look for a mower with a four-blade system, to ensure it can cut through thicker grass.

The width of the cutting area is important. A good gasoline engine, lawn mower, will be able to cut right to the edge of the unit, but electric mowers generally have a smaller 'cutting deck' - the circle within which the blades spin. This means it takes longer to mow the lawn, and there's more twisting and turning involved.

Collection Bag:

A catcher is often not standard equipment on a mower, but if you want to avoid having to rake up the grass, you'll want one. Look for one with properly located handles that make it easy to detach, hoist up, and empty into a bin.

Mulch Mower:

Some mowers are able to process cut grass into a mulch that is then spread over your lawn. This is a great option that lets you nourish your grass while you mow it.

Cutting Height:

The more height settings, the more freedom you'll have to work with rough terrain and patchy or regenerating grass. Electric mowers generally have less flexibility and are harder to raise and lower than gas models. Test out the adjustment for yourself, and see if it's easy to do before you buy.


Handles should not be underestimated. Height-adjustable handles allow for better comfort, but at a minimum your handles should be able to fold over for more compact storage. Upswept handles have a curve in them to allow for better ergonomics and easier pushing.

Types of lawn mowers:

Lawn mowers can be grouped into categories, generally based on the type of power required to make them operate.

Additional Information:

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Gasoline - Four Stroke Lawn Mowers.

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Gasoline - Two Stroke Lawn Mowers.

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Electric Lawn Mowers.

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Battery Lawn Mowers.

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Hover Lawn Mowers.

Advantages & Disadvantages of: Push Lawn Mowers.

Additional information on Reel Lawn mowers.