A Homeowner’s Guide to Buying a Lawn Mower

How to pick the perfect lawn mower match for your property and your comfort level.

For most people, the dream of homeownership includes swathes of lush green lawn to entertain friends and family. But to maintain that bit of verdant paradise, you need to handle lawn care and maintenance. And to do that, you’ll need a way to mow the lawn.

Types of Lawn Mowers

Lawn mowers are generally classified by how the user interacts with them and what kind of fuel (if any) they use.

Push lawn mowers are exactly what you think: The operator walks behind the mower and pushes it forward. On riding mowers, the operator sits on top or slightly behind the blade deck and steers it from there. Riding mowers include lawn tractors, zero turn radius (ZTR) mowers and stand-on mowers.

Push mowers are powered purely by the operator’s force; the rest are available with gas or electric lawn mower motors.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Lawn Mower

When choosing a lawn mower, the main drivers should be the nature of your yard and what features matter most to you.

Yards that are more than a half acre generally benefit from the speed and ease of riding mowers. A mower’s deck size, or width of the cutting area, determines how fast it will cut a given lawn.

But bigger isn’t always better. Consider how much of the yard is uneven, uphill or interrupted by obstructions such as bushes or landscaping. Lawns with narrow walkways or many small obstructions can benefit from mowers with a smaller footprint or may require a two-step mow, with a push mower or string trimmer to take care of the edging.

Then, consider the features. Some riding mowers are more comfortable and less prone to vibration. Some push mowers sport a propulsion system, so you expend less effort pushing and more on directing the mower. And some mowers are built with easier access to the blades, the underside of the deck and the engine, which can be useful when it’s time to clean or perform maintenance.

Popular Lawn Mower Brands

Lawn mower brands tend to be established names in lawn maintenance, or specialize in small motors. Some of the most popular and highest-quality products available include:

Lawn Mower Accessories

Most lawn mowers accept accessory items to make lawn maintenance easier. The most common is a bagging system, which makes the collection of lawn debris much easier. Other popular accessories are more about the user’s comfort, such as the sunshades for riding mowers that offer protection from UV rays.

If there is a specific accessory you’d like to use, check how it attaches to the mower you’re considering and whether that mower has the appropriate hitch or connector. Riding mowers can accommodate more accessories, with some even tackling heavy-duty tasks such as snow-plowing or tilling.

Lawn Mower Maintenance

All mower blades need to be sharpened annually, and frame and decks cleaned off regularly to prevent grass clippings from clogging the works. In addition, gas-powered mowers need air filters, spark plugs and other tuneup items consistent with gas engines. Electric mowers also need to be cleaned, but are lower maintenance overall.

This maintenance can be DIY or by a pro. Most lawn mower service centers offer reasonably priced annual maintenance plans. Some even offer pick up and delivery service, which makes seasonal maintenance about as hassle-free as it gets.

Lawn Mower Costs

Considering the wide variety of lawn mower types and models available, it’s no surprise that their price range is equally broad. A manual push mower can be purchased for as little as $75, while high-end professional-grade mowers can cost as much as a new car. Luckily, the typical homeowner will want a mower that’s much more affordable.

Most base-model push mowers will cost $150 to $300, while riding mowers will run $1,500 for a lawn tractor and $3,000 for a zero turn radius mower. Accessories, cordless electric options and construction quality can impact the cost, and top-line models may as much as double those base prices. Lawnmowers at the top end of the price categories are often sold with some kind of financing.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.