Updated July 2014

What the best lawn mower does

  • Leaves lawn looking well-trimmed. The best lawn mowers deliver a pristine cut, mowing grass and weeds at an even height. Depending on the cutting modes available, top mowers mulch and disperse clippings without clumps and fill bags without clogging.
  • Intuitive handling for easy pushing and steering. A balanced lawn mower with heavy-duty wheels and user-friendly controls can make mowing much faster and easier. Even self-propelled units should be moveable without engaging the engine.
  • Brand reliability and a good warranty. The best lawn mowers have at least a three-year warranty on the mower, and many include a lifetime warranty for polymer decks. Finding a brand with a solid history of reliability is essential.
  • Uses safety keys and blade brakes. Safety guards ensure the engine and blades stop immediately to prevent injury. Some of the best lawn mowers include an override, allowing users to turn off the blades while the engine continues running.
  • Quieter engines and motors. Most gas mowers are loud enough to require hearing protection. Some electric lawn mowers (but not all) are significantly quieter, and manual reel mowers are the quietest of all. Manual mowers are often quiet enough to use any time of day (or night) without disturbing neighbors.

Know before you go

Gas lawn mowers require regular maintenance. A gas lawn mower tuneup means changing the oil, air filter and spark plug. Plan on spending about half an hour doing so at least once a season.

Cordless mowers need a fresh battery every few years. Proper battery upkeep will extend the life of your rechargeable battery, but plan on buying a new battery every three to five years. Add this to your long-term cost estimates.

Shop around for the best price. Lawn mower prices can fluctuate quite a bit among stores. If you decide to buy online, make sure there's a reputable service center nearby for possible warranty issues.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Lawn Mowers: What's the best lawn mower? Self-propelled are the most popular among users. Editors choose the best models based on expert comparisons and owner reviews.

Push Mowers: What's the best push lawn mower? Editors evaluate owner reviews and professional tests of popular models from brands like Husqvarna, Toro and Honda.

Electric Mowers: What's the best electric mower? Editors choose the best corded and cordless electric mowers based on expert evaluations and owner reviews.

Reel Mowers: Looking for the best reel lawn mower? Editors say reel mowers from Fiskars and NaturCut are the best according to professional tests and user feedback.

Our Sources: Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top lawn mowers, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.

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