Walk Behind Lawn Mower Reviews

Walk-behind lawn mowers share a lot in common with gasoline push mowers, except many walk-behind lawn mowers have a self-propulsion system. Though that’s not to say that they’re all created the same! Finding the best walk-behind lawn mower for your yard can be a staggering experience.

This is certainly a crowded niche, and the last thing you want to do is make a major investment in a lawn care machine, only to end up with a sour case of buyer’s remorse. To truly find the best walk behind lawn mower for you, you will want to answer some important questions?

Just Show Me The Mowers

What Is The Difference Between A Walk-Behind & A Push Mower?

With a push mower, you are the only propulsion source, and some people lump push mowers into the walk-behind category. Though for most people a walk behind lawn mower is one that has some sort of self-propulsion system built into it to take the effort out of maneuvering the lawn mower around your yard.

What Are The Benefits Of A Walk Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?

With a self-propelled walk behind lawn mower, you do very little work beyond carefully steering it around trees and landscaping features. This also makes it possible to put a slightly larger, heavier, and more powerful engine in the lawn mower.

Self-propelled lawn mowers tend to be a little more popular with older individuals as well as those who have mobility issues. Still, people of any age can appreciate the convenience of letting a lawn mower do most of the work on its own.

How Does A Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Work?

With a self-propelled lawn mower, a separate small drive engine with an independent transmission system powers a pair of front or rear drive wheels. While this does take away a little bit of the engine’s power, it also makes it possible for the manufacturer to install a heavier, stronger engine.

Which Type Of Self-Propulsion Is Better Rear Wheel Or Front Wheel Drive?

As strange it might seem, there are some significant differences between the front wheel and rear-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mowers. The one that is best for you may depend on the landscaping, terrain, and characteristics of your lawn.
With a rear-wheel-drive self-propelled lawn mower, you get a lot more traction. Especially if the manufacturer engineered it with a large rear wheel for superior mechanical advantage. Rear-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mowers with a large rear wheel and ball bearing axles also tend to navigate better up hills and across bumpy, uneven turf.

Front-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mowers don’t have as much traction as their rear-wheel counterparts, though they do tend to be more nimble. They are a great option if you have a lot of trees and landscaping features in your yard. It’s also worth noting that with a front-wheel-drive self-propelled lawn mower, you can simply tip the mower back on its rear wheels to stop it quickly. It’s a great option for navigating tight spaces.

Do Large Rear Wheels Help Move A Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?

Large rear wheels are handy for moving a self-propelled walk-behind lawn mower up hills and across uneven ground. If you have bumpy turf, you might want to prioritize a push mower with large rear wheels to help move it. Ball bearings in the wheel axles will also help the push mower to move smoothly.

What Is The Best Type Of Engine For A Self-Propelled Walk Behind Lawn Mower?

Gasoline walk behind lawn mowers tends to have a more powerful self-propulsion system. With these, the power of the engine is diverted to the motor that moves either the front or rear wheels. Though some of the more advanced self-propelled gasoline lawn mowers have a hydrostatic transmission system which provides even more responsive power to the drive wheels.

Corded electric self-propelled lawn mowers are also very convenient for effortlessly cutting a small suburban lawn of a quarter acre or less. With this type of lawn mower, the electricity from the extension cord is directly put toward a small electric motor that operates the drive wheels. A brushless electric motor also helps make corded lawn mowers even quieter than a similar size walk-behind electric lawn mower.

Battery-powered electric lawn mowers are still a viable option for walk-behind mowers, though you tend to have less overall run time as some of the battery’s inherent charge is diverted to the self-propulsion system. One way to get around this is to buy extra batteries and change them out as the first set starts to run flat. There are also some manufacturers like Greenworks, Worx, and Makita who make other power tools that use batteries which are interchangeable with many of their battery-powered self-propelled lawn mowers.

What Are The Benefits Of A Variable Speed Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?

A variable speed self-propelled lawn mower is a special feature that lets you quickly change speed with the turn of a dial or a lever. This lets you dial it down to take deft turns around trees and complex landscaping features, then you can crank it back up to the maximum speed when you need to chew through wide-open swaths of lawn. It also gives you the ability to dial speed in to closely match your natural walking speed.

Variable speed lawn mowers tend to be more popular on rear-wheel-drive models. Which don’t necessarily give you the ability to make a quick stop like you can by lifting the front end of a front-wheel-drive self-propelled lawn mower.

What Is A 2-in-1 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower?

The term 2-in-1 refers to a lawn mower that can be set up to side discharge the grass clippings as well as either mulching them or diverting them to a bagger. When it comes to a self-propelled lawn mower, 2-in-1 lawn mowers tend to be baggers, as the higher RPMs of a mulching feature steal even more power from the engine that is already be used to move the lawn mower’s drive wheels. Though corded electric lawn mowers might still be mulching 2-in-1 mowers as they have direct access to power via the extension cord.

What Is A 3-in-1 Walk-Behind Lawn Mower?

A 3-in-1 walk-behind lawn mower can be set up to side discharge, rear discharge, mulch, or bag the harvested grass clippings. With some of these lawn mowers, the mulcher and the bagger can be used at the same time, or it can be set up as one or the other. The handy thing about mulching grass clippings before bagging them is that the tiny pieces will decompose into garden soil or a compost pile easily.

What Are The Benefits Of A Mulching Walk-Behind Lawn Mower?

Mulching mowers are an engineering answer to the problem of thatch. You see when a blade of grass is cut the clippings that are discharged out the side tend to be somewhat long. The longer the spent blade is the more likely it is to dry out into thatch.

Thatch tends to settle slowly into the upper layers of the turf rather than decomposing. As time goes on, significant thatch buildup can start to prevent the water from soaking down into the turf to feed the roots. It can also choke out the natural soil aeration that grass relies on to uptake nutrients.

With a mulching mower, the harvested grass clipping are broken down by the vigorous RPMs of the mulcher. The tiny bits that are left behind are far more likely to decompose back into the layers of the turf to prevent thatch as well as refeed nitrogen back into your lawn.

How Big Of A Yard Can A Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Handle?

A self-propelled walk-behind lawn mower takes the propulsion part of the equation out of your hands. You are merely the navigator maneuvering it through the yard. With a corded electric self-propelled lawn mower, your range is limited to 50-feet or perhaps as much as a quarter of an acre. In theory, this means so long as you have enough fuel or battery charge that you can keep mowing just about any size yard.

Though most people will tell you that once you go beyond a full acre, the total time it takes to cut the lawn in a single mowing session is inconvenient. At that point, a riding lawn mower tends to be the preferred choice for lawns that are greater than 1-acre in size.

Which Is Better A Riding Lawn Mower Or A Walk-Behind Lawn Mower?

If we are talking about a lawn that is more than 1 acre in size, then you probably want to prioritize a riding lawn mower. Even a gasoline-powered walk-behind mower will take inconveniently long to cut a full acre of grass. If we are talking about a lawn between half an acre to an acre in size, then the budget is likely going to be the governing factor when choosing between a riding lawn mower and a self-propelled walk-behind lawn mower.

With a riding lawn mower, you are certainly going to get more comfort, All you have to do is sit behind the wheels and pilot the lawn mower around your yard in a reasonably efficient pattern. Though you will also be looking at more intensive routine and seasonal maintenance. Not to mention the fact that it will take up a lot more room in your garage or storage shed.

A self-propelled walk-behind lawn mower’s range will be limited to a certain degree depending on the type of motor it has. A corded electric lawn mower can’t really handle a lawn larger than a quarter of an acre due to the limitations of the power cord. Unless you purchase additional batteries a cordless electric lawn mower really can’t tackle more than half an acre in a single mowing session.

With a gasoline-powered walk-behind lawn mower, you can keep filling the tank to keep the cutting blades and the self-propulsion system running for up at an acre without feeling like you’re wasting too much time piloting it. In this scenario, the walk-behind lawn mower will generally be half or less of the cost of a riding lawn mower, making it the better value.

Do You Need To Maintain A Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?

Most walk-behind lawn mowers don’t require a lot of maintenance for the self-propulsion system. At most you might need to lubricate the zerks on the drive train, but you won’t need to do things like change fluids in the self-propulsion drive itself. Though if you have a gasoline lawn mower engine, you will still need to take care of it like you would a gasoline-powered push mower.

The Best Walk-Behind Lawn Mower Brands

Several lawn mower manufacturers rise to the top of this sometimes crowded market niche. They do so backed by the power of superior build quality as well as sound engineering principles.

Craftsman

Craftsman has spent decades building a strong reputation for good build quality and backing their models confidently with superior warranty protection. Their gasoline self-propelled mowers are typically easy to start. Some of their best models are engineered with special features like electric start and an automatic choke.

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Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet makes it a point to offer lawn mowers that can appeal to both average consumers who need to trim their suburban lawn as well as lawn care professionals who need a premium quality lawn mower. Cub Cadet’s entry-level self-propelled lawn mowers have a slightly higher price tag than the closest competitors. You get a superior machine with the high-end build quality and thoughtful engineering principles.

Honda

Honda has a decades-long reputation for offering high-quality lawn mowers, including their self-propelled gasoline lawn mowers and push mowers. They are engineered to start easily, run quietly, and most of their models are backed by a superior warranty. You might pay a little more for the name, but you’ll see the value in the walk-behind lawn mower’s build quality and longevity.

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Husqvarna

Husqvarna is an international brand known for its high-end build quality and sound engineering principles. Their self-propelled, walk-behind gasoline lawn mowers tend to be easy to start as well as maintain. Many of their models are confidently backed by superior warranty coverage, to ensure you see a robust return on your investment.

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Greenworks

Greenworks specializes in electric lawn mowers and other electric lawn equipment. Their line includes both battery-powered and corded electric walk-behind lawn mowers. It’s also worth noting that several of the tools in Greenworks broad line up use the same battery as their lawn mowers. So, if you own multiple Greenworks products you can expand the run time of their battery-powered walk-behind mowers by interchanging batteries. This is handy when you consider that the self-propulsion system of a walk-behind lawn mower inevitably draws out more charge.

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Toro

Toro made their name by offering durable gasoline push mowers with a comfortable price tag. Most of their gasoline walk-behind lawn mowers are easy to start and maintain. As a statement of build quality, many of their self-propelled lawn mowers are backed by superior warranty coverage. Toro lawn mowers also tend to be heavy-duty, which can sometimes drive up their overall weight. Though this isn’t much of a factor in self-propelled lawn mowers that essentially moves on its own.

Troy-Bilt

This is another lawn mower manufacturer that has built a strong reputation for offering durable walk-behind lawn mowers. They tend to be a little on the heavy-side with heavy-duty materials. Though they offset this with a powerful self-propulsion system that makes it nearly effortless to maneuver a walk-behind lawn mower over even hills and bumpy turf.

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Conclusion

Walk-Behind lawn mowers with built-in self-propulsion systems are appealing to a wide range of people. Especially those who want a powerful motor, but don’t want to put in all the back-breaking effort of pushing it themselves. Self-propelled lawn mowers are especially popular for homeowners with a hilly lawn or one that has bumpy turf.

A variable speed self-propelled lawn mower might be best for your yard if you have a lot of complicated landscaping features. Though a front-wheel-drive self-propulsion system might also be a good option for handling tight turns and changes in landscaping as you can simply lift up the front wheels to get greater control.

Rear-wheel drive self-propulsion systems tend to provide superior torque and traction in the drive train. Especially if the rear wheels are large or have a specially textured surface to help give them more grip. Rear-wheel drive self-propelled lawn mowers with large wheels also tend to do better at climbing hills and moving smoothly over bumpy turf.