A lawn mower is used to cut a grass lawn

How to Choose a Lawn Mower

Before you know it, spring and summer will soon be upon us. Whether you’re a homeowner or opening a lawn care business, cutting grass will soon be at least a weekly chore.  There is a vast variety of lawnmowers that it might be a little overwhelming.  For anyone who can’t make up their mind, we have prepared a little guide to give some ideas about choosing the right mower so you don’t end up hacking away with the wrong tool. 

Get In Tune With Your Yard

There are many types of lawnmowers, so it helps to understand the basic capabilities of each one. That said, the size and type of lawnmower you will need will heavily depend on the size of the yard and the type of grass you have. For example:

  • Reel mowers are best for small, flat areas such as very small yards. 
  • Self-propelled gas-powered mower can easily handle yards that are 1/4 of an acre or less.
  • Riding mowers and tractors are ideal for areas a 1/2 an acre or larger – such as a golf course, large country garden or small pasture.

Pro tip: before you buy any type of lawn mower or outdoor power equipment, remember that noise level is something you must be aware of if you live in a place with noise ordinances in place. For example, small communities with homeowners’ associations often have noise level restrictions and some municipalities limit noise. If you reside in a rural setting, noise is probably not as much of an issue.

The following chart offers a simple lawn mower comparison between terrain, size, and noise level.

Explore the Different Types of Lawn Mowers

Reel Mowers

Fiskars walk behind reel mower

Reel mowers are the simplest to use. You just take them out of your shed or garage and start pushing. They’re lightweight and compact, making them easy to store and transport. These mowers are also more cost-effective to maintain than their motorized counterparts, producing no polluting exhaust. Reel mowers require an even surface, meaning they might not be feasible in your yard. If you have a friend or neighbor with a reel mower, ask to borrow it and take it for a test mow before making any decisions.

Electric Mowers

Honda walk behind self propelled lawn mower

Electric mowers are another eco-friendly lawn maintenance option. They’re much easier to start than gas mowers, and you don’t have to worry about having enough fuel to finish your job. Cordless mowers operate on batteries that can often transfer between the mower and other lawn tools, which makes them appealing to professional landscapers. The battery and charger can be an investment, and you’ll need two batteries on hand to swap between the charger and the mower. Corded mowers run on AC power via an outdoor extension cord. The cord can occasionally get in your way, and you’re limited by the length of the cord. Ultimately, corded models are best for urban and suburban homes with small, flat yards.

Gas Mowers

Gas mowers tend to have the most significant cutting power and speed among walk-behind models. They’re simple to use but require regularly changing the oil, filters, and spark plugs. Depending on how the motor delivers power to the wheels, you can get a front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive mower. Front-wheel mowers are ideal for flat surfaces and making tighter turns while in self-propelled mode. Rear-wheel models climb hills more easily. All-wheel drive mowers can tackle rough terrain and keep going.

Riding Mowers

Toro Zero Turn residential riding lawn mower

Riding mowers are best used on large plots. Since you’re riding instead of pushing, you will stay energized after mowing acres of grass. Rear-engine mowers are the most basic model, and many of them resemble simple push-behind mowers with a seat and steering wheel. They have the lowest power, speed, and all-around performance of any riding mower. Their main advantage is that you can usually fit a rear-engine mower in spaces too narrow for other riding mowers.

Lawn Tractors

Lawn tractors are larger mowers with the engine in the front. Beyond mowing, you can use them to mulch, gather leaves, or do other landscaping tasks with included or optional accessories. A more significant type of lawn mower, a garden tractor, features the same functionality as lawn tractors. The difference is size and power. Garden tractors are more powerful and faster than lawn tractors, and the cutting width of smaller lawn tractors is 48 inches, more significant than the broadest typical yard tractors.

Zero-Turn Mowers

Zero-turn mowers feature dual control sticks, like a modern tank. They have the tightest turning radius of any riding mower, so they can give you a more precise cut. You just have to make sure that you handle hills with care, as they can tip over if you turn too quickly. Most zero-turn tractors have roll cages to keep you safe.

Tow-Behind Mowers

Tow-behind mowers attach to large tractors or even your ATV. They are the widest cutters available and are too large for most residential lawns. If you have a large commercial client, such as a country club or a sports field, a tow-behind mower is likely your best option to get the job done quickly.

Mower Accessories

You can add extra functionality to your machine with optional lawn mower accessories. Walk-behind mowers are the most basic models and have the fewest options, but since you’re likely to use them for simple lawn care, lack of accessories is seldom a critical issue. The most common add-on for walk-behind mowers is a mulching kit, which prepares yard debris for your compost pile. A striping kit lets you make an attractive, professional-looking pattern in your lawn.

Always Keep Mower Safety and Maintenance in Mind

Riding and tow-behind mowers have more options and can even replace cultivators with the right attachments. In addition to stripers and mulchers, you can attach sweepers to riding mowers and clean the lawn as you pass or attach aerators to improve the health of your grass. These attachments can double your productivity since they do the work of two machines simultaneously. Most riding and tow-behind mowers are usually used for long projects, requiring you to sit on a running machine for up to several hours. You can purchase new or custom chairs for comfort.

Any gas-powered motor needs oil to run and prevent overheating. Keep extra oil and filters on hand to change them out as needed and return to your yardwork. Store every mower indoors to protect it from the elements. Space is an issue, so ensure your mower fits in your garage or shed. In the cold months, you can use a fuel stabilizer to keep the gasoline from going bad and damaging the engine.

As you mow, you’ll need to keep yourself safe from flying rocks or other debris that gets kicked up by the blades. Wear pants if possible, as well as closed-toe shoes. Consider safety glasses to protect your eyes. Keep calm with a water bottle for longer jobs, especially in the summer. You can attach a sun shade to some riding mowers for extra comfort and to prevent heat exhaustion.

Everyone’s lawn is different, with its own unique requirements for maintenance. The suitable types of lawnmowers go a long way towards providing outstanding results and making it easier for you to take care of your or your client’s property. Look at our extensive lawn mower selection and find the model that best matches your needs.

Type of Lawn MowerTerrain - FlatTerrain - UnevenVery Small SuburbanLess than 1/4 acre1/4 - 1/2 acreOver 1/2 acreNoise Level
Reel Mower
XXXVery quiet
Push - CordedXXXQuiet
Push - CordlessXXXQuiet
Push - GasXXXXDepends on engine size, the smaller the engine the lower the noise.
Riding - Rear EngineXXXXDepends on engine size, the smaller the engine the lower the noise.
Riding - Lawn TractorXXXXNoisy
Riding - Garden TractorXXXNoisy
Riding - Zero TurnXXNoisy
Tow-behindXXXThe mower is very quiet but the tractor needed to operate is noisy


  • Tomas Killington

    April 24, 2017 at 7:38 am

    My sister recently moved into a home that has a large yard. She is currently looking into different types of lawn mowers to ensure she gets one that fits her needs. I didn’t realize zero-turn tractors use dual control sticks that help you perform a precise cut with an extremely tight turning radius. I’ll be sure to share this information with my sister.

  • John Mahoney

    June 1, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you for talking about the importance of having extra oil and filters on hand if you are planning on using a gas lawn mower. My parents are looking for a new mower to they can keep their yard looking great as always but cannot decide what to choose. Personally, I would want to make sure I find a lawn mower that is easy to use and won’t require too much maintenance if kept clean.

  • Marcus Coons

    June 28, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for talking about how it is important to keep extra oil and filter on hand if you have a gas ride on mower. It makes sense to think that having this close by can help you make sure your engine does not overheat while working. My parents just moved to a slightly smaller house with a big yard and want to make sure they get a good ride on mower since they can push one anymore, so I’m glad I found your article.

    • Acme Tools

      June 29, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Thank you for your comments. We are happy to hear you found our post and that it was able to assist you. Purchasing the correct mower does not have to be hard if you consider all of the different types of mowers and what your needs truly are.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Kyle Winters

    July 31, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Wow, there really is a lot that you have to take into consideration when choosing what kind of lawn mower you want to buy. Not only do you have to pick how it works, but the power source, the size, whether or not it is ride-able, etc. I imagine that the process can be made somewhat easier if you take the time to look over your lawn first and decide what would be best for it.

    • Acme Tools

      August 1, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Hello, Thank you for your comment. The size of your lawn and personal preference are the 2 main determining factors involved in the type of lawn mower you choose. often times the size of your lawn influences your personal preference.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Ridley Fitzgerald

    August 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks for the tips for buying a mower. I like how you mentioned to look at our lawn size and shape, and factor that in. While a riding mower would be nice, our lawn probably doesn’t need anything more than a gas mower.

  • Deb Pearl

    November 2, 2017 at 11:06 am

    My husband and I really need to buy a lawn mower, but we don’t know what kind to look for. That is good to know that reel mowers are best for smaller flat lawns. We don’t have that big of a lawn so that sounds like a great option. Thanks for the information!

  • Gerty Gift

    July 31, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I liked what you said about riding mowers being great for large plots. We have a pretty big yard and my husband spends a good chunk of time out there every week mowing the lawn. I think that he would like the job more if he was on one of these since it seems like it wouldn’t take much out of him like our push mower does.

  • Millie Hue

    August 17, 2018 at 12:13 am

    It really helped when you said that it is important to be aware of the type of yard that you have and your location as well. As you mentioned, there are specific mowers for each type of lands such as flat lawns or larger lawns. This will be very helpful for me since I have never bought a mower before because we have never lived in a property with a lawn ever since I was a kid. Thanks for the tips!

  • Jocelyn McDonald

    January 24, 2019 at 8:48 am

    My husband and I just moved to a new home with a beautiful but huge yard, and we’re looking at a new lawn mower we can use for our new grass. Your article had some great tips for choosing something like this, and I liked how you said to consider a gas mower, as they have the most cutting power and are simple to use. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when getting the lawn mower best for our needs.


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