The Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower For 2021 and Beyond

With summer coming to a close, it’s a great time to find deals on a new  best self propelled lawn mower for the 2021 season. But sorting through the dozens of models available for both home and commercial use can be daunting, with a dizzying array of mowers each offering a distinctive mix of features and value. 

In the buyers’ guide below, we’ll help you determine which type, brand and model best meets your needs and review the top offerings in multiple categories. Be sure to read to the end before you start shopping. 

Best Gas-Powered Self-Propelled Lawn Mower (Commercial)

Honda HRC216HXA 21-inch Commercial Mower ($1,299)

best self propelled lawn mowerThis quiet, reliable mower is powered by a Honda commercial-grade GXV160 OHV 4-stroke engine, which features a cast-iron cylinder sleeve, two-stage air filter, ball bearing supported crankshaft, electronic ignition and mechanical governor. Precision hydrostatic cruise control gives you total control over the mower’s speed, with infinite variations to match changing terrain conditions.

The convenient Roto-Stop safety feature gives you the freedom to step away from the mower to empty the bag or take a break without having to completely restart the engine. Its rugged features are built to last over years of consistent use, including the 21-inch heavy-duty steel deck, reinforced handles, and 9-inch Nexite wheels. Eight mowing heights are included to accommodate all turf types. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 123 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 8 (.75 inches to 4 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 2.5 bushels
  • Warranty: 2 years

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Best Gas-Powered Self-Propelled Lawn Mower (Residential)

Cub Cadet SC900 23-inch Self-Propelled Mower ($449)

best self propelled lawn mowerThis affordably-priced residential mower features a wide, 23-inch deck and excellent fuel economy, with performance backed by a four-year warranty. The Cub Cadet SC900 stands out for its versatility, with three cutting options (bag, mulch and rear discharge) and six deck heights.

The recoil start includes a two-pull easy-start guarantee with no priming required, and the 196cc engine stands up to tall, thick grass without slowing down or getting clogged. 

 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 100 pounds
  • Cutting width: 23 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 6 (1.25 to 3.75 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 3.1 bushels
  • Warranty: 4 years

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Best Electric Self-Propelled Lawn Mower (Commercial)

Greenworks Commercial 25-inch Self-Propelled Mower ($649)

best self propelled lawn mowerThe newly-released Greenworks Commercial 82V GMS 250 electric mower is surprisingly powerful for an electric model, thanks to twin cutting blades, an extra-wide 25-inch deck and SmartCut Technology, which senses high, dense grass and adjusts its power output accordingly. Dual-port battery capability provides extended run time, which can be a sticking point for many electric mowers. The Greenworks Commercial mower includes both mulching and rear bag options, all at a price point that won’t break the bank.  

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 72 pounds
  • Cutting width: 25 inches
  • Starter type: Electric
  • Mowing height levels: 7 (1.375 to 3.75 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 1.67 bushels
  • Warranty: 2 years

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Best Electric Self-Propelled Lawn Mower (Residential)

EGO 56V Select Cut 21-inch Self-Propelled Mower ($649)

best self propelled lawn mowerThe innovative EGO POWER+ 21-inch Select Cut Self-Propelled Mower is the first cordless lawn mower to offer a multi-blade cutting system for premium cutting performance whether you’re mulching or bagging.

Convenient Touch Drive technology allows the operator to engage the self-propel function with one touch and adjust the speed with an easy-scroll dial. The 56-volt battery delivers up to an hour of run time, and bright LED headlights and weather-resistant construction let you keep working until the job is done. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 76 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Electric
  • Mowing height levels: 7 (1.5 to 4 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 2 bushels
  • Warranty: 5 years

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Best Large Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Toro TimeMaster 30-inch Personal Pace Mower ($1,150)

best self propelled lawn mowerThe massive 30-inch deck and muscular Briggs & Stratton 223cc engine minimize the time and effort you’ll need to tackle big jobs. Combined with its Toro Atomic blades, the dual-Force cutting system renders grass into a fine mulch that enhances the health of your lawn.

The Personal Pace with Traction Assist feature automatically detects and adjusts to your desired walking pace while helping you maintain a consistent path on uneven terrain. The convenient Spin Stop safety feature pauses the blade while keeping the engine running, so you can take a break or empty the bag without requiring a total restart. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 140 pounds
  • Cutting width: 30 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 1.25 to 4.25 inches
  • Bag capacity: 2 bushels
  • Warranty: 3 years

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Best Rear-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Honda HRN216VYA 21-inch Self-Propelled Mower ($549)

best self propelled lawn mowerLike the commercial-grade Honda mower mentioned at the top of this list, the Honda HRN216VYA 21-inch self-propelled mower features Honda’s innovative RotoStop feature, allowing you to safely empty the bag or remove debris without needing to shut down the engine.

The convenient Clip Director lets you switch quickly between the mulching, bagging and rear discharge capabilities with no attachments required; the stacked and offset twin blade design produces outstanding cut quality and finer clippings for improved mulching and bagging. The two-way Ratchet System makes the mower easy to maneuver and reduces pull-back force for tight turns with less effort. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 88 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 7 (1 to 4 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 1.9 bushels
  • Warranty: 3 years

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Best All-Wheel Drive Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Toro 20353 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower ($439)

best self propelled lawn mowerIf your property includes uneven terrain or serious slopes, an all-wheel drive mower can help you get the job done safely and with less effort. The Toro 20353 22-inch Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Mower provides extra traction and control to maintain consistent mowing paths no matter what type of terrain it encounters.

Personal Pace technology automatically adjusts the mower’s speed to yours, while the Traction-Assist Handle monitors your speed up hills and slopes to keep you moving at a steady pace. The reliable Briggs & Stratton 163cc OHV engine requires astonishingly little maintenance and never needs an oil change.

The innovative Bag-on-Demand feature takes you from bagging to mulching mode with the flip of a switch, and the bag stays mounted regardless of which mode you’re using. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 77 pounds
  • Cutting width: 22 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 9 (1 to 4 inches)
  • Bag capacity: N/A
  • Warranty: 2 years

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Best Bagging Self-Propelled Lawn Mower 

Troy-Bilt 12AVA2MR766 21-inch Self-Propelled 3-in-1 Front Wheel Drive Mower ($365)

best self propelled lawn mowerThis affordably-priced, American-made dynamo includes rear bag, mulch kit and side discharge options to give you flexibility in your mowing. Variable-speed front-wheel drive delivers improved control and faster turns to cover every corner of your yard in minimal time.

The TriAction cutting system combines a brake bumper, specialized blade and symmetrical deck to give your lawn that sought-after, tightly-groomed look, with finely-mulched clippings to further enhance the health of your turf. Best of all, the Check, Don’t Change oil system allows you to simply add oil as needed, never requiring a full oil change. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 90 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 6 (1.25 to 3.75 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 1.9 bushels
  • Warranty: 3 years

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Best Mulching Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

Toro 21382 21-inch Personal Pace Super Recycler Self-Propelled Mower ($650)

best self propelled lawn mowerThe design of the Toro 21382 21-inch Personal Pace Super Recycler mower includes a kicker system, powerful mulching blade and clipping accelerators for premium-quality mulching.

The Honda GCV 160cc OHC engine packs a powerful punch, while the FLEX Handle suspension cushions your muscles and joints from vibrations and uneven terrain. The Personal Pace Self-Propel feature adjusts to your walking speed and lets you set your desired pace up to 4.8 miles per hour. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: N/A
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 1.25 to 4.25 inches
  • Bag capacity: 2.1 bushels
  • Warranty: 5 years

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Best Self-Propelled Mower for Hills

Husqvarna LC221RH 21-inch Rear-Wheel Drive Mower ($400)

best self propelled lawn mowerEquipped with a powerful Honda engine and surprisingly nimble rear-wheel drive, the Husqvarna LC221RH handles hills, slopes and uneven terrain with ease, with a variable-drive speed that adjusts to current turf conditions. Bagging, mulching and rear discharge options are available, and its high rear wheels provide maximum maneuverability around obstacles. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 79 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Recoil
  • Mowing height levels: 9 (1 to 4 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 1.8 bushels
  • Warranty: 3 years

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Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Value

Craftsman M210 21-inch Self-Propelled Mower ($280)

best self propelled lawn mowerThis well-rounded mower is perfect for modestly-sized yards and budgets. Unlike many value-priced mowers, the Craftsman M210 is manufactured domestically at the company’s facility in Tupelo, Miss. The 140cc Briggs & Stratton engine provides adequate power for average lawns, and the mower includes bagging and mulching (but not side discharge) options. A specially-designed blade and symmetrical deck deliver a fine mulch and superior air flow to prevent clumping. 

Features and Specifications:

  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Cutting width: 21 inches
  • Starter type: Pull start
  • Mowing height levels: 6 (1.25 to 3.75 inches)
  • Bag capacity: 1.8 bushels
  • Warranty: 2 years

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Best Lawn Mower Buying Guide

Should I Buy a Gas-Powered Mower or Electric Mower?

Gas remains the most popular fuel type for both commercial and residential lawn mowers, although the rapidly-improving quality and performance of battery-powered models has begun to even the playing field. Both gas-powered and electric mowers have clear advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to weigh your cutting needs and priorities to determine which one is best for you. 

The primary advantages of gas mowers are their raw power and comparatively lower price point. You’d have to spend quite a bit more to find an electric mower that even came close to matching the muscle of your average gas mower. Gas mowers can also handle large properties without needing to stop to refuel. However, gas mowers are loud and produce substantially greater fumes and emissions than battery-powered models, and gas mowers (especially those with recoil starters) can require more effort to get going than electric mowers. 

Electric mowers, on the other hand, are clean, quiet and environmentally friendly and require less maintenance than gas mowers. However, their run time is limited by the size of their battery packs, and if you have a half-acre or larger yard, you’ll almost certainly need to purchase a second battery (or wait for the original one to charge) in order to finish the job. Electric mowers are still more expensive than gas mowers, although the price point is coming down, and it can be harder to find a repair shop to fix or service your mower than if you had a more common gas-powered model. 

Should I Buy a Commercial or Residential Mower?

For most homeowners, a residential mower can easily provide the power and features needed to handle typical landscaping needs. If you mow your yard three or four times per month, you can expect to get five to 10 years of use out of a residential mower, which generally represents a good value unless you invest in a model with tons of bells and whistles. Commercial-grade mowers are built with sturdy, high-quality components to withstand frequent use in a variety of conditions, so you may not have to provide the same level of maintenance or repair, but the extra life you might get out of it probably won’t make up for the significantly higher up-front cost of a commercial model. 

Factors to Consider When Comparing Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Models

Engine Size

Unless you neglect your mowing for weeks and end up with a thick jungle of grass, even a 140cc engine is probably sufficient for an average yard. However, if you’re looking for improved cut quality and solid mulching and bagging options, or if your grass is tall and thick, move up to a mower with an engine of 160cc to 180cc. For mowers with decks larger than 22 inches, an engine larger than 200cc is preferable to ensure adequate blade speed to handle a wider path. 

Deck Size

Most residential mowers feature 21- or 22-inch decks by design. Though you could upgrade to a wider (25- to 30-inch) deck, unless your yard is larger than a half-acre, you won’t save much time with the larger mower, especially considering that those extra inches add weight that you’ll have to control as you work. 

Deck Construction

Gas mowers generally feature stamped steel decks, which are designed to stand up to years of use and impact from sticks, rocks and other debris. Electric mowers usually have plastic poly decks, which keep the unit’s overall weight down to maintain performance. Plastic poly decks are more durable than they seem, but chances are you’ll still have to replace yours at least once over the mower’s lifespan. However, plastic poly decks offer additional design flexibility and engineering innovations to improve airflow for better cut quality and efficiency. 

Deck Height Options

Your ideal deck height option depends largely on the type of turf you have in your yard. For example, Bermuda and Zoysia grasses are healthiest when cut to a range of half an inch to 1.5 inches, while St. Augustine grass thrives at a range of 2 to 4 inches. If possible, look for a mower with a maximum deck height of 4 inches; you probably won’t need to worry about the lower end of the range unless you expect to use your mower for scalping and reseeding. 

Most residential mowers feature six to nine deck height settings within a set range, but chances are you’ll rarely use more than two or three of them, so having additional options doesn’t necessarily add any value. 

Height Adjustment Type

Single-point height adjustments offer the most convenient option, allowing you to raise or lower the deck height using a single lever. Electric mowers often incorporate this design, but gas mowers frequently use multiple-point adjustment systems due to the additional strain the mower’s weight can add to the mechanism. 

Speed Adjustment Options

Speed adjustment mechanisms, which may include pull levers, push levers, push bars and even dials, are largely a matter of preference, with no true advantage to any one design. If possible, visit a retailer to experience the different types to figure out which one you like best; if you buy a mower sight unseen and end up hating the style of its speed mechanism, mowing can quickly become a chore you dread. 

Drive Type

In this category, you have three options: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. If your yard is made up of mostly even terrain, opt for a front-wheel drive mower—they’re less expensive and easier to maneuver. Rear-wheel drive mowers are best-suited for mowing on hills and slopes due to their enhanced traction, although the price point is a bit higher than front-wheel drive mowers. All-wheel drive mowers cost the most, but deliver noticeably superior performance on hills, slopes and uneven terrain. 

Start Type

The old-school pull-start of your parents’ lawn mower is no longer the standard, which may come as a relief if you’ve experienced the struggle of exhausting yourself through repeated pulls trying vainly to fire up the mower. However, proper maintenance can improve the performance of recoil starters, and many of today’s top brands include a two- or three-pull guarantee to ensure smooth starts over the life of the mower. Electric starters offer the greatest convenience, but they can also add several hundred dollars to a mower’s price tag, which may or may not fit your budget. 

Clipping Disposal Options

Unless you enjoy sweeping up errant grass clippings, you’ll want to look at mowers that at least provide a mulching option, which cuts grass into tiny bits that will then fertilize and nourish your lawn. If you prefer to dispose of your clippings elsewhere, look for a mower with a sizable bag capacity to help reduce the frequency with which it will need to be emptied. 

Handle Positions

Unless your height is perfectly average, having more than one height option for the handle will make the time you spend mowing more comfortable. Many lawn mowers feature handles that adjust to several heights, so be sure to check the specifications in this area before you buy. 

Fuel Efficiency

If you opt for a gas-powered mower, look at its fuel efficiency rating and consider the long-term cost of fuel, which can be considerable if your grass type or climate demand frequent mowing. Mowers with better fuel efficiency will also allow you to put in more work time before needing to refuel.  

With electric mowers, you’ll want to check the battery run time to ensure you won’t have to stop to recharge before covering your property. Having to wait four to eight hours with a half-cut lawn gets old fast. 

Noise Level

Gas mowers are invariably louder than electric mowers, so if noise is a major concern for you, an electric model is probably the way to go. If you prefer a gas mower for price or power reasons, look for a model like the Toro Super Recycler Personal Pace Lawn Mower, which features a low-tone muffler to keep the noise level manageable. 

No matter what type of mower you ultimately select, we recommend wearing ear protection during use to prevent long-term hearing damage. 

Value

A mower’s value goes well beyond the number on the price tag. Compare user ratings for each model you look at, and consider maintenance costs, warranty coverage and fuel efficiency when making your final determination. 

OUR FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST SELF PROPELLED LAWN MOWER OPTIONS

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