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Ok, so you bought your first home, your grass is getting unruly, and you don’t have a lawn mower for routine lawn maintenance. Don’t dwell on those stares from Chuck and his “perfectly manicured lawn”; you can get the right tool to kick your grass, too. So how do you pick the correct self-propelled, electric riding mower, lawn tractor, or zero-turn mower for your lawn?

How do I know what mower to buy?

An orange and black Kubota riding zero-turn lawn mower shows off its bright colors.
A large Kubota zero-turn | Rory Doyle, Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-time lawn mower buyers should take factors like their level of mobility, lawn size, topography, and budget when choosing the right mower for your landscape. For instance, a suburban home with a ¼ acre of lawn space probably doesn’t require a high-dollar riding mower. 

However, if physical concerns preclude you from pushing a self-propelled mower, a small riding mower can speed up your lawn maintenance and take the strain off your back and knees. Moreover, a riding mower or lawn tractor with a hydrostatic transmission and 22 horsepower will have little issue traversing steep hills on a sloped property. 

Still, electric self-propelled units take swappable power packs like the RYOBI 40V batteries. Better yet, some can cost under $200 and tackle a small lawn with relative ease.    

What is the right size mower?

According to Popular Mechanics, ¼ acre lawns or smaller are self-propelled territory. Further, anything above that size might warrant a riding or zero-turn unit for ease, time management, and comfort.

Self-propelled ¼ acre or smaller
Riding¼ acre to 2.0 acres
Zero-turnAnything above 2.0 acres
A man performs maintenance on a self-propelled mower.
A man performs maintenance on a mower | Smith Collection via Gado via Getty Images

Of course, these are simply guidelines. Some owners with large properties might not have the budget for a gleaming, new commercial zero-turn mower. In those cases, a preowned model or having the patience to use a riding mower is an option.

Additionally, zero-turn mowers tend to have the easiest time balancing large lawns and tight spaces. Still, zero-turns are often more expensive than lawn tractors. For instance, Lawn Love says the average lawn tractor costs around $3,515. However, the average zero-turn costs about $1,535 more than the home-use tractors, for a total of $5,050. 

What type of lawn mower is easiest to use?

A RYOBI electric self-propelled mower shows off its small size.
A RYOBI 21-inch self-propelled mower | RYOBI

The easiest lawn mowers to operate and maintain are small, self-propelled units. Furthermore, some of the most straightforward mowers today are electric models, like the EGO Power+ and RYOBI Dual Blade 21-inch self-propelled mowers. Both models earned top scores from The Spruce for ease and performance.  

Moreover, manufacturers like CRAFTSMAN, Toro, and Honda produce many gas-powered mowers with decks larger than 20 inches. While running a tool with an internal combustion engine (ICE) isn’t as straightforward as seating a removable lithium battery, these gas-powered units are cheap and straightforward. 

When it comes to choosing a lawn mower for home use, most American renters and homeowners will get the job done with a self-propelled unit. However, in some rural and large-lot landscapes, a small-deck application might not cut it.


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