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Self-Propelled Vs Push Mower: Which is Better?

Self-Propelled Vs Push Mower: Which is Better?

Are you in the market for a new lawn mower? Deciding on the best machine for manicuring your yard doesn’t come down to the price only; other factors such as your yard’s terrain and even your level of fitness play a role.

We wrote this article to help you decide between a self-propped vs push mower. We will explain how each work and tips to keep in mind when choosing a lawn mower that best suits your needs. So, let’s get started!

Push Mowers

Push Mowers

Push mowers, like self-propelled mowers, are a type of walk-behind mowing machine. Some are corded while others are cordless. Some are gas-powered while others are manual and require your own effort to push and steer around. We recommend checking out this video if you would like to learn more about choosing the right mower for your yard.

For now, let’s take a look at the different types of push mowers. 

1. Reel Mowers

Reel mowers are the most manual of all walk-behind push mowers. They come with a set of wheels and rotating blades in between the wheels and use friction to cut grass. Reel mowers are ideal for smaller yards measuring about 1/3 acres or less. However, the smaller cutting width and the fact that they struggle with tall grass means you might have to mow more often.

The best-selling points for reel mowers are that they are inexpensive, lightweight, and can easily maneuver tight corners in a yard. They are also low maintenance and low-emittance machines. If you are fairly fit and your lawn is well-manicured, a reel mower might be a good budget-friendly pick.

2. Gas Push Mowers

Gas-powered mowers are a popular option for medium-sized lawns of up to half an acre. A major advantage of gas mowers is that they do not require a battery charge. You do not have to stop and wait for the battery to charge in the middle of mowing.

As long as the machine has enough fuel, a gas mower can run for hours, allowing you to do your job with few interruptions. Compare this to a battery-operated electric mower whose average runtime is about 30 to 60 minutes depending on the voltages and type of battery.

On the downside, gas push mowers can be a bit noisy and their use of gasoline means that they contribute to air pollution.

3. Electric Push Mowers

If you are concerned about emissions and want to play your role in minimizing the carbon footprint, electric push mowers might be a good alternative. Your options include cordless vs corded electric mowers.

Let’s take a look at the two types of electric push mowers: cordless and corded.

  • Cordless electric push mowers

Cordless electric mowers are fitted with a chargeable battery. Depending on the size, type, voltages of the battery, a full charge might require between 30 minutes and a couple of hours.

The advantage of buying this type of mower is that it is cleaner and quieter than a gas mower. Those with a high voltage battery and a dual battery system allow you to mow for longer as long as the battery is fully charged.

  • Corded electric push mower

As the name suggests, corded push mowers need to be plugged into an electrical outlet as you work on your lawn. They do not have a battery to charge and might be convenient if you want to mow any time.

However, the cord limits your mowing coverage so this might not be your best bet if you have a larger yard or one with obstacles to maneuver. You will need either several outdoor outlets or extensions to comfortably use a corded electric mower.

Although you should avoid mowing your lawn when it is wet, you should completely refrain from mowing a wet lawn using an electric push mower due to the high risk of electrocution.

Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers

Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers

A self-propelled lawn mower features a transmission that propels the machine’s front or rear wheels. Like a car, the mower will push itself forward and all you have to do is steer it in the direction you want.

The mower has a bar that when squeezed spins the blades to cut the grass. There is also an acceleration bar, which engages the wheels and moves the mower forward.

A common misconception is that a self-propelled lawn can overpower you and drive off on its own. In reality, modern self-propelled mowers have a variable speed mechanism. This means you can set a speed that works for you and that will remain consistent unless you change the speed again.

Talking of speed, most self-propelled lawn mowers move at a speed of between 1 and 4 miles per hour. The option to set and adjust speeds makes all the difference because you can work much faster using significantly less effort.

Self-propelled options can be front-wheel. rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel-drive. The one you choose will largely depend on your yard’s terrain.

Let’s take a look at front-wheel vs rear-wheel-drive mowers. You can also check out Consumer Report’s neat comparison of these two types of mowers.

1. Front-Wheel Lawn Mowers

As the name suggests, front-wheel drive mowers move using the set of wheels at the front. These are the most common types of self-propelled lawn mowers as they are comparably easier to maneuver on most types of yards but more so if your yard has trees, shrubs, and other such obstacles. They also have a lower price point than the rear-wheel-drive types.

That said, front-wheel drive might not be ideal for hilly landscapes. Hardy as they may be, these mowers are not built to climb up inclines or go down steep slopes. A front-drive will serve you better if your lawn is flatter than it is hilly.

2. Rear-wheel Lawn Mowers

Rear-wheel drive mowers are designed to create a more powerful driving force and as such can navigate steep slopes and inclines with greater ease. If your terrain is hilly, this mower is an excellent option, allowing you to do more while expending the least amount of effort, especially when working uphill.

Rear-wheel drives do have their downsides. For starters, they tend to be slightly pricier due to their complex working mechanism and maintenance can be comparably costlier.

They also tend to require more stamina to push around. If you don’t consider yourself fit or if you are smaller, you might have difficulties navigating this type of mower. Navigating obstacles can be challenging, as you have to lift the back of the mower to jump over or get around these obstacles.

For both the front-wheel and rear-wheel drive, it is often difficult to pull the mower backward, say for example, when you have missed a spot and want to re-mow it. If this happens, you would have to stop the mower altogether or slightly lift it off the ground and then pull it backward.

A rear-wheel-drive is priced slightly higher but if your yard terrain is sloppy or you often mow hilly yards, you stand to get value for your money with this variety of mowers. If you have a fairly flat-laying yard and are not looking to shell out a lot but still want the perks of a self-propelled mower, a front-wheel-drive might be an excellent choice.

Which One is Better? Self-propelled vs Push Mower

A mower can be a significant expense and you want to invest in one that will faithfully serve you for longer. Ideally, a good mower will require as little maintenance as possible and will match well with your lawn size.

When comparing between a self-propelled vs push mower, none is necessarily better than the other; the best choice depends on your needs. If you have a ¼ to ½ acre lawn, consider buying a gas or cordless push mower.

For smaller lawns, a gas or corded push mower should get the job done depending on the location of electrical outlets. If your budget allows and you have a larger lawn of ½ to 1 acre, a self-propelled corded or gas mower will come in handy.

 Last but not least, you might appreciate a reel mower if all you are looking for is something basic, lightweight, and low maintenance for a small, already well-kept lawn. They are inexpensive and there is no harm in buying a reel mower alongside the larger types of push mowers for quick mowing jobs.


Walk-behind lawn mowers are great options for someone who is new to mowing or if you are not looking to shell a lot of money on a riding lawn mower. As we’ve seen, the self-propelled type makes mowing a medium-sized lawn a complete breeze.

Conventional push mowers do get the job done but at a slightly slower speed and may be unsuitable for uneven terrain. We hope this guide will help you choose the best type of walk-behind mower for your needs.

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