A powerful machine with a Honda motor. Features AWD that makes it capable of tackling almost any terrain, including hills and slopes. Offers self-propelled action.
A bit pricey. If you have a flat yard, an AWD model may not be necessary.
This updated model features a rugged Kohler engine that's known to start on the first try. Has front wheel drive and self-propelled power that makes it easy to operate on most terrain. Easy to assemble.
A new release means that possible issues may come out after more consumers have experience using it. Not as powerful for uphill use as AWD.
Lightweight and easy to push. Straightforward assembly. Affordable; a solid buy for the budget-conscious and those with small, even yards.
It sometimes hesitates to start, but pushing the primer button usually helps. Not fancy, but for the price, you may not mind. Chugs a bit going over uneven ground.
A tough trimmer with the build of a mower. Easy to use and rugged enough to tackle thick grass and tough weeds in tight spaces. Uses standard trimmer cord that is easy to load.
Costly compared to standard trimmers, but it's about the price of a mid-range mower. Starting issues have been reported.
Basic yet practical for small to mid-sized lawns. Fairly lightweight and easy to push. Earns praise for how well it pushes through most types of grass and terrain for such an affordable price.
Not ideal for large yards. Mixed experiences with the starting mechanism – sometimes it starts on the first try, sometimes it hesitates.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
It’s an unavoidable fact of home ownership: if you have a lawn, you’re going to need some way to mow it. And if it’s a larger lawn, or one requiring more power to keep it looking good, a gas lawn mower is the most practical choice.
While you can get by with a push-reel or electric mower for some smaller yards, a gas mower offers a number of benefits over them. Gas mowers tend to be more durable than electrics, and you’ll never find yourself waiting for a battery to charge or looking for a longer cord that can reach far corners of the lawn.
You can also handle higher and tougher grass more easily. And if you buy a self-propelled mower, you’ll find yourself using much less personal power to get your lawn mowed.
When it comes to gas-powered lawn mowers, you have a dizzying number of options and features available to you. Should you go with a push mower, or the above mentioned self-propelled mower? Do you want a mulching mower, or would a side-discharge model do? Are you looking for more advanced features, such as an electric start, a blade brake, or a washing port?
Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll need to know before you set out to buy a gas-powered lawn mower.
When it comes to gas lawn mowers, you have two basic options to choose from: push mowers and self-propelled mowers.
Push mowers are pretty self-explanatory: you push them, they mow. You’re providing all the power to get around your yard, while the mower is strictly responsible for cutting the grass. This type of gas mower is good for small, level yards.
Self-propelled mowers take it a step further. Here, the mower is not just cutting the grass but also transferring power to the wheels. This type of mower is good for larger yards and spaces with a hilly layout.
Self-propelled mowers come in three different configurations.
Front-wheel drive: All the power is in the front wheels. This is often a good option for flat lawns of up to about 1.5 acres.
Rear-wheel drive: All the power is in the rear wheels, giving you better cornering and more traction going up and down hills. This is better for larger lawns with more uneven terrain.
All-wheel drive: Here the power is directed to all your wheels. This gives you better balance and is also really good on hills.
As you shop, you’re likely to find a lot of high-end options with self-propelled mowers, such as electric starters and blade brakes.
Some of the parts and features you’ll find on gas mowers include the following.
Deck: The mower deck houses the mowing blade(s). For a standard mower, decks run 21 to 22 inches across, a distance known as the cut width. Decks are mostly flat, although some mulching mowers feature dome-shaped decks. Plastic decks, while less rugged, may ultimately prove more durable since they don’t rust.
Engine: Engines are rated in foot-pounds of torque (generally five to seven and a half foot pounds) or cubic centimeters (cc) of cylinder size (generally 125cc to 190cc). The higher the number, the more power the engine has.
Starters: Starting a mower is done through a pull cord or with an electric starter. The latter is less work for the person doing the mowing, although improvements in smooth-start technology have made pull-starting easier.
Wheels: For most gas mowers, all four wheels are the same size. That said, some mowers have larger rear wheels, which provide better traction and pivoting. Swivel wheels on the front of some mowers can also help with maneuverability.
Handlebars and controls: Many handlebars fold, which makes for easier storage. Items such as bail bars are now standard. This is a safety feature which kills the engine when you let go of it. Some self-propelled models feature controls for setting the speed or pace of the mower, while a blade brake (a more high-end feature) allows you to stop the blade without killing the engine. This comes in handy when you want to move items out of the mowing path or empty a full clipping bag.
Other high-end mower features include the following.
One-level height adjustment: While normally you have to adjust all four wheels to vary the deck height, with one-level height adjustment, you can do it with just one control.
Self-propelled mowers can make mowing 20% easier, but they tend to be 50% more expensive than push options.
When you use your mower to cut the grass, the clippings don’t just magically disappear. You’re going to have to deal with grass clippings, which many mowers are built to handle in a number of different ways (options vary by model).
The traditional way of handling clippings – and one still used by many mowers – is the side-discharge option. After the grass is cut, the clippings are shot out a chute on the side of the mower. The clippings then work their way into the lawn, or you can rake them up.
You can save yourself some raking by using a bagging system. Many mowers come with bags that attach to the mower side or back and collect the clippings as they are cut. This is a great way to get the “perfect” lawn. Bagging can also help to prevent the spread of weeds, and they come in handy for cleaning up leaves in the fall.
The third option is to get a mulching mower. Many mowers now come with the ability to mulch clippings, which finely chops the grass so it is more easily incorporated back into the lawn. Mulching doesn’t work as well with really tall grass.
Mowers that offer side discharge, bagging, and mulching all in one versatile mower are fast becoming the standard.
One of the downsides of gas mowers is that they require a lot more maintenance than electric and push-reel mowers. However, properly maintaining your mower will keep it running well for years.
You should plan on doing most of your mower maintenance chores at the beginning of the mowing season. Among the things that should be changed at this time are the oil, spark plug, and air filter. You should also sharpen the mower blade, both at the start of the season and one more time mid-season. A sharp blade will cut grass much more cleanly, resulting in an overall healthier lawn.
Throughout the season, keep your mower clean and dry to prevent rusting.
When it comes time to store your mower at the end of the year, you should either leave it with a full tank of gas that has been treated with stabilizer or store it with the tank dry (consult your owner’s manual for which is recommended).
If you’re looking to super-size your cut width, check out wide-area walk mowers. These premium models usually come with two side-by-side blades that can mow a swath anywhere from 30 to 54 inches wide.
Gas lawn mower prices can run anywhere from $150 to upwards of $900. Not surprisingly, the more you spend, the more you get.
Below $200, you’re definitely looking at a bare-bones, no-frills gas mower mower that probably won’t be highly durable. You’ll even find a mulching mower or two here, but basically you push it and it cuts grass. Period.
From $200 to $300, you’ll start to see some pricier features creep in. Engines will be a little more powerful than those in the under-$200 category, and you’ll start to see a few rear- and front-wheel self-propelled mowers.
The sweet spot is $300 to $400 for gas mowers. While you won’t find an abundance of high-end features here, you will find a lot of self-propelled mowers of all types, as well as premium engines and a few mowers sporting top features such as electric starters.
Packed with features and power
If money is no object, this 190cc mower from Husqvarna can handle larger lawns and uneven terrain easily. High-end features include all-wheel drive, three-in-one options for clippings, and rear high wheels for better traction and pivoting.
Before investing in a gas mower, keep the following tips in mind.
If your yard is small, you may be better off with an electric mower. If you’re mowing the equivalent of a postage stamp, you may want to think about foregoing a gas mower altogether and going with an electric or push-reel model. Both are quieter, better for the environment, and require no spark plugs, fuel filters, oil, or gasoline. They may even save you money over time.
Safety should always come first. Gas mowers can be noisy affairs, so when shopping for one, pick up some ear plugs or muffs to protect your ears, as well as some form of eye protection to guard against flying rocks and wood chips.
Q. How long will my gas lawn mower last?
A. There are a couple of things to consider here in terms of mower durability. The more expensive the mower, the longer it will (in general) last. But a lot of this is on you. If you take care of your mower (i.e., don’t leave it outside) and maintain it well, you should get 10 to 15 years from most mowers.
Q. Is it worthwhile to pay a higher price for a gas lawn mower?
A. That depends on your circumstances. If you have a larger yard, particularly one that is hilly, a more expensive mower with features like a self-propelled drive is pretty important. Pricier mowers also tend to last longer, are easier to operate, and do a better job of cutting your grass.
Q. How hard is it to maintain a gas lawn mower?
A. Mower maintenance is a relatively simple procedure, much of it involving swapping out old oil and parts (air filter, spark plug) for new. If you do find yourself over your head, your owner’s manual should have all the info you need. Or you can turn to any number of online sites or small engine repair forums for answers.