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Types of Lawn Mowers: How to Pick the Best & Maintain It

Cool off as you smell your freshly cut grass and admire your handy work: a well-manicured lawn! With so many choices, how do you know what’s the best mower for your lawn? You will need to consider the size and type of lawn you have along with how much physical exertion you want to invest in the job. Of course, your budget plays a factor too.

Let’s look at the types of lawn mowers and some maintenance tips, so you can know which lawn mower is right for your job and how to take care of it.

Riding Lawn Mowers


If you have more than a quarter of an acre of land, a riding lawn mower is your best choice. You have a few options:

  1. Lawn tractors are the classic riding lawn mower and are a great choice for a yard of a quarter acre up to two acres. The engines are mounted on the front of the lawn mower and range from 18-25 horsepower. Most have a single-cylinder engine, but some pricier models have a twin-cylinder engine and deck (engine cover) width that ranges from 42 to 54 inches. These types of lawn mowers do not turn as easily as other types of lawn mowers, and they cannot cut as close to the edges of a lawn. They can handle large lawns with fewer obstacles and minimal close curves or edges.
  2. Rear-engine lawn mowers are a great choice for a yard between a quarter to two acres. These mowers have an engine in the back and have a hand lever to control them. They have horsepower between ten and 11 and a deck size of 30 to 33 inches.
  3. Zero-turn lawn mowers are controlled by a bar over your lap which controls the transmission in the back wheels. These are the most powerful riding lawn mower and are the right choice for yards over three acres. The deck width ranges from 32 to 60 inches and has a horsepower range from 12 to 25. They are easy to operate. They can turn, even on sharp corners, so they can cut close to any edge resulting in a better-looking lawn. They are pricier than other options, but they can handle even the toughest landscaping in a hurry.

Walking Lawn Mowers


A walking lawn mower simply means that you walk behind the mower and push it or guide it if it’s self-propelled. Walking lawn mowers are the most popular for our customers with yards less than a quarter of an acre. They come in many varieties with numerous features and a range of price tags. The main types are:

  1. Self-propelled mowers do just that - propel themselves. This makes your job much easier; you just guide it. They run at a steady speed, resulting in a uniformly cut lawn. They do cost a bit more, and the more complex mechanics require more maintenance and can be more intricate to repair. However, they are worth the money if you’re looking for a mower that puts the muscle into the job rather than you.
  2. Hover lawn mowers are even easier to maneuver around your yard because they float on air. One unique feature of this type of mower is its agility. They can move from side to side, so if you have a yard with many tight spots and curved flower beds, this may be your best choice! They are electric and generally have a lower price tag than other mowers.
  3. Reel mowers (also called cylinder lawn mowers) are powered by you! No electricity or gas is required. They have anywhere from four to ten cylindrical blades which slice the blades of grass like scissors providing a very neatly, short-cut lawn. They are great for cutting soft, short grass, but do not perform well on lawns with any sort of debris in the form of sticks or rocks. The blades require sharpening every one to two years. You can do this with a kit, or have it done by a professional.
  4. Rotary mowers operate by spinning a single blade at a high speed, so the actual cut of the blades of grass is not as precise as a reel mower. It can tear the blade of grass instead of slicing it because it's moving so quickly. They are the most popular type of lawn mower because they offer some distinct advantages. They can cut taller grass, so you can get away with mowing your lawn less often. They can also handle some light debris in the yard as well as uneven terrain.
  5. Push mowers require a little muscle on your part, yet they are not as heavy as other types of mowers, and they can easily cut on rough terrain, and take sharp turns. The engine spins the blade for you, but your muscles are the engine for the wheels. The benefits to push mowers are the low price and they are lighter and more agile. You can get a great workout pushing a lawn mower if that’s your preference!

Lawn Mower Features


You have many features to choose from for your lawn mower, once you pick which type is best for you. You can choose how your lawn mower is powered along with the drive type and function. Here are the basic features to choose from.

How Is Your Lawn Mower Powered?

  1. Electric mowers are powered by an electrical cord, which can be limiting, so make sure your cord is long enough to allow you to mow your entire lawn. You also have to account for a cord trailing behind you, so you’ll need to take care when mowing with a corded mower. They are lighter in weight than gas mowers and are inexpensive. They are better suited for smaller yards. They typically operate at 6 to 12 amps.
  2. Battery mowers are powered by 6 to 12-volt lithium-ion batteries and are heavier than electric mowers. They are also more expensive than electric mowers, and you are limited by the charge time of your battery. You have to plan ahead with battery-powered mowers, as they can take up to 8 hours to charge. They can handle larger yards because they have no cord attached. You also will need to replace the battery, but you should get two to three years out of each battery.
  3. Gas mowers are powered by gasoline, so you should have a full gas can on hand. They are great for larger yards because you are not restricted by a cord or battery life. They can handle some tougher terrain and cut faster than electric or battery mowers, yet they are heavier. You will have to maintain the oil too in gas mowers. They are the loudest option, and more expensive. You might consider ear protection.
  4. Manual mowers are powered by an engine (gas or electric), but you need to actually push the mower, so they are harder to operate. This makes them a better choice for smaller yards. They are less expensive and make far less noise.

What's the Drive Type?

  1. Rear-wheel mowers are controlled by the rear wheels making them a great choice for more rugged lawns, or lawns with some hills. They are not a great option for a yard with obstacles to maneuver around, such as flower beds and trees.
  2. Front-wheel mowers are pulled forward by the front wheels, making them optimal for a yard with an awkward shape. They are not a good option for any sort of hills.
  3. All-wheel mowers have the front and back wheels powered and moving together providing a much faster and more powerful mower.

What Happens to the Grass?

Lawn mowers can mulch the cut grass. Mulching means it cuts the grass multiple times and either disperses the mulch back over your yard or bags it. This is a two-function lawn mower. Mulch can add nitrogen back to your yard, but if your yard is overgrown, it’s not a good idea. You can get a lawn mower that is a three-function, which performs all three - mulching, bagging, and dispersing.

8 Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips


Lawn mower care is critical to maintaining your investment.

  1. Change your oil regularly to maintain the engine.
  2. Add fuel stabilizer if your lawn mower sits idle for more than 30 days.
  3. Replace the spark plugs after about 100 hours of use.
  4. Regularly sharpen and balance the blades.
  5. Clean the deck of your lawn mower to prevent rust build-up.
  6. Regularly check the air filter and fuel filter.
  7. Keep an eye on the tire pressure.
  8. Check the belts for wear and tear.

We have many types of lawn mowers for you to choose from at McCoy’s along with all the supplies you need to keep your lawn mower running smoothly!