Tired of lugging an old mower around the lawn? I don’t blame you; it’s the same reason I finally ditched my aging push mower. Self propelled mowers do all the legwork for you, so check out this list of the best self propelled mower under $300.
Self Propelled Mower Top 5
- PowerSmart DB8620 20 inch 3-in-1 196cc Gas Self Propelled Mower
- Lawn-Boy 17732 21-Inch Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower
- GreenWorks MO40L02 G-MAX 40V 21-inch
- Troy-Bilt 12AVA2MR766 21 in. Self-Propelled Front Wheel Drive Mower
- oneinmil Self Propelled Lawn Mower – RV175 173.9cc Gas 21″
What do you think of when you hear ‘self-propelled lawn mower’? Here’s the good news; it doesn’t mean that you have to propel the thing yourself. These lawnmowers have drive systems, so once you’ve engaged the power bar, they’ll happily chug along at their own pace. That means no more aching backs, legs, or arms from heaving a heavy piece of machinery around the garden all day.
What to Look For in a Self-Propelled Mower
You’ll probably notice that front-wheel drive (FWD) lawn mowers are cheaper than rear-wheel drive (RWD) models. With FWD mowers, if you lift the front of the mower to turn, or the wheels bounce from the ground on uneven terrain, you’ll lose speed. This doesn’t happen with RWD lawn mowers where the rear wheels stay grounded.
Some lawnmowers come with adjustable speed settings, too. You don’t really need this feature, but it’s great if your grass is tall and thick, as you’ll get a neater cut if you can slow things down where it’s needed. Or maybe you’re just having a lazy day and don’t want to chase after your sentient mower at top speed.
Swivel wheels come as standard on some self-propelled mowers now, but not all. When it comes to manoeuvring your mower, it’s much easier if you’re not using fixed wheels, especially around borders and ornaments, or fencing. No matter the wheel type, take a close look at the build quality. It’s pretty common for budget-range mowers to skimp on this area of the design, and you don’t want them flying off when you pull a tight corner.
Looking After Your Lawnmower
One of the easiest ways to trash a good lawn mower is to leave it caked in grass and dirt when you’re finished. Keep a lookout for mowers that have a wash-out port, as they’re much easier to clean. Instead of getting down on your hands and knees with a brush, you just plug a hose in and blast away grass and debris from the blades.
And, if you pick up a gas-powered mower, there’s extra maintenance to keep in mind; namely, replacing the gas and oil regularly. The good news is that there are mowers that come with an oil tank that only ever needs topping up, but never completely changing. If only I could say the same about my vehicle, we’d be onto a winner.
It goes without saying that self-propelled lawn mowers need a little more love and care than your typical push-along mower. But if you know how to troubleshoot problems, you’ll never have to fork out for expensive repair costs. We’ve found a great video showing how to diagnose some of the common issues you can have with a self-propelled mower
Diagnosing Self Propelled Mower Issues
Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Reviews
One of my major gripes when it comes to lawn mowers is how they can easily get bogged down by overgrown yards. Let’s face it, at some point everybody lets the lawn work slide for a few weeks and then you’re faced with a jungle. But for the PowerSmart DB8620, it’s no issue; the 8-position height adjustment means you’ll be cutting through even the thickest grass.
The built-in mulcher makes short work of cuttings, which is an ideal way to keep the soil in your flower beds healthy and rich. And the side-discharge option kicks cuttings to the kerb so a full collection bag won’t slow you down. I also found this a great way to collect up extra grass for the compost heap, or for minimizing the chance of blockages when the grass is moist.
It may not be your best choice for a vast yard, with a 20-inch cutting swath and 196cc gas-powered engine that can’t compete with beefier models. But for smaller lawns, I’ve found it to be ideal for getting into those nooks and crannies. The swivel wheel and small profile makes it simple to track borders and avoid ornaments.
Overall, the combination of rear wheel drive at a budget price, a powerful engine, and a high default speed make this model the best small self-propelled lawn mower for hills.
- This is a rear wheel drive lawn mower, yet it doesn’t reflect that in the cost.
- Weighs in at a minute 86 pounds, which is a godsend for your back.
- Has a single swivel wheel mounted on the front of the mower, which makes steering and navigating tight spaces a breeze.
- Comes with 8-position height adjustment for when you need to tackle that overgrown lawn after winter passes.
- As well as the rear collection bag, you there’s a side-discharge option too — just make sure you have a rake.
- The front caster wheel is tricky to adjust. It also takes a college education and a lot of spare time to put together out of the box.
- Suited for smaller tasks, but less so for larger yard areas.
- Struggles a little on hills because the wheels lack some traction, but you’ll learn to compensate.
- Runs pretty quickly and speed can’t be adjusted, which could be an issue for some older gardeners.
Rolling into second place is another rear wheel drive (RWD) lawn mower, powered by a 149cc engine. It’s less powerful than my top pick, but still manages to keep traction on inclines thanks to the RWD system. Also, the engine is manufactured by Honda, which to me is a great reassurance that it’s not going to fail or suddenly burst into flames.
One thing I wasn’t fond of was the 2-point ‘Height-of-Cut System’, mostly because it offers just a quarter of the PowerSmart mower’s functionality. With this mower, I’d be a lot more wary of slacking on the lawn mowing, as small jungles could be a pain to tackle. This is worsened by a fairly small collection bag, which will have you trudging back and forth to the waste bin.
I just wish that the design team hadn’t slacked in quality when it came to the wheels; they look cheap and like they’ll fall off if you get too aggressive with your turns. But on the plus side, the engine is economical and filling it up couldn’t be easier; there’s a large gas cap to stop you pouring gas all over your lawn, a surefire way to kill the grass rather than cutting it. It’s also a CARB compliant engine, which is better for both you and the environment.
- The one-point wheel height adjustments are quick and easy to adjust.
- Gas doesn’t come cheap, and the oversized gas cap means you won’t lose a drop.
- As a rear wheel drive lawn mower, there’s plenty of traction when you’re heading uphill.
- Packing a reliable Honda engine under the hood that starts with a single pull, season after season.
- CARB (California Air Resource Board) Compliant, so if you’re environmentally-conscious, rest assured you aren’t belching fumes.
- A front-heavy design can make turning this lawn mower a little difficult.
- Cutting height adjustment only features 2 levels, unlike the super-versatile PowerSmart above.
- The collection bag is on the small side, meaning more trips to the compost heap or bin.
- Adding to the above, the bag doesn’t sit completely flush against the mower, so you may have some raking to do.
- For such a robust looking mower, the wheels let it down. Imagine owning an SUV fitted with wheels straight from a saloon car.
GreenWorks are a pretty reliable brand for garden tools. This lawnmower is no exception, being one of the only models I’ve seen to have wheels that don’t look like they’ll fall off come winter. They’ve also packed in some innovation with a folding mechanism that’ll let you store the mower vertically, a great option if your garage is already crammed with garden tools.
One thing I loved about this lawnmower is that it gives a clean, consistent cut whether you’re moving forward or ‘reversing’. This might sound insignificant, but personally I don’t turn the lawn mower around at the end of every pass; sometimes it’s more efficient to just walk backwards. The height adjustment also takes care of those stubborn patches that seem to grow faster than the rest of the yard.
Ditching the gas for cordless electric isn’t a common sight among self-propelled mowers, but in some ways I preferred it. No choking fumes, no excessive noise from a gas-powered motor. And the batteries charge quickly to boot, which is a good thing given that a single full charge often isn’t enough for the largest of lawns. You’ll probably get anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes from a single use.
- Folds vertically for storage.
- Doesn’t take long to achieve a full battery charge.
- Produces an even cut whether you’re moving forwards or backwards.
- Has 7-position height adjustment, putting it a close second behind my top pick, the PowerSmart.
- It’s pretty common to have wheels that feel flimsy on cheaper mowers, but the GreenWorks is decked out with some robust treads.
- This mower shuns gas power for cordless electric. Do away with the fumes and noise, and save the gasoline for your car.
- Replacement blades can only be ordered directly from GreenWorks.
- Removing the battery can be tricky. The compartment door doesn’t open too wide and dirty or sweaty fingers just make it even harder.
- Usually bundled with 4-Amp batteries, though I recommend 5-Amp if you want to go for longer.
- Lacks some power compared to the beefiest gas models. You’ll need to decide whether it’s worth the trade-off.
And in the red corner, weighing in at … actually, I have no idea how much this lawnmower weighs. And seemingly, neither does any retailer who stocks it. Short of hoisting it over my head and stepping onto a set of scales, the product’s weight eludes me and everybody else. Thankfully, with a self-propulsion system and variable speeds, it shouldn’t matter a great deal.
It has a cutting deck of 21-inches – slightly larger than the PowerSmart – meaning you can tackle medium-sized lawns. You can adjust the blades between a range of 1.25 to 3.75-inches, which should help with uneven lawns that are still finding their feet. And once you’re done, you can blast the deck clear of debris with the wash adapter and a hose.
If you’re like me, you’ll hate changing the oil on anything, whether it’s your mower or your car. But the engine has been designed with a system that means you only ever need to top the oil off, never changing it. My main grips however, were an engine less powerful than many competing mowers at this price point, and the fact that it’s front wheel drive. It shouldn’t be an issue, providing you avoid pulling any wheelies while you’re mowing.
- Never needs an oil change, simply top up what’s already there.
- A deck wash adapter lets you hook up the hose and blast out the spent trimmings, keeping your mower in good condition.
- A 6-position height adjustment ranges from 1.25-inches to 3.75-inches. If your grass is any longer, you’re not spending enough time outdoors.
- Variable speed settings are great for tackling more stubborn patches of grass, while helping preserve your drive belt for longer.
- An integrated ‘rake bumper’ lifts each blade of grass to spare you those moments when you glance back at flattened patches of uncut lawn.
- One of the few I’ve looked at that is front wheel drive, rather than rear.
- The 159cc engine packs less of a punch than several other models at the same price point.
- Doesn’t turn on a dime, so you’re at more risk of taking down a flower bed or garden gnome.
- Lacks the typical control bar; instead, you activate it with a right-handed switch, which gets tiring more quickly.
5. oneinmil Self Propelled Lawn Mower – RV175 173.9cc Gas 21″
Like my top pick, the PowerSmart, this mower comes with 8 height adjustment settings. The engine isn’t quite as powerful, at 173.9cc compared to 196cc on the PowerSmart, but it’s still more powerful than a lot of the alternatives. And coupled with the rear wheel drive system, manoeuvring this thing around the yard is a breeze.
It’s also got one of the bigger collection bags I’ve seen, which is often overlooked. Nothing’s worse than having to cut the power, detach the bag, and empty it, before you’ve even finished. Doing this repeatedly can easily stretch a simple task into a very long one, so I always try to prioritize this as a feature when I’m shopping for a new lawnmower.
Overall, this made it onto my list of the 5 best self propelled lawn mowers under $300, but only just took last place. I didn’t love the build quality, mostly in terms of the wheel design, the sturdiness – or lack of – of the height adjustment lever, and the choice to have such an obtrusive side discharge housing. However, if you can look past these niggles, it’s a good mower.
- Matches the PowerSmart in height adjustment, with 8 settings.
- One of the larger collection bags I’ve seen, meaning less interruptions.
- A variable speed setting is perfect for those days when you just can’t find the energy to chase the mower down.
- Gas-powered 173.9cc engine is more aggressive than many of the alternatives on this list.
- Rear wheel drive helps with traction, which offsets some concerns I had with the size of the front wheels.
- Side discharge housing juts out further than the mower’s wheels.
- Suffers from flimsy wheel syndrome, with a design that doesn’t feel like it’ll stand up to years of hard cornering.
- When you’re putting the mower together, I found the front axle to be pretty tricky to snap into place.
- The lever that controls the height adjustment settings feels like it might snap in half at any moment.
Conclusion – What is the Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower?
Let me tell you something; I love gardening, but I’m not always the best at remembering to fit it into my schedule. That means my lawn is routinely overgrown. So, the PowerSmart DB8620 checks all my boxes; it’s lightweight, powerful enough to munch through my yard when I’ve let it get out of control, and has the greatest height adjustment options I could find for tackling thick grass.
That’s not to say that other lawn mowers like the Troy-Bilt or Lawn-Boy couldn’t handle the job, but they’re lacking one key feature: a swivel wheel up-front. My lawn is not perfectly squared-off, plus it’s strewn with flower bed borders and various ornaments. Don’t underestimate the power of a swivel wheel for complicated gardens; the PowerSmart handles corners and tight spots like a dream.