Push Mower Vs Self Propelled (Which is Best For Your Yard?)

If you’re prone to “analysis paralysis” when it comes to major purchases, buying a lawnmower these days is probably a lot harder than it used to be. there are so many options. you can opt for a cylindrical blade or a rotary blade. You can go gas or electric. wired or wireless. electric or manual start. See what I mean? A common decision people struggle to make is whether to go with a push or self-propelled lawn mower. if that’s you, you should find this article helpful, as we’re going to compare the two and see which use cases each is best suited for.

Generally speaking, push mowers are more suitable for smaller, flat lawns, while self-propelled mowers are really useful on medium to large sized lots, as well as sloping or hilly terrain.

Push Mower Vs Self Propelled

A little history about push and self-propelled mowers

Before we start comparing push mowers to self-propelled mowers, I think it’s important that we clarify exactly what is considered a “push mower” and what is considered a “self-propelled mower.” there are several variations of each, and I want you to know that before continuing.

push mower

push mowers are essentially any mower that you walk behind and push, hence the name. Now I think a lot of people associate the term “push mower” with the old fashioned reel mower, but there are other types of mowers that fall into this category as well.

I would consider all of the following to be push mowers.

  • Reel Push Mowers – These are the mowers you see in the old movies. there is no engine or motor, just a cylinder where the blades are located that rotates horizontally as you push the mower. they are very simple in design and often the cheapest type of push mower.
  • electric push mowers – these are considered the “next level” in terms of mowers push. they remain lightweight and are available in corded (mains powered) and cordless (uses a battery) versions. use a rotating cutting blade instead of a cylindrical blade.
  • gasoline push mowers: the most powerful of the 3, gas push mowers tend to be heavier to push and also more expensive. but they offer the most power and are probably the best choice if you need to cut longer, thicker grass on a regular basis.

The obvious difference between these 3 variations of the walk behind mower I mentioned above is the power supply. The type that best suits your needs will depend on the type and size of grass you have.

Reel Push Mower

self-propelled lawn mower

A self-propelled lawnmower, as the name suggests, doesn’t require you to push it (although you can still if you want to). instead, they have a transmission that turns the wheels for you and moves the mower forward. all you have to do is direct it.

As with push mowers, there are a couple of different variations of self-propelled mowers:

  • Front Wheel Drive: On this type of self-propelled mower, it is the front wheels that are driven. these tend to be the cheapest type as the mechanics of the self-propelled system are much simpler. are better suited to flatter gardens.
  • rearwheel drive: the premise here is exactly the same, but instead of the front wheels are propelled, it is the rear wheels that turn. the design to make this possible is more complicated from a technical point of view, so they tend to cost a little more, but they do support the weight of the mower more and are a great help in sloping gardens. honestly, if you have hills to mow, one of these will add years to your life!
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self propelled mower for hills

push vs self-propelled mowers: how do they compare?

Now that you know the different mower variations that fall under each category, let’s take this push vs self-propelled mower comparison to the next level by looking at the main benefits of each.

advantages of push mowers

  • lighter than self-propelled mowers. the additional hardware required to equip a self-propelled mower adds a significant amount of weight. by comparison, push mowers are much lighter (definitely the case with reel mowers).
  • They can be very affordable. Obviously, I’m speaking in general terms here. I’m sure you can find some models of push mowers that are more expensive than some self-propelled mowers, but in general, push mowers are much cheaper. certainly in the case of reel and corded electric mowers. and there are also some very affordable gas push mowers.
  • less than that can go wrong. the self-propelled system is just one more thing that can go wrong over the life of the mower. push mowers have a simpler design (very simple in the case of reel mowers), so there is less risk of costly repairs.
  • lower fuel costs . If you look at how much it costs to run a push lawn mower vs. a self-propelled lawn mower in terms of fuel, the push lawn mower will almost always be cheaper. Self-propelled mowers are heavier, which puts more strain on the engine, and the self-propelled system itself also consumes additional power. push lawn mowers, on the other hand, can be free (reel mowers) to run or very inexpensive (electric corded mowers). even in the case of battery or gas powered lawnmowers, they will generally be cheaper to operate.

advantages of self-propelled mowers

  • Easier on your body. Carrying the full weight of a lawnmower and pushing it up and down the lawn can be exhausting and put a lot of strain on your body. A self-propelled lawn mower relieves your body of that pressure by taking care of that weight for you. only when turning will you feel the weight, but the rest of the time it is much easier.
  • slopes and hills are child’s play. try going up and down slopes or hills with a heavy gas lawn mower in the summer heat. it’s brutal! that same scenario with a self propelled lawn mower is completely different. no sweating, no gasping for air while struggling to get up a hill or aches and pains afterwards. the mower works on tough lawns and makes tough conditions much easier to handle.
  • it’s faster to mow larger areas. the problem with a push mower is if has a larger area of ​​grass to cut is that it can take forever. even more so if it is a manual push mower. a self-propelled mower in this situation speeds things up considerably. I would go so far as to say that you can almost mow a large lawn in half the time. this is definitely attractive if you don’t particularly like mowing lawns.
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factors that will influence your decision

Now that you understand the different types of push and self-propelled mowers, as well as the respective strengths of each, let’s explore some of the main factors that could affect your decision.

These are all things I thought about the last time I bought a new mower and I encourage you to think about them too.

the size of your garden

Lawns vary greatly in size. you could have a postage stamp lawn or the grounds of a stately home to maintain, or anything in between.

And the size of your lawn has a huge impact on what features to look for in your ideal mower. But let’s get back to the debate between the manual and self-propelled lawnmower.

if you have a very small lawn, a self-propelled mower will be overkill 99 times out of 100. small lawns can be perfectly well maintained with a push mower. It just doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on a lawn that can be mowed in 10 or 20 minutes.

For anything that takes more time than that, a self-propelled lawnmower is something you might consider if budget isn’t an issue. I mentioned it before, but using a self-propelled lawn mower on a large lawn can cut down on mowing time. you’ll finish faster and less tired too.

the type of terrain (hilly or flat)

If you’ve ever hiked, you know that walking on completely flat terrain isn’t as challenging or strenuous as walking on hilly or hilly terrain.

now imagine that, but with a lawnmower in front of you. If you have inclines, hills, or any type of uphill that your mower will have to push, being able to rely on a self-propel system is a lifesaver. it just makes the task at hand that much easier.

Otherwise, walk-behind mowers work well on flatter lawns. To be honest, if it’s just a small lawn, even if it has slopes, an electric push mower will do just fine, as the light weight of these mowers will make up for the lack of a self-propulsion system.

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Just remember, if you’re buying a self-propelled lawn mower with the idea of ​​helping you up hills, opt for a rear-wheel drive model. the front wheel drive will struggle to pull the weight of the mower uphill, while the rear drive is powered from the rear wheels.

your fitness

Now I know a lot of us don’t like to be honest with ourselves when it comes to fitness, but it really pays to be honest when making this decision, believe me. You don’t want to find out that you’re not as fit as you thought when you were mowing the lawn, out of breath because the mower you bought is too heavy.

If you want a gas-powered lawn mower, but feel you don’t have enough strength to push it without discomfort, go for a self-propelled lawn mower. what I like about the rear-wheel self-propelled models is that they also make turning at the end of each pass a breeze. simply lift the front end of the mower slightly and then use the self-propel to pivot. it’s super easy.

However, if you feel physically strong and are confident you can handle the weight of your mower with ease, you should be fine with a push mower. just check the weight of the mower before you buy it to make sure you think it’s manageable.

your budget

Are you looking to stretch your money as far as possible or is money no object? a push mower is by far the most economical option. You can get a push lawn mower for as little as $60. Corded electric lawn mowers can also be had for just over $100. so if price is the number one factor for you, go for a walk-behind mower.

But if you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you’re not limited to a certain budget and just want to find the best mower for your particular needs, you can go with either. self-propelled mowers are generally much more expensive, given that it is essentially an added feature.

my recommendations on when to use a walk-behind or self-propelled mower

I’m going to end this article by describing the type of lawn mower I would personally choose in a variety of different situations. now you by no means have to take my word for it as gospel. These are just observations I have made over the years and through personal experience.

good luck! I hope my insights will help you make a more informed decision and choose a lawnmower that will make your lawn mowing experience pleasurable instead of excruciating.

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