Walk-behind mowers are perfect for homeowners who have ¾ of an acre or less to mow. But with so many options to choose from—deck width, gas or electric, cord or cordless, mulching or bag capture for clippings—the whole purchasing saga can be confusing. To help cut through (forgive the pun) all the mower double-talk, here are three key things to focus on that will have narrow your choices quickly to get the right mower in your hands just in time for summer cutting.
This powerhouse features a 16-inch cutting deck for easy maneuvering in tight spots.
The size of your yard will really drive the kind of mower you need. Walk-behind mowers are great for yards that are ¾ of an acre or less in size. Anything larger and you’ll want to consider a rider mower. The “deck” is the actual width of the swath of grass the mower will make. The smaller the yard, the narrower the deck can be, however, most owners will want a deck that’s at least 20 inches wide to cut down on the time it takes to mow. If your yard is small and flat, a walk-behind mower that you push will be fine, so long as you’re in relatively good physical shape. If your yard is hilly and pushes that ¾-acre size limit, however, definitely consider a self-propelled model.
Gas or Electric
This electric model features a 21-inch cutting deck and will run up to 45 minutes on a single charge.
Gas and electric models both have their pluses. Gas-powered models will definitely run for long periods of time. They also offer more power. Depending on how thick your grass is, how large your yard is, and whether it’s hilly, a gas-powered model may be a good choice. Electric models (either corded or cordless models) are quieter, they generally take far less maintenance, and you don’t need to keep messy gas cans around. They’re cleaner to operate (no noxious fumes), but running times are limited. If you have a smaller yard (less than a ¼ acre), however, an electric model is worth considering.
This model is notable for its side discharge, rear discharge, and mulching capabilities.
Walk-behind mowers discharge cut grass in three ways—out the side, which flings the clippings back out onto the lawn; out the back, which collects the clippings in a bag; and via mulching mode, which grinds the clippings up into fine pieces and redistributes them down into the lawn where they break down and release valuable nutrients back into the soil. Mulching mowers are nice because they eliminate having to bag clippings while strengthening the soil. If you have lots of trees or obstacles in your yard to maneuver around, avoid mowers that have a side bag that can hamper maneuverability.