Should You Get a Push Mower This Year?

Thinking of buying a push mower? Here's an overview of options, cost and features.

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For millions of Americans, the sunshine and outdoor fun of summertime also brings the obligation of lawn mowing. If you’re in the market for a lawn mower and want to explore your options, here’s what you need to know about push mowers. Read on to see if a push mower is the right choice for you and your lawn.

What Is a Push Mower?

A push mower is any lawn mower designed to be controlled and propelled by someone on foot. With a small cutting base and precision control, the push mower is a go-to classic used by pros and weekend warriors alike.

Types of Push Mowers

Manual push mowers feature a double helix of blades (commonly called a “reel“) powered entirely by the forward motion of the user. There’s no need for gasoline, an electrical cord or battery and repairs are minimal. But the blades dull quickly. And, as the most physically demanding lawn mower, they’re only suited for the smallest of yards, or homeowners who want to get in a workout and mow the grass at the same time.

Gas-powered push mowers are the most common type in a residential setting. Driven by a small engine fueled by either gasoline or a gas/oil mixture, these mowers take the bulk of the grunt work off the user’s hands.

Electric push mowers come in two main varieties. Corded push mowers plug into an exterior outlet, while cordless push mowers use batteries to give you freedom from the outlet. Corded mowers are more affordable, but the cord limits the size and shape of yards where they can be used.

Top Push Mower Brands

There are lots of push mower brands on the market. The most popular and dependable brands generally have an existing connection to lawn maintenance or expertise in small motor manufacturing.

Some of these top lawn mower brands include: Husqvarna, Honda, Toro, Lawn-Boy, Yard Machines, Cub Cadet and Snapper.

Push Mower Features

When selecting a mower, consider features that make the pushing easier and expand the number of tasks you can perform. Accessories for mulching or bagging grass clippings, for example, can make yard clean-up easier.

Power Assist (sometimes called self-propelled) is a feature that uses some of the engine’s power to drive the wheels, so you don’t have to push as hard to move the mower. This is especially useful on larger lawns or when going uphill. Be sure to find a mower with power assist that can easily be disengaged, because you’ll likely be going down those hills as well!

If you’re considering a gas-powered mower but hate yanking on a starter cord, look for a model with an electric starter. You’ll appreciate the ease of starting the engine with the flick of a switch or push of a button.

Push Mower Buying Considerations and Costs

Ease of use and the makeup of your lawn should be primary considerations in choosing a mower. Some lawns are more physically taxing to mow, with steep hills, small nooks and crannies or deeply ingrained divots. If that describes your lawn, a manual push mower probably isn’t for you.

While a manual push mower can cost as little as $75, an average gas or electric push mower will cost at least $125, with most ranging from $300 to $600 depending on size, features and power source. Push mowers with advanced features such as extra-wide cutting bases or power assist can retail for $1,000 or more. Whatever features you need, it’s a good idea to shop around to find a mower that matches your lawn and budget.

Push Mower Maintenance and Repair Considerations

As a rule of thumb, the more complex the mower, the more potential maintenance and repair issues arise. All mowers require seasonal maintenance, things like blade sharpening or replacement and cleaning out clogged grass from axles. Gas-powered mowers need tuneups, oil changes, spark plugs and air filters as well as occasional parts replacement. Off-season storage is worth consideration as well. Some mowers fold up for easy storage instead of taking up valuable floor space in the garage.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.