Push Mowers Or Self-Propelled Mowers: Which Is Best For Your Garden?

If you’re looking for a new lawnmower to mow your garden, you might be wondering whether a push mower or self-propelled mower is better for you.

These are the two main types of lawnmowers and they both have their advantages.

Push Mowers or Self-Propelled Mowers Which Is Best For Your Garden

In this article, we’ll look at push mowers and self-propelled mowers.

What Are Push Mowers And Self-Propelled Mowers?

Before we can discuss the two different types of lawnmowers, their advantages and disadvantages, we should first define exactly what these two types of lawnmowers are. There isn’t just a single push mower or self-propelled mower so we should also look into and identify these different variations as well.

What Are Push Mowers?

Push mowers can be easily defined as being any kind of lawnmower that you need to stand behind and push for it to move.

When many people think of push mowers they might think of old and rusty reel mowers that don’t move very smoothly but there are several more types of push mowers than this. 

Push lawnmowers have come a long way since the first models became popular so let’s look at the different push mowers that are on the market today (You might want to check out Ways To Dispose Of Your Lawnmower).

Manual Reel Push Mowers

These are the stereotypical push mowers that were commonly seen in the hands of TV and movie father’s as they mowed their perfect lawns.

They’re completely manual and don’t have any kind of motor or engine to power them. 

Instead, there is just a cylinder that rotates as it’s pushed.

The cylinder has a series of blades that rotate with the cylinder and come into contact with the grass.

These are the simplest type of lawnmower you can buy and this is usually reflected in their low prices.

Manual reel push mowers are some of the cheapest lawn mowers you can buy.

Electric Push Mowers

If you want a push mower that is level above the manual reel push mowers, then an electric push mower is the best choice.

They’re still lightweight but they have more force behind them.

Although they’re electric mowers, you can usually choose between models that are corded and need to be plugged into a power supply at all times, and others that are cordless and chargeable.

The cutting system on electric push mowers consists of a rotary cutting blade instead of the cylindrical blades found on manual reel push mowers.

Gas Push Mowers

Of the three main types of push mowers, those powered by gas are the most powerful.

This also means that they’re heavier than either manual reel push mowers or electric push mowers so you will need a little more muscle to get them going.

Gas push mowers are typically the most expensive of the three types of mowers also.

As these mowers are the most powerful, they’re the best choice for tough lawns.

If your lawn is large and is seeded with longer and thicker grass, you might need the power of a gas mower to get through it regularly.

As you can see, the main differences between the three different types of push mowers is their power supply.

Manual reel push mowers rely purely on the person pushing it, whereas the other two types add in some electric or gas sources to get the job done.

The best of these three lawnmowers for you depends on the size of your lawn, the type of grass, and your budget.

What Are Self Propelled Mowers?

In contrast to push mowers, self propelled mowers don’t require you to push them for them to move.

You can push them if you want to, but they have their own transmission that pushes the lawnmower forward and will turn the wheels.

As the lawnmower moves forward of its own accord, all you need to do is to steer it.

There are also a few different types of self propelled mowers. Let’s break these down.

Front Wheel Drive

Like cars, lawnmowers that are front wheel drive have the front wheels directly linked to the motor and it’s these that turn. 

The self propeller systems of front wheel drive lawnmowers tend to be the simplest of the self propelled mowers so they’re usually the cheapest models.

In general, self propelled lawnmowers that are front wheel drive work best on gardens and lawns that are flat.

Rear Wheel Drive

In contrast to front wheel drive lawnmowers, those with rear wheel drive have their rear wheels powered and it’s these that turn.

Powering the rear wheels is a little more complicated and complex than powering the front wheels, so rear wheel drive lawnmowers tend to be more expensive.

They can be easier to use, however, as they take more of the weight of the machinery and the mower.

This means that they’re also easier to use when mowing hills and gradients than front wheel drive lawnmowers are.

Comparing The Pros Of Both Push Mowers And Self Propelled Mowers

Now that we know the difference between push mowers and self propelled lawnmowers and the different types available, let’s start comparing the two.

We’ll begin by looking at the main advantages of both lawnmowers before examining the main points you should consider before making your choice.

The Pros Of Push Mowers

What Are Push Mowers?

The first set of pros that we will look at are those related to push mowers.

These are generally simpler and more cost effective lawnmowers and their pros reflect this.

Push Mowers Are Lighter Than Self Propelled Mowers

As self propelled mowers need more machinery inside them to power the wheels and make them turn, it means that the average self propelled mower is much heavier than the average push mower.

Even though self propelled mowers move themselves, their weight can still be an issue when it comes to moving them around when switched off or even using them on hills and gradients.

If you want a really lightweight and easy to manoeuvre lawnmower, then manual reel push mowers will be the lightest you’ll find.

More Affordable

Although there are expensive push mowers and inexpensive self propelled lawnmowers, you’ll find that generally speaking, push mowers are affordable.

Mid-price push mowers will be much cheaper than mid-price self propelled mowers, for example.

You can find some reasonably priced gas push mowers but even these are generally more expensive.

This is especially true of corded electric self propelled lawnmowers which can be some of the most expensive lawnmowers on the market.

These are very expensive compared to push mowers and especially when compared to manual reel push mowers.

Zero Or Lower Fuel Costs

Something else to consider when it comes to the cost of the lawnmower is how much it will cost to run.

No matter what type of push mower you opt for, it will almost always be cheaper to run than a self propelled lanwmower will be.

Manual reel push lawnmowers have no fuel costs at all as they rely purely on the strength of the person pushing it.

Electric push lawnmowers are usually cheaper to run than electric self propelled lawnmowers and there are two reasons for this.

The first is the push mowers are lighter in weight, so they require less power to get them moving.

The second reason is that self propelled lawnmowers use power not only to control the blades but to also push the mower, so this consumes more energy.

In general, self propelled lawnmowers that have batteries or use gas are cheaper on fuel than the corded electric ones, but even these have higher fuel costs than push mowers.

Less Chance Of Breakdowns

As we said earlier when we discussed the weight of the two types of lawnmowers, self propelled mowers have more machinery in them as this is needed to make the wheels move.

The machinery, parts, and components something has, the higher the chances of it breaking down and is definitely the case with lawnmowers.

Push mowers are relatively simple machines in comparison to self propelled lawnmowers and although they can break down, it’s less likely to happen.

If your push mower does break down, the repairs will often be easier and cheaper than the repairs needed for a self propelled lawnmower, too.

The Pros Of Self Propelled Mowers

Now that we’ve considered the advantages of choosing a push mower, let’s look at the advantages of self propelled mowers.

Easier To Push Makes Them Easier On Your Body

Pushing a lawnmower can be very tiring.

You need to take the full weight of the mower and push it along and this can become very tiring and put a lot of pressure and strain on your body. 

However, a self propelled mower takes this strain away from you.

You’ll still need to use some power and strength to turn your lawnmower, but just mowing in straight lines is so much easier with a self propelled lawnmower.

Quicker And Easier To Mow Large Areas

If you have a large lawn to mow, using a push mower can take forever.

Manual reel push mowers are especially slow and heavy going and the simple task of mowing your lawn could take most of your afternoon.

Self propelled lawnmowers are much faster.

You can easily get your lawn mowed in a much shorter period of time and it’s not unheard of for a self propelled lawnmower to do the job in half the time of a push mower.

If you have a large lawn, this can be the difference between spending all day at the task or just having a couple of pleasant hours outside. 

Makes Slopes And Gradients Easier

Although they’re often lighter, pushing a push mower up some hills and gradients can be a tough job.

This is especially the case if you have a gas powered push mower which can be quite  heavy when compared to manual reel push mowers.

The last thing you need on a hot and humid day is to push a lawnmower over some uneven slopes!

Self propelled lawnmowers make this job so much easier.

Instead of you needing to muscle your lawnmower up hills the lawnmower will take most of the strain and will make those tough gradients so much easier to handle.

Factors To Consider Before Making Your Decision

As we’ve just learned, both push mowers and self propelled lawnmowers have their own advantages.

Choosing the best one for you will depend on several factors. Before you make your decision, you should consider the following points.

How Big Is Your Garden?

The first point you should consider is how big your garden is and how much grass you need to mow.

Lawns can greatly differ in size from palatial estates to a small patch of grass that’s less than a metre square. No matter the size of your lawn, however, it will need to be mowed.

If your lawn is very small, then a self propelled lawnmower will be unnecessary.

With only a small patch of grass to mow, you won’t really feel the benefits that a self propelled lawnmower gives you and you won’t really get your money’s worth out of the additional cost.

You can easily maintain a small lawn with a push mower just as easily as you can with a self propelled mower (Check out The Smallest Lawn Mowers In The World).

For larger lawns, however, you might want to consider a self propelled lawn mower (You might want to check out Everything You Need To Know About Brushless Lawn Mowers).

In these cases, they’ll be quicker and less tiring to use.

If you have the budget for a self propelled lawn mower, they can make mowing a larger lawn much easier.

What Terrain Do You Have?

You also need to consider what kind of terrain your lawn is spread over.

If you’re lucky, your garden will be a perfectly flat space but for many of us, our gardens are uneven and can have slopes, hills, and gradients that need to be mowed.

If you do have a lawn that is on a gradient, you might want to consider a self propelled lawnmower.

Often, simply walking up a hill can be tiring, now imagine trying to push a heavy lawnmower up a hill, too!

Self propelled lawnmowers make hills and gradients so much easier and you should definitely consider buying one if your lawn isn’t flat.

However, if your garden is flat and level then a push mower should be fine.

Even some sloped gardens will probably be fine with some push mowers, especially electric push mowers as they’re light enough that pushing them up light gradients shouldn’t be too difficult.

With self propelled lawnmowers, we would recommend rear wheel drive mowers for slopes.

Front wheel drive lawnmowers can sometimes struggle with hills due to how the weight is distributed.

What Is Your Budget?

One final consideration is your budget. If you’re working on a low budget, then a push mower might be the only real choice available to you.

If you’re able to spend more money on a lawnmower, then you might want to consider a self propelled lawnmower if they fit your other needs.

Remember that you will also have to pay more in fuel costs and potentially in repairs.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we took an in-depth look at push mowers and self propelled mowers and which you should buy.

Brian Freis