HealthyHandyman is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Self-Propelled vs Push Mower: How Do You Choose?

Last Updated on May 6, 2020

Self-Propelled vs. Push Mower

You’ve made the decision to buy a lawnmower, though you had no idea there were so many choices. You’ve narrowed it down to either a self-propelled or a push mower and now want to know which one to choose.

This article will give you all the information you need to know about each mower so you can choose the one that suits your lawn maintenance style.

We will go over the differences between the two mowers, as well as their pros and cons, so you will be able to make an informed decision.

Buying a new lawnmower can actually be a pleasant experience. Once you’ve done the research, you will be confident in your ability to purchase the right lawnmower for you and your yard.

Let’s discuss the difference between a push mower and a self-propelled mower.

Push Mower

A push lawn mower

A push lawnmower.

A push mower is just what the name suggests: You push it to make it go. The motor only spins the blade, and it’s not going anywhere unless you give it the old heave-ho. They are lighter overall and less expensive than self-propelled mowers.

Push mowers give you more control when mowing and allow you to easily maneuver around objects and even manually pull it back to reverse without having to turn off a self-propulsion mechanism.

Keep in mind that if you don’t need to mow often and/or it doesn’t take a long time to do, it’s probably not worth spending too much money on a mowing machine. Also, if you will need to frequently lift your mower onto a trailer or into a truck bed, the weight of a push mower will make this task easier.

Push mowers are great for people who want to get a little more exercise into their day and don’t mind the extra physical strain. They’re good for small, flat yards and are fairly simple in their construction, with not many extras to have to figure out. If simple is your game, the push mower could be your best friend when it comes to yard work.

Nevertheless, if you aren’t fit or have health issues, the push mower may be too much to manage, since they require a certain amount of physical effort to operate.

Pros
  • Simple
  • Less expensive
  • Lighter
Cons
  • More effort to mow

Self-Propelled Mower

self-propelled lawn mower

A self-propelled lawnmower.

This type of mower has a transmission that rotates the wheels, so it will essentially move on its own once started. There are two types of self-propelled mowers: front drive and rear drive. Let’s discuss the two before moving on.

Front-drive: The power goes to the front wheels, which will also be able to swivel and allow 180-degree turns. You can maneuver around obstacles in your yard and turn sharp corners. It works best for smaller yards that are flat. It is also less expensive than rear-drive models.

Rear-drive: The back wheels receive the power on this type of self-propelled mower, which gives it more traction. The front wheels are stationary, allowing you to use the mower on hills and uneven terrain with more ease. Rear-drive mowers are more expensive and do not turn as well compared to the front-drive versions.

If you have uneven terrain with small hills, the self-propelled function will make light work of your yard. There is a misconception that self-propelled mowers will run away from you if you can’t keep up or if you stumble. In reality, there is a release bar (the bail), and when you let go of this bar, the mower will stop.

These weigh more than push mowers, but if you need to haul it to different areas, you can always use a ramp to load and unload this mower onto a trailer or truck.

You also have the option of getting a self-propelled mower that can go up to 4.2 miles per hour. If you prefer to run while mowing, this may be a good fit for you. But most mowers have variable speeds, so you can adjust it to what’s comfortable for you.

Self-propelled mowers typically cost twice as much as regular push mowers. This is because they require more parts and components to run, which means more items that could break and need to be fixed. Although they are nice when mowing on an incline, sometimes they struggle to gain traction on hills that are too steep.

Pros
  • Less effort to mow
  • Variable speed
  • Good for larger yards
  • Options available for different terrain
Cons
  • More parts that could fail
  • Heavier
  • Expensive

Conclusion

There is much to factor in when deciding between a push or self-propelled lawnmower. You need to consider the terrain and size of your lawn, how fit you are, and your budget.

Both mowers will require regular maintenance and cleaning, and both have options of gas, electric, or corded power. Once you decide on a push or a self-propelled mower, then you can then figure out what options you prefer with that particular mower. The longevity of the machine is important, so with either model, you’ll want to pick a brand that is well made and will last for many years.

Push mowers are great for smaller yards and for people who wish to keep the mower simpler and who are on a budget. Self-propelled mowers are a good choice if you don’t want too much physical strain and have a larger yard with moderate slopes or hills.

Mowing the yard isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s a chore that has to be done regularly. It can be made easier if you choose a lawnmower that fits your lawn and your ability. And you never know, you may even start to look forward to mowing the lawn once you have purchased your new machine.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!