The Best Lawn Mowers Under $400
The market for cheap lawn mowers is awash in options costing $400 or less, from manual reel mowers to electric lawn mowers to gas-powered models. Upmarket mowers are graced with more features and power, but our scrutiny of expert reviews, as well as user reviews posted at home-improvement and other websites, showed that thrifty consumers who mow regularly can make do with less without sacrificing much in the way of cutting prowess, user friendliness, or durability. Manual reel mowers and corded or cordless electric mowers are best suited for smaller, relatively flat lawns up to one-quarter of an acre. For slightly larger yards of up to an acre — or for hacking cleanly through overgrown or wet grass in one pass — gas-powered push mowers are the better option for those looking for an effective cheap lawn mower. Homeowners with even more ground to cover or yards with lots of hills may want to spring for a self-propelled push mower (we've reviewed one here), or consider a riding lawn mower instead.
Prices and availability are subject to change.
Our Top Pick
GreenWorks 25022 Review
- 20-inch blade cuts relatively wide swath compared to many inexpensive electric mowers.
- 7 height adjustments, ranging from 1.5 to 3.75 inches.
- Three cutting options: side discharge, rear bag or mulch.
- Solid build, with steel deck and large front and rear wheels.
- Handle folds for storage.
- Bag prone to "leaking" grass clippings, some owners complain.
- Detaching, emptying clipping bag can be challenging for users.
- Users say cord holder is too small and flimsy to handle a heavier extension cord. (Cord not included.)
Takeaway: Professional testers don't often review or recommend electric mowers, preferring to focus on more powerful (and pricey) gas models. But the 12-amp GreenWorks 25022 is an exception, and that cheap lawn mower garners nods at a handful of pro sites and top billing at BestReviews and Your Best Digs, where it scores points with testers for affordability, ease of use, and overall efficiency. Like some other GreenWorks lawn mowers, it also earns plenty of enthusiastic owner feedback, including solid 4- and 5-star ratings from over 80% of the more than 3,700 Amazon customers who've reviewed it. Like all corded electric mowers, managing limited cord reach and keeping the cord out of the way while mowing is a challenge, beyond that, however, owners agree that this Greenworks lawn mower has got more than enough power to handle typical urban and smaller suburban lawns. Even better, it's covered by a fairly generous four-year warranty.
- Among the least expensive lawn mowers on the market.
- Detachable grass catcher included.
- Very lightweight and easy handling, at just 29 pounds.
- Handle folds for storage.
- Maximum mowing height is just 2.5 inches, with only three cutting positions.
- 14-inch cutting path is relatively narrow.
- Can bog down with tall and/or wet grass.
- Not intended for mulching.
- Grass chute for bagless mowing costs extra.
Takeaway: For smaller properties and smaller budgets, the Sun Joe Mow Joe (MJ401E) is a cheap lawn mower that delivers big on value. The demure size and limited cutting path do mean it'll take longer to finish job than it would with a bigger mower, and it might not be quite powerful enough to plow through wet or overgrown grass, but the majority of users say this 12-amp corded electric mower meets or even exceeds, expectations. (It also comes in four colors now, including black, red, and blue, though you'll pay a little more for those.) Owners like the fact that it's incredibly simple to set up, light enough to lift with ease, and fairly easy to maneuver for a plug-in, particularly in tight spaces. Clean up is relatively simple, too, since the design of the hard-topped grass bag allows it to be easily removed for emptying — something users should be prepared to do frequently, as it only holds 10.6 gallons of clippings, about the capacity of a small kitchen trash can. Warranty coverage extends two years. If you like the features of the MJ401E but want to ditch the tether, the Sun Joe MJ401C (Est. $166) is the same, but cordless.
Ryobi RY40180 Review
- 20-inch blade.
- 7 height adjustments, from 1.5 to 4 inches.
- Bags, mulches, and can be equipped for side discharge.
- Can be stored vertically.
- Longer-than-average 5-year warranty, plus 90-day return option.
- Takes 3.5 hours or longer to charge battery.
- Some complaints of short run times and failing batteries.
- A few owners say their mowers shut down intermittently, requiring frequent restarts.
- Side discharge chute costs extra.
Takeaway: If you want to go electric but don't want to fuss with a plug, this battery-powered Ryobi is a solid alternative to pricier cordless models. While a few users say they've had to make second passes over stubborn patches, many claim the machine's ability to tackle tall grass and automatically ramp up power to deal with denser growth is nothing short of impressive. This Ryobi mower is also praised for its easy adjustment, compact storage, and a noise-level that's so low that some claim mowing can be done even in the morning without disturbing neighbors. Perhaps the biggest drawbacks are the exceedingly long charge times required and rather limited battery life. The manufacturer claims 40 minutes of run time on a full charge — sufficient for a half-acre yard — but experts and many users suggest that run times closer to 30 minutes, and a quarter-acre of mowing power, would be a more realistic. estimate. On the plus side, the Ryobi RY40180's lithium-ion battery (5.0Ah) is compatible with other 40-volt Ryobi rechargeable lawn and garden gear, so users who own one of these tools can simply swap out power packs in a pinch.
Ego LM2101 Review
- 21-inch cutting patch is relatively wide.
- 3 cutting functions: side discharge, rear bagging, and mulching.
- 6 height adjustments, ranging from 1.5 to 4 inches.
- Only takes about 40 minutes to fully charge the battery.
- 45-minute run time; can last up to 60 minutes, depending on lawn.
- Can be stored vertically.
- 5-year warranty.
- On the pricier side for a push mower.
- Struggles with wet and overgrown grass, some owners complain.
- Several users say suction is not strong enough to pick up leaves or adequately clear clippings.
- Side-discharge chute is free, but must be requested from company.
- Ego's customer support and repair services are a source of frustration for many.
Takeaway: If you’re willing to pay a bit more for a cordless mower, the Ego LM2101 is a top choice. In professional tests, its cutting performance measures up well against all but the priciest gas mowers, and both Top Ten Reviews and Wirecutter have previously named it a best pick among electric mowers. Users are equally enthusiastic, giving this easy-handling Ego mower some of the highest ratings of any model in our lineup. It's the fast recharge time, in particular, that sets this powerful 56-volt mower apart from less-expensive options, and the 5.0Ah lithium-ion battery has got enough juice, according to reviews, to easily handle a lawn of half an acre. Though many do say this cordless unit can't match a gas mower when it comes to vacuuming up leaves, the majority are more than happy to deal with a little more debris in favor of fumeless yard maintenance that doesn't require mucking about with fuel or complicated upkeep. Another plus, the battery is compatible with other Ego power tools. (Note that Ego sells two versions of this mower: one with a battery and charger included, one without.)
Toro Recycler SmartStow 21329 Review
- 22-inch cutting path is as wide as you'll find on a push mower.
- 9 height adjustments, from 1 to 4 inches.
- Briggs & Stratton engine never needs oil changed, just top offs.
- Comes "3-in-1 ready," for bagging, mulching, or side discharge.
- Only gas model that can be stored vertically.
- 3-year starting guarantee.
- Recoil, rather than electric ignition.
- Noisier than some similar mowers, according to tests.
- At 69 pounds, some users find it a bit heavy for a push mower.
Takeaway: The Toro SmartStow delivers on both performance and features, users say. Its reliable 150cc Briggs & Stratton engine has got enough power to tame tough lawns — even damp, overgrown turfs — and feedback suggests it does equally well at mulching, too. The fact that it can be stored upright like an electric mower is also a big selling point for many, and the washout port for easier clean ups is another nice touch. Although not self-propelled, it handles fairly well with its large, 11-inch rear wheels and should be suitable for relatively flat yards of up to a half acre. It comes with a 3-year starting guarantee in addition to a 2-year full-coverage warranty; but, as with all gas mowers, be sure to pay attention to fuel recommendations to keep that guarantee in force.
Troy-Bilt TB110 Review
- 21-inch blade.
- Quality Briggs & Stratton engine.
- 6 height adjustments from 1.25 to 3.75 inches.
- Comes fully assembled; users say set up is a cinch.
- Recoil, not electric ignition.
- Rear bagging performance not as good as side discharge or mulching.
Takeaway: Among lower-priced gas push mowers, experts say the Troy-Bilt TB110 is a good choice for homeowners on a budget. It has a lot of pluses, including an 140cc overhead valve engine by Briggs & Stratton, as opposed to the cheaper generic engines found in many inexpensive mowers, and owners say performance is good whether mowing or mulching. Handling also gets a thumbs-up, and the large rear wheels make negotiating uneven ground easier. As for shortcomings, there are complaints that the bagger tends to let stray clippings fly free and can be a hassle to fully empty, and some users are disappointed by the lack of an actual side discharge opening on this mower. Overall, however, this Troy-Bilt mower earns very solid reviews for a relatively cheap model. The Troy-Bilt TB110 carries a two-year limited warranty.
Honda HRR216VKA Review
- 21-inch cutting patch is relatively wide for a push mower.
- Honda engines have an excellent reliability record.
- 6 height adjustments, ranging from 1.125 to 4 inches.
- Variable speeds, up to 4 miles per hour.
- Mulches, bags, and discharges, easily switching between modes with simple knob adjustment.
- Twin-blade system for finer clippings.
- Handle folds easily for storage.
- Relatively noisy, according to professional tests.
- Ignition is recoil, not electric, and a few owners say it can be hard to start.
- Discharges grass to the rear rather than the side, which some users dislike.
- Some find variable speed thumb controls tricky to manage.
Takeaway: The Honda brand is the gold standard among gas mowers, and the Honda HRR216VKA is the least expensive self-propelled model the company makes. Experts consider it an excellent value, and it earns very solid scores across the board from consumers — including the more than 4,000 owners who offer feedback on home-improvement retailer Home Depot's website. In pro tests, this variable-speed self-propelled mower does exceptionally well at mulching leaves and lawn debris, and it can cut through grass smoothly and evenly in one pass, thanks to its uniquely designed blades and a powerful 160cc engine. It's suitable for yards of up to half an acre, and most owners say it can handle small to moderate hills with ease, although the self-propelled front wheels can occasionally slip and skid on steeper or slick surfaces. Honda offers a three-year "top to bottom" warranty on this mower.
- 18-inch blades are relatively wide for this type of mower.
- 8 height adjustments, from 1 to 4 inches.
- Grass chute can be reversed to send clippings forward.
- Blades stay sharp longer than other reel mowers, according to reviewers.
- Hassle-free: no cord, no gas, no battery.
- May struggle in tall or thick grass.
- Weighs 52 pounds and requires elbow grease to push.
- Grass catcher costs extra.
- Comparatively expensive for a reel mower.
Takeaway: For homeowners with small yards looking for a simple yet sturdy mower that can stand the test of time, the Fiskars StaySharp Max reel mower is well worth considering. Prior iterations of this manual push mower have been popular with owners and experts alike, and current user feedback indicates this model is just as good. It's got more level adjustments and a higher maximum height than typical reel mowers, and the build quality is near bullet-proof. True, the trade-off is that it's bulkier and can be a little harder to maneuver in tight areas than similar mowers, and it's more expensive, too. Still, you get what you pay for, and users say this Fiskars mower makes short work of tough grass, delivering a smooth, clean cut: "like a hot knife through butter," according to more than one reviewer. Reel mowers work best on lower grass, however, so overgrown lawns and taller weeds can be a challenge. Feedback suggests that more frequent mowing makes for best results. This mower carries a three-year warranty.
More From Cheapism
Prepared Family Meals at Costco
Costcos contain plenty for feeding starving family and friends, from...
7 Quick and Cheap Costco Meals
Too tired to cook? You barely have to lift a finger to prepare these seven quick, budget-friendly Costco meals.
Your Birth Year's Minimum Wage
The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, not even...
Costco Appetizers and Party Foods
If you're stressing about how to feed your holiday guests, let this...