Best Cheap Lawn Mowers
Published on By Elizabeth Sheer
Black & Decker LM175 Review
(From $159.00 Best)
This corded electric mower can conquer a small lawn on the cheap and handles well, according to reviews. For a more powerful motor and mulching capability, look for the MM275 (starting at $174).
Electric is the way to mow, judging by Black & Decker LM175 reviews. Although users have to get used to dealing with the power cord -- that is, keeping it out of the mower's path -- they say the advantages of this electric mower far outweigh any nuisance. On sites such as Home Depot, consumers note that they never have a problem starting the 6.5-amp motor. Compared with a gasoline engine, it's quiet, clean, efficient, and emissions-free.
At only 35 pounds, the Black & Decker LM175 (starting at $159, Amazon) is easy to push around the yard, according to reviews, which is a good thing, because you need one hand to push the mower and the other to maneuver the cord. Many reviewers liken the experience to vacuuming the yard. There is no extension cord included, so that's an extra expense. Look for a 14- or 16-gauge cord that will reach all corners of the yard from an outdoor electrical outlet. The manufacturer recommends a radius of up to 100 feet.
The Black & Decker LM175 has six cutting heights, which range from 1 inch to 3.5 inches and are easily changed at the handle. Reviewers say this model powers through grass, even tall grass, as long as they use a high setting the first time and then go over it at a lower height. On Amazon, a reviewer with thick St. Augustine grass reports that this electric mower has no problem getting through it. As one consumer puts it in a review on the Walmart website, the Black & Decker LM175 makes an ideal tool for mowing a typical suburban lawn, but not so much for rehabilitating a derelict lot.
The cutting deck is 18 inches wide and made of a polymer resin, so it won't rust. The only grass disposal option is side discharge. Owners lament that a bag once sold separately has been discontinued; there is also no way to produce mulch. The side discharge seems to work well, however, and there are few reports of clumping. Consumers interested in the mulching option should look to the Black & Decker MM275 (starting at $174), which also has a more powerful 9-amp motor.
Countless reviews across multiple sites say the Black & Decker LM175 is easy to put together, even with sketchy diagrams and instructions. It comes with a two-year warranty, and several users report that it has lasted for years with proper maintenance.
Where to buy
Cub Cadet SC100 Review
(From $250.00 Best)
This gas-powered push mower starts on the first pull, cuts grass evenly, and is easy to maneuver, users say. It offers a wide selection of cutting heights and the option of bagging or mulching.
The gas-powered Cub Cadet SC100 (starting at $250, Home Depot) seems almost universally admired by users and consumer product experts who have put the mower through its paces. In Cub Cadet SC100 reviews, they note how easily the 159 cc engine starts. No priming is needed, and the first pull does the trick. At 63 pounds, the Cub Cadet SC100 is lightweight for a gas lawn mower. Reviewers say it takes very little effort to push, even on uneven terrain, although some warn on the Home Depot website that thick grass can be harder to get through.
The Cub Cadet SC100 seems to have no problem with tall grass. In reviews, consumers say it provides a nice, even cut and doesn't get bogged down. They've found it very easy to adjust the cutting height using a lever on the handle, with six settings from 1.5 to 3.75 inches. The handle itself can be set to three different heights.
This is a three-in-one machine capable of bagging, mulching, or discharging grass out to the side. Reviewers say the latter two options for grass disposal work very well, with no clogging. There are a couple of complaints about the bagging option, though, among many positive comments posted on the retail and review site Mowers Direct. Users mention that grass flies out at the spot where the bag is attached, or leaves get caught in the opening.
The 21-inch steel cutting deck incorporates a deck-washing system, which lets users attach a hose to rinse grass clippings off the blades. The Cub Cadet SC100 is CARB-compliant for use in California, which tightly regulates emissions, and comes with a three-year limited warranty.
Where to buy
Worx WG782 Review
(From $229.00 Good)
Lighter and less expensive than most cordless electric mowers, this model is capable of mowing a small yard on a single charge. The narrow cutting deck makes it easy to navigate tight spaces.
With a 14-inch cutting deck and a weight of only 32 pounds, the electric Worx WG782 (starting at $229, Amazon) is not a powerful, heavy-duty lawn mower. For many users, though, that's part of the draw. People who have relatively small yards or very little room between landscaping features appreciate the narrow cutting deck. In Worx WG782 reviews on the Home Depot website, users express surprise at how well the mower works considering its small size.
This cordless electric mower is lighter and cheaper than most other battery-powered models. The manufacturer claims that the removable 24-volt battery will last through about a quarter of an acre of mowing before it needs charging, which takes about four to five hours. On the Walmart website, several reviewers mention that the battery lasts longer than they thought it would, and constant recharging proves unnecessary. The Worx WG782 is so easy to push and turn, users say, that mowing the lawn is like taking a walk.
The Worx WG782 offers less precision than the other models we researched, with three cutting heights ranging from 2 to 3.5 inches. Some reviewers mention that they would have liked a setting lower than 2 inches. This is a three-in-one mower with the option to mulch, collect cut grass in an included bag, or discharge grass clippings from the rear. The bag that comes with this relatively small mower is likewise on the small size, at 0.85 bushels. The upside, one reviewer points out, is that it's easier to dump the grass clippings, even if you have to do it more often. The handle and grass bag collapse and fold down on top of the mower for storage.
This cordless electric lawn mower has two modes of operation: "quiet," for keeping the noise to a minimum, and "power," which provides a boost in more difficult situations. The quiet setting is quiet enough that a reviewer says a neighbor heard nothing while she was using it. According to another review on the Home Depot site, one user who thought the mower looked like a kiddie toy was impressed it had the power to cut through weeds and mulch any pine cones or twigs that were lying around.
For many consumers, the Worx WG782 is an easy-to-use alternative to a heavy, noisy, high-maintenance gas mower. It excels at navigating tight spots in a small yard or doing detail work after a large lawn has been cut with a riding mower. The Worx WG782 comes with a two-year warranty.
Where to buy
Husqvarna 7021P Review
(From $290.00 Good)
Double ball bearing wheels help make this mower easy to push and the Honda engine starts with no problem. A three-in-one design allows side ejection, mulching, or collection in a large, included bag.
Husqvarna 7021P reviews tout this model's 160 cc Honda engine. Users say it's so quiet they can have a conversation while mowing, and many consider the brand highly dependable. Reviews posted on the Ace Hardware website say the mower always starts on the first pull, with no choking or priming.
The Husqvarna 7021P (starting at $290, Amazon) boasts double ball bearing wheels that help its 66 pounds roll easily. A consumer posting on the retail and review site Mowers Direct marvels that it doesn't seem like you have to push this lawn mower at all. Even those who are used to self-propelled mowers don't consider it difficult to get this machine rolling. It makes turns and progresses up inclines with relative ease. Reviewers praise the smooth cut, even in thick grass. Tough spots may require two passes, however.
The Husqvarna 7021P is intended for yards smaller than half an acre, although some users have had success using it on larger yards. The steel deck measures 21 inches. The cutting height can be adjusted to nine different positions ranging from 1.25 to 3.42 inches. The handle is also adjustable (a 6-foot-3 reviewer found it perfectly comfortable on the highest setting) and folds for storage.
The Husqvarna 7021P is a three-in-one mower that comes with a bag and a mulching kit. We did see some complaints that the mulching function leaves some of the grass, particularly tall grass, in clumps. One review on Amazon notes that the side-discharge door doesn't seem to seal properly, so a bit of grass escapes out that way in mulching mode.
In several Amazon reviews, consumers mention that they have been using this mower for years with no major issues. There is a three-year warranty for residential use. For California residents who need a mower that meets emissions standards, the Husqvarna 7021P is CARB compliant.
Murray M22500 Review
(From $172.00 Think Twice)
This self-propelled gas mower works perfectly well, reviewers say, until it doesn't. We saw too many reports of pieces breaking off and the mower ceasing to function. It can also be difficult to start.
The Murray M22500 has an appealing price for a gas lawn mower (starting at $172), but online feedback is divided. Reviewers who are fond of this mower say it's easy to put together and push, and it cuts pretty well. On the other hand, it's made mostly of plastic that doesn't seem to stand up to everyday use. According to Murray M22500 reviews on the Walmart website, the oil and/or gas cap is the first piece to break off. Other problem areas: the pull cord and the part of the deck where the engine is mounted.
With a 140 cc Briggs & Stratton engine, this lawn mower does not have a huge amount of power, but for the price, users don't expect much. Murray's Prime 'N Pull E-Z Starting System is supposed to make starting a breeze, and most reviewers appreciate that they don't have to choke or prime the engine. However, several report persistent problems starting up the mower or report that it died after several uses. A few mention that the lawn mower pooped out after hitting a patch of rough (i.e., not pancake-flat) terrain with grass any taller than 4 inches. The high rear wheels, which measure 12 inches compared with 7 inches in the front, are designed to make it easy to maneuver on uneven ground. Some experts, though, say it's easier to handle a lawn mower and tilt it backward to turn around when all four wheels are the same size.
The Murray M22500 has a 22-inch deck and five settings to control the height of the cutting blade. The adjustment must be made on the wheels, whereas the cutting height on other mowers can be adjusted with a single lever on the handle. There are two methods of grass disposal: mulching and side discharge. Users simply put a cap on the cutting deck when they want to mulch the grass and remove it to discharge the grass out the side. No collection bag is included with this mower. There is also no wash-out port or hose attachment for cleaning underneath the deck.
Many reviewers are pleased with the job this mower does on small to medium-size yards -- as long as it starts and keeps working. The Murray M22500 comes with a limited two-year warranty.
Where to buy
If you're in the market for a cheap lawn mower, you've got a variety of options under $300, from manual reel mowers to electric lawn mowers to gas-powered models. Consumers with more ground to cover may want to spring for a riding mower, but there's no need to pay extra for push-button start, finer mulching, or a more robust engine that can cut tall, heavy grass. Thrifty homeowners who keep up with the chore of regular mowing can make do with less and still find a walk-behind mower that meets their needs.
Cheap Lawn Mower Buying Guide
Experts recommend matching your lawn mower to the size and grade of your yard. Reel mowers and electric mowers suit relatively flat areas up to a quarter of an acre (about 11,000 square feet). More powerful gas mowers work well for larger yards, especially those with some ups and downs. A related consideration is how much effort you're prepared to expend. A reel mower requires 100 percent manual power, while a self-propelled gas mower almost pulls the user along.
Our top picks under $300 are the electric Black & Decker LM175 (starting at $159) and the gas-powered Cub Cadet SC100 (starting at $250), followed by the cordless electric Worx WG782 (starting at $229) and the Husqvarna 7021P (starting at $290), another gas-powered model. The Murray M22500 has an appealing price (starting at $172), but reviews suggest that you may need to spend a little more to get a reliable gas mower.
For consumers interested in a manual reel mower -- that old-fashioned style with a cylindrical blade -- the Fiskars StaySharp Max (starting at $191) incorporates a unique cutting design and ergonomic features. Reel mowers are relatively inexpensive and simple to assemble, maintain, and operate: With no motor to start, simply stand behind and push. Just keep in mind that mowing the lawn will take a lot longer, and heaving a reel mower across a large or hilly lawn can be a bear. If you let the grass grow too long, a reel mower won't be up to the task. It also may not be a good choice for a yard with lots of twigs or debris that could jam the blades.
In general, cheap lawn mowers cost less than top-of-the-line models because they're smaller and offer fewer frills (e.g., no discharge bag or, on gas-powered models, no push-button start). On some, the components simply fall apart and the unit doesn't hold up. We looked to online reviews to verify the performance and durability of our picks.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
What We Looked For
Electric Lawn Mowers.For consumers with small yards, an electric lawn mower is a quiet, lightweight, and environmentally friendly choice. Electric mowers draw power from a cord plugged into an outlet or a rechargeable battery. Corded electric mowers, including the Black & Decker LM175, are generally cheaper than battery-powered mowers. However, they're hampered by the length of the cord. (Some users say they feel as though they're vacuuming the lawn.)
The Worx WG782 is a notable example of a cheap cordless electric lawn mower. Although cordless mowers don't limit range of motion, the charge limits how much grass can be cut at any one time. The batteries on low-cost electric lawn mowers can handle about one-quarter to one-third of an acre on a single charge. Batteries usually last a couple of years before needing replacement, and most models come with the disclaimer that difficult cutting conditions will cause the charge to run down faster.
Cheap electric mowers tend to cut a narrower path than gas-powered models -- usually 18 or 19 inches compared with 21 or 22 inches. The Worx WG782 has only a 14-inch cutting deck, so users must go around the yard a few more times than they would with a bigger model. On the flip side, it's easier to navigate around obstacles such as shrubs, trees, and other landscaping.
Maintenance is minimal with an electric mower. Manufacturers generally recommend recharging before the battery runs dry and keeping the mower (or the battery, if it can be removed) connected to the charger when it's not in use. If you have a corded lawn mower, make sure to unplug it before cleaning under the deck and around the blades. And don't leave an electric lawn mower exposed to rain or snow.
Gas Lawn Mowers.A larger yard calls for a bigger, heavier gas mower with a powerful cutting mechanism and drive system. The cheap gas lawn mowers we researched are push mowers, which require the operator to power the machine forward while the engine turns the blade. Push mowers are best suited to relatively flat yards smaller than half an acre. For yards with an incline or more square footage, consumers may prefer a self-propelled mower. This technology turns the wheels in addition to the blades but typically adds to the cost of the mower.
Most low-cost gas mowers now feature a four-cycle engine that runs on straight 87-octane gas, which is a big advance over the old two-cycle engines, which required a gas-oil mixture. Still, gas-powered mowers require more care and attention than electric mowers. Always use the gas and oil recommended by the manufacturer. Experts suggest draining the gas and following the winterizing directions from the manufacturer. Before the start of the next season, change the oil and the spark plug, and clean or replace the air filter. Cleaning off the built-up dirt and grass immediately after use is also important. The gas mowers we picked have wash-out ports where a hose can be hooked up for cleaning underneath the cutting deck. The Murray M22500 lacks this amenity.
Residents of California must consider regulations on carbon emissions when purchasing a gas lawn mower and generally find a different selection of models to choose from. The recommended gas mowers in this buying guide are CARB compliant; i.e., they meet the requirements of the California Air Resources Board.
Convenient Height Adjustment.Mowing demands a certain amount of precision. Grass that's too short may not withstand drought or excessive heat, and grass that's too long can accumulate thatch that gets in the way of water and fertilizer. Today's Homeowner lists different types of grasses and the heights at which they should be maintained. Experts also recommend that you cut no more than one-third of the lawn's height in a single mowing, so you'll want a lawn mower with multiple height settings.
All the models we selected have adjustable cutting heights up to about 3.5 inches. Reviewers say that changing the blade height takes very little effort -- just a finger to do the adjustment, which in most cases is on the handle. With the Murray M22500, on the other hand, users must bend down to adjust the height on the wheels.
Grass Disposal Options.Lawn mowers differ somewhat in how and how well they handle grass clippings. Most of the mowers on our list are "3-in-1" models, which refers to the number of choices for discharging the cut grass. The three options are ejecting the grass out onto the lawn, collecting it in a bag, or mulching it. Mulched grass is very finely chopped up and left on the lawn to reduce evaporation and add nitrogen back into the soil. This alleviates, to some extent, the need for store-bought fertilizer and makes mulching a desirable feature for frugal consumers. If there's one spot where cheap mowers fall down, though, it's in the mulching. There are some reports online that leaves are not chopped very well and grass clumps when it's a little wet. A heavy bag can also bog down a machine without sufficient power.
On the inexpensive Black & Decker LM175, the only grass disposal option is side discharge. This is fine, say the experts at Mowers Direct, unless the grass gets too long: It could smother the lawn unless you add raking to your chores. For mulching capability and a more powerful motor, look for the slightly more expensive Black & Decker MM275 (starting at $174), which is less widely available.
Lawn Mower Reviews
Expert reviewers from outlets such as Popular Mechanics, Mowers Direct, and Consumer Reports tend to cover more expensive lawn mowers than we do here, particularly in the realm of gas mowers. Even the Fiskars reel mower, highlighted by more than one expert as the top of its class, is pricey for its type. However, on retail sites such as Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart, hundreds of consumers have left feedback on cheaper models.
Both experts and customers point to cutting performance as the most important quality of any lawn mower. Testing by Popular Mechanics has shown that almost any mower will work under ideal conditions, but individual yards are rarely ideal. Maneuverability is key; the easier the chore, the more likely you are to do it (and even enjoy it). For gas mowers, reliable and simple starting is near the top of the list of reviewer concerns, and noise also comes up. Ultimately, the best low-cost models are reliable and relatively trouble-free.
Cutting Performance.Our top picks all merit high grades in lawn mower reviews for cutting cleanly, quickly, and efficiently. Most users say they tackle even weeds and heavy grass perfectly well -- unless it's wet. Owners of electric models and reel mowers report instances where they had to go over the same spot more than once, if the grass was very thick. However, this slight sacrifice in performance doesn't seem to deter those who want to keep weight, noise, and emissions to a minimum. In general, cheap lawn mowers perform best when users keep up with the chore and don't let the grass get too long.
Ease of Use.The mowers we selected present few, if any, issues with handling and maneuverability. Even people who have to push one of these lawn mowers up and down hills have no problem with the weight of the machines. Starting is a concern among users of gas-powered mowers. One big reason the Murray mower missed our cut was that so many people couldn't get it to start. Sometimes this happened after a year, sometimes after a week, sometimes right out of the box. By contrast, innumerable reviews of the Husqvarna 7021P and Cub Cadet SC100 report that the engines start on the first pull.
Noise.Many owners of electric and reel mowers indicate that one of the things they appreciate most about their lawn mowers is the low noise level compared with a typical gas model. What's surprising is the number of people who like the Husqvarna 7021P for the same reason. Reviewers say the Honda engine is quiet enough to talk over without yelling.
Durability.We looked for reviews by consumers who have owned their lawn mowers at least a year and bypassed models with persistent durability issues. This includes the Murray M22500: Too many buyers report that the plastic parts don't last long or the mower simply won't start.
Most of our top picks come with three-year limited warranties. The average lifespan of a lawn mower is about six years, according to Consumer Reports, but can be much longer with proper care. An annual check-up at the start of every mowing season is vital to maintaining an inexpensive mower. Wheels, bolts, belts, and bearings, which can come loose from the vibration of everyday use, should always be checked before you start to mow. And make sure to keep the blades sharp.
Additional Products We Considered
Fiskars StaySharp Max Review
(From $191.00 )
Manufacturers have turned back the clock with the reintroduction of nonmotorized reel mowers, marketing them as low-maintenance, noiseless, and emissions-free. These models feature a cylindrical blade that scoops and cuts the grass. Reel mowers are normally reserved for very small yards, but Fiskars StaySharp Max reviews come from consumers with yards as large as half an acre. According to one user who posted a review on Amazon, the job takes up to two hours on a one-third-acre plot that includes a good-size house.
The Fiskars StaySharp Max Reel Mower (starting at $191, Amazon) is produced by a Finnish company that specializes in cutting tools. It's pricey for this type of mower, but buyers get a top-of-the-line model for less than $200. It cuts an 18-inch path with five blades. Unlike the blades on most reel mowers, these blades don't touch. As a result, the manufacturer claims, they need only periodic (as in, every few years) sharpening -- but do clean and dry the blades after each mow. Reviews suggest that the mower may benefit from annual doses of oil and lapping compound, especially in warm climates with tougher grass.
On the Home Depot website, users allege that the Fiskars StaySharp Max will cut through any type of grass (thick weeds, not so much), as long as it doesn't grow too long. The height of the blades can be adjusted from 1 to 4 inches, and users say it's easy to change. Grass is discharged from the front of the mower, so the blades continue to run over it, effectively creating mulch. A few reviewers grumble that the grass clippings slow their progress.
A reel mower isn't for everybody, nor is it for everybody's lawn. One reviewer warns other Amazon customers that he was in decent shape but lost 10 pounds in a summer of using this mower. Several other users advise that a shady lawn that never gets dry or a lawn full of tall weeds will be a problem for this mower.
Still, most reviewers are well satisfied with this eco-conscious choice. They note the minimal noise, no need for gas or oil, and the added advantage of a cardio workout. The Fiskars StaySharp Max comes with a three-year warranty.
Black & Decker MM275 Review
(From $174.00 )
This corded electric mower receives overwhelmingly positive reviews for its light weight and easy operation. Some users take issue with having to manage the cord, but most reviewers prefer that to replacing a battery or dealing with gasoline.
Black & Decker MM275 reviews on the Sears website highlight the ease of navigating this 38-pound machine around a small yard, as well as the cutting power of its 9-amp motor. One user credits this model with plowing through thick grass growing over a septic tank -- which proved too much of a challenge for a gas mower. In reviews on Amazon, users also tell of easy starts (no pull string to yank), good mulching, and the oomph to mow up small hills. The biggest drawback to this model, reviewers say, is also its strength; that is, electric power. Lots of users have something to say about the cord, and a few just couldn't deal with it. But those who master its management or chalk it up as a minor inconvenience are quite happy to be free of gas models and well satisfied with this machine.
The Black & Decker MM275 (starting at $174, Home Depot) features an 18-inch mowing deck made of polymer (no rust) with a side discharge (chute can be removed). The cutting height can be set to six positions ranging from 1 to 3.5 inches and a lever lets users adjust all the wheels at once. This mower can mulch as it mows; a bag for clippings is sold separately. The mower has a 100-foot range from an electrical outlet and is intended for plots smaller than a quarter of an acre. Buyers must purchase an extension cord separately.
The Black & Decker MM275 is an environmentally friendly option that finds favor with consumers who take on the chore of lawn maintenance. The 6.5-amp Black & Decker LM175 (starting at $159) is lighter, cheaper, and garners similarly positive reviews, although it has no mulching capability.