Many homeowners hope to have a verdant, well-manicured lawn that makes them the envy of the neighborhood. While proper fertilization and watering are essential to growing gorgeous green turf, the right mower is critical for proper lawn maintenance. Choosing the best machine can be a rather difficult task, however. Gas-powered lawn mowers come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from small push-behind models with 20-inch decks to monster lawn tractors capable of cutting a 46-inch-wide swath.
Choosing the best gas-powered lawn mower from among the many options and brands on the market depends on several factors: yard size, type of terrain, even the physical strength of the operator.
In selecting our list of the top gas-powered lawn mowers, we looked at factors like engine power related to deck size and cutting versatility. We also scoured customer reviews to choose the most reliable models. Use this guide to explore these machines and the factors and features crucial to consider when searching for the best gas lawn mower.
- BEST OVERALL: Honda HRN216VKA 21″ Variable Speed Walk-Behind Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Craftsman M220 150cc 21″ Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- BEST MANUAL LAWN MOWER: Honda HRN216PKC 21″ Walk-Behind Push Mower
- BEST SELF-PROPELLED: Toro 21″ Recycler Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
- BEST RIDING MOWER: Cub Cadet XT1 LT46 Enduro Series Riding Mower
- BEST FOR SMALL YARD: Yard Machines 02B 20″ Gas Push Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS: Toro 30″ TimeMaster Personal Pace Gas Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR THICK GRASS: John Deere S130 42″ Lawn Tractor
Before You Buy a Gas Mower
Before purchasing a gas lawn mower, it’s a good idea to first consider electric mowers. Those with small yards can often get away with an affordably priced corded electric mower. For those with larger yards, advancements in battery technology have made battery-powered lawn mowers a great alternative to gas mowers.
Battery-powered mowers, which include both walk-behind and ride-on models, require less maintenance than gas mowers, are easier to start, and are a greener alternative to gas-powered models. While larger residential lawns and yards with steeper or uneven terrain may still demand the power that only comes with a gas mower, a battery-powered mower may be suitable for small to medium yards.
How We Chose the Best Gas Lawn Mowers
We researched some of the best-selling gas lawn mowers from major retailers like The Home Depot, Amazon, and Tractor Supply Co. to produce our list of the top gas-powered lawn mowers. Our research focused on three major attributes: deck size, engine size, and cutting functions. Gas lawn mowers are a rather broad classification, so we broke the mowers down into smaller, manual push-behind models suitable for smaller yards; self-propelled lawn mowers for medium-size yards; and riding lawn mowers for large yards.
Engine size was also crucial to our selection process. While a 125cc engine is capable of powering a gas mower, most mowers with these smaller engines struggle to power wider cutting decks through thicker grass. The best gas lawn mowers have engines large enough to power their respective mowing decks. We selected mowers with at least 140cc engines for mowers with 21-inch decks. Having the options to mulch and bag are also crucial. When possible, we leaned toward models that offer at least two out of the three cutting options (side discharge, mulching, and bagging).
Our rankings also took into account the reputation of the brand. We selected well-regarded brands that have been in the business for decades, such as Toro, Honda, and Cub Cadet. All the brands on our list have well-established reputations for producing quality gas lawn mowers.
Tested gas lawn mowers from this guide:
Our Top Picks
The products described below narrow the field of gas lawn mowers to some of the best on the market in different categories. There are models suited to small yards as well as large lawn tractors capable of cutting up to 3 acres. All these lawn mowers feature powerful engines, multiple cutting options, and ample deck sizes.
Whether it’s generators, automobiles, or lawn mowers, Honda has a reputation for producing durable, high-performing engines—like the one in this 21-inch gas-powered and self-propelled lawn mower. The powerful 170cc engine sits atop an ample 21-inch deck, and unlike walk-behind models that have a single blade, this Honda’s deck boasts two offset blades that produce smaller clippings than other blade styles.
A simple clip system makes it easy to switch between mulching, bagging, and side discharge of grass clippings without needing to add or remove attachments. This Honda mower uses a rear-wheel drive for its propulsion system, which gives it superior ability to manage tough and uneven terrain and climb slopes. Handlebar controls make it a breeze to switch between the mower’s variable speeds.
- Engine: 170cc
- Deck width: 21 inches
- Functions: Mulching, bagging, side discharge
- Dual blades produce smaller clippings for less cleanup after use
- Clip system makes it simple to toggle between operating functions
- Smart drive allows for easy speed control; safe and easy to use
- Rear-wheel drive provides excellent traction for precise cutting and added safety
- Weighing about 75 pounds, this mower is a heavier walk-behind model
Get the Honda HRN216VKA gas mower at Acme Tools, The Home Depot or Northern Tool + Equipment.
Introducing the self-propelled gas mower from Craftsman, a well-established and highly regarded brand in the world of lawn mowers. This exceptional mower showcases a powerful 150cc engine paired with a spacious 21-inch mowing deck that’s specifically designed to cater to yards up to ¾ acre in size. Its large 8-inch rear wheels, featuring heavy tread, effortlessly propel the mower forward, while the six cutting heights provide remarkable versatility. With mulch, side discharge, and bag disposal settings, this mower adapts to the user’s preferred method.
Although lacking power assist, its significantly affordable price makes it an attractive choice for those with level yards who have no need for a self-propelled mower. Kickstarting the mower is a breeze, requiring just one pull after adding oil and gas. It showcases commendable power for handling average lawn grass and conquering uphill terrain, albeit experiencing a slight reduction in performance when dealing with tall, overgrown grass. Its front-wheel-drive feature enables seamless maneuverability and turns.
While a fully loaded bagger may potentially impact rear traction, we did not encounter such an issue. With an adequately sized fuel tank, this mower ensures half-acre coverage per fill-up. For budget-conscious shoppers seeking durability and a self-propelled solution, this Craftsman mower stands as an exceptional value proposition.
What Our Tester Says: Bob Vila writer and product tester Mark Wolfe says about this lawn mower: “We liked the Craftsman mower’s affordability and simplicity. It only required about 20 minutes of easy assembly. The completed handle configuration was a bit less refined in appearance, the grip area is unpadded metal, and the blade and drive control cables are retained on the handle by heavy-duty cable ties.”
Read our full review: Craftsman M220 150cc 21″ Self-Propelled Lawn Mower
- Power source: 150cc Briggs & Stratton gas engine
- Deck size: 21 inches
- Type: Walk-behind
- Front-wheel drive assists the user while mowing; prevents strain while in use
- Easy to start, no priming or choke required
- Side-discharge, mulch, or bag for ease of cleanup after mowing
- Self-propelled feature is not adjustable; may not be suitable for some users’ preferences
- Unpadded grip could lead to hand fatigue with extended use
Get the Craftsman lawn mower at Lowe’s or Ace Hardware.
A simple design coupled with a powerful engine and features that add durability make this Honda one of the best manual models on the market. This mower boasts a 167cc engine, which provides plenty of power to turn the blade inside its 21-inch durable steel deck.
Its 8-inch wheels (with ball-bearing rear wheels) make this push lawn mower easier to maneuver over rough terrain.
This gas mower offers seven cutting levels and mulching, bagging, or side discharge. When lawn labor is done for the day, the handles fold quickly and smoothly inward for compact storage.
- Engine: 167cc
- Deck width: 21 inches
- Functions: Mulching, bagging, side discharge
- 8-inch wheels make it easier to push and maneuver through thick grass
- 7 cutting levels so users can get the perfect height for the health of their grass
- Handles fold for compact storage in the garage or shed
- At 76 pounds, this manual mower could be a lot to push for large lawns
Get the Honda HRN216PKC gas lawn mower at Acme Tools.
From its low-maintenance design to its versatile cutting options, there’s much to like about Toro’s 21-inch self-propelled lawn mower. One of the best features of Toro’s Recycler is its mulching system. The blades are designed to cut the grass and then kick the clippings back into the blades, cutting them further down to size so they can serve as nutrients for the lawn. In addition to this mulching feature, the Recycler also comes equipped with bagging and side-discharge cutting options.
Those absentminded about lawn mower maintenance will appreciate the Briggs & Stratton engine, which requires no oil changes: Simply top off the oil as it gets low. Other notable features include rear-wheel drive that gives the Recycler better traction for climbing steeper terrain and two handle heights that can be adjusted without tools.
- Engine: 140cc
- Deck width: 21 inches
- Functions: Mulching, bagging, side discharge
- Mulching function cuts blades of grass multiple times; suitable for tough grass varieties
- No-oil-change engine design; mower is very low-maintenance
- Adjustable handle height accommodates most users for comfort and safety
- Rear-wheel drive for better traction while cutting thin and thick grass types
- Engine is smaller than those of some 21-inch mowers; may not have the power some users require
Get the Toro Recycler gas lawn mower at The Home Depot, Acme Tools, or Toro.
With a massive 23-horsepower (725cc) engine and broad deck that spans 46 inches, Cub Cadet’s XT1 Enduro can handle football-field-size lawns. In addition to being one of the more powerful riding mowers around, it’s also one of the best handling, thanks to a responsive steering system, a small 16-inch turning radius, and hydrostatic speed control that doesn’t require shifting.
With 12 deck-height positions, the Cub Cadet provides plenty of control over lawn height. Other notable features include LED lights for nighttime mowing and a quick-connect deck-washing system that makes it easy to perform routine maintenance.
- Engine: 725cc
- Deck width: 46 inches
- Functions: Mulching, side discharge (bagging kit sold separately)
- Incredibly powerful engine is capable of handling very heavy-duty tasks
- Wide 46-inch mowing deck with 2 blades is perfect for large lawns
- Excellent handling and a short turning radius for precise cutting
- Hydrostatic automatic transmission eliminates the need for shifting; just push the pedal
- Bagging system not included; does not do any of the cleanup
Get the Cub Cadet gas lawn mower at Tractor Supply, or Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
Small yards need good grooming too, and this manual walk-behind mower is a fine choice to get the job done. It’s somewhat spartan, with a 20-inch cutting deck, only three cutting heights versus the more popular six, and side discharge as the only cutting option. But its stripped-down weight of just 50 pounds (almost 30 pounds lighter than some walk-behind mowers) and small profile make it easy to maneuver around tight spaces like flower beds, trees, and lawn ornaments.
Though it lacks the features and options of some walk-behind mowers, it also costs significantly less and is easier to use. And when the mowing is done, the handle folds in for a small, easy-to-store footprint.
- Engine: 125cc
- Deck width: 20 inches
- Functions: Side discharge
- Small size and light weight make it easy to maneuver
- 3 cutting heights; can cut grass blades at 1.25 to 3.75 inches
- Simple design for ease of use; not as many bells and whistles as other models
- No bagging or mulching feature; does not help with any cleanup
- Comes with a smaller engine than mowers with similar-size decks
Get the Yard Machines gas lawn mower at Amazon, Ace Hardware, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
This large self-propelled mower from Toro offers an alternative to a riding model for those with a bigger yard. It boasts a 30-inch deck, just as large as some riding mowers, making it capable of handling lawns measuring an acre or more. Dual blades under the deck supply admirable cutting ability with a powerful 223cc engine.
In addition to mulching, side discharge, and bagging options, this self-propelled gas mower includes some nice extras, such as Personal Pace and Traction Assist, which improve maneuverability while providing better performance over uneven terrain.
- Engine: 223cc
- Deck width: 30 inches
- Functions: Mulching, bagging, side discharge
- Wide 30-inch cutting deck can help speed up the job
- Variable speed with traction control makes for easy maneuverability on any grass type
- Dual-force cutting system and 3 functions deliver a quality mow
- Significantly more expensive than other self-propelled mowers
- Large size requires more strength to maneuver
Get the Toro TimeMaster gas lawn mower at Tractor Supply, The Home Depot, Acme Tools, or Toro.
The John Deere S130 is the ideal machine for tackling larger yards ranging from ½ to 2 acres, especially when it comes to cutting through thick, stubborn grass. Powered by a robust 22-horsepower V-twin engine and equipped with a 42-inch deck, it excels in delivering exceptional mowing ability and performance. Its hydrostatic operation, LED headlights, and 30-second oil-change system further enhance its functionality.
With its 20 by 10-8 rear tires and a wide stance, it ensures remarkable stability and a comfortable ride. In our rigorous tests, the S130 proved its mettle, effortlessly handling slopes and uneven terrain while exhibiting excellent maneuverability. When it comes to conquering dense grass, the S130 reigns supreme, making it a superior choice for larger yards.
What Our Tester Says: Bob Vila writer and product tester Mark Wolfe says about this mower: “The high, open-back seat was well cushioned and supportive while allowing excellent ventilation. The deck height, blade engagement, and throttle controls were well positioned for convenience and safe operation.”
Read our full review: John Deere S130 42″ Lawn Tractor
- Power source: 22-hp V-twin gas engine
- Deck size: 42 inches
- Type: Lawn tractor
- High vantage point for optimal viewing of the yard and machine while mowing
- Tight turning radius allows for clean and even cutting paths
- Comfortable seat and controls make it easy for the user to mow the lawn
- Should not require much maintenance to keep running for years
- Limited performance on steep hills; may not be the best option for hilly yards
Get the John Deere riding lawn mower at Lowe’s.
What to Consider When Choosing a Gas Lawn Mower
There are three basic types of gas mowers: manual walk-behind mowers, self-propelled mowers, and riding mowers. While selecting the right type for the yard is key, it’s also important to keep in mind the engine and deck size. Ahead, learn more about these and other important characteristics of gas lawn mowers.
- Walk-behind: The most basic of lawn mowers, walk-behind gas mowers (also called push mowers) consist of a small single-cylinder engine with an output of 125cc to 190cc. The larger the cylinder size, the more powerful the engine. These push mowers typically have a pull start and require the operator to physically supply all the power to push them forward.
- Self-propelled: An upgrade to the push mower, self-propelled lawn mowers look similar to push mowers but have a belt attached to the motor that powers the front or rear wheels to drive the mower forward. The operator engages the wheels by squeezing a control bar.
- Riding: This type of mower has a seat for the operator as well as an engine and mowing deck. A riding mower’s engine is considerably larger than a push mower’s engine in order to provide enough power to propel the machine forward and run its multibladed mowing deck. Riding mowers, which include zero-turn and tractor models, have larger decks than walk-behind and self-propelled lawn mowers, making them better suited to bigger yards.
The engine size on push-behind and self-propelled gas mowers is measured in cubic centimeters of cylinder size (cc). Most walk-behind lawn mower engines range between 125cc and 190cc. The larger the cylinder size, the more powerful the engine. The larger engines of riding mowers are measured in horsepower (hp), typically ranging from 10 to 22 hp.
No matter the type of mower, engine size is an important consideration, as it pertains to the size of the mower’s deck. Mowers with larger decks have longer blades or multiple blades and therefore require larger engines to power them.
When considering engine size, it’s also wise to factor in the turf and terrain the machine will be mowing. A yard with thick grass might require more power than one with thinner grass. Cutting through tall grass also requires more power. Likewise, a yard with a steep slope may need more power to move a self-propelled walk-behind mower as well as a riding mower up and over the terrain.
Lawn Size and Terrain
Yard size and terrain play a significant role in choosing the best gas lawn mower. A walk-behind model may be adequate for smaller lawns up to ¾ acre in size. For yards that are sloped or hilly, consider purchasing a self-propelled mower that will make it easier to handle challenging terrain.
Yards that are ¾ acre or more typically require a riding lawn mower. A riding mower with 12 horsepower is suitable for yards up to an acre, while mowers with at least 18 horsepower should be used for lawns larger than 2 acres.
The deck size of a lawn determines the width of the cut the machine can make in a single pass. As such, the deck largely determines how long it will take a mower to cut the grass. A walk-behind mower with a 20-inch deck is suitable for small yards of about ½ acre. Larger yards of up to ¾ acre require a larger 22-inch deck. Riding mowers have decks that range between 28 and 46 inches. Although a larger deck can cut more grass on a single pass, they are harder to maneuver around tight spaces.
Drive and Wheel Size
The type of drive and wheel size affect a lawn mower’s handling. Most walk-behind lawn mowers have wheels that range in size from 8 to 11 inches. Some manual push-behind gas lawn mowers have 11-inch rear wheels that make it easier to push over rougher terrain.
Self-propelled lawn mowers come in both rear-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive models, each with unique advantages. Front-wheel-drive self-propelled lawn mowers allow the operator to turn the mower more easily because they tilt the drive wheels up. Rear-wheel-drive mowers have better traction at the center of the mower, though, allowing them to climb steeper terrain more easily.
Some walk-behind mowers have all-wheel drive, which offers superior traction that makes them ideal for yards with steep slopes and rough terrain.
Depending on the model, gas mowers may offer three ways to deal with clippings: side discharge, bag, and/or mulch. Side discharge propels the clippings out the side of the mower. Many gas mowers include mower bags or bins that collect the cut clippings, preventing them from dropping back onto the lawn. Some models may include mulch kits that trap the clippings inside the deck, allowing the blade to cut them multiple times before depositing these tiny bits back into the yard to act as fertilizer.
Gas mowers can come with a variety of additional features that add functionality. Some self-propelled lawn mowers have variable speeds that allow you to adjust the speed that the mower moves with handlebar controls. Higher-end lawn tractors have hydrostatic transmissions that let the rider change speeds without having to shift gears manually.
For questions about lawn mower longevity, maintenance, and/or storage, read on—plus get answers to other common questions about the best gas lawn mowers.
Q. How long do gas lawn mowers last?
A gas lawn mower will last between 8 and 10 years if properly maintained. How often the mower is used, how long it takes to mow the lawn, and even how hard the mower must work to cut the grass can affect its lifespan.
Q. What is the best gas to use in a lawn mower?
Unleaded gasoline with a minimum of 87 octane is the best gas to use for a lawn mower engine. While higher-octane gas won’t hurt an engine, there is no benefit to using this more expensive gasoline.
Q. How do I maintain a gas lawn mower?
Unless the mower doesn’t require oil changes, make sure to change the oil regularly. Most lawn mower manufacturers recommend doing this at the start of the mowing season. Clean and replace air filters to prevent debris from clogging the engine, replace the spark plug annually, and use a gas stabilizer before storing the mower for the off-season. Finally, periodically flip the mower over to remove built-up grass clippings.
Q. Are gas lawn mowers safe?
When used properly, gas lawn mowers are as safe as other types of lawn mowers. All gas mowers have a safety feature, sometimes referred to as a dead man’s switch, that prevents the blade from operating unless the operator is holding a bar on the handle closed.
Q. Do all gas lawn mowers come with bags?
While most walk-behind gas mowers come with bags, not all do. Models designed for mowing smaller areas may not include bags. Riding mowers often offer an optional bagging system sold separately.
Q. How do I store a gas lawn mower for winter?
To winterize a lawn mower, leave the gas tank empty. Drain the engine oil, then refill it with fresh oil. Store the mower in a dry, well-protected place that is away from a water heater or furnace.
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