When shopping for the best lawn mower for small yard homes, narrow down the choices to what really matters: ease of use, durability, and reliability. When your lawn is small, also consider storage and yard size: Taking a half-hour to get out a mower to run it for only 10 minutes is a waste of time and space.
Finding the best mower can be tricky. First, choose a gas-powered, electric mower, or manual mower. Next, look for the perfect size, price, and style (riding mower or push mower). To help keep your search short, here’s a helpful guide in finding the best lawn mower for small yards.
- BEST OVERALL: Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16” Cordless Lawn Mower
- RUNNER UP: Sun Joe MJ401E-PRO 14 inch 13 Amp Electric Lawn Mower
- BEST GAS POWERED: Craftsman M105 140cc 21-Inch Gas Push Lawn Mower
- BEST REEL: Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: BLACK+DECKER Electric Lawn Mower 10-Amp, 15-Inch
Types of Lawn Mowers
Before browsing for mowers, consider the power source: gas, electric, or battery. Or, completely eliminate an exterior power source by purchasing a manual push mower. Next, choose the cutting type (hover, rotary, or cylinder).
Gas-powered lawn mowers are the old standby. These mowers use internal combustion engines to spin their mower blade and chop grass to the desired height. Gas-powered mowers, which are usually more powerful than other types of mowers, are easier to work on if something goes wrong.
However, gas-powered mowers are heavier and require more maintenance. Similar to a vehicle, the spark plugs, air filters, and fuel filters must be changed at least once per year. Moreover, in colder climates, they must be winterized with a fuel stabilizer.
While electric mowers aren’t a new concept or product, advances in motor technology have made these quiet-running mowers a viable option for small- and mid-size yards.
As the name suggests, electric mowers use an electric motor to spin their mower blades. They’re also one of the easiest mowers to start. To start a corded electric lawn mower, simply press the “On” button.
Power is one of the downsides to an electric mower. It’s not as powerful as a gas-powered mower, so heavy or wet grass can pose a problem. In addition, servicing an electric mower is more difficult and less cost-effective, as their parts are usually fairly expensive.
Unlike a corded electric mower, a battery-powered mower uses rechargeable batteries, so you can mow the lawn even without a nearby outlet or cord. They’re also noiseless, lightweight, and environmentally friendly.
While cordless mowers may sound convenient, also consider battery life and price before making a purchase. Some battery-powered mowers, for example, are sold in a kit that includes the battery and the charger, but not always. Be sure to double-check the warranty and battery life before opting for a cordless mower.
For a more eco-friendly approach to mowing, the trusty reel mower (also known as a push mower) may be the way to go. As opposed to a gas- or electric-powered mower, traditional push mowers require manual power.
Thanks to their scissor-like cutting action, reel mowers help your grass stay healthy and disease- and insect-resistant. They’re also quiet, efficient, and affordable. Purchasing a reel mower is an environmentally-conscious, one-time investment for your lawn, and they generally require little maintenance.
If the grass is 4 inches or taller, operating a push mower may be difficult, but not impossible. When mowing an overgrown lawn with a reel mower, be patient and mow in an overlapping or checkerboard pattern.
With all these options in mind, choosing the best lawn mower for a small yard may seem a bit overwhelming. Here are nine additional features to consider before pulling out your checkbook.
When shopping for a new mower, think about more than just the grass. Consider the number of trees and obstacles; yard debris, such as leaves, twigs, or nuts; and the terrain. Terrain is a factor when mowing, so also consider wheel size and weight.
If a battery-powered or corded electric lawn mower didn’t make the list of possibilities, do a bit of engine research. Walk-mower engines, which range in size from 140cc to 190cc, come in four variations: traditional side-valve, overhead-valve, overhead cam, and direct-overhead-valve. The more ccs an engine has, the more power. If you’re planning to cut thick, long grass, you may want to purchase a high-powered riding mower, but a lower-powered push mower can handle routine trimming.
Starting your lawn mower shouldn’t be an ordeal, especially if you’re cutting a small yard. Whether it’s an electric or gas-powered mower, the simpler it is to start, the better.
- Starting an electric mower is pretty straightforward: Simply connect to a power source, flip a switch, push a button, or turn a key, and pull the throttle bar back to the push bar, and voilà!
- A gas-powered mower, on the other hand, requires a bit of elbow grease. To start a gas mower, pump gasoline into the fuel system to prime it, pull back the throttle bar, and yank on the pull-start. If the motor stalls, don’t worry. The pull-start may just need a few more tugs. Some mowers come with an additional built-in pull-start function that multiplies the force applied to make the task easier.
Cutting Width and Height
When shopping for the best mower for your yard, consider its cutting width and height. Gas-powered mowers usually come in widths from 20 to 30 inches wide; models on the lower end of that range are ideal for smaller yards.
Electric mowers are manufactured in widths between 15 and 21 inches, which work well for small yards. The same range applies to a reel-style mower. While mowers with a smaller width require more passes, these mowers can reach tight spots in the yard and store easily.
Mulching and Bags
Some homeowners don’t like yard clippings on their freshly cut lawn, while others use the clippings as mulch. Most mowers can discharge clippings, and they have a space on the side for grass clippings to exit the mower. However, some mowers come with a detachable bag that fits this space, so homeowners can bag the clippings to use as mulch.
In addition to giving your yard a cleaner look, mulch adds nutrients to the soil and can prevent the growth of weeds. Mulching also saves time and money.
If your yard contains a lot of narrow spaces between shrubbery and garden beds, a mower that’s easily maneuverable can help manage the tight turns and small passages. When choosing an easily maneuverable mower, weight is the most important consideration. A lightweight mower (50 pounds or lighter) allows precision mowing and tighter turns.
Moreover, a smaller width mower is easier to pass through these tight spaces, so also look at the mower’s deck. It will require more passes, but it should be able to mow in the tight spots.
Regardless of the type of mower, it should be safe to operate and easy to store. The easy start on an electric mower is dangerous because even a child could start it. To prevent this scenario, look for an electric mower with a removable key or lockable switch.
On the other hand, gas-powered models have few safety features. However, they’re not unsafe because most of them contain a throttle bar that shuts down the mower when the push bar is released. This means that when someone falls or loses grip of the mower, it shuts off almost immediately.
Reel mowers have even fewer safety features. In general, if their wheels are spinning, their blades are moving.
Two of the most important safety considerations for any type of lawn mower: Wear closed-toe shoes when mowing and keep children and pets out of the vicinity.
As mentioned, gas-powered mowers require more maintenance than other types of mowers. Owners must change air and fuel filters and spark plugs about once a year. To ready the mower for winter, the gas must be drained, and most people add a fuel system stabilizer.
Electric and reel mowers don’t require nearly as much maintenance, and cold weather doesn’t affect them. And, of course, they don’t use spark plugs or filters. However, these mowers still need some universal maintenance. Clean the underside of your mower a few times each year to prevent grass from building up and causing corrosion. The blade may need resharpening from time to time.
Our Top Picks
Ready to start shopping? With these features and considerations in mind, these recommendations were selected as some of the best lawn mower for small yard models.
If a battery-powered mower is at the top of the list, check out the Greenworks G-Max 40V 16-inch Cordless Lawn Mower. This 40V mower can mow up to 4,000 square feet in 45 minutes on one charge. Bonus: It has a push-button start and weighs only 37.5 pounds.
The Greenworks G-Max has a 16-inch cutting width and five adjustable heights. Its 6-inch front wheels and 7-inch rear wheels handle most yards without issue. It can mulch or bag grass clippings (bag included). It comes with a 40V 4AH battery and charger.
- Clean, 40V battery-powered engine
- Easy push-button start
- Designed to mow yards up to ½ acre
- Mulches clippings or collects them (bag included)
- Batteries can lose some of their charging power with time
- Recharge takes about 2 hours
The Sun Joe Electric Lawn Mower is ideal for those with a small, flat yard but very little room to store a mower. This corded electric mower’s cutting path is only 14 inches wide, which means it can maneuver into most tight places, both in the yard and the storage shed or garage. It has a 13-amp motor but weighs only 29 pounds.
The Sun Joe has three height adjustments, allowing owners to choose the best grass length for the season. Leave clippings on the lawn to break down into the soil or collect them with the included 10.6-gallon clipping bag.
- Affordable, easy-start electric mower for small lawns
- Deck is adjustable to three height positions
- Compact, with 14-inch cutting path for tight maneuvering and folding handle for storage
- Includes a 10.6-gallon clipping collection bag
- Small cutting width might take more passes
- Cord requires outlet (and extension cord, depending on yard size) to operate
- Users will have to move cord out of the way while mowing
Those looking for a compact mower with plenty of power may want to look at the Craftsman M105. This gas-powered mower features a 140cc Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine with an auto choke and recoil for easy starts. It has 21-inch cutting width and features oversized rear wheels for more challenging terrain. It can be adjusted to cut grass between 1.25 and 3.75 inches.
The M105 provides options for grass clippings. Bag them with the included bagger or mulch them to enrich the soil. The included side chute discharges longer clippings for raking, bagging, or blowing.
- Compact gas-powered mower with Briggs & Stratton engine
- Auto choke and recoil for easy starts
- 21-inch cutting width to make quick work of small lawns
- Includes a clipping bagger
- Wider cutting length saves time but can’t fit into tight spots
- Gas engine not as clean as electric
The Great States Push Reel Lawn Mower is a good choice for those looking for a manual push mower. This quiet manual mower has an 18-inch cutting path as well as a five-blade design. The 10-inch wheels allow for some challenging terrain as well.
While the design is basic, this Great States lawn mower has some nice features. Its padded handle keeps it comfortable, and it adjusts to several different heights. While it doesn’t mulch, its bagger attachment collects clippings.
- Motorless, push-reel mower with 10-inch wheels to help on challenging terrain
- Quiet and eco-friendly
- Good, 18-inch cutting path
- Padded handle with adjustable height
- Requires a little more work on operator’s part
- No clipping collector bag, but users can purchase a standard grass catcher separately
For a lightweight mower with plenty of features and capability, this electric lawn mower from BLACK+DECKER should be on the list. This corded electric mower, with a 15-inch cutting width and a 10-amp electric motor, weighs just under 40 pounds. It features a push-button start and upright, ergonomically designed grips with built-in triggers.
Aside from the weight and comfortable grips, this BLACK+DECKER mower has some other nice features. Its six height adjustments allow users to set it to the ideal length. Although it lacks a mulching function, it comes with a bag. Keep in mind that this is a corded mower, so it may require an additional extension cord.
- Lightweight but capable corded electric mower for small lawns
- Easy push-button start
- Ergonomically designed handles and adjustable height for comfort
- Comes with collection bag for clippings
- Likely will require purchase of outdoor extension cord
- Users will have to move cord out of the way while mowing
For quick work of a small lawn and no cords to wrangle while cutting the lawn, the Greenworks 40V 16-Inch Cordless mower can get the job done. Those short on budget and space might prefer the Sun Joe MJ401E-PRO electric mower, which has a 14-inch cutting width and a collapsible handle for tight storage.
How We Chose the Best Lawn Mowers for Small Yards
Owners of small lawns don’t need heavy-duty mowers, but still might prefer a decent cutting width and good power. We analyzed available mowers that could make quick and easy work of mowing small landscapes, including those powered by gas, electric cords, batteries, or the people who push them. In addition to engine features and power, we considered how easy a mower typically starts and its maneuverability over terrain or in tight spots.
We also looked at whether the mower adjusts for cutting height, and if it has a mulching feature or collection bag for clippings. Finally, we found some models with better comfort, safety, or ease of maintenance.
Keep reading to find a few of the most frequently asked questions and their answers about using a lawn mower in a smaller yard. If you still have questions, reach out to your mower’s manufacturer and speak to their customer service department.
Q. What horsepower do I need for my lawn mower?
Small yards don’t require much power, and manufacturers don’t always include power output ratings in their packaging. For a gas-powered mower, an engine size over 120cc should be enough for small yards. For corded mowers, amp ratings around 12 usually work well. For cordless electric options, look for voltages in the 36V range.
Q. How do I remove a lawn mower blade?
A bolt (or set of bolts) holds the blade into the bottom of the mower. First, make sure the mower is off and can’t start (remove the safety key or unplug the spark plug). Then, holding the blade in place with a gloved hand, loosen the bolt(s) with a wrench. After it’s unbolted, the blade is easy to remove.
Q. How do I change the oil in my lawn mower?
Change the oil with no gasoline in the system, so if possible, run your lawn mower dry. Then tilt the mower on the side that has the oil filler cap. When the mower is on its side, remove the cap and drain the old oil out of the system into a pan. When the mower’s empty, stand it back up and fill it with new 30W mower oil.
Q. How do I clean my lawn mower?
Cleaning your mower is easy:
- Run the tank dry, so you can place the mower on its side.
- Unplug the spark plug to ensure the motor cannot turn over.
- Inspect under the mower deck for debris and obstructions. Remove any debris.
- Spray the underside of the mower deck with a garden hose to remove any caked-on dirt and grass.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer specializing in the home design, construction, tools, and automotive industries. He has been involved in the trades for over 15 years as both a contractor and a commercial building mechanic. In addition to his professional life, Tom enjoys getting outside on his mountain bike, camping, beekeeping, and fishing. Tom is also an avid racing and baseball fan. He lives in NY’s Hudson Valley with his wife, their three children, and three dogs.