A cut patch of grass

Depending on the size of your yard and your mowing needs, you can spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a new lawn mower.

And because you’ll rely on your new machine all season long—and for years to come—we now combine CR’s rigorous field tests with ratings of predicted reliability derived from our annual member survey. The result is a comprehensive list of the best and most reliable mowers on the market.

More on Mowers and Tractors

This year we’ve also changed the way we group mowers, dividing them up into three categories: battery-powered walk-behind mowers, gas walk-behind mowers, and riding mowers (which include a few battery-powered models along with mostly gas-powered models).

Here's how Frank Spinelli, a CR test engineer who oversees lawn mower testing, breaks down the options. 

“Battery mowers are best for hassle-free mowing on smaller yards, while gas walk-behind mowers are better for cutting larger yards and for thicker, taller grass” he says. “And riding mowers and tractors are only necessary for large yards over half an acre.”

How CR Tests Lawn Mowers and Tractors

To get you ratings and reviews of the latest models by early spring, our testers travel to Florida to conduct tests in late winter at grounds we maintain year-round. We plant 1,800 pounds of grass seed (predominantly annual rye, prized for its dense growth) and spread 500 pounds of fertilizer. For our tests, we cut 450,000 square feet of grass in three modes—mulching, bagging, and side-discharging—covering level turf, slopes, and in ditches to get a feel for each and every model. We also review the convenience features on every model we assess.

The Overall Score for each model in CR's mower ratings incorporates all that performance data, along with predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings from our latest member survey. The survey leverages data on more than 43,916 lawn mowers and tractors that members purchased between 2008 and 2018.

If you’re in the market for a new mower, the best place to start is our lawn mower and tractor buying guide. Then check out our in-depth ratings of more than 120 mowers and tractors.

CR members with digital access can read on for ratings and reviews of the eight top mowers in our ratings, including push and self-propelled walk-behind mowers, zero-turn-radius lawn tractors, and rear-engine riding mowers. These top picks are listed in rank order within each category and come from a range of brands, including Ego, Honda, John Deere, Ryobi, and Troy-Bilt.

Best Battery Walk-Behind Mowers

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Side discharging
Mulching
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Side discharging
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Best Gas Walk-Behind Mowers

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Mulching
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Side discharging
Mulching
Bagging
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Best Riding Mowers and Tractors

Top Picks

1

Side discharging
Mulching
Bagging

2

Side discharging
Mulching
Bagging
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