Before trying to find the best push mower, we need to have here a clear understanding of what a push mower is and how it may be different from a walk behind mower (if there is any difference between the two). Depending on the source you are consulting, these two may be treated as the same product or as two separate products based on one single criteria: is the mower powered by an engine or not? Because if it is powered by an engine, the engine does the actual work of moving the mower further, so you only have to guide it around, so we could consider this a walk behind mower. Following the same logic, a human powered lawn mower needs to be pushed, thus the name push mower. Does it make any sense so far?
Well, if it does and you get my logic here, let me cut the story short and tell you that most big names in the industry, factories and resellers treat those two categories the same way, they are all either push mowers, either walk behind mowers so I’ll treat them the same way here. However, since I am not 100% convinced, I will probably have a separate article regarding manual lawn mowers (dedicated to human powered ones, just to be clear).
Now, when looking to buy one, I asked myself what should you consider when searching for the best push mower around? What features you should consider and what features don’t really matter, in order not to spend my time evaluating unimportant features? The fact is that almost all mowers cut the grass under ideal conditions, I mean, they are built for it, after all! But how about cutting dry, wet or high grass? This is important, for sure! Or how about considering the general feel of driving it? How about the clippings? Hmm, let’s see…
How big is your yard? How much grass do you have to cut? How is your terrain? What will you do with the grass, after you cut it?
These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself before buying this great mower you like, so you have a clear understanding of what you actually need.
See, considering the size of your yard for example: a push lawn mower is not appropriate for large areas and in case your yard is bigger than half of an acre I would strongly recommend you check a riding lawn mower, it will save you a lot of work and frustration.
How about the terrain you’ll be working on? Is it flat? If so, consider a front wheel drive mower. If you have an uneven terrain, with a lot of small hills, consider a rear drive lawn mower. They handle better on this type of terrain.
Another one: what will you do with the grass, after you cut it? There are 3 types of push mowers, judging by this and by the design of the cutting deck and by what they do with the clippings and it is difficult to say which push mower is the best here:
- some push mowers (side-discharge mowers) throw the clippings back onto the lawn, on one side, as the name suggests. They have no bag, just the open deck on one side
- push lawn mowers with attached containers or bags collect the grass, so you can dump it later. You will need to stop now and then and dump the grass, then go back to work. For this situations, before buying the mower, check the brake clutch of the blade (see below), this way you don’t need to stop the engine every time you stop to dump the grass
- mulching push mowers cut clippings in smaller pieces and let them fall back onto the lawn. No bag here also, obvious, I’d say
What features to look for when looking for the best push mower?
Mowers built by various manufacturers come in various sizes, colors, flavours etc. However, no matter who’s building or selling them, all the mowers have the same features(more or less) and you should understand them in order to know what you’re buying.
For example cut width is one of those factors, it represents how wide is the path you can cut in a single pass with the mower. The wider the better, I would say, but pay attention so your mower enter the gate of your garden.
Variable speed. Well, this is no brainer! Some push mowers (or should I say here walk behind mowers) allow you to set the speed to a certain level so you feel comfortable walking behind the mower. No need to run, we’re here for fun, right? Pay attention since not all mowers allow you to change the speed, while others have great speed control.
Check to see if your mower has a blade brake clutch, one little device that allows the blade to stop, without stopping the engine! Very useful when performing small operations, even when emptying the grass box (what I already mentioned above when speaking about mowers with attached grass bag).
The deck wash port allows you to connect a hose, so you can wash the cutting deck. Does your push mower have one?
Torque is the force that keeps blades spinning. The higher, the better. Higher torque translates to a cleaner cut when working with wet or tall grass.
Height adjustment refers to being able to change the height of the cut. Some push mowers allows you to change the height of the blade easier than others, some of them with only one lever.
Single blade or twin blade push mower? Some of the best push lawn mowers have a particular twin blade system that easily makes them stand out of the crowd. Check Honda and Toro for example, you’ll see some advantages in using twin blades (the cut is more even with twin blades, says Honda)
You should go to the store and check for yourself how each push mower feels in your hands, since some of them are great when pushing them and not so great when you need to go back-and-forth a couple of times because the handle does not feel comfortable in your hands and since you’ll be working quite a lot with it, you’d better feel comfortable. Also, check to see how grouped together are the buttons, triggers, levers, whatever. They should make your life easier, not more difficult.
How about the engine? Do you want a gas powered push mower or an electric one? Which is the best?
We have here, as with any other domain, multiple options and…that is good. We can go with an electric push mower or with a gas powered one. Also, electric mowers can be corded or cordless.
Gas powered push mowers need a bit more maintenance, they need, well, gas, oil, cleaning routine etc. Electric mowers are a bit less demanding, they just need power. Electrical power, that is. And cleaning, but not on the same level.
If you have a power source near by, you could go with a corded electric mower, but you should know you’ll have a bit of a challenge paying attention to that damn cable all the time. Plus that you’ll be constrained by the distance from the power source.
On the other hand, cordless electric push mowers can go further and since they have no cord attached, they are easier to drive and use. However, here you should be sure you buy the best lawn mower battery, since you don’t want to go out of juice every time you start mowing! I personally love them and I think that the greatest push mower may be a cordless one!
Now, you see, I found myself writing here only about engine powered push lawn mowers and not speaking at all about manual push mowers, but I have an excuse here, I already said I will speak about them in another post in a few days probably, all with the utopian desire of helping you find the best push mower available!