Push Lawn Mower vs Self-Propelled Mower – What Factors to Consider + Pros & Cons

To push, or not to push, that is the question… if you’re contemplating whether you want a Push Lawn Mower or Self Propelled!

I believe we can all agree that mowing is one of the most important tasks to do in our lawns. We want to keep it looking neat and fresh, and lawn mowers play a significant role in maintaining that.


If you’re new to all of these shenanigans, you might get confused with selecting the right lawn mower because there are so many to choose from!

But lucky you, were here to help you narrow down the selection from different types of lawn mowers through the head-to-head battle of Walk Mowers: Push Mower vs Self Propelled Mower.

Let the battle begin!


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What is a Push Lawn Mower?

A push mower is a manually operated walk-behind mower. From the name itself, it needs to be pushed (very informative, I know) for it to move across your lawn and do its job.

Motorized push mowers are not capable of moving by themselves because the motor installed to it only operates the spinning blades used in cutting the grass.

walk-behind push gas lawn mower in garden

Common push mower varieties include:

  • Reel mowers: It has no engine, thus not requiring gas, oil, or electricity. It fully operates on manual work wherein blades are attached between the wheels. It’s also called the cylinder mower because it forms a hollow cylinder as the wheels spin. It has friction as the primary cutting mean instead of clean sharp cuts.
  • Motorized (gas-powered) push mowers: It’s the more advanced version of the reel mower with the incorporation an engine. The machine operates the spinning blades. which provide even and clean cuts for your lawn.
  • Electric motors: It has the same mechanism with the gas powered, but it uses electricity and not gas for it to operate.

Why not just make them capable of driving?

Well, the push mowers have their own advantages. Since there’s a lack of extra engineering in manufacturing the mower…

It is generally a lighter and cheaper machine!

Since it is lightweight, you can easily drive them around objects. You can go in any direction, forward and reverse, without having to deal with obstructions unlike that of self-propulsion mechanisms.

This mower’s simplicity also has fewer fail-points than self-propelled mowers, making them more reliable for homeowners. That, combined with their lower price, makes this an excellent choice for homeowners on a budget who also have a small yard.

That’s not all…

Push mowers are perfect for small flat yards under ¼ acre. The cutting deck ranges from 20-22 inches, which is the ideal size to make your lawn look beautiful swiftly and effectively.

The only concern here is the extra work you put in because you’ll be pushing that machine all around your lawn. But if you’re in good physical condition, and if you’re up for a good workout, this might be the best match for you.

And you saved money while doing it!

What is a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower?

And from what you can probably guess, the self-propelled mower is… self-propelled.

It’s also a type of walk-behind mower but has a transmission that drives its wheels, which lessens the amount of work you need to put into mowing. You simply walk behind the mower to control its path. Easy!

mowing the grass with a push lawn mower in garden

The mower pushes itself to decrease the exhaustion that you can experience with a push mower. Generally, they take the responsibility of steering and driving across the yard.

Convenient, right? Here’s more…

Self-propelled mowers are perfect in maneuvering uneven terrain and bigger yards stretching up to ¾ acre. They typically operate at speeds from 1 to 3 ½ miles per hour, and even up to 4 miles per hour with high-end models.

Thus, they can significantly cut down the time spent in mowing.

But don’t be fooled!

Despite what you’ve seen in cartoons, your self-propelled mowers won’t run away from you. Just set your most comfortable speed and it will consistently stay at that pace.

To better suit your yard, self-propelled lawn mowers offer both front and rear-wheel drive:

  • Front-Drive: The power is received from the front wheels. This type is suitable for smaller, flat yards but they are easy to move and turn that you can do dull 180 degree turns. This is advantageous if there are many obstructions in the yard. Also, they’re generally cheaper than rear-drive mowers.
  • Rear-Drive: Oppositely, this type has its power on the back wheels. This provides better traction and is best suited for rough and hilly terrain. It’s a bit more expensive but it makes up for it through performance.

Push Lawn Mower vs Self-Propelled – Factors to Consider

This important choice varies from person to person. Since we want to guarantee that you buy the perfect lawn mower for your specific needs, whether it’s a push lawn mower or self-propelled, we listed down the things you need to consider:

woman cuts the lawn with gas powered push lawnmower

Lawn Size

Largely, when assessing push mower vs self-propelled, the most important factor is the lawn or yard itself!

The size of your lawn is definitely an important consideration when picking the right mower. It is recommended for push lawn mowers to be used in lawns with 1/2 acre or less. Using it in bigger lawns requires tremendous amounts of energy.

If you’re still okay with that, you can still push through with it. (pun intended)

But if not, just use the self-propelled mower.


Aside from the land area itself, you should be mindful of the terrain, i.e. whether the lawn is flat, hilly, or uneven.

In general, a push mower is completely capable of handling relatively flat lawns. Meanwhile, if it’s uneven with multiple hills or if it has decorative flowerbeds or ornaments; then, a self-propelled mower would be a better choice.

Here’s the recommended mower based on the size and terrain of your lawn:

Type of YardBest Mower
Small, FlatReel Mower
Small, UnevenPush Mower (gas or electric)
Small, HillySelf-Propelled (rear wheel drive)
Medium, FlatSelf-Propelled (front wheel drive)
Medium, HillySelf Propelled (rear wheel drive)
Large, FlatSelf-Propelled (front wheel drive)
Large, HillySelf Propelled (rear wheel drive)


As we’ve said earlier, assess whether or not you are capable of exerting effort in mowing your lawn by a push mower, as it requires your strength and your ability to effectively mow your lawn.

Even if you have the smallest and most even lawn out there, it still wouldn’t be advisable if you can’t even push the mower!

In that case, just use the self-propelled one, especially since you’ll just guide it where it needs to go.


If you have a hectic schedule, you can put the speed of mowing in your considerations. Generally, self-propelled mowers can cut down your mowing time because its speed can go up to 3.5 to 4 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, a push mower only goes as fast as you push it. So, if you love spending time in your lawn, then this is the choice for you. (Just always remember to put on hearing protection if you’ll be using the mower for a long time!)

man mowing lawn with push lawnmower


Self-propelled mowers are heavier mainly because of its gearbox. This makes it a bit challenging when you try to maneuver it. On the other hand, the push mower is definitely more lightweight but still requires more work to use it because of the lack of propelling motor.


I know you want to buy the cheapest lawn mowers out there. So, if you’re on a tight budget, you can stick with the push mower. They are much cheaper because of the lack of extra engineering.

Self-propelled mowers tend to cost twice as much because of the propulsion but there are still cheaper ones in the market that are of good quality.

And looking at a bigger picture, the self-propelled walk-behind mowers are then cheaper than lawn tractors and zero-turn riding mowers.

The Verdict?

Always remember…

There’s no one right answer in choosing your right lawn mower. Simply put, your circumstances should dictate which mower works best for you.

And this is the very purpose of this article – to help you match the characteristics of the mowers to that of your lawn.

Summarizing the points, here’s the pros and cons of the push mower and self-propelled mower:

Push Mower
  • Lightweight
  • Relatively cheap
  • Easy to maneuverable around objects
  • Requires more effort to mow
  • Not suitable for larger yards
Self Propelled Mower
  • Less effort to mow
  • Suitable for rougher terrain and larger yards
  • Faster Mowing
  • Greater maintenance
  • Heavier
  • More expensive

To recap, push mowers are great for homeowners who have plenty of time working on their lawn; who are physically and mentally capable of putting extra effort, given the characteristics of the yard ground, and who are on a smaller budget.

Self-propelled mowers, on the other hand, is an awesome choice if you have a larger area with slopes or hills; if you want a faster mowing time; and if you don’t want to exert extra effort that much.

Both are such amazing choices that even I can’t decide!


So… what now?

YOU decide.

We know that this type of decision will never be easy especially because it’s an investment, BUT it can quickly be eased up once you’re aware and attentive on all the factors.

Both the push lawn mower and self-propelled mower have their own advantages and disadvantages. So, it’s up to you to choose between push mower vs self-propelled mower.

Want to compare more mowers? Go read about Rotary vs Hover mowers. Good luck and happy mowing!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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