Different Types of Lawn Mowers

Lawn Mower Variations

Many gardeners dream of having a beautiful, lush, smooth green lawn, but that sort of thing doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes time, effort and maintenance to look after a lawn properly, and in order to do that, you are going to need a good quality lawnmower. Having a good quality lawn mower that is of a style appropriate to your grass type and lawn size can make a massive difference to the look of your lawn and how much work it takes to get it looking good. But the task of choosing the right lawn mower can feel overwhelming, as there are so many different types available and the jargon isn’t exactly the clearest.

Here at Best of Machinery, though, we have put together an introduction to the different types of lawn mowers available on the market, explaining what the difference between them is and what each type is best suited for. So if you are wondering what the difference is between a rotary mower and a reel mower, or a push mower and a manual mower, then read on below to find out more about the different types of lawn mowers!

Rotary Lawn Mowers

Rotary lawn mowers are the most common type of lawn mower out there. They feature a single cutting blade that rotates horizontally under the mower at a high speed, working a lot like a household food processor. The blade spins around like the propeller on a plane, cutting the grass as it impacts against it.

This is the most versatile type of lawn mower available and offers excellent performance for most types of grass and most surfaces. They are more powerful than cylinder mowers and work well for cutting coarser and longer grasses. Most types of powered push mower operate with a rotary blade design, and if you are not sure what the mower you already own is, chances are it is a rotary mower!

Rotary mowers are available in electric powered options, cordless rechargeable battery models, or petrol engine powered styles. These all offer different advantages and disadvantages, which we will cover below, but all of them operate on the same basic principles. Rotary mowers are relatively easy to take care of, as they don’t have as much in the way of moving parts as a ride on mower, but they still have plenty of parts that can get clogged up or bent, so it is important to look after your rotary mower and keep it well maintained.

Reel Lawn Mowers

Reel lawn mowers, otherwise known as cylinder lawn mowers, have cylindrical blade units at the front of the mower. These rotate vertically and cut against a fixed blade mounted at the bottom of the cutting unit. In general, the blade cylinders have multiple blades attached – usually at least three, and often more than that.

Reel or cylinder lawn mowers are an excellent choice for flat lawns that you want to keep short. They are not particularly adjustable and do not work particularly well on rough surfaces, but they work well for flat surfaces. If your lawn is flat enough, then these can be a very efficient and affordable choice for maintaining your grass at a constant height. They don’t tend to cope very well with rougher, coarser grass types, however, as the blades are designed more for smoother, softer grass blades.

Do Reel Mowers Work?

Reel lawn mowers come in electric and petrol powered variants, but the most common versions on the market are non-powered push mowers. Push reel mowers are some of the simplest and cheapest types of lawn mower and are also very easy to maintain, as there are fewer mechanical parts to look after.

Hover Lawn Mowers

Hover lawn mowers are a type of rotary mower that hovers above the ground instead of sliding along the surface. That makes them a great option for uneven surfaces, as well as generally being easier to push than most alternative options, thanks to the reduced friction against the ground.

In general, hover lawn mowers are a great choice for unusually shaped lawns, as they are easier to use in awkward corners or uneven patches, giving you more control over the fiddly edges of your lawn. However, they are not so good for larger lawns, and if you’ve got a bigger lawn, it is probably worth the expense of getting a larger and more powerful lawn mower. Hover lawn mowers are usually electric-powered and are cheaper than many other types of lawn mower, but they aren’t the most powerful out there, and that is a limitation that causes problems for many people with larger lawns.

Cordless Lawn Mowers

Cordless lawn mowers are a great choice for anyone prepared to pay a bit more for added convenience. This type of mower is a hassle-free option, with all of the benefits of an electric mower and no cable to get tangled up in and limit your range. This means they are a better choice for slightly larger gardens, although they are a little heavier and significantly more expensive than a traditional electric lawn mower.

Modern cordless lawn mowers are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are lighter and longer-lasting than the older style nickel-cadmium batteries, but this comes at a significant cost. In general, you are likely to be paying $500 or more for a decent cordless lawnmower. If you’ve got the money available, though, then the added convenience of going cordless might just be worth the cost!

Electric Lawn Mowers

Most modern home lawn mowers are powered by mains electricity from a regular power outlet. This is probably your best bet if you have a small or medium-sized lawn, as these mowers tend to be smaller and easier to store, as well as cheaper and lighter weight, and easier to steer and use.

Generally, electric lawn mowers come out at a cost of about $150 to $250, or potentially under $100 if you are looking at a smaller hover mower. The most important thing you need to remember, though, is that you will be limited by the length of your cable. If the cable is shorter than your garden, then you won’t be able to mow the far end of your garden! Measure both your garden and the cable before you buy, or you run the risk of disappointment and frustration!

Petrol Lawn Mowers

If you’ve got a particularly large lawn, then a petrol lawnmower might be the best option for you. These are great for trimming the entirety of a large area of grass where a mains electricity cable would be unable to reach the far end. They are more expensive and larger than electric lawn mowers, but they cut faster and they are much more powerful. They are also often a little easier to steer around awkwardly shaped obstacles.

What different types of Lawn Mower are there?

However, petrol lawn mowers have engines that run a lot like car engines. That means that they are more polluting than electric lawn mowers, and they need to be maintained like car engines. That means regular servicing, as well as regular checking and topping up of the oil. These are a bit more expensive than electric lawn mowers and usually come in at $200 to $750 or so, depending on how large and powerful a unit you want to go for.

Unpowered Push Lawn Mowers

Push lawn mowers are a type of reel lawn mower (otherwise known as cylinder lawn mowers) that have no internal motor. That means that you have to push them along with the strength of your own muscles, so they are usually fairly small and lightweight. Because they are small and require your own strength to propel them, push lawn mowers are best suited for smaller gardens.

However, they have a major advantage in that they do not produce noise or emissions at all, making them much quieter and more environmentally friendly than any sort of powered lawn mower. They are also cheaper, usually coming in below the $100 mark!

They have certain disadvantages, however. They require a reasonable amount of strength in order to push them, which can be tiring. That also means that they aren’t well suited to users who have difficulty pushing heavy objects. They’re also poorly suited for gardens with a significant slope, as well as gardens that are on the larger side.

Lawn Mower Types for Different Lawn Sizes

There are different types of lawn mower that are appropriate for different sizes of lawns. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about this, but there are some rough guidelines that you can follow in order to make sure you’re getting an appropriate type of lawn mower for your lawn.

If you have a small lawn (up to 1000 sq ft), then a cordless, electric or push mower will be appropriate. If your lawn is medium-sized (1000 to 2500 sq ft), then an electric, cordless, or petrol mower will work well. If your lawn is larger than 2500 sq ft, then you will probably want a petrol lawn mower to save time and effort.


There are many different types of lawn mower available on the market, but there are also many different sizes and types of garden out there. We’ve gone through some of the most common and popular types above, and the rough recommended uses for each one, but there are no rigid rules. Budget is a significant consideration that you should bear in mind as well as lawn size and type!

Hopefully, our guide to different types of lawn mowers above will help you to get a good sense of what is available in the lawn mower market. If you are looking to buy a new lawn mower, then a basic introduction to the different types of lawn mower can make a huge difference in how easy it is to make that decision!

About the Author

Bob Robinson has been a tool enthusiast and lawn care expert for the past 11 years. First working with John Deere to reduce their impact on the environment, whilst building his love for writing in his spare time. Now, Bob runs the editorial team at BestofMachinery and tends to his garden in his spare time.

We hope you enjoyed our article on "Different Types of Lawn Mowers", if so, please share and rate it.