Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower Under $400: Buying Guide
Some of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood chores include sore arms and dirty, grass covered clothing. Often times, the results of the dreaded biweekly slog with my family’s old push lawn mower. Cutting the grass certainly isn’t the most celebrated of the lawn care chores, but it is one of the most important. For that reason, picking the best self propelled lawn mower should be high on your list of priorities.
Fortunately for kids (and adults) everywhere, self propelled lawn mowers have become the norm. These fantastic machines will last for years, and if you follow this guide, you can get one that won’t break the bank.
We’ve compiled this list of the best self-propelled lawn mowers that will set you back less than 400 bucks.
Lawn Mower Name
Features: The Things That Matter
The Best Self Propelled Lawn Mower
Many people might be tempted to purchase tractor riding lawn mowers. After all, being able to sit while cutting the grass seems like it’s a lot better than having to walk, right? Unfortunately, when cutting your lawn with a riding mower like that, you lose a lot of the fine control that a walking lawn mower provides.
For example, a riding lawn mower is far inferior to a self propelled walking lawn mower when it comes to intricate lawn features, trees, gardens, and flower beds. The bulky tractor of a riding mower simply can’t maneuver around those small obstacles. And you can forget about cutting in the corners of fences or patios with a riding mower.
It can also be downright unsafe to use a riding mower in some yards. Yards with steep drops can prove dangerous when using a riding mower, where a simple user error can lead to a dramatic accident.
Different Options For Drive Control
An important feature of the best self propelled lawn mowers is what type of drive control system it utilizes. The drive control system affects maneuverability, and different yards are better suited for different types.
Some mowers use “bails,” or metal rods, that you press into the handle to engage. These systems are better for yards that have relatively more wide open areas that require continuous engagement of the drive.
Other mowers use lever operated drive control. These systems work by engaging a lever that you push with your thumb into the handle. These systems are better for yards that have a lot of features, turns, or fences that will require a lot of stopping, starting, and back and forth movement.
Drive control is an important feature to consider when selecting a self propelled mower. Take a look at your yard, and determine whether you’ll be engaging in more sustained mowing or more stopping and starting.
Front Drive vs. Rear Drive
Another feature that most overlook is whether your mower is front wheel drive or rear wheel drive. While not as significant as the drive in your car, picking between these two options is still necessary for the best lawn care.
Front wheel drive mowers are better for yards that require more maneuvering. The front wheel drive allows you to push down on the handle and pivot the mower on the back wheels, all without disengaging the drive or the mowing blade. This makes for a faster, more efficient job while cutting around flower beds, trees, and lawn features.
Rear wheel drive mowers are better for yards that have slopes and hills. The rear wheel drive allows for better traction in these hilly environments, which can definitely result in some headaches if you’re not careful.
As with any motorized tool, lawn mowers come with different sized engines equipped for different conditions. These engines will usually range in size from 140cc to 190cc. Larger engines are more equipped to cut through tough grass, weeds, and shrubs. Of course, they also consume more fuel, so going for a larger engine unnecessarily will be a waste of money in the long run.
There are also some engine variations that can bring features like lower fuel consumption, a quieter operation, and a longer life. But as with anything, you get what you pay for, and a more expensive engine may not always be necessary, especially for those on a budget.
All those grass clippings have to go somewhere, and the way different mowers deal with them may make a difference in which one you want to buy.
There are three different ways to deal with grass clippings. They can be mulched, which cuts them into small pieces and puts them in a bag. They can be blown out of the side or back. Bagging is also an option, usually attached to the back of the mower.
Different mowers will have different capabilities, and many can do all three. Some don’t, however, so be sure that the mower you’re buying can handle grass clippings in the way that you plan to handle them.
Additional Features to Consider
There are a lot of other features to consider when selecting a self propelled lawn mower. Many of these features are only included with more expensive mowers. Yet, if they sound like they would significantly improve your lawn mowing, you should consider spending the extra money.
Adjustable wheel height makes cutting rough terrain easier
Wash-out mower deck allows you to connect a water hose to clean out your mower
Blade brake clutch allows you to walk away from your mower while it’s still on, important for those who frequently have to move debris or toys
Let's Review Each Of Our Top Picks
Lawn Mower Name
The first mower on our list is the Troy-Bilt TB270ES, a gas powered self propelled mower with a 159cc engine and a 21 inch deck. This capable mower can handle some pretty tough lawns, and for the average yard it will certainly do the job.
One of the most interesting features is its electric starting feature, which removes the need to pull the starting cord and makes starting the mower a breeze.
What We Like
Electric start push-button
21 inch deck adjustable to six different heights from 1.25 to 3.75 inches
Adjustable loop handle makes for easy maneuvering
Front wheel drive with 8”, durable front and back wheels
The Troy-Bilt mower makes use of a single-lever drive control system and can handle grass clippings in all three ways. Perhaps the best part of this product is that you get all of this for less than 350 bucks.
The benefits of the Troy-Bilt are a powerful mower, fantastic maneuverability, and some user-friendly features without paying a whole lot. As an added bonus, you’ll get the proven quality and customer service of a Troy-Bilt product, something that can’t be understated.
The Husqvarna mower features a 140cc Briggs and Stratton engine that is particularly quiet while running. Although the engine is on the small side, this mower is extremely adept at maneuvering around obstacles, making the HU550FH perfect for a typical smaller residential lawn.
It’s good at this because of it’s front wheel drive, large rear wheels that are perfect for pivoting, and It’s 22 inch mowing deck contains a washout port, making it very easy to keep your mower clean.
What We Like
Mower deck washout port
Huge back wheels, increasing maneuverability
Can handle grass clippings in all three ways
At under $300, this mower is a great entry level self propelled lawn mower for any homeowner. While the engine is on the small side and will likely get bogged down in some of the thicker stuff, you get the added benefit of quiet operation, less fuel consumption, and a cheaper machine.
Our only qualm is that it lacks a blade brake clutch, which would make it’s maneuverability factor shoot off the charts. At such a low price point, though, it’s hard to pass up this Husqvarna product.
Yard Machines Self-Propelled Mower
The Yard Machines mower is the cheapest on our list, at under 250 bucks, but it also has one of the biggest engines. Its 159cc engine, combined with its 21 inch steel deck, can tackle some pretty big jobs, especially relative to other mowers with a similar price.
However, it does lack some features of other mowers on our list. For example, it has only one speed, only two different height settings, and it only is capable of mulching or discharging your grass clippings.
What We Like
Powerful motor that will handle weeds, tall grass, and tough terrain
Durable wheels with great maneuverability
Priced at a great value
2-year warranty included with purchase
There’s no doubt about it, this mower isn’t quite as durable as the others, nor does it have the array of features. However, if you have a small or medium sized yard with some rough terrain or obstacles, and are on a pretty tight budget, we can’t recommend this mower enough.
The engine is where this Yard Machines mower really shines, it will rarely break a sweat for most common residential jobs. And more importantly, you’ll definitely benefit from a more powerful machine if your yard is full of weeds and rough patches.
Poulan Pro PR675AWD
Poulan offers a wide variety of self propelled lawn mowers, but we think that this is the best one of the bunch. The Poulan Pro AWD has a sturdy, steel 22 inch mowing deck with a deck washout port, up to 9 different height settings, and a Kohler 675 149cc Autochoke engine.
It also has sturdy 8 inch rear and front wheels and is equipped with four wheel drive, boosting maneuverability. It sports a 3-in-1 grass clipping feature, with bagging, mulching, and side discharge capabilities.
What We Like
A ton of height adjustments for the mowing deck
Deck washout port
Sturdier than similarly priced mowers
User friendly lever drive system
All in all, it’s hard to beat the Poulan Pro as a residential self propelled lawn mower. It’s customizable to any type of lawn, as sturdy as a much more heavy duty product, and has an engine big enough to tackle any residential lawn.
With a price under $350, you may be shocked at just how much Poulan managed to add to this mower. Certainly, the Poulan Pro AWD is near the top of the list of the best self propelled lawn mowers.
The final item in our guide comes from more of an unconventional company "AAVIX". But what it lacks in name recognition, the AGT1321 makes up for with a plethora of well-executed features that will have you double taking at the price tag (in a good way).
At a price of under $300, the AGT1321 features a 159cc EPA3 rated engine that is among the most powerful you’ll find in a mower under $400.
It’s sturdy, 22 inch mowing deck doesn’t have a washout port unfortunately, but it does have a single-lever adjustment with nine different height settings ranging from 1.25 to 3.75 inches.
What We Like
Included nylon grass catcher
Customizable grass discharge locations--side or back
The front wheel drive system is operated with a “bail” lever, and the 10” back wheels are smooth to pivot on. It features a 3-in-1 grass clipping system, complete with discharge locations in the side and in the back.
This mower is great for small to large residential sized yards, and can be used in both tight corners and wide open spaces with efficiency.
While perhaps not as durable as some of the other mowers in this guide, you’d be hard pressed to find another option with an engine as big as the AGT1321’s and all of the included features. For that reason alone, this product is definitely worth a look.
Maybe they aren’t as glamorous as riding tractor or zero turn lawn mowers, but self propelled lawn mowers are the best machines to cut tricky residential yards. A yard only looks as good as its grass does, so any homeowner that overlooks the single most important part of lawncare is definitely going to regret it.
In this guide, we looked at five fantastic options for anyone in search of a self propelled lawn mower. Not every yard is the same and customers should always make purchases with their own unique circumstances in mind.
For the extremely budget conscious user, nothing can beat the Yard Machines Self-Propelled Mower which manages to pack a huge engine and several helpful features into a very low priced product.
For those looking for more sturdy, long-lasting mowers for their lawns, we think the Poulan Pro AWD can’t be beat. It’s the sturdiest and heaviest of the mowers on this list, and definitely deserves a look.