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What Does Self Propelled Lawn Mower Mean – Complete Beginner’s Guide

Say goodbye to back-breaking lawn mowing while using your push lawn mowers. There is a better option for walk-behind lawn mowers with drive wheels and forward-moving power to take out the push from the lawn mowing chore. Yes, a self-propelled mower! Wait, what’s that? Read on to know what is a self propelled lawn mower, its advantages, how it works, different types and factors to consider before buying one.

What is a Self Propelled Lawn Mower?

A self-propelled lawn mower is simply a walk-behind mower that does not need the push to move forward. Instead, it uses the engine power to propel itself in the forward direction, saving your elbow grease. However, it does need to be steered by you to change its direction.

Advantages of Self-propelled Lawn Mowers

Self-propelled mowers are not less than magic if you are tired of spending a lot of time and energy mowing work and thinking- enough is enough. We are going to count many of its plus points to get you convinced if you are still confused about getting one:

  • Noise-Free Mowing: If you are always worried about your family and neighbors complaining about the noise whenever you mow your lawn, the best choice is to get a self-propelled mower as they come in gas as well as electric versions. You can get both batteries operated (cordless) and a plug-in electric model in electrically operated models. And, they are very quiet compared to traditional gas-operated lawn mowers.
  • Save Time and Energy: This is the biggest perk of having a self-propelled lawn mower. The amount of time and energy saved is tremendous compared to the push mowers.
  • Smooth Cut: As there is lesser human power involvement in self-propelled mowers, there is much less stopping, starting, pushing, and pulling involved, leading to a smooth and even cutting of grass.
  • Best for Slopes: If there is a lot of inclination, or your lawn is in a hilly area, the push mower won’t simply work for you. The best option is to get a rear-wheel-drive self-propelled mower to mow up and down hills with ease and effort without breaking into a heavy sweat. 
  • Suitable for Aged and Special Needs People: Self-propelled mowers are the best choice for elder people who may not have much energy to use a push mower. People with some physical difficulties, like those who have arthritis in their hands, also gain much from self-propelled mowers as they need not use their hands to push the mower. 
  • Reliant: Most of the self-propelled mowers are made with heavy-duty parts and are expected to last longer compared to push mowers made for cheap and of low quality.

How Does a Self Propelled Mower Work?

A self-propelled lawn mower is similar in working to a push mower, as there are motors/engines that transmit power to blades to make it spin to cut the grass. The same engine also serves as a driving force to move it forward. However, that does not mean it will do the mowing job itself without human involvement. A person is needed to steer it just like a car to move it in the desired direction and maneuver obstacles like trees and big stones. Some Self-propelled mowers have handle/shifters which also control speeds and driving wheels. They also come with side features like side mulching and bagging.

Types of Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers

There are many kinds of self-propelled mowers based on driving wheels, power sources, and other features. We will see how they differ from each other and their suitability.

  1. Front Wheel Drive Mower (FWD): Front-wheel lawn mowers use powers in their front wheel to steer the mower. They are best suited for flat ground with many obstacles as you can easily get into tight corners by losing traction on the front wheels. 
  2. Rear-Wheel Drive Mower (RWD): Rear-wheel is best suited to people with uphill and sidehill mowing needs. They work by engaging the rear wheels while working uphill and not losing traction on the front wheels while pushing the handlebar. They are the best choice for elderly people. 
  3. All-wheel drive: All-wheel drive Mowers use power in all their wheels. They are best for steep downhill and uphill mowing. However, you will feel the ease once you start working with them on very rough terrain.
  4. Gas Mowers: This self-propelled mower uses gas to power its engine, is comparatively more sturdy, and lasts longer. They don’t come with a self-starter button and usually have a cord that needs to be pulled once/many times to start the engine. Self propelled gas lawn mowers are noisier than their other types.
  5. Electric- Cordless: They come with a battery that needs to be recharged and usually lasts up to 45 minutes. You may need to charge the battery between mowing tasks depending on how big your mowing area is. They are very easy to start and almost noise-free.
  6. Electric Plug-In Mower: They come with a cord that you need to plug in the main power. As they are not cordless, they are not suited for big areas. Otherwise, they are similar to battery-operated mowers.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Self-Propelled Lawn Mower


If you have a 40X40 lawn area only, a simple push mower is more than enough for you. For a lawn bigger than ¼ acre, a self-propelled lawn mower is simply a necessity, not even a luxury. Also, the area’s inclination and slope are major factors too while deciding the mower. As we explained, a rear-drive self-propelled mower is the best choice for a hilly area. 


The self-propelled mowers are heavy-duty and are built to last. So, they will always be on the pricey side compared to push mowers. The front-wheel-drive mower is the cheapest and is suitable for 80% of the mower’s needs. Go for the one which fits your budget and needs.

Physical Ability

When buying a mower for an older adult or someone with physical difficulties, you must check the suitability factor. While a self-propelled mower is helpful for an aged person, it might not be the best choice for a person with walking difficulties.

Repair and Maintenance

The self-propelled mower is great and comes with special features that make them a complex system. They have a lot of parts, and as a result, their maintenance and repair costs tend to be higher. That must be taken into account when making the buying decision.

Manual vs Self propelled vs Push Mower

The lawnmower which uses human power to move forward is called a push or manual mower. While a self-propelled mower can move forward with its engine power and only needs to be directed in the required direction. Simply, the difference between push and self propelled lawn mower is, the later saves your time and energy that you spend in mowing using the push mower.


Is self propelled mower worth it?

Yes, it is; as mentioned above self-propelled lawn mowers saves time and energy. Without any manual pushing, they can cut thick grass which obviously makes it worth buying.

Can you push a self propelled lawn mower?

Yes, you can manually push a self propelled mower which works fine. However, they are a bit heavier than the push mowers which makes it a little difficult to mow manually.

Final Thoughts

Each product comes with its pros and cons and should be bought according to one’s mowing needs and budget. But self-propelled mowers have become a favorite among people who use walk-behind mowers for their mowing needs. Read this complete article and understand its working, uses and types to pick the best lawn mower for your yard.