Gas powered lawn mowers give you power, durability and flexibility.
As long as you’ve got the fuel, these things will keep going, meaning that you can cut lawns large and small, near to or far from your house.
There are various types of gas powered lawn mowers and a range of different features available.
This article therefore aims to guide you through the process of selecting the best gas powered mower for your requirements.
How does a gas lawn mower work?
Gas powered lawn mowers utilise the power of an engine to drive the rotation of a horizontal blade located in the mower’s cutting deck. The blade rotates at high speed and cuts the grass as the deck travels over the lawn.
Most modern gas lawn mowers have 4 cycle (or 4 stroke) engines, although some 2 cycle (2 stroke) models are available.
4 cycle engines are generally quieter and longer lasting than 2 cycle engines. They run on pure gasoline and have a separate oil chamber for engine lubrication oil. Two cycle engines run on a mixture (usually 50 to 1) of gas and oil. They can therefore be more troublesome to keep running because of the need to hand mix the oil/gas fuel.
In some models the power of the engine is also used to drive the wheels of the lawn mower. These are called ‘self-propelled mowers’. ‘Push mowers’, those without the benefit of engine drive, rely upon the efforts of the operator alone to push them across the grass.
Size and power of gas lawn mowers
Gas lawn mowers usually have engines ranging in power between about 2 and 7 horsepower. Engines have single cylinders with displacements of between about 140cc and 210cc.
Interestingly, tests by Consumer Reports showed that engine size and power made little difference to the performance of most mowers.
A somewhat more significant size factor therefore, is the width of the mower’s cutting deck.
Decks on consumer level gas powered lawn mowers are generally between 18 and 22 inches (45 to 55cms). Clearly, the wider the deck, the more grass the mower can cut in one pass.
How do gas lawn mowers compare to electric lawn mowers?
Trying to find the best lawn mower means comparing the pros and cons of the different types. These are the main gas vs electric lawn mower points of comparison.
They require more maintenance and, over their lifetime, are likely to be more costly than electric mowers, especially when fuel and oil costs are factored in.
On the other hand, there is no limitation on where a gas mower can be used. This contrast with the limits place on corded electric models by the length of the extension cord.
Similarly, gas mowers are not constrained by length of battery life as is the case with cordless mowers.
Overall, gas lawn mowers probably provide the most versatile lawn mower option, especially for the larger lawn.
Features to look out for in gas powered lawn mowers
I’ll therefore deal more specifically here with features especially relevant to gas lawn mowers.
As indicated above, an important choice you need to make is whether you want a self-propelled mower or a push mower.
A self propelled mower will be more expensive. For example, a 22 inch, 200cc PowerSmart self-propelled mower will set you back a fair bit more that a push mower with a fairly similar spec.
However, the difference is usually relatively small when you consider the time and effort a self-propelled mower will save you.
Most gas powered mowers have a recoil (pull) start. These days most mowers start pretty easily and some manufacturers, such as Husqvarna, have introduced easy start systems designed to make starting even more straightforward.
A few of the top of the range models now feature key activated electric starting, just like your car. This is very convenient but the battery that activates the electric start is not always charged by your mower, so in those case you you need to remember to recharge it yourself.
Some gas powered mowers have a single drive speed. Some have a throttle controlled variable speed.
Some (e.g. some Toro models) automatically adjust their speed to the pace at which you walk.
And some of the very best models, like the Honda HRC216HXA 21 inch mower feature infinitely variable speeds with cruise control, delivered by the kind of hydrostatic drives you find in many lawn tractors.
Wash out port
A wash out port is a very handy feature that lets you attach an ordinary garden hose to your mower’s deck to wash away the clippings, mud and debris each time you finish using it. This keeps the deck in good condition and helps your mower operate efficiently next time you fire it up.
I’ve covered the grass discharge options in detail on the page on choosing the best type of lawn mower. Suffice to say here that the choices are side discharge, mulching and bagging. Some models offer all 3 options and some just 2 (usually mulching and side discharge.
It is important to determine the discharge method you are likely to want to use most and to choose a model with a reputation for doing that well.
Blade brake clutch
This is a very handy feature, the lack of which, on an old mower I have, really annoys me.
A blade break or blade override clutch allows you to stop the mower and the blade, let go of the controls but still keep the engine running. It’s like having your car in neutral or park.
The beauty of this is that you don’t have to stop and re-start every time you need to move things out of the way or empty you grass catcher. The added advantage is that you reduce engine wear by not constantly re-starting.
Comfort of operation
Padded handles are offered on some models. These can be a godsend when you’re operating the mower for long periods. Also look out for adjustable handles that can be made to suit your height.
Have you ever tried turning a decent sized gas powered mower in a small space?
It’s not easy, unless you have a model with swivelling front wheels. These bring something approaching zero turn capability to the walk-behind mower arena and are a welcome new feature of some models.
Best uses for gas lawn mowers
A gas powered lawn mower will suit you if:
- You have a medium size to large lawn
- You have no noise restrictions to worry about
- You are happy to do a little maintenance, such as oil changes
- You need a powerful machine, for example because you have long, lush or coarse grass
- You need to mow out of the reach of an extension cord or for extended periods
- You want the versatility that a gas powered mower can give you
- You are reasonably strong and fit.
Unless there are particular reasons why a gas mower would not be suitable (e.g. you particularly need a quiet or lightweight machine), then I have always thought that gas powered lawn mowers are hard to beat.
However, as the urgency of the climate threat is mounting, cordless electric mowers are starting to challenge my thinking – especially since the battery technology is improving all the time.
Cordless models won’t suit every situation, for example, if you have large areas to mow or your grass gets left for lengthy periods between mowings. You might also prefer to wait until the battery technology improves further. So there will definitely be a place for gas powered mowers for some time to come.
In any case, as always, buy the best quality you can afford – stretch you budget if you have to – and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Top gas powered lawn mowers
When you are looking for the best gas lawn mower, Honda lawn mowers are probably the best place to start. I’ve owned 5 mowers in the last twenty years and the two best have both been Hondas.
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Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Amazon best sellers
The mowers below are current Amazon best sellers. These are therefore worth considering given that the best sellers are almost exclusively those that have received a high number of good customer reviews.
- Single-lever deck adjustment for quickly setting your mow height
- MAXFlow Deck Technology – volute spiral deck design for better airflow and mulching
- Heavy-duty, 16-gauge stamped steel deck
- Durable, one-piece seamless steel deck reduces vibration
- Seven cutting heights from 1.25″ to 3.75″
- EASY YARD MAINTENANCE: The 21-inch cutting width and durability make this gas lawn mower a breeze to use, effortlessly tackling small to medium yards and giving you a flawless cut every time
- POWERFUL ENGINE: The lawn mower is powered by a reliable Briggs & Stratton 140 cc gas powered engine that is designed to provide longer engine life, low vibration, and easy maintenance; Prime N’ Pull start makes it easy to start the mower every time
- 3-IN-1 LAWN MOWER: The 3-in-1 steel deck with mulching, side discharge, and rear bagging provides versatile mowing options; 16-gallon bagger is included; Ergonomic handle maximizes user comfort during use
- EASY HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT: The 6-position dual-lever height adjustment from 1.25-inch to 3.75-inch ensures you get the perfect cut every time; 8″ front and 11″ rear wheels provide great maneuverability through rough terrain and uneven surfaces
- WHAT’S INCLUDED: The walk-behind lawn mower includes engine oil, mulch plug, side discharge chute, and 16-gallon bagger; All SENIX gas lawn mowers are backed by our 2-year limited warranty for your peace of mind
- Single Lever Cutting Height Adjustment: 7-position single-lever height adjustment from 1.25-inch to 3.75-inch
- Cutting Capacity: 22-Inch cutting width provides a large cutting area with high durability
- Powerful Engine: Briggs & Stratton 625Exi 150 cc 4-cycle Made-in-USA engine with Prime n Pull start delivers reliable power to quickly tackle your job
- Mowing: 3-in-1 steel decking with mulching, side discharge and rear discharge capacity
- Self-propelled: Rear-wheel drive, variable speed feature makes mowing effortless, especially on slope
- Exclusive and industry-leading CVT (Continuously variable transmission) offers superior speed variability to adjust the mower pace to your walking speed by simply selecting the 6-speed shift lever.Recommended for Terrain Type : Flat, Sloped, Uneven..Wheel Width : 2″. Rear Bagger Capable : Yes.
- Exclusive rubber tires with aggressive spike tread pattern significantly increases overall traction and maneuverability
- Easily clean the underside of the cutting deck with the deck cleanout port
- Single-lever deck adjustment for quickly setting your mow height
- 7 cutting heights from 1.38 in. to 3.55 in.
- EFFICIENT LAWN MOWING: The SENIX 20-inch gas push mower features a steel deck with a 20-inch cutting width, providing a large cutting area with high durability for small to medium size yards; The fold-down handle allows for easy storage and space-saving
- POWERFUL ENGINE: The Briggs & Stratton 125 cc 4-cycle E300 engine with Prime n Pull start delivers reliable power to quickly tackle your lawn; The engine on the push lawn mower is designed for longer engine life, low vibration, and easy maintenance
- CONVENIENCE AND COMFORT: The durable steel deck with a unique vortex tunnel design and a side discharge chute disperses grass clippings evenly, while the ergonomic handle maximizes user comfort during use
- EASY TO ADJUST AND MANEUVER: The 3-position manual height adjustment tailors grass cutting height from 1.35 inches to 3.15 inches, while the durable 7-inch wheels provide easy maneuverability in tight spaces
- WHAT’S INCLUDED: The SENIX walk-behind lawn mower comes with engine oil for your convenience; Is it backed by our 2-year limited warranty, so you can purchase with confidence
- Self-propelled gas mower features a 21-inch, 3-in-1 steel cutting deck with TriAction Cutting System and side discharge, mulch, or rear bag capabilities
- 6-position dual lever height adjuster easily changes cutting heights from 1.25 to 3.75 inches
- Powered by 163cc Briggs & Stratton engine with a recoil (pull start) system with variable speed transmission; 8-inch front and back wheels with rear-wheel drive propel the mower forward, making it easy to maneuver back and forth and take turns
- Ergonomic handle and 3 handlebar positions make the mower comfortable to operate, great for accommodating users of various heights
- Suitable for yards from 0.25 to 0.5 acres and recommended for use on flat or sloped terrain; Integrated deck wash system for simple cleaning
- POWERFUL ENGINE: 140cc BRIGGS & STRATTON engine with auto-choke
- MOWING CONVENIENCE: 21 in., 3-in-1 convertible deck lets you side discharge, mulch, or rear bag grass clippings
- CLIPPING COLLECTION: Rear bag collects grass clippings for easy cleanup or composting
- HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT: Dual-lever, 6-position height adjustment makes it easy to change cutting heights from 1.25 in. to 3.75 in. high
- COMFORT: Adjustable loop handle for comfort while mowing. MULCH KIT: Included to help put nutrients back into soil for a healthy lawn
Last update on 2023-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Here we feature more of the best options from UK retailers.
As I mentioned above. I have had two Honda lawn mowers over the years – one was a self-propelled Honda Izy and the other was a larger HR series mower – and they have both been outstanding machines. So Hondas feature heavily in this list.
Remember, we may receive a small commission if you purchase any of these mowers, after clicking through the links on this website.
Are gas or electric lawn mowers better?
It very much depends on what you need the mower for – e.g. how large your lawn is, how frequently you mow, etc. Broadly, electric mowers (especially cordless) are fine for smaller areas, but gas powered mowers are better for bigger mowing jobs. There is more on choosing the best mower for your needs here.
Which is the best gas powered lawn mower for the money?
Again, much depends on your needs and, in particular your budget. I personally think it is very hard to beat Honda mowers, but these are premium options. In the US, Craftsman produce some good, more affordable, models (see the Amazon best sellers list above).
How long do gas mowers last?
Clearly it depends on the quality of mower that you buyer. A decent gas powered mower should last you at least 10 years, if you maintain it well.
Are gas powered mowers going to be banned?
California has passed legislation that will ban the sale of new gas powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers from 2024. But this does not affect mowers purchased before then, or the market for second hand mowers.
Whether other states or countries follow suit remains to be seen, but it certainly can’t be ruled out.
Martin Cole has been an avid gardener for more than 20 years and loves to talk and write about gardening. In 2006 he was a finalist in the BBC Gardener of the Year competition. He is a member of the National dahlia Society.
He previously lived in London and Sydney, Australia, where he took a diploma course in Horticultural studies and is now based in North Berwick in Scotland. He founded GardeningStepbyStep.com in 2012. The website is aimed at everybody who has been bitten by the gardening bug and wants to know more.
Gardening Step by Step has been cited by Thompson and Morgan, the UK’s largest mail order plant retailer, as a website that publishes expert gardening content.
Check out my comprehensive step by step guide, with plain language explanations and ultra-useful images and illustrations. This is for you if you love dahlias and want to the best out of the dahlias you grow.