What Is A Self Propelled Lawn Mower? Find Out Here!

Written By James
Updated July 24, 2021 by James

What Is A Self Propelled Lawn Mower? Find Out Here!

Our Best Guide To Self-Propelled Mowers

If you are on the hunt for a new lawnmower, you've probably come across a couple of different types on the market such as push mowers and self-propelled mowers.

Understanding the difference between these mowers can be a little confusing if it's your first time buying one, so to put it simply, a self-propelled mower is a mower that uses a drive shaft to propel the mower when engaged, much like a vehicle. This drive system turns the wheels, pushing the mower forward.

So as we can understand how these mowers work and how they differ from other mowers on the market, we have put together an extensive guide below, which will tell you everything you need to know about self-propelled mowers so you can see if they are right for you.

What Is a Self-Propelled Mower?

As we mentioned above, a self-propelled mower operates with a drive shaft that propels the wheels of the mower forward when engaged. This kind of mower allows you to have extra support as you push it and is most suited to gardens on an incline.

Most self-propelled mowers come with some kind of activation bar that allows you to hold it down when you want the mower to propel you forward and release it when you want the mower to stop.

Other Types Of Mowers

On the market, you may also come across push mowers and riding mowers, we will explain what these two types of mowers are below so as you can understand the difference between each type.

Push Mowers

A push mower has no motor and is propelled forward by the user of the mower. These mowers often come with around eight blades and can be a great cost-effective solution if you are looking to not spend too much on a mower.

These manual mowers are not only cheap, but they are environmentally friendly too and easy to use, they also don't make a lot of noise and produce a lot of healthy mulch for your lawn.

Drawbacks of push mowers tend to be the fact they require more work as the user has to push, they also might struggle on tough grass and large gardens, as well as taking more time.


  • Cheap.
  • Easy to use.
  • No maintenance needed.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • No noise.


  • Takes more time to mow.
  • Not powerful.
  • Requires more user power.

Riding Mowers

Riding mowers are less common for people to buy as they tend to be for professional use or suited for large gardens. These mowers require you to sit on them and drive them like a car, typically coming with a full engine and in petrol forms.

These kinds of mowers are very sturdy and are perfect if you have a larger lawn on uphill terrain, they also save a lot of time and can be used with a huge variety of attachments.

Downfalls of these mowers have to be their high price, and they don't tend to be needed for the average homeowner. These mowers also need maintenance and can be a little bit difficult to operate in comparison to other types of mowers.


  • Great for large gardens.
  • Best for inclines.
  • Time-saving.


  • Expensive.
  • Not needed for the average garden.
  • Maintenance.

How Do Self-Propelled Mowers Work?

Self-propelled mowers work by using their engine and drive belt to push the mower forward, the main parts of a self-propelled mower are; the engine, driver belt, wheels, handles, blades and deck.

To put it simply, on most self-propelled mowers, the self-propelled system operates by the user pushing down on the lever or handle and/or pulling the cord to start up the mower's engine. This is when the mower is switched on the blades start to rotate underneath.

The driveshaft is then pulled down which activates the drive-forward system and turns the wheels of the mower, helping you guide the mower along difficult or up-hill terrain as the blades rotate underneath. Some of these mowers may additionally have variable speed and come with a rear-wheel drive or two-wheel drive.

Types Of Self Propelled Mowers

If you are looking at buying a self-propelled mower, you will likely be faced with the decision between buying an electric model or a petrol model, both have their advantages and disadvantages depending on what you want and the type of lawn you have.

We will compare both types of self-propelled mowers below.

Petrol Mowers

Petrol self-propelled mowers are very powerful and operate via fuel and their engine to help propel your mower forward and rotate its blades. These mowers tend to be less expensive than battery models and have a larger range on the market to choose from.

Downfalls of these mowers have to be the noise and environmental pollution from the fuel. They can also have a lot of maintenance required because of their engine and aren't the easiest to start if they have a pull cord mechanism.


  • Affordable.
  • Good for large gardens.
  • Powerful.


  • Noisy.
  • Bad for the environment.
  • Needs a lot of maintaining.

Electric Mowers

Electric battery self-propelled mowers are much easier to use with a push start mechanism and don't need a lot of maintaining due to their battery system, this battery can be charged before mowing which will power the blades and self-propelled system. These mowers are also environmentally friendly and silent.

The drawbacks of electric models are the fact the battery can run out of charge during mowing, meaning you would have to wait for it to charge back up unless you have a spare one on hand. These mowers additionally are more expensive and don't have as much power as petrol mowers.


  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Easy to start.
  • Silent.


  • The battery can take time to charge.
  • Not as powerful as petrol alternatives.
  • Expensive.


Overall, both self-propelled mowers are excellent options if you are looking for a bit more support when mowing your lawn, we would choose a petrol model if you have a larger and thicker lawn and you are on a budget, however, for average lawns, a battery option could be more suitable as there operation needs little maintenance and is very easy to use.

Why Should I Buy a Self-Propelled Mower?

So you might be asking yourself, why would I go for a self-propelled mower when they are more expensive than push models? Well, this all depends on your lawn and personal preference, for example, if mowing feels like a chore to you, you get tired easily and it takes you a long time, then a self-propelled mower is worth the extra investment.

We have listed out a few other reasons you might want to choose a self-propelled mower below.

  • They save you time - The self-propelled system on these mowers drive you forward while mowing and cut the time you spend mowing your lawn in half.
  • Less tiring - As the mower is driven forward, this requires much less push from the user, leaving you with lots of energy to get on with other chores throughout the day.
  • You can mulch - Most self-propelled mowers have the option to bag grass clippings, mulch them or have side-discharge options.
  • They are easy to use - The automatic choke systems on these mowers make them very easy to start and use cold.
  • Great for thick grass - If your lawn gets thick grass, self-propelled mowers will help you cut through it with ease as it turns the blades of your mower at a fast pace.

Factors To Consider When Buying a Self-Propelled Mower

If your shopping for a self-propelled mower and you not sure what you need to be looking for in your model, we have narrowed down the most essential features for you to consider in your new mower so as you can be certain it will be right for you and your lawn.

  • The cutting function - One of the first factors to consider in your self-propelled mower is whether you want it to come with a mulching function or not. A mulching function can save you from having to empty grass clippings and act as a great fertiliser for your lawn.
  • Drive option - When deciding on your self-propelled mower you will have the option to choose a front-drive or a rear-wheel-drive system. Front-wheel driver mowers are easier to manoeuvre while rear-drive can offer more support and help you mow in a straight line.
  • Wheel size - You will have the option of choosing a high wheel or low wheel mower, high wheel mowers are the best to go for if you will be using your mower on bumpy terrain but do tend to cost more.
  • 2 in 1 or 3 in 1 - Three in one self-propelled mower have the option of mowing your lawn normally, bagging it or mulching it, two in one model will either mag or mulch your grass.
  • Battery or fuel - Battery mowers are more expensive but easier to use, petrol mowers are more powerful but need engine maintenance.
  • Engine type - If you decide on a petrol self-propelled mower you will be faced with the option of either choosing two-stroke or four-stroke engine, four-stroke engines tend to be more popular and require you to put fuel rather than a mix of fuel and oil in a two-stroke engine, they are also more powerful and quieter.

Frequently Asked Questions About Self-Propelled Mowers

How much does a self-propelled mower cost? 

This depends on the model you buy and its type of power source, mowers can start at £200 and go all the way up to £1000 for a very high-quality powerful model.

What are the drawbacks of self-propelled mowers? 

The drawbacks of these mowers are their expensive price and maintenance, as the motor in these mowers means there is more chance of something going wrong.

Are there any advantages to choosing a self-propelled mower over other types?

These types of mowers are strong and cut fairly thick grass, as well as offer support with their variable speed settings and help you cut down the time you spend mowing.

Last Words

To conclude our self-propelled mower guide, these mowers work simply, and offer the user full control with levers and handles to stop and start the self-propel system, as well as variable speed settings which let you decide how fast or slow you want your mower to drive.

We would always recommend choosing a self-propelled mower over a push mower if you have a larger garden and want to reduce the time you spend mowing.

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My father, and his father before him, and his father; for the past 3 generations, my family have always been into gardening. The green fingers is a gift passed down to me and I thoroughly enjoy it! I also have worked in the manufacturing department for Bosch and DeWalt so I like to think I know a thing or two about tools and such!
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