Best Self Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower of 2021: Top 6 Picks

Last update: 2021-09-26

Stroll through the self-propelled mulching lawnmower aisle and you’ll face an insane number of choices – from many different price points, weight, runtime, and power to the wide variety of materials.

After testing 30 top contenders, here are the 6 best self-propelled mulching lawn mowers that we felt the most satisfied with. Take a look!

Here are the best self propelled mulching lawn mowers you can buy in 2021:

  • Easy To Start (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): Craftsman M215
  • Easy To Assemble (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): Honda HRN216VKA
  • Best Budget Option (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): PowerSmart DB8621SR
  • Lightweight (Battery Lawn Mower): Greenworks Pro MO80L410
  • Durable (Battery Lawn Mower): Snapper 168791
  • Best For Consistent Performance (Battery Lawn Mower): Makita XML08PT1
6 Best Self Propelled Mulching Lawn Mowers
Easy To Start
Craftsman M215
  • Gas Powered Lawn Mower
Easy To Assemble
Honda HRN216VKA
  • Gas Powered Lawn Mower
Best Budget Option
PowerSmart DB8621SR
  • Gas Powered Lawn Mower
Lightweight
Greenworks Pro MO80L410
  • Battery Lawn Mower
Durable
Snapper 168791
  • Battery Lawn Mower
Best For Consistent Performance
Makita XML08PT1
  • Battery Lawn Mower

Easy To Start (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): Craftsman M215

Craftsman M215
Craftsman M215
9.6Outstanding
Pros
  • Quick and easy to start - auto-choke feature
  • Mulch and cut well – the powerful 195CC OHV gas engine
  • Good traction - ultra-large 11” rear wheels
Cons
  • It works noisily; you might need to wear ear protection

The Craftsman M215 highlights the auto-choke features to offer reliable start-up out of the box. In our testing, it easily started from the first pull every time we needed it, which is truly an arm-saver.

It houses a powerful 195CC OHV gas engine, along with variable speed self-propel to use effortlessly. Whether cutting grass or mulching, this unit is a great workhorse.

Besides, Craftsman M215 is built well for rough terrain while providing good traction thanks to the ultra-large 11” rear wheels, so traversing it over bumpy terrain or slopes is not a big deal.

Craftsman M215 Specifications

Engine Type

OHV

Engine Size

159CC

Cutting Width

21 Inches

Cutting Height Adjustments

1”-5”

Highlight Features

auto-choke feature

the powerful 195CC OHV gas engine

ultra-large 11” rear wheels

Verdict

The Craftsman M215 is unusual among self-propelled mulching lawn mowers because of its auto-choke technology, which makes it very easy to start

Easy To Assemble (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): Honda HRN216VKA

Honda HRN216VKA
Honda HRN216VKA
9.6Outstanding
Pros
  • Quick and easy to assemble - comes 100% pre-assembled
  • More powerful than the Honda HRS Series – feature a higher-grade GCV170 engine
  • Easy to maneuver – weigh only 92 pounds
Cons
  • Wheels are a little bit difficult to push

Honda HRN216VKA comes 100% pre-assembled. The only thing you have to install is the push bar length and the wheels, which take no longer than 5 minutes to finish.

Priced similarly but this unit is more powerful than the Honda HRS Series, thanks to the upgraded engine from a GCV160 to a GCV170. It mowed fast and cleanly, the self-propelled unit was fast, and the 4-stroke engine cut through tall grass with no problems in our testing.

No mixing gas and oil is required, too.

Besides, it is lightweight and easy to maneuver.

Honda HRN216VKA Specifications

Engine Type

4 stroke gasoline

Engine Size

Approximately 5.5 HP

Cutting Width

21 in.

Cutting Height Adjustments

1" - 4"

Highlight Features

comes 100% pre-assembled

feature a higher-grade GCV170 engine

weigh only 92 pounds

Verdict

The Honda HRN216VKA is the easiest to assemble because it comes 100% pre-installed; the remaining tasks are minor – just put in the wheels and the push bar length.

Best Budget Option (Gas Powered Lawn Mower): PowerSmart DB8621SR

PowerSmart DB8621SR
PowerSmart DB8621SR
9Outstanding
Pros
  • Low noise
  • Versatile – offer 5 cutting height adjustments
  • No oil and gas mixing required - 4-Stroke gas-powered engine
  • Perfect for tight corners – the 63-pound weight
Cons
  • The number stickers to tell cutting height options don't stay on
  • Not for lumpy ground – plastic wheels don’t provide good traction

Not everyone needs a heavy-duty gas-powered lawn mower that can work consistently on large areas but usually costs a fortune. If you’re in need of a lighter-duty model that’s also budget-friendlier, our pick is the PowerSmart DB8621SR.

It prices nearly 50% cheaper than most other contenders we tested but still provides good performance on small- to medium-size lawns.

It’s pretty easy to assemble, starts quickly after 1-3 pulls, and provides 5 different cutting height adjustments. The noise is not too loud as the Craftsman M215, so you don’t need to wear ear protection.

Furthermore, it is lightweight to maneuver with good intuition in narrow corners without using rear-wheel drive.

PowerSmart DB8621SR Specifications

Engine Type

4-Stroke gas-powered

Engine Size

170CC

Cutting Width

21-inch

Cutting Height Adjustments

1.18''-3.0'' (5 options)

Highlight Features

offer 5 cutting height adjustments

4-Stroke gas-powered engine

the 63-pound weight

Verdict

We recommend the PowerSmart DB8621SR as a budget option for light-duty mowing jobs or people who don’t mow their lawn too often.

Lightweight (Battery Lawn Mower): Greenworks Pro MO80L410

Greenworks Pro MO80L410
Greenworks Pro MO80L410
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Easy to maneuver – weight 64.15 pounds
  • Perfect for both light cutting and heavy cutting - Innovative Smart Cut Technology
  • Work quietly - the brushless motor
Cons
  • The self-propelled unit is a bit difficult to control

While the Snapper 168791 weighs nearly 81 pounds and the Makita XML08PT1 weighs 116.8 pounds, this model is just 64 pounds. It’s lightweight enough that a woman or senior can intuitively push it, especially around narrow spaces, with ease.

It works very quietly, thanks to the brushless motor.

It is also able to automatically increase/decrease the blade speed according to the power required to afford both light cutting and heavy cutting. When cutting thicker grass, it doesn’t clump.

The extra-large capacity bag is a nice bonus.

Greenworks Pro MO80L410 Specifications

Deck Size

21-Inch

Run Time

45 minutes

Cutting Width

21-Inch

Cutting Height Adjustments

7

Highlight Features

weight 64.15 pounds

Innovative Smart Cut Technology

the brushless motor

Verdict

Weighing just 64.15 pounds – which is 25% to 100% more lightweight than other counterparts, the Greenworks Pro MO80L410 perfectly suits people with weak arms or bad wrists, seniors, and women.

Durable (Battery Lawn Mower): Snapper 168791

Snapper 168791
Snapper 168791
9Outstanding
Pros
  • Reliable - the manufacturer’s industry-leading 5-year warranty
  • Durable - steel deck
  • Smooth and quick-response StepSense Self-Propel Drive
Cons
  • A bit pricey

Snapper 168791 might not be the most efficient battery-powered self-propelled mulching lawnmower in our shootout, but it is pretty durable across the board.

In addition to the manufacturer’s industry-leading 5-year warranty, it highlights a steel deck design (not plastic) that can easily bear years of abuse. Don’t worry about the added weight because this unit also features an effective drive system.

The StepSense drive will automatically increase the speed based on the force you put on its handle, meaning that the harder you push, the faster it goes. Of course, there are many other brands using this technology but they don’t perform as smoothly as this one.

We were also impressed with how quiet it was during operation – which is only 74-78 dB.

Snapper 168791 Specifications

Deck Size

21 inches

Run Time

45 minutes

Cutting Width

21"

Cutting Height Adjustments

7

Highlight Features

the manufacturer’s industry-leading 5-year warranty

steel deck

Smooth and quick-response StepSense Self-Propel Drive

Verdict

If you want to invest in a higher-end battery-powered self-propelled mulching lawnmower that can last a lifetime, the durable Snapper 168791 will be your best bet.

Best For Consistent Performance (Battery Lawn Mower): Makita XML08PT1

Makita XML08PT1
Makita XML08PT1
9.2Outstanding
Pros
  • Long runtime – four fast-charging 18V LXT batteries
  • Protect the batteries from overheating, over-discharging, and overloading - the Star Protection Computer Controls
  • Resist harsh conditions well - the Makita Extreme Protection Technology
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Makita XML08PT1 is powered by two 18V LXT batteries that can run consistently in 60 minutes – nearly 2 miles - per charge. Moreover, it comes with two backup batteries to double up the runtime, allowing it to handle heavy-duty tasks or larger lawns (up to ½ an acre).

These batteries also charge faster than the competition to keep up your work.

Makita XML08PT1 is also reliable to use.

It emphasizes the Star Protection Computer Controls to keep its batteries from overheating, over-discharging, and overloading issues. Besides, the Makita Extreme Protection Technology helps protect the tool itself from dust, water, and harsh conditions.

You can choose between its two operating modes – normal mode (that the motor offers 2,800 RPM) and quiet mode (that the motor offers for 2,300 RPM).

Makita XML08PT1 Specifications

Deck Size

21 Inches

Run Time

About 1 hour

Cutting Width

21"

Cutting Height Adjustments

1 1/4" to 4".

Highlight Features

offer four fast-charging 18V LXT batteries

the Star Protection Computer Controls

the Makita Extreme Protection Technology

Verdict

Makita XML08PT1 is the most consistent performer for your lawn or landscaping.

How To Choose The Best Self Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower?

Engine Types

Gas-Powered Or Electric-Powered

There are two main types of engines when it comes to power input: gas-powered engines and electric-powered engines. To find out the right one for your needs, please take a look at this comparison table:


Gas-powered engines

Electric-powered engines

Advantages

Worry-free about the battery dying or power cord tangling

No emissions

Work more quietly

Disadvantages

-Noisy when operating

-Release fume/smoke, which is not environment-friendly

Require battery charging

How powerful of the engine do I need?

The power of electric engines is measured in volts (V) while that of gas-powered engines is measured in cubic centimeters (cc).

To determine how powerful the engine is, you should consider the workload and the lawn size:

For heavy yearly lawn growth, choose >180cc gas-powered engines or 80V to 120V electric engines

For moderate to heavy yearly lawn growth, choose 140cc to 180cc gas-powered engines or 40V to 80V electric engines

For light to moderate yearly lawn growth, choose 125cc gas-powered engines or 18V to 40V electric engines

Front-Drive Or Rear-Drive

You should also consider which one to choose – front-drive or rear-drive engines - due to the terrain of your lawn.

Rear-drive mowers are best for hilly or sloppy areas because they give great traction while front-drive mowers are the better choice for flat surfaces.

Versatility

The more tasks a self-propelled mulching lawnmower can handle, the more valuable it is.

On the market, there are some models that can help you chop grass into super-fine bits to fertilize your lawn soil while others give options of bagging your grass clippings, mulching, or discharging.

Most self-propelled mulching lawn mowers available allow you to adjust between different cutting heights. You should consider the type of your grass to choose the right options.

Which Brands Make The Best Self Propelled Mulching Lawn Mower?

Craftsman

Craftsman is one of the top manufacturers that provide a wide range of self-propelled mulching lawnmowers, all with excellent performance.

Honda

Speaking of gas-powered self-propelled mulching lawnmowers, the ones by Honda always come out on top. The manufacturer provides their lines with a three-year warranty but based on our experience, you hardly use it. Honda is the least repair-prone brand we’ve ever known.

Makita

This is the No.1 manufacturer of power tools in Japan and also in the world. It was established in 1915. Their self-propelled mulching lawnmower lines are known for offering little maintenance, noise, and emissions while giving the most efficient mowing capabilities.

FAQs

Are self-propelled mowers worth it?

Yes, they are.

For a lawn larger than 40’ x 40’ in area, the benefits of a self-propelled mower are noticeable. It helps your cutting jobs finish faster with less effort required.

Which is better: gas vs. battery mulching lawn mowers?

For small to medium lawns of under 14,000 square feet plus the grass is thin and not too tall, a battery mulching lawn mower is better.

For lawns larger than 14,000 square feet plus the grass is thick and tall, a gas-powered mulching lawn mower is better.

Is it better to mulch or bag your grass?

Mulching your grass is usually the better choice because the clippings will then be a good source of organic fertilizer for your lawn.

But if the lawn is weedy or suffers a disease, or the grass is too tall, you should bag the clippings.

What is the difference between a mulching mower and a regular mower?

The main difference between a mulching mower and a regular mower is their blade shape. Blades of mulching mowers are curvier than regular models.

Can mulching mowers mulch leaves?

Yes, they can.

By a couple of passes of your mulching mowers, any grass leaves can be chopped up.

Can I make my lawnmower self-propelled?

Yes, you can. To make your lawn mower self-propelled, just tip the front wheels back, then lift them off the ground.

Is it bad to leave grass clippings on the lawn?

No, it isn’t.

Leaving grass clippings on the lawn helps retain fertilizer and save the surface and ground from water contamination. But if the grass is too tall and the clippings are too thick, or your lawn is diseased, it’d be better to bag all the grass clippings.

How do I clean the bottom of my lawnmower?

To clean the bottom of your lawnmower properly, please consult this tutorial video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qrAcoaQzDg

Can you pull back on a self-propelled mower backward?

Yes, you can. All you need to do is to disengage the self-propelled function first, then release the drive lever and pull the machine manually toward you.

What's the best height to cut grass?

The best height to cut grass is about 2 1/2 inches once it reaches 3 2/3 inches tall.

Conclusion

Those are basically all the major things to consider if you’re looking for the best self-propelled mulching lawnmower. Are there any of our picks above that have caught your eyes? Or, do you have any good choices that weren't on this list? We’d like to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

Harry Ramos
Harry Ramos

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