How to Choose the Right Lawnmower

Lawn Mower Engines

man repairing lawn mower engine
Regular care and maintenance of your lawn mower's engine will keep it running smoothly for a long time.

All lawn mowers have a revolving blade that evenly trims grass at a consistent height. Different kinds of lawn mower engines make this cutting function possible. Mowers with a blade that revolves around a vertical axis are called rotary mowers, and those with a blade whirling around horizontally are known as reel or cylinder mowers.

Rotary push-behind mowers typically come with a two-stroke or four-stroke internal combustion engine. Internal combustion is one way energy is generated. Here, combustion is when a chemical change happens inside a controlled chamber within the engine that results in heat, or mechanical energy. Rotary walk-behind lawn mowers are generally powered with gasoline and have engines that are two horsepower to seven horsepower.


Riding lawn mowers, on the other hand, have 13 horsepower to 30 horsepower engines because they're so much bigger and heavier. Mowers built for residential use have less power than larger commercial ones intended for cutting a lot of grass at places like golf courses or municipal parks.

Take note of whether a riding lawn mower's engine is located in the front or back. Typically, rear engines provide better visibility but the most powerful riding mowers have front engines. Base your decision on what matters to you more.

Cylindrical mowers often don't have an engine at all -- but they can. If you want to make pushing along your reel mower easier, you can attach a gas or electric engine to power it. The attached motor spins the blades while you do the walking.

Common problems affecting lawn mowers involve carburetor quality, dirty oil, unbalanced blades, loose tires and much more.

Keep your lawn mower engine operating in good condition with regular maintenance and care. After use, let the motor cool. Spray off grass and debris from the undercarriage using a hose. Always store the mower in a dry place. When putting it away for the winter, drain the fuel to prevent it from aging and corroding the engine. Run the motor until it stops.

Go to the last page to learn about lawn mower attachments that can make lawn care around the home and garden much easier for you.