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Best small lawn mower: 5 compact mowers for easy lawn care

Your yard will be the best looking on the block with the best small lawn mower – no matter if storage space is an issue

Man pushing the best small lawn mower a WORX 40V Power Share 4.0 Ah 14'' Lawn Mower
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(Image credit: Wal-Mart)

If you only have a small yard, but it is too much to maintain with a weed eater, you need to invest in the best small lawn mower. A heavy-duty mower is overkill – in price, noise and size – but there are plenty of compact mowers designed to maintain smaller spaces.

Some are battery powered so you won't need to store gas either, others offer mulching options to feed your lawn as you mow. One can even be stored under a workbench. What they all have in common though is that while they lack in size, they match the power of some of our bigger picks for the best lawn mower.

These mowers are also a great option for people who have an ample lawn, but lack the space to store a larger machine. We have deliberately looked for models that pack as much cutting width into that deck as possible, even in a fairly small package.

Worx POWER SHARE best small lawn mower

(Image credit: Home Depot)
Best overall lawnmower

Specifications

Cutting width: 14 in
Size: 52.99 x 14.5 x 39 in
Height positions: 6 positions / 2.5–3.5 in
Power: (2) 4 Ah Batteries

Reasons to buy

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Six different cutting heights
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Mulching and bagging options
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Starts with the touch of a button 

Reasons to avoid

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Handle can be a bit clunky to fold down

The Worx POWER SHARE 40-Volt 14-in Mower is small but mighty. At only 29 lbs, this mower is easy to move around, and even lighter when you remove the batteries for storage and transit.

Equipped with patented torque technology, you have the capability to increase the power of this mower to Turbo if you’re cutting thick grass (but remember, this will use up more battery). For regular use, we found Eco mode was competent, especially for regular trims. The cutting base is 14 inches across and there are six height adjustments that range between 2.5-3.5 inches with an easy to use lever for height adjustments. You can either mulch your grass or bag up to .85 bushels before a ‘full bag indicator’ alert notifies you it’s time to empty the bag.

To get started, simply insert the safety button, depress then pull the handle lever and you’re ready to mow. The Worx lawnmower runs on two 20V 4.0 Ah batteries. POWER SHARE advertises that this mower can mow 5,000 square feet with just one charge. However, this wholly depends on various factors like the thickness or height of your grass. Just keep an eye on the battery meter to know when you need to juice up and keep spares on charge. We found it capable of doing a good half hour or more of mowing before it was time to recharge which is plenty for the average yard.

So while we think this is the best small lawn mower, you could find it a good choice for a larger yard too. 

Sun Joe MJ401C-PRO

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Sun Joe MJ401C-PRO 14-Inch 28-Volt Lawn Mower

Best lawnmower for bagging grass

Specifications

Cutting width: 14 in
Size: 61.5 x 21 x 16.5 in
Height positions: 3 positions / 1.18–2.52 in
Power: 1 battery

Reasons to buy

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Includes a detachable 10.6-gallon bag
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Three different cutting height positions
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Lightweight, so easy to move around the yard

Reasons to avoid

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Takes 4 hours for battery to re-charge
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Wasted width

If you hate loud, big, smelly lawn mowers, then look no further than the Sun Joe MJ401C Push Lawn Mower.

This battery-powered lawnmower cuts a 14-inch-wide path and collects the grass in a 10.6 detachable gallon bag. Those who choose to upgrade to the Pro version (it’s not much more), will also receive a rear discharge chute. There are only three different cutting heights, designated as ‘short, medium, and tall,’ that range between 1.18-2.52 inches.  

This Sun Joe runs on a rechargeable 28-volt lithium-ion battery which can manage about a quarter acre on one charge. Those with small lawns should be able to mow their entire lawn in one go, however, it doesn't hurt to have a backup battery on hand because it takes up to four hours for one battery to charge. 

As well as the long battery charge, the other thing we didn't rate was how much wider it is than the cutting deck. It just means you can't get quite as close to edges and from a storage and size point of view, seems like wasted space.

Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16'' Cordless Lawn Mower

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Greenworks G-MAX 40V 16-in Lawn Mower

Best lawnmower for mulching

Specifications

Cutting width: 16 in
: 28.5 x 17 x 21.3 in
Height positions: 5 positions / 1.25–3.375 in
Power: 4Ah Li-Ion Battery

Reasons to buy

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Mulching and bagging capability
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Five different cutting height positions 
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Wider cutting base means you'll finish quicker

Reasons to avoid

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Some complaints about the effectiveness of the battery

With a 16-inch cutting base (making it the second widest on our list), you’ll be able to get your yard mowed in a quicker amount of time with the Greenworks G-MAX 40V lawnmower. Although it isn’t self-propelled, at only 37.5 lbs, you'll easily zip around your yard and finish in no time. 

Powered by a 40V 4Ah Li-Ion battery, Greenworks advertises that you can get about ½ acre or up to 45 minutes of battery time with one charge. Some users note that the time is more accurately 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the battery life indicator to see if you need an extra charge (or a backup battery) to finish the yard.

A single lever lets you adjust between five different cutting heights in the range of 1.25-3.375 inches high. Last but not least, this lawnmower comes with a rear bag to catch grass clippings. However, we suggest you go with the mulching option. It's less clean-up and is good for your yard. 

Troy Bilt XP 21 in. 149 cc Vertical Storage Series Engine 3-in-1 Gas FWD Self Propelled Lawn Mower

(Image credit: Home Depot)

4. Troy Bilt XP 21 in. 149 cc Vertical Storage Series Engine 3-in-1 Gas FWD Self Propelled Lawn Mower

Best small gas-powered lawn mower

Specifications

Cutting width: 21 in
Size: 36.5 x 23.88 x 17.5in
Height position: 6 positions / 1.25–3.75 in
Power: Gas

Reasons to buy

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Foldable design saves tons of space
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Self-propelling technology makes it easier to maneuver 
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Wide base and six cutting height positions 

Reasons to avoid

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Requires more maintenance than battery or electric-powered mowers

Although the Troy Bilt XP lawn mower is 21 inches wide – meaning it’s an average-sized lawn mower – it has a unique SpaceSavr design that makes it perfect for those who don't have a lot of space. It basically folds into a compact shape so you save up to 70% more space than a traditional lawn mower. It can be stored under a tool bench or upright in a shed, and it won’t leak oil or fuel in the vertical position.

This Troy Bilt XP lawn mower is heavier than others on this list at 78 lbs, but it’s the only one with self-propelling technology, which means it propels forward on its own so you’re basically just guiding it to the right spots. The height of a cut – from 1.25 to 3.75 inches – can be adjusted in six different positions with the fingertip levers on the wheels. This small lawn mower has a TriAction cutting system so it pushes out finely mulched clippings. However, it does come with a 1.9-bushel rear bag. Just remove the discharge chute and clip it to the handle when not in use.

If you’re worried about the maintenance of a gas-powered lawnmower, Troy Bilt has tried to make it as easy as possible. Check the oil and fuel before each use and top it off if necessary. When you're done mowing, connect your garden hose to the deck wash adaptor to rinse clippings from the underside of the mower. 

BLACK+DECKER BESTA512CM Electric Lawn Mower

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. BLACK+DECKER BESTA512CM Electric Lawn Mower

Best lightweight lawnmower for tiny yards

Specifications

Cutting width: 12 in
Size: 15 x 7 x 37 inches
Height positions: 2 positions / 1.5 or 2.3 in
Power: Electric power cord

Reasons to buy

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Lawn mower, edger, and trimmer in one
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Two different cutting height positions
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Lightweight makes it easy to manuever

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires a long extension cord
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Cable instead of blade cutting

Some homes – like condos – have such a small lawn that it seems ridiculous to buy a traditional lawn mower. That’s why we’ve included the BLACK + DECKER BESTA512CM lawn mower which is the smallest mower on our list.

This compact three-in-one product is a mower, trimmer, and edger in one. When set in the lawn mower position, it has a 12-inch cutting base that can be adjusted to two different cutting heights – 1.5 inches or 2.3 inches. After you've mowed the lawn, simply adjust this BLACK + DECKER so that it becomes a trimmer or an edger. Note that instead of a blade this mower has a spool of cable, much like a weed eater. It is perfect for small, low demand spaces, but hardier grasses might see you getting through a lot of cable.

One drawback of this small lawn mower is that it requires an electric cord for power. You’ll need an outdoor outlet and a long extension cord to easily maneuver around the yard. At only 9.9 lbs, it shouldn’t be too heavy to hold when you trim or edge.

How to choose the best small lawn mower

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

If you have opted for a small lawn mower then it is likely your main concerns will be around how much power and ease-of-use you can get into a compact package. At one time, electric lawn mowers, including cordless battery powered models were quite big and heavy to accommodate large battery packs for optimal run time. Luckily, technology has advanced and things like more efficient batteries and brushless motors mean you get greater run time in a smaller package. 

Next, consider the cutting width. Our picks range from 12 inches to 21 inches. It might be tempting to go smaller for ease of movement and storage space limitations, but with edge-to-edge cutting, even the largest model on our list is a great choice if you are looking for a particularly compact lawn mower. That said, bigger will tend to mean weightier, so if you are concerned about lifting – perhaps due to a bad back – take the narrower model and be prepared for a couple of extra runs of your yard. 

Finally, if storage is your main reason for buying the best small lawn mower, look at foldable options. Many compact lawn mowers have a foldaway handle and don't forget the grass box. The Greenworks and Worx models on our list have soft material grass boxes that flatten down. Some mulching mowers have no grass box at all.

Tips for getting the most from your small lawn mower

Lawn mowers aren’t as scary as you think. They're easy-to-use if you know the right tips and tricks. Read below to find out more. 

Energy reserve
You don’t want to be halfway through mowing your lawn only to discover that you’ve run out of juice. If you purchase a gas-powered lawn mower, make sure you top up before each use and have a gas container with gas stored in your garage or shed in case you need more.

For those who buy a battery-powered lawn mower, you might want to consider buying a backup battery. The harder a battery-powered lawn mower has to work (like a lawn where the grass is higher or thicker), the quicker the battery will die out. If your main battery runs out of charge mid-way through mowing the lawn, just pop in the backup battery. 

Never mow a wet lawn
If your lawn is wet from morning dew or rain, make sure you wait until it's dry before you mow the lawn. For one, wet grass is heavier so the lawn mower won’t be able to cut the lawn to the best of its ability. Dry grass stands straight up making it easier to cut. Secondly, wet grass clippings can damage the mower which is an easy way to ruin your day.

Clean the lawn mower deck
Every once in a while, turn the lawn mower over and clean under the deck. Grass and grime can build up under there and on the blades, making your lawn mower less effective over time. If you have a gas-powered mower, make sure the gas tank is empty and the spark plug wire is disconnected if you decide to clean the deck with the garden hose. It’s not a bad idea to blow off the lawn mower with your blower after each use.

Be careful what you mow over
Before mowing your lawn, try to pick up sticks and other debris that could ruin your lawn mower blades. It’s best to avoid stumps and vines as these can also damage or get wrapped around the blades.

Grass clippings are good for the yard
Although some people hate the sight of grass clippings left on a yard, they can actually be beneficial to your yard's health as they're a natural fertilizer. A mulching feature on a lawn mower is a good option because it breaks down leaves and grass and helps it to decompose quicker. That said, bagging clippings – especially weeds or grass that’s really high – could be helpful at certain times.

How we test the best small lawn mowers

We have tested some of the mowers on this list in person either for Real Homes or our sister site, Gardeningetc. Where we have not been able to be hands on with the mower itself, we use third party reviews and have experience of the mower brand so that we can vouch for its quality. 

We are working our way through hands on testing as many products as we can. See more about our testing process.

Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is a Mixed Latinx award-winning author and freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. Her work in the home space has appeared in outlets like Homes & Gardens, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Culture Trip, Neighborhoods.com, among many others. You can learn more about Alex at AlexTemblador.com. 

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