In its biggest lawn mower tests ever, Consumer Reports rates more than 70 mowers. Key is how evenly they cut and mulch, how much their bags can hold, and how well they discharge clippings.
Several of the mowers tested are electric, including some that are cordless. Electrics are better for the environment, and they're quieter.
But Consumer Reports finds self-propelled gas mowers are generally much better at cutting grass.
"You'll pay more for a self-propelled mower, but if you've got a larger lawn, or if you just want an easier time mowing your lawn, then this is a feature that you should consider," Peter Sawchuk said.
But don't pay extra for large rear wheels. They're not worth it.
"We found in our testing that because these wheels are located father back, it takes more force to push down and turn the mower, compared to a conventional mower."
Among self-propelled mowers, Consumer Reports named this Toro Recycler a best buy for $350. It has rear-wheel drive and performs almost as well as mowers that cost twice as much.
Push mowers cost even less and are good for smaller, flatter lawns. There's good news with those, too.
"Inexpensive mowers have improved over the last couple of years. They're built better, and their cutting performance is also better, too," Sawchuk said.
Consumer Reports found several push mowers to recommend, including this lawn-boy available at Home Depot for $240.
Consumer Reports recommends several other gas push mowers in the same price range, including the Cub Cadet Model 11A-18MC. It's particularly good at side-discharge, and its handlebars are especially comfortable.