What is self-propelled on a lawn mower?
Self-propelled is a term used to indicate that a walk behind lawn mower can drive itself forward by using the power of the engine or electric motor, instead of relying on the user to push it.
It's one of the most commonly requested features by our customers, and is particularly helpful for:
- users with large areas of grass to cut
- professional users who regularly mow for long periods
- users who may want to avoid strenuous work
- users with larger mowers that are heavier to push
- users with inclines and hills to mow
A wide selection of petrol and cordless mowers include self-propelled as a feature. There are also some mains electric self-propelled mowers available but they are less common due to the power cord length restricting the area they can cover.
Different types of self-propelled
Single speed self-propelled drive
This means the lawn mower will drive itself forward at one speed. The speed is a "one size fits all" and is useful for most users in normal environments.
Single speed self-propelled drive mowers don't have a variable speed mechanism, which helps to keep the cost down.
When you have a large amount of grass to cut this is a very convenient and some would say essential feature. However, the inability to slow down or vary your walking speed can make cutting around borders, flowerbeds and other obstacles tricky.
Choose a single speed self-propelled mower if you have large areas of grass to cut with simple borders and few obstacles.
Variable speed self-propelled drive
Variable speed means you can control the speed at which the mower drives itself forward. Using controls on the handlebars you can slow down around obstacles and around corners, then speed up on the straights.
Variable speed drive allows the forward speed of the mower to be adjusted to suit both the operator and cutting conditions, such as gardens with obstacles, hills or intricate lawn layouts.
Choose a variable speed self-propelled lawn mower if you have large areas of grass to cut as well as borders and obstacles to navigate.
Example speed controls on self-propelled variable speed lawnmowers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you push a self-propelled lawn mower?
Yes. There is nothing stopping you from pushing a self-propelled lawn mower, but be aware that due to the drive system and the fact they are designed to drive themselves forward they will require more force than a push mower.
Can you pull a self-propelled lawn mower backwards?
Yes, you won't cause any damage to the mower by pulling it backwards. Though as above, it will require a little more effort to move than a push mower.
Will a self-propelled mower drive backwards?
No, self-propelled on a walk-behind pedestrian mower only drives forwards.
Do I really need a self-propelled lawn mower?
This is a decision for the user and should be based on the area and layout of grass needing to be cut and the physical health of the user. We find that many customers much prefer a self-propelled lawn mower as it takes the strain out of mowing.
Which self-propelled lawn mower is best?
The answer to this question will be based on many factors that influence which type of mower will be suitable for you, including your lawn size, preferred power source and overall intended use. But, some of our more popular self-propelled mowers are:
- Honda Izy HRG 416 SK - Self-propelled petrol lawnmower
- Hayter Harrier 48 - Self-propelled cordless lawnmower
- Hayter Hawk 43 AD - Self-propelled variable speed cordless lawnmower
- STIHL RM545VR - Self-propelled variable speed petrol lawnmower
To help you choose which type of lawn mower you might want, read our full guide on How to Choose a Lawn Mower.
Common terms to look out for when choosing a self-propelled lawn mower
Some variable speed mowers feature a hydrostatic drive transmission. This is a transmission system which uses an oil based drive system to transfer engine power to drive the wheels. Hydrostatic drive allows infinite speed variation between the slowest and fastest speed.
Some variable speed drive mowers feature pre-set speeds, a similar function to 1st, 2nd and 3rd "gear". The speed is variable in pre-set increments, unlike a hydrostatic drive that's infinitely variable.
Some self-propelled systems feature belt drive to transfer power from the engine to the drive system. Belt drive is generally found on more mid-range mowers.
Other systems use a shaft drive system to transfer power from the engine to the drive system. Shaft drive is generally more robust and found on higher specification mowers at a higher price point.
Some of Honda's variable speed lawn mowers feature paddle controls on the handle bars called Smart Drive. The paddles control the speed of the drive, allowing the user to easily adjust the speed when required.
Another of Honda's terms, Select Drive, features a speed controller and a dial on the handle bars which when turned adjusts the forward speed of the mower.
This is a term Hayter use for their self-propelled lawnmowers, and is simply another name for self-propulsion.
Posted: 19 August 2022