8 Best Lawn Mowers for Small Yards and Mini Lawns

I worked with a lot of lawnmowers over the years. As the size of your yard changes, so do the expectations of your mower. You don’t often think of your mower when you’re making a move to a new house, though. 

It’s only when it comes time to trim the lawn that you’re left scratching your head. If your yard is small, there are a unique set of considerations to make when you’re buying a lawnmower. I’ll run through the options for the best lawn mowers for small yards and lawns, giving you a well-rounded idea of what to look out for. 

Best Lawn Mower for Small Yards

If you’re short on time and want to get straight to the best product for tiny lawns, then check out my recommendations below. The best Reel Mower on the market, a superb Battery-powered compact 14″ Electric Mower, as well as a 3-in-1 Combi Tool that offers mowing capabilities.

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Best Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower Co. 16-Inch Reel Mower

Simplicity at its best and easy to steer. 5 ultra-sharp blades can be adjusted between 1-1.25-inch high.

best mower for small yards

Best Battery Powered Mower

Worx 40V 14″ Cordless Lawn Mower

A very small 14-inch mower with lots of power. Light, excellent performance, and 4.0Ah of battery storage

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Most Versatile Mower

BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Mower 12-Inch

A tiny corded lawn mower transforms into a string trimmer and lawn edger. If you need versatility then this could be it.

Types of Lawn Mower

The first consideration to make is the type of mower you’re going to need. There are a lot of variations that go far beyond “riding mower” and “push mower.” Your lawn and the particular desires you have for it are the key factors in your decision. 

I’ll explore reel mowers, corded electric mowers, battery-powered mowers, and gas-powered mowers. There are numerous other types, but the ones we look at should suit the needs of just about anyone with a small lawn. You might have to do some more digging if you have a very particular need for specialized mowers. 

Note that this article will look at some actual models in a few sections, so keep the ideas from the next section in mind. 

Reel Mowers

Reel mowers are also called cylinder mowers. The cylindrical aspect is the way the blades are organized, allowing the spinning blades to slice grass against a fixed blade inside the mechanism. 

This is the type of lawnmower you imagine when you think of a standard American homeowner mowing their lawn in the 1960s. You push it, it doesn’t always have an electrical component, and it’s relatively lightweight. 

Reel mowers are suitable for easy stuff. They work well on flat lawns with very few obstacles or bumps. Further, they stop working so well with coarse grass or weeds in their way. If this is the option you want to work with, you need to make sure that you’re mowing your lawn a little more often than you would otherwise. Once the grass gets to a certain length, you could need a stronger mower to trim it down and get the job done well. 

If you’re a schedule-based person, that will get it done. However, these mowers are excellent for small lawns, low maintenance, easy to use, and effective under the right conditions. 

Corded Electric Mowers

Corded electric mowers are great for small lawns as well. So long as you have an outlet nearby, you can enjoy the many benefits of these mowers. 

As the name suggests, these units include a cord that supplies electric power. There are myriad benefits that go along with that fact, even though the cord seems like it could get in the way. 

For one, you don’t have to pay for fuel. Ever. Second, starting electric corded mowers up is a lot easier. 

The lack of a fuel tank also makes these units a lot smaller and lighter than their gas-guzzling counterparts. That means they’re easier to push around the yard, easier to store, and typically a little bit cheaper. 

Note that these are only useful for lawns under a specific size. Short of a small lawn, you’ll need extension cords, strategies to avoid clipping the electrical cord, and a lot of patience. When you’ve only got a small plot to take care of, odds are you won’t stray too far from your garage’s outlet.

The cord doesn’t get in the way if you don’t have too much maneuvering to do. 

Gas-Powered Mowers

Don’t have a reliable outlet close to your lawn? Gas motors are the next best option. 

Gas mowers tend to have a little more power behind them as well. Lawns that are rife with lumps, tough spots of grass, weeds, and hills often require gas mowers. You won’t have to think about coordinating power cords, either, so that will make the moving process a little easier on most lawns. 

Note that these mowers are a little heavier and clunkier than the other options discussed so far. They lack streamlined storage capabilities and excel in strength and mowing ability. 

It’s also worth considering that gas-powered mowers are less stressful to charge than electric cordless mowers. 

I won’t talk about electric cordless mowers here, but they take a long time to charge, and they don’t typically have enough capacity to work through a bigger lawn. A cordless electric mower might work if your lawn is pretty small without many rough spots or hills. That said, the gas-powered option will almost always serve you better. 

What Is Considered a Small Yard or Mini Lawn?

Now, what’s considered a small lawn? Ask ten different people, and you’ll get ten different answers. A farmer might consider three acres to be small, whereas someone living in the heart of a city might think that any size of lawn is pretty big. 

In the context of choosing mowers, you can think of things in terms of acres. If you’re not clear on acreage, you can imagine that one American football field is roughly an acre. A small lawn is generally considered anything equal to or less than half of an acre. 

So, if your lawn is only half of a football field, you don’t need anything more heavy-duty than the mowers discussed above. You should consider riding mowers when you start to stretch past that mark.

You certainly wouldn’t want to mow a full acre with a cylindrical mower or a corded electric mower. A gas-powered motor would do the trick, but you have to ensure that you’re in good enough shape and have some extra fuel on hand. 

What About a Mini Lawn?

A mini lawn is around the size of a tennis court. Anything smaller than that is still considered “mini.” 

If you’re dealing with a mini lawn, you can think about reel mowers and corded electric mowers. Reel mowers would be the most cost-effective if your lawn is free from a lot of bumps and obstacles. A mini lawn rife with weeds and rough spots might require a gas-powered mower. 

Choosing The Best Lawn Mower for Small Yard

Now that you’ve zoned in on the type of mower that’d be best for your yard, it’s time to start making other considerations. Different types of mowers are available in unique models with different advantages.

Some of those factors have to do with the result of mowing, and some are more practical in terms of the type of lawn you have. 

It’s essential to get a clear idea of what you need so you don’t wind up spending more money than you have to. Without some foresight, you might spend hundreds of dollars on a gas-powered mower when all you needed was an affordable reel mower. You’ll also end up with a better lawn when you make considerations like cutting width and height.

Engine or Motor Power

The motor is an essential factor. If you end up faced with the choice between “motor” and “engine,” the odds are that models with a heavier emphasis on “motor” will be able to propel themselves in some way. 

Self-propulsion is a big deal for some people. Those of you with massive lawns will benefit a lot from a unit that moves independently. Naturally, you’ll still have to push and direct the lawnmower, but a decent motor takes a lot of the effort out of the equation.

Those who have difficulty on their feet for long periods or aren’t in the right condition to push a lawnmower for an hour should look for units with self-propulsion. 

Engine power, on the other hand, typically refers to the unit’s ability to power through rough grass or difficult stretches of lawn. The engine’s strength relates directly to how well a lawnmower performs under challenging conditions. 

You should invest in engine power if you’ve got a larger lawn that’s uniform all the way through. Lawns with different types of grass, weeds, and hills require a little more engine power. If your lawn is very uniform and smooth throughout, you don’t need to think about engine power as much. 

You might not even need an engine if your lawn is tiny. Reel mowers are engineless and function perfectly for those with tiny, uniform lawns.

Cutting Width and Height

Cutting width refers to the horizontal measurement of the mower’s cutting mechanism. In other words, it’s how wide the stripe of cut grass is. 

The more width you invest in, the fewer times you’ll need to go back and forth through your lawn. Small lawns generally require no more than a foot of cutting width. Lawns that are around the size of a tennis court require 14-16 inches of cutting width. 

Riding mowers range anywhere from 30 to 40 inches in width. Beyond that, you should plan to invest accordingly. You can also take your personal needs into account here. 

For example, if you have difficulty walking for long periods, more cutting width reduces the number of laps you take around your lawn. If that’s a big factor for you, it’s worth spending a little more money and getting a wider mower. 

Most mowers allow you to adjust the cutting height. Some might not cut at the height you require, though. 

There’s an art to cutting grass at the right height. Leave it too long, and you sacrifice healthy growth, cut it too short, and you might stunt the grass altogether. The general rule of thumb is to cut grass to about 2 and ½ inches. 

That height protects the bottom ⅔ of the grass, which is necessary to encourage healthy growth and flourishing. You should also clip grass when it gets to around 3 and ⅔ inches high. Keeping grass in that range encourages growth and keeps grass healthy. 

Your particular lawn might have unique requirements, though. So, do some research into what your lawn needs and make sure your lawn mower model accommodates those needs in terms of cutting height. 

Propulsion

Propulsion is the ability of a mower to “push itself” to some degree. Most mowers can’t push themselves automatically, but many options you a little help. 

We’ve discussed some of the benefits of self-propulsion already. The key benefit is the ease of use. Someone who wants the smoothest, effortless way to mow their lawn should opt for a mower with some measure of propulsion. 

The difficulty is that self-propelling mowers are a little more expensive than their stationary alternatives. You can find relatively affordable models with propulsion, but those without propulsion will typically be a lot cheaper. 

This is a matter of preference and doesn’t play a big role in the result of your lawn. 

Maneuverability and Weight

Generally speaking, the heavier the lawnmower, the harder it will be to maneuver. In exceptional cases like that of the riding mower, large and sophisticated mowers are a little easier to move in proportion to their weight. 

That said, the general rule of thumb is that gas mowers are heavier and more difficult to maneuver. Corded, electric, and reel mowers tend to be easier to manage as they’re lighter and, typically, smaller. 

Keep in mind that challenges with weight are mitigated significantly by propulsion. The more self-propulsion a unit has, the less its weight factors into the difficulty of use. Turning and maneuvering the lawnmower around tight obstacles will always be a little more challenging if it’s particularly heavy, though. 

Self-propulsion tends to work in forwarding motion only as well. If your lawn requires a lot of back and forth and not a lot of direct turning, that could be an issue with heavier mowers. 

Type of Terrain

All of the considerations above get impacted by the type of terrain you have on your lawn. The terrain makes it far more complicated to use certain lawnmowers. It’s essential to think through your entire lawn and consider where you might run into issues. 

Flat

Naturally, flat terrain is the easiest to mow. You can work with a little more weight, cutting width, and less maneuverability when your lawn is flat. While you can compromise on those factors with a flat lawn, you can also cut costs and work with less sophisticated mowers if you want to. 

A simple reel mower should be easy to use on a small lawn that’s free from difficult terrain. 

Hilly or Slopes

Hilly and sloped lawns open up a whole new can of worms. 

Bulkier mowers are a lot harder to hang onto when you’re moving them down steep slopes. It requires a lot more effort to push lawnmowers up hills too. It could be challenging to mow a sloped lawn with the lightest lawn mower on the market, let alone a bulky, gas-powered one. 

Hilly, difficult lawns are precisely the place you want to use a self-propelled mower, though. If the majority of your lawn is a steep hill, you’re going to need self-propulsion. If you want to get a really good workout every time you mow, you can get by with other mowers. 

If not, you’ll need some help.

The nature of the hill is essential as well. Imagine a steep hill with lumps everywhere, like ski moguls. Using a large, self-propelling mower will be very difficult if those lumps are big enough. You’ll wish you had a nimble reel mower in those situations. 

Generally speaking, many twists, turns, stops, and starts require something smaller and more maneuverable. 

Reviews: Best Lawn Mowers for Small Yards

Let’s review some examples of the mowers we’ve talked about so far. Make a note of different pros and cons that might apply to your lawn. You’ll also see that some mowers have qualities that could be beneficial to your lawn in some respects and challenging in others. 

Time to take a look. 

American Lawn Mower Company 16-Inch Reel Mower
  • Type: Reel Mower
  • Power: Manual
  • Size: 16-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-2.5-Inch
  • Blades: 5
  • Weight: 25lbs

Pros

  • Well built, ultra-sharp blades. This is the best reel mower I tested.
  • Simplicity at its best. Pull it out and put it away in seconds. No batteries, no power cords
  • Easy to steer and control

Cons

  • Limited to a 2.5-inch cutting height

The American Lawn Mower Company 1415-16 is an excellent example of a reel mower. 

Those of you with really difficult, hilly lawns might benefit a great deal from this mower. It comes with a 5-blade reel and has a cutting width of 16 inches. It’s also equipped with 10-inch wheels that give it the highest level of maneuverability. 

Blades stay sharp for years but come with a sharpening kit. The blade can only cut anywhere from ½ inch to 2 and ¼ inches high.

This unit comes in at just under $110. 

best mower for small lawns
  • Type: Electric Push
  • Power: 4.0Ah Battery
  • Size: 14-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1.5-3.5-Inch
  • Blades: 1
  • Weight: 29lbs

Pros

  • Excellent small lightweight mower available in 14-inch or larger sizes.
  • Capable of mowering 1/8 acre on a single charge.
  • Very light at just 29lbs and grass clippings are Self-Bagging

Cons

  • None

The Worx WG779 40V Power Share 4.0Ah is an excellent example of a small light electric mower. It gives you a significant amount of motor power, adjustable cutting lengths from 1.5-inch to 3.5-inches, and a grass clippings bag.

The mower is available in a range of sizes from the tiny 14-inch mower, to 17-inch, 19-inch, 20-inch, and 21-inch models.

The best part is that it runs on two 4.0Ah batteries, so no messing about with fuel or power cords, perfect to whip out cut the lawn, and throw it back into your garage.

You can charge both batteries while you’re not mowing and pick the unit up when it’s time to get to work.

This Worx model costs around $260

Fiskars 17-Inch StaySharp Plus Reel Mower
  • Type: Reel Mower
  • Power: Manual
  • Size: 17-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1.5-3.5-Inch
  • Blades: 5
  • Weight: 41lbs

Pros

  • Good range of cutting heights for a reel mower, 1.5-inch to 3.5-inch
  • Easy to manouver and well suited for uneven terrain up to ½ acre

Cons

  • Wheels would benefit from being more robust

This Fiskars Reel Mower is an advanced reel mower. It comes with all of the benefits of a standard reel mower, except with a wider cut width and a great selection of height adjustments. Choose between 4 height positions ranging from 1.5-inch up to 3.5-inches. 

So, anyone with a medium and challenging yard might benefit from this unit. The added maneuverability of a reel mower will come in handy, but you won’t have to work so hard on those long stretches. 

This unit comes in at around $160.

4. Greenworks 40V 16″ Cordless Electric Lawn Mower, 4.0Ah

Greenworks 40V 16" Cordless Electric Lawn Mower, 4.0Ah
  • Type: Electric Push
  • Power: 4.0Ah Battery
  • Size: 16-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1.25-inch-3.25-Inch
  • Blades: 1
  • Weight: 37.5lbs

Cons

  • At time of writing this mower is more expensive than the Worx alternative above.

The Greenworks 40V 16-Inch Cordless Electric Lawnmower is another great cordless electric option. It offers 45 minutes of runtime, which should be enough to cover small and medium-sized lawns up to ½ acre.

It has a lightweight cutting deck that allows you to maneuver swiftly and easily. This unit also has a 40V motor and 4.0Ah of battery storage that will fully recharge in around 120 minutes.

Cutting heights range from 1.25-inch-3.25-Inch and the mower ships with a bag for grass clipping.

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  • Type: Electric Push
  • Power: Corded
  • Size: 12-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 2 Positions
  • Blades: String
  • Weight: 9.9lbs

Pros

  • Extremely Versatile 3-in-1 tool: mower, trimmer and edger
  • Ideal for tiny lawns

Cons

  • Versatile, but other options on my list are better ‘out and out’ mowers

This is a machine that you’ve probably never seen. It’s one part mower, one part trimmer, and one part edger. 

It has a 12-inch cutting width, perfect for tiny lawns, and it can tackle all of the special corners and nuances that small lawns include. This is a dream for working in tight spaces throughout landscaping projects and different lawn obstacles. 

To be fair it’s a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. If you want a great lawnmower to go for one of the smaller battery-powered mowers. But if you need a basic mower and the other features are attractive to you then it’s a very cost-effective cutting tool for around $100.

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  • Type: Reel Mower
  • Power: Manual
  • Size: 14-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-1.75-Inch
  • Blades: 5
  • Weight: 19lbs

Pros

  • A lightweight and nimble push reel mower
  • The 14-Inch cutting path is ideal for small Lawns
  • Affordable at under $100

Cons

  • Not as strong as the model from the American Lawn Mower Company

This Scotts manual push reel mower is an affordable, effective unit for those with relatively small lawns. It’s as functional and simple as it gets. It weighs 6lbs lighter than the American Lawn Mower Company, but for me, the difference was evident in the lighter build quality.

An excellent option for mini lawns, the Scotts Outdoor 14-inch 5-blade is nimble as can be. It’s also very affordable for under $100. 

Makita 18V LXT Cordless 17-Inch Lawn Mower
  • Type: Electric Push
  • Power: Battery not included
  • Size: 17-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1 Position
  • Blades: 1
  • Weight: 44lbs

Pros

  • You know when buying Makita you are getting the best quality available
  • Drives and cuts like a dream

Cons

  • Premium product with a premium price tag
  • Only one cutting height position

This Makita 18V Cordless Mower comes with a broad cut width, lightweight features, 3,600 RPM cutting speed, grass catcher, mulching capabilities, and a whole lot more. 

It might be a little more comprehensive than any of the models on this list. It’s electric as well, so you don’t have to worry about buying fuel or deepening your carbon footprint. 

The Makita 18V LXT Cordless comes in at around $350, but expect to spend another $100 or more on battery and charger. 

Other Considerations

Now that you’ve looked through a few excellent options, you might have a few more considerations on your mind when buying a lawnmower. Let’s dig into some of the other things to think through as you zone in on a decision. 

Collection Bag or Mulching

Collection bags are a massive help if you’re not looking to do a lot of mulching. It might just be the case that you don’t want a whole lot of grass clippings laying around your well-kept lawn. 

Mulching is the process of laying materials, often grass or bark chips, around your lawn to suppress the growth of certain plants and contribute to the growth of your grass. A mower that helps you do that can do a lot of good for your lawn. 

Most of the options we discussed above have some bagging or mulching capabilities. Whenever those features are present in a mower, you reduce the amount of lawn care on your plate. 

Start Mechanism

The start mechanism is a matter of preference. Some mowers require you to jerk a chain pretty hard to start them. Others require only the push of a button. 

Reel mowers don’t have any start mechanism because they’re manual. There’s no better or worse method, although the less effort required, the quicker you can start mowing.

Storage

The weight of a lawnmower is something to consider when you’re thinking of storage. Do you have a specific place where you’ll store your lawnmower? Do you need to lift or maneuver the mower into a difficult space to store it or take it out of storage? Some garages offer enough space to house a lawnmower of any size, allowing you to avoid the difficulty of placing equipment in tight storage spaces. 

If you’re low on space and you need to lift the mower to get it onto a shelf, for example, you might be better off with a corded mower than a gas-powered mower.

Price

A higher price doesn’t always mean a better fit when it comes to mowers. Sure, you could get more features with more expensive units, but you might not need those features. 

Do your best not to get persuaded by flashy mowers and stick to searching for units with features that you need. 

Verdict: Best Lawn Mower for Small Yards

There you have it…two great lawn mowers for small lawns. If you want the ultimate convenience then the American Lawn Mower Co’s reel mower really is the top choice. You can pick it up and mow without the inconvenience of power cords or drained batteries.

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Best Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower Co. 16-Inch Reel Mower

Simplicity at its best and easy to steer. 5 ultra-sharp blades can be adjusted between 1-1.25-inch high.

best mower for small yards

Best Battery Powered Mower

Worx 40V 14″ Cordless Lawn Mower

A very small 14-inch mower with lots of power. Light, excellent performance, and 4.0Ah of battery storage

When to Use a Lawn Mower

Knowing when to mow your lawn is just as important as knowing which mowers to buy. 

Mow too often, and you’ll wind up with unhealthy grass. The same is true if you don’t mow enough. Mowing season starts at different times in different places, but the general rule is that you can start mowing your lawn when the snow thaws in March.

Once you get into the middle of spring, you can start a regular mowing schedule. It’s usually best to cut every ten days or so, although you should mow more frequently if your grass is growing faster than usual. 

In that case, you don’t want to mow more than once per week. 

You’ll stop mowing some time in October. Climates that don’t have much snow might require that you stop mowing a little later in the season. Those who don’t experience snowy winters shouldn’t have to mow very often during those winter months, either. 

Just keep an eye on things and mow if your lawn is too long for your liking. 

How to Use a Lawn Mower

Different lawn mowers have different start mechanisms and methods of use. You can find instructions for starting mowers in the owner’s manual that comes with the unit. While you’re looking, take the time to review how to adjust your cutting height. 

Remember that you should never cut more than the top ⅓ of the lawn. This is especially important during the beginning of the season. 

Once you’ve measured your cut height and started the mower, the idea is to go back and forth, keeping the mower headed forward. You can roll a mower backward to reposition yourself, but always keep the front of the mower ahead of you as you move forward. 

FAQ’s Lawn Mowers for Tiny Yards