Can You Mow Your Lawn in Reverse?

Spring and summer are just around the corner, and with them comes the need to mow your lawn. Mowing your lawn helps it grow back thicker and healthier, it can get rid of dead grass and mulch organic debris so that it provides nutrients to the soil, and it keeps your lawn looking tidy and well-kept!

We all know that mowing the lawn is a necessary evil. But what if there was a way to make it a little less painful? Is it possible to mow your lawn in reverse? Let’s take a look at what experts say on the subject. Keep reading to learn more!

Mowing In Reverse

Mowing in reverse is basically exactly what it sounds like – it’s when your lawn mower is propelled in the reverse direction than it should normally go. With a riding lawn mower, this means actually putting it in reverse and ‘backing up’ like you would in a car or a tractor. With a push mower, this means pulling it as you walk backward.

Riding Lawn Mowers

Some riding lawn mowers have a Reverse Implement Operation (RIO) lever that allow you use the mowing capabilities while the mower is in reverse. This has to be done when your mower is at a full stop, and you press the RIO button down while you shift the lever into reverse.

While this operation can save time in some rare cases, it is actually faster for the most part to simply turn your riding lawn mower around and mow the opposite direction facing forward.

Push Lawn Mowers

With push lawn mowers, mowing in reverse means pulling them as you walk backward, or you can turn around and drag them with your arms behind you as you walk forward. Either way, this is not a very effective method of cutting your grass, and really should be avoided, as it is less efficient and does a worse job.

Why You Shouldn’t Mow In Reverse

Before we get into the reasons why you should not use a lawnmower in reverse, there are some times you might need to do so. For example, if you are pushing a push mower, and it gets stuck, or you run into a hedge, fence, or other obstruction, or say you need to maneuver around a tree, you might pull your mower back a foot or two in order to then continue moving forward in another direction.

However, this should be the extent of your backwards lawn mowing. And, if you’re really stuck and your mower is having a hard time moving either forward or backward, immediately turn off the mower before moving it. Once it’s off and has stopped spinning, you can lift it off whatever obstruction was beneath it.


Your mower will not operate as well backwards as it would going forwards. The grass doesn’t get cut nearly as well, because the blades are hitting the grass while spinning the opposite way they should be. The grass also does not get ejected from underneath the mower, so it can actually end up staying under the blades and causing it to overheat or clog up.

Safety Concerns

It is true that your lawnmower will not work as well when you’re pulling it backwards. However, the main reason why you should never mow your lawn in reverse is that it is dangerous.

Firstly, you’re not looking where you’re walking – this means you can trip and fall or roll your ankle on something. Suddenly falling or moving in an uncontrollable manner while handling a large, powerful, heavy object with very sharp blades spinning very fast is not a good combination.

You could also potentially mow over something that you didn’t see behind you. This could damage the item you’ve run over, as well as the blades of the mower itself, and it’s expensive to replace your blades or even the entire mower. You might even run over your own foot if you pull the mower close enough to you.

Overall, there’s just no justifiable reason to use your push lawn mower in reverse. It is inefficient and ineffective at actually cutting your lawn grass, and it is far more dangerous than using it in a forward manner as it’s meant to be used.

Final Thoughts

So, should you mow in reverse? The answer is yes and no – while it is technically possible, for the average homeowner, it’s not worth the risk. Though it might seem like a fun way to get a little exercise, mowing in reverse is actually more dangerous and difficult than mowing forward.

If you have a riding lawnmower, unless you have a lot of experience using it in reverse, we recommend sticking with the traditional forward motion when mowing your lawn.

We hope this article was informative; don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below if you have any concerns or questions!

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.