So I bought the Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ cordless lawn mower that I warned you about. I had my reasons for buying it. And I have to say, if you go in with the right expectations, it’s pretty great for what it is.
First things first. I’m not the intended audience for this mower. I have between 1/4 and 1/3 of an acre, and this mower is really designed for a quarter-acre lot. A 21-inch mower is what you typically use for a yard my size.
I bought it for two reasons. First, I wasn’t sure if either of my gas mowers have a season left in them. I can cut the front yard with it, if nothing else. In an emergency, if I can’t get a gas mower started, this will do. If nothing else, it’s an emergency mower that takes up very little space and uses the same batteries as my power tools.
The other reason I bought it was because it uses the same batteries as my power tools. The mower cost $200. The battery it comes with sells for $100 separately. So effectively I got this mini-mower for $100. I’ll use the battery in my drills regardless of how much I use the mower. If it could be a reliable backup, I was going to be satisfied with it.
And the bonus: It’s small and light enough to hang on the wall when not in use.
Is the Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ Lawn Mower any good?
The Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ mower is easy to assemble. Take it out of the box, connect the handle with the captive bolts, and fold it out. If you’ve put a gas mower together, this is just as easy, if not easier. There is one handle to adjust the height, which is great. On my gas mowers, one of the adjusters always gets stuck on me. On this one, you can raise and lower the height effortlessly.
But the most important thing is the start. Push a button gingerly, push the handle, and it beeps like your car, then the blade starts whirring. No gas, no effort.
I found the batteries last about 20 minutes. If you put one of the tiny Ryobi batteries in, like what comes with their cheapest tools, expect one of those to last more like 5. The one-amp-hour batteries are only good for finishing up a cut. I expect my 3 and 4 amp hour batteries (I have one of each) to not be enough to cut the yard once the grass is really in and growing, but we shall see.
It’s a push mower, but it weighs very little. Supposedly it weighs 27 pounds but it doesn’t feel that heavy. I found it much easier to push than a 20-inch gas mower that isn’t self propelled. And frankly, some self propelled mowers take more effort to push than this tiny, lightweight Ryobi. Even though I had to make 40 percent more passes, cutting the grass with it didn’t leave me any more winded than cutting with a gas mower does. My wife found it easy to push and use too.
And it’s quiet. You can hear it running from about 50 feet away, but once it gets further than that, you don’t hear it. We mulch, rather than bagging, and it leaves the yard looking just as good as our bigger gas-powered mulching mowers we’ve owned did.
Once May arrives and the grass starts thickening, the mower can bog down a little when mulching, but that’s to be expected. I mulch anyway.
One advantage of a small mower
The Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ lawn mower did teach me that its small size can be an advantage. When cutting up against the house or landscaping, it can get in closer than a full-size mower can because of its small size and low weight. While it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for a weed trimmer, its maneuverability means we don’t have to use a trimmer as much.
Dealing with the battery life
The major issue with Ryobi lawn tools is always the battery life. We rotate the 4 Ah battery that came with the mower with a 3 Ah battery we already had. As long as we mow every week, we find that 2-4 charges is enough to mow our entire lawn.
We just keep one battery charging while we use the other, and try to be careful to keep at least one of them fully charged. It wouldn’t surprise me if we end up needing to pick up another 4 Ah battery in the near future, but we have other Ryobi tools that will use it, so I don’t mind. Drills work better with the hefty batteries anyway.
Also, don’t charge the battery hot. Let it cool down so the charger doesn’t reject it as defective.
Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ Lawn Mower: Final thoughts
I did not buy this Ryobi lawn mower expecting greatness. My plan was to buy it and hope it was good enough to get us by if our bigger lawn mower gave us trouble. If one of us could use it to cut our small front yard while the other took care of the back yard, that would be even better. That was about the best I thought I had any right to hope for.
We ended up using it all spring. In our situation, it’s a bit overmatched, but it did better than I had any right to expect. It introduced me to electric lawn mowers and let me put off buying a full-sized one until I figured out exactly what I wanted.
I think Ryobi’s 16-inch model is a better mower. It has a brushless motor, which is an advantage in mowers for the same reason as it is in a drill. It will take two batteries for longer runtime and it’s bigger, and it only costs $70 more. But for small yards, tight budgets, or as a secondary mower that can do the whole yard in a pinch, the Ryobi 13 inch ONE+ lawn mower exceeded all my expectations.