How long does it take to mow a one-acre lawn?

by Bill

Whether you’re a professional landscaper looking to create a customer quote or a homeowner deciding on what kind of equipment you should buy for mowing your lawn, you’re your probably wondering the answer to this question.

We’ve heard rules of thumb like “one acre takes 5 hours to mow” or “a half acre takes an afternoon to complete.” Unfortunately, the answer is never this simple. Your neighbour might even have the same sized property as you but it might take him half the time to mow his lawn. Why is this the case?

As you can see on our online lawn mowing calculator, the time it takes to mow a 1 acre property (or property of any size for that matter) depends on a number of factors:

1. Size of property

Naturally, the time it takes to mow your lawn will largely depend on the size of your property. All other things being equal, a 1-acre property will take twice as long to service as a 1/2-acre property. Okay, that’s probably not news to you so lets move onto the next major factor.

2. Walking speed

If you’re using a walk-behind mower, the faster you walk then the less time it will naturally take to complete the job. Walking speed is largely dependent on your equipment, condition of the grass and quality required:

Equipment – Commercial mowers generally go faster than consumer-grade mowers so professional landscapers automatically have an advantage over the  here.

A consumer mower might go 2-4mph whereas a commercial mower could go up to 8-10mph.

Condition of the grass – If it’s the first time you’ve mowed in a month and the grass is really long then the mower is going to go slower as well.Extremely wet grass will also clump up and slow you down. So keep in mind that you’re not necessarily saving time by mowing less frequently!

Quality desired – Faster isn’t always better. There’s generally a trade-off between speed and quality so if you go too fast then the end result won’t be as beautiful as you’d like and you might even need to re-do a few places. Yikes!

long wet grass
Long wet grass slows your walking speed

3. Deck size

The size of your deck (i.e. the cutting-width of your mower) will also impact the time it takes to complete the job. In general the bigger the deck, the faster the job.

For example, lets assume you have two mowers that go the exact same speed. The only difference is that Mower A has a 21-inch deck and Mower B has a 42-inch deck. Mowing a perfectly flat rectangle at the same speed will take twice as long with Mower A since you need to make 2x the number of passes.

deck size time to mow lawn
Mowing a perfectly flat rectangle at the same speed will take twice as long with Mower A since you need to make 2x the number of passes.

However, not many lawns are perfectly flat rectangles. If you’re mowing a small, urban lawn with lots tight turns (we have plenty of those in Sydney) don’t expect to cut your job time in half by getting a bigger mower. In fact it might slow you down trying to manoeuvre the damn thing!

consumer vs commercial mower
Consumer mowers generally have smaller decks and therefore take more time to mow a typical yard. **

4. Efficiency

If all lawns were perfectly flat, long rectangles then you wouldn’t need to account for “efficiency” when estimating the time it takes to mow a lawn. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t so simple and you need to consider the following factors when estimating your efficiency:

  • Turning required -Turning slows you down so your efficiency goes down as the number of turns required goes up. As demonstrated above, a smaller deck will be more inefficient on a flat rectangle because it requires twice the number of turns which slow you down. Commerical-grade equipment is generally designed for faster turning than consumer-grade equipment so the pros also have an advantage here.
  • Overlap – each trip you make with the mower back and forth will entail some overlap which automatically reduces your efficiency by 10%-20%. A more experienced, professional operator will naturally be more efficient than your typical homeowner here.
  • Other factors – There may be other factors that impact your efficiency like a funkier-shaped yard or lots of trees. As you get more experienced you’ll become a better judge of what most impacts your efficiency.

Try our lawn mowing calculator!

If you’ve read this far you’ve probably gathered that estimating the time to mow a one-acre property (or any property for that matter) is more of an art than it is a science. Many of the professional landscapers and gardeners we work with won’t even give an estimate before performing an on-site inspection for this very reason….there are just too many factors that determine the amount of time required to mow and service a property.

To give at least give you SOME guidance we’ve put together this online lawn mowing calculator to get you started. We’d love your feedback so please tell us if it works for you and how we might be able to make it more useful in the future!


* wet grass photo compliments of Peter Corbett 
** lawn mower photo (right) compliments of Tim Wilson