Yes, you can pull a self-propelled lawn mower backwards but the self-propelled function should be disengaged before doing so.
The typical self-propelled lawn mower works by holding a drive lever (bar) down near the handle of the lawn mower to activate the wheels to start spinning to move the machine forward. The same lever is released to stop the wheels from spinning or, in other words, to disengage the self-propelled mechanism.
If the lawn mower is being assisted forward by the self-propelled function, it is counterproductive to then try to pull the lawn mower backwards for obvious reasons. You could damage the lawn mower if you made a habit of doing this.
When you wish to move backwards, simply release the drive lever and manually pull the mower toward you. The engine will stay running but the self-propelled function will not be in operation. Once you have completed moving backwards, you can then re-engage the drive lever to use the self-propelled function.
Reverse Self Propelled Mowers
Keep in mind that there are some lawn mowers that self propel both forward and in reverse. For example, the Toro Recycler with PoweReverse featured in the below video allows the user to use the self propel function both forward and in reverse.
If you have a lot of obstacles in your yard that require you to frequently move in reserve, this type of lawn mower may save you a ton of physical energy each mow.
While this is a nice option to have on a lawn mower, it is a luxury featured not offered by all lawn mower brands. Before spending extra money for this feature, you should greatly consider if you really need it.
Mowing Backwards – Safety Concerns
When mowing backwards, there is a concern with safety any time you choose to do so. Since we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads, our ability to see behind us is often very limited.
It is extremely easy to trip on things to our rear such as children, toys, roots, trees, and much more. You can imagine the danger of tripping while holding a lawn mower with an extremely fast moving blade.
Always read the owner’s manual for your lawn mower to determine the proper way to operate it. If the manufacturer recommends against operating their lawn mower backwards, you should follow these instructions.