Riding lawn mowers are all-around machines that can tackle your multiple grass-cutting needs. Except for commercial use, riding mowers have many residential applications as well. But no matter what application you have in mind, they come in various types and features. So, knowing what you should look for when buying a riding lawnmower is important.
Match The Riding Mowers to Your Lawn Size
When looking for a riding mower, you’ll first want to consider the size of your lawn. If you have a large lawn and want a powerful engine, you’ll want a bigger model. But if your lawn is smaller and less challenging, you can get away with a smaller engine and save money.
Here are some general tips to help you find a mower that will work well for your lawn size.
- 3/4-Acre to 1-Acre Lawn: Look for a mower with a 30-in to 42-in cut width.
- 1-Acre to 2-Acre Lawn: Look for a mower with a 42-in to 52-in cut width.
- 2-Acre to 3-Acre Lawn: Look for a mower with a 50-in to 54-in cut width.
- 3-Acre to 5-Acre Lawn: Look for a mower with a 54-in to 62-in cut width.
- 5-Acre Lawn or Larger: Look for a mower with a 60-in or greater cut width.
The Different Types of Riding Lawn Mowers
When you’re looking for a mower that can tackle your lawn, you want a machine that’s easy to use, reliable, and versatile. But with so many different types of riding mowers available today, it can be hard to know which one is best for your property.
Here are the four main types of riding lawn mowers:
Rear Engine Riding Mowers
The engine is located at the machine’s rear and is powered by a gasoline engine. They must be towed behind another vehicle to move them around your yard. Rear engine riding mowers are great for large properties or when you have hills on your property. However, they are heavier than other riding mowers, so they may not be suited for smaller yards or areas with trees or fences in the way.
Front Engine Riding Mowers
These machines are usually powered by a gas engine that sits at the front of the machine, attached directly above its wheels. They’re generally larger than other riding mowers, with larger cutting decks and more powerful engines. Front engine riding mowers are best for big yards or jobs like edging along sidewalks or flowerbeds. Still, they’re not as maneuverable as other models and aren’t ideal for smaller yards.
Zero Turn Riding Mowers
Most people think of this when they picture a riding mower because it has a wheel at the back and one in front. The wheel in front is controlled by the operator’s feet and turns 360 degrees. The wheel at the back turns 90 degrees so the operator can turn around in place without having to back up or turn around manually. These mowers tend to be more expensive than other riding mowers. Still, they’re also faster and easier to use than other types.
Lawn & Garden Tractors
These are large machines that are primarily used for mowing large areas of land on farms or in industrial settings. They typically come with one seat and only a steering wheel in the front, so they aren’t really designed for leisurely rides (but if you have the space and the money, go ahead!). This machine also has a small engine to help it move through tough terrain more easily than a smaller machine can do on its own power alone.
These mowers typically have between 25-35 horsepower and are powerful enough to handle any lawn up to about 2 acres in size. They’re also extremely easy to maneuver with a steering wheel instead of a joystick, so you can easily steer them around obstacles like trees and flower beds.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Riding Lawn Mower
If you’re in the market for a riding lawn mower, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
When choosing a riding mower, you must consider the engine type and power output. Gas-powered models are typically quieter and produce fewer fumes than electric mowers. Still, they have one drawback that some people will be more sensitive to than others: They require gasoline to operate. Electric models recharge in a garage or workshop. They’re useful if the closest gas station is out of your way or if you want to minimize the noise created by mowing. Both types have benefits and shortcomings, so it’s up to you whether you prefer gas or electric. Make sure you can complete your lawn-care jobs with whatever engine size you choose!
When the lawn is almost done, and you have to stop because the mower ran out of fuel or its batteries need to be recharged, that can be incredibly frustrating. Before buying a riding mower, research how far it can go on one tank of gas and how quickly it can recharge its batteries if they run out of power. Electric riding mowers operate on battery power, which can typically run for about 1 – 2 hours before needing a recharge. However, when the batteries die, they will take several hours to recharge, which may prevent users from finishing their yard.
Deck Size and Material
The size of the cutting deck on a riding mower directly affects its speed and efficiency in cutting grass. A bigger deck means more square footage can be covered with each pass, so it’s important to consider the size of your yard when deciding on the width of your cutting deck. Cutting decks are typically made from steel, though their thickness varies based on the product. Thicker-gauge steel is more resilient and longer-lasting, making it a good choice for rocky yards where lots of pebbles and stones can be kicked into the deck.
Transmission and Maneuverability
Several types of transmissions are available for riding lawn mowers, each of which can affect the maneuverability of your machine. The most common types are gear driven, automatic, and hydrostatic.
- The Gear-Driven Transmission System uses gears to convert engine power into mechanical energy. These are typically older models with fewer features than other types of transmissions. They’re also more likely to have problems with overheating due to friction and wear.
- Automatic Transmission System uses an internal combustion engine to move a belt that turns the wheels of a vehicle through a series of gears controlled by hydraulic fluid pressure. This type of transmission is less expensive than other options but requires more maintenance and repair due to its complexity.
- Hydrostatic Transmission Systems use hydraulic fluid pressure to move a belt that turns the wheels of a vehicle through a series of gears controlled by hydraulic fluid pressure. This type of transmission is less expensive than other options but requires more maintenance and repair due to its complexity.
Controls and Comfort
Before riding to the yard on a lawn mower, ensure you know how to drive it. Whether you have a standard steering wheel, foot pedals, or lap bars to control each rear wheel, getting a feel for your vehicle is important before driving. Comfort is another important factor in choosing a riding lawn mower. If you’ll spend an hour or more sitting on the mower, finding a comfortable option—like padded seats with shocks—is essential. Some models even include cupholders and storage bins for storing tools while driving.
Safety concerns are essential when choosing a riding mower. If you’re buying a mower, remember that it has heavy-duty rotating cutting blades capable of slicing through trees, bushes, weeds, and more. Riding mowers can move quickly over uneven terrain and should be cautiously used. Look for a model with a blade-clutch system so the blades can be disengaged without stopping the engine—this reduces the risk of accidental injury to anyone nearby.
Let’s Know the Difference!
Riding Mowers vs. Garden Tractors
Riding mowers are the more affordable option and are ideal for those who have small to medium-sized yards. They are very easy to use and can be used by anyone from kids to seniors. These machines have a motor that drives the wheels, making it easier to control where you want the mower to go. The downside is that they have a limited work area, so a riding mower might not be for you if you need something that can cover larger areas.
Garden tractors are generally larger than riding mowers and can handle rougher terrain better than their smaller counterparts. They are also equipped with larger cutting decks that allow them to easily cut through taller grasses or weeds. This means they’re great options if you need something that can easily handle large areas of your yard, but they are more expensive than riding mowers.
Manual vs. Automatic Riding Mowers
Manual riding lawnmowers are powered by a pull cord that starts the engine. Automatic riding lawnmowers have an electric starter, so all you have to do is turn on the key and gas up.
Both types of mowers have advantages and disadvantages. Manual mowers are cheaper than automatic ones but are much heavier and harder to maneuver in tight spaces. Automatic mowers are more expensive but lighter and easier to use.
Gas vs. Electric Riding Mowers
Electric mowers are quieter than gas and don’t produce as much pollution. Still, they also tend to be more expensive. Electric models also have a limited range—usually less than half a mile—and can’t go uphill very well or through thick grass or wet leaves.
Gasoline-powered mowers are louder than electric ones and emit more emissions. Still, they can run longer distances before refueling and easily cut through thick grass and wet leaves without slowing down or stopping. They also tend to be cheaper than electric models.
So, what do you think? Which riding lawn mower suits your needs best? Well, it depends on your budget, needs, and the size and terrain of your lawn. Any of the lawn mowers mentioned above can certainly help with bringing curb appeal to your property. Also, did you know you can listen to great music while mowing? Check out these great ideas for lawn mower headphones.