A lawn mower can be a necessary home appliance for many homeowners, but those who have larger lawns to upkeep may find that push lawn mowers just don’t cut it. Experts recommend riding lawn mowers for larger lawns because they have stronger engines that can handle larger patches of grass more efficiently. And as the name suggests, they’re designed so you can ride on top of them while you mow the lawn, which can come in handy when there’s a lot of land to tackle.
“Unlike any other type of lawnmower, the riding ones let you just sit and steer instead of pushing a manually propelled type or walking behind a self-propelled type,”Bryan McKenzie is a landscape designer and cofounder of Bumper Crop Times. “The riding type is much more cumbersome as it includes a larger motor and a full-sized seat, but it allows you to mow large areas significantly faster without any back fatigue — all you need is good sunscreen.”
A riding lawnmower is a major investment. The average cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,500 according to David Steckel, a home expert. Thumbtack. It can be difficult to find the right one, especially with so many options on the market. We have consulted landscaping professionals to help you get going. gardeningExperts have outlined the differences between riding lawnmowers and other types of mowers, as well as what to look for when buying one. They also gave their top recommendations for where to shop.
SKIP Ahead Best riding lawnmowers | What to consider when shopping
What exactly are riding lawnmowers?
Because of their larger engines and wider mower decks, riding lawn mowers can be quicker and more efficient than self-propelled or push lawn mowers. This allows them to cut more grass in one pass. You can also ride the mower around. “crucial for homeowners who experience any back issues and can’t walk behind an average lawn mower without fatigue,” said McKenzie.
Experts believe that riding lawn mowers are a great option for homeowners with larger yards than three-fourths of an inch. They can drastically reduce the time it takes to mow. However, “if your yard is less than a half an acre, a riding lawn mower can make mowing your lawn more tedious than it needs to be because of the size of the machine in comparison to the yard,”Steckel agreed. At that point, it’s easier (and much cheaper) to use a push or self-propelled lawn mower — these types of mowers also turn the lawn mowing process into an opportunity for exercise and physical activity.
There are three main types: traditional lawn tractors (ZTR), rear-engine riding mowers (RTM), and rear-engine mowing mowers.
Lawn tractors are gas-powered machines with a front mounted engine and a steering wheel for easy maneuvering — you simply sit on top and steer while the machine cuts the grass. “This is the most common and price-effective type of riding lawn mower,”Steckel agreed. They are also suited for large lawns with hills and slopes because they have a large turn radius.
ZTR mowersThey have a rear engine and a wider turning radius than lawn mowers. “They can turn on a dime and are usually faster and more precise than other riding mower options,”Steckel stated. These mowers are not equipped with a steering wheel. They have a pair or two of levers that control how the machine turns. Some models, however, still use the familiar wheel. Michael Hill says that a mower has two levers instead of a steering wheel. However, some newer models have the familiar wheel. gardenA landscape expert Garden GuidepostThis is the best option. “if you have a lawn that has sharp edges, architectural design or you need to get close to obstacles.”ZTR mowers are lighter and more mobile than other mowers.
Rear engine mowersThe engine is located below the seat. They’re more compact for easier storage and are usually cheaper than the other types of riding mowers. However, they tend to have smaller mowing decks (around 30 inches wide compared to at least 40 inches for other types of riding lawn mowers) and don’t tend to cut as well or as quickly as other riding mowers. “Typically if you have a lawn that is not huge but isn’t small enough to use manual or push mowers, then this is the best option,”Hill said. These mowers can sometimes be electric — electric mowers use battery power instead of gas and are typically quieter.
The best riding lawn mowers for 2021
Experts have compiled their recommendations to help you choose the best riding lawnmower.
Cub Cadet riding lawnmower has a 50-inch cutter, a steel frame, and a 23H twin engine by Kawasaki. It’s “made for large yards that include lots of uneven spots and obstacles — due to responsive zero-turn steering, a low center of gravity and large tenacious wheels, it can trim almost anywhere,” said McKenzie. The mower has dual hydrostatic transmissions which allow it to accelerate at speeds of up to 7.5 mph forward, and 3.5 to 3.5 mph reverse. McKenzie also noted that Cub Cadet makes an Version electricThis model features “the same performance as the gas-powered version along with all the benefits of an electric unit.”
This electric riding mower is from RYOBI. “eco-friendly, relatively quiet and efficient riding lawn mower,”According to McKenzie. According to McKenzie, the mower has a 38-inch cutting width. It also comes with a 2 hour run time that can cut up to 2 acres per charge. “You can charge it up from any 120V outlet and enjoy great performance without any daunting gas engine maintenance,” McKenzie said. The mower has LED headlights, a USB charger and cruise control for increased efficiency. However, it doesn’t have a zero turn radius, meaning it may be harder to maneuver around sharp edges or obstacles in your yard.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly solution, this compact option from Troy-Bilt is less than $1,500 and doesn’t sacrifice efficiency, according to McKenzie. He said that the 30-inch deck was very attractive. “quite enough for the vast majority of medium American yards, while the 382-cc engine delivers just enough speed to finish the work faster than you expect from a small buddy like this.”The manual transmission is what the brand calls Shift on-the-Go. It allows you to change speeds without stopping or clutching.
Husqvarna’s wide mowing deck was why Hill recommended this option to Hill. “At 61 inches wide, this zero-turn lawn mower can clear more than an acre of tall grass in fewer passes,”He said. The brand claims this mower’s large cutting width can cover up to 4.2 acres per hour, which can be efficient for large lawns. This mower has a high-back seat and foam-padded levers with handle grips. Easy access points make it easy to maintain: The oil, filters, battery, and hydraulic drive system are all easily accessible. There is also an hour meter that reminds when you need to service your mower.
According to the brand, this zero turn mower has a large 50 inch cutting width and can be used to mow yards up to 4 acres. It features Toro’s Smart Speed Technology, which lets you control your mowing speed in three modes: up to 7 mph while mowing, 5.5 mph in tow mode and 4 mph in trim mode. “It’s a powerful warrior that will satisfy the mowing, towing, and trimming needs of most professional users,” said McKenzie. The mower comes with a cup holder and shock-absorbing dampeners. It also has a step-through front to make it easier to get on the mower and move debris and obstacles out of the way.
Consider these things when shopping for a riding mower
Since riding lawn mowers can largely vary in size and function, it’s important to consider which features work best for your lawn before splurging.
As we reported in our guide to lawn mowers, the cutting width of a lawn mower measures the size of the strip the machine can cut in a single pass — the wider the cutting width is, the less time it’ll take to mow your lawn. McKenzie states that the ideal cutting width ranges from 30 inches to 42 inches to cut 1 acre of grass to at most 60 inches to cut 5 acres. The number of blades in the cutting deck also affects the width. Smaller lawn tractors may only have one blade, while larger ZTR mowers and ZTR lawn tractors typically have two or three.
Though a wider cutting width can speed up the mowing process, McKenzie noted that it can also limit a machine’s mobility. He said that there are some cases where it can be dangerous. “you’ll need an extra small self-propelled lawn mower to finish narrow spaces and slopes that are too steep for your glossy ride.”
Gas versus electric mower
Many riding lawnmowers are gas-powered. This means that they require gasoline to run. Others, however, are electric and require a charging battery to run. Though gas riding mowers are more durable and typically better suited for large lawns, Hill cautioned that they’re usually much louder than their electric counterparts and are less eco-friendly since they emit fumes.
Electric riding mowers can be cheaper and easier to maintain since they don’t require purchasing or changing out the engine oil, among other upkeep requirements. However, electric riding mowers do have their downfalls: Their functionality is limited to the amount of time they can be used in a single charge — if you have several acres of land (or simply forget to charge the battery), the power may not be enough to cut your entire lawn in one sitting.
Type of transmission
The transmission of your riding lawnmower can be changed. determine the machine’s speedIt will determine how it handles different backyard conditions including mud or inclines. Manual transmission provides a set number of speeds — you select the one you want by using a lever and clutch. These are primarily found in older lawn tractors — similar to older cars — and can be useful for people who are accustomed to using a gear stick or can’t control speeds as easily with the pedal.
Hydrostatic transmissionAlso known as Automatic transmissionThis is the default type of riding lawn mowers. It lets you change gears automatically by pressing down the pedal. This type tends to last longer — according to Mckenzie, it “requires the least maintenance and [has] the smoothest performance.”
Terrain and yard dimensions
As experts noted, the size of your lawn will determine whether you should invest in a riding lawn mower — it’s usually not worth it for homeowners with less than half an acre. However, terrain can have an impact on how the mower works. A lawn tractor can be used on any lawn that is relatively flat and landscapes that have many uneven sections, provided it has a steering wheel that allows for more control. For those with a flat yard and obstacles like rocks or gravel, you can use a lawn tractor. “a ZTR will probably show better results as it can turn 360 degrees on a small spot and pivot at sharp angles,” said McKenzie.
Experts suggested that your riding mower should have an engine that is appropriate for the size of your yard. Lawn tractors are the largest type of mower, and can provide a lot of work. “enough power to quickly treat 2 acres to 5 or more acres,” said McKenzie. You can use a lightweight for smaller areas. single-cylinder engineZTR is more affordable. Two-cylinder engines — called V-twin engines — in ZTRs are more powerful than single-cylinder engines and provide less vibrationThese engines are quieter, more comfortable, and have a longer life expectancy. It is recommended to use riding mowers with V twin engines. “for large yards with 2-5 or more acres,” said McKenzie.
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