There are many ways to cut the grass – an old fashioned push mower, a walk behind mower, and the impressive riding mowers. All of these machines streamline the lawn maintenance procedure – the riding mower excelling ahead of the rest. These type of machines cut back on labor and sweat by using a pair of blades to slice and dice everything as you ride them. Because of their usefulness the riding mower market is saturated with different manufacturers, each offering a range of varying styles to choose from.
Of course these lawn mowers aren’t for everyone – in fact if you have a smaller lawn they might be more hassle than they’re worth. Even if your lawn is on the larger size you need to be careful – not every riding mower variant will be the correct one for you. In this guide you’ll learn about the four main types of riding mowers – rear engine, lawn tractors, garden tractors, and zero turn. You’ll also get a brief rundown on what accessories you might need to further expand the abilities of your mower of choice, along with a few maintenance tips to get the most out of your machine. Getting a new riding mower is an exciting yet intimidating prospect – but you will soon be armed with the information needed to confidently pick one of these lawn machines that is best for you.
Types of Riding Mowers
There are four main types of riding mowers each which offer differing benefits and price points. When in the market its best to understand their characteristics so you can choose correctly.
The Rear Engine
These are the best riding mower for those on a budget.
These machines are streamlined for a smaller size that focuses just on cutting grass. Because of this they are unable to use many of the add-ons and accessories found with other machines. Their small sizes are great for storing, moving in small areas, and even through most gates. Because of their diminished size their engine is a little bit weaker than most. This results in noticeably slower speeds, with these mowers not usually clocking at more than 4.5 mph.
The most common type of riding mower as they come with a large deck, a powerful engine, and a lot of customization. Their cutting deck typically start around 38” but can go as high as 54”. These machines can pull trailers and use a variety of accessories. These machines often have a hydrostatic transmission which allows for a smooth transition as you accelerate. Because of their larger motor, they have a higher top speed compared the rear engine models. Though this size does comes at a cost – the most obvious being that you can’t fit in smaller areas.
A step higher than a lawn tractor, this riding mower is one of the toughest. You can find these machines have the largest cutting width of any riding mower – with elite models having a deck as large as 60”. These machines are able to pull attachments like cultivators, tillers, and plow blades with ease. Many of these variants come with a power takeoff feature to allow you to use the engine as a generator. Because of all these features and high durability, these type of riding mowers are often the most expensive.
Zero Turn Radius (ZTR)
ZTR mowers are some of the best riding mowers on the market now. Often used on a commercial level, this machine has fine-tuned movement as it can easily turn 180 degree turns. These mowers are controlled by a couple of levers rather than steering wheel, with pushing forward on one side and pulling back on the other to get those impossibly tight turns. This riding machine also boasts some of the highest speeds of all the riding mowers – with some brands going as fast as 7 mph. These type of mowers do have the flaw of being pricier, and struggling on steep hills.
What’s The Best Deck Size For Me and My Yard?
|Yard size||Deck size||Price|
|less then 1/2 acre||30-42 inch||1000-1500|
|1/2 – 1 acre||38-46 inch||1500-2200|
|1+ acre||48-60 inch||2200+|
5 Best Riding Lawn Mower Comparison and Reviews
We’ve found the most popular and top rated riding lawn mowers and organized them in this comparison chart.
|Device name||Deck size||Price|
|Poulan Pro PB20VA46||46 in|
|Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series||42 in|
|Troy Bilt 13B226JD066||30 in|
|Husqvarna YTA24V48||48 in|
|Husqvarna Z254||54 in|
Poulan Pro PB20VA46 – Best for the money Riding Mower
A reliable riding mower is the crown jewel of any garage or tool shed. They help you maintain a beautiful yard while reducing the wear and tear on your joints that push mowers can cause. If you’re looking for a dependable, cost-effective riding mower, look no further than the Poulan Pro 46” riding mower.
Poulan and its Poulan Pro line trace their history back to 1944, offering a 70+ year track record of excellence. Poulan is now owned by Husqvarna, arguably the most trusted name in the yard machinery industry, so when you buy this mower, you know you are getting a quality-made machine.
At 46 inches wide, the mower’s deck is designed to streamline handling your lawn as quickly as possible, offering six cutting lengths. If this is your first riding mower or yard tractor, you’ll be especially thankful for the two anti-scalping wheels, which stabilize the deck and protect your lawn from being cut too short.
One of the most attractive qualities of the Poulan Pro is the fact that its automatic transmission simulates the experience of driving a small car. There’s no need to worry about shifting or wearing out the clutch, which means you can just drive around as normal while your mower does the work for you.
|Engine manufacturer||Briggs & Stratton|
|Cutting Width||46 in|
The peppy 20 horsepower V-Twin Briggs & Stratton allows the Poulan Pro to travel up to 5.2 miles per hour forward or 2.9 miles per hour in reverse. Unlike many other riding mowers on the market, the Poulan Pro can cut grass in reverse, offering incredible time savings.
When you use the Poulan Pro, you’ll be amazed by its responsive handling and smooth operation. The mower’s turning radius is a tight 16 inches, allowing you to easily navigate around trees, rocks, and other features of your property with no problem.
As you work, the Poulan Pro mulches your yard clippings and dumps them into a bag for later disposal or transfer to a compost heap. This feature eliminates the mess that many bagless mowers create and allows you to put your clippings to work.
The Poulan Pro is safe for operation at any time of day or in any weather. Its headlight empowers you to mow in early morning or late evening hours without fear of going unnoticed by passing vehicles when you work near the road.
Most importantly, this riding mower is built to last. The rust resistant deck will keep your mower cutting grass for years, regardless of off-season storage conditions. The Poulan Pro is specifically designed for uneven and obstacle-filled terrain, which means it can take the bumps and grinds of challenging lawn care.
When it does come time to do maintenance or replace parts, you’ll be relieved that the Poulan Pro is compatible with a variety of easily found, affordable parts. The Poulan Pro accepts either Husqvarna or Craftsman parts, simplifying repairs.
With that said, the Poulan Pro is not without its drawbacks. The mower is not CARB compliant, meaning it does not meet the emissions standards necessary for use in the state of California. Additionally, unpacking and setting up the mower can be difficult and time consuming, which may make your first few hours as an owner frustrating.
- Large and powerful 4-stroke engine
- Large fuel tank
- Best for large yards – up to 3 acres
- Can be used as a lawn tractor with special equipment, such as till, rake, fertilizer spreader, or seeder without buying a lot of expensive machinery
- Some mowers can be refused to restart when warm
- It does not meet the emissions standards necessary for use in the state of California
The Poulan Pro PB20VA46 46” Riding Mower may not have all the bells and whistles of premium machines, but it has all the power to get the job done and user-friendly operation help you tackle your yard like a pro.
Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series – Best riding lawn mower under 2000 dollars
The problem is simple; you need to cut your grass. Maybe you have just moved house or your old lawnmower just doesn’t cut it anymore. What can you do now? You could buy something cheap or you could buy something like this Cub Cadet Xt1 Enduro Series Lt 42 In 18 Hp Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front’ -engine Riding Mower. Decisions, decisions……
This baby is beautiful built to be practical, durable and attractive. Firstly it oozes comfort. Your feet fit perfectly and your back is supported making this task comfortable and unstrained. Everything is so easy to get to and use. This is all about the riding mower for under $2,000.
Let me explain. The gas tank is located perfectly on the left and the easy to see gas level right underneath.Then you have the easy to pop off hood if you ever need to service the machine. When you mow, the mower floats gently across the terrain with just the wheels touching the ground safeguarding damage and making it long term sustainable.
|Cutting Width||42 in|
The design is flawless; super cool led lights fitted into the groove of its beautiful frontage. Designed with practicality in mind there is no danger of rust and you can add your water hose into the built in hole to easily clean the mower.
Once you are into the seat, you feel like the man with all the buttons at your disposal. Firstly you will notice the easy to use start engine. Then you will notice the easy to use height adjustment feature so anyone of your friends or family can use the mower – not that you will ever want them to.
It comes built in with a safety backward feature and a clutch making it easy to go backwards or forwards. Then when you are ready, turn it on and get started. The simple steer mechanism makes it feel so smooth to navigate your garden or terrain. You will feel its strength and reliability instantly while it glides oozing power and performance. It is both durable and flexible making it easy to turn corners or go forward confidently.
Whether you know it or not you are supported by modern technology. This was built by the best mower engineers in the land who focussed for years on creating a purpose built, stylish and practical machine which makes mowing the grass simple, practical and intelligent.
- 12 easily selectable cutting height positions
- Responsive, automotive-style steering
- LED Headlights for enhanced visibility
- Optional multi-seasonal attachments
- The seat is flat and you slide off the seat
The product comes with a stellar warranty and a customer service support team operating seven days a week. The smart app on your phone monitors your service history, offers maintenance guides, operational manuals and tips for better performance. You can have great add ons like the sun shade or snow protector or trowel so you can continue despite weather conditions.
This is technical excellence inside a mower of the highest calibre. Amazing performance, exceptional value. Superior service. Great features. Attractive design and a joy to use and have.
Troy Bilt 13B226JD066 – Small Riding Mower with Rear engine
I have got a big garden and it can be really difficult to mow. It’s not that it’s particularly uneven or especially bumpy, it’s just an awkward shape with lots of odd little corners. The Troy Bilt caught my eye as it’s not an expensive commercial mower and promised the ability to get into all those tight spaces other, bigger machines might not be able to tackle. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve gone through a few mowers over the years. I’ve tried everything from walk behind ones (when my back was not quite as stiff) to high-end John Deere’s but have been struggling for a while now to find the right machine for my particularly tricky acre. Thus far, the Troy Bilt has not let me down.
With a rear-mounted engine, it steers like a dream. It is relatively quiet and easily manoeuvres around trees and flowers. Another thing to note is that it does not cut in reverse. For fairly obvious reasons there are security measures in place to prevent this. You have to kill the engine to do so but it’s no big deal. In fact, it’s probably best to familiarise yourself with a few of the safety features in advance, otherwise you might be standing their for an hour wondering why your mower isn’t starting when it’s simply a case of something not being closed properly.
|Cutting Width||30 in|
After ordering it arrived promptly and comes in a crate that is fairly easy to manage. It took about 45 minutes to assemble. Make sure you have some vice grips and pliers at the ready for assembly. One thing to note, when I first started it up in my garage it was a little smoky so it might be best to take it for its first spin in the open air. It also comes with an adjustable seat, which is perfect for me, because, I will be honest, I left my peak years of fitness somewhere back in the 1980s. The battery is also excellent and at its highest speed it can really take off. Although, you won’t cut as much grass using it on the max level. The price is absolutely worth it for the quality of machine you are getting. One minor quibble was the clutch control, which can be a little bit fidgety.
- Great for small yards
- The best all around price
- Made in China, but it is about 50% of the Briggs & Stratton
I was so impressed I actually recommended it to a neighbour with a 10-degree hill in his back garden and around one foot of grass. I know the mower is not strictly built for this kind of operation. Still, he put the motor in gear and up it went. It ploughed right through the grass with considerable ease. It is built for smaller yards like mine and while I wouldn’t necessarily use it on bigger gardens every day, it shows the power that the 420cc motor has that it is versatile enough to cut trickier lawns. The crankshaft is also forged steel, which means the mower should definitely last. If you are after a good quality riding motor with excellent steering and simple assembly then the Troy Bilt comes highly recommended.
Husqvarna YTA24V48 – Best Riding Lawn mower for Hills
To be frank with you, the last mower which I owed gave me a hard time constantly working on it, it seemed like every time I put it away and got it out, either the spindle would go out or something would die on it and then I had to get it worked on. So I did some research on Husqvarna brand and it seems to have a good reputation. So I went ahead, took the risk and bought it.
I’ll start out with the good for the mower, it is a 48 inch cut , so it is couple of inches better than the cup cut mower, 48 inch is the actual cutting with 3 blade cutting system and it is a very smooth running tractor, it’s very quiet, a lot faster, seems to have a lot more power than the other mowers I used in the past.
The location of fuel filler is on the left side of the seat which is good because traditionally for other mowers it is under the hood and you have to remove the hood every time while filling up the fuel. This tractor has an adjustable seat and armrest, and I thought at first that would be something nice to have making it a little more comfortable to mow. Honestly, I don’t use them a whole lot and in most situation, I keep the armrest in the up position. It is nice when I cut the neighbors field who has got a much bigger field than my yard, so it is good to flip them down then and it is a little more comfortable. I have got bagger accessories with it and I can’t say enough about that. I love the bagger and this has got a larger 3 bag system, it holds a ton of grass and leaves and I am glad I spent extra money for that.
|Engine manufacturer||Briggs & Stratton|
|Cutting Width||48 in|
Overall, the looks of the mower is great, lots of power as I mentioned, it does have a hydrostatic transmission, and this machine suppresses the whining noice. The mounting and removal of the deck is fairly easy.
So thats the good for the mower.
Now let’s talk about some shortcomings of the mower:
The first time when I used it, I noticed that Husqvarna doesn’t want its customers to use the reverse mode because, when you press the reverse pedal it comes in contact with the spindle cover located right below the pedal. I used an hacksaw blade and cut out the portion that was getting on the way and I am now able to use it fine.
Another problem is the type of plastic used for the fuel gauge, it is totally opaque which makes it extremely difficult to judge the level of fuel. Like other mowers, this machine also has a key setting, you got your start setting, run setting if you wanna go in reverse you can turn your backward key on and that will allow you to mow is reverse. However, if you forget and hit the reverse pedal, the engine WILL DIE unlike the other mowers which disengage the blades.
- Comfortable seat
- Starts quickly and doesn’t choke
- Steering wheel has a nice hold even if you are sweaty
- Three blades and excellent brake cut
- Provided with an option of manual height setting
- Trouble while cutting wet grass sometimes
- The blades loses its sharpness after a while
Overall, in spite of the problems, its a thumbs up for this incredible machine and it is an allrounder with all the necessary elements which will make you fall in love. So go ahead and buy it without a second thought.
Husqvarna Z254 – Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower
If your garden is sprouting buds in every nook and corner, it’s time to mow the lawn but for many homeowners, such a chore can be quite overwhelming. Pushing around a heavy lawn mower isn’t just strenuous but also a time consuming task. This is where riding lawn mowers come in handy and the ideal choice should be the Husqvarna Z254 with Kawasaki Engine. Designed to provide superior control, now spend the least bit of time and energy to groom your garden using this efficient riding lawn mower.
Why Choose Husqvarna?
Husqvarna is a leading brand in the home improvement industry, and have recently introduced an innovative line of zero turn mowers. One of the best models, the Husqvarna Z254 brings a fresh perspective to the field. The Z-turn mower is empowered with refined ergonomics, a practical design, an easy-to-use control system and massive durability. It is a self-propelled apparatus that guarantees flawless results especially since it comes with variable speeds for easy maneuvering. What does it have? Here’s a quick review of its features
|Cutting Width||54 in|
One Touch Security
The Husqvarna Z254 has received a positive feedback regarding its innovative user-interface. A notable addition is the SmartSwitch ignition that enables users to start the engine with just the touch of a finger. It also ensures keyless security that prevents you from being in complications like leaving the mower unattended or losing the ignition keys.
The Husqvarna Z254 is equipped with fabricated cutting decks which features a rugged frame that is lined with tough casters to reduce rigidity during motion. The frame provides a stable foundation for the vehicle’s suspension and minimizes the flex in the chassis. The stamped cutting decks are underlined with a dual steel sheet to enhance spindle support and strengthen performance overtime. The riding lawn mower consists of two mower blades that ensure a superior cut, six different height positions for easier access, rear engine guard, and three anti-scalp wheels.
New Age Technology
If you are wondering how the Z-turn mower works then here’s a slight clue – air induction capacity. While you are busy mowing the lawn, the machine draws in air from the top and bottom of the deck. This helps to easily remove excess grass from the lawn delivering a neat cutting width of 54 inches. The machine has also been designed with a removable foot plate that provides easy access to the lid. The hydrostatic transmission features 10cc pumps that receive instant cooling. The machine offers zero-turn transmissions that are maintenance free and also features an automatic park-brake system for convenient control.
- Comfortable Seat
- Reinforced steel mowing deck
- 4 Year Consumer Warranty
- Doesn’t work well on steep slopes (15 degrees and more)
Homeowners can also enjoy a limited 4-year warranty that comes along, while buying this model. Huzqvarna’s z254 is a classic addition to its fine line of zero turn mowers that provides high performance, comfort seating and accurate mowing. Are you on a tight schedule? Well, the Huzqvarna’s z254 mower with kawasaki engine also keeps track of time with its digital hour meter. Built using durable components, this riding lawn mower is the definition of cutting edge technology.
Benefits associated with riding mowers
Riding mowers are relatively costly as opposed to other types of mowers. However, they are worth their price since they possess diverse benefits. Below are the benefits.
Timely completion of tasks
When using a riding mower, there is assurance that the task will be done in a fast manner. This is facilitated by a properly working engine. The speed of the riding mower is also a contributing factor.
Compatibility with other equipment
It is possible to use riding mowers in conjunction with other equipment like small trailers and snow plows. This quality enables riding mowers to support a number of tasks. For instance, they can be used for splitting up land with auger and distribution of fertilizer.
Riding mowers accord an individual the services they need for many years because they are long-lasting. Durability is evidenced by the materials used to assemble riding mowers. Cast aluminum which is a material preferred apart from steel is very durable and rust resistant.
A powerful deck
The deck (the body of riding mowers encompassing the blades) is very resilient since it is made using excellent steel which allows increased blade speed. The strong nature of the deck ensures mowing is easy even when dealing with rough terrains. Besides, clumping becomes a non-issue during mowing.
Riding mowers have engines that aid in providing continuous efficiency. The engines which are either single cylinder or double cylinder ignite life in riding mowers. The fact that they are sturdy upholds their functioning ability.
Riding mowers demonstrate a higher fuel power as opposed to other types of mowers.
Ease of use
Riding mowers are very user friendly. It is simple to operate due to the adjustable characteristic of cutting decks. This flexibility leads to success when you are mowing.
Access of replacement parts
Are you worried about finding replacement parts for your riding mower? You need not worry anymore. Replacement parts are readily available as compared to push mowers making them a great choice for mowing.
Articulate the needs of people with health issues
For people with limited upper body power, the easy to handle key starts alleviate the pull cord. Sun shades offer protection to individuals that experience risks related to exposure to the sun.
Factors to consider prior to buying riding mowers
Purchasing riding mowers demands careful assessment of the vendor or manufacturer before closing the deal. However, this is a factor that is often overlooked by many buyers leading to acquisition of substandard riding mowers. Buyers should acquire these machines from renowned and trustworthy vendors who are accredited by the concerned bodies.
Outstanding riding mowers are equipped with an engine that pledges high performance. You should find out if an efficient cooling system is in place to guarantee the durability of the engine. Further, ensure the engine is a twin cylinder if you require a riding more to has maximum power.
The deck size
This simply means the exact width to be mowed in one pass. A riding mower with a small deck size of 30 to 40 inches will address mowing needs of a small yard that does not exceed 1.5 acres. A riding mower with a large deck size of 40 to 48 inches will cater for relatively large yards of up to 3 acres.
A riding mower operator must be in a position to regulate the mower’s speed. The best way to fulfill this goal is to invest in a riding mower that has automatic transmissions devoid of changing gears. This comes in handy especially when mowing areas that present obstacles and require a lot of maneuverability.
Operating a riding mower must be an exercise that does not cause strain or injuries to an individual. A comfortable riding mower is one that enables you to derive fun as you mow your property. It is endowed with features such as large foot pans, suspension seats and control arms that yield flexibility to enhance a stress-free mowing endeavor.
In most cases, we tend to ignore the fact that riding mowers can break down warranting repair and maintenance costs. When you buy a riding mower that has a warranty, you will be saved the agony of incurring repair costs for an extended duration of time. In the event that the riding mower completely breaks down when the warranty period has not expired, you can be supplied with a new one.
To wrap up, you should only opt for riding mowers that are line with your preferences and tastes. This will facilitate actualization of your mowing needs. It is also essential to consider the aforementioned factors so as to acquire excellent riding mowers.
There are plenty of accessories you can use that can expand the abilities of your riding mower. The most basic of these is a cart – like a trailer attached to a truck these are just simply a container that are dragged behind the tractor on a set of wheels. These are great of hauling and loading pieces of wood, mulch, and garden tools – especially useful if you have a large yard. If you want to do some more heavy duty work, there are aerators that you can drag behind your machine, creating small holes in the soil to give that much needed oxygen. If you have a yard with plenty of woody debris, you can use a chipper vac to suck everything up, along with a grass bagger to hold onto all the cut grass.
There are also many ease of use accessories that can be incorporated into your riding mower. For instance, many of these machines come with the ability to have a shade incorporated. A step above this is the entire cabin enclosure – great for those in cold regions that need to protect themselves from the chilly wind. You can also find things related directly to comfort such as improved armrests, steering wheel grips, and seat cushions. Also highly recommended is a set of loading ramps if you need to move your mower via truck often.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Like any combustion machine, there is a set amount of maintenance needed. Riding mowers in particular should be wiped down and cleaned regularly – gunked on grass or grease can create rust spots that reduce the lifespan of certain parts. As expected wheels should be properly inflated and the mower should be kept underneath an overhang when not in use to protect from the elements. At the end of the mowing season – which is mid to late autumn for most regions – you should expect to do a full diagnostic of your machine. Replace any old spark plugs, change any oil, check the mower blades, and treat any gas left over in the machine so it doesn’t go bad.
Things like air filters and batteries usually last a bit longer, but should at least be checked annually. Many air filters are made of foam and thus can be washed and dried out. Batteries should be checked for any rusting, and should also be replaced every 3 to 4 years. When in doubt also apply a liberal application of lubricant – this keeps the machine in tip top shape by protecting against the damaging effects of humidity and sun.
Riding mowers are excellent machines that can greatly reduce your time maintaining your lawn and actually make the process enjoyable. If you have a budget constraint or don’t need a machine with all the bells and whistles, then a rear engine riding mower will work best for you. A step above this is the always great lawn tractor. For the most brute force power and highest degree of customization there is the garden tractor – while a pricey machine it more than makes up for it toughness and size. Also useful are the ZTR mowers which are able to move in a 180-degree motion, making them ideal for smaller areas that need a lot of turning.
Whatever your choice make sure that you invest properly into the accessories you need – many of which can do everything to making your ride more comfortable or adding different features to the mower. Also make sure to keep your mower maintained by following a proper cleaning and upkeep schedule – this will greatly increase the lifespan of your machine so you get the most money out of it. Now that you have the knowledge necessary, go out there and cut that lawn with style!