Best Zero-Turn Lawn Mowers of 2023 [Reviews]
Zero-turn mowers are the most efficient style of lawn mower available today — they’re fast and maneuverable, make short work of large lawns, and they are trusted by pros and homeowners alike. But what is the best zero turn lawn mower for your yard?
We reviewed over two dozen zero-turn mowers to come up with our top eight picks based on power, cutting deck size, deck height, special features, and price. We’ve also included a handy buyers guide and FAQ to help make your shopping experience easier.
But first, what is a zero-turn lawn mower? Using hydraulic transmissions, the engine of a zero-turn lawn mower supplies power independently to the two drive wheels. This lets the operator spin the machine on a dime, or stop a wheel to create a seamless U-turn.
Zero-turn mowers aren’t cheap. Compared to other riding lawn mowers, zero turns generally fall at the higher end of the cost spectrum.If you plan to invest in a high-quality zero-turn mower, it’s important to choose the right one.
Because of zero-turn mowers fluctuate with sales and availability, we’ve provided a general idea of price.
- “Inexpensive” – Under 3,500
- “Moderate” – 3,500-4,000
- “Expensive” – 4,000 and above
We also have listed multiple buying options, when available, to make it easy to compare prices.
Top 8 Zero-Turn Mowers — Reviews
|1. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1|
|2. Husqvarna Z254|
|3. Ryobi 42-inch Zero Turn Mower|
|4. Toro 42-inch Timecutter|
|5. John Deere ZTrak Z375R|
|6. Ariens Ikon XD-52|
|7. EGO Power Z6|
|8. Troy-Bilt Mustang|
Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
A top-of-the-line zero-turn mower for residential markets, Cub Cadet’s Ultima series makes short work of the largest lawns. Driven by a 22-horsepower Kohler engine, this machine can reach a forward speed of 7.5 mph.
The ZT1 provides ultimate comfort with a fully adjustable racing-style seat. The lap bar control is also adjustable to ensure precise maneuverability. Dual LED headlights help you cut in low-light conditions, and the rubberized cockpit floor reduces vibrations.
The 20-inch rear wheels and 11-inch front wheels offer enough traction to tackle gentle hills, and are engineered to protect your turf while pivoting. A 3.5-gallon gas tank lets you spend more time mowing and less time refueling.
Cub Cadet offers a three-year, unlimited hour powertrain warranty and a lifetime warranty on the frame. The ZT1 also comes in a 50-inch version for added efficiency and coverage. Cub Cadet has also recently released the Ultima ZT1 56V Max 60 electric zero-turn.
Power Source: 22 HP 725cc Kohler 7000 series twin-cylinder engineTop Speed: 7.5 mphTransmission: HydrostaticDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 15 positions, 1 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Inexpensive
✓ Powerful 22hp engine✓ Fully adjustable seat and controls✓ Best-in-class warranty
✗ No gas gauge✗ Attachments sold separately
Husqvarna Mower Reviews: Making Your Decision Easy
Husqvarna mower reviews are difficult to navigate, but are you looking for a lawn mower for your home or your workplace, and want something that is high quality and trusted?
Have you been hearing about Husqvarna everywhere but you are not sure whether is Husqvarna a good brand or what is the best Husqvarna mower?
Do not be stressed, because we have here for you a collection of reviews which means that you can find the mower of your dreams, along with a detailed overview and a pros and cons list.
- Comparison Table
- The Five Best Husqvarna Mowers – Product Reviews
- – Husqvarna LC221FHE
- – Husqvarna 967820502 LE221R Self-Propelled Battery Lawn Mower
- – Husqvarna AUTOMOWER 310
- – Husqvarna MZ61
- – Husqvarna YTH18542
- – Reaches to Every Space
- – Flexibility in Charging
- – Noiseless Mower
- – Option for Grass Height
The Five Best Husqvarna Mowers – Product Reviews
Below we have written the best Husqvarna mower with their positive and negative sides and an overview of each of the products, you will find the aspects that will qualify what you wish to have:
– Husqvarna LC221FHE
- Adjustable height
- Reliable power source using a Kawasaki Gas-Powered engine
- Durable and strong build
Husqvarna LC221FHE is a great mower if you are looking for a product powered by gas that will last you a long time. It features a Kawasaki gas-powered engine that ensures a job well done and makes the device capable of heavy-duty usage.
It has a cutting deck with a cutting width of 20 inches and a 163cc engine. This 20 inch riding mower has enough mowing width to perfectly mow your garden.
It has a front-wheel drive system which allows for a smoother job and saves the user time and energy. Starting the engine is made as easy as it can be. by just using a push-button electric start. Most lawn mowers take a tediously long time just to start but this riding lawn mower barely takes up any time and gets going.
It tries to create a comfortable experience for the user, as with an ergonomic, foldable handlebar, soft-grip, and throttle control, the user can now get the job done and be comfortable at the same time.
The mower weighs 80 pounds and has an adjustable handlebar. An adjustable handlebar can be very useful if many people in your house are planning to use the lawn mower, so each one can adjust the mower according to their comfort.
Plus, the LC221FHE features a four-point height adjustment that makes precision mowing simple. You can choose whatever height adjustment works best for you and your lawn. Different grasses have different optimum growing heights so multiple cutting height options can be extremely convenient as the user gets to pick the most suitable option.
However, there are some drawbacks to using this riding mower as well. The push start has also caused trouble for some customers. Some users have also complained about the self-propel feature stopping working in their mower review, which can be a point to ponder.
Overview: This riding mower is a best-seller, and for good reason. It is strong, durable, easy to store, and easy to use. If you want a mower for frequent use, this one should be put into consideration. There are some drawbacks like issues with self-propel and push start.
– Husqvarna 967820502 LE221R Self-Propelled Battery Lawn Mower
- Strong build
- High capacity collection
- Three-in-one cutting system
This battery-run walk-behind mower deserves all the hype it gets. With its adjustable, foldable handlebar and a high-capacity collection bag, this mower is extremely user-friendly.
The foldable handlebar makes sure that the mower can be stored in your shed easily, and can be extremely helpful if you have minimal space available. And the adjustable part will make the mower comfortable for anyone who is mowing, making it ideal for a family, in which all members want to chip into mowing the garden.
You will be able to connect your mower to your phone using the Husqvarna Connect app and read manuals, tips, and recommendations there. This can also be used to check the battery percentage left and the run time, making this mower truly up-to-date.
With time, everything is getting more digitalized, and we are very sure an old fashion mower will work just as fine; however, the key aspect tto think about is how these Smart features make this device more comfortable and up-to-date.
It features an alloy steel build that provides strength in the device and a protective bumper for increased safety. The rims are made from aluminum and the tires are constructed from rubber.
As this is a battery mower, we get push-button startups and the user does not have to worry about engine maintenance. Battery-run products are much more convenient. And eco-friendly as well.
There are many gas powered lawn mowers on the market, but they are heavy on dangerous fumes and emissions and produce loud noises contributing to noise pollution. But battery powered equipment, such as this lawn mower does just as good of a job with lesser damage to the environment.
Plus, the device features a 40V battery which ensures powerful usage and makes the device great for heavy-duty jobs. However, many customers have complained that the batteries do not last as long as advertised.
The mower has a three-in-one cutting system which gives you choice between bagging, side discharge, and BioClip mulching. If your lawn has tight spaces and narrow pathways, do not worry, this mower will be ideal for such lawns with a productive cutting deck and powerful engine.
Overview: This weatherproof mower will be the one for you if you have a smaller lawn and do not have to use the mower as frequently. It is battery-operated. so it is environmentally friendly and the Husqvarna Connect app makes it user-friendly. It is a front-runner among many lawn mowers.
– Husqvarna AUTOMOWER 310
- High cutting speed
- Can be controlled remotely
- Great for slopes
This is one of the best mower options amongst all the Husqvarna mowers for public areas with a working area capacity of 1,000 meter square. It has a fast cutting speed and a high storage capacity and can achieve a cutting height of up to 50 mm and is great to use for inclined areas with an inclination of up to 40 percent.
Using Husqvarna Fleet Services, you can control this device remotely from your phone, tablet, or laptop. You can command the mower to stop, park, or start, and can even adjust the cutting levels. This digitalized aspect of this lawn mower makes it easy to use and maneuver.
What many people fear about robotic devices is that they are quite a heavy purchase, and playing them in a public area is a real threat, because anyone can just pick them up and run away, right? But no, not with this one. You can track the mower to protect it from theft. as an alarm goes off any time the mower is picked up and can only be turned off when a unique PIN is entered.
This mower is a solid 9.75 out of 10 as it is capable to adjust the cutting times during periods where grass growth is maximum. The cutting system is one of the best of the best. The mower has three razor-sharp blades that cut the grass evenly in small batches and then recycle these grass clipping as manure. Clever, right? Plus, it produces no harmful emissions. If you are looking for something environmentally friendly, this might be your way to go!
However, as fun, as it sounds, it might take some time to get used to it. There are many instructions and a long manual, so if you are not a fan of reading, you might have some trouble getting a hang of it. But once you do, you will never want to go back.
Overview: if you are looking for a lawn mower for a public area, this robotic mower will change your life. It is eco-friendly, reliable, user-friendly, and best of all, efficient. It will tick most of your boxes, if not all, so make sure to check it out at your earliest!
– Husqvarna MZ61
This residential zero-turn lawn mower is part of the MZ series of zero-turn mowers by Husqvarna. This series focuses around providing users with a comfortable ride and increasing productivity and efficiency, so this mower is great to use for the maintenance of your property.
If you have a large piece of land that needs tight and strict maintenance, this lawn tractor might be the one for you. With its fabricated cutting deck, this device is capable enough to mow your lawn neatly. This lawn tractor will meet all your needs by making clean cuts and giving you a polished lawn.
Its pedal-assisted cutting deck lift is extremely useful for the user, as the user can control this zero turn mower without taking eyes off the lawn and controlling it solely with their feet. When riding mowers have controls in inconvenient places, that can be dangerous when the operator takes their eyes off the path to press buttons and switches.
It has different easy access service points, which come in handy during the job. And It has a 9-bushel collection system. that collects all the debris and grass clipping throughout the job and can be discarded later.
If the bag would have been smaller, it would not need frequent emptying, and the operator would be required to stop the job to empty the bag, but with the high capacity bag, that would not be a need.
With durable six-inch wide front casters with pneumatic tires, this device ensures that your lawn is neat and clean and all the needs of the owners are met. These high-quality wheels give the device much-needed stability and make it easy to maneuver
With this riding lawn mower, Husqvarna made sure that the customer is comfortable and satisfied with their deep cushioning, comfortable steering, and reduced vibrations. The hour meter on the device will let the owner know when it is time to service your mower, so we would say this mower is an eight out of ten.
From the seat of the operator, you will be able to adjust the cutting height. Convenient, is not it? Plus, all service points are easily accessible, making maintenance extremely easy, which is probably the most important concern for mowers like me!
However, some customers have had complaints about the fact that there is no way to keep the chutes up. That can be a big hassle at times. But if you have a bigger lawn filled with trees, flowers, etc, this can be a good choice.
Overview: This mower is efficient, comfortable, strong, and durable. It focuses on the comfort of the user and makes sure the job is done right. The maintenance can be a little pricey and there have been some issues with the chute, but overall, it is a great choice.
– Husqvarna YTH18542
- Air Induction Mowing Technology
- Reliable engine
- Durable frame
The Husqvarna YTH18542 is a riding lawn mower that is ideal for larger pieces of property, as it is made for commercial grade mowing. It contains many of the same features as the other mowers in the Husqvarna YTH series and is a great heavy-duty garden tractor.
Just like all Husqvarna lawn mower engines, this mower has a powerful Briggs Stratton engine, which is a high-powered engine with a power output of 18.5 HP. This is the best Husqvarna riding mower in many aspects.
The heavy-duty frame of this best Husqvarna riding mower is made of durable material making this mower ideal for rough and frequent use. It features an air induction mowing technology that allows finer cuts in the grass and a pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission which allows the user to control speed and direction both using pedals making the device easier to use.
The cutting deck is made from heavy flat-stock steel for extra durability and strength and has a 48-inch width, which is much greater than many other riding mowers. This makes this device ideal to be used for a larger area or even a commercial area with heavy-duty use.
This lawn tractor has heavy cast front axles which makes it more balanced and stable. The deck wash port allows the customer to clean the mower easily just by connecting a water hose to the jet.
The wheels of the device are anti-scalp which reduces any damage uneven terrain can cause. Many mowers are not capable enough to mow through uneven land and rough terrain. Their engines start to bog, and their tires get damaged, but this one is the complete opposite. It is well suited for rough areas.
The cutting deck on this lawn tractor has a powder coating to reduce any corrosion. For many devices, the operator has to make sure that the device is spotless to reduce the chances of corrosion and rust, but not this one. This device is low maintenance!
The fuel cap on these riding lawn mowers is easily accessible and there are large LED lights in the front, so even in the dark, you can mow the lawn without any hurdles. The seat of the mower is adjustable making sure the user can sit however they desire. Even the steering wheel is angled to ensure the user is comfortable.
The wheels of this riding mower are anti-scalp, meaning even on uneven, rugged lawns, the wheels will remain protected and would not scalp. Husqvarna YTH18542 has a reverse mow operating system so you can also mow in reverse.
Some customers have shown some areas of concern in their mower review. A common concern was regarding the padding on the steering wheel of the device teens to come off. And the reverse mowing option was slower. Reverse mowing is usually not that useful, but in some cases, it can certainly come in handy.
Overview: if you are looking for a lawn mower to last you a long time, which is also great for rugged terrain, this might be the one for you. It is the perfect combination of durable, practical, comfortable, and stable. so other than a few minor complaints, this tractor seems to be a best-seller!
Buying Guide of Husqvarna Automower 310
When you are out there to buy a mower, you must think of which one is the mower that is best suitable for you. Why? The answer is simple, you want something that meets your needs, which will qualify to the image that’s in your mind’s eye.
Nonetheless, the best one you would like should be the mower that must reach to every corner of the lawn. The charging should not be an issue because you a stable charging option. Additionally, the mower must be noiseless, because it might create a bit of a hassle for your.
– Reaches to Every Space
In the case of an area with narrow passageways, the mower can find its way through the pathways itself and can even feel any unpleasant tracks. It can sense any obstacles head an avoid them and enter narrow passageways to mow them without any damage coming to the structure of the mower.
– Flexibility in Charging
It has to be charged after use, and it comes with a flexible charging station. Plus, you would not even have to plug it into the changing station yourself. Whenever the battery is running low, this device will itself run to the charging station. This option is great because you wouldn’t be stressed about its charging issues.
– Noiseless Mower
It cuts the grass evenly, without even a trace of noise! Shockingly, it makes less noise than your average conversation. Nonetheless, this makes it ideal for public areas.
People can sit and read on a lawn, and have important conversations, without any disturbance, while this lawn mower mows the grass silently. Plus, it is easy to clean, you can clean it using just a garden hose.
– Option for Grass Height
Unlike other mowers, this one does not need an operator to observe the grass and set a cutting height that they think will be ideal, this lawn mower can figure all of that on its own.
Since it is an automower, it has the option for the operator to check the height of the grass that is going to be ideal for your lawn. In other words, it helps you figure out the best height that yourgrass should be at. This option is great for people who want a fully manicured lawn with all the grass cut perfectly to their ideal height.
Now that you have all this information, hopefully, you are informed enough to decide your mower needs based on your lifestyle, your needs, and your requirements. There are many different types of lawn mowers. and Husqvarna is a brand that has them all, with every possible aspect to help you in meeting your needs.
Each type of Husqvarna mower is perfected for a different need, so by reading the reviews above and analyzing your needs, you can decide the mower which is best suited for you and your lifestyle, as this is an investment you can not make over and over again.
Ask yourself questions like, why do you need a lawn mower, what do you want from the device, what are my needs, and then pick the mower which you think ticks all the boxes.
The best riding lawn mower for every size and type of lawn in 2023
Email icon An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email.
Email icon A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting.
LinkedIn icon The word “in”.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Traditional push mowers are perfectly fine for smaller yards, but if you’re working with anything larger than about half an acre, you’re going to want to upgrade to a riding mower. Featuring extra-wide cutting decks and comfortable seats, these machines allow you to complete the job quickly and easily.
As a former landscaper at a large state park, I was tasked with operating, maintaining, and repairing riding mowers, and used this experience to help assemble this list of options. I also called upon several experts in the field to add additional insight and advice.
Based on my own hands-on experience and the feedback from these experts, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best riding lawn mowers for a wide range of yard sizes and budgets. At the end of this guide, read more about our research methodology and what to consider when shopping for a lawn mower.
The best riding lawn mowers in 2023
Best riding lawn mower overall: Toro Timecutter 75755 Zero-Turn Mower. See at The Home DepotThis Toro Timecutter 75755 zero-turn mower combines comfort with versatility, thanks to its seat suspension system, straightforward controls, and hassle-free maintenance.
Best budget riding lawn mower: Troy-Bilt Pony 42. See at The Home DepotThe Troy-Bilt Pony 42 packs an impressive amount of features into a compact frame, like a 7-speed transmission and anti-scalping wheels, while costing significantly less than similar options.
Best for riding lawn mower for extra large lawns: Toro Titan 60. See at The Home DepotThe size and power of the Toro Titan 60 allow you to quickly and comfortably complete mowing tasks on large yards — up to 7 acres — and it has the bells and whistles to ensure a comfortable and hassle-free ride.
Best electric riding lawn mower: Ryobi 38-inch 100Ah Riding Lawn Mower. See at The Home DepotRyobi’s 38-inch 100Ah Riding Lawn Mower is a low-humming and low-maintenance option that runs for up to 2 hours or 2 acres of mowing.
Best small riding lawn mower: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42. See at The Home DepotIt might not have the cutting width or power of a larger mower, but the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42 packs an impressive amount of bells and whistles into a relatively small package.
Best overall: Toro Timecutter 75755 Zero-Turn Mower
Pros: Wide cutting width; durable deck; comfortable ride; maintenance and cleanup is easy
Cons: Not CARB compliant, very expensive
We’re big fans of Toro mowers, which along with the enthusiastic recommendation of our expert Chavez, made the Toro Timecutter 75755 a no-brainer for our top pick. Its price might be significantly higher than our other options, but if you’re planning on doing a lot of mowing and comfort is a top priority, this could be worth the investment.
Chavez’s main reason for recommending Toro riding mowers like this one is the MyRide suspension system — she specifically cited it as a great benefit for those with back pain. By suspending the seat platform with a series of springs and shocks, this system makes for an extremely comfortable ride, and you can even adjust and customize the ride settings to your personal preference. As someone who has bounced and rocked their way across large yards on subpar seats, sitting on the MyRide system is a huge upgrade. Another benefit of this MyRide system is the fact that the seat can be flipped up and out of the way when performing basic maintenance.
The convenient washout ports on the deck also make this Toro model easy to keep clean. Instead of crawling underneath or raising the entire unit, these ports allow you to simply connect a garden hose and blast away dirt, grass, and debris. I’m also a big fan of the heavy-duty 10-gauge steel deck. As someone who spent hours repairing mower decks that were dented and split from hitting large rocks or trees, having a heavy-duty deck can be a huge time-saver down the line.
The large, 50-inch deck is perfect for yards up to 4 acres in size, and the zero-turn steering makes it easy for anyone to maneuver around corners and landscaping elements. A straightforward control panel also allows users to quickly change mowing speeds. These elements all add up to one thing — more time for you. You’ll get finished quicker and back to enjoying your day doing what you really want to be doing.
Best budget riding lawn mower: Troy-Bilt Pony 42
Pros: Cup holder, 5.5 mph speed, five height settings
Cons: Lacks zero-turn capability, 500cc engine may not be powerful enough for some users
If you’re looking for an affordable riding mower that’s capable of efficiently cutting lawns up to two acres, the The Troy-Bilt Pony 42 could be just what you’re looking for. Its 42-inch deck is large enough to make quick work of smaller yards, and also makes this mower compact enough for those who are short on storage space.
The 7-speed transmission is simple to use, and a separate lever allows you to mow in reverse, a feature not found on similar mowers. If you have an awkwardly-shaped yard, or have numerous landscaping elements, you’ll really appreciate this feature. A pair of automatic headlights also make it possible to safely mow when the sun begins to go down.
A pair of anti-scalping wheels on the deck reduce the chances of you ending up with patches of “scalped” grass, which makes this mower especially useful for those who have uneven or hilly yards. Plus, it has a rear-tow hitch included, so you’re all set to haul a small trailer or cart around the yard, for those non-mowing projects.
Its tractor-style body doesn’t have the zero-turn capabilities of our higher-end mowers, but it’s still relatively maneuverable thanks to its slim 18-inch turn radius. It’s also compatible with bagging and mulching kits, as well as sun shades, snow blades, and tire chains, making it a versatile lawn-care tool.
Best riding lawn mower for extra-large lawns: Toro Titan 60
Pros: Dual LED headlights, 3 year warranty/300 hours, comfortable seatCons: Expensive, bulky size might not be ideal for users who don’t have a lot of storage room
Time is obviously a big factor when it comes to mowing oversized lawns, and the Toro Titan 60’s forward and reverse speed are a big reason why we chose it as our top pick in this category.
The hydrostatic rear-wheel transmission allows you to reach speeds of up to 9 mph and 3 mph in reverse. The large, 22-inch rear tires of this mower are also designed to protect your grass from divots, as well as provide enough traction to keep you moving — even on uneven ground. It also features 15 quarter-inch deck adjustments, which are adjusted with a spring-assisted foot pedal, making it quick and easy to customize the deck height as you mow.
I’m most impressed by the heavy-duty frame, which is constructed of square tubular steel. This design not only makes it durable enough to handle the wear and tear that comes from tackling large jobs and heavy use, it also provides the sturdy foundation a large mower like this needs. This FOCUS on durability extends to the deck as well, which is made of 10-gauge steel and coated with a corrosion-resistant finish.
In my experience, open frame mowers like this one are great, not just for how easy they are to jump on and off, but because they are much easier to perform maintenance and repairs. The Toro Titan 60 also has a hinged floor pan, which makes it easier to access the deck and engine.
Best electric riding lawn mower: Ryobi 38-inch 100Ah Riding Lawn Mower
Pros: Eco-friendly, low maintenance, quiet operation
Cons: About two hours of mowing time per charge, batteries are expensive to replace when the time comes
Unlike its gasoline counterparts, the electric Ryobi RY 48111-1A is a hassle-free option void of belts, spark plugs, oil changes, filters, or anything of the like to worry about. Plus, since it lacks a bulky engine, it has a more compact go-kart-style body design that can fit in tighter areas.
The Ryobi RY 48111-1A is also focused on providing a comfortable riding experience, with a quiet fume-free operation, as well as a cruise control function and a USB charger for your phone. When it comes time to recharge the mower’s batteries, it’s not like charging an electric car battery, and you don’t need a fancy electricity upgrade: Just plug it into a regular old 120-volt outlet. It takes about 12 hours to fully charge.
On the subject of batteries, the downside is that over time they will not hold a charge as well; it’s just a fact of life with batteries. Eventually, you’ll need to replace them. The replacement batteries will run you about 150 each.
Best small riding lawn mower: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42
Pros: Hydrostatic transmission, comfortable seat, 16-inch turning radius
Cons: May be too narrow for extra large yards, lacks zero-turn steering
If your yard is 1 to 2 acres in size, avoid the massive size and bulky frames of larger mowers and go with this compact model from Cub Cadet. Its 42-inch deck is wide enough to efficiently cut a lot of grass in each pass, but is still small enough to for easy storage. This small size also makes it more convenient for maneuvering around obstacles, and combined with a 16-inch turning radius, it is ideal for yards with tight landscaping elements or narrow entryways.
It’s also designed with comfort and hassle-free operating in mind. A push-button cruise control setting allows you to conveniently set your desired pace, and the 12 deck positions make it easy to precisely dial in your preferred cutting height. Plus, the 15-inch high chair provides a sturdy and comfortable seat as you steer.
A digital readout also keeps you notified of any maintenance intervals coming up, so you’ll always know when its time to change the oil or air filter. These reminders can go a long way in extending the lifespan of your mower and prevent you from inadvertently causing damage to the engine or other components. We’re also big fans of the three-year-limited warranty, especially since it doesn’t have a maximum hour limit like most other models.
Editor’s note: We’ve noticed ths model’s stock varies significantly by ZIP code.
What else we considered
What else we recommend and why:
Ryobi RY48ZTR100 (4,999): This mower combines the maneuverability of a zero-turn mower with the convenience and hassle-free operation of a battery-powered machine. Its 100 Ah battery provides a 2-hour runtime, and the 42-inch deck can handle yards up to 3 acres in size. The digital battery level readout is my favorite feature, ensuring that you always know how much juice you have left, so you’ll never be stranded out in the middle of the yard. It’s on the higher end of the price spectrum though, which is why we decided not to include it as one of our options.
How we research riding lawn mowers
I spent many years using, maintaining, and repairing lawn mowers as a landscaper at a national park, which informed my selections for this guide. I also spoke with Richard Blake, owner of McCoy’s Lawn Equipment Center Inc., in Austin, Texas, and Elizabeth Chavez, the client relations manager of Crockett Service Center, a power equipment store based in Dallas, Texas, to learn more about what to look for when shopping for a riding lawn mower.
Here are the criteria we used to help curate our list and compare potential options:
- Warranty: We looked at the length of the warranty offered by the brand as well as if there were any hourly limitations attached.
- Engine volume: For gas-powered engines, we paid close attention to their CC (cubic centimeters) metric, which measures the capacity of the piston’s cylinder and is a rough indicator of its power output.
- Cutting height settings: Being able to adjust the height of your blades will allow you to produce the grass height you prefer, which is essential for certain grass types. The more height options, the more precise you can set your deck.
- Durability: We based our evaluations on the mower components that we’ve had durability issues with in the past and considered deck thickness and material as well as any plastic elements that could have a tendency to crack or fail over time.
How to choose a riding lawn mower
Here’s what the experts we interviewed had to say about selecting and purchasing a riding lawn mower:
- Consider a zero-turn mower: Blake recommends choosing a zero-turn mower, explaining that it’s easy to make turns with them, they don’t require shifting, and you can control the ground speed. This lets you finish quicker. Zero-turn mowers take a little getting used to and are a bit pricier, but they’re primarily what landscaping pros use for cutting lawns.
- Check the maintenance and warranty: Blake said the most important thing to ask yourself is, “the place you are buying your lawn equipment, will they be the place to help you in the future with service and parts?” This is especially important if you don’t have any small engine or machine maintenance experience and want to make sure a professional is in charge of keeping your expensive machine running smoothly. I’ve personally spent many hours handling messy grease guns and banging bent mower decks back into shape and would much rather have had someone else do the job if that were an option.
- Look at a lot of options: Since you will have different priorities or features that mean the most to you, take the time to look at a range of options. “Take your time, read all the reviews and specifications, and your investment will pay with service and a great-looking yard,” said Blake. We also recommend physically climbing in and out of as many options as possible, so you can get an even better idea of what it’s going to feel like to ride on for extended periods of time.
Riding lawn mower FAQs
What is a zero-turn mower?
Instead of using a steering wheel like tractor-style mowers, zero-turn mowers use two separate steering levers. These levers allow the driver to control either side of the mower independently, and when one is pushed forward and the other backward, you can execute an almost zero-radius turn. These tight turns are a real time-saver and reduce the chances of ending up with small patches of grass left over.
What size mower should I get?
It’s up to you how big of a mower you’re comfortable handling or paying for, but the general rule of thumb is, the larger your lawn, the wider you probably want your mower deck to be. This is because the wider your deck, the more grass you’ll be cutting with each pass, and the fewer passes you’ll need to finish the job.
That being said, extra-wide mowers can sometimes struggle with hills and steep inclines and can have trouble maneuvering around landscaping features, ponds, and garden beds. A mower with a smaller deck might be a more practical choice in these cases, and even though they cut less grass on each pass, their superior mobility could get the job finished quicker in the end.
This can be a lot to think about, which is why Blake mentioned the importance of consulting with an experienced outdoor power dealer, explaining that “whether you have 1 acre or 20, let your dealer help you with size so you don’t buy too small or too big, since you want your choice to last you for years.”
How long is the average life of a riding mower?
A riding mower can last up to 10 or even 15 years if it’s taken care of properly and not regularly pushed past its limits. Just like a car, proper maintenance needs to be performed (oil changes, lubricating small components, replacing air filter and spark plugs annually) in order to ensure that your mower will last as long as possible.
You should also make sure to sharpen the blades at least once a season to ensure that you’re not placing unnecessary strain on the engine. Make sure to thoroughly review your mower’s use and care manual when you bring it home and consult with your retailer if you have any questions.
What’s the difference between a riding mower and lawn tractor?
Riding mowers and lawn tractors can look the same — and they both cut grass — but the main difference is the jobs they’re able to perform effectively. Riding mowers are designed primarily for cutting grass, and their front-mounted decks make them well-suited for it. This design allows you to easily maneuver around obstacles and makes it easier to see exactly what you’re cutting.
Lawn tractors, on the other hand, have their deck mounted farther back in the center of the machine. This design results in a larger turning radius that can struggle with tight turns but also makes it easier for them to be used as a multifunctional machine. They can be customized with snowplows or blowers on the front and can easily pull spreaders or dump carts behind them.
Check out our other lawn care guides
- The best rakes
- The best electric lawn mowers
- The best lawn mowers
- The best string trimmers and weed whackers
- The best gardening and landscaping tools
- The best garden hoses
- The best leaf blowers
- The best sprinklers
Alex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the home improvement, DIY, and appliance space. As a former residential and commercial carpenter for four years, Alex uses his hands-on experience to write buying guides, how-to articles, and product reviews. Before Insider, Alex was a full-time carpenter living in New York City. There, he worked as part of a team designing, building, and installing large furniture pieces, as well as performing a variety of home repair and maintenance projects. His expertise also extends to the landscaping and gardening space, supported by experience as a landscaping professional. Alex currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, and spends his free time exploring the beaches and mountains with his fiancé and their dog Louie. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.
Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.
You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here.
Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.
The Lawn Mower Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Buy the Right Type of Lawn Mower
Not all yards are the same, and not all mowers are either.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: May 5, 2022
Nothing kills the joy of a sunny day like the wrong type of lawn mower. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. The right type of lawn mower can make cutting your lawn a pleasure.
If you know you need a new lawn mower, but aren’t sure how much mower you need or what features you might want, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Use this guide to select the right machine, and happy mowing.
Step 1: Walk or Ride?
The first step is the choice between two basic types of lawn mowers: riding mower and a walk-behind. Any more ground to cover than a 1/4 acre, you’ll want to ride if for no other reason than to get the lawn done faster.
From Popular Mechanics
First, make an approximation of your mowing surface. Simply walk off large rectangles. counting your steps as you go. Add up the areas of the rectangles. No need to get too precise here. An average man’s stride is about 30 inches and a woman’s stride is about 26 inches, or measure your own stride for the most accurate measurement.
An acre is 43,560 square feet, so one-fourth acre is 10,890 square feet. Anything above that threshold, and you’ll likely want to get a riding mower. In fact, the vast majority of people wouldn’t dream of cutting a ¼ acre of grass with a 22-inch walk mower, but we have to start somewhere. So think realistically about how much time you have to mow your lawn on a busy weekend and select your equipment accordingly.
For lawns from ¼ of an acre to 2 acres. you’ll most likely be most comfortable with a rear-engine riding mowers, light-duty lawn tractors, and residential-duty zero-turn mowers. Anything more than two acres and you’ll want a commercial-duty zero turn mower.
Step 2: Selecting Your Features
Once you’ve selected whether you ride or walk, there are two factors that will drive your purchase—your budget and your comfort. The more you spend on a mower, the more durable, versatile, intuitive, and probably, the quicker you’ll get the job done. The opposite is also true.
It doesn’t make as much difference with a small, simple yard. But the larger and more complex the yard, the more thought you need to give to selecting mower features.
We’ll begin with walk mowers. one of the most versatile cutting machines out there.
Walk mowers are somewhat like cars in that they are available with a wide range of options, all of which increase cost and complexity. Look carefully at the product’s hang tag and talk to the sales staff to get a better sense of whether the features are useful to you.
Let’s break down all the major components and what lawnmowers use them:
Look it at this way: You can push a mower, or the mower can push itself, in which case it’s either a front-drive or a rear-drive mower (we’ll get to all-wheel drive in a moment). A self-propelled mower makes your life a lot easier when mowing hills, or when you mow and bag. There’s nothing like pushing a fully loaded mower uphill to make you appreciate a self-propelled machine.
The Lawn and the Short of it
Front-wheel drive is best for level ground with a lot of obstacles. This allows you to push down on the handle, reducing traction on the front wheels and pivot into and out of corners.
Rear-wheel drive works best for for uphill mowing and sidehill mowing. Rear wheel drive works better here because when you push down on the handle going up a hill, the front tires will not lose traction.
Yes, a handful of mowers are all-wheel drive. built for homeowners who cut across washboard surfaces, sidehill mowing, steep uphill and downhill mowing that makes good of AWD. We were dubious when these mowers were introduced several years ago, but when we cut some very rough ground, we were surprised at how much easier AWD made things.
In this section, we’re talking about what the machines actually does with the grass. Mowers can mulch clippings (repeatedly cut and recut them), discharge them to the side or rear, or bag them.
Two-function is a mower that mulches and bags. Mulching is healthier for the lawn in that it returns nitrogen-rich grass clippings into the ground, but it doesn’t work particularly well for tall-grass conditions in the spring and early summer or early fall when the lawn bounces back from summer stress.
A three-function machine bags, mulches, and side discharges. Side discharging is useful for utility mowing (mowing areas with tall weeds and non-turf grasses). It also helps if the lawn gets away from you and you need to set the mower deck to its full height and take the grass down in stages.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of mower features. These are the more common things you’ll find on your average mower’s spec list:
Deck levers come in groupings of one, two, or four. One lever is the most convenient, but it comes with a lot of linkage that adds weight and that you have to keep lubricated if you want it to work well. Two levers are a good compromise between one and four levers. Yes, these mowers have a bit more linkage than a four-lever mower, but it’s easier to get the height right. Four levers is the standard, time-tested design.
The only way to get a sense of whether you’ll like the ground speed control is to actually get your hands on a mower at a dealership, hardware store, or home center.
The control may be integral with the handle. The harder you press forward on the drive control in the handle, the faster the mower goes. Or it may be a separate lever or even a bail (a metal rod). Squeeze the lever to increase ground speed or to activate the mower’s drive system for fixed-speed mowers.
Self-propelled mowers are equipped with three types of transmissions. Hydrostatic is the most expensive and the smoothest operating. It drives hydraulic fluid past an impeller that spins an output shaft, which controls ground speed. This is your smoothest running and most reliable transmission, but it’s also the most expensive.
The typical front or rear drive walk mower uses some form of belt-and-pulley arrangement to direct power from the engine’s output shaft to a gear box on a front or rear axle (or a gear at the wheel). There are several variations of this design, but all work well and are reasonably easy to maintain and repair.
Make Your Lawn Last
Gas engines sizes run from 140 cc to 190 cc. Larger engines produce more torque and are less likely to stall in tall grass at the beginning and end of the cutting season. A larger engine also helps drive self-propelled mowers more effectively uphill.
From least-expensive to most-expensive, mower engines may be traditional side valve design, overhead valve, or overhead cam. expensive engines provide increased durability, reduced noise, and less oil consumption.
The rear wheel size of a walk mower may be larger than the diameter of the front wheels. The wheels’ increased diameter helps it more easily navigate ruts and rough ground.
Ball bearing wheels are easier to push than those with bushing-type wheels. The larger your yard, the more difficult its terrain, or if you’re hauling around a bag of clippings or clippings mixed with mulched leaves, the more you want this option.
A blade-brake clutch is a feature found on high-end walk mowers. It allows you to completely release the operator control handle without stopping the engine. That way, you can pause your mowing, move whatever obstacle out of your way and continue mowing without having to restart the engine.
A range of unusual features have been introduced in the last several years to make mowing easier or the whole mowing experience better.
Some engines require no oil change. like the small gas engines made by Briggs Stratton. The feature is known as “Just Check and Add.” You just add oil periodically to replace the small amount of oil that’s slowly vaporized in the combustion process.
Need a Recommendation?
Toro’s innovations have created mowers that have power-assisted reverse and a vertical-storage design that lets you fold the handle down, tip the mower back, and store it vertically against the wall.
Front caster wheels are great for elaborately-landscaped yards that require a lot of pivoting. Front caster wheels don’t track particularly well on bumpy ground or mowing sidehills. Mowox mowers have replaced dual front casters with a single front caster wheel, perhaps the most maneuverable form of mower you can get. But Cub Cadet has been among the mower manufacturers that pioneered the use of front caster wheels.
Wash-out fittings enable you to hook up a garden hose to wash accumulated grass clippings from under the deck. A clean deck lasts longer because accumulated grass holds moisture and lawn chemical residue, which causes deck corrosion. Our tests show that these fittings do help considerably, but that you still need some under-deck scraping with a putty knife.
Wide-cut mowers with decks that range from 28 to 33 inches are a fast cutting alternative to a 22-inch mower. These are still comparatively rare products made by Cub Cadet, Toro, Troy-Bilt, and Craftsman.
Finally, electric walk mowers are a perfect fit if you have a small yard (under 5,000 square feet of mowing surface) and one that’s quite manicured. However, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Cordless electric mowers tend to have smaller decks (19 and 20-inch sizes are the most common, though a few have 21-inch decks). That means it takes you longer to mow.
- They tend to be less powerful than their gas engine counterparts. They can struggle with tall grass, wet grass, and thick grass with leaves. For intermediate mowing conditions, cordless mowers do just fine.
- The larger the lawn, the more batteries you need. Manufacturers make recommendations about run time, but that’s very difficult to do accurately. It varies widely depending on your mowing habits and the height or thickness of the grass. We recommend you buy extra batteries so that you’re not compelled to rush the cut.
If you can afford it, a riding mower is the way to go. Don’t get us wrong, we love walk mowers (goodness knows, we’ve used enough of them over the years here). But for speed and efficiency, there’s simply no comparison with a riding mower when you’re talking a large lawn.
When looking at riding mowers, you’ll likely come across three versions—lawn tractor, rear-engine riding mower, and a zero-turn mower. Let’s break them done one by one:
Many people start out with a lawn tractor. With a steering wheel and a front-mounted engine, these look and feel familiar. Engine size range from 18-25 HP and most come with a single cylinder with step-up models having a V twin. Some fancier models also feature engines with electronic fuel injection.
When it comes to transmissions, less expensive models tend to be lever-operated gear transmissions. But a step-up from there comes pedal hydrostatic or continuously variable transmission (CVT) operated by a shift-on-the-go hand lever. The CVT is an automatic transmission powered by pulley drive to a sealed and lubricated gear case. You know you’re spending serious money if you’re considering a more expensive tractor with a heavy-duty foot pedal hydrostatic transmission.
Finally, how much can it cut? Well, much more than a push mower. Deck widths range from 42 inches to 54 inches. To know what size you need, divide the mower deck size by 12 to get an approximation of the acreage the mower can handle. So residential-duty a mower with a 54-inch deck can mow up to 4.5 acres. That’s a lot of grass and would result in significant wear and tear on a residential-grade mower in the course of the season. Still, it could do it.
These kind of mowers range anywhere from 1,300 to 3,000.
Rear-Engine Riding Mower
Many people with larger lawns too big for a walk mower but too small for a tractor or a zero turn should go with a rear-engine riding mower. The specifications below apply to deck under the operator’s position and not rear-engine residential/commercial mowers with the deck in front of the operator.
Need a Recommendation?
Most rear-engine mowers a single-cylinder engine ranging in size from 344 to 38 cc, estimated at 10 to 11 HP. The transmission is usually a CVT operated by a shift-on-the-go hand lever. Snapper’s famous rear-engine riding mower uses the company’s time-tested disc drive transmission, but a few rear-engine riders are offered with a hydrostatic transmission.
Deck sizes stretch anywhere from 30 to 33 inches, and operators use a manual hand lever for deck adjustment and deck engagement. That small cutting size also means a smaller price tag, ranging from 1,200 to 2,400.
In the last twenty years or so, zero-turn mowers have proved their worth to homeowners and landscape contractors alike. Their design enables forward speed and steering by means of dual hydrostatic transmissions at the rear wheels, each of which is controlled by a lap bar in front of the seat.
A pulley off the engine spins the impellers on the dual hydrostatic transmissions that power the rear wheels. When you move one of the lap bars farther forward than its neighbor, it acts as a throttle, allowing more hydraulic fluid to flow to the transmission at that wheel. This causes wheel to turn more rapidly than the opposite wheel, allowing you turn corners or pivot.
Engine size can range from 452 cc up to 700 or more, with power estimated from 12 HP to 25 HP. This is powered by either a single cylinder or commercial-duty V twin, and transmissions are either hydrostatic or commercial-duty hydrostatic.
With deck sizes ranging from 32 inches to 60 inches, these mowers cut the most grass in the least amount of time. The decks are either stamped or heavy-duty fabricated, deck adjustment uses a manual hand lever or foot pedal, and deck engagement uses a manual hand lever or an electric PTO
All that grass-cutting power comes with a price, usually ranging between 1,200 to 6,000. But now, you can knock some dollars off thanks to 2023 Memorial Day sales.
Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.