BEST Riding Lawn Mowers of 2023 [Reviews]
Old-fashioned push lawn mowers are great for small urban and suburban lawns – but they don’t cut the mustard for rural and exurban homeowners. Ride-on mowers are the standard for keeping large lawns beautiful and tidy.
Riding mowers come in all shapes and sizes: commercial-grade zero-turn mowers, compact rear-engine designs, high-tech electric models, and more. Finding the right fit for you can be a hassle.
That’s why we’ve reviewed over two dozen ride-on mowers, and found the top 9 today. We looked at power, width of cutting deck, weight, special features of riding mowers to come up with our ranking. We’ve also included a helpful buying guide and FAQ to make your shopping experience a breeze.
Riding mowers range in cost from less than 2,000 to 4,000 or more. To make your choice easier, we have listed the general price (fluctuate) for each riding mower on our list:
- “Inexpensive” – less than 2,000
- “Moderate” – 2,000 to 4,000
- “Expensive” – Above 4,000
Here are Lawn Love’s picks for the top 10 riding lawn mowers:
Top 10 Riding Lawn Mowers — Reviews
|1. Best Overall: Husqvarna YTH18542
|2. Best Electric Riding Mower: Ryobi RY48111
|3. Best Zero-Turn Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
|4. Most Bang for your Buck: John Deere S120
|5. Cub Cadet XT1
|6. Troy-Bilt Pony
|7. Ryobi 42-inch Zero Turn Mower
|8. Husqvarna Z254
|9. Toro 42-inch Timecutter
Best Overall: Husqvarna YTH18542
Husqvarna’s YTH18542 riding mower is designed to be compact and durable while providing enough power to cut any medium-to-large sized lawn.
Designed with maneuverability in mind, this tractor-style mower has a tight 16-inch turn radius. A single foot pedal controls a hydrostatic drivetrain for smooth transitions between forward and reverse.
The 18.5-horsepower engine is made by Briggs Stratton, America’s most reliable small engine manufacturer. The YTH18542 can reach a top speed of 7.4 mph, making it one of the fastest tractor-style mowers on the market.
Despite its compact size, Husqvarna has packed a ton of features into this machine. The 42-inch deck uses air induction to keep your grass from flattening under the mower, ensuring a clean cut every time. Dual anti-scalp wheels protect your lawn from the mower deck when passing over uneven terrain.
Husqvarna offers a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty on new mowers.
A clipping bag and mulching kit are sold separately to increase this lawn tractor’s utility. The YTH18542 is also compatible with Husqvarna’s whole line of tow-behind accessories.
Power Source: 18.5 HP Briggs Stratton Intek engineTransmission: Foot-operated hydrostatic transmissionTop Speed: 7.4 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 6 positions, 1.5 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Compact for storage and maneuverability✓ Durable steel construction✓ Reliable Briggs Stratton engine✓ High-end hydrostatic transmission✓ 3-year warranty
|✗ Attachments sold separately✗ No fuel gauge
Best Electric Riding Mower: Ryobi RY48111
An improvement on the original RY48110, Ryobi’s new generation of riding mowers features a state-of-the-art 100 amp-hour battery, allowing for up to 2.5 hours of continuous mowing on a single charge.
The 38-inch cutting deck can fit into tight spots and create precise cuts around garden beds and landscape features. Three separate brushless motors power the wheels and two blades, delivering cutting power comparable to a gas-powered mower. The Ryobi RY48111 has a top speed of 8 mph, making it the fastest mower on this list.
The RY48111 also is the quietest riding mower on the market, never exceeding 70 decibels. What this means: You can mow bright and early without disturbing the neighbors.
Other things we liked about this riding mower:
- Active cruise control delivers consistency on long stretches of lawn.
- Mulching capability: This mower comes equipped with mulching capability, with an optional collection bag sold separately.
- Cool features: The RY48111 has LED headlights, a cupholder, and a USB charging port.
- Battery charges overnight with a standard 120V power outlet. This mower is the most energy-efficient choice for yards under 2.5 acres.
Power Source: 100 Ah battery, 3 brushless motorsTransmission: NoneTop Speed: 8 mphDeck Width: 38 inchesCutting Height: 12 positions, 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Low-maintenance – no gas, filters, belts, or spark plugs✓ Zero emissions✓ Quiet✓ Compact for storage and maneuvering✓ Mulching included
|✗ Can cut only 2.5 acres per day
Best Zero-Turn Mower: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
A top-of-the-line 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.
A fully adjustable racing-style seat provides ultimate comfort while operating the ZT1. The lap bar control is also adjustable in three dimensions to ensure precise maneuvering. 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 MAX60 electric zero-turn.
Power Source: 22 HP, 725 cc Kohler 7000 series twin-cylinder engineTransmission: Dual hydrostatic transmissionsTop Speed: 7.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 15 positions, 1 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Powerful 22 HP engine✓ Fully adjustable seat and controls✓ Best-in-class warranty
|✗ No gas gauge✗ Attachments sold separately
Most Bang for your Buck: John Deere S120
If you have thick grass or heavy brush on your property, the 22-horsepower John Deere S120 delivers heavy-duty power at an affordable price.
The high-torque engine makes the S120 great for cutting thick grass and hauling heavy loads. John Deere makes a wide range of tow-behind and front-mounted accessories, such as spreaders and snow plows. This little lawn tractor does the work of more expensive models with ease.
The S120 has large 22-inch rear wheels and an 18-inch turning radius. The high-back seat is fully adjustable, including lumbar support.
The 100-series also includes the inexpensive S100 and the highly acclaimed S180. The entire line is compliant with the CARB California emissions standards and is backed by John Deere’s 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Power Source: 22 HP V-twin engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 13 positions, 1 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ High horsepower engine✓ California-compliant✓ Easy-to-read gas gauge
|✗ Slow✗ All accessories sold separately
Cub Cadet XT1
The XT1 is Cub Cadet’s most popular lawn tractor. Powered by an 18-horsepower Kohler engine, this machine is designed with comfort in mind. It features a wide-bottomed, high-backed seat with adjustable back support and an ergonomic, anti-vibration steering wheel.
A smooth hydrostatic transmission, responsive steering, and cruise control make the XT1 easy to operate. A proprietary paint protects the tractor from corrosion. A quick-connect deck wash system lets you plug in an ordinary garden hose for easy cleaning.
This Cub Cadet has long-lasting LED headlights and is backed by a three-year powertrain warranty and five-year chassis/axle warranty.
Power Source: 18 HP Kohler 5400 Series single cylinder engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 5 positions, 1 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Best-in-class warranty✓ California-compliant✓ Comfortable
|✗ Slow✗ All accessories sold separately
If you’re looking for a budget option but still want a tractor-style mower, the Troy-Bilt Pony is your best bet. Though the Pony isn’t the most powerful mower on the market, it has all the features you need to keep a medium- to large-sized lawn neatly mown.
Built around a reliable 15.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine, this Troy-Bilt lawn tractor can easily tackle regular mowing jobs. The 7-speed “shift-on-the-go” manual transmission is designed to smoothly move from one gear to the next.
- Automatic headlights that adjust to low-visibility conditions
- A cupholder to help you stay hydrated on hot summer days
- 2-year limited warranty
Power Source: 15.5 HP single cylinder Briggs Stratton engineTransmission: 7-speed manualTop Speed: 5.5 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 5 positions, 1.25 to 3.75 inchesPrice Range: Inexpensive
|✓ Reliable Briggs Stratton engine✓ California compliant✓ Affordable
|✗ Low power output✗ Manual transmission✗ Few cutting height options
Ryobi 42-inch Zero Turn Mower
Ryobi’s mastery of electric power doesn’t end at rear-engine mowers. Ryobi went all-out to design an eco-friendly zero-turn mower that can hold its own against its gas competition.
Powered by four separate motors, one for each driving wheel and one per blade, this zero-turn mower distributes exactly the right amount of power to the components that need it most. The 75 amp-hour battery can last up to 2.5 hours of constant mowing, making short work of yards up to 3 acres.
A 7 mph top speed and fast, responsive turns let you mow farther and faster than other electric mowers. The battery charges overnight from a standard 120-volt outlet. A digital meter keeps track of the battery level and hours of use. This zero-turn mower has powerful LED headlights, two cupholders, and a USB charging port.
This Ryobi mower doesn’t quite produce enough power to tackle thick brush or wild growth, but it is perfectly capable of handling standard grasses. This mower comes with mulching capability, and a bagging system is sold separately.
Power Source: 75 Ah battery, 4 brushless motorsTransmission: NoneTop Speed: 7 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 12 positions, 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Expensive
|✓ Low-maintenance – no gas, filters, belts, or spark plugs✓ Zero-emission✓ Fast and powerful✓ Mulching included
|✗ Narrow mowing deck✗ Can run for only 2.5 hours a day
This Husqvarna zero-turn mower is ready for heavy-duty work with a 26-horsepower engine and a 54-inch cutting deck. With the most powerful engine on this list, the Z254 makes short work of lawns and fields.
Though the Husqvarna Z254 costs more than the Cub Cadet mentioned above, customers with massive yards or dense, wild growth areas can benefit from the added power.
Because of its FOCUS on cutting power, the Husqvarna Z254 is a little slower than other zero-turn models on the market. It has a single-lever deck height adjustment with six positions. The Z254 uses Husqvarna’s air induction system to keep grass upright for a cleaner cut. This zero-turn mower also is equipped with a “ready start” system for easy operation.
Power Source: 26 HP Kohler engineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 6.5 mphDeck Width: 54 inchesCutting Height: 6 positions, 1.5 to 4 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Powerful 26 HP engine✓ Wide cutting deck✓ Easy-start
|✗ No gas gauge✗ Seat not adjustable
Toro 42-inch Timecutter
The last entry on our list, the Toro Timecutter series features a “Smart Speed” system that automatically adjusts the lap bars’ sensitivity to your operating pace. How cool is this? It has three modes of operation that redirect engine power:
- Mow mode is focused on speed, topping out at 7 mph.
- Tow mode focuses on wheel torque, with a top speed of 5.5 mph.
- Trim mode directs power to the cutting deck, reducing the top speed to 4 mph to plow through thick brush.
Other things we like about Toro’s Timecutter:
- Cupholder and an under-seat storage cubby in the cab.
- Tire fenders, which protect the engine and the operator from mud and debris.
- Shock-reducing dampers that keep the steering bars steady when you hit bumps.
Toro offers a 3-year, unlimited-hour residential warranty. The Timecutter is compliant with California emissions standards. Owners of larger yards should check out their 23hp 50-inch version and 23hp 54-inch model.
Power Source: 18 HP Kawasaki V-Twin EngineTransmission: HydrostaticTop Speed: 7 mphDeck Width: 42 inchesCutting Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inchesPrice Range: Moderate
|✓ Multiple operation modes✓ Comfortable cab
|✗ Low engine power✗ No gas gauge
Buyers Guide: Riding Lawn Mowers
Buying a ride-on mower is a big decision. With so many options available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. This buyers guide will walk you through the types of riding mowers on the market and outline the important factors to consider. We’ll also explain how we came up with our rankings.
Types of Riding Lawn Mower
Riding lawn mowers are not all the same. While most ride-on mowers run on gasoline, several electric mowers have hit the market in recent years. Whether gas or electric, riding mowers tend to come in three general body shapes.
Rear-engine riding mowers are the most compact and least expensive model. The engine (or electric motor) is mounted behind the operating seat. This gives rear-engine mowers great front visibility but can affect their turn radius. With smaller cutting decks, rear-engine mowers can fit through gates and are great for medium-sized lawns.
The standard riding lawn mower for over a century, the lawn tractor has a front-mounted engine that powers the wheels and cutting deck. Lawn tractors typically have cutting decks around 42 inches, though higher-horsepower tractors may be larger. Recent models may have automatic or hydrostatic transmissions, though many are manual.
The zero-turn mower has been around since the 1960s and has risen to prominence in the last 20 years. These high-tech machines use a hydraulic system to control the two powered wheels independently, allowing them to rotate on a dime.
Zero-turn mowers are typically controlled by a pair of levers across the operator’s lap and can be tricky to maneuver without practice. Their shape allows zero turns to sport wider decks. Zero-turns are usually a little more expensive but are the best choice for large yards.
With fossil fuels on the decline and rising gas prices, it may be the right time to invest in a battery-powered riding lawn mower. New advancements in green technology have led to some truly impressive eco-friendly lawn mowers from several manufacturers. With batteries that last up to three hours on a single charge, electric mowers can deliver similar power outputs to gas models.
What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower
Riding lawn mowers are complicated machines, and it’s important to consider a variety of specs when comparing them. We looked at several details and features to determine utility and cost-effectiveness for our top 9 picks.
An important stat for any tool, the power of a riding lawn mower’s engine will determine your top speed and your blade torque. Gas engines of this size usually measure in terms of horsepower (HP), while large batteries measure amperage per hour of use (Ah).
Consider a higher-horsepower engine if you plan to cut thick brush or wild growth. Low-to-medium power is usually adequate for standard grass lawns.
A wider machine increases your coverage on each pass across the yard. Wider machines are more efficient, but require more power to operate and are therefore more expensive.
Adjustable decks are standard in modern lawn mowers. Most of them can cut grass between around 1.5 inches and around 4 inches, with several increments in between. This feature is usually more a matter of preference than necessity.
Manufacturers like to add comfort and utility features to their riding lawn mowers to make them stand out. Features like cupholders, USB chargers, and anti-vibration steering wheels are great for getting more enjoyment out of mowing. Some models include mulching kits or leaf bags, while other manufacturers sell them as separate attachments.
The most important factor in choosing the right mower is your budget. Riding mowers are a big purchase, and we recommend you shop at a few different vendors and local dealers to find the best deal. We quantify the above features and compare them to cost, to help you get the best value.
FAQ About Riding Lawn Mowers
Our research shows that the best riding lawn mower is the Husqvarna YTH18542. We chose this as our top riding mower for its reliability and utility relative to price. Other standouts: We also found that the best zero-turn mower is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 and the best rear-engine mower is the electric Ryobi RY48111.
Hydrostatic drivetrains rely on hydraulic fluid to transfer power from the engine to the blade or wheels. Because there are no gearboxes involved, power can smoothly increase and decrease along the drivetrain without the need for manual shifting.
This increases engine efficiency and allows power to flow differently to each part of the machine. Zero-turn mowers use this method to supply power to both wheels independently.
Riding lawn mowers are a big investment. Although some budget riding lawn mowers will cost under 2,000, the majority of residential-use models are priced between 2,000 and 4,000. Plan to spend around 3,000 on a new ride-on mower, or shop around local dealers for discounted on pre-owned machines.
When to Call a Lawn Care Pro
Riding lawn mowers are a hefty investment and they take up space in your garage. If you’d rather a lawn care pro keep your grass green and healthy, we can help. Lawn Love pros can give your yard a professional manicure at affordable prices. Call 800-706-4117 to see how a professional lawn care crew can show your yard some Lawn Love.
Lawn Love participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other retailer affiliate programs. Lawn Love may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.
Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock photo with text overlay
Average Width of Riding Lawn Mowers
What is the Average Width of a Riding Lawn Mower? Most standard walk behind mowers are usually 48 inches wide. This is the measurement of the mower deck itself. The measurement of the mower deck is the width of the cutting path.
If you are using a zero turn mower you will want to make sure you have the clearance to turn it around. If not then you might want to rethink using a zero turn mower.
The width of your riding lawn mower is the distance between the left and right side wheels. The average riding lawn mower has a width of 30-80 inches, depending on the model.
The width of your riding lawn mower should not be the only factor when deciding which one to get.
Riding lawn mowers and their dimenisons:
- Husqvarna MZ61 – Width: 76 inches (full dimensions: 5 x 76 x 42 inches)
- Snapper 560Z – Width: 61 inches
- Troy-Bilt Bronco – Cutting Width: 42 inches (575 pounds)
- Craftsman 17ARFACT091 – Cutting Width: 46 inches (623 Pounds)
What Do You Use a Riding Lawnmower for?
Do you want to mow a bigger lawn or do you want to do more than just mowing?
This is a big decision. Riding mowers are great for mowing. You can mow your lawn in half the time it takes you to mow with a walk behind mower. Riding mowers are great for people with bigger yards.
Zero turn mowers are awesome for mowing. They have a tight turning radius. If you are going to mow a lot of narrow areas and lawns with lots of trees and flower beds then you might want to consider a zero turn mower.
Are you going to be using your mower to move mulch and other materials around the yard?
If so then you might want a zero turn mower. Zero turn mowers are great at moving material around the yard.
Are you going to be using your mower to haul items around the yard?
If you are then you will want to make sure you have the correct deck on your riding mower. This is a big decision when buying a riding mower. If you are going to be using your mower to haul things around the yard then you will want to make sure you have the correct deck on your mower.
Is Price Important to You?
Riding mowers are not cheap. If you are going to need to purchase a mower then you want to make sure you are getting what you are paying for. You want to make sure you are getting a mower that will last and will do the things you need it to do.
If you are going to be using your mower for work then you want to make sure it is well built and heavy duty. If you are going to be using your mower for work then you are going to want to make sure you get a mower that is going to last.
Average Cost of a Riding Lawnmower
The average cost of a riding lawnmower is around 1000. This is the average price for a mower. You can pay more for a mower or you can pay less. You can find mowers for as low as 500. You can also spend a lot more than 1000.
What size property do you have?
If you have a bigger property you are going to want to make sure you pick out a mower that can handle it. If you are going to be mowing a bigger property then you are going to want to make sure you get a mower that can handle it.
Do you have a lot of trees or brush in your yard?
If you do then you may want to consider getting a mower with a deck that is wider. If you have a lot of trees or brush in your yard then you will want to make sure you have a deck that can handle it.
As you see the width of most riding lawn mowers is below 80 inches.
How To Measure The Deck Size of Your Lawn Mower
Like every other appliance and tool we use regularly, our lawnmowers eventually reach the end of their lifespans. Although they can last decades with proper care, there may come a time when they refuse to work correctly, and fixing them would be excessively expensive. So, you may find yourself looking for a new lawnmower.
Since your old lawnmower worked perfectly for your yard, easily maneuvering between ornamental trees and flowerbeds, you need a mower that matches its size. But how do you measure the deck of a lawnmower? Let’s find out.
What Is The Deck On A Lawnmower?
The deck on a lawnmower (also referred to as a cutting deck) is the part that protects the user and engine from the blades. It helps ensure safety in the event of blade malfunction and prevents debris from flying off the blades while mowing. Tiny rocks and stick debris could cause injury without the deck to prevent them from flying in the user’s face, so it’s an essential part of the setup.
How Do You Measure Deck Size On A Lawnmower?
Although measuring the deck size of your lawnmower seems like a straightforward task, it can be a bit tricky, especially if there are pulleys in the way of obtaining the correct measurement. However, it’s doable with a bit of effort, so here’s what you’ll need:
To make things easier, prop your mower up on a chunk of wood or a few bricks. This will elevate the mower, so you don’t need to lie on the ground to measure. Otherwise, you could push it onto a trailer or ramp to easily access the cutting deck.
Extend your tape measure across the widest point on one side of the deck (back or front) to the opposite edge. Try to keep the tape extended across the middle of the deck. Ensure you keep the tape measure level and account for the added with due to the anti-scalp rollers and discharge chute.
Note the size. To determine the area of the mower deck, you’ll need to measure the length of the deck. So, run your measuring tape along the top of the deck, extending the tap from front to back instead of side to side. Note your measurement, then multiply it by the width to determine the mowing deck’s total area.
If you have a riding lawnmower, you’ll need to elevate it before measuring in most cases, as the deck might not be easily accessible. Here’s what you’ll need:
If your mower’s cutting deck isn’t accessible from the topside or pulleys are blocking a clear measuring path, start by raising the mower. Chock the mower’s rear wheels to keep them in place, then raise the front of the mower by about 6 inches using a floor jack. Using your measuring tape, measure directly across the broadest part of the deck from one side to the other. Note your measurement.
If your lawnmower has a circular deck, find the widest part of the circle. Use your measuring tape to find the diameter of the circle, which represents the width of its cutting deck.
What Is The Deck Size Of A Lawnmower?
The deck size of a lawnmower varies based on the type of lawnmower in question. The cutting deck may be as small as 14 inches wide on the low end, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the cutting deck may be as wide as 72 inches.
Zero Turn Mowers
As the name implies, zero-turn mowers have the ability to turn on a dime. Unlike other riding mowers and lawn tractors, these mowers feature a mowing deck positioned in front of the machine. This allows users to easily maneuver the machine without an issue, making mowing much more manageable.
These mowers come in a few different cutting deck sizes, including the following:
- 36 to 42 inches: best for 1- to 2-acre yards
- 42 to 54 inches: Perfect for 3- to 4-acre yards
- 54 to 72 inches: Ideal for more than 4 acres
These mowers are considerably different than a generic gas-powered push mower. Unlike most modern lawnmowers, reel mowers are mechanically powered, so you have to push them to cut the grass.
On these mowers, the blades rotate vertically, unlike other mowers, where the blade spins horizontally (called rotary mowers). Reel mowers tend to be considerably smaller than most lawnmowers, as they usually feature a cutting deck with a width between 14 and 20 inches. They’re ideal for small yards of less than half an acre when purchasing a gas or electric lawnmower isn’t logical.
Gas And Electric Push Mowers
These mowers feature a small engine that spins the blades tucked underneath it. Some designs feature an attached bag for easy clipping removal, whereas others don’t have this feature. The engine may be powered via gas or electricity, depending on the particular model.
Generally, these mowers are manual, so you need to push them across your lawn. However, there are self-propelled varieties available that can drive themselves over your lawn with your guidance.
Gas and electric push mowers usually feature a cutting deck ranging from 16 to 30 inches in width, which is ideal for yards smaller than one acre.
Riding Mowers And Lawn Tractors
Like zero-turn lawnmowers, riding mowers and lawn tractors are ideal for larger yards with extra acreage of grass. Lawn tractors are multi-functional – they can do more than simply mow your lawn. Riding mowers, on the other hand, are merely for mowing.
However, since they’re similar in many aspects, they come in similar sizes. You can buy one of these mowers with a 36- to 42-inch cutting deck, which is ideal for 1- to 2-acre properties. Or, if you have a larger lawn with 3 to 4 acres of grass to cut, you might want to invest in one with a 42- to 54-inch cutting deck.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Better To Buy A Larger Lawn Mower?
While it might seem like bigger is always better, especially for lawnmowers, this isn’t always the case. Larger lawnmowers are usually more expensive, so it might not always make sense, especially if you have a smaller yard.
Generally, it’s best to stick with a reel mower or a gas/electric push mower if your yard is smaller than one acre. A reel mower works best for lawns smaller than half an acre, as it’s a reasonably small mower. Gas and electric push mowers are ideal for yards smaller than one acre.
If you have a larger lawn with several acres of grass, using a push mower or reel mower will take a long time. While it’s entirely doable to use one of these mowers on a massive lawn, it might make more sense to invest in a riding mower or lawn tractor, especially if your yard is three or more acres.
Do Smaller Lawnmower Decks Cut Better?
Although smaller lawnmower decks don’t necessarily cut the grass better, they can create a better result than a larger mower deck. They’re not nearly as heavy as their larger counterpart, so they usually don’t leave noticeable tire tracks.
On top of that, they tend to create a smoother cut. This is because the smaller cutting deck follows the ground’s contours, ensuring the grass is cut evenly all the way around. There’s also usually only one blade working, not multiple blades. Larger mowers with numerous blades can create uneven lawns, especially when one of the blades is bent or improperly set up.
My name is Matt, and I am the founder of Obsessed Lawn. I am very passionate about my lawn. keeping it looking beautiful but also safe for my family, friends, and our dog Liberty. I hope you find my website helpful in your quest for a great-looking lawn!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you want a fast zero-turn mower, a clean electric mower, a versatile lawn tractor, or a compact rear-engine mower, find one of the best in this guide.
By Mark Wolfe | Updated Jun 6, 2023 12:08 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
When you have a large yard, mowing the lawn can consume an outsize portion of a weekend. Push mowers and walk behinds work fine to a point, but somewhere between 0.5 acre and 1 acre, many end up choosing a riding lawn mower. In addition to letting the operator have a seat while mowing, riding mowers offer more mowing power, a wider deck, and a faster mowing speed to get the job done faster.
These machines may be used to help care for a property in other ways, too. They can pull a utility cart for hauling tools, gardening supplies, and yard debris. They can tow a fertilizer spreader, a lawn aerator, or a yard sweeper. They can even help with snow removal by pushing a snow plow or powering a snow blower. Since every yard is different, there are different sizes and types of riding lawn mowers to choose from. However, knowing which may be right for you may not be entirely intuitive. So what is the best riding lawn mower?
To help you identify the right mower for your yard, read on to learn about some key shopping considerations that we used to identify some of the best riding mowers for a variety of yards. Whether you are looking for the best riding lawn mower for the money, the best garden tractor, or the best small riding lawn mower, one of the following top picks for the best riding lawn mower for 1 acre or more may be the right lawn mower for you.
- BEST OVERALL:John Deere S130 Riding Lawn Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Craftsman 46-Inch Automatic Gas Riding Mower
- BEST ELECTRIC:Ryobi 54-Inch 115Ah Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower
- BEST LAWN TRACTOR:Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46-Inch Riding Lawn Tractor
- BEST ZERO-TURN:Toro 42-Inch TimeCutter Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR HILLS:Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-Inch Gas Riding Lawn Mower
- BEST COMPACT: Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Riding Mower With Mulch Kit
- ALSO CONSIDER:Toro 75760 60-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Mower
How We Chose the Best Riding Lawn Mowers for 1 Acre
We researched the top riding lawn mower brands and models sold through brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers. Through this research, we compiled more than 20 models from upwards of a dozen brands, and then we whittled the list down to include only the best sellers within the categories of lawn tractors, residential zero-turn mowers, and rear-engine riding mowers.
After comparing the measurables like deck size, engine power, travel speed, turning radius, and price, we determined the awards and named the top performers.
Our Top Picks
We’ve compiled the following list of the best riding lawn mowers for 1 acre. Read on to learn why we picked them and whether one may be right for you.
John Deere S130 Riding Lawn Mower
In any discussion of lawn equipment, John Deere is one of the top brands that immediately comes to mind, and the S130 shows the reason. This lawn tractor features a John Deere–branded 22-horsepower V-twin engine built by Briggs Stratton, a 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, smooth hydrostatic transmission, and a 2.4-gallon fuel tank that enables it to cut 2 acres before refueling.
By many measures, the S130 could be the best riding lawn mower for 1 acre. The wide tires and premium two-piece high-back seat offer a higher, clearer vantage point and a more comfortable ride. The ergonomic deck lift lever is spring assisted for easier operation. The dash-mounted fuel gauge makes it easy to see when it’s time to refuel, and the tank is conveniently located under the seat for easy filling. And when mowing season is over, the S130’s numerous available attachments can do other jobs during the offseason, like plowing snow or hauling firewood. For more on the John Deere S130, check out our in-depth review.
- Type: Lawn tractor
- Engine: 22-horsepower Briggs Stratton V-twin engine
- Deck: 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck; 2 blades
- Powerful 22-horsepower V-twin engine drives the mower through rough terrain
- Comfortable seat with a high vantage point makes it easy to spot hazards on the ground
- Dash-mounted fuel gauge is ideal for monitoring fuel levels during a long mowing job
- Easy oil-change system helps keep up with maintenance without taking a lot of time
Get the John Deere riding lawn mower at Lowe’s or a local John Deere dealer.
Craftsman 46-Inch Automatic Gas Riding Mower
Save a few hundred bucks and get comparable quality and performance. This Craftsman automatic riding mower features an 18.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine, a 46-inch 12-gauge stamped deck, and easy foot-pedal operation. The simple and reliable starting system requires no priming and no choke.
Although this Craftsman riding mower does not include a long list of comfort features, the mid-height seat does offer a good amount of cushion and lower-back support. The best features are its strong, dependable construction; consistently reliable start-up; and easy operation. For excellent basic functionality at a highly competitive price, this one is the best riding lawn mower for the money.
- Type: Lawn tractor
- Engine: 18.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton single cylinder
- Deck: 46-inch 12-gauge stamped steel deck; 2 blades
- Broad 46-inch cutting deck is excellent for maintaining large yards
- Heavy-duty 12-gauge stamped steel deck boasts superior durability against dents and scratches
- Reliable starting system and foot-pedal operation are ideal for inexperienced users
Get the Craftsman riding lawn mower at Ace Hardware.
Ryobi 54-Inch 115Ah Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Instead of using a conventional engine and hydraulic wheel motors, this Ryobi zero-turn riding mower is completely electric. It uses five efficient brushless motors, which are powered by a 48-volt 115 amp-hour (Ah) rechargeable battery to drive the wheels and blades. No need for gasoline or oil changes, and there are no plugs or filters. On a mostly level and consistently mowed lawn, it cuts up to 3.5 acres per charge, but battery runtime varies with the conditions. The 54-inch deck is stamped from 10-gauge steel.
Battery power comes with some distinct contingencies that must be considered. The Ryobi 48-volt 115Ah battery provides 3 to 3.5 hours of runtime per charge in average mowing conditions, which is adequate for well over an acre of well-kept lawn on mostly level ground. Tall, dense, or weedy grass; uneven terrain; and inefficient mowing patterns (read: excessive maneuvering without actually mowing) drain the battery faster.
Recharge time from 30 percent charge takes about 12 hours. With proper charging and maintenance, the battery can work about 5 years before it needs to be replaced. Those looking for a quiet, powerful mower that eliminates most of the gas engine inconveniences may find what they are looking for in this electric mower.
- Type: Zero turn
- Engine: 5 brushless electric motors; 48-volt 115Ah rechargeable battery
- Deck: 54-inch 10-gauge stamped steel deck; 3 blades
- Electric motor for quieter operation that won’t upset the neighbors
- Does not produce noxious exhaust fumes, limiting the health risk to the user
- Rechargeable batteries can power the mower for up to 3.5 acres per charge
- Handles large yards well due to the 54-inch cutting deck and 3 cutting blades
- Battery runtime can be reduced when mowing in tougher conditions
- Currently sold as a Home Depot exclusive, so availability is not always guaranteed
Get the Ryobi riding lawn mower at The Home Depot.
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46-Inch Riding Lawn Tractor
For tough mowing conditions and other all-purpose lawn-tractor tasks, this may be the best choice. The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT features a premium 23-horsepower Kohler V-twin engine and a rugged 12-gauge-steel 46-inch deck that are perfect for mowing up to 2 acres of mixed level and hilly terrain. It is also compatible with a wide range of add-on equipment, like utility carts, spreaders, a snow plow, and others to help maintain a property throughout the year.
The XT1 Enduro LT boasts thick steel in the deck, a wide cutting swath, and tight turning radius to work hard in difficult conditions. The all-purpose Cub Cadet’s added weight supports superior traction and maneuverability, making it the best garden tractor in our roundup.
- Type: Lawn tractor
- Engine: 23-horsepower Kohler V-twin engine
- Deck: 46-inch 12-gauge stamped steel deck; 2 blades
- Powerful 23-horsepower V-twin engine drives the 2 sharpened cutting blades for enhanced cutting power
- 46-inch cutting deck makes it easier to tackle larger lawns in less time
- Premium 15-inch high-back seat is padded and supportive for enhanced user comfort
- Relatively tight turning radius helps for maneuvering the mower in narrow spaces
Get the Cub Cadet riding lawn mower at The Home Depot or Tractor Supply Co.
Toro 42-Inch TimeCutter Zero-Turn Lawn Mower
Zero-turn mowers are grass-cutting specialists, far superior to push mowers, with the maneuverability to literally turn on a dime or even pivot in place. The Toro 42-inch TimeCutter zero-turn mower is powered by a 22-horsepower Kohler V-twin engine and is capable of mowing up to 7 miles per hour, which is nearly double the speed of a lawn tractor. It features commercial-quality hydro pumps and wheel motors, and it comes with a rugged 10-gauge fabricated deck for durability to match its speed.
This zero-turn mower is a superior choice for mowing large, relatively level, and open lawn areas dotted with obstacles. It includes a drop-pin tow hitch suitable for pulling a fertilizer spreader or a lawn aerator to help with maintenance, and it is compatible with the Toro TimeCutter twin bagger, which is sold separately.
- Operates at up to 7 miles per hour to cut down on mowing time
- Zero-turn design makes it easier to maneuver and control the riding mower
- 10-gauge steel-fabricated deck increases mower durability against scratches and dents
- Built-in drop-pin tow hitch for pulling fertilizer spreaders or lawn aerators
Get the Toro TimeCutter riding lawn mower at The Home Depot or Tractor Supply Co.
Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-Inch Gas Riding Lawn Mower
Lawn tractors are usually the best choice for hilly terrain thanks to their balanced-weight design and easy-to-control steering. The Troy-Bilt Bronco offers the needed stability and control for mowing slopes with the easy access of a step-through frame and easy operation of an AutoDrive transmission. It is powered by a durable pressure-lubricated 19-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine, and it features a 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck.
The Bronco’s cutting deck includes anti-scalping rollers to eliminate gouging the grass on uneven terrain. The simple design, mow-in-reverse feature, and intuitive automatic operation helps operators FOCUS on navigating the terrain instead of fumbling with controls. One feature that Troy-Bilt could improve upon is the small 1.3-gallon fuel tank that could risk running low before the job is complete. Overall, this one could be a Smart choice for durable functionality in rugged terrain.
- Type: Lawn tractor
- Engine: 19-horsepower Briggs Stratton single-cylinder engine
- Deck: 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck; 2 blades
- Beginners can take advantage of the easy-to-use AutoDrive transmission
- Anti-scalping deck wheel system prevents the deck from coming into contact with the ground
- Smooth operation with the full-pressure lubricated 19-horsepower Briggs Stratton single-cylinder engine
- Running headlights illuminate the area to wrap up jobs in the evening
Get the Troy-Bilt Bronco riding lawn mower at The Home Depot or Troy-Bilt.
Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Riding Mower With Mulch Kit
When more mowing power than a simple push mower is needed but a lawn tractor or zero-turn mower is too big, that’s where a compact rear-engine riding mower excels. Our pick for the best small riding lawn mower, the Troy-Bilt 30-inch mower, requires half the storage space of a lawn tractor, maneuvers most walk-through gates with ease, and improves mowing speed over typical walk-behind mowers. This small riding mower features a reliable 10.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton engine and a 30-inch 13-gauge steel deck capable of side discharge or mulching.
Although it is considered a lightweight mower, this Troy-Bilt’s rear engine configuration balances the weight over the drive wheels to offer good traction on sloped terrain. The manual six-speed transmission is shift-on-the-fly capable for easy speed control. This compact mower takes up only 62 inches long by 30 inches wide in storage, and it navigates passages as narrow as 3 feet. Those who want a compact mower or have learned that bigger is not always better may want to consider this small riding mower.
- Type: Rear engine
- Engine: 10.5-horsepower Briggs Stratton single-cylinder engine
- Deck: 30-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck; 1 blade
- Compact design for easy storage in a shed or garage
- Small body and deck allow better access into landscape bottleneck areas
- Mow-in-reverse system for better control in tight spaces
- Tow-hitch for utility cart or lawn-care accessories
Get the Troy-Bilt 30-inch riding lawn mower at The Home Depot, Brand New Mowers, or Southern Chainsaw Mower Parts.
Toro 75760 60-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Mower
The Toro 75760 riding mower can make quick work of expansive yards with the broad 60-inch cutting deck made of 10-gauge steel. The deck also features a reinforced leading edge and 6-inch spindles to ensure the riding mower lasts for years to come. Use this lawn mower for 1- to 4-acre mowing jobs, and take advantage of the zero-turn controls to quickly change direction.
This Toro riding mower features a 24.5-horsepower Toro V-twin engine to drive the mower at up to 7 miles per hour and power the three cutting blades. It works well on hilly terrain, giving users a smooth ride due to the shock-absorbing dampeners and fully tubular front axle. When a push mower or small riding mower is not enough to handle the yard work, consider this zero-turn mower to tackle up to 4 acres of lawn.
- Type: Zero turn
- Engine: 24.5-horsepower Toro V-twin engine
- Deck: 60-inch 10-gauge fabricated-steel deck; 3 blades
- Powerful 24.5-horsepower Toro V-twin engine handles hills without a problem
- Expansive 60-inch cutting deck is ideal for maintaining large yards
- Built-in shock-absorbing dampeners for a smoother ride
- 3 sharpened cutting blades enhances the cutting ability
Get the Toro 75760 riding lawn mower at The Home Depot, Toro, or Power Equipment Warehouse.
What to Consider When Choosing a Riding Lawn Mower for 1 Acre
When shopping for a lawn mower, several design and comfort factors will help you narrow the search to find a mower that is right for your property. Read on to learn more about choosing an appropriate type and size as well as other features that can extend its usefulness beyond mowing.
Engine Power and Source
To quickly and efficiently mow an acre of grass, a mower needs adequate power. The most popular large lawn mowers to date are still gasoline-powered because a gas mower offers plenty of power with an extended runtime. But, they do emit exhaust and require fuel handling and storage, along with oil and filter changes and other routine maintenance.
Battery-powered electric riding mowers have become widely available over the past decade and are rapidly increasing in popularity. An electric riding lawn mower operates without emissions, and with much less noise, but an electric riding mower tends to be significantly more expensive to purchase. Additionally, the batteries in an electric riding mower typically need to be replaced every 5 years or so.
The most popular gasoline-powered riding lawn mowers for 1 acre are built with 17- to 24-horsepower engines. Compact rear-engine riding mowers may get the job done with just 10 horsepower. Battery-powered riding mowers typically require a 48- to 60-volt battery and 75-to 100Ah to mow an average acre of lawn.
The mowing deck is a major point of discussion because it affects both the speed and the quality of the cut. Not only is the overall width important, but so is the number of blades and the depth of the deck. Generally, the fastest, highest-quality cut comes from a wider, deeper deck with more blades. But a larger, deeper deck with more blades requires more engine power, and it is less maneuverable.
Manufacturers of riding mowers usually pair a 42- to 46-inch-wide deck with a 17- to 24-horsepower engine. These mowers are far and away the most popular for landowners who have between 0.5 acre and 2 acres. This combination will mow an acre of average lawn grass in 30 to 45 minutes.
On mostly flat ground, an average riding mower will use between 0.5 and 0.75 gallons of gasoline to mow for an hour, or 0.25 to 0.5 gallons per acre. All gas riding mowers have fuel tanks larger than that, but some are only slightly larger. The smallest fuel tank in our lineup is just 1.3 gallons, which could risk running out of gas before completing the job if the terrain is steep or the grass is extra tough. Running out of gas could also be an issue with heavier tasks like hauling heavy loads uphill or powering a snow blower. For tough jobs, look for a mower with a fuel capacity of at least 2 gallons.
Electric fuel capacity is measured in amp hours. Often, electric mower batteries may be upgraded to higher Ah to increase runtime. As a general rule, while shopping for a battery-powered mower it is wise to cut in half the manufacturer’s stated “mows up to [number of acres]” because real-life conditions are never the same as those in the lab where the promotional numbers were recorded.
Riding mower transmissions may be manually geared, automatic, hydrostatic, or independent electric motors.
Manually geared transmissions require the operator to select a gear and then go, and they may or may not offer “shift-on-the-fly” capability. Shift on the fly means users don’t have to stop to select a different gear. These are the most difficult transmissions to master.
Automatic transmissions are similar to driving in an automatic automobile. Simply select the forward or reverse gear, then press the pedal to move, and the mower’s system of belts will change gears as needed.
Instead of belts and pulleys, hydrostatic transmissions use hydraulic pressure to power the wheels. This drive system is superior to both manual and automatic transmissions because it is easier to operate, delivers smooth acceleration, and requires less maintenance. Because it eliminates shifting gears, hydrostatic is a great choice for hills.
Electric mowers use direct-drive electric motors instead of transmissions. The drive wheels and blades each have their own motor, which is powered by the one battery. This system requires the lowest maintenance of all because the motors have a very long working life and require no maintenance.
Up to this point we have only discussed performance features. Other considerations that are equally important relate to user comfort, convenience, and multitasking. The following are some of the more important features to consider.
- Mowing height adjustment is an ergonomic, spring-assisted deck lift lever that takes some of the work out of raising and lowering the mowing deck.
- No-choke startup, also known as auto choke, is a feature that simplifies starting the lawn mower.
- An upgraded high-back seat has more cushion in the bottom and support in the back, which makes it more comfortable to operate the mower.
- A dash-mounted fuel gauge allows users to easily view the fuel level while operating the mower so they can avoid running out of gas.
- Easy oil-change systems vary among brands. The patented systems make draining the oil and changing the filter faster and easier.
- A deck washout port allows you to connect a garden hose directly to the top of the mower deck for easy cleanup of grass clippings and debris, rather than raising the entire deck to pressure-wash from below.
- A towing hitch provides the ability to tow a utility cart, a fertilizer spreader, a spike aerator, and other attachments, increasing the usefulness of a riding mower.
- A mulching deck, or a mulch-on-demand system, shreds the clippings to a finer texture for faster breakdown compared to side discharge. Many mowers require a mulching conversion kit, while others come equipped for the job.
- Compatibility with a bagger, a mulch kit, a striping kit, a sun canopy, and other attachments further extends the range of possibilities.
If you’re searching for a new riding lawn mower, you may have lingering questions about the best mower for your property. Read on for answers to a few common questions asked by other shoppers.
Q. What should I look for when buying a riding lawn mower?
Determine the type of riding mower that best fits your needs: lawn tractor, zero-turn mower, or rear-engine riding mower. Consider the engine power, deck size, and mowing speed. For 1 acre, most users prefer the performance of 17 to 22 horsepower, 42- to 46-inch deck, and travel speed of 4 to 5 miles per hour for lawn tractors, or 7 miles per hour for zero-turn mowers.
Q. What size mower is best for 1 acre?
The most popular deck size of mower for an acre is 42 inches. However, a wider deck, up to 54 inches, could be a great choice if the space is wide open and relatively flat.
Q. How long does it take to cut 1 acre of grass?
Most lawn tractors equipped with a 42-inch deck can mow an acre in about 36 minutes. Mowing speed in acres per hour is calculated by factoring the deck size and travel speed. A mower with a 42-inch deck, averaging 4.5 miles per hour, can cut 1.7 acres per hour. Change the deck size to 46 inches and the acres per hour increases to nearly 1.9.
For the most accurate calculation, use this formula: APH = (MW/12) (MS x 5,280) / 43,560 x 0.9
43,560 square feet in an acre
Q. What is a good horsepower for a lawn mower?
For a 1-acre lawn, choose a lawn tractor with between 17 and 24 horsepower, or a zero-turn mower with between 20 and 25 horsepower.
Q. How do you transport a riding mower?
Load the mower onto the trailer or into the truck bed with the engine toward the front of the vehicle. On a trailer, position the engine in front of the trailer axles. Set the mower’s parking brake. Tie down the mower front and back with ratchet straps to anchor points in the truck bed or trailer bed.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.