Best riding lawn mower with a bagger 2023
The best riding lawn mower with a bagger takes the chore out of lawn maintenance.
Want to achieve a manicured lawn? Using the best riding lawn mower with a bagger help keep your yard pristine. Attaching a bagger means you don’t leave unsightly clumps of grass scattered across the lawn.
Riding mowers are convenient for large plots, making short work of lawns of several acres. If you’re mowing on a grand scale, collecting all the grass clippings can be daunting. But a riding lawn mower with a bagger does the work for you, sparing you from this mammoth task. It can save you time by tackling two chores at once.
If you’re in the market for a riding mower, there are several factors to weigh up. It pays to consider factors like speed, quality of the cut, and cost. Our guide to the best riding lawn mowers takes you through the buying process, step-by-step.
Look out for mowers that offer different options for your grass clippings to give you more choices. You may see products with a mulching kit attachment, which allows you to return nutrients to the grass.
Adding a bagger into the equation can make the buying process more complex. Be aware that most riding mowers don’t supply a bagger with the product. you will need to purchase this separately and factor it into your budget.
Best riding lawn mower with a bagger
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When choosing a bagger, compatibility is the top consideration. Not all baggers fit all mowers, so check this before you commit. You will also want to factor in the capacity of the bagger, which will depend on the size of your plot. Thankfully, we’ve researched the best riding lawn mowers suitable for use with a bagger. We’ve saved you a job by recommending a compatible bagger for each one.
Riding lawn mowers with a bagger
Reasons to avoid
If you want to take the chore out of lawn maintenance, the Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 has got you covered.
The Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 scores a solid 4.3 out of 5 from over 900 reviews on the Troy-Bilt website, with 84% of reviewers recommending the product. People praise the speed, with several mentioning it cut down on mowing time. However, several reviews suggest the pedal is stiff, which may be tiring if operating it for hours at a time.
Accelerating up to 5.5 mph, it makes short work of the largest plots. The extra-wide 42-inch cutting deck enables you to cover more ground and saves you time. This mower is designed with convenience in mind. The separate bagger accessory makes for easy clean-up, as you don’t have to comb the lawn for stray clumps of grass.
The AGM battery promises reliable starting, meaning you can feel confident it will fire up after long periods in storage. Want manicured results? Clever design features like the anti-scalp wheels help you minimize unsightly tire marks. At slightly over the 2,000 mark, it falls into the middle range of the mowers on our list, but remember to factor the bagger into the price too.
Compatible 42 Inch and 46 Inch Double Bagger This double bagger makes collecting grass clippings a breeze. It comes with 2 bags, providing ample capacity for up to 6.5 bushels. It’s suitable for other mowers with a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, including Craftsman, Columbia, Remington, and Yard-Man products.
Reasons to avoid
The Cub Cadet XT1 is designed to be an absolute powerhouse of a riding lawn mower, making it a great choice for those with extra large lawns.
Cub Cadet XT1 scores a decent 4.0 out of 5 on the manufacturer’s website. Users were impressed with the power of the machine, with several mentioning it can handle bumpy and challenging terrain, including hills. A couple of reviewers complained about issues with the battery not holding its charge, though they were in a minority. It’s backed by a generous 3-year warranty to put your mind at rest.
With a 19-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine, it can help you blitz through the mowing. Plus, it can even handle hills, ideal if you’re on an uneven plot. If you want a spotless finish, you’ll be pleased to know this mower is compatible with a bagger, saving you from raking unsightly clippings. This trusty machine can help with other tasks around the yard, with a range of accessories available to purchase separately, including a snow blower, mulch kit, and rear spreader.
The Cub Cadet XT1 makes for a responsive ride, thanks to a 16-inch turning radius. Plus, it spares you the effort of shifting gears with the hydrostatic transmission. simply press the pedal and go. The downsides? Some assembly is required, so you will need to factor this in. At around 2,400, the Cub Cadet XT1 isn’t the cheapest lawn mower with a bagger, but it may be worth the investment if you want maximum power.
Compatible 42 Inch and 46 Inch double bagger Eliminate the faff of raking grass clippings with this double bagger. It includes two bags with a 6.5 bushel capacity. It’s compatible with Cub Cadet XT1 and XT2 Enduro Series lawn tractors with a 42 or 46-inch mowing deck.
Reasons to avoid
If you want an upgrade for a walk-behind mower, look no further than the Troy-Bilt TB30B.
The Troy-Bilt TB30B scores a commendable 4.2 out of 5 out of 245 reviews on Home Depot. People are pleased with this model as a replacement for a push-mower, noting it’s ideal for mid-sized lawns. They are also confident in its cutting ability. A handful of reviews mention it is lightweight, which means it’s best suited to flat terrain to avoid tipping over.
This compact riding mower is similar in size to a push model, perfect for when storage space is at a premium. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on a riding mower but still want good results, the Troy-Bilt TB30B could be for you. At 1899, it’s the cheapest option on our list, ideal if you’re on a budget.
Plus, a mulching kit is included. It’s a fantastic way to return nutrients to the soil, resulting in a greener, healthier lawn. This mower is also compatible with a bagger, which you can purchase separately for sections you want to keep pristine.
As you would expect for a smaller mower, it may take you slightly longer to get the job done. The cutting deck is narrower than other options, so you may need more passes to cover the space. For that reason, it’s best suited to medium plots.
Compatible 30 Inch Double Bagger This bagger is designed for compact rear-engine riding mowers, including Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Columbia, Remington, and Yard machines from 2013 or later. It fits a cutting deck of 30 inches and provides a capacity of 3.2 bushels. You can use this bagger to collect leaves in the fall, making it a versatile choice.
Reasons to avoid
If you’re searching for a premium model, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 fits the bill. At around 3,800, it is a splurge, but several features justify the price tag.
The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 has rave reviews, scoring 4.6 out of 5 with over 3,000 reviews on Home Depot. 89% of reviewers recommend this product. People love the superior performance and maneuverability of this zero-turn mower. One reviewer commented that it turns on a dime. The drawbacks? Several are disappointed that there is no hour meter, which makes it hard to know when to perform maintenance tasks. A few people suggest it could benefit from a gas display level too.
Thanks to a Kawasaki 23-horsepower engine, it offers impressive power. Combined with a super-sized 50-inch cutting deck, it makes light work of mowing the largest yards. This beast of a machine can tackle plots over 5 acres, including ones with slight hills.
All of this means it cuts down on mowing time, allowing you the leisure to sit back and admire your handiwork. With the help of this nippy machine, you can transform lawn maintenance from a chore into an enjoyable experience.
It doesn’t disappoint on mowing performance either. The Aeroforce cutting system was judged best-in-class according to independent testing, offering a precise, even finish. If we’re being picky, it could benefit from a few features to finish it off, like armrests and an hour meter, but overall, it’s a top-quality mower.
Compatible 50 Inch and 54 Inch Double Bagger This extra-large double bagger fits Ultima ZT1-50 and ZT1-54 zero-turn lawn mowers, offering ample room with a 6.5 bushel capacity. The hood design has been improved to provide optimal performance, delivering a neat finish.
Pros and cons of having a riding lawn mower with a bagger
If convenience is a priority, a riding lawn mower with a bagger may be a sound investment.
“When selecting a bagger, make sure that it is compatible with your riding lawn mower, and always be sure to select the bagger with the appropriate capacity. The larger the lawn, the higher the capacity.” Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network
“Riding lawn mowers can make maintaining large patches of grass easy, but without a bagger, they can often create a larger mess than you started with. Purchasing a riding lawn mower with a bagger attachment will make picking up clippings an afterthought as they are conveniently picked up and placed in the attached plastic bin,” says Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network (LMN).
This may be important to you if you’re on a large plot where it might not be practical to rake a huge area or if you want to minimize physical exertion. The other main reason people choose a mower with a bagger is to enhance curb appeal, as it creates a well-groomed look.
Yet, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons. “One of the biggest trade-offs users of baggers will have to make is not having the additional fertilizing benefit of leftover trimmings on their manicured grass. Instead, they will have to frequently use fertilizer to keep their lawn in pristine shape,” explains Mark. This means you will need to factor this into your schedule to keep your lawn healthy.
A greener option might be to purchase a separate mulching attachment. You could use this to give the grass a nutrient boost or on areas out of sight where looks are less important.
Mark Bradley, CEO of Landscape Management Network, has decades of experience in the landscape industry and is an expert on all things yard care. Before co-founding Landscape Management Network, Bradley built TBG Landscape from a backyard business into one of North America’s Top 100 landscape contracting companies.
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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer and the founder of The Cove Copy. She has been published in The Guardian, Breathe, Fit Well, Top Ten Reviews, and more. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her out in nature, whether hiking in the woods or pottering in the garden.
John Deere Lawn Mowers for Sale in Tennessee
When it’s time to tame your lawn, you want the best tools available. That’s why John Deere lawn mowers should be your go-to. There’s no sense in continuing to lug your tired, old, worn-down push mower up and down your lawn for another year. Pick up a John Deere ride-on or zero turn mower this year and see the difference, not just in cut quality but in time saved. If you’re looking for a John Deere lawn mower for sale in Tennessee, drop by your local Tennessee Tractor dealership today and let us help you find the right style and model for you.
John Deere ride-on mowers, called lawn tractors, run a huge range of models, from the very basic and reliable E100 Series to the fully optioned and versatile X700 Series. If all you have is a small lawn and just want to keep the grass looking nice, then the E100 Series fits nicely in your plans. But if those plans involve tackling things like building up new flower beds, installing landscaping features or even hauling loads of mulch back and forth, then the X500 or X700 Series and their ability to attach and run implements are for you.
John Deere zero-turn mowers are built to not just deliver a good cut, but to do so at high speeds. This makes them ideal for homeowners with larger plots of land or for producers who need a capable mower to handle the grass around their buildings and fences where a tractor might not get close enough. To that end, you’ll find top mowing speeds of up to 10 mph, with decks as wide as 60 inches. And if you decide to go for the top of the range Z700 Series, you’ll also get commercial quality features like a fully adjustable air suspension seat.
While not strictly a lawnmower, the John Deere 1 2 Series compact tractors can provide a remarkably good mow, thanks to their 60-inch mower decks. If your landscaping needs extend beyond fresh cut grass, then the 1 Series start to make a lot of sense. Because they are small tractors, not a large mower, they have all the capabilities of a tractor. You’ll have the ability to run a front loader, backhoe, post hole digger, tiller or any other manner of implements to take your landscaping game to the next level.
If you are in Tennessee and need a new John Deere lawn mower, swing by Tennessee Tractor today and we’ll help you find the perfect fit for your perfect lawn.
We found the highest performers at the lowest to help you save money on a great lawn mower.
By Mark Wolfe | Updated Mar 10, 2023 11:08 AM
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We use the word “cheap” in different ways to convey different meanings. In many instances, cheap either equates to rock-bottom or poor quality. But thrifty shoppers looking for a cheap lawn mower prefer to spend their hard-earned money on reliable equipment at an affordable price. A good cheap lawn mower gets the job done every time without breakdowns, slow starts, and constant repairs but lacks the branding and feature upgrades that often boost price without adding measurable value.
Whether your lawn consists of a few square feet or a few acres, a reliable rightsized lawn mower makes yard maintenance easier. Buying one doesn’t need to break the bank. If you’re shopping for a new mower and need a few suggestions, keep reading. This guide showcases one of the best cheap lawn mowers, as well as a few runners up, and makes it easier for you to make a good buying decision.
How We Chose the Best Cheap Lawn Mowers
We started by researching lawn mower purchasing trends to narrow our picks into a few cheap lawn mower categories: gas, electric, cordless, manual, push, self-propelled, and riding mowers. Of those categories, we determined that our top pick should be a gas-powered push mower because it would offer the best combination of low price, mowing power, maneuverability, runtime, and broad adaptability. We wanted to include suggestions for each of the other categories as well since there are so many great options.
When comparing lawn mower prices, we regarded “cheap” as a price no more than 15 percent higher than the lowest available in a given category. For instance, the absolute lowest price we encountered for any manual reel mower was 89, so our pick for that category had to be priced no higher than 102.35 (89 x.15 = 13.35 and 89 13.35 = 102.35).
A good cheap lawn mower must start reliably and mow well. To that end, we limited our search to trusted manufacturers with a proven record of quality. We searched popular, highly rated lawn mower brands and dug deep to learn about the manufacturer. In many cases, a manufacturer produces equipment for multiple brands with certain basic designs and quality attributes permeating the operation.
Through this process we identified 43 really good lawn mowers near the entry price point for their respective categories. Finally, we selected the picks in this guide by ranking according to price, followed by prioritized performance attributes.
Yard Machines 20-Inch 125cc Gas Push Mower
When looking for quality at a bargain price, sometimes there’s a hidden gem among the big manufacturers. The Yard Machines 20-inch gas push mower, manufactured by the same parent company as iconic lawn equipment brands Troy Bilt and Cub Cadet, is a great example. It’s a sub-300 push mower powered by a reliable 125-cubic-centimeter (cc) Briggs Stratton gas engine that stakes a strong claim as one of the best cheap lawn mowers around.
This cheap gas push mower offers dependable mowing capability for small to midsize yards without pricey branding or expensive feature upgrades. The mower conveniently arrives mostly assembled, with the exception of installing the discharge chute and tightening the handle. Engine oil is included and the spark plug is preinstalled. Users adjust the deck height by removing and reinstalling each of the 7-inch wheels at one of three positions on the deck. Add gas, and it’s ready to mow.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB)-compliant gas engine starts smoothly, runs quietly, and produces lower exhaust emissions than similar engines that do not meet this standard. At just 50 pounds, the mower maneuvers easily on flat or gently sloping ground. The simple side-discharge configuration spreads clippings evenly across the yard where they quickly degrade and protect the soil. The annual maintenance schedule is limited to sharpening the blade, changing the oil, and installing a new air filter.
As an inexpensive, easy-to-use, low-maintenance mower, this one is tough to beat. It comes from a respected brand with a long track record of producing quality equipment at competitive prices.
- Power source: 125cc Briggs Stratton gas engine
- Cutting width: 20 inches
- Discharge system: Side discharge
- Durable Briggs Stratton overhead-valve gas engine boasts a longer working life with less maintenance
- CARB-compliant engine produces fewer exhaust pollutants for a cleaner environment
- Lightweight 15-gauge steel deck and 7-inch wheels make it easy to push
- Side-discharge chute spreads clippings evenly across the lawn for Rapid decomposition
- Not enough power to mow overgrown grass and weeds easily
- Cannot mulch coarse grass clippings, and cannot collect clippings into a bag
Get the Yard Machines lawn mower at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Cheap Mowers Worth Your Money
Our best cheap mower pick may not be right for all shoppers. For more choices, including options for tiny yards, huge landscapes, and other special interests, check out these runners-up.
- Yardmax 21-Inch 170cc 2-in-1 Push Mower, available at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
- American Lawn Mower Company 14-Inch 11-Amp Lawn Mower, available at Amazon or American Lawn Mower Co.
- Greenworks 21-Inch 40V Cordless Push Mower, available at Amazon or Greenworks Tools.
- Great States 14-Inch 5-Blade Reel Mower, available at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Mowers Direct.
- Craftsman M220 21-Inch 150cc Self-Propelled Lawn Mower, available at Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or Blain’s Farm Fleet.
- Cub Cadet XT1 46-Inch 22 HP Riding Lawn Tractor, available at The Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., or Blain’s Farm Fleet.
What to Consider When Choosing a Cheap Lawn Mower
Price is only one of several important factors in choosing a mower that will fulfill a shopper’s needs. Buyers will want to start by defining their other shopping criteria in order to make the best buying decision for their situation.
Lawn mowers may be powered by gasoline, electricity, or human power. A manual reel mower may be an attractive option for those with smaller, mostly weed-free yards and few sticks, pine cones, or other debris. There is no fuel to buy, and the only required maintenance is an annual blade tune-up. Because of the physical effort required, these mowers are best for lawns under 10,000 square feet.
Those with moderately sized lawns that are up to about ½ acre, and who want to eliminate fuel handling while limiting air pollution and noise, may prefer a cheap electric mower. Traditional electric mowers require a long extension cord and an exterior power outlet. Or, consider a cheap cordless lawn mower that uses rechargeable batteries and won’t restrict movement.
Even with their noise and emissions, gas-powered lawn mowers are still the dominant force for mid-size and larger yards. If a yard is larger than ½ acre, consider buying a cheap self-propelled lawn mower or a cheap riding lawn mower. They provide ample power for all kinds of grass and weeds and are best suited for mowing weedy spots or overgrown areas that may only be cut a few times a year.
Those with the largest lawns may be interested in finding a cheap zero-turn lawn mower to get the work done faster. Due to the complexity of these machines, “cheap” is very much a relative term. Even the cheapest models will still set shoppers back several thousand dollars.
Cutting Width and Number of Positions
The size and configuration of a mower, specifically the cutting width, wheel positions, and handle height positions, play into both mowing capability and user comfort. A wider deck covers more ground faster than a narrower deck but also requires more energy to operate. For instance, manual reel mowers range from about 12 inches wide up to 20 inches wide. The 12-inch mower is easy to push but takes almost twice as long to mow. The 20-inch mower covers ground faster but requires significantly more pushing power.
Wheel height directly translates to grass-cutting height. Most users only need one or two options, even though many mower manufacturers provide six or eight. The key here is to know how high grass should be cut, including any likely seasonal adjustments, and to make sure the chosen mower can do so.
Handle height adjustability for push mowers and self-propelled mowers equate to operator comfort. Again, users only need one or maybe a couple of height options. Most of these mowers offer adjustability that is suitable for users within the average adult height range, but if buyers are taller or shorter than average, they may want to try it out in person before purchasing.
Additional Features and Accessories
Cheap lawn mowers often lack in the area of extra features, but not always. Some of the more popular features include various ways to manage the grass clippings. Conventional “one-way” mower decks discharge the clippings back onto the lawn. Two-way decks offer either mulching or bagging capability along with the side-discharge option. Mulching uses a special blade type and deck design to chop the clippings to a finer texture for faster degradation. Bagging sends the clippings into an onboard collection bag that the user can dispose of elsewhere, off the lawn. Three-way decks include all of these options.
A couple of other features to consider are a high wheel design and self-propelled capability. Mowers with rear wheels that are larger than the front wheels are easier to maneuver on varying terrain than those with all four wheels that are the same size. A self-propelled or walk-behind mower looks like a regular push mower but includes powered wheels to drive it while the operator steers. Self-propelled mowers sometimes include variable-speed technology that adjusts to the user’s preference.
Finally, don’t forget about maintenance. Thrifty buyers often wish to perform their own repairs and maintenance and keep old mowers running as long as possible to save money. This means they need cheap lawn mower parts. It pays to research the cost of parts at the outset. Make sure that the purchased mower is compatible with some of the cheap lawn mower batteries, blades, filters, and cheap lawn mower tires available online or through a local parts store.
Still not sure about buying a good cheap mower? Read on for more buying info and reasons why it may be time to go ahead and make the move.
Q. How much is a good cheap lawn mower?
Good cheap mowers cost slightly more than the absolute cheapest in their class but far less than the big brand-name models. As of this writing, the best cheap reel mowers start just under 100, corded electric mowers start at 130, gas push mowers start at 200, gas self-propelled mowers start at 275, cordless mowers start at 400, and cheap riding lawn mowers start around 2,000.
Q. What time of year are lawn mowers the cheapest?
Late spring and summer often bring the cheapest on new lawn mowers, including those in our cheap lawn mower group of picks.
Q. How long do cheap lawn mowers last?
With average care and proper storage, a good cheap lawn mower can last 10 years or more.
Q. Is it cheaper to fix a mower or buy a new one?
If the mower is broken but still under warranty, ask a pro to fix it. Tuning up, sharpening or replacing worn blades, deep cleaning and lubricating, replacing batteries, and fixing small broken parts are straightforward tasks that are inexpensive and within reach for average DIYers. But when the mower passes the 10-year mark, repairs become more frequent and parts become harder to find. Then, it may be time to think about a replacement.
Why Trust Bob Vila
BobVila.com has been a trusted resource for DIY information since 1996. Our product reviews offer recommendations based on hours of thorough research by subject matter experts. Mark Wolfe is a writer with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. He kept his tool box well stocked in order to build or repair fences, walls, sprinkler systems, and lawn equipment on any given day. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest hand tools, lawn care products, outdoor power equipment, and other outdoor-living goods.
The Best Riding Mowers and Lawn Tractors
While good, cheap walk-behind lawn mowers are sufficient for yards up to half an acre, a riding lawn mower might be a better option for a more sprawling spread. These are not inexpensive machines; expect to spend 1,000 or more, no matter which model you buy. For this guide, we’ve rounded up rear-engine mowers and lawn tractors selling for 2,000 or less that incorporate useful features, deliver on performance, and prove their value to frugal homeowners with properties that stretch to an acre and beyond. We’ve also included a pricier electric mower, for those looking to avoid the noise and fumes of a gas-powered engine, and a zero-turn riding mower, for yards that require maximum maneuverability.
and availability are subject to change.
Cub Cadet CC30H
Best Value Rear-Engine Riding Mower 2,099 from Cub Cadet Shop Now
- 382cc engine packs plenty of power, users say.
- Hydrostatic transmission for a smoother ride and no shifting.
- 5 cutting heights, from 1.5 to 4 inches.
- Mulching kit included.
- Mows in reverse.
- Deck wash connection.
- Inadequate power for hills, some owners complain, and reverse can be tricky to engage.
- Hydrostatic transmissions eat up more fuel and require fastidious maintenance.
- No CARB-compliant version available.
Takeaway: Although it’s not perfect, the Cub Cadet CC30H (13A221JD010) is one of the better rear-engine riding mowers you can buy, according to both users and expert reviewers. The narrower 30-inch deck and low top speed (4 mph) make it best suited for less spacious properties (about an acre at most), but the compact size and foot-pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission make it easy to operate and maneuver through gates and around other obstacles. The turning radius is not super tight, at 18 inches, but the fairly simple-to-engage reverse mowing feature is a standout for many owners. Cutting and mulching performance draw kudos as well, although some reviews suggest that the optional bagging unit can be prone to clogging and leaving clippings behind. Overall, however, this highly rated mower has a lot of happy purchasers, and many say it has actually made yard maintenance “fun.” This Cub Cadet riding mower carries a three-year warranty.
Cheap Rear-Engine Riding Mower 1,799 from Lowe’s Shop Now
- 10.5 HP Briggs Stratton engine.
- 5 cutting heights, from 1.5 to 3.75 inches.
- Mows in reverse.
- Mulching kit included.
- Manual transmission can be tricky to operate for some.
- Clippings bag costs extra.
- No washout port.
Takeaway: If you’re willing to tackle a manual transmission, a no-frills riding mower like the Craftsman R110 is a step up from a walk-behind and a good cheap option that appeals to homeowners with smaller yards. Users like both the price and the performance, and claim it’s easy to get it up and running and pretty simple to operate — once you get the hang of the shifting and the between-the-legs positioning of the gear knob. Other than this quibble, owners say it’s a powerful little model that gets the job done on relatively flat yards and it seems sturdy enough to stand the test of time. This Craftsman riding mower features a 30-inch cutting blade, 6 speeds (which top out at about 4 mph in both forward and reverse), and an 18-inch turn radius. This mower carries a two-year warranty.
Cub Cadet XT1 LT42
Best Value Lawn Tractor 2,199 from Cub Cadet Shop Now Also available from Home Depot, Tractor Supply, and Blain’s Farm Fleet.
- 18 HP Kohler engine with hydrostatic transmission.
- 42-inch twin blades for cutting.
- 12 cutting heights, from 1 to 4 inches.
- Relatively narrow 16-inch turning radius.
- Mows in reverse.
- Washout port for easier cleaning.
- High-back, adjustable seat praised for comfort.
- Comparatively generous 3-year warranty; 5 years on chassis and front axle.
- Mulching performance is only so-so, according to owners who purchased that kit.
- Checkered reliability record in the past.
- Scattered reports about vibrations and noise.
Takeaway: This Cub Cadet lawn tractor has a less powerful engine than you’ll find on competing models, but reviewers say its 18 horses are still more than enough for relatively flat lawns of up to two acres — and it can even manage some inclines. It’s also very easy to handle, with a slightly tighter turning radius than many other lawn tractors and a no-shift hydrostatic transmission that accelerates smoothly and can reach maximum forward speeds of 5.5 mph (3.1 mph in reverse); a cruise control setting adds to the operating convenience. The quality of the cut scores well with experts and users, too, and it’s said to be consistent and level, even on wet grass. The Cub Cadet brand has taken some knocks in lawn tractor reviews in the past when it comes to reliability, but feedback on the Enduro series in particular is quite good overall. This lowest-priced entry in the line is a Home Depot bestseller, earning more than 1,500 5-star ratings from owners posting online feedback.
Troy-Bilt Bronco 42
Best Cheap Lawn Tractor 1,999 from Troy-Bilt Shop Now
- 19 HP Briggs Stratton engine.
- Automatic transmission.
- Good-size 42-inch cutting path.
- Very good cutting performance across the board.
- Mows in reverse.
- Choice of just 5 cutting heights (1.25 to 3.75 inches) is somewhat limited in this class.
- Low-back seat may be uncomfortable for some users.
- Relatively small fuel tank for a lawn tractor; 1.36-gallon capacity is more on par with rear-engine riding mowers.
- No washout port, which can make it harder to clean the mowing deck.
Takeaway: Although it’s not as feature-packed as the competition, this relatively low cost Troy-Bilt Bronco 42-inch lawn tractor (model 13AL78BS023) doesn’t skimp when it comes to performance. The Bronco is a step up from Troy-Bilt’s cheaper line of Pony lawn tractors, and experts and users say it does a very good job of cutting evenly, bagging clippings, and mulching debris (although the mulching blade can be a bit of a hassle to install). Its 19-horsepower engine is strong enough for mowing moderately hilly terrain, and the 42-inch twin blade and 5.5 mph speed (2.5 in reverse) will make short work of most yards. Better still, the automatic transmission and 18-inch turning radius mean that obstacles and tedious gear shifting won’t wear you down. While you won’t find as many cutting heights or the same ease of adjustment as on pricier models, those are fairly minor quibbles. Overall, according to owner feedback, this latest incarnation of the time-tested Troy-Bilt Bronco line provides solid value for the price. The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty on these mowers.
Troy-Bilt Mustang Z42
Best Cheap Zero-Turn Mower 3,550 from Northern Tool Shop Now
- Turning radius of zero for extremely tight handling.
- 679cc engine with dual hydrostatic transmission.
- 42-inch cutting deck with two blades.
- 9 cutting heights, from 1.5 to 4.5 inches.
- Mows in reverse.
- Washout port and easy-clean floor pan.
- High-back seat for extra comfort.
- Steering system can be challenging for new users.
- Not CARB-compliant.
- Requires assembly, some owners complain.
Takeaway: Zero-turn riders tend to be very pricey, but the Troy-Bilt is at the lower end of the cost spectrum. For the money you get a capable, by the numbers machine, according to a Popular Mechanics review. Getting around landscaping and into tight corners is a piece of cake — once you’ve gotten used to the two-handed lever-based steering system, owners say. Buyer reviews are very positive for the most part, but some owners express frustration at having to assemble the mower, a task they found difficult. Once it’s together, though, the Troy-Bilt does what it’s designed to do, reviewers say. It has a nimble maximum speed of 7 mph in mowing mode (2.5 mph mowing in reverse) and comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Electric Riding Mower 3,650 from Amazon Shop Now Available on eBay
- Eco-friendly, battery-powered motor; no fumes or fuel hassles.
- Powerful enough for mowing or using yard attachments.
- 38-inch twin-blade deck.
- 12 cutting settings, from 1.5 to 4.5 inches.
- Covers up to 2 acres on a full charge.
- Tighter-than-average 16-inch turning radius.
- Mow in reverse.
- Ready to mulch; no kit required.
- USB phone charger and holder.
- Very expensive for a rear-engine riding mower.
- Takes up to 14 hours to recharge fully.
- Cruise control takes some getting used to, some owners say.
Takeaway: Electric riding lawn mowers remain a bit of a novelty, but the 48-volt Ryobi RM480e (RY48110) is considered one of the better ones available, measuring up surprisingly well when compared to gas-powered ride-on mowers. Unlike many rear-engine riders, it packs enough punch to tow reasonable loads — it can even push a snowplow — and owners claim it can handle 15-degree inclines with ease. (Maximum forward speed is 8 mph, cutting speed tops out at 5 mph, and the reverse speed max is 3 mph.) importantly, most reviewers say the deck delivers a nice, even cut, and the ease of operation, tight turning ability, and quiet ride win high accolades. Just keep in mind, as the reviewer at Today’s Mower points out, that controlling the speed using the foot pedals and learning to manage downhill braking, which is different than it is on a gas-powered riding mower, will take some getting used to. Some users also say this mower could benefit from better suspension and perhaps a more comfortable seating arrangement. Still, the vast majority of owners are highly satisfied with the Ryobi RM480e, notwithstanding its relatively high cost. This Ryobi riding lawn mower carries a three-year warranty.
John Deere E130
Best Lawn Tractor 1,999 at time of publishing
- Relatively powerful 22 HP engine with hydrostatic transmission.
- 42-inch twin-blade cutting system.
- 13 cutting heights, adjustable from 1 to 4 inches.
- Mows in reverse.
- Quick-change motor oil system.
- Washout port for easier cleaning.
- Very strong reliability record.
- Proprietary oil filter is expensive.
- A handful of owners complain about quality-control issues.
- On the pricier side compared with competitors.
Takeaway: A vast majority of owners and experts agree that, while you’ll pay a little more for John Deere mowers, they’re a clear step above any other brand. One of the cheaper models in the brand’s 100 Series lineup of entry-level lawn tractors, the E130 scores quite well with the pros — even higher than some of its better-kitted cousins — and earns serious praise from owners, too. It’s got the basics more than covered, with a decent-size deck, 18-inch turning radius, a hydrostatic transmission, and speeds up to 5.5 mph moving forward and 3.2 mph in reverse, with the option to set the mower on cruise control. The 22-horsepower engine is strong enough to handle hilly yards of an acre or so, and most owners say the mowing deck cuts evenly and does a good job of mulching. Add to that easy operation, a high-backed, padded seat that’s comfy enough for longer jobs, and a design that makes maintenance much more simple, and there’s a lot to like here. Truly negative owner feedback for this John Deere lawn tractor is pretty hard to find, although we did see a few reviews from users who claimed that their purchases were plagued with mechanical problems. As with all 100 Series mowers, the E130 carries a two-year/120-hour warranty.
What We Considered
To find the best riding mowers and lawn tractors for homeowners on a budget, we turned first to the professionals. Consumer Reports reviews and tests more riding mowers than any other credible expert. Other sources we consulted include Popular Mechanics and Top Ten Reviews, as well as the respected enthusiast site Today’s Mower, among others. To see what consumers had to say about how these mowers fared in real-world usage, we pored through hundreds of posted with manufacturers’ and on retailers’ sites, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Mowers Direct, and Amazon. While the mowers in our lineup may have fewer frills, a bit less power, and perhaps shorter lifespans than pricier models, we found that consumers are quite satisfied overall with our affordable picks.
To determine which type of riding mower will best suit your specific needs, there are a few things to know. The terms riding mower and lawn tractor are often used interchangeably, but the primary distinction concerns the placement of the engine: under or behind the seat in a riding mower and mounted in front of the seat in a lawn tractor.
- Rear-engine riding mowers are best suited for relatively flat yards not much larger than an acre. Their decks are comparatively small, often 30 inches or so, and they usually have a single cutting blade. Their more compact size makes them easier to navigate in tight spaces and means they’ll need less room for storage. While their engines are peppy enough to cut grass — 10 to 14 horsepower is common on lower-priced models — they don’t have the strength or build to do any real hauling or pull any but the lightest attachments, like a seed and fertilizer spreader.
- Lawn tractors, which can tackle larger properties up to two acres with bumps and slopes, have a significantly wider cutting radius — usually from 42 to 48 inches — and two blades to work with. They’re heavier than riding mowers, which helps with traction, and their more powerful, 15- to 26-HP engines make them better able to deal with bumps and slopes. These workhorses are also capable of hauling heavier attachments like dump carts and trailers. Many sport automatic transmissions or use hydrostatic (hydraulic-driven) transmissions, as opposed to the manual shift drives common on many riding mowers, which keeps them moving at a steady clip and makes for easier maneuvering around obstacles.
- Zero-turn riding mowers are more expensive, starting at around 2,500. They have rear-mounted engines as powerful as those found on lawn tractors and cutting decks that are similarly wide. Guided with a two-lever steering unit, their rear wheels can spin forward and backward independently, allowing the mower to turn 360 degrees on a dime (the turn radius is literally 0 inches) and maneuver close to obstacles. They’re best suited for lawns of up to two acres with a lot of trees and landscaping or tighter, fenced corners. Like cheaper riding mowers, however, ZTR mowers aren’t designed for hilly terrain or to haul attachments.
Note: Residents of California must buy lawn mowers that comply with standards set by the California Air Resources Board. With the exception of the Cub Cadet CC30H, our top picks come in versions that are CARB-compliant.