Choosing the Best Ride-on Mower for Professional Use
Narrowing down your options when choosing the best ride on mower for professional use can prove to be a little bit more complicated than it first appears to be. By understanding what to look for in a ride on mower for commercial or professional use, it will ensure that you get a machine that is fit for purpose. There are plenty of things to take into account before making up your mind. Below, we are going to take a closer look at the different types of ride on lawn mowers available and what use cases they are better suited to.
Zero-Turn vs Riders vs Front Mowers vs Garden Tractors
When it comes to choosing the best ride on mower for commercial use, there are four popular choices that professionals tend to favour. These are zero-turn mowers, riders, front mowers and garden tractors. Let’s look at the differences between them.
ZTR® Zero-Turn Mowers
ZTR® Zero-Turn Mowers are ideal for those with large areas to mow quickly. A hydraulic wheel drive allows a zero-turn mower to be able to effortlessly turn on its own axis, eliminating the risk of encountering uncut areas when manoeuvring around garden beds and other obstacles. Wide cutting decks can make quick work of large areas of grass while the low centre of gravity allows for better traction, cornering and a superior cut. Zero-turn mowers also provide maximum speed and power, making them ideal for tackling all types of terrain.
Husqvarna Riders provide maximum manoeuvrability and flexibility due to the tight turn radius that they offer. When combined with superior steering and front-mounted low profile cutting decks, being able to access tight corners and beneath fencing and benches will no longer be an issue. The ability to be able to select various attachments means that it be used for much more than simply cutting the grass, making a rider a versatile solution for professionals who offer a range of different lawn care services.
With low profile front-mounted cutting decks, front mowers are able to reach areas of the lawn that other mowers struggle to reach. For those who work in commercial landscaping, the AWD system and low centre of gravity help to provide maximum stability on uneven surfaces and slopes. Front mowers also offer a superior cut quality. With the cutting deck mounted up the front, users are assured of an even and precise cut without the need to worry about the mower’s front tyres leaving track marks in the grass before each blade is perfectly trimmed to height. Another benefit of a front mower is the ability to be able to switch out the accessories and cutting decks as required, making it a versatile mower that can be used throughout the year.
Garden tractors offer a cost-effective, versatile and safe way to maintain various types of lawn, regardless of the terrain. The ability to be able to operate a garden tractor using foot pedals means that you have greater control over steering. This type of mower is perfectly suited for both small and large areas of land and the multitude of accessories combined with durability makes it perfect for all year-round general use.
How to Choose the Best Size Mower?
Ride-on mowers are available in many different sizes, ranging from large zero-turn mowers to more compact front mowers. When choosing a ride-on mower for commercial use, size is definitely an important factor. There are many considerations to keep in mind, including the length, width, height and weight of the machine, to make sure you can transport it safely and securely. Overall manoeuvrability compared to relative size and speed also have a direct impact on the machine’s productivity when mowing different types of lawns.
Cutting decks range from 30 inches to 72 inches wide, so selecting the right size mower is imperative. Typically, a cutting deck of 50 inches or more will be suitable for large areas with few obstructions in the way. For areas that are smaller and have various obstacles to manoeuver around, a cutting deck measuring 40 inches is appropriate.
Other Features to Consider
Use on Uneven Ground. When using a ride-on mower on uneven ground, there are several factors that will improve the overall cutting performance. Aim to find a mower that provides a low centre of gravity, a wide stance, and superior traction. This is especially true when using your commercial ride on mower on hillsides and slopes as these design qualities can eliminate slipping and sliding on steep inclines.
How Much Horsepower? The more horsepower a ride-on mower has, the faster and more efficient it will be. Typically, 31hp is able to provide speeds of up to 19km/h (depending on the transmission of the specific machine) and is ideal for providing maximum power when cutting on steep inclines and larger lawns. For medium-sized tasks, a ride-on mower with 24hp will deliver reliable and solid power for a multitude of terrains. 18hp is sufficient for taking care of small lawns and areas with few slopes or uneven ground.
Accessories. Those of us who work in commercial landscaping throughout the year may find a ride on mower with interchangeable accessories to be extremely beneficial, as a means of increasing the usability of your machine beyond just cutting lawns. Being able to use your ride on mower as a sprayer, spreader, aerator, sweeper, or flail mower can help eliminate the number of tools that you need to carry with you when on the job.
The best cordless lawn mowers in 2023
Looking for the best cordless mower? Browse our experts’ pick, from budget to premium models.
A lawn mower may be one of the first purchases we make when getting a garden of our own, but that doesn’t mean finding a good quality one is easy. There are so many models and brands on the market to choose from, including corded electric and petrol, but as their range increases and fall, cordless, battery-powered models are an increasingly popular option.
Light and compact compared with traditional petrol models, cordless mowers are simple to use, easy to manoeuvre around the garden, and have none of the maintenance and servicing needs or costs of petrol lawnmowers. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which charges up quickly and won’t lose power in storage, they’re also quiet and emission free.
To compare these cordless mowers against other types of mower, we’ve reviewed the best lawn mowers, robotic lawn mowers, electric lawn mowers and push mowers, too. And if your lawn needs a bit of attention, our experts have tested a range of the best manual and powered aerators and scarifiers.Keep edges looking neat with our pick of the best strimmers, the best garden shears and the best lawn edging, and if you’re thinking about somewhere to store your new mower, our comprehensive guide to choosing the best garden shed will be helpful.
Best Mower for Your Lawn Care Business (500 to 12000 Budget)
For your next DIY project, have a look at the best cordless drills.
The best cordless mowers to buy at a glance
Cordless mowers. Buyer’s Guide video
Many thanks to Rosie Yeomans and Sparsholt College for their help in making this video.
Getting the best cordless lawn mower for you means ensuring it has the correct cutting width, range of cutting heights, and weight plus a battery run time that matches the size of your lawn. We’ve tested a range of cordless push mowers, putting them through their paces across a range of grass and terrains, to help you find the right one for your garden.
Each mower has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to set up and storage, handling, mowing and value for money. Every mower in our round up below has scored a minimum of four out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.
In every review we award outstanding products our coveted Best Buy award. To see these and the others we recommend, browse our pick of the best cordless lawn mowers, below.
Best Buy cordless mowers
Husqvarna Aspire LC34-P4A
Our rating: 4.9 out of 5
- Cuts even long grass with ease
- Battery level visible while mowing
- Small and compact for easy storage
- Part of the POWER FOR ALL cordless range
Part of the new Husqvarna Aspire cordless range, which includes a hedge trimmer, pruner and leaf blower, this 34cm mower is powered by an 18V POWER FOR ALL ALLIANCE battery and charger. These are interchangeable with tools in other leading brands such as Flymo, Gardena and Bosch so if you also invest in tools in these ranges, you’ll only need to buy the bare tool and won’t have different batteries and chargers taking up space in the shed.Great for small gardens the mower comes ready to go, there’s no assembly or handles to attach, and it folds down to a compact size when you’re finished, with a telescopic handle that folds completely flat over the body of the mower. It can then be stood up against a wall or hung up, and even comes with a handy hook. The 30l grass bag also flattens down to take up very little room and can be hung on the mower. The Aspire is light, with a carry handle so that lifting it up steps or into other areas is easy and it has an adjustable handle to suit different height users. It’s comfortable and easy to manoeuvre around the garden and has just four cutting heights to choose from, ranging from 25-65mm and changed easily with a single lever on the body of the mower. It cuts grass quietly and smoothly and has an automatic boost that increases blade speed when you’re mowing in tougher, longer areas that works well. You can hear it kick in when you push the mower into longer grass and unlike other cordless mowers that can cut out, just carries on cutting the grass. While you mow the battery charge level is always clearly visible so you know how much battery you have left and when it needs charging. It comes with a two year warranty and we awarded it a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy in 2023 for ease of use.
Specs: Battery: charge time. 95 mins; run time. 500sqm. Cutting: width. 34cm; height. 25-65mm. Grass box. 30 litre.
Buy the Husqvarna Aspire C34-P4A cordless mower from Husqvarna and Sam Turner
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Easy to assemble and use
- Comfortable padded handle
- Choice of mulching or collecting clippings
- Interchangeable battery with Greenworks 24V family
Ideal for smaller gardens this sturdy, great value cordless mower is easy to put together, well thought out and simple to use. Thanks to a padded handle it’s comfortable to push, although it did feel a little short for our taller tester, and it’s light and easy to manoeuvre around trees and beds and borders. There are five cutting heights to choose from, adjusted with the simple lift of a lever and it offers the choice of collecting clippings in the 30 litre fabric grass bag or inserting the mulching plug and leaving them on the lawn to break down and feed the grass. It mows well but doesn’t like very long grass, with the battery cutting out occasionally but its long lasting brushless motor offers a a decent run time of 46 minutes and it charges in two hours. Plus, as part of the Greenworks 24V family, both the battery and charger are interchangeable with all the other tools in the range, saving you money if you invest in more in the future. We awarded it a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for the best budget cordless mower in 2023.
Specs: Battery: charge time. 120 mins; run time. 46mins. Cutting: width. 33cm; height. 25-70mm. Grass box. 30 litre.
Yard Force LMG37A 40v 37cm
Our rating: 4.8 out of 5
- Rear roller
- Double folding handle for easy storage
- Quickest charge time
- Part of the Yardforce GR40 cordless range
This sturdy mower has a 37cm cutting width and useful features including a rear roller for those much desired stripes. Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy in 2022 for small to medium lawns, clippings are collected in the large 40 litre fabric grass bag. It offers a wide choice of seven cutting heights, from 25-75mm, and is easy to fold away at the end of the day. The 40V battery is quick to charge, taking just 50 minutes and when full it has the capacity to cut a 400m2 lawn.
Specs: Battery: charge time. 50 mins; run time. 400sqm. Cutting: width. 37cm; height. 25-75mm. Grass box. 40 litre.
Buy the Yard Force LMG37A 40V 37cm cordless mower from Yard Force, Amazon and Wickes
The best riding mowers: Mow your lawn faster
Up your summer lawn care game with a riding mower that makes for a faster, more eco-friendly mowing experience.
Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.
Taylor Clemons is a tech writer and reviewer based near Cleveland, OH. After graduating from Tiffin University in 2011, they spent several years in lawn and garden manufacturing before working on their own (now defunct) game review site, Steam Shovel.
Riding mowers are a popular mower choice for homeowners, especially if you have a big property to maintain every summer. They have cutting decks measuring from 42 to 72 inches, so you can make short work of everything from typical lawns to large properties, like sports complexes and golf courses.
Unlike their push mower counterparts, riding mowers have more features to consider in order to find the right fit for your yard. You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission, so you can set and forget your speed or operate your mower like a car. You can even get riding mowers with cruise control or all-wheel drive for better traction.
While gas engines are far more common among riding mowers, there is a wide selection of battery-powered models if you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution for lawn care. My pick for the best overall riding mower is the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP for its 24HP engine, 54-inch cutting deck, and ability to mow up to four acres with a full gas tank. You can keep reading below to find out more about the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as well as our other top picks.
Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP
Best riding mower overall
- 24HP engine
- 54-inch cutting deck
- Automatic transmission
- Attachments and accessories available
Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kohler | Cutting width: 54 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 4 acres
The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP riding mower is an excellent choice for a variety of lawns. It’s built with a 24HP Kohler engine and a 54-inch cutting deck to let you handle inclines and rough terrain or haul tools, mulch, and potting soil around your property.
The hydrostatic, automatic transmission makes operation similar to a typical car, so you can spend more time actually cutting your grass and less time learning how to drive your mower. With a 3-gallon tank, you’ll be able to mow up to 4 acres at a time.
Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor
Best electric riding mower
- 2.5 acre max range
- Quick-charge batteries
- LCD heads-up display
- USB charging ports
Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor tech specs: Engine: 80V brushless electric | Cutting width: 46 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 2.5 acres
Electric riding mowers have become more popular in recent years as homeowners and landscaping professionals look for ways to make lawn care more eco-friendly. The Ryobi 80V electric lawn tractor features a 46-inch cutting deck and enough power to let you mow up to 2.5 acres on a single charge, and you can recharge your mower batteries in as little as 2.5 hours.
This means you can take care of other tasks, like weeding or landscaping, while you’re waiting for your mower to recharge. An LCD screen gives you a heads-up display of run time, battery levels, and reminders to inspect and sharpen your mower blades. It even has two USB ports for charging your phone while you mow.
Toro Titan Max
Best zero-turn riding mower
- Mows up to 7 acres at once
- Highly maneuverable
- 10-gauge steel construction
- Tool-free air filters
Toro Titan Max tech specs: Engine: 26HP Kohler 7000 | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 7 acres
Zero-turn riding mowers are popular with homeowners who have larger properties or lots of obstacles like trees or specialized landscaping. The Toro Titan Max’s exceptional maneuverability and larger cutting decks make quick work of yards up to 7 acres in size, while the 26HP Kohler 7000 engine uses a dual hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive operation.
Toro also made regular maintenance a bit more streamlined with tool-free air filters. The deck and mower body are made from tough, 10-gauge steel to stand up to dings, rocks, run-ins, and anything else your lawn can throw at it.
Cub Cadet CC30E
Best compact riding mower
- Great for yards up to 1 acre
- Compact design great for small storage areas and narrow spaces
- Push-button cruise control
Cub Cadet CC30E tech specs: Engine: 56V electric | Cutting width: 30 inches | Transmission: Hydrostatic/Automatic | Max yard size: 1 acre
Compact riding mowers like the Cub Caded CC30E are great for suburban lawns on the smaller side. The CC30E features a smaller design that is perfect for storing in multi-use sheds and garages or maneuvering through gates and narrow spaces. The 30-inch cutting deck and 56V battery let you mow up to 1 acre (or one hour) at once.
It uses a hydrostatic drive for smooth, intuitive driving while the 18-inch turning radius lets you easily mow around trees and other obstacles. It even features a push-button cruise control, so you can set-and-forget your forward speed and concentrate on mowing around obstacles, as well as staying aware of your surroundings.
DeWALT Z160 Commercial
Best riding mower for large properties
- Mow up to 10 acres
- 5.5 gallon gas tank
- Dual hydrostatic drive
- Great for hills and inclines
DeWALT Z160 Commercial tech specs: Engine: 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin | Cutting width: 60 inches | Transmission: Dual hydrostatic/automatic | Max yard size: 10 acres
The DeWALT Z160 Commercial zero-turn riding mower is designed from the ground up to handle large properties. The 60-inch cutting deck and 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin engine let you mow up to 10 acres at once, making it an almost perfect choice for rural properties or landscaping professionals. The dual hydrostatic drive makes operation smoother, though the twin-stick steering does take some getting used to.
With 22-inch rear wheels, you can easily take on inclines and rolling hills that may be on your property. A 5.5-gallon fuel tank means you’ll spend more time actually mowing and less time refueling. And if you opt for the bagger attachment, you’ll be able to gather up to 11 bushels of clippings before you need to empty.
What is the best riding mower?
I chose the Troy-Bilt Super Bronco XP as the best riding mower you can buy. It features a 54-inch cutting deck and 3-gallon fuel tank, letting you mow up to 4 acres in a single go. The 24 horsepower engine also lets you take on steeper inclines and rough terrain or haul tools and gardening supplies around your property. The hydrostatic drive makes operation similar to a typical car, while an LED display gives you accurate usage hours for streamlined maintenance.
Best riding mower
Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor
Which is the right riding mower for you?
Other than your budget, there are a lot of features and scenarios you have to consider while shopping for a new riding mower. The size of your yard will determine how wide the cutting deck should be, though either a 42 or 46-inch version will be more than enough for most yards.
You can choose either a manual or hydrostatic transmission. A manual model lets you set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS, while hydrostatic models operate more like cars, going faster the harder you press the pedal. This makes them more intuitive to operate but also more expensive.
Zero-turn mowers are designed for mowing in oddly-shaped areas or around lots of obstacles like trees, lamp posts, and lawn ornaments. They’re called zero-turn because they have a zero-inch turn radius; you pivot around either rear wheel for ultra-tight turning.
Buy this best riding mower.
If you need.
A well-rounded riding mower. The 54-inch cutting deck and 24HP engine let you mow up to 4 acres at a time.
Ryobi 80V electric riding lawn tractor
An all-electric riding mower. The electric engine requires less maintenance than gas models, making your lawn-care routine more eco-friendly.
An excellent zero-turn riding mower. Precision maneuvering lets you mow around trees, landscaping, and other obstacles with ease.
A riding mower that can handle larger properties. This commercial-grade, zero-turn riding mower lets you cut up to 10 acres at once.
How did we choose these riding mowers?
I used to work for MTD Products (now owned by BlackDecker), which assembles a variety of lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other powered lawn equipment. Using the expertise and knowledge I gained during my time there, I looked for riding mowers with these qualities:
Top 7 Best Riding Lawn Mowers 2023
- Motor size: You’ll want a riding mower with at least a 10HP engine to give you enough power to handle minor inclines and lawns up to half an acre. Larger riding mowers like the John Deere Z530M have more powerful engines, often topping out over 20HP to let you tackle rough terrain and even haul equipment.
- Cutting width: Many riding mowers have either a 42 or 46-inch cutting deck, which is great for lawns between.5 and 1.5 acres. However, if you have a large, multi-acre property, you’ll want to choose a larger cutting deck. Many brands have options between 50 and 72-inch cutting decks.
- Transmission type: The less expensive riding mowers will have either a 6 or 7-speed manual transmission. This means you will use a dedicated lever to set your engine’s forward and reverse speeds, with a single brake pedal for stop control. The more expensive models feature a hydrostatic drive, which operates in a similar way to an automatic transmission in a typical car or truck.
- Accessories: Lawn care goes beyond regular mowing. I chose riding mowers that have the ability to hitch small trailers or wagons for hauling tools, mulch, or potting soil. I also chose mowers from brands that make after-market add-ons, like rear bagging units for collecting grass clippings, mulching kits for re-feeding lawns, and snow plows for year-round use.
How do you decide which riding mower to buy?
Assuming you have a budget in mind, the first thing you need to do is find out how big your lawn is. You can either find your lot size on your memorandum deeds if you’ve bought your house, or you can check your city’s website to see if you can request lot measurements if you’re renting. If your lot measures about an acre, you’ll be able to use a 30 or 42-inch cutting deck without any issues. For lawns up to two acres, a 42 or 46-inch deck is ideal. And if your lot is over two acres, you can get a mower with up to a 72-inch cutting deck to handle larger areas.
The transmission type is also important. Many newer models have what is known as a hydrostatic drive. This means that they operate similarly to how a car drives: You push the pedal and it moves forward or backward. And the harder you push, the faster you go. This makes it easier to learn how to drive, but that also makes the mower more expensive. stripped-back models have variable speed manual transmissions, which allow you to set and forget your speed so you can FOCUS on paying attention to obstacles and people who may be nearby.
And finally, you’ll want to consider the power source for your new riding mower. Gasoline engines are far more common, but there is now a wider variety of battery-powered models to choose from. The perks of a gas engine are that you’ll get near-infinite run times (as long as you have enough fuel to keep the engine going) and a bit more power for handling steep inclines and rough terrain. The downsides are dealing with exhaust emissions and maintenance that can be a time and money sink. Electric models don’t need engine maintenance, so you save a bit of money in the long run. But they usually have a maximum run time of about an hour, which means that you may have to plan your mowing over several days if you have a larger yard.
How big of a yard do I need for a riding mower?
Riding mowers are best suited for yards measuring one acre or larger. A model with a 42-inch cutting deck is great for mowing up to two acres, so if you have more land than that, you’ll want to spring for a 46, 54, 60, or 72-inch cutting deck.
If you’re right on the threshold, you can get what’s known as a mini rider. They usually have compact bodies for easier storage and 30-inch cutting decks to make short work of lawns that are just a touch too large for a push mower.
How long should a riding mower last?
No matter if you choose a gas or battery-powered riding mower, proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your mower. For gas engines, you should change the oil and filters, clean the spark plugs, and sharpen the blades before you mow for the first time in the spring. And you should use fuel treatments like STA-BIL to prevent gas in the tank or extra jerry cans from going bad from moisture contamination. This prevents buildup of gunk that can ruin your engine, improves engine performance, and gives you a cleaner cut for a healthier lawn.
Electric mowers don’t need engine maintenance, but you should perform thorough inspections at the start of mowing season to check for battery damage, corrosion on battery contacts, damage to the battery housing, and also to sharpen the blades. If you do regular maintenance, not only will you save money by avoiding big repairs from worn-out parts, but you can also expect your riding mower to last 10 years or more.- which is great news, since they can be an expensive investment.
What is the cheapest riding mower?
Unfortunately, riding mowers aren’t ever really what we consider budget-friendly. However, there are models like the Murray MT100 that retail for less than 2000 without sacrificing power or cutting width.
Are there alternative riding mowers worth considering?
Whether you’re shopping at a big-name DIY store like Lowe’s, a local hardware store, or an authorized brand dealer, there are tons of options for a new riding mower. You can choose either gas or battery-powered models, cutting deck widths from as small as 30 inches to as wide as six feet.
Here’s a short list of other riding mowers I thought were great choices:
John Deere Z530M
The John Deere Z530M features a 60-inch cutting deck for making quick work of large properties. Exceptional maneuverability lets you mow around trees, lawn decor, and other obstacles with ease.
The Husqvarna YTH1942 features an updated, 19 horsepower engine and 42-inch cutting deck to take on inclines and haul dirt, mulch, and gardening equipment.
For under 2000, you’ll get a 13.5 horsepower engine, a 42-inch cutting deck, and a 6-speed manual transmission with the Murray MT100.
The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023
These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023
When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?
Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.
How Zero-Turn Mowers Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.
When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.
Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.
As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.
Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower
Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.
Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.
In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.
But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.
Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.
How We Select and Test
There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.
We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.