How Much Does a Small Riding Lawn Mower Cost?
Looking for a mower to keep your lawn green? Well! You don’t need to spend a fortune as the cheapest lawn mower is available for quite a low amount.
Wondering how much does a small riding lawn mower cost?
You can get a manual push reel mower for as low as 57 while 1068 is the average for a lawn mower powered by gas. And, an intelligent robot mower with unique features can cost about 17,063.
But how much you would need to spend on your lawn mower will depend on the size of your yard, the power source you want, the grass type, and the mower’s brand.
And with several types of lawn mowers available, here’s a quick guide to choosing the right one according to your budget as well as requirements.
How Much Does a Small Riding Lawn Mower Cost?
Every lawn mower is made differently. And the cost you would incur depends on various factors like power source, type, and more.
Lawn Mower Cost by Power Source
Self-propelled and manual lawn mowers are available with two power source options – electric and gas. Irrespective of the power source, self-propelled mowers cost comparatively more.
Let’s go through different power sources for a better understanding.
Reel lawn mowers
This mower category does not have a built-in power source. It takes extra effort to push and thus, can’t be used in big spaces. That makes them more affordable than electric or gas mowers.
It is an eco-friendly variation and also compact for storage. An inexpensive and small reel mower can cost roughly while a big, costlier mower will need you to spend 402.
Both self-propelled and manual gas mowers are likely to be more powerful as compared to electric mowers. They feature better mobility as they don’t need a battery or cord to run.
The price range for gas mowers usually ranges from 140 to 567. However, most mid-range choices will cost roughly 265.
Expect to spend more if you want a self-propelled one. That will cost you around 169 for the budget option and 2080 for the top-class version.
Electric mowers are powered either by a battery or cord. Corded models don’t need a battery or fuel tank, and thus, are lighter and cheaper.
However, battery-powered electric mowers are costlier than even those powered by gas despite producing less power.
Typically, an electric mower’s cost ranges from 80 to 2036 with the average cost lying around 241. 328 to 831 is the cost range for self-propelled electric mowers.
Lawn Mower Cost by Type
There are standard walk-behind machines and premium ones. The latter include mulching mowers, robot mowers, and riding lawn mowers like zero-turn, rear-engine, and lawn tractors.
Mulching lawn mowers
It shreds grass clippings and leaves and distributes the mulch back into the lawn to enhance soil health. These are also available in gas and electric power models with unique features.
Electric, corded, and small mulching mowers are quite affordable, beginning at only 110 with the highest model going up to 2191. And, the average cost lies around 303.
Robot lawn mowers
This is an advanced type of mower. It needs you to install a perimeter wire to tell the robot about the work area.
Robot mowers are great for homeowners who don’t have much time to maintain the yard and can’t hire a lawn care service either.
Riding lawn mowers
It takes care of a big yard with ease as it lets you keep your feet off the ground. Riding mower styles include zero-turn lawn mowers, rear-engine lawn mowers, and lawn tractors.
And, these mowers are powered by gas engines. You can also find battery-powered mowers in the market but they cost more than those powered by gas.
A lawn tractor is like a mower connected to a tractor, controlled with a steering wheel. It is very stable on slopes and different attachments make it a versatile option.
With attachments, you can use it as a trailer, core aerator, snowplow, dethatcher, and more. Lawn tractors can cost you between 1349 and 3999 with a mid-range cost of 1985.
Rear engine riding mowers
Similar to a lawn tractor, it comes with a steering wheel for easy drive. But it is generally smaller, easier to maneuver, and less powerful.
Due to their weak engines, these mowers can’t pull heavy loading attachments that lawn tractors can easily do. And a smaller cutting width and lack of power make them cost less.
The simplest and the smallest riding mower can cost around 1299. And, the average cost falls around 2080.
Zero-turn riding mowers
It features wheels that take sharp turns and can take 360-degree turns. maneuverable than lawn tractors, zero-turn mowers are good around tight corners and obstacles.
However, they are not attachment capable which makes lawn tractors a bit better. But zero-turn mowers are good for big properties because of their faster speeds.
These mowers are costlier with the affordable variant costing around 2399 and the top model around 15000.
Lawn Mower Cost by Cutting width
The cutting width of the mower describes how much it can cut the grass in a single pass. With an increase in the cutting width, it time to mow the yard reduces.
Walk-behind mowers for residential usage come with a width range of 14-22 inches. For riding mowers, the width lies between 30 inches and 61 inches.
Wrap Up – How Much Does a Small Riding Lawn Mower Cost?
So, are wondering how much does a small riding lawn mower cost? You can get a rear-engine riding mower for as low as 1299.
Besides, the cost changes with the type, features, power source, and cutting width among other factors.
Which is a cheap and small riding lawn mower?
The cheapest and smallest riding lawn mowers belong to the category of manual, reel mowers. However, in terms of a riding mower, one with a rear engine is the cheapest.
Do they make a 22-inch riding lawn mower?
The answer is yes. 22-inch lawn mowers are available from several brands like Cub Cadet, DeWALT, and Toro among others.
What is the highest-rated small riding lawn mower?
John Deere S180 is the highest rated as well as a small riding lawn mower. Overall, it is one of the best riding lawn mowers.
What is the smallest size riding lawn mower?
Snapper 2911525 BVE Classic RER 28-Inch with 11.5HP and 344CC power is the smallest lawn mower. It has a compact body and a 28-inch cutting deck size.
Introducing the World’s Smallest Lawn Mowers
A couple of the main reasons that some people go for the smallest lawn mowers available are because they don’t need the extra cutting width, and because storage space is often very limited. In any case, there is a big demand for lawn mowers that don’t take up a lot of room. When it comes down to size alone, reel mowers definitely have the smallest dimensions of any lawn mowers that you can buy. But, with that being said, some people require a different type of mower and just want to purchase the smallest model available. I’ve been doing some digging and have found a good selection of the smallest lawn mowers of each type.
Smallest Riding Lawn Mowers
While you might not think “small” when you think about riding lawn mowers, there is actually a pretty big variation in size across different models. Though there are quite a few good options when it comes to the smallest riding lawn mowers, I’ve identified two that take up the least amount of space.
Cub Cadet CC30H
First up, we’ve got this small but powerful 10.5 horsepower riding mower from Cub Cadet. It might be hard to believe, but this lawn mower is barely wider than a lot of push mowers. With a 30-inch mowing deck and 32-inch body, it’s surprisingly narrow while still covering plenty of ground with each pass.
As far as the other dimensions go, this mower is about one-third the length of your average car, and reaches about the same height as a car’s mirrors. To be exact, you’re looking at 64 inches in length, and 43 inches in height. With these proportions, you can expect this mower to take up about as much (or even slightly less) space as an average-sized dirt bike.
One of the next smallest riding mowers I came across is this compact model from Husqvarna. Like the Cub Cadet model above, this riding mower has a Briggs Stratton engine. However, we’re looking at a good deal more muscle with 18.5 horsepower. Of course with a larger engine, this mower is also slightly bigger in general.
If the Cub Cadet model I described above takes up as much space as a dirt bike would, this Husqvarna model would take up the same amount of room as a small street motorcycle. Though they are close in size, each of this Husqvarna mower’s dimensions is a few inches larger. The Husqvarna LTH18538 is 40.75 inches wide, 69.25 inches long, and 41.38 inches tall.
Smallest Zero Turn Lawn Mowers
Whether you’re in the market for an upgrade to your current lawn tractor, or looking to buy your first ride-on mower, zero turns are a great choice. Although zero turns are known to be made with some of the biggest cutting decks available, there are some great options when it comes to the smallest zero turn lawn mowers.
Coming in first place for smallest zero turn lawn mower is another one of Husqvarna’s machines. Here we’ve got a 30-inch cutting deck and a Briggs Stratton engine running at 16.5 horsepower.
What this means for the general size of the mower is that it doesn’t take up much more space than your average 21-inch push mower. The technical specifications of this mower are 66.5 inches in length, 34 inches in width, and 39.3 inches in height. I was very surprised to learn this since my own zero-turn mower has dimensions nearly twice that size.
Toro Timecutter ZS 3200S
My pick for second place is the TimeCutter ZS 3200S. The masterminds at Toro made a lot of people happy when they designed this version of their signature TimeCutter mower. This extra small model not only makes it possible to mow hard-to-reach places, but also easy to store.
To give you a point of reference, this zero-turn mower is small enough to fit in most truck beds. If you’ve seen many zero-turn mowers, you might have a hard time believing it but the dimensions don’t lie. The TimeCutter ZS 3200S has a width of 39 inches, a height of 37.2 inches, and is just under 6 feet long at 71.8 inches.
Smallest Gas Lawn Mowers
If ride-on mowers are a bit too much for the size of your lawn or the depth of your wallet, you’re probably looking for a push mower. Or, maybe you’re on the hunt for a small gas mower to squeeze into the tight spots that your riding mower can’t get to. Either way, here are a couple of the smallest gas lawn mowers.
Yard Machines 132cc 20-Inch
Without any added frills or unnecessary components, Yard Machines managed to put together the smallest gas mower on the market. Even with a 20-inch cutting deck, this mower takes up less total space than any of its competitors.
Lack of a feature to bag clippings actually results in an even smaller area required for storage of this mower. While there are mowers with smaller cutting decks, the shorter height and length of this mower seem to be the smallest available. Plus, an extra few inches of width help speed up the job of mowing. What you end up with is a mower that isn’t much larger than some toolboxes at 26 x 22 x 15.25 inches.
PowerSmart 127CC 17-Inch
When it comes down to the smallest gas-powered push mowers, you can’t get much more compact than this 3 in 1 model by PowerSmart. Even though it’s small, this mower gives you the option to bag, mulch, or discharge your clippings.
To lend a bit of perspective to the amount of space required to store this mower, you can imagine that it’s about as big as a 20-gallon storage bin when the handle is folded and the bag is disconnected. Though you will likely want to store the mower on the ground rather than on a shelf, it has a tiny profile. To be exact, this mower comes assembled at 30 x 20 x 16 inches.
Smallest Electric Lawn Mowers
Available in even smaller sizes than their gas counterparts, the smallest electric lawn mowers are pretty impressive. As an added benefit, you won’t need to store any gas cans if you go all-electric with your tools. When searching for the smallest sizes offered, I found a couple of great options, one cordless and one corded.
Almost unbelievably small for a lawn mower with a motor, Worx has somehow put together a pretty sweet 40-volt cordless machine. Not only does it have a super small frame, but it offers options for bagging, mulching or discharging clippings from the side as well.
Though you will also need to store the batteries and battery charger, the body of this lawn mower takes up roughly the same amount of space as the average moving box. For people with smaller yards, this mower’s 14-inch cutting width is perfect. The wheels push the width out slightly further to 16.5 inches, but the machine is only 28.3 inches long and 13.1 inches tall.
BLACKDECKER 3-in-1 Corded Lawn Mower, String Trimmer Edger
This isn’t your average lawn mower, but it sure is small. With the ability to switch from mower, to trimmer/edger, and back again, this unique tool can handle all the tasks required to keep your lawn looking good.
The best part about its versatility is the ease of storage. Since this is a corded tool, there won’t be any additional space required for batteries or chargers. Additionally, since you can separate the handle from the base completely, it can be stored as if it was a rake or spade. The base is so small it would fit in many workbench drawers. Under ten pounds, and with a 15 by 7-inch base, you have a ton of storage options.
Smallest Reel Lawn Mowers
Well, it’s hard to deny the fact that all reel style lawn mowers are pretty small. However, when it comes down to the smallest reel lawn mowers there definitely are some that take up less space than others.
American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14
If you’re a fan of doing things the old-fashioned way, you’re going to like this mower. The American Lawn Mower Company offers this as their smallest reel mower and it packs a punch. Able to cut through grass up to four inches high, you won’t run into any problems as long as you have the energy to push it.
The best part about this mower is that it can be stored just like a snow shovel. Though the handle needs to be long enough to use, it can be broken down for very compact storage. Extended, the handle is 42 inches tall, but folded, the dimensions of this lawn mower are 20 inches wide by 24 inches long, by 20 inches tall.
Sun Joe MJ503M
Another reel mower with a 14-inch cutting width, Sun Joe’s MJ503M is the second smallest reel mower on the market. With many different cutting height options, and a rugged build, you can breeze through your lawn without an issue.
Similar to the American Lawn Mower Company model described above, this mower has a longer handle that can also be broken down for storage. Able to be stowed in any corner of your garage or shed, the main difference is that this mower is slightly longer. With a more stretched-out base, this mower is 31.9 inches long, 20.5 inches wide, and about 20 inches tall with a folded handle.
About Tom Greene
I’ve always had a keen interest in lawn care as long as I can remember. Friends used to call me the lawn mower guru (hence the site name), but I’m anything but. I just enjoy cutting my lawn and spending time outdoors. I also love the well-deserved doughnuts and coffee afterward!
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The 5 Best Riding Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Rachel has written for Dotdash Meredith’s Ecommerce team since 2020, covering home goods, tech, fashion, beauty, and more. She’s interviewed dozens of experts and is always on top of the latest trends and product releases.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics that range from film and beauty to science and the automobile industry. Her plant biology degree has a FOCUS on sustainable agriculture, and she’s an expert on growing your own food, environmental sciences, and all topics relating to houseplants.
In This Article
Keeping your home’s lawn looking neat and tidy takes a whole lot of hard work, especially if you have a traditional lawn mower that requires you to spend serious time and effort pushing it across the grass. But with a riding lawn mower, you can achieve the same great results with far less hassle, provided you have the right yard for one.
“A riding lawn mower is a great option for those who have yards that are 3/4-acre or larger,” says Gary McCoy, store manager at a Charlotte-area Lowe’s. “In contrast, a push mower or a robotic mower would be more suited for a smaller lawn of an acre or less.”
If a riding mower sounds right for you, good news—we tested out many of the best options on the market, evaluating them on performance, design, value, and more factors. We also received expert advice from McCoy on what to look for when shopping for riding mowers and tips on how to maintain them.
Best Electric Riding Mower
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
For a top-quality electric riding mower that you’ll use year after year, look no further than this option from Ryobi. It’s a battery-operated, zero-turn mower with serious power, and it comes with four brushless mowers, a sensitive steering system, a helpful LCD screen, and much more.
Setup was simple, and although it took a bit of time to get comfortable using the joystick, it wasn’t long before we were operating it smoothly (and sitting comfortably in the seat). As far as performance goes, this mower cut even paths through damp grass effortlessly (and quietly!), and overall felt extremely intuitive and easy to operate. The LCD screen kept us aware of the mower’s battery life and run time, and we could pick both the machine’s speed and cutting height from a wide variety of options. We also liked that the mower comes with headlights that illuminate the path when you start to lose daylight.
Additionally, the mower has a long-lasting battery life, so you don’t have to waste time constantly recharging it before every mow. Plus, it comes with fun features like USB ports, storage compartments, and Bluetooth, so you can monitor the mower via an app. On the downside, it’s quite pricey, and the amount of torque means that you have to accelerate carefully, at least until you get a better feel for the joystick. Still, there’s a lot to love about this excellent mower.
Price at time of publish: 6,999
Type: Zero turn | Deck Width: 42 inches | Fuel Type: Battery | Max Cutting Height: 4.5 inches
Best Gas Riding Mower
Toro TimeCutter 50 inch 24.5 HP Zero-Turn Riding Mower
If you prefer a gas mower to an electric one, make sure to consider this fantastic pick from Toro. It’s a zero-turn mower with consistent speed and a strong suspension system, among other features, so you can take the mower over rough terrain without worry.
Getting used to this mower can take a bit of time, as there are no pedals like you might expect, just a joystick that lets you control speed, braking, and direction. But once you’ve settled in, you’ll be in for a great ride. We found the mower easy to control, especially when it came to adjusting the speed, cutting height, and the seat’s firmness (you can choose how bouncy you want it to be). It cut grass evenly and neatly, and discharged the clippings far away from the mowing area, which was quite helpful.
Maneuvering the mower around the lawn was easy, no matter the terrain or number of turns, and even when it was going fast, the mower didn’t feel like it was unstable. As far as negatives go, we wish the mower came with a bagging option, as well as headlights for nighttime work, but really, those are small quibbles considering how solid an option this mower is overall.
Price at time of publish: 4,299
Type: Zero turn | Deck Width: 50 inches | Fuel Type: Gas | Max Cutting Height: 4.5 inches
Best Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42-Inch 22 HP Zero-Turn Mower
Zero-turn mowers can be great options as they can maneuver more quickly and smoothly than many other types of mowers, and we love this pick from Cub Cadet. It’s a powerful machine that runs on a twin-cylinder gas engine, and features an ultra-comfortable seat with adjustable lap bars, hand grips, a rubber mat, and plenty of legroom.
This mower did take some time to set up, but once we got it ready, it started up quickly and moved smoothly. It mows and makes turns faster than many other models we’ve tried, and it doesn’t take long to get used to the different speeds and start feeling in control as you go. Additionally, you can adjust the mower’s seat and arms to make sure it’s a comfortable fit, and we also liked that the side discharge leaves the grass clippings far away from the mower itself. It also features headlights, as a helpful bonus, and you can choose from several cutting heights and other settings.
We would’ve liked it if the mower’s handles were able to be lined up equally, as it can be a bit tricky to ensure that you’re turning at the same speed on both sides. All in all, though, we had few complaints about this zero-turn mower.
Price at time of publish: 3,499
Type: Zero turn | Deck Width: 42 inches | Fuel Type: Gas | Max Cutting Height: 4.5 inches
Easiest to Maneuver
John Deere S100 42-Inch 17.5 HP Gas Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor
We can’t say enough good things about this gas-operated riding mower from John Deere, especially in terms of how well it maneuvers. When we tested it out, we were amazed by how effortlessly it made its way around trees and other impediments, thanks to the responsive pedal and above-average turning radius (as well as the mower’s notably small size).
We discovered that this mower operates smoothly on rocky terrain, too, and its size makes it easier than many other mowers to store in a shed or garage when not in use. Setting it up is a quick, simple process, and you can change the cutting heights via a helpful lever, while you can switch up the speeds through a pedal.
We also love this mower’s side discharge, which is strong enough to blow leaves out of the way (almost doubling as a leaf blower), as well as its convenient headlights. Plus, it comes with a large and easy-to-empty bagger, and we found that the mower’s seat is both comfortable and adjustable.
It would be nice if this mower had a wider deck, as John Deere only recommends it for yards up to 1 acre, but if you’re looking for a small yet highly effective mower, you’ll surely be happy with this top-tier choice–especially considering that it’s the least expensive mower on our list.
Price at time of publish: 2,399
Craftsman R110 Lawn Mower TEST AND REVIEW!
Type: Lawn tractor | Deck Width: 42 inches | Fuel Type: Gas | Max Cutting Height: 4 inches
Best for Thick Grass
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46-Inch Hydrostatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Tractor
If you want a riding mower that can easily handle even the thickest grass, then take a look at this powerful option from Cub Cadet. It’s a gas-operated mower that cuts evenly through areas with long, thick grass without any issue and in a much quicker time period than other mowers we’ve tried.
This mower takes a good amount of time to set up and get started, due to an unfortunate lack of user-friendly instructions. But once you figure it out the first time, you’ll be good for all future mows, and the actual controls, such as for changing the cutting height, are much more intuitive. Additionally, we’re big fans of this mower’s adjustable, comfortable, and shock-absorbing seat, as well as the big, thick tires that make for a smooth ride.
The maneuverability of this mower is top-notch, too, allowing it to move easily around trees and other objects, and we were impressed by how fast the mower goes at its top speed. The discharge chute spread the grass clippings far enough away, and the mower’s headlights are a helpful added bonus.
Although this mower’s turning abilities don’t quite compare to zero-turn mowers, and it doesn’t come with fancier features like an LED screen or Bluetooth, we were still highly satisfied with its performance and think you will be, too.
Price at time of publish: 2,574
Type: Lawn tractor | Deck Width: 46 inches | Fuel Type: Gas | Max Cutting Height: 4 inches
If you’re looking for a great electric mower, the Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Lithium Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower is our top pick. It’s fast, effective, quiet, and has multiple handy features. For an equally strong gas-powered option, we recommend the Toro 50-Inch TimeCutter MyRIDE Zero-Turn Mower, due to its consistent speed, smooth ride, and easy maneuverability.
Our Testing Process
To determine the best riding lawn mowers, we tested models from reputable brands in our own yards (spanning four cities and two states) over three weeks. To begin, we timed how long it took to unbox and assemble each lawn mower (for battery-powered models, we took note of how long it took to charge, but we did not include this in our setup time). During the testing period, we used each lawn mower a minimum of three times, taking into account weather conditions, how much grass was cut off, and how much surface area was being mowed. While mowing, we considered things like comfortability, adjustability, battery life (when applicable) maneuverability, how evenly the mower cuts, and more. We also tested any additional features, including side discharge, bagging, mulching, various cutting height options, headlights, various speeds, and cup holders. We are still testing riding mowers and will continue to update this piece with the fresh insights as we have them.
How to Shop for Riding Mowers Like a Pro
There are multiple types of riding mowers, including zero-turn mowers, lawn tractors, and rear-engine mowers.
Zero-turn mowers have a zero-inch turning radius and a mowing deck in front, rather than underneath, the machine. This causes them to turn quickly and easily, and have greater maneuverability and speed than other types of mowers. They tend to be pricey, though, and relatively small.
Lawn tractors, meanwhile, have their cutting decks in the middle, rather than underneath the front, and tend to be pretty large. They’re less maneuverable than other types of riding mowers due to their size, but they’re quite powerful and particularly good for large lawns.
Then there are rear-engine mowers, which are usually very small and less powerful than other options. They’re best used on tiny lawns, and they aren’t great at going up hills and rocky terrain. Still, they’re often less expensive than the other types.
Deck width refers to the amount of acreage the mower can cut in one go, and it ranges from about 30 to 60 inches. “A mower’s cutting deck determines how many passes it’ll take to mow the grass, so you should match the deck size to your acreage for a speedier cut,” says Gary McCoy, store manager at a Charlotte-area Lowe’s. “If you’re working with smaller yards up to two acres, look for options in the 30-inch to 52-inch deck range,” he adds. “Two to four-acre yards will benefit from 50-inch decks to 54-inch decks, and anything over five acres will need 60 inches or more.”
Riding mowers run on either gasoline or electricity. Gas-powered mowers “feature the traditional riding design we’re familiar with and operate similarly to a car, using a steering wheel and foot pedal,” says McCoy. If you opt for a gas mower, make sure to “check the level of ethanol your equipment can safely use, and never buy more than you can use in 30 days, as older gasoline can lead to corrosion in your engine,” he adds.
Electric riding mowers, on the other hand, “are battery-powered machines that offer a similar performance to gas models without the fuel requirements,” says McCoy. “They run a bit quieter than gas mowers with less vibration.” They do require some time to charge up before use, which can be frustrating, but they get rid of the smell and hassle of gasoline.
When determining which riding mower is right for you, it’s important to think about the size of your yard. Yards on the very small size, under 3/4 of an acre, might be better off with traditional push mowers, says McCoy. Otherwise, follow this guide from Lowe’s:
- 3/4- to 1-Acre Lawns: Look for a mower with a 30-42-inch cut width.
- 1- to 2-Acre Lawns: Look for a mower with a 42-52-inch cut width.
- 2- to 3-Acre Lawns: Look for a mower with a 50-54-inch cut width.
- 3- to 5-Acre Lawn:s Look for a mower with a 54-62-inch cut width.
- 5-Acre Lawns or Larger: Look for a mower with a 60-inch or greater cut width.
Riding mowers can come with some seriously helpful features, including:
- Zero-turn radius: This can “allow the mower to pivot at sharper angles than lawn or garden tractors,” says McCoy.
- Cruise control: So you can “lock in on one speed and mow long, straight stretches more easily,” he notes.
- Mulch kits, dump carts, and lawn sweepers to “help you maintain your landscape not only during mowing season but year-round,” McCoy says.
Other less essential, but still beneficial, features include cup holders, USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, armrests, headlights, and extended leg room. The more features a mower has, the more expensive it’ll likely be, though, so be sure you’re prioritizing your top picks.
Riding Mowers to Consider
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42-Inch Cordless Electric Riding Lawn Tractor: This battery-operated mower is a quiet, fast-charging machine that cuts grass evenly, and has a helpful digital display menu so you can adjust the speed easily. Still, it has some frustrating features, like a beep every time you back up or get off the seat, as well as a jerky accelerator pedal.
Questions You Might Ask
Are stand-up or sit-down riding mowers better?
That depends on your specific needs, says McCoy. “Stand-up mowers work well in smaller yards and on uneven terrain, whereas riding mowers can handle larger surface areas and are generally more powerful,” he explains. Additionally, stand-up mowers can be better for your back (albeit less comfortable to use). Stand-up mowers also offer better visibility than sit-down riding mowers, but on the downside, they usually don’t have bagging systems.
How much should you expect to spend on a riding mower?
The price of a riding mower can “range from 2,000 up to 8,000, depending on the type of mower and attachments included,” says McCoy. If you’re looking to save costs, opt for basic models that don’t have features like LED screens, Bluetooth capability, zero-turn radius, and more. But if those features and others matter greatly to you, then prepare to shell out a pretty penny.
What kind of maintenance does a riding mower need?
The type of maintenance a riding mower needs depends on the specific model, says McCoy. However, for most mowers, he suggests that you regularly “inspect the mower’s shield and deflectors, check its tire pressure, remove dirt from the machine, check the oil and fuel, and reconnect the battery or spark plug” for day-to-day maintenance.
Throughout the mowing season McCoy suggests lubricating the mower, checking the air filter and mower blades, and changing the engine oil and filter. “At the end of the season, you’ll want to prepare your mower for the next spring. That entails doing a general inspection of the machine, replacing the fuel filter, and maintaining the mower blades,” says McCoy.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Real Simple, Better Homes Gardens, The New York Times, and many other publications. To write this article, we tested riding mowers over a span of several weeks and evaluated them on performance, value, design, and more. For expert insight, we spoke to Gary McCoy, store manager at a Charlotte-area Lowe’s.
What Is Real Simple Selects?
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.
Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.
The best riding lawn mower for every size and type of lawn in 2023
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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
Was I WRONG About CUB CADET? Watch Before Buying!
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.
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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.
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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 compact riding mower. The 30-inch deck and smaller build make this riding mower perfect for smaller suburban lawns.
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:
- 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.