Is it time to go from push to ride?
If your lawn has outgrown your push lawn mower, it’s probably time to consider purchasing a riding lawn mower or if your lawn is fairly large, a garden tractor. Riding lawn mowers can be expensive so do your homework before running out and purchasing the first pretty one you see.
Riding lawn mowers/tractors are a lot like cars. There are a lot of makes and models available. You have your basic, no-frills models–the feature-loaded, power-packed high-end models–and everything in between. Many features can be add-ons, but before purchasing, make sure the mower you have selected can handle the added feature(s).
Here are some things to consider.
The size of your lawn can help determine the type of mower, blade size, and engine HP you need. More powerful mowers with larger cut widths handle large areas more efficiently and allow you to spend less time mowing. You should also consider the type of terrain whether it’s level or hilly and the obstacles such as trees and flower beds you need to work around.
- For 1/2 to 1 acre lawn- you’ll want a riding lawn mower with a cutting width of up to 42″ and at least a 14 HP engine.
- For 1 – 2 acres — For yards in this size range, a riding lawn mower with a 42″ or 46″ deck and an engine in the 14 – 16 HP is necessary.
- For 3 acres or more —If your estate is in this extra-large lawn grouping, you are indeed fortunate. For this size lawn, you’ll want a garden tractor with a 46″ – 54″ deck and an engine of 18 – 24 HP.
There are four types of riding lawn mowers:
Traditional riding lawn mower – This is the most straightforward or basic of the riding lawn mowers. If you will be using it just for cutting grass, a riding lawn mower is fine. They have several attachment options, but don’t expect it to do any heavy lifting or pulling. If you will be using the mower to pull ground attachments, such as a plow, disc harrow or tiller, you will need a garden tractor.
ZTR mower (also known as Zero-Turn Mower) – The zero-turn riding lawn mower looks like any other, except that they have a turning radius of zero, which means it turns or rotates on the spot. These are perfect for tight spaces, sharp turns, and smaller properties.
Lawn Tractors look like any other riding lawn mower, but are more powerful and come with optional attachments. You can bag clippings and leaves, haul landscaping materials, spread seed and with some models aerate, dethatch and remove snow.
Garden tractors have the same design as lawn tractors but a heavier frame and transmission, larger rear wheels, and are also appropriate for larger mowing jobs. Residential garden tractors can pull a tiller, cultivator, thatcher or other ground-engaging tools behind it.
There are three different transmission types:
Manual transmission has a range of set speeds you can select and requires you to use a clutch to change gears.
Automatic transmission performs much like the transmission in your car. You control speed with the gas pedal.
Hydrostatic transmission works like an automatic transmission, but uses fluid rather than belts, offers a smoother ride, requires less maintenance and lasts longer.
Whichever mower you choose just make sure it suits your needs, your budget, and lawn size. Don’t buy a small ride-on to save money when you know you have a large area that needs to be mowed; it isn’t going to do the job properly and will ultimately leave you feeling annoyed and frustrated.