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A Buyer’s Guide to Riding Lawn Mowers & Tractors

Man sitting on a riding lawn mower. He has a large yard so he likes riding lawn mowers better than push mowers.
Buy your riding lawn mower or lawn tractor with confidence!

Riding lawn mowers and tractors are a great choice for those who have a large yard.

They’re also great for those who have physical limitations, which prohibit them from using a push mower. Plus, riding lawn mowers can be enjoyable… They’re kind of like an, albeit slow, go cart which gets the job done. Before you purchase the first shiny red one you see, you should learn which riding lawn mower is best for your needs.

Terminology – Riding Lawn Mowers vs. Lawn Tractors

Simply put, a lawn tractor is stronger and more versatile than a riding lawn mower. A riding lawn mower is only intended for cutting grass. A lawn tractor has more horse power, a heavier frame and larger rear wheels; making it appropriate for larger mowing jobs and being hooked up to attachments. Your decision between mower and tractor will depend on the size of your yard and if you need the mower to do more than cut grass.

For your convenience, here is a list of some of the attachments you can put on a lawn tractor:

Types of Riding Mowers and Tractors

Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mowers

Rear engine mowers are great grass cutting machines for smaller yards with narrow passes. They also do well on slopes due to their low center of gravity. Just don’t expect them to tow any attachments.

Front Engine Riding Lawn Mowers and Tractors

Lawn mowers come in both rear and front engine models. Lawn tractors come in front engine models. They are versatile workhorses, but they are not very agile or fast and might not be the best choice for someone with a huge yard to cut and/or a lot of obstacles to maneuver around.

Zero Turning Radius (ZTR)

ZTRs are the race cars of lawn machines. They’re super quick and can turn on a dime, which makes going around yard obstacles a breeze. They cut down on mowing time considerably, which is great if you have a large yard. However, these “race cars” do not have the big gripping wheels of a lawn tractor and hence do not handle as well on hills.

Yard Size

If you have a ½ to 1 acre yard, you will want a riding lawn mower with up to a 42 inch deck (aka. cutting width) and about 14 HP. For those with a 1 to 2 acre lot, you’d do best with a 42-46 inch deck and 14-16 HP. If you have a large piece of property, 3 or more acres, you’ll want a lawn tractor or ZTR with a 46+ inch deck and an engine of 18-24 HP.

Transmission Choices for Riding Lawn Mowers

Just like cars, riding lawn mowers and tractors come with automatic or manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions are great for yards with a lot of obstacles, but they are expensive and may not be worth the extra expense for those who have obstacle free yards they can cruise on at an even speed.

We hope this buyer’s guide as helped you narrow down what kind of riding lawn mower or tractor is best for you. Happy cutting! Vroom!


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