Served Customers:
26890941
Search
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt
Search in comments
Filter by Custom Post Type
headerbild_Riding-Lawn-Mower-test
Tested Products 36
Hours Spent 45
Evaluated Studies 11
Considered Reviews 598

Best Riding Lawn Mower 2018 - 11 Riding Lawn Mowers reviews

The benefits of a riding lawn mower extend beyond comfort. We dig beneath the surface to offer an in-depth look at the best riding mowers for various landscapes.

Riding Lawn Mower Leaderboard 2018

Last update: 

Large selection of Riding Lawn Mowers at affordable prices on Amazon.com
Wide range Riding Lawn Mowers Secure Payment & Buyer Protection Free delivery from 29 Euro upwards

 Riding Lawn Mower  Riding Lawn Mowers Bestseller now on Amazon.com & save!

What Is a Riding Mower?

we offer an in-depth look at mowers for various landscapesA riding mower is a gas or electric-powered grass-cutting machine. It makes mowing faster, simpler, and enjoyable. The mower goes by many names including lawn tractor, garden tractor, ride-on and lawn utility vehicle.

A cutting deck sits between the front and rear axles and houses one or more horizontal blades as they rotate underneath its cover. It trims residential and commercial lawns at speeds between 1.5 to 8 mph. Moreover, the machine requires a human body on its seat to operate. As the user guides the mower over the terrain, it cuts grass to a preferred. Operators use a steering wheel or a set of levers to perform this task.

Options include basic, multitasking, zero-turn, and rear-engine riders. Within each category, you will find a model to suit a particular type of terrain and yard size. Some models have mounting options for secondary tasks such as bagging and mulching. Also, heavy-duty machines support tools for towing and plowing.

How Does a Riding Mower Work?

A riding mower works like an automobile. Most machines have convenient controls near the steering mechanism. You will discover a variety of gas-powered, electric or battery- operated machines, as well as hybrid riding models available. The mower may have a gear-driven transmission or a hydraulic pump system that manages the direction and speed when the foot pedal is depressed.

Electric lawn mowers run on a battery. In gas models, an engine runs the transmission, rotates the cutting blades, and turns the wheels. When you turn the ignition switch, it cranks up the riding mower’s engine. As the motor receives power, it activates a magnetic flywheel. This device spins around the ignition coil, turning the crankshaft, and moving the pistons up and down a cylinder.

At the same moment, the flywheel opens the intake valve to provide momentum to the engine. The motor goes through a four-step process called stroke cycles. The sequence includes an intake stroke, compression stroke, power stroke, and an exhaust stroke. Ultimately, this process continues until the operator shuts off the machine.

Typically, the engine shaft has a pulley system that powers the cutters with a manual or electronic lever. Depending on the mower's width, it may have one or more overlapping blades, to cut the grass. Small riding machines with 30″ decks have one blade and machines with a deck of 42″ or more come with two or three blades. The cutting tools have a slight upward curve, creating the airflow needed to snip and suck as they spin.

As a safety precaution, most riding mowers have a safety device that cuts the engine off, if the machine tips over or there is no rider on the seat.

Advantages and Applications

Sitting and mowing the grass seems like a contradiction. However, if tasked with mowing a large lawn, you will appreciate the irony. One of the greatest benefits of a riding lawn mower is the ability to shave time off your workload while sitting. Whether you’re cutting a small yard or the plot of a large estate, a ride-on is the perfect tool for manicuring your lawn.

john deere is known for manufacturing high-quality, reliable lawn riding mowersAlthough capabilities vary from machine to machine, these versatile instruments simplify the arduous job of walking back and forth over a half-acre (or more) of land to keep your yard in shape. Also, it's a practical tool for individuals who suffer from health or mobility issues that would otherwise make mowing impossible. If you own a landscaping business, the machine allows you to perform your job in a fraction of the time.

Additionally, some models can handle landscaping needs throughout the seasons. With special attachments, you can mow in the summer; spread fertilizer and seeds in the spring; collect leaves in the fall, and plow snow in the winter. You will also notice useful accessories for hauling tools, bagging clippings, grinding mulch, and more.

Chances are, if you can drive a car, you can operate a riding mower. Most models feature a steering wheel and pedal for easy maneuverability. Other models have push and pull levers that may require a little practice before using. Either way, riding mowers are much quicker than their walk-behind counterparts. They cut double the swath of grass. Whereas a traditional mower cuts a 21” patch, a ride-on can cut up to 60″. Plus, some riding mowers have powerful engines and can run up to 8-mph, reducing mowing time. You will also find machines built specifically to handle tough terrain. Other benefits of riding lawn mowers include:

  • Reduces risk of overexertion and heatstroke
  • Minimizes labor and time
  • Offers professional-quality results
  • Tackles thick grass with ease

Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

As mentioned earlier, riding mowers fall into four categories: basic riding lawn mower, garden tractor, rear-engine rider (RER), and Zero-turn-radius (ZTR). It is possible for a riding lawn mower, garden tractor, and ZTR to have a rear engine. However, RER's have a different set of capabilities.

You will find models with only the basics, powerful, feature-rich machines – and a variety of riding mowers in between. There are dozens of models within each category to suit the needs of rider and the lawn. Following, we describe each style and point out the pros and cons of each.

Basic Riding Lawn Mowers

snow, the basic riding lawn mower is a perfect optionIdeal for mowing yards less than two acres, this gas-powered model usually features a front engine configuration. Typically, they have a steering wheel for driving and are used primarily to cut grass. They come equipped with cutting decks ranging from 30″ for entry models to 54″ for expensive machines. The average model delivers 14-20 horsepower and can produce speeds up to 5-mph. Furthermore, this mower provides excellent traction when riding over bumpy areas and small slopes. This kind of machine supports spreaders and other light attachments. If you don't need to till the soil or remove snow, the basic riding lawn mower is a perfect option.

Pros

  • Easy to adjust the cutting height
  • Easy to steer
  • Compact design makes them easy to store

Cons

  • Not strong enough to haul heavy attachments
  • Has a wide turning radius
  • Lower top speed than zero-turn radius mowers

Multitasking Riding Lawn Mowers

Multi-tasking riding lawn mower machines are the most powerful and versatile machine of the groupMultitaskers cost double and sometimes triple the price of basic riding lawn mowers, and with good reason. These machines are the most powerful and versatile machine of the group. Not only can they tackle difficult terrain, but also, they can perform duties beyond cutting grass. In fact, you can use it for tilling the soil, hauling firewood, and plowing snow. Often referred to as a garden or compact utility tractor, this ride-on is equipped with multiple blades and can handle a lawn of 5-acres or more. Besides heavy-duty rear wheels, it features a robust frame, sturdy axles, and a durable transmission, making them ideal for sloped lawns.

Pros

  • Horsepower between 17 and 3
  • Have large deck widths (up to 60″)
  • Delivers high-quality cuts
  • Versatile
  • Accepts various attachments

Cons

  • Need a large storage space
  • Have a wide turning radius

Zero-Turn Riding Mowers (ZTR)

zero-turn riding mower's ZTRs feature a four-wheel power system with a pair of leversThese mowers don't accept many accessories. However, what they lack in this area, they make up for in speed and maneuverability. Instead of a steering wheel control system, ZTRs feature a four-wheel power system with a pair of levers to guide each wheel independently. The horsepower on a ZTR starts at 16. A rear engine and rear-wheel steering facilitate turning. Some models pivot 180 degrees, and others rotate 360 degrees.

Free-turning front casters allow for quick turns and easy navigation around trees and other obstacles, saving the time of going back over the areas with a weed whacker. With a push forward, the ride-on spins in place. Push the levers to the left, right, front or back to get into tight spots. Typically, they mow a broader patch of grass. This type of ride-on achieves high speeds, allowing you to complete jobs quickly.

Pros

  • Quick and efficient
  • Turning axis makes it easy to maneuver around barriers
  • Gets into tight spots, so there is less
  • Offers superior mulching capabilities

Cons

  • Rear steering can cause damage to the grass
  • Hard to maneuver on inclined grounds and hill
  • Training required before using the controls before cutting an entire lawn
  • Does not offer a range of landscaping options

Rear Engine Riding Mower (RER)

the rear engine rider mower costs less than other riding lawn mowers because it only has one functionNormally, the rear engine rider costs less than other riding lawn mowers because it only has one function—to cut grass. Since the engine is behind you, there's less gas fume exposure. Plus, they offer excellent movability and give you a better view of the lawn while trimming. Their go-cart style design makes them easy to maneuver around complicated spots. However, with a horsepower range from 8 to 16, it is less powerful than front-engine riding mowers. RERs move between 1.5 to 4.5-mph and have a narrow cutting width of 28” to 30″ to cut small plots of grass. They cannot handle cutting heavy or wet grass. Nor do can they accommodate baggers, tow trailers, or other accessories.

Pros

  • Better visibility
  • Comfortable riding experience
  • Easy to climb on and off
  • Tight turning ability
  • Needs less storage space
  • Easy to fit through gates

Cons

  • Moves slow
  • Unable to pull heavy attachments
  • Limited accessory options

Testing

To ensure that we were abreast of any technological advancements, we familiarized ourselves with the history and mechanics of the riding lawn mower. Next, we studied professional literature; and collected data and compared specs from over 20 owner's manuals. We also observed videos of experts measuring the machines' performance equipment on large expanses of land. Additionally, we evaluated buyer feedback to learn if the riding mowers performed as anticipated. We paid attention to the opinions of owners and professional landscapers who used the machine for more than one season of mowing and throughout the year to perform other tasks.

In our Riding Lawn Mower Test 2018, we identified three key areas: even cutting, handling, and discharging. Within these sectors, we factor in productivity, reliability, serviceability, as well as the price-to-performance ratio.

Although we found models that scored high in every area, we must note that even the top-rated brands have minor flaws. Elsewhere, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different models. Here, we focus on the performance features experts look for in Riding Lawn Mower Tests.

Cutting Capability

In tests, experts examined the machines' ability to provide a consistent cut. Testers assessed the blades and measured the width of the swath. All the models received a score of satisfactory or excellent when tested on flat surfaces. However, only top-scoring machines left a uniform carpet-like appearance with no marks or turf damage. To be fair, operators just tested the mowers on the type of terrain they were meant to handle. For example, testers did not drive ZTRs designed to perform on small, flat lawns over bumpy terrain or inclines.

Handling

mower's handling abilities, testers focus on the difficultyIn analyzing a riding mower's handling abilities , testers focused on the ease of steering, braking, turning, operating controls, speed, and stability. Ease and comfort of use were primary considerations of theRiding Lawn Mower Winners in our review. Owners note that a comfortable seat is an essential component of the mowing experience. Similarly, testers conclude that machines with a high-back chair provide the most comfort.

The best riding mowers granted a smooth ride and had all controls within reach. High-ranking machines handled lawns riddled with obstacles and tight spots with ease. When the operator turned the mowers to maneuver around narrow areas, riding mowers with anti-scalping wheels delivered the best performance. A bulk of machines without this feature left damages to the lawn. Also, four-wheel drive models performed exceptionally well while traveling over bumps and other areas that required the user to exert control.

Grass Clippings and Management Options

As clippings discharge, inspectors examined the lawn to see if the pieces blended with the lawn's surface or deposited clumps of turf. Top mowers cut the grass to a precise height and left the greens in pristine condition. If the mower had a side chute, it scattered the clippings perfectly with no clusters of grass. Mowers with bag attachments filled without clogging.

In riding lawn mower tests, experts thoroughly tested the mowers' performance, ease of operation and comfort, and grass processing options. Surprisingly, the price was not a significant aspect of a machine's capabilities. Most high-end models contained sturdier materials, which contributed to high scores in the stability category. However, there were instances where entry-level mowers scored higher. In these cases, the intuitive controls, safety devices, and versatile attachment options on lower priced models outranked riding lawn mowers that were more expensive.

What to Consider Before You Buy

Searching for a riding mower can be complicated. To begin, you must pick your style preference, compare features, and weigh a variety of factors. Aside from budget considerations, you need to think about the size of your property, the terrain of your lawn, and a host of other factors to select the best ride-on to fit your needs.

To avoid surprises later, make a list of the things must-have before you make a purchase. Look for certified machines bearing a safety label from an organization such as the American National Standards Institute or the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. Since this is a sizable investment, we want you to feel confident in your decision. Therefore, we provide a comprehensive list of options for you to consider.

Yard Size and Terrain

In addition to matching the size of your landscape, a riding mower should match the terrain. Think about your yard. Is it flat? How thin or thick is the grass? Does it have slopes or ditches? Will you need to work around bushes, flower beds, and ponds?

if you have a small flat yard, a rear engine mower with a 30 "deck may work bestIf you have a small flat yard, a rear engine mower with a 30″ deck may work best for maintaining your lawn. On the other hand, if you have a large property with even terrain and lots of trees, you may find a zero-turn radius sufficient. A 42″ cutting deck is easier to control on sloped landscapes. Still, if you plan to perform tasks such as digging or spreading seeds, a ground-engaging, garden ride-on is perfect for completing the job. You will also need to choose a mower based on your grass type. For example, you can use almost any type of riding lawn mower to shave Midwestern bluegrass. However, Southern bent grasses require a machine with a smaller cutting deck.

Deck Size

cub cadet has built innovative riding lawn mowers in the united states since 1961The deck width (also known as cutting width) describes the breadth of the blade. This measurement determines how much of the lawn the machine can trim in a single pass. Small riding mowers will have only one blade, while machines with a span of 42″ or more will have two or three cutting tools.

The size of the cutting deck affects your mowing experience. Naturally, a broader cutter requires fewer passes, reducing the amount of time spent cutting grass. Deck sizes range from 30″ to 60″. When considering the cutting deck, you need to contemplate the yard size and barriers like a retaining wall or fence. If you have a gate, measure it before buying a ride-on. You want to make sure it will fit through the opening.

  • 30″: This entry-level deck is small but suitable for narrow gates and small lawns.
  • 34″ – 42″: A machine with a cutter this size will efficiently trim yards up to 2 acres.
  • 46″-48″: For medium-sized landscapes, a mower with 46″ blades is sufficient.
  • 50″ – 54″: A model with trimmers in this range can handle properties up to three acres.
  • 60″: Riding mowers with deck widths of 60″ can easily cut a 5-acre property within an hour.

Cutting Height

Mowing at the proper height is one way of keeping your lawn healthy. Depending on the model, a riding mower may have up to 13 cutting heights, ranging from 1-4.5″. Make sure the riding machine you choose includes variable height adjustments.

Gas, Electric or Hybrid

The selection of gas-powered models is plentiful. Plus, they are less expensive than electric models. However, electric riding mowers are better for the environment. They don’t emit fumes like their gas counterparts, and they are much quieter.

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Hybrid
You get more power and mobility with a gasoline riding mower. Additionally, the machines cut through troublesome patches of grass with ease. Still, they are noisier and weightier than electric lawn tractors. Gasoline mowers also require regular maintenance.
You don't have to change the oil, filters or spark plugs on electric models. But you do have to keep the battery charged. Most newer models come equipped with lithium batteries, which offer longer run times.
A hybrid riding mower offers the best of both worlds. However, the models are rare. With hybrid mowers, you can operate the machine in gas or electric mode. Unlike electric and gas-powered riding mowers, a hybrid doesn't require a transmission and belts to propel the blades.

 

Front Wheel Drive (FWD) or Rear Wheel Drive (RWD)

front wheel drive FWD riding mowers are cheaper than rear wheel drive RWD machinesFWD riding mowers are cheaper than RWD machines. Nonetheless, a rear wheel drive machine provides better traction and stability than forwarding wheel drive models. If your yard is on an incline, opt for a rear wheel drive ride-on.

Single or Twin Engine

Typically, the engine on a riding mower delivers between 10 and 25 horsepower. Some models have a single cylinder engine, and others have a twin engine. A twin-engine not only gives out more power, but it also lessens the vibration, minimizing wear and tear. Additionally, it runs cooler and burns cleaner fuel.

Make sure the engine is easy to access. You will notice some motors beneath the seat and others under the hood.

Rear Engine or Front Engine

Front engine mowers provide more power than rear engine vehicles. However, riding mowers with engines in the back offer better visibility.

Engine Power

The mower’s engine regulates the amount of power the machine generates, as well as its cutting ability. Therefore, motors with a higher horsepower can produce more torque and can cut thick grass with ease.

Horsepower

This unit of measurement lets you know how much energy a ride-on can produce. One horsepower can move a 550-pound load about a foot in a second. With riding mowers, the average rating falls between 10 and 30. Some people confuse the amount of horsepower a vehicle has with how fast a machine can go. High horsepower numbers offer more power, towing capabilities, and overall performance. It has nothing to do with speed.

A ride-on at the lower end of the scale performs adequately on small lawns with flat, level ground. However, if you have a lot of property to cover and have to mow over hilly terrain or grass on an incline, you need a riding mower with horsepower at the high end of the range.

Transmission Type

A riding mower may have a manual, automatic, or hydrostatic transmission. Manual machines have a variety of speed options but require more work from the user. With a manual transmission, you have to let the machine come to a full stop before you can change the gear.

The best models allow you to shift without stopping or engaging the clutch. The transmission choice is especially important when riding on bumpy terrain. With an automatic version, the user sets the speed with a gas pedal, allowing for better control on lawns with a lot of twists and turns. The hydrostatic transmission operates on hydraulic fluid. Like the automatic, it has foot-operated controls, allowing the operator to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel while driving forward or in reverse. Hydrostatic transmissions offer a smoother ride and less maintenance than manual and automatic machines.

Navigation

The ability to steer with ease and move around obstacles is a primary concern. Except for zero-turn mowers, most riding machines have steering wheels. However, the tires on zero-turn mowers offer more flexibility to get into tight spaces.

Turning Radius

The turning radius is the rate at which the tires on a lawn can make a U-turn

The turning radius is the rate at which the tires on a lawn mower can make a U-turn. The smaller the number, the closer the machine turns. As a result, the chances of neglecting tight areas becomes less likely when the mower pivots to go in the opposite direction. A tighter radius allows the wheels to get near obstructions like trees, fences, and bushes. Generally, riding mowers have a turning radius of 16″. Other close-fitting wheels have a 14″ turning range. The zero-turn ride-on offers the tightest fit.

Speed

Models vary on the amount of speed they produce. Clearly, the faster you can go, the quicker you can complete the job. In fact, it can mean the difference between an hour and two hours of working on a b. Look for riding mowers with variable speeds, so you can set the pace as you go. Use caution when choosing the rate as going too fast can ruin the turf. Experts recommend cruising at about 3 1/2 mph for an ideal cut. Still, if speed is what you need, zero-turn-radius mowers deliver the fastest pace.

Tire Treads

The terrain can present many challenges, so you need a machine with tires that roll gently on turf. Still, the tires need to have enough traction to remain steady in difficult situations and not ruin the yard's appearance. Here are the three types of patterns to look for on a ride-on.

  • Turf treads have a zig-zag pattern and offer traction without damaging the turf while driving over slippery grass.
  • All-terrain tires have deep grooves to provide traction while rolling over dirt, sand, and mud. Usually, these tires have a herringbone tread pattern and space between the blocks to push debris from the tires.
  • Ribbed treads have circumferential grooves and straight ribs, which help reduce turf damage and keep the tires from moving sideways.

Optional Attachments

Riding lawn mowers vary in their capability to handle certain tasks. If you are looking for a mower that does more than shave grass, make sure your choice includes configurations for the attachments you need to accomplish your landscaping duties. Most riding mowers have a side discharge to spit out grass clippings. Depending on the task, you may need a bag to collect clippings or an accessory to turn the cuttings into mulch.

Whether you need additional tools for immediate use or will need them later, it is wise to buy them when you purchase the riding mower. Just be sure the machine can accommodate them. We provide additional details about various attachments under the heading for accessories.

Storage Space

A large mower with a huge deck requires more storage space. Think about where you will store the mower once the job is complete. Preferably, you can store it in a garage or shed. If not, consider purchasing a cover to prevent damage from the elements.

Special Features

You will come across a ton of enticing features that may make your decision difficult. It's worth the effort to think about the things must-have before you buy. To cut cost, choose only the ones you need the most. We categorized the features into three groups: safety, comfort, and convenience.

Safety

  • Automatic shut-off: A switch in the seat stops the machine from moving if cannot detect a rider's bottom.
  • Safety keys: The motor won't turn if there is no key in the ignition slot.
  • Blade brakes: Blade brakes or override systems stop the blades instantly to prevent injury.
  • Electronic power take-off (PTO): This device is attached to a pulley. Instead of using a clutch to activate and deactivate the blades, electronic PTOs perform this function with a touch of a button. Electronic PTOs don't put as much wear and tear on the belts.
  • Plain-view fuel gauge: Having the ability to view the fuel level while riding keeps you from running out of fuel.husqvarna is a swedish manufacturer specializing in compact riding lawn mowers with choke-less start engines
  • Reverse safety switch: This function prevents mishaps by requiring the user to press a switch before moving backward.
  • Hour meter: Performing routine maintenance is vital to the longevity of a ride-on. This gadget keeps tabs on the number of hours a mower has been operating, so you know when it's time to change the oil and conduct other services on the machine.
  • Anti-scalping wheels: These small rollers minimize the chances of damaging the lawn while driving over uneven terrain. They provide a buffer between the cutting deck and the yard to protect the grass and the machine. Two and four-wheel options are available.
  • Wheels: The wheels of a ride-on add to its stability. The wheelbase should be wide, and the tires should provide excellent traction. Also, machines with all four tires the same size operate easier than models that larger wheels in the rear.
  • Bumper Guard: This piece fits on the front of the cutting machine. If you have a retaining wall or lots of trees on your property, a bumper guard can save your hundreds of dollars in repair costs on the hood assembly, if you accidentally crash.

Comfort

  • Adjustable, high-backed seats support the back while riding to provide a more enjoyable riding experience. More likely than not, you put in a great deal of time on the ride-on. Therefore, it's essential that it not only supports your lumbar system but also adjusts to your height.
  • Padded steering wheels and levers keep callouses from forming on the hands.
  • Armrests offer a spot to relax your arms while driving the machine.

Convenience

  • Cruise control lets you set your preferred speed.
  • Satellite radio allows you to listen to your favorite talk or music station.
  • Sunshadesprotect you from the hot sun.
  • Cup holder lets you quench your thirst without having to stop to get a beverage.
  • Smartphone port keeps you connected to family and friends.
  • Washout port has a connection for attaching a water hose, so you can clean the blades without getting under the machine.
  • Step-through design allows for easy mounting and dismounting.

Warranty

You can always tell the strength of a product by the guarantee the manufacturer offers. In most cases, a durable product will have an extended guarantee. The length of the warranty may range from two years to a lifetime on specific parts. The warranty is also conditional, meaning the owner is required to perform routine maintenance and use it only as specified in the manual.

Price

troy-bilt has manufactured landscaping equipment since 1937The cost of the riding mower is not an indicator of performance. But more money does buy you heavier, durable components. Besides this, the price depends on the size, style, and features. If the cost of the mower is your primary concern, look for the previous year's model. Many times, the machines will have similar features. However, the newer models come equipped with the latest technological improvements. Take a glimpse at what you can expect in each price range.

  • Entry-level: You won't find too many extras on entry-level models. Still, they get the job done. Costing less than $1500, they work well on small, even lawns that are less than an acre. Usually, they are made from inexpensive materials and have low-quality tires. Therefore, they do not provide as much stability as pricier models. Attachment options will vary, depending on the engine's position. Some front-engine models support bagging, discharging, and mulching accessories.
  • Mid-range: A ride-on in this category generally costs between $1500 and $2500. For the price, you get a reliable engine, durable tires, and higher maneuverability. They also have a variety of features and accept attachments to perform light-duty landscaping chores.
  • High-end: For over $2500, you can expect to get a heavy-duty, feature-rich machine. Naturally, high-end models are more and provide better stability. Most models come with V-twin engines. You'll find a variety of comfort features such as adjustable seats, semi-transparent fuel gauges, USB ports, and cupholders.

Leading Manufacturers

We combed through an extensive list of manufacturers looking for riding machines that mentioned in our testing analysis. The following brands earned solid marks. Models in our Riding Mower Review Test include, but are not limited to, John Deere, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Toro, Poulan, and Ryobi.

  • 1. John Deere
  • 2. Husqvarna
  • 3. Cub Cadet
  • 4. Troy-Bilt
  • 5. Toro
  • 6. Poulan
  • 7. Ryobi

A trusted name for over 180 years, John Deere is known for manufacturing high-quality, reliable riding mowers. The machines come equipped with powerful engines, effortless steering, and responsive foot pedals. John Deere offers a line of over seven riding mowers with deck widths from 42” to 54”.

You probably won't find a John Deere riding mower that both testers and owners don't love. Their machines have a well-thought-out design, easy-to-use controls, smooth starts, and provide a clean cut. In our Riding Lawn Mower Review Test, John Deere mowers ranked as the most reliable of any other brand.

Husqvarna is a Swedish manufacturer specializing in compact riding mowers with choke-less start engines and automatic transmissions. To date, the company has 37 models in its 300-series collection. Most of their machines feature ergonomic steering, an adjustable seat, and come equipped to hold a variety of accessories.

Owners of complex landscapes report that the Husqvarna riding mowers maneuver effortlessly. Most of Husqvarana's machines include hydrostatic-operated foot pedals, which lets the operators’ hands remain on the wheel while changing the direction and speed.

Testers note the models by this manufacturer offer a comfortable mowing experience with easily accessible controls.

As an industry leader, Cub Cadet has built innovative riding mowers in the United States since 1961. The company makes a line of electronic fuel injection riding machines that deliver an accurate air-to-fuel ratio to reduce fuel use. Each mid-range to high-end model receives coats of Cub Cadets patented Corrosion Defense System to guard the machine against the elements.

Users like the way the models in the Cub Cadet line handle and cut. Most of this brand's machines have an infinitely variable drive system, which lets users change speeds while in motion.

Headquartered in Valley City, Ohio, Troy-Bilt has manufactured landscaping equipment since 1937. The company has plants across the country, including five in the United States. Its top-rated riding mowers include a diverse range of transmission options.

Operators appreciate the patented Soft Touch Steering Wheel and an integrated deck wash system on the Troy-Built riding mowers.

Toro is a market leader in lawn maintenance tools. With over 100 years in the business, the company continues to improve the performance of its products, including zero-turn riders with deck widths between 32″ and 60″. Its Time Cutter series features a rear engine and a braking system that instantly engages the parking brake and shuts off the cutting deck when users hop on and off the machine.

In riding lawn mower tests, experts noted that Toro models are robust and offer a smooth ride. Users appreciate the well-placed controls, comfortable seating, and leg room.

Poulan started as a small chainsaw company back in 1946. Over three decades later, it began adding mowers to its portfolio. Today, it offers an assortment of American made landscaping products, including lever and pedal-operated riding mowers. You will find their lawn tractors equipped with Briggs and Straton engines, spring-assisted cutting height levers and anti-scalping wheels.

Buyers note that Poulan riding mowers are excellent tools for uneven terrain. Test results support these statements. Poulan machines received high-performance marks in Riding Mower Review Tests.

Ryobi was founded in 1943 and operates from its headquarters in Japan. Its electric riding machines are a favorite among millions of property owners. The mowers offer intuitive handling and have quiet rear-end engines. All of their models come equipped with cruise control and a USB port to charge smartphones.

Environmentally-conscious owners are extremely pleased with the mowers from this brand. They cite noise-free engines, convenient controls, and low maintenance.

Internet vs. Brick and Mortar: Where is the best place to buy a riding mower?

Toro is a market leader in riding lawn mower maintenance toolsWhen you are investing in a piece of equipment like a riding mower, where you make the purchase is a significant factor to consider. On the one hand, you may be able to talk to knowledgeable salespeople, who can offer a little more information about the machine you plan to buy at a brick and mortar store. On the other hand, you can get a better idea of how the lawn tractor performs by reading customer feedback on the internet. But when it comes to factors like selection, price, and delivery, which option is best? We offer a few facts for you to ponder.

Selection

Most brick and mortar stores don’t have the space to house a variety of tractors. Instead, they may put a few models on display and show you a catalog of the riding mowers they carry. If they do have your preference on the showroom floor, they may allow you to sit on it. Unless you go to a retailer that specifically sells outdoor power equipment, you probably will not be able to take the riding lawn mower for a test drive. Still, if you have questions about a machine's feature, a knowledgeable associate can provide answers that may put your mind at ease.

Online stores offer a better more selection. Additionally, you can gauge a mower's performance by reading customer reviews or watching videos highlighting the machines features.

Cost

To find the best deal compare prices and features of several models. Usually, buying a riding mower online is cheaper than buying it at a retail store because there is no overhead or taxes added to the cost. However, some retail stores will match the price of a competitor, if you provide proof that the riding mower is the same model.

Manufacturer's Assurance

There is no difference in the warranty at a physical store or online. You automatically get the manufacturer’s guarantee when you make the purchase. Plus, both locations offer extended warranties.

Delivery

Without a doubt, you can find an online store that offers free delivery with an option to pay for professionals to assemble the machine once it arrives at your home. Most physical locations offer delivery service and provide you with the choice of expert assembly. Nonetheless, free delivery is rarely an option. Also, you may be able to bring the machine home if you go to a physical store. However, unless you have a large truck equipped with a towing hitch, you will have to shell out money for a rental. Additionally, you will be responsible for the loading and unloading of the machine. You will either need to drive it up a ramp or make sure it is hitched securely to the towing vehicle. If anything goes wrong while transporting the riding mower from the store's lot to your home, you are solely responsible.

Returns

Each store has a different return policy. Many stores charge a restocking fee. Be sure to inquire about the plan before you purchase at a physical store. Search for return options when you buy online.

Verdict

Shopping online offers many conveniences. You can search through a comprehensive selection, compare prices and features, and get exactly what you want, as opposed to settling for what a brick and mortar location has available. Plus, you can order your choice any time of day or night.

Useful Information and Advice

There's no doubt that you will benefit considerably from the use of a riding mower if your lawn is over a half-acre. Still, before you spend your hard-earned dollars on a riding machine, you need to put a lot of thought into your decision.

Not every riding mower is suited for every purpose. So, make sure you assess your landscape to determine the type of mower you need. If you have a flat lawn with no tight spaces or obstacles, you have a broader range of choices. However, if you must squeeze the mower into narrow spaces and maneuver around trees, a zero-turn radius mower may be your best option. On the other hand, if you have thick grass and steep inclines, you’ll need a machine that delivers more power like a garden tractor.

Whichever model, you decide to purchase, make sure it has everything you need to complete the job efficiently. You will find brands that offer the same features, but one may be pricier. In this case, take the manufacturer's reputation into account. Remember, no matter what brand you choose, there is a possibility that your mower may require service or repair outside of your skill set. Compare warranties to see which manufacturer offers the best guarantee.

Manufacturers use specific terminology to describe the features of riding mowers. Becoming familiar with industry jargon will help you make an informed decision. We have provided a comprehensive list under a separate heading, so we will not duplicate them here.

Once you take possession of your new riding mower, keep these tips in mind for optimal performance.

Lawn Care Tips

mowing is a critical component of a healthy lawnMowing is a critical component of a healthy lawn, but you still must tend to it each season to maintain its green vibrancy. In the spring, rake any remaining leaves, apply fertilizer, and mow high. You will also want to take care of any weeds and patch dead spots. Continue to mow high in the summer, water, and feed. Come fall, mow the grass short, fertilize, seed, and mulch the leaves. Consider any problems you had with the lawn during the winter months and plan to take care of them in the spring.

  • Ideally, you should cut grass at least every other week.
  • Only cut one-third of the tips of grass at a time. If it is too tall for your liking, increase the time between the next mow.
  • Avoid cutting the grass too short in the spring and summer. Doing so exposes weeds to the sun, which helps them grow. It also makes the lawn receptive to drought.
  • It is best to mow grass during the cooler part of the day so that it can retain more water.
  • Do not mow the lawn when it is wet. Damp grass tends to clump. The result is a clogged mower with reduced speeds.
  • Mowing the lawn in the opposite direction with each mowing will make the blades of grass stand up straight and decrease the chances of it growing into a set pattern.
  • Mow only in the daytime.

Tips for Maintaining Your Riding Lawn Mower

Cleaning the riding mower after each use is critical to its performance and longevity. With some models, you have to lift the cutting deck to clean the blades. Other machines feature an attachment for a hose. The water swirls around the blades and comes out the bottom of the ride-on. Experts recommend running the engine up to 10 minutes to make sure the mower dries completely.

  • Consult the owner’s manual before using the riding mower, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, make sure it is accessible always.
  • Before each mow, check fuel levels, inspect the tires, test the brakes, and tighten in loose fasteners.
  • After mowing, clean the deck and examine the blades to make sure there was no damage during cutting.
  • Keep pivot points and spindles lubricated to ensure the best performance.
  • Frequently sharpen the cutting blades, so you get a smooth, uniform cut each time you mow. Dull blades can fray the grass and cause damage.
  • Perform routine services such as oil and filter changes.
  • Store the riding mower in a dry, protected place when not in use.
  • Handle gasoline with caution.
  • Use manufacturer-approved fuel.
  • Make sure to tighten the gas cap.
  • Do not smoke while servicing the machine.
  • Let gas-powered machines cool before refueling, repairing, or storing.
  • If you spill fuel, clean it immediately and change your clothes.
  • Inspect components frequently and only replace with manufacturer’s recommended parts, when necessary.
  • When servicing blades, wrap them, wear gloves and be extremely careful.
  • Test brakes frequently.

Riding Lawn Mower Safety Tips

The US Consumer Protection Commission estimates that 34,000 people receive emergency room treatment due to riding lawn mower injuries. A riding lawn mower can hurl objects and cause severe injuries. Minimize risks and follow safety guidelines.

  • Read, comprehend and follow, the instructions and safety guidelines in the owner's manual.
  • To ensure safety while working on your machine, unplug the battery and work in a well-lit, ventilated area on a hard, flat surface.
  • Keep hands and feet away from rotating blades
  • Make sure the lawn is clear of objects before mowing.

 

Riding Lawn Mower Operating Tips

It doesn't matter if you've been mowing for years, or if it is your first time on a riding mower, you need to operate the machine carefully.
  • Wearing protective gear like safety goggles, earplugs, gloves, and closed-toe shoes offer protection while operating a riding lawn mower.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings, bystanders, and cords.
  • Do not ride with another person on the mower
  • Move slowly up and down inclines. Never drive across.
  • If the machine stops while going uphill, stop the blades and steer the machine straight while moving downhill.
  • If you accidentally hit or run over a foreign object, stop the machine to inspect it for any damage. If necessary, repair it before restarting.
  • If it necessary to mow in reverse, always look behind you while moving backward.
  • Disengage the blades when traveling over gravel surfaces.
  • Make slow turns.
  • Set the parking brake and stop the engine before getting off the machine.

Interesting Facts about Lawns and Lawn Mowers

a few interesting facts and statistics about lawns and lawn mowers that may surprise youAccording to the Lawn Institute, the lifespan of a single blade of grass is 40 days. Their unique composition creates a long-lasting green expanse. When the clippings from mowing fall to the ground, they provide nutrients to help the turf grow. A healthy 10,000 square foot lawn contains about 8.5 million stems of grass. On average, grass grows three inches each month. Here are a few interesting facts and statistics about lawns and lawn mowers that may surprise you.

  • Since 2010, sales of riding lawn mowers have increased faster than purchases of walk-behind mowers.
  • Over 60 million property owners own a basic riding mower, and 25 million have a garden tractor. Zero-turn mowers are expected to surpass these numbers in the next few years.
  • The average American spends $363 a year on their lawn; works approximately 208 hours a year caring for their green plots and use about 238 gallons per day watering the grass.
  • A well-maintained lawn increases the property value by 15-20 percent. Also, it provides oxygen and helps control pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide and trapping dirt and other pollutants.
  • Price trusted brand, and features are the top three motivators for purchasing a riding lawn mower according to a survey conducted consumer research group, NPD.
  • Most riding mowers can hold a person weighing up to 300 pounds.
  • In 2003 the US Consumer Protection Safety Commission issued standards to prevent blades from operating while the machine is in reverse. However, the user may override this feature.
  • The blades on riding mowers spin at 3,000 revolutions per minute, which is the criteria set by the American National Standards Institute.
  • Before 1955, the British government required operators to have a license to operate a lawnmower.
  • The pink flamingo, which symbolizes beauty is the most popular lawn ornament.
  • AstroTurf, originally called Chemgrass was patented in 1967.

History


In England, green lawns were a sign of wealth. Whereas the rich kept well-manicured lawns to enjoy sports like croquet, the commoner used his grass to feed livestock. American yards were mostly packed with dirt or contained vegetable and flower gardens until the late 1800s.

Before the design of the lawn mower, owners of affluent properties paid caretakers to keep their grass in tip-top shape. They used hand tools like scythes and sickles to trim the blades of grass. Those who could not afford to pay helpers used these tools themselves or allowed chicken and cattle to graze the field to keep the grass under control. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson let sheep roam their grounds to manage the lawn's height.

ryobi riding lawn mowers offer intuitive handling and have quiet rear-end enginesEdwin Beard Budding received the first patent for a mechanical grass-cutting machine in 1830. Budding came up with the concept while studying a nap-shearing device at the textile factory where he worked in England. Landscapers used his invention to mow the grass of sports arenas and large estates. The machine, referred to as a cylinder mower, featured curved blades that ran the width of a large roller. It had a box in the front to catch the clippings. The wheel-activated mower had a wrought iron frame. A handle extended from the base, allowing an operator to push it from the rear. Mowers have evolved since then from wheel-activated gadgets to gas and electric-powered riding machines.

From the mid-1800s to through the 20th century, inventors have tweaked Buddings invention to make it lighter, faster, and more efficient. However, due to competing for interest around the world, and conflicting information from historians, it is unclear who deserves credit for the some of the designs. In such cases, we refrain from assigning credit or using the word “first.”

  • In 1859, Thomas Green created a mower, which he named the Silens Messor (silent cutter). His machine was driven by chains, which were much quieter than Buddings cylinder mower.
  • Three years later, the Ferrabee company mass produced eight models. Each machine featured a roller with a different size than the next.
  • Amariah Hills of Connecticut received the first U.S. mower patent in 1868. Horses outfitted in boots pulled chain-driven machines.
  • The year was 1870 when Elwood McGuire came up with a lighter version of the mower. However, it was insufficient for mowing large lawns and caused the operator to tire quickly.
  • In 1893, James Sumner designed the first steam-powered mower. Since the machine used petrol or kerosene as fuel, operators complained it took too long to start.
  • By 1899, John Albert Burr secured a patent for an enhanced version of the Budding's cylinder lawn mower. The improved design featured a different positioning of the wheels, which made it possible to mow closer to fences and buildings.
  • A riding mower resembling a bicycle with handlebars and a padded seat was introduced in the 1900s. Instead of two wheels, it had four tires with horizontal blades between the front and rear rollers. As the user pedaled the machine, the blades rotated, shaving the turf.
  • Gas-powered ride-on was produced in the United States in the early 1900s.
  • The 1920s brought the production of rotary and electric-powered lawn mowers.

we familiarized ourselves with the history and mechanics of the riding lawn mowerWith more people buying homes during the economic boom in the 1950s, the popularity of mowers grew. Until that time, the machine of choice was a reel mower with a circular blade. This gadget required an operator to push it from behind. The walk-behind mower served property owners well until 1952. During that year, small engines made it possible to cut massive swaths of grass, and dozens of brands entered the market with their version of the riding mower. These machines had horizontal blades that spun much quicker than the reel mower.

By the 1960s sales soared and the watchful eye of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took notice. Still, it wasn't until 2008, that the EPA decided to order manufacturers to produce cleaner mowers. With technological advancements on the horizon, the rule was not difficult to implement.

Today’s riding mowers have lower gasoline emissions with catalytic converters to help reduce air pollution and muffling devices to stifle the noise. Additionally, more manufacturers have added battery-powered mowers to their line-ups.

Manufacturers continuously make improvements to make riding mowers easier to operate, safer to ride, and fun to use. Many come with a variety of configurations that allow you to customize your mowing experience. You will find machines equipped with blade brakes or kill switches to stop the blades from spinning and shut off the motor in case of an emergency. They also come with variable speed adjustments, push-button controls, and tight turning capabilities. Some riding mowers also have adjustable seats, cupholders, and ports to plug in smartphones or an MP3 player.

Accessories

take a look at accessories to ease your riding lawn mowers care burdensThe tasks of raking, bagging and spreading weed killer and grass food is almost as tiring as mowing the grass with a walk-behind mower. If you plan on investing in a riding mower, you should take a look at accessories to ease your lawn care burdens. Most riding mowers are configured to support at least one or more landscaping tools. Some manufacturers may include an attachment with the machine to make the offer more attractive.

For the most part, you will need to purchase the item separately. Few machines have 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 functions used for discharging, bagging, and mulching. With the right tools, you can haul stumps, aerate the ground, and more. Here's a list of a few invaluable accessories to help reduce your workload.
Side-discharger: Mowers with side discharge outlets distribute the cut grass back onto the lawn through a chute for later raking. Make sure you are up for this task. If the grass is not cut into mulch, it may suffocate your lawn.

Bagger: Instead of putting the clippings back onto the lawn, a bag collects the pieces and leaves the turf with a clean appearance. This feature also comes in handy for clearing leaves in the fall. If you have a large lawn, opt for a huge container to reduce the number of trips you will need to make for emptying.

Mulch Kit: Not all mowers have a mulcher attached. A mulch kit connects to the mower deck to convert clippings into mulch. Usually, the package includes a plate, blades, and mounting hardware. With this attachment, the machine dices the grass pieces and spits them back onto the yard to disintegrate back into the soil, feeding the grass and adding nutrients.

Aerator: This device is used to punch holes in the ground to allow water, oxygen, and nutrients to penetrate the soil for a healthier lawn.

Dump Cart: These accessory mounts to the back of the mower and is used to haul yard debris and lawn tools.

Tiller: The tiller breaks up soil, sod, and clay as the mower rides through the grounds.

Spreader: As the name implies, this handy tool distributes seed and fertilizer.

Dethatcher: This tool removes the dead grass that sits between the soil and the surface.

Roller: The roller is a large cylindrical tool used to pack down new sod and reverse mole damage. It has to be filled with water or sand to add weight to the drum. They can also be used to create a stripe effect. As you mow, it forces the grass to lay in one direction.

Snow Blade: This component resembles a large shovel and attaches to the front of certain models to remove snow from the pavement.

Leaf Collector: There are two types of accessories you can use to remove the leaves from the lawn. A leaf blower is a perfect fall accessory used for blowing the leaves off the lawn. Another tool is a vacuum that sucks the leaves through a hose and deposits them in a container.

Sweeper: A sweeper is like a rake. It removes debris from the lawn.

Riding Mower Alternatives

Besides the traditional push-reel and gas-powered walk-behind mowers, you will find tow-behind lawnmowers, stand-on mowers, and robotic machines.

Robotic

Robotic lawnmowers (or mowbots) quietly take care of your cutting duties. With these battery-operated machines, once you program them at set the perimeter with a guiding wire, it travels through the yard to cut the grass with ease. You can watch it work or let it tend to the trimming while you relax.

robotic lawnmowers or mowbots quietly take care of your cutting dutiesThey operate with a GPS system, and many features an app that allows you to set a schedule and view the machine as it cuts the lawn. Some models have an electronic eye that senses obstacles, so it doesn't damage the blades by attempting to roll over or through them. A few machines come with anti-theft devices and sound an alarm if someone tries to remove it from the area.

It works well for almost any type of lawn when the grass is dry and can detect an incline and makes its way up or down as necessary. The only maintenance required to keep the machine running is changing the blades. Once the machine completes the job, it drives itself to a docking station to rest until it is time for the next mowing.

Hover Mowers

These lightweight machines have handles resembling the walk-behind models. It floats over the tips of the grass as the operator moves it over the lawn. Since it does not have wheels, it can be moved quickly in either direction without leaving marks. Most of these machines are made of plastic, making its use on rough terrain difficult. Still, they are perfect for slicing tall grass and weeds on steep slopes and around waterfalls.

Tow-behind

Tow-behind mowers cannot move on their own. Instead of requiring a human to propel the machine forward like a walk-behind mower, they connect to the rear of a ride-on to lead it over the terrain. They are bulky and costly but can cut large swaths of grass. Usually, you will find three types of models: rough-cut, finish-cut, and gang-reel. The rough-cut machines are designed to tackle thick brush and weeds. Finish-cut mowers offer the same results as using a standard mowing machine. Gang-reel motors are used to cut large expanses of land.

Stand-on

These mowers have zero-turn capabilities. Instead of sitting, the operator stands on a platform to guide the machine as it cuts the grass. Unlike mowers with seats, it offers stability when riding on slopes.

FAQs

 

What Size Cutting Deck Do I Need?

What Size Cutting Deck Do I Need?

If your lawn is less than a half-acre and no more than one acre, cutting decks with widths between 38″ to 40″ is sufficient. You will find a riding mower with a 42″ cutting deck sufficient for one and two-acre lawns. For a lawn over two acres, use a machine with at least a 46″ cutting deck.

How Much Horsepower Do I Need?

How Much Horsepower Do I Need?

More horsepower (hp) allows your engine to generate more power, reducing the time it takes to mow the property. Generally, a 14 hp engine produces enough power to cut up to an acre of grass. You will need 14-16 hp to cut lawns between one and two acres. An 18-24 hp engine can handle three acres of grass or more.

How Fast Should I Go on a Riding Mower?

How Fast Should I Go on a Riding Mower?

It's only natural to want to test the speed limit of a riding mower. Depending on the model, a ride-on can reach up to 8 mph. But mowing fast is not best for your lawn. It is better to mow your grass at a relaxed pace to protect your grass and the equipment. In fact, professionals recommend a pace of about 3 1/2 mph. Mowing too fast may cause an uneven cut, which can make the grass turn brown in some spots. Additionally, the deck belts will wear quickly, if you cut too fast.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Riding Mower?

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Riding Mower?

On average, a riding mower will last about ten years. Still, you must factor the frequency of use and how well you maintain the machine.

Why Is Easy Handling Important?

Why Is Easy Handling Important?

Easy handling reduces the effort it takes to steer the riding mower around flower beds, shrubs, and other landscape barriers.

How Do I Dispose of My Grass Clippings?

How Do I Dispose of My Grass Clippings?

You have three options: discharging, bagging, and mulching. With discharging mowers, the machine shoots the clippings onto the lawn for raking. Discharging mowers leave the pieces of grass on the lawn after cutting. Mulching mowers chop the grass into fine pieces and put it back into the soil to act as a fertilizer. Bagging allows the users to gather grass clippings and leaves. It is the perfect tool for individuals who like to compost.

Which Parts Wear Out the Fastest?

Which Parts Wear Out the Fastest?

At times, you will need to replace components like belts, blades, covers, and containers. You will need to perform periodic checks to ensure no parts are damaged. If there is any sign of bent, dull or damaged parts replace them immediately. For optimal performance, always buy replacement parts from the original equipment manufacturer or an authorized dealer. If you are unable to repair the mower, seek professional help.

How Do I Know Which Attachments I Need for My Ride-on?

How Do I Know Which Attachments I Need for My Ride-on?

Consider all the extra work you must do to maintain your lawn. Supplemental tools help complete these tasks quicker. Instead of raking the leaves, for example, you can attach a mulching kit to spread them through the yard. A snow blade is another useful attachment that makes snow removal easier.

Do Optional Accessories Offer a Universal Fit?

Do Optional Accessories Offer a Universal Fit?

You may find a few accessories that are designed to fit on any ride-on. Many times, you will need to install additional pieces to customize the fit. It is best to purchase the accessory that is specifically designed to suit the riding power you buy.

Do Riding Mowers Come Assembled?

Do Riding Mowers Come Assembled?

It is rare to find a ride-on that is pre-assembled. In most cases, you will need to connect the seat, battery cables, and a few small parts.

References:

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

Consumer Reports

US Consumer Products Safety Commission

American National Standards Institute

Family Handyman

The Lawn Institute

Popular Mechanics

Gardener's World

How Stuff Works

Repair Clinic

American Lawns

1 Stern2 Sterne3 Sterne4 Sterne5 Sterne (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...