Riding lawn mower is characterized by a grass-cutting machine and a driver’s seat. Simply put, it refers to the lawn mowers that are not pushed or walked behind but driven by a rider. These mowers are meant for large gardens and are equipped with powerful engines and large cutting decks.
In addition, riding mowers have specific features like the presence of cup holders, a parking brake and suspension under the seat.
This article is about best riding lawn mowers but before we go on to script down the models, check some useful information below which would be helpful in finding the mower which is beneficial for you.
There are two types, furthermore, they can be either gasoline or electric powered riding lawn mowers.
1. Lawn or garden tractors
As the name suggests, they resemble a tractor with the engine up front or on the rear and a steering wheel. The method of operation of lawn tractors is pretty straight-forward. You have to turn the steering wheel left or right to turn the mower. The cutting deck sits under your foot and its height can be controlled usually through a single lever.
2. Zero turn lawn mowers
They are called so because they can be steered at a turning radius of zero which means, when you have to turn the mower, it becomes a pivot as a whole and rotates clockwise or anticlockwise without covering any distance.
The method of operation of zero turn riding mower is unique: there is a set of control handle which actually controls the wheels of both sides. To turn the mower in a particular direction, you need to pull back the handle of that side.
For example, if you want to turn right, the right handle is pulled back while the left handle is pushed in the forward direction.
Keeping both the levers together over your lap will take them to a neutral position, pushing them forward will take the mower in a forward direction while pulling it back behind the neutral position, if allowed, will either slow down the mower or take it in reverse.
Although, this is a unique manner of the steering but it takes only a few minutes to master it. By the way, this is the exact manner in which line following robots take turns.
Choosing the best riding mower may be very tough online and in the market depending on the options you have but if you figure out your need and know how to choose it, it becomes easier.
There are some basic points that need to be evaluated to simplify the equation of the choice of the best riding lawn mower.
1. Yard size
It is absolutely insane to buy a lawn tractor of worth $3000 with a cutting width of 54 inches for your half-acre lawn. Every garden needs a different size of the mower and we tell you how to relate these two quantities.
- Mower with cutting widths 30-42 inches is suitable for lawns up to half-acre size.
- For lawns up till 1 acre, 38-46 inches is enough.
- For Gardens bigger than an acre, you should choose from 48-60 inches cutting deck mowers.
Of course, you may opt to step aside from these comparisons depending on your personal needs but this is generally what you need to be considering.
There are three types of transmissions currently installed in the riding lawn mowers.
Manual transmission is hard to use but doesn’t give away easily, automatic transmission that is very easy to handle and a hydrostatic transmission that uses fluid to transfer power.
Automatic transmission is the most inexpensive of all but may require maintenance of the quickest as well.
Normally, good brands like Husqvarna and Troy-Bilt are using hydrostatic transmission in the mowers because they are the smoothest in operation and can provide cruise control which makes mowing operation on flat lands a piece of cake.
Apart from your personal desire on which transmission you prefer, the size and terrain of the yard will also have a definite say in the decision. If you have a very large yard, manual gearing will tire you up especially if it also contains slopes.
3. Engine Horsepower
You need to analyze the horsepower according to the size of the yard, the length of the grass and the terrain of the yard. For plain 1-acre gardens, the engine of 13-18HP is suitable while you need slightly higher ratings for inclined gardens. It should be kept in mind that greater the power of the engine, the more expensive will the mower be.
Yes, very important. They say “money can’t buy happiness” but money, for sure, buys you lawn mowers. You’ll find riding lawn mowers in a price range of $1200 to $6000 depending on the features and other qualities.
No matter how accurately you arrive on the decision of your best riding lawn mower, if you are not in the possession of money required to purchase it, it’s simply goodbye.
We advise you to look for models within your price range from the start because once you get to like a model and it’s out of your price range, it would be hard to get it off your mind.
4. Terrain Type
Another significant factor. A plain yard is the simplest and can be mowed using any drive type or weight of the mower but if it is uneven, you need to have a mower with suspensions and rugged wheels.
Similarly, if the yard has inclines, a rear wheel or all-wheel drive is the preferred option. You also need to keep the weight in check when selecting models for slopes because the greater the weight, the larger is the magnitude of the opposing force when you drive up the slope.
We discussed the top models of riding lawn mowers categorically. This would make things very easy because you need not read the whole article just to locate the mower suiting your need.
Hope you find the mower of your dreams. Happy finding!
11 Best Riding Lawn Mowers For The Money
Best Riding Lawn Mower For 1 Acre
1 acre yard can be handled by the mowers with the cutting decks of 30-48 inches depending on the time you are ready to give to the mowing job. Usually, residential gardens are not greater than an acre, therefore, we have chosen a small riding mower as our top pick for this category. If you are looking mowers for tiny gardens or small yard less than 1 acre then check out our buying guide of best lawn mowers for small yards.
1. Troy-Bilt 382cc (Best Under $1500 Riding Mower For Small Gardens)
This might not be a surprise for lawnmower gurus to see this model in this category because it deserves this place on all grounds. It went out of stock for the previous week but has once again, flocked in the stores because of customers demand.
Owing to its 382cc engine, it can achieve speeds of 4.25 MPH on plain terrains. The tank capacity is 1.3 gallons so you can undergo 2-3 mowing repetitions easily with it. To cut grass of different heights, the 30-inch cutting deck is incorporated with 5 height adjustments. Fast moving blades are sharp enough to cut the grass clippings in small pieces evenly.
Its turning radius is 18 inches and holds a front-rear wheel ratio of 13:16. Especially the rear wheels are thick and rugged in nature which allows the mower to access all types of grass without facing any difficulty. The only thing limiting the action of this recognized model somehow is high inclines and we recommend that you choose a different model if the garden has a lot of slopes.
Furthermore, the seat is extremely soft and the 13-inch steering wheel is padded with grip. You can ride this tractor for extended periods of time without complaining about body aches or pains. There are a cup holder and storage compartment on side of it for your further convenience.
- 382cc auto choke engine
- 30-inch cutting deck with 5 height adjustments
- Rear wheel drive
- Cutting radius of 18 inches
- 3 gallon fuel capacity
- 16 inch rear and 13 inch front wheels
- Comfortable seat and steering wheel
- Highly recommended by customers
Best Riding Lawn Mower For 2 Acre
2 acre yards demand larger cutting decks and we have chosen the model accordingly. It is difficult for a 2-acre land to be all flat entirely hence we have considered the factor of inclines as well and chosen the model which can handle uneven paths and rough terrains too.
2. Troy-Bilt 540cc (Best Ride On Mower For Medium Size Gardens)
Uniquely designed because of the presence of a large engine exterior front, this model is a powerful machine that gets the mowing job done of a 2-acre land in 45 minutes.
Administered by a 540cc Briggs & Stratton Intek engine, it is equipped with a foot pedal automatic transmission which is convenient in use and smooth in running. There is a non-slip foot pad for safe embarking and disembarking.
As for the cutting deck, it is 46 inches in width and supports mowing and side discharge capabilities. You can also buy a mulching kit separately. The effectiveness of mowing is enhanced by the reverse mow function which enables the cutting of tight corners as well.
Although a turning radius of 16 inches means it can be steered while taking some space but a reverse function is always handy especially if your garden has slopes or many areas of particular plantations (like curved flowerbeds, tree section e.t.c).
Additionally, it has a large 20 inch rear and 15-inch front wheels which can go over any type of terrain. It can be sped through 7 speeds depending on the type of terrain and the time of mowing even has a headlight so mowing in dark is also not completely out of the equation.
Riding seat is very comfortable and the steering is ergonomic in design. This Troy-Bilt 540cc model is backed with a 2-year warranty which makes it a reliable option.
- 540cc Briggs & Stratton engine
- 460inch cutting deck
- Reverse mowing function
- Large rear and front wheels
- 2-year warranty
- Foot-controlled automatic transmission
Best Riding Lawn Mower For 3 Acres
If you are mowing a 3-acre land with a slow mower in terms of moving and cutting speed both, it would take ages to get the grass you desire, therefore, we had to choose the model which is not only equipped with a powerful engine but has fast-moving blade configuration as well.
3. Ariens Ikon-X 52’’ (Fast Speed Riding Mower For Medium to Large Lawns)
With a 52-inch cutting deck that is fabricated with 10-gauge steel and is 4.5-inch deep, this zero turn mower is our top pick for 3-acre gardens.
The mower is furnished with a strong Kawasaki engine that is rated at a horsepower of 23. It is a 4-stroke engine and the pistons are arranged in V-shape for efficient and silent operation.
The electronic spark ignition makes sure that it kicks off even in cold weathers.
The most noticeable feature is, however, the height adjustments it can manage. You can cut grass of heights 1.5-4.5 inches through quarter-inch increments. That means you can handle any type of grass and terrain with this zero turn mower. Be it mowing grass along flower beds or small inclines with water features bordering them, you can do it all.
Furthermore, the frame is very durable, seats are highly padded, controls are easy-to-use. Wheels are large and rugged enough to go over wet grass especially the rear wheels gives this mower enhanced traction and maneuverability. You can also either mulch or bag with this riding mower.
- 52-inch cutting deck
- 13 height adjustments
- 23HP Kawasaki engine
- Zero turn cutting radius
- Durable frame
- Padded seats and rugged wheels
If you’re looking lawn mower for wet grass cutting then check buying guide of best lawn mowers for cutting wet grass.
Best Riding Lawn Mower For 5 Acres
Such a large piece of the garden are usually available commercially only. One who can afford such yards can also manage to spend plenty on a lawn mower due to which we have brought forward an expensive model for this category but even at that price tag, it provides great value for the money as it is furnished with enhanced utility and supreme performance. Many customers have tested and recommended this riding lawn mower.
4. Husqvarna MZ61 (Best Selling Zero Turn Mower For Large Gardens)
This is a powerhouse, a giant in the field of lawn mowing and also a best selling zero turn radius lawn mower. With a 61-inch cutting deck and an absolute monster 27HP engine, this mower is everything you need for manicuring your lawn’s grass. It offers enhanced comfort and reliability.
Equipped with a 27HP Briggs & Stratton engine which is V-twin in nature, you get more efficiency and power and such a heavy rating is very rare amongst zero turn mowers. It wouldn’t leave any portion of the lawn unattended. Then, there is the hydrostatic gear transmission which is an improved scheme of force transmission and drive control. It accounts for smooth steering and easy maneuverability.
Thirdly, there is the steel cutting deck which is 61 inches wide and very durable. You will have no issue standing or stepping on it. It is furnished with a 3-blade cutting system which works together to deliver a superior grass cut. They are fashioned out of stainless steel and wouldn’t catch rust thus have a longer life.
Engine holds a capacity of 5 gallons of fuel due to which you can have multiple phases of mowing before having to refill it, it can move in both forward and reverse direction and supports all 3 types of grass cut schemes along with a 9-bushel grass catcher bag. The seat is very comfortable and vibration dampers minimize any jerks traveling to your body. You would also get an hour meter which depicts the time when it requires service. Keep it well maintained and it will serve you for years. As a whole, it is a brilliant purchase despite its lofted price tag.
- 27HP Briggs & Stratton engine which is V-twin in nature
- Hydrostatic gear transmission
- 61-inches cutting deck
- 3-blade cutting system
- Grass cut schemes (low, high, medium)
- Contains a 9-bushel large grass catcher bag
- Hour meter
If you’re looking lawn mowers for commercial use then check out the buying of 10 Best Commercial Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mowers.
Best Riding Lawn Mowers For Hills
Riding mowers for hilly terrains must be chosen wisely because they are heavy investments and may deem to be regretful if not decided according to the following considerations.
1. Powerful engine: If you are choosing a 15HP engine for a plain terrain garden, you should be eyeing somewhere between 18-20HP for hills. A high rated engine is one of the top features for the best riding lawn mower for hilly terrain. As driving uphill exerts an opposing force on the vehicle, therefore it must have enough power to slay that force and drive up the slope. Rear or all-wheel drive is the best option for these types of terrain.
2. Height adjustments: Different parts of the hill would have different height of the grass. Some parts which don’t receive enough water will have shorter grass while there will be some points which are ideal for the growth of long weeds. For catering all such situations, you need a mower that can have multiple deck heights so that it can cut grass from every part of the hill. Troy-Bilt, Husqvarna and Cub Cadet are the brands that offer best riding lawn mowers for hilly terrain as their models are extensively laden with height adjustment levels.
3. Weight: They must neither be very heavy so that they are don’t get pulled uphill nor should they be so lightweight that the probability of tipping over is high. Anywhere between 500-700 pounds is an acceptable limit for riding mowers.
5. Husqvarna Z254 (Best Zero Turn Riding Mower For The Homeowners)
It is the best residential zero turn lawn mower for the money and is manufactured by a famous brand Husqvarna. If you have a large sloped yard, Husqvarna Z254 might be the best option for you.
Husqvarna has a cutting deck of width 54 inches and a mighty 26HP Kohler engine. Together, both these capabilities work in partnership to organize a perfect working scheme which can execute a superior grass cut.
It weighs below 700 pounds and is equipped with a parking brake so you can park the mower anywhere.
In addition to it, there is an air induction mowing technology incorporated in the design which draws air from above and below the deck, contributing towards a better grass cut.
The construction of this mower is very durable and the engine is present under the seat section so it is safe from rain. It supports side discharge, mulching, and bagging capability and also have ergonomic control which makes it a very likable model for residential use.
- 26HP engine
- Equipped with a parking brake
- Air induction mowing technology
- Cutting deck is 54 inches wide
- 3-in-1 cutting capability
If you are looking for the best small riding lawn mower for hills, you may choose between Cub Cadet XT1 or Ryobi 38-inch electric mower. Read reviews and key features below.
6.Cub Cadet XT1 (Best For Large Gardens)
It has a cutting width of 42 inches and is largely suitable for yard with greater incline owing to the presence of a gasoline engine rated at 18 HP.
This highly reputable model contains a headlight so it can be used at nights too; a quality which is not a part of the majority of other models. Its cutting deck can be lifted through six height adjustments.
- Cutting width of 42 inches
- 18HP gasoline-powered engine
- Cutting deck can be lifted through six heights
7. Ryobi Electric Riding Mower (Best For Small Lawn Homeowners)
Powered by a 100Ah battery that provides a total run time of 2.5 hours, is very reliable. Owing to the twin 19-inch cutting blades, it is driven with dual brushless motors. It provides a clean and silent grass cut and one can easily be mistaken as to whether the mower is turned on or not especially when the clades are disengaged.
It has a rear-wheel-drive transmission and supports all threes types of grass cutting capabilities. In addition to it, it has a tight cutting radius with a top speed of 8 MPH that gets the mowing job done quickly and comfortably without missing any tight corner. Frames are fashioned out of steel and have a compact design which won’t take too much of space in your garage.
- 38-inch cutting deck
- 100Ah battery which provides a runtime of 2.5 hours
- 2 brushless motors
- Silent operation
- 3-in-1 cutting capability
- Steel frame and compact design for easy storage
- Rear wheel drive
- Cutting height from 1.5-4.5 inches
Best riding lawn mower for uneven terrain, according to us, is Troy-Bilt 540cc. We’ve already written about this model under best riding mower for 2 acre but it will be unjust not to talk about it here. This is largely because of its 20 inch rear and 15-inch front wheels that have the ability to access unlevelled terrain. It has a strong 19HP engine and driven through 7-speed settings.
- 540cc Briggs & Stratton engine
- 460inch cutting deck
- Reverse mowing function
- Large rear and front wheels
- 2-year warranty
- Foot-controlled automatic transmission
If you’re not satisfied with the models listed above then check out the buying guide of Best Lawn Mowers For Hills & Uneven Terrains.
Cheap Riding Mowers For The Money
Now we come across the list which is the favorite of many people because everyone wishes for a highly accessorized mower in a reasonable rate. This category would discuss some of those models that are too good for their price.
8. Troy-Bilt Mustang 46 (Best Under $3000 Riding Mower)
Another great option for the best riding lawn mower with bagger is the Troy-Bilt Mustang 46. It is priced below $3000 but provides the functionality of a much expensive riding mower. The 24HP Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine provides the power and speed required for grass cutting machine to handle all sorts of lawns. You would get a speed up to 7 MPH with this mower and double this with a dual EZT Hydrostatic transmission for smoother handling.
That’s not it.
Mustang 46 has an improved cutting deck which is 46 inches in width, integrated with eight height adjustment settings and incorporated with a deck wash port. How very convenient! You can also use this mower to cut tall grass and then there is the option of attaching a bagger with it to hold the grass clippings. The bagger is easier to attach, large in size and easily removable. It is backed up with 3 years of warranty which explains the faith the company has on this machine.
- Powerful 24 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton engine
- Max Fwd speeds of 7 mph
- Twin Hydro Dual EZT Transmission
- 46-inch cutting deck
- Efficient cutting with integrated premium deck wash
- 8 adjustable cutting height settings
- 360-degree maneuverability to save time without follow-up trimming and utilizes electric Power Take-Off (PTO) for fast blade engagement
- 18-inch high back seat and dual suspension springs for a comfortable smooth ride
- Backed by a 3-year warranty and lifetime frame warranty
Best Riding Lawn Mower Under $2000
Although it is hard to find models of riding lawn mowers under the range of $2000 and those which fall in this category, often don’t promise high reliability. But both of the following models are backed with good customer reviews and a warranty of at least a year.
9. Craftsman T225 (Best Below $2000 Riding Mower)
Beautifully manufactured, and power laden with a 19HP Briggs & Stratton engine, it can be driven in both forward and reverse directions. The foot-operated hydro transmission makes handling a breeze while the large, rugged wheels contribute to authentically high maneuverability.
The 46-inch cutting deck incorporated with sharp blades can convincingly cut, trim and clip grass in a single sweep. It even contains a deck wash port to clean the grass clippings after the mowing job.
In addition to it, the driver seat is highly padded, very comfortable while you can easily add fuel inside the engine through the port present on the front bonnet.
You can operate this mower at night as well owing to its good headlights while the cup holder at the left side ensures that you are never dehydrated during your mowing job. It’s a win-win situation for customers with this model.
- 46-inch cutting deck
- 19HP engine
- Hydro transmission
- Forward and reverse mowing capability
- Large, rugged wheels
- High and comfortable seat
Best Riding Mowers For Tall Grass Cutting
10. Ariens Zoom 34 (Best Petrol Riding Lawn Mower)
This is one of the best petrol lawn mowers for small to medium gardens and has been included in this category particularly because of its height adjustments.
It carries a cutting deck of width 34 inches which is 12 inches thick and contains three sharp blades that can cut long grass effectively. The deck can be raised through 7 heights and cut grass from 1.5-4.5 inches which renders it suitable for handling patches of overgrown grass. The material used for its fabrication is steel.
It is powered by a 19HP Kohler 6000 series engine and contains an oil filter that protects the engine from adulterated oil. The engine along with the mower offers a warranty of 3 years which pretty much depicts the type of quality you have at hand. Not many mowers will offer such a healthy warranty.
Owing to its 5-gallon fuel tank, it can be used for multiple lawn mowing turns and its ability to steer following a zero turn radius makes it even more effective. In addition to it, the seat is very snug, 18 inches long and the driver can easily reach all the controls by sitting.
- 34-inch cutting deck
- 7 height adjustments and cut the grass from 1.5-4.5 inches
- 19HP Kohler 6000 series engine
- 3-year warranty
- 5-gallon fuel tank
- Zero turning radius
- Comfortable 18-inch driver seat
If you’re behind the mulching mowers then check out the buying guide of 14 best mulching mowers.
Keep Your Riding Lawn Mowers Running For A Long Time
1. Change the oil of your riding lawn mower twice a season. Cleaner oil means the engine parts will not get overworked, be well lubricated and encounter running problems less often.
2. When you fell the mowers are taking longer to start, it means it’s time to change the spark plugs.
3. Blow air in the air filter every now and then to minimize the chances engine gets overworked. It takes more doing for the engine to run if the filter is dirty.
If you have a large sloped yard, Husqvarna Z254 might be the best option for you. It has a cutting deck of width 54 inches and a mighty 26HP Kohler engine. Together, both these capabilities work in partnership to organize a perfect working scheme which can execute a superior grass cut. It weighs below 700 pounds and is equipped with a parking brake so you can park the mower anywhere.
In addition to it, there is an air induction mowing technology incorporated in the design which draws air from above and below the deck, contributing towards a better grass cut. The construction of this mower is very durable and the engine is present under the seat section so it is safe from rain. It supports side discharge, mulching, and bagging capability and has ergonomic control which makes it a very likable model for use.
If you are looking for the best small riding lawn mower for hills, you may choose between Cub Cadet XT1 and Ryobi 38-inch electric mower. They have respective cuttings widths of 42 and 38 inches. While the first one is largely suitable for yard with greater incline owing to the presence of a gasoline engine rated at 18HP, the later could be chosen by lawn owners who don’t mind charging the battery. It is powered by a 100Ah battery and gives an extended run time of 2.5 hours. Both of these models are reliable and come from well-reputed brands. The Cub Cadet model contains a headlight so it can be used at nights too; a quality which would not be enjoyed by customers who opt to choose the other. The cutting deck can be lifted through six height adjustments while Ryobi offers fewer.
Best riding lawn mower for uneven terrain, according to us, is Troy-Bilt 540cc. This is largely liked because of its 20inch rear and 15-inch front wheels that have the ability to access unlevelled terrain. It has a strong 19HP engine and driven through 7-speed settings.
- Which is the best mulching riding lawn mower?
There are many good options for mulching riding mower depending on the size of your garden and the money you have to invest. Husqvarna MZ61 is an expensive option for very large yards while Cub Cadet XT1 is suitable for smaller lawns.
- Where can I sharpen my lawn mower’s blades?
You can sharpen the blades form any convenience store or lawn mower retailer that offers maintenance services.
- Why is my riding lawn mower cutting the grass unevenly?
One of the reasons may be uneven tire pressure. Ensure that all the tires have equal air pressure. A second reason could be titled cutting deck. A third reason may be dull cutting blades, so get them sharpen from a nearby store.
- Why does my riding lawn mower blades don’t engage?
It could be because of damaged deck drive belt. Replace the belt if it is loose or broken. If the belt is okay, look for deck parts such as pulleys, springs and spindles. Replace the faulty part.
- Why does the engine of my riding lawn mower run rough?
There could be various reasons. Start with the most obvious one which is stale fuel. Empty the fuel tank and refill it with fresh petrol. If that doesn’t help, check the carburetor if it is gummed up. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, check on the spark plug if its fouled or worn out. Replace it immediately.
Last update on 2019-09-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API