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Best Riding Lawn Mower [2020]

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower
  • Great warranty protection
  • Powerful 24 horsepower engine
  • FAST automatic transmission for tackling large yards


Husqvarna is a trusted international company with a long-standing reputation for providing high-quality outdoor equipment. This includes a wide range of riding lawnmowers like the YTA24V48 24V.

It’s equipped with a Briggs and Stratton engine with a choke-less starting feature for easy ignition. It also has a FAST automatic transmission which allows for variable speed control compared to a hydrostatic transmission. This allows you to clear large swaths of grass via the 48-inch reinforced steel cutting deck, with air induction engineering to the side discharge.

The Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower is also backed by a superior warranty. The entire machine has a comprehensive 3-year limited warranty with 5-year coverage on the frame, chassis and front axle. The reinforced steel cutting deck also has 10 years of protection. This ensures that you will see a significant return on your investment.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower
  • Lightweight and nimble
  • 42-inch cutting deck
  • 17.5 horsepower 420 cc Troy-Bilt engine


The Troy-Bilt Pony is a lightweight riding lawn mower that’s been infused with the manufacturer’s hallmark quality. It has a capable 42-inch cutting deck with nimble handling for weaving around trees, retaining walls, and planting beds.

The 420 cc Troy-Bilt engine sends the power to a hydrostatic transmission which gives you an immediate response when you press down the accelerator. Troy-Bilt even engineered the Pony with a special “Mow in Reverse” feature for times when you might accidentally miss a spot.

The Pony comes setup for side discharge. However, there is a mulching attachment available which helps reduce the impact of dried thatch on the health of your turf. Being able to mulch grass clippings into fine material promotes decomposition, which can even help feed your lawn while reducing the need for seasonal aeration.

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower
  • Electric motor “Green” lawnmower
  • Dual blade 38-inch cutting deck with 12 height settings
  • Special features like a USB phone charger and cruise control


Electric motors promise freedom from traditional fossil fuel engines. It makes the machine responsive and quiet, without producing unpleasant emissions. They continue to grow popularity around the world as a “Green” alternative to gasoline.

Ryobi has a strong reputation or providing electric tools and equipment at the retail level. You see this shining through with their RY48111 electric riding lawnmower.

It has three brushless electric motors that are connected to a 100 Amp Hour lead-acid battery. It’s rated to run up to 2.5 hours and can potentially mow up to 2.5 acres of grass on a single charge. The battery itself can be charged off a standard 120 Volt household outlet without needing a special charging station or accessory power ports.

The 38-inch cutting deck houses two blades with 12 cutting deck height settings. This allows you to trim your grass to the ideal length for the current conditions.

How We Picked

There are a few essential ingredients that you want to look for in the recipe for a high-quality riding lawnmower worthy of your investment.

A reliable engine from a reputable manufacturer is a great first place to start looking. Some mower manufacturers will outsource to well-known vendors like Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh are two of the more popular. Though Kohler and in-house engines are also worthy of your hard-earned dollar.

Transmission type can also be a major factor in how a riding lawnmower uses the horsepower generated by the engine. The manual transmissions that were relatively common a few decades ago have gradually started to give way to more convenient automatic and now hydrostatic transmissions.

The size of the cutting deck influences not only how much grass a riding lawnmower can process in a single pass, but it also impacts the nimbleness. Larger cutting decks are great for clearing large level lawns with plenty of clear runs. Yet they tend to struggle to cut around trees and tight landscaping features.

For smaller yards or lawns with a lot of landscaping to deal with, you might want to prioritize a smaller mower deck in the 42-inch range. This will allow you to weave around obstacles without leaving a lot of stray grass behind for the weed whip to tackle.

Last, but certainly not least is the comfort features. Riding lawnmowers typically produce a lot of vibration that can wear on your hands, back, and neck. If you have a large lawn you might want to also prioritize a high back, adjustable seat to keep you comfortable throughout a long mowing session.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

Specs:

  • 697 cc OVH engine
  • Troy Bilt engine
  • 3-gallon fuel tank
  • 50-inch cutting deck
  • Mow in reverse feature
  • Comfortable high-back seat
  • Soft grip steering wheel
  • 16-inch turning radius

Troy Bilt is one of the trusted names in lawn equipment and riding lawnmowers. They are also headquartered in Ohio with a company philosophy focused on producing products in the United States.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

Their Super Bronco sits near the top of their riding lawnmower line. It has a 697 cc OVH Troy Bilt engine which produces the 26 horsepower delivered to the hydrostatic transmission and blades.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

It includes the standard safety features you expect in a quality riding lawnmower. There is also a comfortable high back seat and padded “Soft Grip” steering wheel.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

It has a 3-gallon fuel tank as well as a 50-inch cutting deck with a special mow in reverse feature. This makes it a good choice for chewing through large swaths of grass without having to stop frequently to refuel. Though the 16-inch turning circle might leave you pulling out the weed whip to clean up around small trees and tight landscaping turns.

What We Liked

The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco has the power and large cutting deck to tackle a large lawn without a lot of annoying refueling stops. The comfort features also keep you from feeling like you’re getting beat up while you cut the grass.

It’s also a nice touch that Troy-Bilt designed it to pass through a standard 36-inch gate. This makes it a nice choice for farms and ranches with a pasture rotation system.

Overall

The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco should be at the top of your list of options if you are looking for a riding lawnmower to tackle a large open lawn. If your lawn is under half an acre, has a lot of small trees or complex landscaping, then it might be a little bit too much overkill. The time you save cutting through open areas will inevitably be lost to the weed whip.

Troy-Bilt Super Bronco Riding Lawn Mower

  • 50-inch mowing deck for large lawns
  • Passes through 36-inch standard gates
  • 3-gallon gas tank

Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower

Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower

Specs:

  • Briggs & Stratton Intek engine
  • 18.5 horsepower
  • 42-inch cutting deck
  • 16-inch turning radius
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • Adjustable high back seat

Husqvarna is an international manufacturer of outdoor equipment and gear. Their riding lawnmower line tends to outsource the engine to other trusted manufacturers, which allows them to focus on their own in-house engineering.

Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower

The YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower was designed to be powerful yet surprisingly nimble. It has an 18.5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton Intek engine, which transfers power to the blade pulley system as well as the hydrostatic transmission drive train.

Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower

The 42-inch cutting deck is large enough to handle larger lawns, yet small enough to carefully work around trees and other landscaping features.

Husqvarna YTH18542 in the garden

It has a 16-inch turning radius with anti-scalping wheels on the cutting deck. This is nice for times when you need to mow over uneven ground or for times when you need to cut the lawn very short. It also has a mow in reverse function to keep the engine from bogging down should you need to do some touching up after a particular turn.

What We Liked

The 42-inch reinforced cutting deck with anti-scalping wheels and a 16-inch turning radius makes the Husqvarna YTH18542 nimble enough to dance around complex landscaping. The mow in reverse feature is also a nice touch.

Overall

This is a nice “All-rounder” for cutting half an acre or so of lawn with a few trees or retaining wall planting beds. If you have a larger lawn of an acre or more, this might not be the most efficient option. It would also be nice if Husqvarna would have built in a few more comfort features.

Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Riding Lawnmower

  • Nimble with a 16-inch cutting deck and anti-scalping wheels
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • Mow in reverse feature included

Craftsman T225 19 HP Riding Lawnmower

Craftsman T225 19 HP Riding Lawnmower

Specs:

  • Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Ready start ignition system
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • 46-inch cutting deck
  • Deck wash feature
  • Mow in reverse feature
  • Proprietary “Turf Saver” wheels
  • High back cushion seats

Craftsman is a long-standing brand that was originally hosted by Sears and its affiliates. It has since expanded beyond the retail space to be carried by several online retailers.

Craftsman T225 19 HP Riding Lawnmower

The Craftsman T225 sits in the middle of their riding lawnmower line. It has a 46-inch cutting deck, with thoughtfully engineered guide wheels to prevent “Scalping” the turf. There is also a built-in deck wash port to help clear away stuck-on grass clippings and other organic matter.

Craftsman T225 19 HP Riding Lawnmower

The Briggs & Stratton engine produces 19 horsepower, which is delivered to the hydrostatic transmission as well as the mowing blades. It also has a proprietary “Ready Start” ignition, for reliable starting.

Craftsman outfit this version of the T225 with Turf Saver wheels. Not only are they designed for superior traction, but they also distribute the torque produced by the hydrostatic transmission to reduce the impact on the turf. It also has a mow in reverse feature to help you quickly touch up any missed spots.

This feature might go unnoticed if you have a level lawn with very few trees. If you have a hilly lawn, multiple landscaping features or trees that you need to weave around, these wheels will reduce some of the common burnout moments that can cause long-term turf damage.

What We Liked

The 46-inch mowing deck is just the right size to handle a large lawn with the occasional landscaping feature. The hydrostatic transmission and the turf saver wheels are also a nice touch.

You also shouldn’t overlook the deck wash system. It lets you clear away stuck-on grass clippings which could potentially lead to rust and corrosion issues.

Overall

If you have a lawn with changes in incline, with trees and landscaping features to dodge around, then the Craftsman T225 deserves a close look. It’s just big enough to handle a large lawn, while also being nimble enough to cut around sporadic lawn features with minimal impact on the turf.

Just bear in mind that while the high back seat might be comfortable, the steering wheel is very hard. If you have a long mowing session with a lot of twists and turns, you might want to wear some lightly padded gloves to spare your hands.

Craftsman T225 19 HP Riding Lawnmower

  • Hydrostatic transmission with 19 horsepower engine
  • 46-inch deck with deck wash feature
  • Turf saver wheels to help prevent lawn damage

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower

Specs:

  • Briggs & Stratton engine
  • 24 horsepower
  • Choke-less ignition system
  • FAST automatic transmission
  • 48-inch reinforced steel cutting deck
  • 3-gallon fuel tank
  • Air induction side discharge
  • Good warranty protection

At first glance, this might look like a lot of other Husqvarna riding lawnmowers. It certainly has the same aesthetics and brand image color scheme.

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V close-up

Yet when you take a closer look at the YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower you’ll see it has some other key features that set it apart from other units in the Husqvarna line as well as some of its immediate competitors.

Husqvarna YTA24V48 tires

The Briggs and Stratton engine with a choke-less start that the Husqvarna YTA24V48 uses produces an impressive 24 horsepower. This is then diverted to the cutting blade pulley system as well as the FAST automatic transmission. This departs from many other riding lawnmowers in the Husqvarna line which tend to use hydrostatic transmission.

Husqvarna YTA24V48 clutch

The FAST automatic transmission allows for variable speed control, which transfers more for increased top speed. Combined with the 48-inch reinforced steel cutting deck, and air induction side discharge, this riding lawnmower can make quick work of lawns larger than an acre.

What We Liked

The FAST automatic transmission is one of the more appealing features of the Husqvarna YTA24V48. When paired with the 24 horsepower engine and the 48-inch reinforced steel cutting deck, it allows you to make quick work of even a large lawn.

The superior warranty coverage also isn’t something to sneeze at. The 3-year limited warranty with a 5-year frame, chassis, and front axle coverage, as well as 10 years of protection for the cutting deck, isn’t something you usually see in this price range.

Overall

If you have a large yard, with few landscaping features to contend with, then you likely prioritize the speed, power, and size of the Husqvarna YTA24V48. Just don’t expect it to nimbly dance around trees and flower beds.

Husqvarna YTA24V48 24V Fast 48-Inch Riding Lawnmower

  • Great warranty protection
  • Powerful 24 horsepower engine
  • FAST automatic transmission for tackling large yards

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

Specs:

  • Electric rear-mounted the engine
  • 38-inch dual blade cutting deck
  • 100 Amp-hour lead-acid battery
  • 2.5 hour maximum run time
  • 12 blade height adjustment settings
  • Cruise control
  • LED lights
  • USB phone charger

Electric engines continue to grow in popularity around the world as a “Green” alternative to gasoline motors. Ryobi has long been a leader in electric tools and equipment, so it was only a matter of time until they made their presence known in the riding lawnmower niche.

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Mower blades

The Ryobi RY48111 has three brushless electric motors that are powered by a 100 Amp Hour lead-acid battery. At full charge, it is rated to run up to 2.5 hours. Under ideal conditions, it makes it possible for this lightweight riding lawnmower to handle up to 2.5 acres of grass.

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

The battery itself was designed to charge off of a standard 120-volt household outlets. So, you don’t have to worry about special charging stations and power ports.

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

The 38-inch cutting deck houses two blades. It also has an impressive 12 cutting deck height adjustment settings, which lets you precisely dial in the length of grass your lawn needs to thrive for the prevailing conditions.

The Ryobi RY48111 also comes with a few bells and whistles. There is a cruise control setting for times when you need to cut on low even rows. It has LED lights for times when you need to run in low light conditions. There’s even a USB phone charger that allows you to listen to your favorite music on your phone or stay connected while you mow.

What We Liked

The 100 Amp Hour lead acid battery and 3 brushless electric motors make for super-quiet, efficient operation. It’s also nimble enough to handle a small yard with lots of trees and tight turning landscape features.

Overall

This is a great “Green” riding lawnmower for small lawns with complex landscaping. The bells and whistles are also a nice touch that lets you enjoy yourself while you trim the lawn.

Technically it’s rated for a 2.5 hour run time, with a maximum capacity of 2.5 acres. While these specifications are technically sound, they are under ideal conditions. If you have a hilly or uneven lawn you likely won’t get this same level of run time.

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

  • Electric motor “Green” lawnmower
  • Dual blade 38-inch cutting deck with 12 height settings
  • Special features like a USB phone charger and cruise control

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

Specs:

  • 420 cc Troy-Bilt OVH engine
  • 17.5 horsepower
  • 42-inch cutting deck
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • Mow in reverse
  • Capable of mulching
  • Mow in reverse
  • 2-year limited warranty

While the Troy-Bilt Bronco and Super Bronco appeal to people with larger yards and uneven terrain, the Pony fills a different niche.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

Instead, this lightweight riding lawnmower with its capable 42-inch cutting deck is meant to scamper about the lawn. It’s capable of making tight turns while also being able to cover a sizeable amount of real estate in a relatively short amount of time.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

It has a 420 cc engine made by Troy-Bilt in its US-based manufacturing facilities. There is a hydrostatic transmission that lets you put the power down to the wheels and cutting blades as needed. It was even engineered with mow in reverse feature.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

The Troy-Bilt Pony comes to set up for side discharge. However, it can also accommodate a mulching attachment to reduce the thatch effect on the health of your turf.

What We Liked

The 42-inch cutting deck is just big enough to handle open stretches of grass, while also being nimble enough to carefully cut around planting beds and small trees. The two-year warranty is also a nice touch and right about on par for a riding lawnmower at this price point.

Overall

This is a nice lightweight lawnmower for someone with a yard around a half-acre or so. It might also be a great option for someone who has minor mobility issues, yet still wants to take care of their own lawn care duties.

If you have a large hard with a lot of wide-open spaces, or you need to tackle the occasional steep incline, the Troy-Bilt Pony might be a little bit overwhelmed.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

  • Lightweight and nimble
  • 42-inch cutting deck
  • 17.5 horsepower 420 cc Troy-Bilt engine

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower

Specs:

  • 22 HP Kohler V-Twin OVH engine
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • 46-inch cutting deck
  • 16-inch turning radius
  • Adjustable high back seat with comfort grip steering wheel

Cub Cadet has a long-standing reputation in the lawn care industry. Though their market presence has started to decline a little in recent years.

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower blades

Their LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower was built on the same quality platform and chassis that gives it a telltale look. It is powered by a 22 horsepower Kohler V-Twin OVH engine and has a hydrostatic transmission. This allows you to press the accelerator pedal as the machine instantly reacts with gusto.

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower

It has a 46-inch cutting deck with a 16-inch turning radius. This gives the Enduro the ability to weave around landscaping walls, and trees while also being able to handle the needs of a large, open yard.

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower streering wheel

Cub Cadet also understands the value of comfort. The Enduro comes with a high back, adjustable chair, as well as a comfort grip steering wheel.

What We Liked

The Cub Cadet Enduro comes with most of the features, quality, and power you want to see in a riding lawnmower. Strangely enough, though, it’s the comfort features where it really shines. The seat truly has a high back which is easy to adjust, and the soft comfort-grip steering wheel keeps the vibration from beating up your hands and neck.

Overall

The Enduro is a reputable riding lawnmower with a nice power to weight ratio. Yet the comfort features could really be a priority feature if you sometimes struggle with neck and back pain.

Cub Cadet LT46 Enduro Riding Lawnmower

  • Designed for superior operator comfort
  • Powerful 22 horsepower Kohler engine
  • 46-inch cutting deck with a 16-inch turning radius

Buyers Guide

As you can imagine, not all riding lawn mowers are created equal. While there is a little bit of “You Get What You Pay For” related to quality components, there are many factors to keep in mind. Being able to sort out marketing jargon from true quality engineering means paying attention to a few key factors.

Overall Horsepower

The word “Horsepower” originally started out as a way to rate the power output of steam engines compared to the number of horses it would take to do the same amount of work in a given period of time. Fortunately, the modern era has translated this notion into a mathematical equation used the world around.

In technical terms, a single horsepower is rated as a unit of power that is equal to 550 foot-pounds exerted in a second. In a riding lawnmower, the overall horsepower is transferred from the engine to the drive train that propels the tires, as well as to power the pulley system that operates the blades.

The higher the horsepower the faster the mower’s top speed, as well as its torque to handle hills. This is especially important for cutting grass uphill. An underpowered riding lawnmower may bog down while going uphill with the blades engaged. It could also have issues dealing with overly long or damp grass.

If you have a hilly yard or other challenging terrain features, you might want to target a riding lawnmower that produces at least 20 horsepower. If you have a more level lawn, you might be just fine with a lightweight lawnmower with a 15 to 18 horsepower engine.

You should also keep an eye on the cc volume of the engine. This is essentially the bore of the piston combustion chamber and often translates to superior power. OVH and DOHC indicate the cam orientation and can also factor into how much power the engine produces throughout the course of a single revolution.

Two Stroke or Four Stroke Engine

There are two common types of lawnmower engines that you are likely to run across. Two-stroke lawnmowers are older engineering that was more common in lawnmowers a decade or three ago. They require you to mix an exact portion of special oil with the gasoline every time you fuel up.

They tend to produce more power than their four-stroke counterparts. Unfortunately, they are less fuel-efficient, tend to smoke more and can be prone to carburetor or sparkplug problems over time. The biggest upside is that they also tend to cost less and are easier to maintain. They don’t even need oil changes.

Four-stroke engines have become more popular in riding lawnmowers. This is very much like the engine in your car. They need periodic oil changes and other maintenance steps to keep them in peak operating condition. Four-stroke engines are also more fuel-efficient, quieter, and less likely to smoke.

Unless you are on a tight budget, it’s usually a good idea to prioritize four-stroke engines over two-stroke. Though there are still some purists who aren’t intimidated by a little oil and gasoline mixing.

Cutting Deck Size

The size of the cutting deck is also an important factor. Some riding lawnmowers have more than one blade, which allows them to cover more square footage in a single pass.

A smaller mower deck around 30-inches wide tends to be nimble, which makes it easier to navigate around trees and landscaping features. A larger mower deck of 42-inches or larger will often leave a small ring of uncut grass around tight turns around a tree, yet it with blaze a trail through wide-open stretches of lawn.

Cutting Deck Size and Height Adjustment

As the growing season progresses, the ideal length for your lawn might change. In hot dry spells, you might want to leave the grass a little bit longer to try to preserve moisture levels in the turf. When things are wet and growing vigorously, you might want to cut the grass closer to ground level just to stay ahead of it.

Ideally, you want a wide range of adjustments in cutting deck height. Six different height settings are a luxury, but really you should be able to get by in most conditions with four.

Fuel Tank Volume

Ideally, you want a fuel tank capacity that can handle your entire lawn, but it can be hard to know just how much fuel you will go through. If you need a large lawnmower for a large yard, or you have a lot of hills to tackle, then you might want to prioritize one that also boasts a large fuel tank.

Transmission Type

A lawnmower’s transmission plays a critical role in transferring the power produced by the engine to the wheels that propel you. There are three different types of lawnmower transmission to consider.

A manual transmission can allow you to change between different speed ranges. There are even some older models that have a clutch control. If you are good with a stick shift car, this might be the best option for you, as it allows you more fine control over how the engine puts the power down. If the idea of shifting as you mow seems a little intimidating or more complicated than you want to deal with on a lazy summer afternoon, you might want to cross manual transmission mowers off your list.

An automatic transmission works in tandem with the gas pedal to put down the right amount of power and speed. It takes most of the guesswork out of it and frees you from the labor of a manual transmission. If you are going to be climbing a lot of hills the gear changes can sometimes jerk the mower uncomfortably. You should also bear in mind that just like the automatic transmission in a car if you are rough with it you could damage an internal gear leading to a potentially costly repair.

A hydrostatic transmission works a lot like an automatic transmission in that it takes the guesswork out of the gear changes. Except instead of using mechanical gears, the power is transferred through a durable, yet sophisticated hydraulic fluid system. This gives you the smoothest ride and best control. Just bear in mind that the hydrostatic transmission will likely be reflected in the final price tag!

Discharge Method

Just like walk-behind lawnmowers, there are different ways for a riding lawn mower to dispose of cut grass clippings. Choosing the one that is right for you can have an impact on the long-term health of your lawn. Just keep in mind that some options will increase the initial purchase price, or require you to buy additional accessories.

Side discharge is the cheapest and one of the most common methods. As the name implies grass clippings are cut and then spit out the side by the dynamic motion of the internal cutting deck. If you are diligent about cutting your lawn frequently, the “Thatch” left behind won’t have much impact on the health of your turf.

If you are sometimes lax about cutting your lawn, and it frequently grows long, the thatch left behind after each cutting session can gradually cause major problems. As time goes on, excess, long grass clippings settle into the space between the blades of grass to form a thick layer of thatch that can start to suffocate the natural aeration your turf needs to thrive. In just the course of a single growing season, severe thatch buildup can cause dead spots and thin, which will add to seasonal lawn maintenance costs.

Mulching mowers are a popular solution to this problem. These types of systems rely on special blades and high-speed rotation to chop grass clippings into tiny bits that decompose rather than compact into suffocating thatch. This can even help to feed nitrogen back into the layers of your turf as a sort of natural fertilizer.

The problem with mulching mowers is that they do tend to cost more. They also tend to cause a lot more vibration which can wear on the operator over the course of a long mowing session.

Bagging systems do a very good job of collecting grass clippings. You can then deposit them in your compost pile or use them as a side dressing for garden rows.

Unfortunately, people with a large yard find bagging systems annoying, as you might need to stop two or more times to empty the bags. This and all the driving to and from the compost pile can add to the amount of time it takes to completely mow your lawn.

Some riding lawnmower manufacturers will sell a unit set up for side discharge, then off a special bagger attachment as an accessory purchase. While it does increase your overall costs, it gives you the option of choosing one of the other.

Comfort Features

It might not seem like a big deal on paper, but over the course of a long mowing session a stiff lawnmower running over rough terrain, while you grip onto a rock-hard steering wheel can wear you out. Features like a high-back seat, soft-grip steering wheel, and comfortable suspension can make all the difference feeling like a broken bag of bones and being able to get on with your day after a long mowing session.

Safety Features

Safety matters, and while older riding lawnmowers might have been shy on safety features most modern units come with them in droves. At the very least there should be some type of weight sensor built into the seat which acts as a kill switch any time you lift yourself off of it.

Other things like heavy-duty steel and plastic on the deck and other components are also handy for times when you need to get on and off the mower. Just be mindful not to step where it says “Not a step.”

Some type of running lights is also a nice touch, for times when you might be chasing the sunset trying to the lawn mowed. They don’t so much help you see as make sure that others can see you. Which can be important if you are moving near the road or along the driveway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I Need A Riding Lawnmower?

A. Riding lawnmowers are ideal for individuals with a large yard. This is typically a half-acre or more. Though there are some individuals with mobility issues who might prioritize a riding lawnmower for a smaller yard.

Riding lawnmowers are also very handy for maintaining a yard with hills. Not only do they reduce the amount of physical labor, but they also tend to climb hills much faster, which reduces the overall mowing time.

Q: Does A Riding Lawnmower Come With A Battery?

A. Most modern-day riding lawnmowers use a small 12-Volt battery to run the ignition and other electrical components like the lights. Just like the battery in your car, it has a finite lifespan. Taking simple steps to preserve it, like bringing the battery indoors in the winter will help extend the battery’s life. Still, you should expect to need to replace a battery at least every three years.

Q: Does A Riding Lawnmower Need More Maintenance Than A Push Mower?

A. Push mowers, sometimes called “Walk Behinds” are typically low maintenance. Some newer units are even designed to never need an oil change, you simply check their oil level and top them up from time to time.

Taken in a certain light a riding lawnmower is a vehicle. It will inevitably need oil changes, replacement filters, and air added to the tires. They also need seasonal lubrication of the wheel hubs and pulley system, as well as other types of seasonal maintenance. Riding lawnmowers also tend to need more frequent blade sharpening and replacement.

Yet you shouldn’t let this discourage you. They are very convenient and can reduce your overall mowing time in half compared to their walk behind counterparts. Most manufacturers include detailed instructions on how to maintain the riding lawnmower in the owner’s manual. Even if you aren’t particularly handy, there are many parts of the country with maintenance services available, as well as new apps to put you in contact with expert freelancers who can keep the unit in tip-top shape.

Q: Does The Engine Manufacturer Matter?

A. Some riding lawnmower manufacturers prefer to outsource their engines. Which is often a cost savings thing for them. In general, you want to keep an eye out for trusted manufacturers like Briggs and Stratton or Tecumseh. These companies have a proven reputation for quality materials, engineering, and manufacturing.

Still, there are some riding lawnmowers that prefer to source their engines in-house. So, don’t take that as a deal-breaker. You just might want to steer clear of engines by unfamiliar sounding manufacturers.

Q: What Is “Mow In Reverse”

A. This is a relatively new invention gaining traction in the riding lawnmower industry. In the past, some riding lawnmowers that had a reverse gear simply weren’t set up to power the blades while going backward or at a steep incline. The power robbed from the engine would bog it down, or simply stop the blades from moving.

Modern engineering principles allow for some riding lawnmowers to still propel the blades while traveling in reverse or on challenging terrain.

The reality is that you won’t be using this feature all that often. However, it is a sign that the specific mower has been updated from previous versions to make the most out of modern-day engineering, and it likely a sign of quality as well as thoughtful use of power.

Q: Do I Need A Hitch?

A. There are some riding lawnmowers that come with a hitch or tow bar welded into the rear frame. This allows you to attach a lawn cart or other tow-behind device. It can be a real benefit in the spring and fall when you might want to rent a pull-behind aerator to revive or fertilize your turf.

Q: What Is A Deck Washing System?

A. This is a somewhat new invention that’s grown in popularity with many riding lawnmower manufacturers. With most of these systems, it’s a simple port on the side of the mower deck that connects to a standard garden hose. It then uses the water sprayed underneath to release stuck-on grass clippings and other organic matter.

This can go a long way toward maximizing your mower’s performance and help reduce long-term rusting problems. They are also nice if you have a person in your family who is sensitive to grass pollen or grass mold spores.

Conclusion

The modern-day riding lawnmower has certainly evolved from its earliest lawn tractor days. While your available budget is certainly important, it’s not the only thing you need to prioritize.

When deciding on the features and size you want, it helps to first consider the characteristics of your lawn. If you have a lot of trees and other landscaping features that you need to mow around, you might want to focus on riding lawnmowers that have a small turning radius and a modest-sized mower deck. This will give you the nimbleness you need without having to spend a lot of time swinging a weed whip later.

If your lawn has a lot of wide-open spaces, a small cutting deck might take up an uncomfortable amount of time. In a situation like this, you might prioritize a unit with a large cutting deck and the power to make the most out of it.

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