If you’ve been trying to keep a large lawn mowed with a walk-behind mower, fall is a great time to think about upgrading to a riding mower. There are some very good buys on riding mowers now, but determining what works best for you can be confusing.
Lawn Tractors – Tractor type mowers do more than just mow if you’re just doing light yard work. The engine is up front like a tractor but has lower torque transmissions, less horsepower and smaller rear tires than other types of mowers. It will tow light carts and spreaders and, with snow plow attachment, can move light snow. The cutting width ranges from 38-54 inches.
Garden Tractors – These tractors are the big brother to lawn tractors. They have higher horsepower engines, can tow heavier attachments and loads and have larger back tires for extra ground clearance. The larger wheels provide better stability on up to 15% slopes and inclines. The cutting width ranges from 50-50 inches.
Rear Engine Riding Mowers – Basically used only for mowing, the rear-engine rider has a smaller cutting deck ideal for narrow spaces. These are generally lower-priced than the other models and take up less storage space but may be slower. With more than a ¾ acre lot, you may want to move up to a larger model. The cutting width ranges from 26-33 inches.
Zero-Turn Mowers – If you have a large yard to mow and want to do it quickly, consider a zero-turn mower. While the more expensive of your options, time saved and maneuverability may be worth the extra cost. You can make 360 degree turns with ease and get closer to trees, flower beds, and fences. Designed for comfort and with powerful engines and speed, you’ll be done mowing in no time. Cutting width ranges from 30-72 inches.
Other Considerations – The mowing deck width can determine how much grass you can cut on one pass so you may want to look for a width that will allow you to make the fewest passes, depending on the size of your yard. With zero-turn mowers you have a learning curve getting used to handles in each hand rather than a steering wheel.