Save Time Using A Riding Lawn Mower
Do you have a large lawn to mow? Are you tired of using your walk behind mower to get the job done? What is riding lawn mower will help you in selecting a riding mower that is best for you.
Riding lawn mowers are just what the name implies, you sit on them, and they move around the yard with you controlling the direction and movement. They have an engine and steering wheel which you control to cut the grass. The speeds will vary depending upon the model purchased. Sometimes these mowers are known as tractors.
These are very powerful mowers and require that the lawn be inspected prior to cutting to prevent any damage to the blades or injury due to flying objects being tossed out of the discharge chute.
Riding lawn mowers are used for cutting lawns that have an area of more than ½ acre to cut.
Swath (Width) Size
Riding lawn mowers are sold with various size cutting widths or swaths. Generally speaking, the larger the cutting width, the more costly the mower or tractor. One huge benefit of a larger cutting width is the shorter time it will take to complete the mowing of your yard. For example, a thirty inch swath wide mower will cut 60 inches of grass in two passes verses a 45 inch swath wide unit cutting 90 inches of grass. This would mean the 45 inch machine would cut the entire yard in 1/3 less time.
The trade off here is your time and of course your budget. All mowers require maintenance regardless of the width size purchased.
Types of Riding Mowers
Riding lawn mowers come in four types:
- Rear Engine
- Lawn Mower or Tractor
- Garden Tractor
- Zero Turn Radius (ZTR)
Rear Engine Mowers (SER)
These mowers are designed just to cut grass. Rear engine models generally cost less than the lawn tractors. The engine is located in the rear of the mower, thus the name rear, and provides clear vision while mowing. The speeds of these models are the slowest of all riding mowers and will vary from 1.5 to 4 mph.
- Lowest cost
- The engine and noise are behind you
- Requires less storage space
- Fits easily through standard gates
- Slower speeds 1.5 to 4 mph
- Narrower swath widths (28-inches)
- Limited accessories
- Lever-operated transmission means taking hand off the wheel to adjust speed
Riding Lawn Mower
The riding lawn mower is the most popular of all mowers. They are excellent in cutting large lawns and even some light-duty gardening jobs. Low end models start with 35 to 38 inch cutting widths and some models can cut up to 54 inches. In general, the wider the swath path the more expensive the mower. Some models are powerful enough to run an optional grass collection system and even tow a garden cart. On the downside, the lawn tractor isn’t designed to accept large attachments or do heavy-duty work.
- More deck (width) options starting at 35 inches and up.
- They come with a hydrostatic transmission that allows you to control the speed by pedal, and this is standard on most models. This is also the smoothest type of transmission.
- Cutting speeds can be up to 5.2 mph, which is faster than rear mower models.
- Larger engines with pressurized lubrication systems, which keeps oil flowing on steep slopes.
- Offers some accessories.
- Needs larger storage space.
- Larger decks may not fit through your gates.
- Less visibility because the engine is in front.
- Can’t handle ground-engaging attachments such as tillers and cultivators.
The garden tractor is built on heavy steel frames and come with larger engines. They also have wider cutting swaths (widths) up to 60 inches and higher, which is bigger than the lawn tractor. Because of the larger engines they can handle attachments like tillers, cultivators, plow blades and snow blowers. Many of these tractors come with power takeoff (PTO) which can run a pump or even a generator. On the downside, they come with a big price tag.
- Can handle any job with heavy-duty construction.
- Power takeoff (PTO) available on some models.
- Largest cutting widths of all four styles: up to 60 inches.
- Powerful enough to run a tiller, snow blower, or cultivator.
- Hydrostatic transmission
- Power steering and power deck lift are usually standard.
- Needs the most storage space.
- More limited visibility because of the large engine in front.
- They’re heavy and harder to maneuver in small spaces.
Zero Turn Radius Mowers
The Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) mowers are designed to cut mowing time in half. They are faster than all models as they can produce speeds up to 7 mph. Because they can turn on a dime, they save time otherwise required to circle around and cut the next row.
And because they have more maneuverability, you can cut right up to trees and garden edging. This almost eliminates the need to follow the mowing with a weed trimmer. If you are interested in just cutting the grass in the fastest time, you need to check out a ZTR lawn mower.
- Fastest mowing speed of all the styles.
- More maneuverability
- Gets closer to trees and garden edges.
- Most fun to drive!
- Can’t use on steep hills because the casters on the deck dig into the slope.
- Only a few attachments available such as a cart or vacuum grass catcher.
- Learning to drive requires some practice.
- More expensive than comparable-size tractors.
Measure Twice—Buy Once
Just about every homeowner wants the largest machine to be able to finish the job in the quickest amount of time. This is an excellent goal. However, after mowing the lawn and at the end of the mowing season, you have to store your mower somewhere. Here are some tips you can use before you buy your lawn tractor.
- Figure out how much storage space you have available.
- Buy a machine that will fit into that space.
- If you should have any gates, measure the width to ensure that your machine you buy will fit through them.
- The same is true for any pathways your yard may have. Be sure you have sufficient space to maneuver in and around them.
- Measure the total area you plan to mow. Use an angel gauge to measure the slope angle of your steepest hills if you have any. Skip this tip if you don’t have any hills in your yard. Using these measurements will help you to determine which style and size machine you need to buy.
Other Uses of Riding Lawn Mower
Besides cutting grass, lawn tractors can be useful if you should live in an area that gets lots of snow. Most riding tractors accept optional grass catchers, vacuum systems and carts. The larger size tractors can also have a snow blower or plow blade added. These additional accessories will come in handy.
However, they do come with a price tag. It might be worth adding them than buying a snow blower separately. They will be able to move snow and faster. On the downside, if you should have a large driveway and get lots of snow, you might want to consider buying a snow blower.
Now, that you know about the riding mowers, you really need to decide on which one will do the best job for you lawn. Each homeowner lawn cutting needs will be different. Some yards have hills, or no hills, while some have a few obstacles or lots of them. All this should be taken into account when buying a riding lawn tractor.
Part of this process is knowing what capabilities you need in a riding lawn mower or tractor. If all you need is to cut the grass, then focus on a mower that just does that. Saving you the added expense of buying accessories or a larger tractor for jobs that you won’t be using. You might want to focus on a SER (rear engine riding) mower or lower costing lawn tractor.
On the other hand, if you want to cut your lawn mowing in the fastest time, than a ZTR mower might be the one you need to look at.
As you can see, there is a lot of decision making in deciding on which riding lawn mower is the best. Riding mowers are more expensive and finding the one you need be sure to do your due diligence before making any purchase.