best riding lawn mower

If you have over half an acre of flat lawn without too many trees, flowerbeds or sharp turns, then getting a riding lawn mower (lawn tractor) might be your best option. Lawn tractors save you the time and energy spent mowing your lawn with a walk-behind mower. They also have various attachments for other landscaping projects, as well as power for towing a trailer.

Types of Riding Power Equipment

There are three types of riding power equipment you can choose, keeping in mind the size of your lawn and the features that can get the job done with speed and ease.

Riding Lawn Mowers (Lawn Tractors) – These tractors feature light-duty frames that are great for light yard work. Riding lawn mowers are equipped with either rear engines or front engines. They range in horsepower from 15 to 29 and cut width from 38 inches to 54 inches.

Rear-engine mowers are less expensive and their only purpose is cutting grass. They feature smaller decks and their smaller size makes them the best choice for yards under an acre. Rear-engine mowers don’t have enough power for towing or other attachments, but if you only need one for cutting grass, these are an economic choice.

Front-engine lawn tractors have more power than the rear-engine models. They feature a larger cutting deck and are more expensive. If your lawn is more than an acre and you would like the option of light towing, spreading, dethatching and snow blowing, then the front engine mower should be right for you.

Zero Turn Radius Mowers – These heavy-duty riding lawn mowers are available in several grades from basic to commercial models. The difference in this type of mower is the front wheels swivel, while the back wheels drive the mower. The wheel design gives the mower a zero turning radius, making it easy to pivot around obstacles for a close, clean cut.

The cutting width ranges from 30 inches to 72 inches with horsepower from 10 to 31. Zero turn radius mowers can cut your lawn in half the time of a garden tractor. You also control the machine with levers, rather than a steering wheel.

Garden Tractors – These tractors feature a heavy frame and have 20 to 29 horsepower with cutting widths of 50 to 54 inches, depending on the model. They usually come with several cutting blades, and have large cutting decks.

The transmission and axles on garden tractors can handle heavy work and the larger wheels give a smooth ride. Garden tractors are ideal for lawns as large as 5 acres and other yard projects, such as snow plowing, furrowing, grading, cultivating and tilling.

Features to Consider When Buying a Riding Lawn Mower

Depending on the type of lawn tractor you select, and the price range you’ve chosen, there’s a variety of features available. Although all the features would be great, try to decide on the ones you really need to keep up with your landscaping chores.

Here are a few features to consider:

  • Low, mid or high-back seat
  • Gearshift speeds
  • Ease of operation
  • Maneuverability
  • Easy to reach speed controls
  • Variable speed transmission
  • Adjustable blade height
  • Fuel economy
  • Agile steering
  • Easy bag emptying
  • Warranty on parts and labor
  • Noise factor

Tips on Using and Maintaining a Riding Lawn Mower

The following tips on using and maintaining your ride-on mower are similar for all makes and models:

1. Before starting your mower, always check the oil and gas levels. Also, check the tire pressure because low tires can strain the engine and cause uneven tread wear. Check for any loose or missing fasteners, deflectors or shields and make sure the brakes work correctly. Follow your manual for specific instructions on starting your mower.

2. Performing routine maintenance on your riding lawn mower will keep it running reliably for many years. Before performing any maintenance, disconnect the battery.

3. After you’ve finished mowing, wait for the engine to cool, and brush off any debris on the deck and engine.

4. Twice a year, clean the air filter, and lubricate any spindles and pivot points. Also, examine under the cutting deck for any bent or broken blades.

5. Once a year, replace the spark plugs and oil filters. Check the condition of the drive belts and clean the cutting deck. Replace the blades yearly.

6. When storing your mower at the end of the season, remove the battery and put it where it won’t freeze.

Our Riding Lawn Mower Reviews

#1 – Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

The Troy-Bilt Premium riding lawn mower is excellent for more moderately sized lawns that have level terrain. It tops out at a speed of 4.25 miles per hour and boasts a six speed transmission. However, you can start your lawn mowing activities from manual to ensure quick and easy blade adjustment.

This riding mower boasts a 30 inch cutting deck which comes coupled with five adjustable settings. It’s almost as if a walking lawn mower size cutter was fused with it.

In terms of comfort, it also comes equipped with an adjustable seat and has a large steering wheel with a thirteen inch grip. Furthermore, the fuel tank can hold up to 1.3 gallons of gas and also has a gas view window to make sure you’re never running out.

Overall, this riding lawn mower raises the bar with its build that takes into account many different aspects of the lawn mowing experience such as efficiency and comfort.

#2 – Husqvarna YTA18542 42-Inch Riding Lawn Mower

The Husqvarna YTA18542 riding lawn mower brings a powerhouse in to your lawn to assist you in mowing your lawn while enjoying a relaxing ride.

This lawn tractor comes with a cruise control mode, so all you have to do is keep your hand on the steering wheel as the machine does the rest. Furthermore, it utilizes air induction technology within the deck to make certain you get a clean cut every time.

The cutting deck has a 42 inch range allowing you to get a lot of cut for your buck. Equipped with an 18.5 HP engine, this riding lawn mower brings substantial power to your lawn. Furthermore, it employs the usage of a hydrostatic pedal transmission, making speed changes or directional changes as smooth as possible.

The seat and steering wheel are both adjustable, and you should be able to find the perfect combination for both to ensure a comfortable ride for yourself. The steering wheel is built with ergonomic characteristics so that nothing seems out of place in your hands.

#3 – Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 42-Inch Riding Mower

With a black and yellow color palette, the Cub Cadet XT1 riding lawn mower ensures you look fashionable while mowing your lawn. In all aspects of its build, it focuses on power, from its 18 HP professional-grade Kohler engine to its 3 gallon tank.

With such a large tank, this lawn tractor can last for quite some time before you even think of needing a refill. The tires are built for all sorts of terrain – the rear tires are 20 inches each and the front tires are 15 inches each.

The pedal control boasts a fast auto drive transmission, ensuring that you have nothing to do except steering, accelerating and decelerating.

This riding mower comes with a 42 inch cutting deck, ensuring that you trim your lawn to perfection in one go rather than more.

#4 – Yard Machines 42-Inch Riding Lawn Tractor

The Yard Machines riding lawn mower is built with a powerful 420cc engine and 7 speed gear shift. It’s capable of cutting on uneven landscapes, taking on hills with relative ease.

Furthermore, this riding lawn mower has mulching and bagging capabilities as well, decreasing your other jobs in terms of keeping your lawn well-kept and tidy.

With a 42 inch blade, it has the same cutting deck size as the other lawn tractors on this list. Consider the fact that your cut will be close to two feet in length and you’re looking a machine that can get your job done in quick time.

With an adjustable seat, you can ensure yourself to have a comfortable ride when mowing your lawn. All in all, this riding lawn mower is a solid machine that can help you get your lawn looking brand new again in no time.