Whether you’re a homeowner with a massive yard or not, you may have thought at some point, “Why buy a riding lawn mower?”
This is one of the most common riding lawn mower FAQ’s.
Although standard walk-behind mowers can be quite a bit cheaper and use less gasoline, they do require a lot more force input to operate than a rider. This factor only scales up if you have a large yard.
When considering buying a riding mower, it comes down to two factors:
- Your property
- Your budget
Of course, many consider price before anything else. Even the most low end riding mowers will still run you in the vicinity of $1,000. And if it’s a mid-range of elite mower that you’re in search of, you’ll probably be spending somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000.
Is it worth buying a riding lawn mower?
The investment is believed to be worthwhile since a riding mower grants the rider the power to knock out their weekly/monthly grass mowing in a fraction of the time and effort it usually takes.
You should also evaluate what type of lawn you have, and whether or not a riding mower is warranted for the job. Medium and large lawns with lots of open space lend themselves perfectly to a riding mower. While small yards with lots of precariously perched objects might be more suited for a walk-behind mower.
These mowers allow you be the pilot, and drive them just like you would a small ATV, allowing the cutting blades beneath you to hammer out all of the hard work.
But although you might be eager to rush out and buy yourself a brand new riding mower, I want to first help you see how push mowers and riders fare pitted against each other.
Riding Mower vs Push Mower
While they work on the same job, riding and push mowers are two fundamentally different tools.
The usual walk-behind mower requires you to push behind it and steer it around your lawn. Typically, these mowers have cutting decks that rate around 30” wide. You could also opt for an electric lawn mower that uses no gasoline at all!
This means that although they’ll cover wide sections of your lawn, they can still take a considerable amount of time (and energy) if you have a large property.
Push mowers are typically best-suited for relatively flat lawns that come in small or medium sizes.
Yard Size as a Factor
The reason herein lies that the tool relies on YOU and your force output to keep it going! This can be quite arduous on a larger property, as we’re not accustomed anymore to spending hours on our feet pushing around heavy equipment.
Self-propelled models can come in quite handy here. They require virtually no force from the user to advance forward, although they still require you to be steering from behind.
So while they can be advantageous for average lawns, you still may get tired if your lawn is over an acre in size. In some situations, a push or self-propelled mower is superior. For example, lawns that have obstacles, abrupt edges, or narrow passageways.
When working in yards like these, push mowers are highly suited for the job due to their design that allows them to squeeze in and out of spaces that riding models would get stuck in.
Push Mowers for Slopes
What’s more, is that a push mower also invaluable in mowing lawns with steep hills and slopes. While a riding mower can do this too, I don’t necessarily recommend you try it out on a super steep slope. You could end up flipping the mower! Bad vibes.
If your yard has some rise to it, the conventional walk-behind models may serve you better. Better safe than sorry, after all. You will find plenty of affordable options here too; standard push mowers typically run from $150 to $500, which is half of the cheapest riding mower.
Self-propelled vs. Walk-behind
Self-propelled models have a bit of a higher premium. These puppies will run you between $500 and $750 or so. You’ll also want to consider the maintenance and operational costs between different models.
Basic push mowers only need a bit of gas, and are generally very reliable. And due to their simple design, the parts are commonly inexpensive to replace in comparison to a riding mower or self-propelled one.
Self-propelled mowers use more gas and need a lot more maintenance than your standard fare push mower, but the cost is usually much less than a riding mower. Riding mowers also require minimal effort to drive around your yard. Once you have your settings dialed in, just steer the mower and let the cutting blades handle the rest!
Riding lawn mowers also generally have wider cutting decks anywhere from 30” upwards of 50”. With that kind of cutting power, they can make quick work of a massive lawn while you enjoy an iced green tea. …or a beer.
Powerful mowers like these are prime for flat, large yards or properties that only subtle slopage. Remember, no steep hills!
Deciding Which Mower is Right
Now, riding mowers outpace push mowers in a variety of situations.
Here are a few situations that you’re better off with a riding mower:
- When your lawn is an acre or more
- If your lawn has thick grass or weedy patches
- Your lawn is susceptible to overgrowth and being damp
The time and energy saved compared to belaboring behind a walk-behind model cannot be understated. Not to mention having to constantly empty the grass bag.
In terms of price, a riding mower ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. This spectrum will depend largely on the brand or add-ons that you select.
With the average price of about $2,000, you can own a high-quality riding mower with smooth performance, enormous cutting width, and lots of useful features:
- Cruise control
- Xeon Headlights
- Cup holders
- Plow attachments
- Snow mode
Zero-Turn Rider Mower vs Lawn Tractor
Have you been pushing a heavy mower through your lawn for far too long? Are you ready to invest in a riding mower?
Then my friend, it’s time to make a choice between a zero-turn radius mower or a lawn tractor. If you’re curious on the difference of a “lawn tractor,” we’ve done a write-up on that too.
Both types of riding mower will arm you with all of the necessary firepower and speed to outpace your standard push mower. But the zero-turn models have become especially popular due to how well they suit homeowners’ needs.
Turning Radius Compared
Now, both the zero-turn radius mower and the lawn tractor will be able to easily knock out your yardwork tasks. But the key distinction between the two styles of mower is HOW they mow the grass.
Lawn tractors have a turning radius of around 16” or so. This means that even when you complete your run of grass and turn your mower, there will probably be a small patch of grass you missed… leaving some clean up work for you in each pass.
But zero-turn mowers make a near 90 degree turn, enabling them to catch 100% of the grass in a single pass.
While owners of lawn tractors may waste more time backtracking on their mowing work, the zero-turn mower crowd will have the job done without the need to go back and do touch-up.
Another core difference between the two mowers is the way that they are controlled.
Although lawn tractors are equipped with a steering wheel that enables them to be driven like a car, zero-turn models have two handles. Both of these handles enable the drive to operate the mower’s rear wheels or front wheels, depending on what kind of fancy maneuvers they need to make.
Plus, the brakes on the mower are operated when the handles are in the neutral position, as opposed to stomping the pedals of a lawn tractor.
Why Buy a Riding Lawn Mower
If you’re a first-time purchaser who has been wondering why buy a riding lawn mower, you may be more attracted to the lawn tractor just because it operates like an automobile. But if you’re on your way to being a mower master and you already have experience with riding mowers, you could be just fine with a zero-turn radius mower.
And with the super sharp turning capabilities, the zero-turns let you mow even closer to unusual obstacles you may have in your yard. The steering input is very 1:1.
Even though zero-turn radius mowers are setting the pace in terms of speed, turning capabilities, and their high maneuverability, they still fall short to yard tractors in traversing slopes.
What’s more, is that lawn tractors are able to be outfitted with loads of accessories like carts, snow equipment, mulchers, gardening tools, spreaders, and much more. They can be used in any season and for any purpose, really.
Lawn Tractors for Hills
Generally, I recommend lawn tractors for hilly properties that have a slope higher than 10 degrees. This is because zero-turn models have a hard time handling these inclines, and pose a greater risk of slipping or even flipping over. More bad vibes.
If you’re trying to decide between a zero-turn radius mower and a yard tractor, evaluate your property first among all other factors.
The presence of trees, fountains, bushes, and other obstacles to mow around make a zero-turn model a better choice. But if you’re a homeowner with lots of hills and fewer obstructions in your yard, AND you want some extra options with your purchase, a yard tractor is the way to go. These are the usual reasons as to why buy a riding lawn mower.
Can you tow with a riding mower?
Yes you can! One thing that makes it worth buying a riding lawn mower, specifically a lawn tractor, is the power to tow objects.
Before you start hitching your mower to everything in sight, you’ll want to first determine what your model’s towing capacity is. This is a vital step, as you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and damage your mower.
If you know the riding mower’s towing capacity, then you can access the expansive world of accessories that can be attached to your mower.
Generally, most brands have their own line of products that are compatible with their various riding mowers. Popular options are:
- Power graders
- Snow blowers
- Leaf vacuums
- Grass bags
- Stump grinders
Picking one or two of these useful accessories really lets you tap into the great experience of owning a lawn tractor. Not only do you get the ability to hammer out your yard work in record time, but you now have access to unlimited landscaping projects and tricks!
It’s up to you to decide why buy a riding lawn mower. I hope this article has helped you get closer to choosing the best riding lawn mower!