What is The Best Riding Lawn Mower to Buy?


Jeffrey Tung on Jan 1, 2024

Riding mower on grass

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Mowing lawns can be a real chore especially when you have a lawn mower that’s difficult to work with. You would also have to consider a number of factors when mowing your yard: its size, terrain, and your own physical capacity. If these three are not working well with your current lawn mower, then maybe you should change into a different type of mower.

Riding Lawn mowers are machines in which gas powers in order to cut grass. It operates quite simply. The engine will turn a rotating blade responsible for cutting the tops of the grass to a particular height. While the work is ongoing, the operator would be sitting on top of the mower controlling the features and settings of the riding lawn mower; these would include features such as bagging, mulching, and the like.

It’s a lot similar to how driving a car is, if you think about it. Again, the rider sits on top of the machine and they will be the ones to control it. There are some riding lawn mowers that actually have pedals for accelerating and braking. Some are also equipped with steering wheels. While some don’t have one, there are levers available for throttling and steering. More controls for the rider to use also includes the adjustments of the height and speed of the blades. There are so many more features that come with each riding lawn mower and model. Read more to find out what to look out for and what is the best riding lawn mower to buy.

Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

There are different types of riding lawn mowers. Although they may look the same, these actually have their own perks and features that cater to particular yards. When picking out a type of riding lawn mower, consider the following that will be discussed below:

Rear Engine Riding Mower

This type of riding lawn mower is recommended for those who want a comfortable and easy experience with mowing. These are perfect for yards that are too small for a tractor, but also too big for a walk lawn mower. The rear engine riding mower is the smallest one out of all the types. This is perfect for narrow passes in yards such as fence gates. They are convenient for yards in the middle of the big and small spectrum.

However, they’re also the most affordable in the riding lawn mower category. Of course, you would expect that it would be a lot smaller as compared to the others as well; this could be a plus side for those having issues with storage. It takes up a smaller area in your garage. Cost-wise, its smaller cutting size also translates to how smaller its price range is; you can expect to find one at around $1,200 to $2,400.

The majority of rear engine riding lawn mowers have a single-cylinder engine. Its size can range from 344 to 38 cc at an estimate of 10 to 11 hp. The range of the deck size also goes around 30 to 33 inches. Instead of steering wheels, rear engine riding lawn mowers are equipped with manual hand levers for deck engagement and adjustments.

Lawn Tractors

If you’re looking for something more powerful than a rear engine riding lawn mower, then a lawn tractor might just be the one you need. These are designed for heavy-duty yard work. They are equipped with engines powerful enough to haul heavy attachments and cut more than an acre of your yard.

Usually, people start out with this type of riding lawn mower. Unlike most rear engine riding lawn mowers, lawn tractors have steering wheels and a front-mounted engine that would most resemble how a car operates as well. The size of its engine ranges from around 18-25 hp. This is usually accompanied by a single cylinder with step-up models with a V twin. There are some other models (that are fancier and more costly) that have special features such as an electronic fuel injection.

In terms of transmission, there are some models, which are less costly, which usually have lever-operated gear transmissions. Others that cost a little higher would have pedal hydrostatic or CVT, or continuously variable transmission. A shift-on-the-go hand lever operates this. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is automatic wherein a pulley drive powers it to a lubricated and sealed gearcase. Given that this type of transmission would make your yard work smoother, this would be much more expensive especially with a heavy-duty foot pedal hydrostatic transmission.

Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

These are some of the most high performance riding lawn mowers that you can find in the market. What makes this type of riding lawn mower special and unique is its easy and smooth 360-degree turn. If you want to finish your yard work fast and easy, you should start considering getting a zero-turn riding lawn mower.

It has dual hydrostatic transmissions at the rear wheels which makes it possible for forward speed and steering. The operator can control its features through a lap bar in front of the seat. The rear wheels are powered through a pulley at the engine that spins the impellers on the dual hydrostatic transmissions. As at least one of the lap bars moves farther forward from its neighbor, this allows more hydraulic fluid into the transmission at that wheel. This is how the zero-turn radius of this type of riding lawn mower essentially works. The wheels turn faster than the other wheel which makes for a smoother turn at corners or to pivot.

The size of a zero-turn riding lawn mower’s engine can range from 452 ccs to 700 or even more. The power of this engine goes around the range of 12 hp to 25 hp. Either a single cylinder or commercial-duty V twin powers this engine, which is another aspect to keep in mind. Moreover, its transmission can either be commercial-duty hydrostatic or hydrostatic.

In terms of deck size, their range is around 32 to 60 inches, which makes it the best type of riding lawn mower to cut the most grass in the shortest period of time among the other types. The decks may be heavy-duty fabricated or stamped. You may also adjust the decks using a foot pedal or a manual hand lever. Lastly, deck engagement usually makes use of an electric PTO, or power takeoff, or a hand lever. Taking into account all these amazing features and specifications, you should also take note of the price. Usually, the prices of zero-turn riding lawn mowers range from anywhere between $1,200 to $6,000.

Factors to consider before buying:

After going through the three different types of riding lawn mowers, you should also take into consideration other factors. The type you want won’t just depend on your preference, but on your actual yard as well. Consider the terrain of your yard, its size, your preferred method of mowing, and last but not the least, your budget. There are also a number of other features you should account for when making your purchase. Listed below are some of the factors you should take into consideration before buying a riding lawn mower:

Yard Size and Terrain

As discussed earlier, there are certain types of riding lawn mowers that would suit a specific size of yard best. For example, a two-acre yard would be best for a rear engine riding lawn mower, while about four acres of land would suit a tractor or zero-turn riding lawn mower more. Between the lawn tractor and zero-turn riding lawn mower, there are certain features and perks that make one better than the other. For instance, lawn tractors may be having attachments convenient for other yard work, zero-turn riding mowers have a smoother turning radius to follow edges and turn around on passes more accurately. Depending on the size and terrain of your yard, the perks and features of each type will be able to accommodate your particular yard needs.

Transmission of riding lawn mower

Each riding lawn mower model has varying types of transmissions. With a manual transmission, you would be able to select a range of speeds that a riding lawn mower already has. The second type of transmission is called the automatic transmission, which operates similarly as the transmission in a vehicle or a car. With this transmission, the operator has the ability to control the speed with the gas pedal. Lastly, the hydrostatic transmission operates similarly as the automatic transmission, but it makes use of fluid instead of belts in order to transfer power to the wheels from the engine. These can be equipped with cruise control, which makes working on big flat areas easy and simple.

Pick from a reputable brand

This is one of the factors that most people often misjudge. A low price may be tempting especially while it is in competition with higher-end and more expensive riding lawn mowers. However, do remember that those riding lawn mowers are costly for many reasons, and one of which is its high-quality performance. Given that, as you continue researching for what is the best riding lawn mower to buy, you might grow more familiar with some particular brands.

Consequently, don’t go after brands that you don’t know or are not familiar with, especially when they are suspiciously cheap. One of the reasons for this is that it may also be difficult for you to find its specific parts should you encounter problems with your riding lawn mower.

Repair and maintenance

In line with the previous section, you should also consider picking a riding lawn mower whose parts are not difficult to replace or repair. The entire unit should also be able to be repaired at a local repair shop near you should you encounter sudden problems; the majority of repair and retail stores don’t accept requests for repair or warranties as they will direct you to your riding lawn mower’s brand or manufacturer instead. Before making your purchase, make sure to do your research; go to the riding lawn mower’s website and check to see if there are local service centers where you can get your mower’s parts from, as well as warranty repairs and other services.


There are specific features that each riding lawn mower model has differently from the others. One of which is the lawn clippings and how you want to handle them. Usually, lawn mowers will throw the lawn clippings at the side and evenly spread these across your yard. Meanwhile, there are some lawn mowers that are equipped with a mulching attachment, which cuts the lawn clippings into smaller pieces before driving them back down into the lawn. Take note that these finer clippings would be able to decompose faster, which also works effectively as a fertilizer for your soil. Others also offer a bagging attachment, which usually serves as a collector of the leaves in the fall. This function also helps with collecting normal lawn clippings especially when the grass is dry.

As for safety features, you can expect that every riding lawn mower would be safe for use. All of them also have a blade shut-off switch, which activates when the operator gets off their seat. Moreover, it’s required for all models of riding lawn mowers that the blades will stop as soon as the operator reverses the tractor. The difference lies in the additional unique perks and features that the units offer. There are some features that can actually decrease your time trimming and mowing.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Given that in a riding lawn mower, you’ll spend the entire duration of your yard work sitting and operating the mower. You would want to purchase a riding lawn mower that will allow you to have a safe and comfortable time steering with a high back seat and padded armrests. Fortunately, many riding lawn mowers today are designed in a way that allows the operator to step through the middle of the tractor to make it easier to get on and off the machine. Remember, comfort is a huge influence on how well you will be doing your yard work.

What is the best lawn mower for 1 acre?

Cub Cadet XT1. This riding lawn mower is a powerful machine that is also easy to steer and drive. Not only is its engine power, but the overall design of the Cub Cadet XT1 is also sturdy enough to accompany its high-performance features. This would be perfect for all grass in whichever climate: long, dense, dry, or wet. If you have a yard that is about 1 acre in size, you would need a riding lawn mower that is long-lasting and still efficient; Cub Cadet XT1 has proved to be just that. Its transmission is also hydrostatic which makes for easier control over the speed with just one pedal.

Check out our full review here.

What is the best riding lawn mower for money?

Husqvarna Z254. This zero-turn riding lawn mower has a hydrostatic transmission, which allows for the perfect and smoothest yard work you can imagine. The controls are simple to understand and operate due to its Hydrostatic transmission. Usually, tractor style lawn mowers would take a much longer time to get your yard work done. However, with the Husqvarna Z254, you would get a much faster and more efficient cutting time as compared to other types of riding lawn mowers. This is also perfect if you have a large yard with difficult grass to tame as it has features such as cast iron blades and a fabricated deck designed for heavy-duty use.

Check out our full review here.

Wrapping Up

Mowing your lawn doesn’t have to feel like a chore, most especially when you have a large one you have to work with. You should pick the best lawn mower that would suit your yard best; just take into account the factors that have been mentioned in the earlier sections in order for you to get closer to what is the best riding lawn mower to buy for you! While riding lawn mowers is a costly investment, you don’t always have to spend a lot into it just to get high quality. Remember, specifications are the most important along with the other factors discussed above, regardless of the price! Don’t forget to do your research before making your purchase and in that way, you’ll be working the best riding lawn mower in no time!