Compare the different types of riding lawn mowers so you can choose the best one to maintain your lawn. A riding mower is good for a yard a 1/2 acre or larger.
The size of your lawn is a factor in choosing a riding mower. More powerful mowers with larger cut widths handle large areas more efficiently and allow you to spend less time mowing. You should also consider the type of terrain – whether it's level or hilly – and the obstacles — such as trees and flower beds — you need to work around. If your lawn is 1/2 acre or smaller, consider a push mower. See Lowe's Push Mower Buying Guide to see what's available.
In addition to different size mowers, you can choose between different types and find a machine that works best for your landscape and the type of work you need to do.
Lawn tractors have a traditional design and operate with a steering wheel. They work well for lawns from 1/2 acre to 2 acres or more. With optional attachments, you can bag clippings and leaves, haul landscaping materials, spread seed and — with some models — aerate, dethatch and remove snow.
You may see mowers designated as garden tractors. They have the same design as lawn tractors but can use more attachments and have more powerful engines and heavy-duty transmissions. They're good for mowing several acres.
ZTR mowers can navigate a variety of obstacles; these mowers feature front caster wheels that pivot at sharper angles than lawn or garden tractors. You control a typical ZTR with a pair of lap bars or levers rather than a steering wheel, although some models do feature a traditional steering wheel. While a ZTR mower doesn't handle the variety of tasks a tractor does, it has a higher forward speed for open areas and can cut closely around flower beds, trees and landscaping.
You'll notice different transmission types in riding mowers, each with different capabilities:
There is a wide range of features and options available for riding mowers. Understanding what's available can help you find the best mower for your needs:
Remember factors such as gates in your landscape and your available storage space when considering a mower with a large cut width.
There are alternatives in how a riding mower handles grass clippings:
Some areas don't allow yard waste in landfills. If you rake or bag clippings and your community doesn't have a collection program, you can compost some of them. Read Learn to Compost for information on turning yard waste into nutrients for your soil. If the clippings are free of weed seeds and you haven't applied pesticide to the grass in the past month, you can use them as mulch around the yard. See Landscaping with Mulch for tips on using mulch.
Many riding mowers can help you maintain your landscape not only during mowing season, but year-round. Lawn tractors use a wider range of attachments than ZTR mowers, but capabilities vary by model. Make sure you know what a mower can handle before you make your purchase. Here are some ideas to make the most of your riding mower:
Always follow the mower and attachment manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions, including instructions on safety gear.
All types of riding mowers require regular maintenance to run correctly and efficiently. See How to Maintain a Riding Mower for an idea of some of the procedures you need to follow to keep a riding mower in top shape.
Part of maintaining a mower is fueling it properly. Follow the manufacturer's requirements and read Fueling Power Equipment for tips on keeping your machine running properly.