Buying Guide for the Best Riding Lawn Mowers
Home chores can generally be divided into two categories—the ones that you don’t enjoy doing and the ones that you really don’t enjoy doing. For most of us, mowing the lawn falls into the second category. This is especially true for people with big yards or who live in places with a hot climate. There are plenty of people willing to do the job for you, but that gets expensive quickly. If you’re interested in cutting down on the hassle of mowing a large lawn without spending a lot of money having someone else do the job, it might be time to invest in a riding lawn mower. Riding mowers generally aren’t cheap, but good ones are solidly built and will make keeping your yard in order easy for years to come. Here’s how you can find a riding mower that will be worth the money.
Types of Riding Lawn Mowers
Manual: Decidedly old-school, manual riding mowers use pull-string starters like the ones found on many lawn mowers.
- If you’ve got the arm power, this type of mower can be good, because a pull-string starter is easy to use and, if there is a problem with it, is probably an easier (and cheaper) fix than a more complicated starter.
Automatic: Automatic starters use key starters, buttons, or other devices to get going.
- They’re a great option for people who are interested in saving themselves the arm strain that can come from pull-string starters.
Bagging: Bagging mowers come with a bag that uses an attached bag to collect the lawn clippings.
- Bagging mowers are a great time saver, as they make collecting and disposing of the cut grass as simple as removing, emptying, and replacing the bag.
What reviewers say
Here are some of the common topics that people write about when explaining what they like about their riding mowers:
- Lifespan: When you think about the different parts that any lawn mower has (the starter, blade, motor, etc.) and add in the parts that are specific to a riding mower (the seat, steering wheel, etc.), you see that there are a lot of parts, which means that there are a lot of things that can potentially go wrong with the mower. That’s why really good models have durable parts that will last years before needing to be fixed or replaced.
- Horsepower: If you have a small, flat yard, a mower’s engine power might not be a big deal (aside from getting the mowing done faster). For owners with big and/or uneven yards, mowers with powerful engines are ideal, because they allow their owners to take care of their entire yard, regardless of terrain.
- Assembly: Unless you’re buying from a local store that will deliver the mower to you ready-to-use (which isn’t very likely these days), you’re going to have to put it together when the package arrives. A really good mower will be easy to assemble with the tools you probably already have around the house, and will come with instructions that are clearly written – and illustrated in many cases – and easy to follow.
- Turning: Even in large, evenly-shaped yards, the rider is probably going to need to turn at least four corners, so a tight turn radius is key for mowing quickly and safely (and for cutting down on the amount of time the mower will need to spend with an edger). That’s why satisfied owners speak highly about how efficiently their mowers can handle corners, especially in tight spaces.
- Articulated: This is an important word to look for when looking at the mower’s description. It basically means “adjustable,” and you’ll want to see it as many times as possible. At the very least, you’ll want to see that the mower’s blades are articulated, since that means you’ll be able to set how short or tall you want your grass to be after you’re done mowing.
- Blade size: This isn’t difficult to figure out—a bigger blade will cut more grass, and more quickly. If you have a small yard, it’s not that big of an issue, but if you have a larger space, getting a mower with a bigger blade will make a huge difference.
- Engine power: Again, with smaller yards, horsepower isn’t as much of a concern. On the other hand, if you have to mow a larger space, look for a mower with a strong enough engine to allow you to get things done as quickly as possible.
Poulan: Poulan is one of America’s most famous manufacturers of lawn-care equipment, from hand-held trimmers to riding mowers.
Troy-Bilt: Troy-Bilt is one of America’s leading manufacturers of lawn mowers and other power tools for taking care of lawns and gardens.
Husqvarna: Husqvarna might have started off as a gun manufacturer, but today this Swedish company is one of the most successful producers of lawn and garden equipment in Europe.
Stanley: Stanley is an American tool company that also produces an impressive line of lawn mowers and other garden equipment.