You might be overwhelmed by how often tall grass, wild shrubbery, and grown-out weeds appear in your yard. Not just that, but also how tiring it is to handle that backyard mess alone.
That’s why you’ve probably considered getting a riding lawn mower to help you, but decided against it once you saw how big of an investment it is.
No worries, friend! In this guide, we’ve researched and organized everything you must know. From how to choose a riding lawn mower, what their purpose is, to brands, types, and features to keep in mind.
A riding lawn mower differs from the common walking lawnmower or the manual push mower. The difference is that with a riding lawn mower, you can care for your lawn while seated in comfort.
Due to its industrial-size, an average homeowner might assume that the riding lawn mower will be difficult to operate. In reality, they’re easier to mow with than with a push mower – a result of their bigger engines and wider mowing decks.
It’s important to note that a riding lawn mower also goes by other names such as a ride-on lawnmower or a lawn tractor.
What Is A Riding Lawn Mower Used For?
A riding lawn mower is a useful piece of garden equipment that’s worth every penny. That’s because owning one will make mowing your lawn more effortless and less time-consuming.
Consequently, you’ll be regularly mowing your lawn and, in turn, protecting it from disease, pests, and weeds. Regular lawn care enhances the lateral growth of your grass and gives your house a special appearance.
In addition, a riding lawn mower is a perfect option for larger plots of multiple acres or more. That’s because you can adjust its cutting width to suit the size of your lawn. And if you own a difficult terrain with many obstacles, consider a riding mower with a tight turning radius.
Before you start saving up for a riding lawn mower, it’s important first to know the kind of lawn mower that will best meet your needs.
Here are the five types of riding lawnmowers:
A rear engine lawn mower is the smallest of the five mowers. If you have limited garage space, this mower is perfect for saving up space.
Its compact size is because the engine is located in the ‘rear,’ or more specifically, beneath your seat. This feature also allows you to easily maneuver the mower around trees and bigger obstacles, due to its tight 18-inches turning radius.
Another beneficial feature of a rear mower is its usually has a 30-inch wide mowing deck. This will allow you to easily drive through gates up to 3-feet wide.
A front-engine mower is perfect for complicated lawns. In other words, this mower is your life-saver if you find it difficult to mow around tight corners, under hedges, or near garden fences.
The reason for this is the mower’s unique design. The deck is mounted in the front to produce the right amount of air pressure and allow for a smooth mowing experience.
Another feature that saves much of your time is that you don’t have to empty the front mower of shrubbery waste. That’s because this mower slices grass clippings into fine particles and feeds them back into the soil. These particles afterward act as natural soil fertilizers.
The zero-turn mower gained its name due to its unique zero-radius turning point. Its two drive wheels can fully rotate at 360 degrees, and in opposite directions. As a result, they cancel each other out.
Due to this advantageous feature, the zero-turn mower consumes the least of your time and effort. Besides that, they also perform at a higher speed and efficiency than most. Their cutting decks are also broad to allow for a cleaner finish and fewer missed spots.
The zero-turn lawn mower is best used on flatter surfaces than rough terrains since it’s not available in a four-wheel style. Plus, zero-turn mowers are noticeably more expensive than other riding lawn mowers.
Garden or lawn tractors are slightly different in their structure than other standard riding lawn mowers. That’s because the cutting deck is mid-mounted, positioned between the front and back axles.
The lawn tractor is great if you think you can operate heavy machinery with high horsepower and a strong engine. Due to this, you can also use the tractor for other heavy-duty chores such as plowing snow or towing away equipment.
That being said, lawn tractors are durable mowers ideal for huge lands of 5 acres and above. They’re also gas-powered machines that should be handled with care.
Similar to the front-engine lawnmower, the mulching riding mower feeds the grass waste back into the soil after it finely cuts the particles.
The slight difference between both mowers is that a front-engine mower side discharges the waste, while a mulching one is designed to release it back directly below deck. This clever tactic is often referred to as ‘mulch mowing’.
Mulch mowing also helps save time on fertilizing and clipping. That’s because of the mulching mower’s design, where both the blade and mowing deck repeatedly chop the grass in a quick and efficient manner.
Now that you’ve decided which type of mower will work best for you, you’ll need to understand the more intricate details that help a mower operate efficiently.
Here are the seven features to consider before your purchase:
Horsepower, or HP, determines how many acres of land your mower can cover in its lifetime. It’s best to calculate how high your mower’s horsepower should be before choosing one.
Typically, the more land you need to cover, the higher the horsepower should be. The average horsepower of a riding mower ranges from 12.5 to 20 HP.
An important point to mention here is that your horsepower can be shortened by improper maintenance of your mower. A cracked muffler or an unclean air filter will reduce your horsepower and have the mower working twice as hard.
The fuel capacity of a riding lawn mower usually depends on its size. A medium-sized mower, such as the front-engine one, can fill up on two gallons of gas.
A mower with higher horsepower, such as the lawn tractor, has an average fuel capacity of three to four gallons.
Also, consider the type of fuel you’re going to fill your mower with. As a rule of thumb, avoid gas with 10% ethanol or higher. That’s because ethanol will eat away and damage your engine after two fill-ups. On the other hand, gas with a high octane percentage will increase your horsepower.
Generally, though, you can fill the average lawnmower with high-end unleaded fuels or fuel-oil mixtures. Gas with 15% MTEB is another great option too.
The average riding lawn mower typically has a two-cylinder or a four-cylinder engine.
A two-cylinder engine is quiet and vibrates silently. In turn, this puts less stress on other mower parts. This way, you don’t have to worry about maintaining them as often. Two-cylinder engines are also lightweight and easy to install.
On the other hand, a four-cylinder engine is a quieter and more eco-friendly option. Their torque power is also higher, which is why they’re common in heavy-duty mowers. Plus, they run smoother and consume fuel efficiently.
That being said, the type of gas you use depends on the kind of engine your mower has. A two-cylinder engine requires a fuel-oil mixture so the oil can lubricate engine parts. A four-cylinder engine, however, operates on unleaded fuels.
The width of the average cutting deck ranges between 30 to 63 inches, and that’s without factoring in the discharge chute’s width.
Simply put, when the discharge chute is in the upright position, the cutting deck’s width remains the same. When you put it in the downright position, however, the deck’s width increases 8-15 inches.
All this math is important. Why? Because it helps you decide how big or small your lawnmower should be so that you can easily maneuver it to reach even the hardest corners of your acre.
Even though a riding lawn mower is a convenient tool, it’s also extremely dangerous. Read your mower’s safety manual and keep them in mind when operating such heavy-duty machinery.
That being said, all lawn mowers come with safety switches that are located underneath the driver’s seat. This is so they can be easily accessed by the operator in cases of emergency.
A lawnmower typically has three safety switches, each safeguarding an important part. The main purpose of these safety switches is to kill the machine when needed.
A riding lawn mower is ultimately more convenient than a manually-pushed one. They allow you to mow large acres of land in a short time with ease and comfort.
That’s why investing in a lawnmower is never a bad choice. Even if a bit pricey, their strong engine power and durable machinery will last longer and boost your lawn care experience.
Admittedly, purchasing a riding lawn mower isn’t going to be easy on your budget. After all, you shouldn’t part away with your savings that easily.
Even if the average price of a lawnmower is a whopping $2,450, you can still own a high-performing land mower at a reasonable price of $1,500 or less if you search in the right place.
Speaking of budgets and whatnot, it’ll do you well to also know the brand you’re going to buy from. At the end of the day, purchasing a riding lawn mower is a life investment, don’t you think?
Here are the seven most renowned brands you should know of:
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Troy Bilt has been in the lawnmower business since 1937. For over 80 years, they have made it their mission to continuously improve their products. They do so through extensive tests of their engines, cutting blades, and other parts.
That way, Troy Bilt can ensure only the best for their customers. Not only that, but they sell at highly competitive prices. Whatever your budget might be, you’re guaranteed to find a lawnmower that would fit your needs.
Cub Cadet has been providing outstanding services and lawnmowers across both Canada and America, since 1961. They have gained popularity because of their powerful engines and high-end products.
Cub Cadet’s main mission is to make the job of a garden owner easier. That’s why they provide a wide range of outdoor equipment, accessories, and even clothes.
John Deere has been around for over 180 years. It was named after the first person to invent the steel plow. Since then, they’ve kept to their origins by regularly designing, creating, and releasing heavy equipment.
As a result of this dedication, John Deere’s products are used on both a local and industrial level. This is also because they make sure to use advanced technology and sustainable materials when crafting their equipment.
Husqvarna is a Swedish brand that has expanded its services internationally to include America, China, and Japan. Their business has been around for decades and has primarily focused on producing only the best machinery.
That being said, Husqvarna also takes the environment into account when making their equipment. In addition, they don’t just cover the needs of garden owners, but also that of professional builders and craftsmen.
Toro was founded in Minnesota in 1921. For over 100 years, the company’s main focus was on providing technologically advanced and eco-friendly garden equipment to millions of homeowners across America.
Their products range from snow plowers and lawnmowers to irrigation systems—everything to cover your lawn care needs. Plus, they’ve also taken their vision worldwide, and currently supply heavy equipment to Europe and Asia.
This is a Japanese-based manufacturer of not only power tools but also electronic and automobile parts. Ryobi were the inventors of die casting technology and were the first Japanese die-cast manufacturers to make it to America.
Because of this passion, Ryobi continues to amaze its customers with its innovative and reasonably priced releases. Their products vary and they’re all eco-friendly and fume-free.
Ego is a new Chinese company that has managed to successfully expand its business to Europe and North America over the last 30 years or so. Their focus is on selling environmentally friendly products that use only the latest technologies.
Not just that, but they keep their customers in mind and offer their products at competitive prices. They also ensure the extensive testing of new releases.
Reviewed – The Top 6 Riding Lawn Mowers for Under $1500
#1. Troy-Bilt 30-Inch 382cc Riding Lawn Mower
The first and most well-reviewed riding lawn mower on our list is the Troy-Bilt 30-Inch 382cc Riding Lawn Mower. This lawn mower is one of the most compact-able riding mowers on the market – it takes up the same amount of storage space as a walk behind mower, saving you valuable space, whether you store it in your garage or garden shed, and it can easily fit through almost any gate in your fence. The 30-inch Troy-Bilt is a good choice for any yard with an area less than 1.5 acres because to its smaller size, as well as a narrower cutting deck than some of the riding lawn mowers mentioned below.
This Troy-Bilt mower has a patented Shift-on-the-Go transmission, so you can quickly and easily change between 6 distinct speeds. It also includes a removable mulching kit, so you may mulch your grass clippings to keep your lawn healthier and provide minerals back into the soil, avoiding thatch along the way. The rear hitch makes it extremely simpler to attach lawn mowers, sprayers, and spreaders while sitting back and enjoying the ride with the vibration-reducing Soft Touch steering wheel.
#2. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42 KH Riding Lawn Mower
The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT42 KH Riding Lawn Mower is one of the best overall riding mower we’ve come across. While it is not under the $1500 threshold, it is close enough and worth mentioning in this list due to its ability and quality. Running on a 18 HP Kohler 5400 series single cylinder engine, the XT1 Enduro has a 42-inch, twin blade 13-gauge deck. This is designed such that is both optimizes airflow and maximizes suction, so that there is very little clumping when discharging, as well as a great bagging performance. It additionally has a sturdy, tough cutting mechanism with stamped and manufactured cutting deck choices. The XT1 Enduro’s hydrostatic transmission delivers optimum command and control, eliminating the worry about shifting, as you only have to push the pedal down and go.
It also has a small turning radius of 16 inches, allowing you to maneuver quickly inside tight areas and around turns thanks to its optimized steering system. Cub Cadet sells this LT42 model with a 3-year warranty of unlimited hours, and an extra 5-year front axle and chassis warranty, so feel free to use this riding lawn mower as frequently and as powerfully as your lawn requires. This model is great for ride-on mowing of up to 4 acres of lawn, and it is engineered to support a wide variety of versatile attachments for all seasons, so you can always get the necessary job done quickly and effortlessly.
#3. Snapper 28 inch 344cc “Classic” Rear Engine Riding Mower
The Snapper 28 inch 344cc “Classic” Rear Engine Riding Mower has good reason for being a staple on best-of and top 10 lists for a long while. For over 60 years, this luxury brand and model has been delivering high-quality results that are praised by both normal home gardeners and professionals. For one thing, it adjusts to your yard and garden naturally owing to its pivoting frame and low center of gravity. It has a Briggs & Stratton 11.5 HP 4-cycle engine, paired with system that uses an efficient 5-speed disc drive and shift-on-the-go technology.
The Snapper has an incredibly simple user interface, with all of its controls within arm’s reach when seated on the mower, and a dependable electric start. It may also have a cutting deck height of 1.5 inches to 4 inches, allowing you to cut your grass to any length and effortlessly navigate around your backyard barriers with its 28-inch cutting width. The vertical stand-on-edge feature is one of its primary hallmarks, allowing you to examine the engine and troubleshoot and solve any problems without difficulty.
#4. Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Hydro Transmission Riding Lawn Mower
- 18.5 hp Briggs and Stratton Intek engine offers powerful performance
- Foot pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission allows you to change speed and direction, which lets you keep both hands on the steering wheel for optimum driving control
- Tight 16 in. turning radius allows you to mow in tighter spaces and navigate around obstacles Adjustable 13 in. mid-back seat, ergonomic steering wheel and easy step-through design provide comfort and...
The next riding lawn mower under $1500 on our list is the Husqvarna YTH18542 42-Inch Hydro Transmission Riding Lawn Mower. This is an excellent lawn mower for the money that features an 18.5 HP, 540 CC Briggs & Stratton Intek engine and a heavy flat-stock steel reinforced cutting deck. You can drive the hydrostatic transmission, speed, and direction with just foot pedals because the control system is purely foot operated; you never need to take your hand off of the steering wheel. The simplified folding design, the adjustable sliding seat, and the step-through for simple mounting and dismounting provide for maximum pleasure when mowing.
Husqvarna aims to make their riding mowers durable and is always looking to optimize and improve their performance. The effective Air Induction mowing system, which draws clean air from the top and bottom of the deck for smooth, efficient cutting even on thick grass or uneven ground, is one of this machine’s standout features. The lawn mower also features a safety switch located immediately beneath the seat, so if the driver gets out of the seat for any reason, it automatically shuts off.
#5. Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46-Inch Gas Powered Riding Lawn Mower
- POWERFUL BRIGGS AND STRATTON GAS ENGINE WITH READY START: Powerful gas engine suitable for larger yard jobs while ready start technology provides a quick, efficient start.
- 46-INCH CUTTING DECK WITH INCLUDED DECK WASH: Lawn tractor comes equipped with wide 46-Inch cutting deck for cutting, trimming, and clipping grass in one quick sweep. Included deck wash saves time...
- CVT TRANSMISSION: unit is equipped with CVT foot pedal transmission.
The next mower on our list of the best riding mowers for under $1500 is the Craftsman T135 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 46-Inch Gas Powered Riding Lawn Mower. This model comes with a powerful Briggs & Stratton engine that is 18.5 HP and is perfect for larger lawn jobs. It is also equipped with Ready Start technology, giving the mower a quick and efficient start every time. There is no need to prime or choke, you simply turn the key and start mowing! Additionally, the 46-inch cutting width allows you to cut, trim, and clip grass in one fell swoop, and to get a large yard done in fewer passes. The deck wash included saves you a lot of time in cleaning the underside of the cutting deck.
The T135 comes with automatic foot-pedal transmission, so no need to lean forward out of the comfortable mid-back supported chair to change gears with a clunky lever gearshift. It can also mow in reverse, which means you can easily maneuver around any lawn obstacles, either forward or backward, with no need to stop mowing and you can get the job done in less time. The 15 inch front wheels and 20 inch back wheels also allow for smoother operation and more maneuverability. Craftsman offers the T135 with a 2 year limited warranty.
#6. John Deere E100 Lawn Tractor Series
The John Deere E100 Lawn Tractor Series is a great place to start if you’re looking for a range of riding lawn mowers to choose from. Of all of the models to choose, we would say the John Deere E130 42-inch Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Tractor is the best model from Deere’s renowned series.
The E130’s trademarked Edge cutting technology, with its two-spindle, three-in-one blade system, offers superior performance and durability, and propels it ahead of other models on the line. However, it is more expensive than the E100, E110, and E120. For a comparable model that is much less expensive, the vast majority of homeowners and amateur gardeners can’t go wrong with the original E100 model.
This lawn tractor comes with a 17.5 HP engine that runs smoothly and is powerful enough to handle any clipping, mulching, mowing, and bagging needs. It also has several foot pedals for hydrostatic speed and direction control, as well as CVT transmission technology. It has a 42-inch cutting deck made with stamped steel and comes with 13 different cutting height positions, ranging from 1 inch to 4 inches.
How Do You Cut Grass With a Riding Lawn Mower?
It’s simple really. Adjust the cutting deck to the highest setting so that the grass is cut approximately 3 inches tall, though you can always make it shorter if you want to. Then, mow in a counterclockwise direction and try your best to avoid reversing when operating the mower.
If you have a zero-turn mower you can mow in strips like you would with a push lawnmower. Remember to also check your blades and cutting deck before every mow.
Do Half-Acre Yards Require a Lawn Mower?
If your half-acre is all in one big lawn space, then definitely. Upgrading to a riding lawn mower as opposed to a walk-and-push one will save a lot of time, especially when mowing that much grass.
Not only will you be mowing in the comfort of your seat, but choosing a mower with a wide cutting deck will get the job done in roughly 30 minutes or less.
If your lawn has a lot of obstacles or tight spaces in it, however, a push mower is all you need.
How Do You Start a Riding Lawn Mower?
Starting a riding lawn mower is simple. Just follow these five steps:
- Be seated to engage the mower’s battery.
- Hold down your brakes. The brakes can be a pedal or a lever, depending on the mower model.
- Put the gear in neutral (N). The lever is typically next to the steering wheel.
- Adjust the throttle to the choke setting. The throttle is used for choosing your mower’s speed and is often identified by the turtle and rabbit drawings. The circle with a line through it is the choke setting.
- Insert and turn the ignition key clockwise. Hold the key for a couple of seconds as the engine comes to life, and then release it.
Owning a riding lawn mower is an essential step to making lawn care both easy and fun for you. This guide to how to choose a riding lawn mower has helped you know the types of riding mowers out there, as well as the main features you’ll need to look out for while shopping for one.
And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also gone through the most popular brands that manufacture garden equipment and riding lawnmowers and listed the top models we would recommend for you to get.
If you’re still a bit unsure about which one to purchase, we would again recommend the Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Riding Lawn Mower. It is a great machine at a great and affordable price.
Have a fun time mowing in style!