Cutting grass in the hot summer months, or even in the spring for that matter, can be an exhausting and extremely time-consuming process. This is especially true if you have a large lawn. If pushing a mower all over your yard in the scorching heat doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, well, there’s a better option – using a riding lawn mower. These mowers are much faster and require a lot less effort than a push mower. This means you’ll be able to finish cutting the grass much more quickly and not have to worry about being completely worn out afterwards.
Finding the right riding lawn mower for your needs can be a bit tough, though. There are hundreds of different mowers to choose from, they are all designed for different size yards, and the prices vary wildly, too. Researching them can be equally frustrating. Most manufacturers simply provide all of the technical statistics for their product, but very little about how easy they are to use, how well they perform on different terrain, or any other important details. Don’t worry, though. Consumer Essentials has put together a list of the top-rated riding mowers for you and even created a handy buying guide.
Picking out a riding mower is hard work. You’ve got to consider your personal budget, the size of your yard, how durable each machine is, the performance of the engine on each mower, and so much more. That’s a lot to think about. We’ve taken all of the guesswork out of the equation for you.
The list above reveals what we believe are the best riding lawn mowers on the market today. We’ve tested dozens of machines and the mowers listed below were selected based on their overall performance, gas consumption, comfort for the rider, ease of use, and more. Use this list to narrow down your selection and get the perfect mower for your yard.
The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Quality Riding Mower
Finding the perfect mower isn’t as easy as you would think. There are several different brands to choose from, each brand has multiple models with different features, nearly all of them have a different price, some lack the ability to take on hilly areas, others are outfitted with inferior engines, and more. There’s a ton to think about.
To make things a little easier we’ve created a special little guide to help you out. This buyer’s guide will help you figure out what the most important things to look for in a riding lawn mower are. Use this information to eliminate junk options and narrow your selection down to just one or two mowers that meet all of your needs and match your ideal budget.
One of the most important aspects of any riding mower is the deck. The deck is an assembly that houses the cutting blades as well as the pulleys and other parts that are there to adjust the height of the blades, alter their speed, and so on. To get the best performance out of your mower you need one that has a great deck. A good deck will be made of durable materials and be welded or pieced together. Models where the deck is one solid cast are not as durable and aren’t effective on uneven lawns.
Another important thing to look for is a decent engine. After all, the engine pretty much powers the entire mower. So, you definitely want one that has decent power. Additionally, you want to find a rider that has a quality transmission installed. Transmissions on riding mowers typically come in three different styles – automatic, manual, or hydrostatic. Automatic and hydrostatic are the simplest to use. All you have to do is apply more or less pressure to the gas pedal to lower or raise the overall speed. With a manual transmission you’ll have to engage a clutch and swap between gears to adjust speeds.
As far as the engine does – quality varies. Generally speaking, mowers with a 14 to 20 horsepower engine perform the best. If you have a smaller lawn, however, you can easily get away with one that has 10 to 12 horsepower, especially if your lawn if fairly flat. Larger lawns and those with hilly spots to get over will definitely want to invest in a riding lawn mower with a beefier engine, though.
Adjustable Height and Comfort Features
Finally, while shopping around for a mower, you’ll probably also want to look for models that have adjustable height settings and features that contribute to user comfort. The more important thing is the adjustable height. This allows you to set how high or low you want the grass to be in your yard. Most quality riding mowers offer this but the settings vary a bit. Generally speaking, most have the ability to be set between 1/2 inch to 3 inches for cutting height. Adjustments are usually made using a lever located down by the foot pedals or right next to the driver’s seat.
Comfort is important, too, especially if you have a large lawn that takes a while to finish. So, if you’d like, look for a model that has a large, well-cushioned seat for back and buttocks support. You may even want to check the thickness of the rubber covering the deck (the area where your feet will rest most of the time while mowing). The thicker it is, the better, as it can dampen the vibrations a bit.