Homeowners who are thinking about investing in riding lawn mowers will do well to approach their shopping much as they would for buying cars (and not just because they might pay as much!). Because riding lawn mowers combine lawn maintenance with personal transportation, shoppers have to consider factors such as engine power and performance, turning ratios, transmission types, and riding comfort in addition to the features they’d want just for cutting the grass.
As with car purchases, added features for convenience and performance could add a significant amount to final prices. If homeowners are shopping for riding lawn mowers simply for more comfortable mowing, or even just for the luxury of riding rather than pushing, basic, no-frills models will likely serve their needs.
For larger yards and land areas over a half-acre, though, or for accomplishing multiple lawn and garden tasks, homeowners will find a wide range of riding lawn mower models available with features for everything from bagging to tilling to plowing.
Let’s Look Under the Hood
Riding lawn mowers come with a wide variety of engines, transmission types, and even fuel tank sizes. Basic models, of course, have the lowest horse-power engines, and generally require shifting while driving. These models also don’t turn as tightly as higher-end riding lawn mowers, so mowing around plants, trees, swimming pools, and other obstructions may require extra touch-up with push mowers.
Finally, they generally have smaller gas tanks, making them inconvenient if a large mowing area requires more than a single fill-up. Still, homeowners with smaller yards without odd angles or multiple obstructions should find basic models sufficient.
Homeowners with large yards, multiple obstructions, or ample disposable income will likely want to consider higher-end models. More expensive riding lawn mowers have more power and fuel storage. They generally have turning ratios that make mowing around circular obstructions or rounded yard boundaries a snap (several manufacturers sell “zero turn ratio” models), as well as transmissions that don’t require any shifting.
They also come with convenience features such as foot pedals for adjusting blade height and electric starters; a few even have roll bars. Regardless of model, one convenience feature seems ubiquitous among riding lawn mowers: cup holders.
But How Big is Your Blade?
Riding lawn mowers have the definite advantage over almost any push model of wider cutting areas, with the size of the decks, or blade width, starting at 30-36 inches. If potential purchasers are mowing largely open areas, they will probably want to opt for the widest decks they can afford.
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Yard with obstructions are a different matter, though, as wide decks may ultimately mean that some riding lawn mowers can’t fit through close spaces, and homeowners will still have to spend time and energy behind push mowers. As with any lawnmower purchase, a close look at one’s yard before buying will make for a happier mowing experience.
Of course, the comfort, power, and convenience of riding lawn mowers come at a price, and homeowners should expect to pay at least $1000 for even basic models. Once they start adding on more significant engines and tighter turning ratios, prices can go much higher: professional-grade riding lawn mowers can cost as much as $9000.
Homeowners looking for bargains may want to check into used riding lawn mowers, as they seem much more available than pre-owned push mowers. Read our awesome article on Electrical Lawn Mowers here.