Riding Mowers and Lawn Tractors
on June 11 2013
Ride Your Way to a Perfect Lawn
If your yard is around 1/2 acre or larger, you may be able to save a lot of time and effort by using a riding mower or lawn tractor. These machines enable you to cover wide swaths of ground quickly and efficiently, reducing the amount of time you spend working in your yard so you can increase your time enjoying it.
Choosing the right riding lawn mower or tractor is a matter of assessing your lawn size and power requirements, as well as the type of transmission and special features you’d like to have.
Consider the following questions when deciding on your ideal machine:
• How big is your lawn? What size cutting path do you need?
• Are there trees or other obstacles that you have to mow around?
• What type of terrain will you be mowing on flat, hilly, smooth or rugged?
• What other tasks will you use your mower or tractor for?
Use the chart below to help determine what type of system is best suited to your yard and lawn and garden needs
Cutting Deck Size
Features to consider
|1/2 - 3+ Acres
||• Riding mower
• Lawn tractor
|38" - 54"
||• Multiple speeds allow you to adjust for
different sections of the yard
• Lawn tractors mow grass and assist with
other yard maintenance tasks
• Mulching mowers eliminate the need to
clean up grass clippings
|1 - 3+ Acres
||• Garden tractor
||• Garden tractors can be used to plow and
cultivate gardens as well as remove snow
• Garden tractors have larger engines and
stronger frames to take on heavy duty
|1 - 3+ Acres
||• Zero turn
||34" and up
||• Zero turning radius riding mowers
provide more control and increased
efficiency on large, mostly flat lawns
Choosing a Rider
With a wider assortment of models and features, today’s mowers and tractors offer more selection and options than ever. Choosing a tractor to match the size of your yard, the type of transmission you prefer and whether you will need attachments should first be considered before purchasing your new mower. If you have a yard that presents heavy-duty challenges, such as slopes, hills and uneven ground, you may want to consider a mower with a more powerful engine.
Look for comfort features such as high-backed, adjustable seats, rubber foot pads or floor mats, adjustable motion-control levers or padded steering wheels. Features like headlights provide greater visibility when mowing at dusk or on cloudy days.
Riding Mowers & Lawn Tractors
Standard tractors are geared for mowing large lawns and pulling lightweight attachments such as rear baggers and carts. In addition to handling the cutting chores on lawns larger than 1/2 acre, lawn tractors can perform a number of other useful functions such as seeding and fertilizing your lawn.
Ideal for big yards and heavy-duty tasks, garden tractors offer more power and feature heavy-duty transmissions for accepting ground-engaging attachments. Garden tractors are a step up from lawn tractors and depending on your mower's capabilities, you may also be able to perform light or heavy hauling and shrub removal.
Zero turn mowers provide superior maneuverability, speed and control for large flat lawns with many obstacles. Zero turn riders offer dual lever controls and cut lawn maintenance time by as much as half compared to standard riding tractors.
Engines and Safety Considerations
Power and performance are important when choosing mowers and tractors. Features like twin cylinders, overhead valve design and precision governor controls provide smoother operations, better efficiency and quicker response in high load conditions.
Like cars and trucks, mowers and tractors offer different types of transmissions: hydrostatic, automatic and manual. Manual transmissions require you to shift, while automatic and hydrostatic transmissions allow for continuously adjustable speed control without having to shift. Cruise control is also available on select automatic and hydrostatic transmissions.
• Gear-shift or manual transmissions cost less but require you to switch gears as you change speed
• For a slightly higher investment, hydrostatic and automatic transmissions allow you to change gears
without shifting and feature hand or foot operation via a pedal or lever
Riding mowers and tractors are powerful tools, meaning you should take precautions while operating them to ensure safety. Many units provide safeguards that must be disengaged before you can mow in reverse, giving you the opportunity to pause and check behind you to make sure there aren’t kids or pets in your path.
Look for riders that automatically stop the blade from spinning as soon as you stand up to minimize the potential for accidents.
• Wear ear plugs to protect your hearing during operation
• Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that may get tangled in moving parts
• Prior to mowing, clear debris from yard to avoid damaging mower and potential projectiles