Best small ride on mowers and lawn tractors | Gas & Electric
So you are thinking about upgrading to a small ride on lawn mower for your 1/2 acre of lawn. You want more efficient use of your time and spending a Sunday afternoon on your trusty walk behind push mower just doesn’t cut it anymore (pun intended).
A riding mower can often have better fuel efficiency; usually reaching levels at least half again higher than walk behind mowers (and sometimes even exceeding 15 miles per gallon). Some even make mowing a bit more fun by building in cup holders and USB ports into the control panel.
You are ready to take the next step in terms of improving your outdoor space, but you’re concerned about time and money. You want something that will be worth all those hard earned dollars spent as well as make life easier on yourself!
If this sounds like what’s right up your alley then keep reading because this article will help you decide on the best choice of small ride on mowers for your lawn.
Buying a riding lawnmower
So which are the best riding lawn mowers on the market?
Below are 5 types of riding mowers with a range of options to suit your budget.
So that you can make an informed decision, we’ve also listed the important features further along in this article that will help you make the right choice for your unique circumstances. We highly recommend that you read this as part of your research before handing over your hard earned cash.
1. Best budget riding lawn mower-Rover Micro Rider
The Rover Micro Rider is a great entry level machine for the home gardener who has to keep a 1/2 acre lawn neat and tidy. It is light and compact and has 24 inch cutting width which is ideal for maneuvering really tight spaces and narrow strips of flat lawns.
Operated using a steering wheel, it is agile and a breeze to handle when navigating around the base of trees and garden beds. It is built to mow areas with maximum inclines of 10 degrees.
It has a 6.5 HP (196 cc) Rover engine or in some cases a Briggs and Stratton engine and a 6 speed manual transmission. The cutting deck is constructed from pressed steel which makes it lighter a beast to drive around. Being a budget riding lawn mower, this little machine does not come with reverse mowing or some of the more luxury creature comforts of more pricey models.
On the upside, you will get a fixed low back set, cup holder, a key start and bumper bar. Operator Presence Control is built in to ensure your safety when using this machine. The Turf Saver tyres: 13 x 5 inch (front) and 16 x 6.5 inch (rear) will let you tackle hilly terrain comfortably.
You can be rest assured that even if the Rover Mirco Rider is pitched as an entry level model, Rover offers 5+5 year engine and unit warranty.
2. Best rear engine riding lawnmower for small yards-TB 30B Riding Lawn Mower
The Troy-Bilt TB30B riding lawnmower comes with 10.5 HP (344 cc) Briggs and Stratton engine and and 12V Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery. The beauty of rear engine mowers is the clearer field of view you get when seated on this ride on mower.
Although the Troy-Bilt TB30B is not a zero turn mower, its low deck and relatively small 18 inch turn radius allow a smooth ride in tight spaces even within the smallest yards. Its 13 x 5-6 inch (front) and 16 x 6.5-8 inch (rear) tyres and Turf Saver wheels gives it steering stability and reduces lawn compaction.
The TB30B is built with operator comfort in mind; it has mid-back support, cup holder and on the safety front has Operator Presence System installed.
This machine comes with a 30 inch cutting deck built from 14 gauge stamped steel and is fitted with a single blade. You can select from 5 cutting heights (1.5-4 inches) using the lever to control deck height making this operation a breeze. Grass clippings are taken care of via its 2-in-1 cutting method. You can choose you cutting method of side discharge or mulching. Bonus-mulching kit is provided.
Don’t be fooled by its smaller size, the Troy-Bilt TB30R can still tackle large yards. The mower is protected by 2 year residential guarantee.
3. Best electric riding lawn mower-Ryobi 48V 30 inch 50 AH Ride On Lawn Mower
The Ryobi 48V 30 inch riding lawn mowing machine lets you do yard work while maintaining power from 3 brushless motors (1 that drives the ride on mower and 2 to power the blades) with 50AH battery life. Depending on weather conditions, you can easily cover up to 1 acre of lawn in 1 hour.
Electric ride on mowers are becoming more attractive as maintenance is very low- no dealing with spark plugs, exhaust fumes, oil changes. You are doing your part by reducing carbon emission to virtually zero. Your neighbors will be happy as your Sunday mowing is done in relative quiet.
The 30 inch cutting deck has 7 cutting heights (1.4- 4.5 inch) and 2 independent cutting blades driven by 2 brushless motors. It comes with a mulch plug that converts grass clippings to fine mulch that goes back on your lawn as fertilizer.
With 13 x 5-6 inch (front) and 16 x 6.5 – 8 (rear) means a very comfortable ride on the fully adjustable seat with 3 spring shocks that the manufacturer has thoughtfully fitted. It also comes with a cup holder for your drinks and USB charger for your phone. The LED headlights make moving in low light conditions much safer.
If you need to tow, the 30 inch deck is removable effectively making it a cart for getting gardening tools, bags of fertilizer around so easily. This is a really neat feature to have come with small riding mowers like this Ryobi 48V.
Ryobi offers a 3 year repair warranty and an overnight charger.
4. Best garden tractor riding lawn mower-Husqvarna TS 138 Lawn Tractor
Do you need more power? The Husqvarna TS138 Lawn Tractor is a good solution.
It is powered by a 14.7 HP Husqvarna Series Loncin engine suitable for small to mid sized gardens. The large cutting deck of 38 inches is manufactured from stamped steel and powder coated to reduce chassis corrosion. The 2-n-1 blade system is engaged via a lever on the dash for ease of use. Height of the cutting blades is controlled via the fender mounted selector lever.
This beauty comes with automatic choke, so just turn the key to start the engine and engage the hydrostatic transmission by pressing down on the pedal. This lets you keep both hands on the larger than normal steering wheel for maximum control and safety. A neat feature is the LCD hour meter in the dash to remind you of the hours of use and when a service of your lawn tractor is due.
The seat is designed to be comfort to help reduce operator stress. One nice feature is that you are able to adjust the seat forward/backward while seated. In case you want the job done in good time, the Husqvarna TS138 comes with headlights to deal with low visibility environments.
Most manufacturers now include operator presence detectors into the safety design aspect of these riding lawn mowers. Husqvarna has installed a safety switch that cuts power to the engine and cutting deck when it detects the driver leaving the seat. The wide 15 x 6-6 inch (front) and 18 x 9.5-8 inch (rear) tyres will reduce compaction of your lawn.
Also available is a Bioclip® kit that can be installed that cuts your entire lawn clippings into smaller pieces. This increases mulching and organic decomposition rates as a way to feed and fertilize your lawn.
What to look for in a riding lawnmower
The best lawn mowing mower varies in many personal ways. Here are a few things that you can take into consideration when you are searching for machines.
Zero turn mowers
The zero turn mower or ZTR is known as Ferrari of riding lawn mowers. Their exceptional speed is their most noticeable feature. Zero turn mowers as the name suggests has a zero degree turning radius by making each of the 2 rear drive wheels rotate clockwise and counter clockwise simultaneously which gives them unbeatable maneuverability. A zero turn mower is designed to allow you to turn on a dime as it were. It has extremely powerful traction, pivotability and delivers a remarkably good all round cut.
A zero turn mower allows for more precise cutting close to a wall, against a landscape edge or tight spaces for a better finish. These machines are equipped with superb handling capabilities that provide you with a smooth and efficient lawnmowing experience even if you don’t have a flat lawn.
Garden or lawn tractor
The garden tractor comes with a forward-mounted engine. These machines have deck widths in the 40 to 54 inch range making it a very useful option if it is aimed at fixing any property over an acre.
The 52-inch deck can accommodate 5 acres. Lawn tractors also have a very good power output between 18 and 25HP. Entry levels are equipped with one-cylinder machines and premium models are fitted with two-cylinder engines.
Rear engine riding mowers
Rear engine ride on mowers are ideal if your yard is moderate sized which means it is too short for a lawn tractors but too wide for a walk mower. The engines are located behind the car seat; this machine features a hand-held shifter to control continuous variable transmissions.
It is powered by a one-cylinder engine with power output of 10 – 12 kW. Its compact for easy storage and is also less expensive than the wider cutting deck mower models.
Battery powered riding mowers
If you want aesthetically pleasing lawns and noiseless lawnmowers, it’s easy to justify using battery powered mowers for lawn maintenance. The electric lawn mower eliminates many issues that come with using the gas engine lawn mowers.
It removes the need for spark plugs, gasoline and scheduled servicing of the engine. They are quieter and are also generally reliable. The electric powered models are lighter compared to gas mowers; being battery powered they are quieter and cheaper to run.
Gas powered riding mowers
Gas powered machines are still very popular; they will tackle high growth areas better than battery powered electric models. Gas powered mowers can take on wet grass and are considered tough workhorses.
Many of these engines including Honda, Kawasaki and Briggs and Stratton are designed with exceptional engineering and offer legendary reliability. You have a lot more choices when you buy gas powered mowers than with electric mowers.
The cutting deck protects the user from flying debris when working and determines machine performance and time. Look into the following factors when choosing the ideal cutting width.
Deck cutting heights and width
The larger decks mean that it cuts through your lawn a lot faster. The larger the better. The average mower deck is about 42 inches and can tackle almost every lawn that reaches a little more than 1/2 acre. When your yard is significantly larger, consider a riding mower that has a wider deck of about 54 inches
Most small riding lawn mowers with smaller mowing decks come with adjustable deck height. The ride on lawn mower’s cutting deck depends directly on the size of the cutting surface. The longer cut width allows for a shorter grass clip. The perfect cut width of a small riding mower is between 30 – 42 inches.
Your small mower’s cutting deck width should be proportional to its blades. A smaller tractor has just 1 blade while a normal zero turn mower or lawn tractor are 2-4 bladed machines.
Stamped versus Fabricated Decks
The cutting board is either fabricated or stamped. Both models differ in design, width, and overall construction quality and durability. Fabricated cutting decks of riding lawn mowers are constructed from steel welded plates and are more rigid.
If your lawn is more than two acres, you will need a mower with an engine of a minimum of 10 HP; above this, you can achieve more results with a riding lawn mowers with a maximum 20 HP motor. When you are considering an electric lawnmower, you need to think about the charging time of the battery between mowing jobs on your acreage.
If you don’t have a relatively flat lawn, it’s a good idea to purchase a front wheel mower. It is the best choice for hilly areas.
Alternatively a zero turn mower could be a great choice for a low-hill terrain; mowers based on all-wheel drive (AWDs) can be another solid choice, allowing your mower to run inclines.
Grass clipping functionality
Riding lawn mowers feature various snipping functions. This is a feature to consider if you want to your lawn mower to mulch the grass clippings to finer pieces that can be used to fertilize your lawn.
Why buy a compact or small riding mower
Here are the top reasons to buy a compact ride on mower:
Comfort and speed
A small riding lawn mower offer many conveniences and operates at faster speeds than push mowers. This is a time saver as it will tidy up your yard quickly. Some small mowers feature an ergonomic adjustable seat and armrests that will suit a tall or short person.
You may also find a variety that has handles and cushions for comfort throughout your mower. You probably have heard that the riding mower has a slower ground speed as opposed to its walking counterparts. They have a low center of gravity, and therefore can be used fairly quickly.
Compared to conventional mowers, compact lawnmowers have several advantages. On rough and uneven terrain it offers excellent maneuverability with better stability be it mowing a hillside, sloped or ground. Large tires provide good grip on wet lawns.
The best lawn tractor models also can double up to tow your gardening tools.
Garden layout and obstacles
Are you looking for an even finish with straight mowing lines? A small riding lawn mower is a possibility. This machine is extremely maneuverable allowing you to change the directions easily in beautiful patterns.
The 24 inch riding lawn mowers are compact and designed for being used in narrow spaces. Another advantage of selecting a small riding mower is that it will not hog all the real estate in your garage.
Choosing the best small riding lawn mower for you
When it comes to choosing how you want to more the lawn, it is usually a toss up between going for a riding mower or walk behind mower.
Let’s face it-It comes down mostly to convenience. Push mowers require much more manpower, physical exertion which on a hot summer’s day is not something to look forward to. In comparison, riding mowers are simple enough to just hop in, start the engine and mow!
To choose the best small ride on lawn mower, you need to think about what you need it for. Will you be using it to cut your whole lawn or just a small part of it?
What kind of terrain will you be mowing on? Is there a lot of trees or other obstacles in the way? Once you have an idea of what you need, you can start looking at the different options.
There are two main types of small riding lawn mowers: gas and electric. Gas powered mowers are more powerful and can typically handle larger lawns better than electric mowers.
Electric mowers are quieter, emit no fumes, and are easier to maintain than gas mowers. However, they are not as powerful and may not be able to handle very hilly or rough terrain.
When looking at small riding lawn mowers, you should also consider the deck size. The deck is the platform that the blades sit on and it determines how wide of a path the mower can cut.
A larger deck size means that you can cover more ground in a shorter amount of time, but it also makes the mower heavier and more difficult to maneuver.
Finally, make sure to read reviews for the “best riding lawn mowers” before purchasing your small riding lawn mower. See what others have said about the performance, durability, warranty offered by the manufacturer and features of the different models.
This will help you make an informed decision and choose the best small riding lawn mower for your needs.