Mowing the lawn can be a challenging task when you have a large yard. After all, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time cutting the grass and after a week realizing you have to do it again. In that situation, what you need to speed up your work is a riding lawn mower.
Unfortunately, riding lawn mowers compared to push mowers have a reputation for being expensive equipment, and people don’t even consider buying them because they don’t want to extend their budget.
Luckily, it is where the Backyard Boss team appears and saves the day. To help you get the job done and save plenty of money, we created a list of the best cheap riding lawn mowers you can currently find on the market.
Backyard Boss Top 5 Cheap Riding Lawn Mowers for 2022
|Husqvarna YTH18542 Hydrostatic Riding Mower||
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|Bronco 42 in. 19 HP Briggs and Stratton Engine Automatic Drive Gas Riding Lawn Mower||
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|Husqvarna YTH24V54 54 in. 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower||
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|Z-Beast 50 in. Zero Turn Mower||
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|John Deere S100||
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Why You Can Trust Us
Yards are our passion at Backyard Boss. As a team, we bring decades of experience in home and yard maintenance. We’ve published content on every lawn care topic you can imagine, including our popular guide for the best small lawn mowers and detailed instructions on how to store your mower during the winter.
Not only are we proud of our own yards, but we also love our tool collections. We keep expanding our gadgets to build the knowledge needed to judge a product based on specs, user reviews, and our personal experience with the brands we feature. And in those few cases where we picked poorly or had a problem, we had the opportunity to learn which companies offer great warranties and customer support.
Essentially, we have been where you are now, overwhelmed by choice. We know what it’s like to dig through all the options to pick the right product. Equipped with all that experience, we’re here to make it easier for you, to help you find the best product for yourself.
Best for Hard to Mow Lawns
Why We Like It: The engine is paired with a foot-operated hydrostatic transmission which is great for riders who don’t like to shift gears manually while mowing. The operation gets even more simplified with reverse mowing that is activated by the flip of a switch and a push on the foot pedal. Even inexperienced mowers can get the hang of operation on their first go!
The feature I love the most about this mower is the air induction that draws in the air under the deck so that with each pass you mow, you get a pristine cut. Though the mower offers a less than average 42-inch cutting deck, you should not underestimate its power. For starters, the smaller deck allows you to get into narrow paths in your yard, and it’s the best option for homeowners who want an easy to operate and reliable mower.
Practicality is what the Husqvarna YTH18542 is all about, and the no-fuss operation of the mower can attest to that. The power matched with ease of use is a step up from entry-level riding mowers, making it ideal for someone who needs a mower that can tackle tricky lawns.
Who Should Buy It: The Husqvarna YTH18542 riding lawn mower is a great pick for homeowners looking for a powerful but affordable upgrade to their current riding mower.
Best 42-inch Riding Lawn Mower
This riding mower from Troy-Bilt boasts a 420inch cutting deck powered by a 544cc engine from Briggs and Stratton.
Why We Like It: Although the Troy-Bilt Bronco is small, it’s mighty, with a 544cc single-cylinder Briggs and Stratton intek engine.
You’ll be zooming around your yard with this impressive machine’s variety of transmissions (6-speed, 7-speed, and AutoDrive). The 42-inch cutting deck has five adjustable blade height settings so you can customize your grass’s height based on your preferences.
Not only is this mower easy to navigate with a minimum turning radius of 16 inches, but the automatic transmission and foot pedals also make driving intuitive, just like a car. With a comfortable mid-back seat and a large 13-inch steering wheel with a soft grip, this is one of the most ergonomic mowers you’ll sit on.
Who Should Buy It: The 42-inch cutting deck and 16-inch turn radius make this a great option for irregular yards or mowing otherwise hard-to-reach spaces.
Best For Ease Of Use Lawn Mower
With comfort and ease of use at the fore for this riding mower, you can mow any size lawn in comfort.
Why We Like It: This riding mower focuses on ease of use and comfort for the user. It is evidenced by the powerful engine being equipped with ReadyStart technology, which means an easy start every time.
The tight, 16-inch cutting circle means that you can navigate easily around any obstacles in your lawn. The pedal-operated transmission means you can change speed AND direction without letting go of the steering wheel.
The 54-inch cutting deck is impressive on its own. But what’s more, is that this mower includes 3 blades to do the cutting. The mower deck does not engage when the engine is turned on. Instead, the operator can activate the cutting deck via a switch on the control panel. It ensures enhanced safety as well as lengthening the life of your blades.
Who Should Buy It: This is the mower for you if you want a hassle-free lawn mowing experience. The large cutting deck paired with the tight turning circle means you can mow your lawn in fewer passes.
Best Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower
Why We Like It: The best feature about this mower is the zero-turn capabilities. What this means is that this mower can spin in place. Literally zero turning radius.
It’s the machine for you if you have many tricky areas that require a 3-or-more-point-turn on a regular riding mower. With this zero-turn mower, you don’t even have to change gear to spin completely around. Add to that a large HP Briggs and Stratton V-twin engine, and it’s starting to sound like we have the mower of our dreams here.
It comes with a roll bar for the adventurous mowers out there, as well as a cup holder for the relaxed mowers. Just please note that this product is a bit more expensive than the others on the list, but we wanted to include a zero-turn mower here for those who need it.
Who Should Buy It: This is the mower for you if you have a large yard with many tight spaces amongst it that you need to navigate.
Best Mower Under $2,000
Why We Like It: For starters, John Deere is considered to be the best riding lawn mower by many because of the brand, comfort, and power associated with it. With this mower, the brand keeps it simple with a basic, compact design while delivering on its commitment to quality.
The S100 series is the newer version of the discontinued E100 series. The main difference between them being the S100 delivers more power with its 17.5 horsepower engine. The engine alongside the dependable battery means that you can store your mower away and for the season without worrying about whether or not the battery will hold its charge.
This level of dependability is what I appreciate most about the brand and this mower specifically. If you need more power, the E100 gives you the choice of different engine and transmission options. A choice that not all mowers offer.
Who Should Buy It: If you buy your first riding mower, then the John Deere S100 lawn mower is the best option to go with because it is a comfortable transition from push mowers to riding mowers.
Why Do I Need a Riding Lawn Mower?
Riding lawn mowers aren’t just about chilling on top of your mower like a noble steed while your neighbor sweats and grunts next door, struggling on lap 25/ 40 to finish his lawn. It’s about genuinely doing what’s best for your body.
They save your body from unnecessary physical exertion and strained or pulled muscles, for which push mowers are notorious. When it comes to riding mowers vs. push mowers, there’s just no question that a riding lawn mower is much healthier to use.
It will not only save you physically but will also save time, which you can then use to enjoy the lawn that you so beautifully mowed. They’re not always prohibitively expensive either. Keep your eyes peeled near the end of winter for riding lawn mower deals.
Different Types of Riding Mowers
Riding lawn mowers come in a range of sizes, power capabilities, and types. Here are the three types of mower styles most commonly offered on the market.
Lawn and Garden Tractors
These are commonly referred to as lawn tractors and come in two varieties: standard lawn tractors and heavy-duty lawn tractors.
Standard lawn tractors like the John Deere E100 are designed and built to only mow grass. While heavy-duty lawn tractors come fitted with a hitch so they can lug around necessary items.
Some heavy-duty tractors also have the capability of fitting a snow blower or snow plow onto the front. These tractor snow blower combinations allow you to continue using your riding mower even during the offseason.
Depending on the power and engine size of your lawn tractor, the mower will typically go anywhere from 3 to 6 miles per hour.
Rear Engine Riding Mowers
When it comes to riding mowers, Rear Engine Riding Mowers are the kings of comfort.
As the name suggests, rear engine riding mowers house the engine in the back of the unit. It frees up a lot of space in the front, creating more legroom, which can make them more comfortable for riders.
They also have an elongated steering wheel, which is not only easy to use, but also adds to the rider’s comfort. Some rear engine riding mowers even allow you to adjust the height of the steering wheel, so it’s in the best position for you.
These are not the fastest types of mowers, but they certainly provide the most relaxing mowing experience, even including cupholders sometimes. Additionally, if your yard has a lot of hilly areas, this is the best mower for the job.
Zero-Turn Radius Mower
Zero-turn radius mowers are one of the most popular riding mower options because they offer speed, agility, and power. Their zero-turn radius means you can turn your mower very sharply, allowing you to change directions seamlessly. The quick maneuverability also allows you to get around tight corners easily.
In addition to being able to access hard-to-reach spots, zero-turn riding mowers are known for their speed. They are the fastest type of mowers and significantly reduce your mow time. Lastly, zero-turn radius mowers typically have levers instead of steering wheels that allow you to control the direction.
What to Look for in a Riding Lawn Mower
Understanding Cutting Deck Size
The cutting deck size is the width of a strip of grass that will be cut during each pass with your riding mower. The cutting deck size is measured in inches and can range anywhere from 28 inches to 52 inches on a riding lawn mower. Knowing the cutting deck size your lawn needs is imperative to buying the right mower for your home.
Lawns under half an acre generally require a cutting deck up to 40 inches. Lawns half an acre to two acres require a 40-48 inch cutting deck. Anything above two acres will typically need a cutting deck of 48 inches or higher.
Power and Speed Options
Similar to how if you have a larger lawn you should go for a larger cutting deck size, the more area mower is going to cover, the more power it should have behind it.
Powerful engines allow you to work better and can offer you more speed. For some riders, there is a priority in power over the cutting deck. Many models of riding mowers will allow you to choose the engine and cutting deck size so that you have the best mower for your lawn.
The only downside to having a more powerful engine is that the more power your lawn mower has, the more your mower will cost overall.
Riding Mower Transmission Options
Just like engines, mowers come with all sorts of transmission options. Typically, there are three different transmission options you’ll find: automatic, gear drive, and hydrostatic. Here are the pros and cons of each.
An automatic transmission will switch gears for you. You simply pull the lever or push the pedal and the speed of the mower will increase. There will also be a pedal that allows you to go in reverse (though not all mowers will cut in reverse).
Automatic transmission riding mowers are great for lawns that require lots of turns and have hilly terrain. The change in direction and power does not require you to manually shift, thus requiring you to work less.
Gear-driven or manual transmissions will require the rider to change gears every time they increase or decrease their speed. Much like a car, gear-driven transmissions allow you to have the most control over your mower. Also, the simplicity in the design aids in the overall lifespan of your mower.
The drawback to a gear-driven transmission is that when you make a turn or go up and down a hill, you will need to shift to the proper gear every time to accommodate the speed difference. For some riders, this is too much work.
The upside is that the simplistic construction of a gear-driven transmission allows this type of transmission to be the most budget-friendly of all three options.
Hydrostatic transmissions are the perfect mix of both automatic and gear-driven. Hydrostatic transmissions use fluids to move power from the engine of your mower to the wheels. You do not need a pedal to shift gears, and there are no internal belts like those found in an automatic.
The result of a hydrostatic transmission is typically a smoother ride as compared to the jerks you will experience on a gear-driven transmission. The drawback, however, is that hydrostatic transmissions tend to be the more expensive of the three types of transmission options.
Grass Clipping Options
When you are cutting your grass, the clippings have to go somewhere. With riding mowers, you will find three different types of clipping options.
Side discharged clippings are released back onto your lawn through a side discharge funnel. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not like the look of leftover clippings on their lawn after a fresh mow.
The collection of the clippings can be achieved by attaching a bag to your lawn mower. For many riding lawn mowers, this attachment is not included in the initial purchase.
The result is a well-manicured lawn that is free of any clippings. The drawback, however, is that as the bag becomes full, you will need to empty it (often several times) throughout your mowing session.
Some riding lawn mowers can mulch up your clippings. When this happens, the mulched-up clippings are released back into your lawn, leaving your lawn with a thin film of short grass clippings. These mulch clippings do your lawn good because they go back into the soil and help fertilize your lawn.
Where to Buy Riding Lawn Mowers for the Best Price
When purchasing a riding lawn mower, you can buy it in-store or online. The obvious advantage of buying in-store is that you get to see the machine, sit on it, and know what you’re buying. Online, however, does have the advantages of convenience, being able to see reviews on the product, and being able to easily compare it with other models.
If you are buying in person, consider checking out a small business or home improvement store like Home Depot. If you are buying online, you can typically buy directly from brands or even on Amazon.
Trusted Brands in Riding Lawn Mowers
Some of the best brands in riding lawn mowers include Troy-Bilt, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, Simplicity, Snapper, and John Deere. Each of these brands creates excellent, quality products, which you will see below, some of which are premium options and some of which are affordable.
As fun as riding lawn mowers may be, they can also be dangerous, just like any other piece of heavy machinery. Stay safe when you use your riding lawn mower by implementing the safety tips below.
Wear Safety Goggles
The power of many riding lawn mowers allows them to reach speeds of up to 6 miles an hour, which may not sound like a lot but will feel like a lot if you mow over a stick or a rock and your mower’s momentum causes it to be flung up in the air, so it hits you in the eye.
Because of this, it’s important to wear safety goggles. They have the bonus of protecting your eyes from dust or pollen that may become airborne as a result of your mowing.
Wear Ear Plugs
Lawn mowers are known for being annoyingly loud. Because you are so close to the engine when mowing, it is important to cover your ears every time you operate one. The best protection is earplugs, but noise-canceling headphones that cover the entirety of your ear can work as well.
Do Not Wear Baggy Clothing
There are many moving parts when you are riding a lawn mower. Because of this, any loose clothing that can get pulled into your mower could become a hazard to you. Avoided this by wearing clothing that is well fitted and not baggy. Additionally, do not tie long sleeve shirts to your waist while you are riding or keep lanyards or long handkerchiefs hanging from your pockets.
Use Your Judgment When Mowing
Riding mowers requires you to be alert and attentive when you are out on your lawn. Because of this, it is important to use your best judgment when you are mowing. It includes staying clear of obstacles and not mowing over items like loose balls, toys, or other objects. Be sure your path is clear before you mow.
How We Picked
When it comes to cheap riding mowers on the market, you have a lot to choose from. To simplify the process and make sure we give you the best choices available, we followed a list of criteria. The criteria are as follows:
- Price. After all, this is a list of cheap riding mowers. We made sure to include only products that aren’t prohibitively expensive.
- Quality. Often, when you’re looking for the cheapest version of something, you have to compromise on quality. We don’t want this to be the case for our readers. We all deserve top-quality machinery. So we found cheaper riding mowers that don’t compromise on quality.
- Variation. Not all lawns are equal. There is no one-size-fits-all riding mower. We made sure to add some variation to these offerings so that there’s something for everyone.
The Best of the Cheap Riding Lawn Mowers
Our overall pick for the best cheap riding mower in 2022 is the Husqvarna YTH18542. This mower offers the perfect combination of power, quality, and ease of use. With an impressive motor, hydrostatic transmission, and a sizable 38-inch cutting deck, this hassle-free mower is perfect for taking on modestly-sized lawns.
Of course, every riding lawn mower on this list is a winner, and each has different strengths, so if you didn’t fall in love with the Husqvarna YTH18542, consider one of the other excellent options we reviewed.