Anyone who has operated a push lawn mower will tell you that it requires lots of energy and time. If you have a large lawn, using a push mower can easily take up to several hours. Not to mention, if used incorrectly, a push mower can result in ached and strained muscles. Switching to a small riding lawn mower can make your life easier, and the expense isn’t as bad as you might think. Here’s a guide to our recommendations for the best small riding lawn mowers.
|Husqvarna Z242F Hydrostatic Riding Mower||Check The Price!|
|Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower||Check The Price!|
|Craftsman 50-inch zero turn mower||Check The Price!|
|Husqvarna MZ61||Check The Price!|
|Husqvarna TS 354XD||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
Mowing the lawn is one of those chores that’s inevitable if you have a yard of any size. That’s why we’ve done deep dives on all the types of mowers you can imagine. Just in the riding mowers category, we’ve done the best cheap riding mowers, the best electric riding mowers, and now we’re covering the best small riding mowers.
We understand that everybody has their own personal preferences, and the same goes for mowing the lawn. That’s why we’ve pooled knowledge and opinions from a variety of sources to give you our top pick. Our thoroughly researched list includes a mixture of all three types of riding lawn mowers, including smaller-sized lawn and garden tractors.
Best For Comfort
Why We Like It: The Husqvarna Z242F is another powerful hydrostatic zero turn riding mower that delivers a comfortable and powerful ride (important if you have a large lawn littered with weeds and stubborn grass). Like its sister above, it can reach a maximum speed of 6.5 MPH. It’s a bit smaller (42″ cutting deck) and about 15% cheaper. The entire Z242F has extremely durable construction that uses tube steel frames and a rugged caster.
Who Should Buy It: For stubborn yards, especially if you are moving at a high speed, you don’t have to take it easy on this machine, because the strong caster and blades will be able to take it. Many quick riding, zero turn radius mowers aren’t comfortable, but that’s not the case with the Z242F. Husqvarna (true to its brand) has fitted the mower with an ergonomic seat design, adjustable seat backing, and spring suspension support for a smoother ride.
Best For Large Yards
The Husqvarna Z254 is a powerhouse and was designed for larger lots with its 54 inch cutting deck. Though it has a larger cutting deck, the body of the mower is still rather compact and is easy to store away in a garage or garden shed.
Why We Like It: Husqvarna is a popular name in the lawn care industry, and the Husqvarna Z254 Riding Mower is a great example of why. The brand is known for its innovative, yet large riding mowers. But even with a giant 54-inch cutting deck, the overall footprint of the Z254 is smaller than others in its class. Under the hood there’s plenty of power. This mower features a 26 HP Kohler engine that reaches an impressive maximum speed of 6.5 MPH straight away.
Who Should Buy It: This is our pick for homeowners, who have large yards, but want a mower that’s not too overwhelming in size. The powerful construction effectively makes it one of the best zero turn riding lawn mowers available, and that power is coupled with safety features, including a braking system that uses the steering levers for quicker reaction time.
Best Affordable Option
Why We Like It: This simple little riding mower does all the things you would expect from a lawnmower. Adjustable cutting height, zero turn radius and robust construction. What’s more, there’s no choke or prime, and you can even cut in reverse. This product is also more affordable than most of the others on this list.
Who Should Buy It: If you’re looking for an affordable mower that still manages to get the job done, you’re in luck. It comes with all the expected bells and whistles, while being a bit easier on your pocket.
Best For Tough Yards
Why We Like It: Simply put, because it’s a beast. The Kawasaki engine fitted to this MZ61 gives you the extra power when you need it. The 61 inch cutting deck and ergonomic cockpit means you’ll have many comfortable hours behind the wheel, keeping your acreage in tip top shape.
Who Should Buy It: If mowing your lawn is more akin to off-roading than yard work, then you need a beast to take the job on. The Kawasaki engine gives you the extra power when you need it, and the ROPS (roll over protection system) may protect you, if you get a bit too adventurous in your escapades.
Best For Harsh Winters
Why We Like It: This 54 inch cutting deck mower comes with the 24HP Kawasaki engine, to give you a perfect cut every time. But cutting grass isn’t the only chore this machine is capable of. Slap a snow blade on the front of this thing, and clear your driveway without breaking a sweat.
Who Should Buy It: If your yard work goes from mowing the lawn in the summer, to shovelling snow in the winter, why not get a vehicle that can help you with both?
Best Riding Mower For Small Yards
The Troy-Bilt 382cc Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower is a great mower for smaller lawns, because it’s also small. This 30-inch riding mower is lightweight at 336 lb, when you compare it to other mowers (most riding mowers will weigh anywhere between 400-600 lbs). As you can see, this is the smallest riding lawn mower on this list. But don’t let the compact size fool you, it can reach up to 4.25 MPH. It’s best for flat yards with modest slopes.
My favorite thing about the Troy-Bilt 382cc is the handling. It’s not a zero turn radius mower, but it does give you 18 inches of turn radius that will still let you navigate around garden beds, fencing and other obstacles in your yard. It’s also comfortable. The adjustable seat and added back support work great with the soft grip steering wheel, so you’re not straining your back or arms while mowing.
The zero turn radius allows you to zip around the lawn and turn corners with a clean cut. The highlight of this mower is the comfort provided by the ergonomic seating. Although it offers a shorter cutting deck, this mower is still ideal for medium to large lawns.
This is the smallest zero turn mower on this list. Its 34″ cutting deck makes it ideal for small to mid-sized lawns, and it can navigate narrow pathways, fences, or flower beds. The ergonomic seating has a high back and promotes good posture, so you’re not hunched over when riding. It’s also fitted with dual suspension springs to cushion the bumps that zero turn mowers are known for. Additional features include control levers and the ability to mow in reverse.
The Ariens 915213 is a powerful zero turn riding mower. Though it sports a healthy 42-inch cutting deck, this mower is a workhorse, making it great for larger, stubborn lawns. The power comes from a Kohler 6000 twin-cylinder engine that’s paired with an electric start hydro transmission. Though it’s a powerful engine, I’m impressed with how little noise and vibration it puts out (even the hand lever controls have dampers to reduce vibration in your grip), all while offering better torque and mileage. With this power, the Ariens 915213 is able to reach speeds of up to 6 MPH, perfect if you have long flat stretches of yard.
The high-back, padded adjustable seat, and three-way adjustable armrests give the Ariens a comfortable mowing experience.
The Snapper 2691402 is available in a combination of engine and cutting deck widths. Because of this, this model is available for any yard, big or small. Durability is a highlight of this mower. If you tend to have a stubborn lawn, this mower might be a good fit for your home.
The Snapper 2691402 Riding Lawn Mower is another of the best zero turn riding lawn mowers, designed for larger than average lawns. This model has a larger construction than its smaller counterpart, the Snapper 2911525BVE. The feature the Snapper 2911525BVE has going for it is its durability. I appreciate a sturdy construction with zero turn mowers, and this model delivers with its fully-welded steel frame and powerful cutting deck that’s backed by the thick welded front axle. The mower deck is durable and protects the ball bearings in the caster spindles, so you get a sharp cut each time.
The mower is extremely versatile thanks to the mower deck that can move between 13 different height positions, allowing you to cut anywhere from 1.5 inches to 5.4 inches. It’s great for large lawns that may want clippings to act as fertilizer after a mow.
Why Would I Want a Riding Lawn Mower?
It’s no secret that riding lawn mowers can make your lawn care routine easier and less time-consuming. If you have a large lot, then a riding mower is the best way to practically maintain your yard. Riding mowers have the ability to push through stubborn growth, and with speeds of up to 6.5 MPH, they cover lots of ground quickly.
Here are some of the main features you should look for, when shopping for a mower. Understanding these features will allow you to make the best selection for your lawn.
Types of Riding Mowers
Zero Turning Radius (ZTR) Mowers
Zero turning radius mowers are known for their ability to turn on a dime. The steering system allows drivers to make a full 360 degree turn, without needing to stop mid-cut. In addition to the incredible manoeuvrability of these mowers, zero turning radius mowers are also fast.
Lawn and Garden Tractors
These types of mowers are large and heavy duty. They were built for cutting grass on expansive yards. Some lawn and garden tractors can tow other units, while others can serve as snow blower combination tractors.
Some lawn and garden tractor models offer a smaller construction for more modest sized lawns. For that reason, our list will cover some of the smaller lawn and garden tractors, for those who need a little more power.
Rear Engine Riding Mowers
When it comes to comfort and ease of use, rear engine riding mowers are best. As the name indicates, the engine is located on the back of the lawn mower near the seat. This is the best type of riding lawn mower, if you need to navigate obstacles like fence gates and flower beds, or ride through narrow passages. Because of its compact size, a rear engine mower is the ideal small lawn mower for shed storage.
They’re popular, because they’re comfortable to operate. However, they’re slower than zero turning radius mowers and of course, lawn tractors.
Cutting Deck Size Differences
The cutting deck of any lawn mower determines how much grass is going to be cut in a single pass. Generally, the larger the cutting deck, the fewer passes you’ll have to make as you cut your lawn. Cutting deck sizes range anywhere from 20″ to 50″ or more.
There are some great advantages to having a larger cutting deck, including less time spent mowing. However, there are other factors to consider:
The Size of Your Lawn
Obviously, if you have a larger lawn, you’ll want a lawn mower with a larger cutting deck. The typical rule of thumb is that, if your lawn is half an acre or smaller, then a 40 or even 30 inch riding mower is a good selection. If your lawn is half an acre to two acres, then a 42 to 48 inch cutting deck is appropriate. Lawns larger than two acres will typically require a mower with a 50 inch cutting deck.
Keep in mind that the larger the cutting deck, the larger your riding mower will be. You’ll need a place to store it, when it’s not in use. Shop appropriately when considering your cutting deck, so that you don’t buy a mower that’s too big to store.
Not surprisingly, a mower with a larger cutting deck will often save you time, but not always. If you buy a lawn tractor, even a smaller one, you’ll likely waste more time getting your mower in and out of storage, then you would if you had a smaller rear engine mower.
Also, larger cutting decks don’t always mean a shorter mow time. For example, a zero turning radius with a higher horsepower, is able to clear a lawn faster than a mower with a larger cutting deck and lower horsepower.
Riding Lawn Mower Safety Tips and Guide
A riding lawn mower is a piece of machinery that can cause harm and injury if not used properly. Because of this, it’s important that you’re alert and attentive when you are mowing your lawn. Here are some safety tips to remember.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing: clothes can get caught in a blade, pulling you off the mower.
- Wear safety goggles: protect your eyes from dust, flying grass, and rocks or debris that may turn into projectiles, while you’re mowing.
- Avoid debris: large sticks, toys, or rocks can get stuck underneath the blades and thrown into the air at high rates of speed. Pick up any objects from the lawn before you start mowing.
- Be aware of tall grass: hidden objects, animals, and holes can cause injury. It’s always best to approach tall grass using a push mower, not a riding mower.
- Consider mower safety features: automatic stop functions, and front and rear guards are features to look for. These will auto-stop your mower immediately in the event of an accident, and keep projectiles from launching from underneath the cutter.
Lawn Mower Care
As with any machinery, proper care will ensure that your riding lawn mower will last you a long time. In addition to reading your owner’s manual, be sure to do the following when maintaining your mower:
- Properly store your mower: You want to have a place to store your mower when it’s not in use. Lawn mowers can typically be stored in a garden shed or a garage. If the season is over, be sure to cover it.
- Maintain fluids: As with any vehicle, you want to maintain the gas and oil levels in your mower. Be sure to change the oil regularly. After the season is over, empty the gas tank and store the gas separately. Some manuals recommend storing the mower with a full tank, but adding in fuel stabilizer.
- Clean the undercarriage: After each use, clear out the undercarriage, so you don’t have globs of grass sticking to your mower. Collected grass can lead to operating issues.
How We Picked
Here are the criteria we used to rate the mowers in the list above:
As mentioned earlier, the cutting deck should be a priority when it comes to selecting the best lawn mower for your home. A bigger cutting deck doesn’t always mean a better lawn mower. The cutting deck simply refers to the width of the grass that gets cut during each pass. Keep in mind that horsepower and the speed of your lawn mower is what determines how fast you can mow your lawn.
Riding lawn mowers are best kept inside a shed, or a garage, so as not to expose them to rain, excessive heat or snow. If you’re unable to keep your lawn mower in a shed, garage, or enclosed space, then a riding mower cover is the next best solution.
Knowing your lawn size is imperative to helping you select the best type of riding lawn mower for your needs. For larger lawns that require more than just simple cutting, a heavy duty lawn and garden tractor may be the best fit for your needs.
Personal preferences also play a big role here. For example, if you’re looking for a lawn mower that can quickly get the job done, then a zero turning radius is the best option. If time is not a major factor for you, but comfort is, then a rear engine would be your best bet.
The Final Verdict
In terms of power, speed, and advanced technology, the Husqvarna Z242F Hydrostatic Riding Mower is our pick for the best overall. With a top speed of 6.5 MPH, you can save considerable time when mowing, and the 42 inch cutting deck is good for both medium and large lawns.
The Husqvarna Z242F wins because of comfort. An ergonomic steering wheel, a seat that cuts back strain while mowing, and a smaller frame that allows it to store well.
We hope our pick of the best riding mowers has helped you narrow your choices when looking for the best mower for your home. Let us know in the comments section below which small riding mower you prefer and why.