Riding Mower vs Push Mower: Which is Best For Your Yard? - Backyard Boss
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Riding Mower vs Push Mower: Which is Best For Your Yard?

You might think that the debate between riding vs push lawn mowers is an easy one to settle; riding mowers are better. Right?

Not so fast. Like most product comparisons, it depends on how you intend to use the product and which product is most appropriate for the task at hand. Riding mowers are great for various scenarios, but there are others where a riding mower just won’t cut it.

The differences between these two options come down to more than just the position of the operator. There are plenty of use cases where one will work, and the other won’t.

Read on for a full breakdown of these two options to help you decide which type of lawn mower is best for you.

Riding Mowers

Orange riding mower on a lawn
Image credits: Zac Gudakov via Unsplash

Are The Right Choice

Riding mowers are large mowers that you sit on and drive, like a mini grass cutting tractor for your yard. The main benefit of a riding mower is the lack of effort needed to mow your lawn. Some expensive models even have a cup holder for your favorite beverage. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of effort involved in using a riding mower. However, compared to a push mower, especially if it’s not self-propelled, the amount of effort required is far less.

It translates into riding mowers getting the job done quicker. Depending on your yard, of course, but we’ll get to that later. So, for those with large yards and plenty of grass to cut, a riding mower is probably the best choice for you. If you’re mowing anything more than half an acre, you should consider riding mowers.

Thick, tall grass that’s damp with dew is no match for a riding mower. If you’re regularly mowing areas that have been neglected for some time or are filled with wet grass, then a riding mower may be the tool you need.

Riding mowers are also a good option if you have a mobility disability since driving a riding mower may be more accessible to you compared to a push mower.

Another great thing about riding mowers is the size of the cutting deck. The deck of a riding mower can be anywhere from 30-60 inches. A 60-inch deck will cut your lawn much faster than a 30-inch deck. The size of the deck will be reflected in the price of the machine. If you’re looking for the best cheap riding mower, you may be limited to a smaller deck.

Are The Wrong Choice

Riding a mower up a grassy hill
Image credits: Carnaby Gilany via Unsplash

Now, at this point, riding mowers may look like elite grass-cutting machines. But let’s look at some scenarios where a riding mower won’t work.

The first and the most important limiting factor is the gradient of the slope that you’re mowing on. Using a riding mower on a steep gradient comes with the risk of a rollover, which could result in serious injury. The same applies for uneven lawns. You also run the risk of your mower getting stuck at the bottom of a hill if the grass is too wet or if traction isn’t great.

Another thing to consider is the steering mechanism of your mower. Regular riding mowers have quite a large turning radius, which means there’ll be some maneuvering involved when you reach the end of the yard. For this reason, regular riding mowers aren’t very well suited to small yards or yards with many obstacles.

To address this, something called a zero-turn mower was introduced to the market. The premise is that these mowers can turn in much smaller radiuses, making them suited for small yards and spaces.

If you want to bag all your grass clippings as you go, you’re probably going to have to buy extra attachments for your mower. Something that will add to the price of a mower that is already quite a bit more expensive than a push mower.



Push Mowers

Black push mower on lawn
Image credits: Andres Siimon via Unsplash

Are The Right Choice

Push mowers are self-propelled mowers with an engine of their own, or they can be propelled by you, the operator. Push mowers are the best option if you have a steep slope or uneven terrain that needs to be mowed. There’s no risk of a rollover and being pinned by your mower. If you have a steep yard, I recommend choosing a self-propelled model. 

If you want to bag your clippings as you go or mulch them back into your lawn, you can do either with a push mower. The best walk-behind mower usually comes with a collection bag as well as with the ability to mulch the clippings back into the lawn right there where they fall.

Push mowers are usually much cheaper than riding mowers. Although a self-propelled mower is more expensive than a classic push mower or reel mower. Since they’re not so elaborate and have fewer moving parts, they also require less major and less regular maintenance. Especially if you choose an electric mower. It is great news for those who don’t know their way around engines or don’t want to pay a mechanic to fix the lawnmower.

Are The Wrong Choice

Lawnmower on brown grass
Image credits: Jeremy Boley via Unsplash

Push mowers are great tools, but they don’t work in every situation. The most obvious would be larger lawns. If you’re mowing anything more than half an acre, I’d recommend looking into alternative options.

Push mowers take much longer than riding mowers since they’re limited by how fast you can walk while pushing a heavy machine.

Self-propelled push mowers are popular. Their completely manual counterparts are still available today. However, without an engine to propel the machine, you’re in for a lot more hard work pushing your manual mower all around your yard.

Another area where push mowers are limited is in the length of the grass they’re able to cut. If you have thick, long grass that needs to be cut, your push mower may not be able to handle it, and you risk burning out the motor.



Which One Should You Choose?

Tractor mower in large field
Image credits: David George via Unsplash

Following the information above, it’s easy to see that both of these types of mowers have their situations where they are more likely to excel. So let’s go over how to choose the right type of mower for your yard.

First off, how steep is the gradient that your yard is on? If there’s a steep slope, it’s probably safer for you to choose a push mower, to not risk getting crushed. If you have a flat yard, a riding mower will work just fine.

Next, how big is your yard? Lawn size should be a factor in your decision. Larger than half an acre? Consider a riding mower. Smaller than half an acre? A push mower will get the job done.

If you’re regularly mowing areas that have been neglected for some time, then a riding mower would be more appropriate. If you have a small, irregularly shaped yard with many objects for mower blades, a push mower is more appropriate.

And finally, what’s your budget? If you have a tight budget, a push mower will be a better choice. If you’re able to invest in something a bit more substantial, then take a look at some riding mowers.

Wrap Up

As you can see, which mower is best for you depends on your situation. You’ll be happy to know whatever your situation, there’s a mower that’s appropriate for you.

It’s a good idea to consider your yard, its gradient, and the amount of effort you’re willing to put in when it’s time to mow the lawn.