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10 Best Riding Lawn Mowers – (Reviews & Ultimate Guide 2020)

Best Garden Tractor Reviews 2020

If you are searching for the best riding lawn mower on the market right now, then you have definitely come to the right place. Here we’ve tested, reviewed and ranked the top 10 products based on their design, features, performance, specs and value for the money. On the larger part, we’ve only focused on machines that are easy to operate and can manage large properties without a hitch.

The riding lawn mowers, also known as garden tractors or lawn tractors are an ideal substitute to traditional walk-behind mowers that are not as enjoyable to run. You definitely want to spend your time more constructively by avoiding all the hassle of pushing a gas lawn mower. Even if you own a small property, lawn tractors are perfectly suitable to cut the grass with convenience.

When looking for the perfect riding lawn mower, you’ll come across many trusted brands with years of manufacturing experience. With so many good options of garden tractors and ZTR mowers, sometimes it becomes really difficult to choose the right option. Fortunately, we’ve shortlisted ten products that outrank all other models in terms of engine horsepower, top speeds, cutting deck width, maneuverability and durability, etc.

Before you rush out and pull the trigger on the most expensive riding lawn mower, do not forget to check out comparison chart and read our in-depth reviews all the way to the end. These will definitely help you decide and find something perfect to fit your budget. Keep in mind that more features equate to a higher price. So, if you are looking for something under a mid-range budget, you many need to trim down few features.

Comparison Chart: Best Riding Lawn Mowers of 2020

In our comparison chart, we take a look at the basic information about all types of lawn mowers that are further down in our review section. You can view, compare and analyze all their features to help narrow down your final choice. This same arrangement of products is also mirrored in our review section, so that it is easy for you to correlate when you scroll down the article.

NameTypePowerCutting DeckWeightDimensionsTransmission
Craftsman T150 Front Engine Garden Tractor19 HP46 Inches490 lbs70 x 51 x 35.5 inHydrostatic
Troy-Bilt 382ccRear Engine Lawn Tractor15 HP30 inches336 lbs62 x 34 x 26 in6 Speed
Craftsman T135Front Engine Garden Tractor18.5 HP46 Inches503 lbs70 x 47 x 35.5 inCVT Foot Pedal 
Ariens IKON-XZero-Turn Mower23 HP52 Inches870 lbs78 x 41 x 64 inHydro-Gear® EZT Transaxles
Troy-Bilt 540ccFront Engine Garden Tractor19 HP46 Inches490 lbs69.8 x 46 x 35.5 inFoot Pedal Automatic
Husqvarna MZ61Zero-Turn Mower27 HP61 Inches770 lbs75.5 x 76 x 42 inHydrostatic
Husqvarna YTH20K42Front Engine Garden Tractor20 HP42 Inches590 lbs60 x 50 x 50 inHydrostatic
Ryobi RY48111Rear Engine Lawn Tractor100AH Battery38 Inches595 lbs63 x 46 x 38.5 in-
Ariens ZoomZero-Turn Mower19 HP34 Inches425 lbs-EZT Transaxles
Snapper 560ZZero-Turn Mower25 HP52 Inches1164 lbs81 x 68 x 68 inHydrostatic

1. Best Overall: Craftsman T150

Craftsman T150 Riding Lawn Mower ReviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Front and Rear
  • Cutting Deck: 46 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton
  • Engine Horsepower: 19
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 5.5 MPH
  • Transmission: Hand-controlled Hydrostatic
  • Turning Radius: 18 Inches
  • Unit Weight: 490 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Warranty: 2 years

Our top pick is none other than Craftsman T150 that uses a mighty Briggs & Stratton engine. This gas-powered engine is well-proven and trusted by many popular mower brands across the world. It generates an average of 19 horsepower that is capable enough to not only support your weight but also pull various front and rear attachments to use. On top of that, the T150 offers a 46-inch cutting deck that swiftly mows an ample amount of garden area in each lap to finish off in less amount of time. We also appreciate the front engine design, placement of wheels and optimal ground clearance. Even better, its bigger wheels provide enough traction to drive mower on rough grounds and uneven slopes without any trouble.

When compared with other garden tractors, you’ll love the sheer amount of stability delivered by Craftsman T150. It is mainly because of the 15-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels that make it easy for you to maneuver the tractor in challenging situations. As with other ride on mowers, you can also reverse it to move yourself out of difficult corners and tight spots. It comes with hand-controlled hydrostatic transmission with an average top speed of 5.5 Mph.

While operating the garden tractor, you can also turn off mower blades as per your requirement. Its seat is super comfortable and provides ample support to the rider during whole mowing operation. The tractor is compatible with a wide range of branded accessories, but you can opt for third-party accessories as well. Overall, the Craftsman T150 is a high-quality riding lawn mower that provides great value of money to the users. It gained top spot on our list based on its features, built-quality, design, safety and excellent price to value ratio.

  • Rugged Built-quality and Design
  • Strong and Durable Engine
  • Large 42-inch cutting deck offers better coverage
  • Tough wheels that are compatible with every type of terrain
  • A bit bulky to operate with small gardens
  • Newbies may find it difficult to understand its functions initially

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2. Best Overall Runner-Up: Troy-Bilt 382cc

Troy-Bilt 382cc Rear Engine Riding Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 30 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Troy-Bilt
  • Engine Horsepower: 15
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 4.25 MPH
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Turning Radius: 18 Inches
  • Unit Weight: 336 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Warranty: 2 years

If you are looking for a durable yet powerful rear-engine riding tractor under mid-range price bracket, then Troy-Bilt 382cc is definitely the perfect choice. This machine is truly an ideal combination of durability, performance, ease of use and optimal comfort. With rear-engine wheel configuration, the Troy-Bilt is well-suited for small to medium sized landscapes with relatively flat surface.

If you’re new to ride-on mowers, think of rear-engine models as the gateway between regular lawn mowers and ride-ons. They’re not ideal for heavy-duty use, but if you’re a casual user who just wants to make mowing faster, easier and more fun, you’ll find a lot of value here. You have to be careful with rear-engine machines since there are more than a few cheap cheaply-made options on the market, but here you’re getting a Troy-Bilt, which is among the top brands and, in our opinion, second-to-none when it comes to rear engines.

A 30-inch single-blade cutting deck and an 18-inch turning radius makes cutting most yards up to an acre a joy to mow. It has 16-inch rear and 13-inch front wheels that make this mowing machine a lot more agile than it may look at first glance. You can adjust the deck between 1.25 and 3.75 inches. It offers side discharge and mulching by default, and like all of the best riding mowers, it supports a bagger, which you’ll have to purchase separately. You can also opt for a mulch kit and a hauler attachment, which we liked a lot, but there aren’t many attachment options beyond that.

The medium-back seat is really comfortable as well, which probably isn’t the norm on these smaller machines. You likely won’t be riding this lawn mower for multiple hours at a time, but it’s nice to know that you can go at least a couple without your back and behind feeling stiff and numb. With so much value, reliability, comfort and exceptional power, the Troy-Bilt 382cc is one of those impressive lawn tractors that we’d like to pick any day for our lawn mowing needs.

  • Incredible Cutting Power
  • Easy to steer
  • Adjustable blade system
  • Soft grip steering wheel
  • Runs Smooth
  • Adjustable seat
  • Compact for easy storage
  • Wallet-friendly
  • A bit loud
  • Rough shifting of gears

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3. Best Value: Craftsman T135 Riding Lawn Mower

Craftsman T135 Riding Lawnmower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Front and Rear
  • Cutting Deck: 46 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton
  • Engine Horsepower: 18.5
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 5.0 MPH
  • Transmission: CVT Foot Pedal
  • Turning Radius: 18 Inches
  • Unit Weight: 503 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Warranty: 2 years

On the number three spot, we’ve the Craftman T135 that does a decent job across the board. It is a relatively trimmed down version of T150 with some downgraded features to make it slightly more budget friendly. It uses a 46-inch cutting deck powered with 18.5 HP Briggs and Stratton gas engine to easily maneuver through rough terrains. Just like its elder brother T150, it uses 15-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels to provide superfluous ground clearance for bumps and optimal grip on the ground.

We love how the blades on T135 keep on cutting and trimming even while reversing through hard spots. With this nice feature, you never have to stop or pause the trimming process. Overall the ride is pretty smooth, thanks to the mid-back seat, CVT foot pedal transmission and spring suspension system. One of our most favorite features is the Readstart technology that enables you to just turn the key and let it do the hardwork. Having this technology on board, you don’t need to prime or choke as with other traditional tractors.

Fortunately, the Craftman T135 includes deck wash that you can easily use after done with mowing. All you need is to attach a garden hose to remove clippings, debris and dirt to avoid getting clogged up. As with the T150, it is also backed up by a 2-year limited warranty.

  • Good ground clearance
  • Keeps cutting even in reverse mode
  • Optimal traction
  • Lumbar support
  • Easy maintenance
  • CVT transmission is a bit fussy compared to hydrostatic
  • Foot pedal seems stiff at times

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4. Best ZTR: Ariens IKON-X FR691 Series

Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Lawn Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 52 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Kawasaki FR V-Twin
  • Engine Horsepower: 23
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 7.0 MPH
  • Transmission: Dual EZT hydrostatic transaxles
  • Turning Radius: ZTR
  • Unit Weight: 871 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 3 gallons
  • Warranty: 3-year limited

Let us introduce you to a beautiful beast: the Ariens Ikon-x zero turn lawn mower! This is the point in our reviews where we graduate from garden tractors to ZTRs. This is a heavy-duty machine that’s not quite commercial-grade but features commercial elements, such as a four-point dual-arm deck hanging system.

The IKON-X features a 52-inch cutting deck, which makes handling multiple acres a breeze. It is also a zero-turn machine (ZTR), which means it can make zero radius turns at a single location. This allows you to use your IKON-X in smaller areas as well as to cut around trees and navigate practically any kind of landscaping area.

One cool thing about this ZTR is featuring an ultra-comfortable high-back chair. When you sit in it, you feel like you’re sitting in a cockpit. You just feel good, and the control arms are right where they should be. On top of all that, the drive is incredibly smooth—as it should be at this price level—and the machine is very responsive as well. The ZTR is not only easy to operate but easy to learn as well especially if you are new to zero turn machines or lawn tractors in general.

We love the tubular steel frame construction on the Ariens Ikon-X. Keep in mind, the Kawasaki FR engines are very powerful and dependable. It can deliver a whooping 23 horsepower to fulfill all your mowing needs. The warranties offered by manufacturers also make big part of your purchasing decision and Ariens does not disappoint us in this department as well. This ZTR is backed up by a solid 3-year warranty, one of the best on the market right now.

  • Comfortable and ergonomic high seat with armrests
  • Very powerful and durable engine
  • Air filtration system
  • Glass chopper screen
  • Deck lift system
  • Bagging and Suction system
  • Quiet and easy to use
  • Learning curve may take some time
  • Absence of deck washout ports
  • No cruise controls

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5. Best for Casual Use: Troy-Bilt 540cc

Troy-Bilt 540cc Riding Garden Tractor reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 46 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Troy-Bilt
  • Engine Horsepower: 19
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 5.2 MPH
  • Transmission: Foot Pedal Automatic
  • Turning Radius: 18 Inches
  • Unit Weight: 490 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 1.36 gallons
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

The Troy-Bilt TB46 offers a lot more to love about it. Right from its launch, it quickly gained popularity due to its handsome features at the right price. It was surely a tough choice between Craftsman T150 and TB46 because they have a lot of things in common. In the end, the T150 emerged as a clear winner as it comes quite a bit cheaper.

Overall, this is not a rugged, all-duty garden tractor. Troy-Bilt makes options for that. This is, however, arguably the best riding lawn mower for residential use. It works great for small yards, and it’s among our top choices for reasonably flat areas up to several acres or so.

The front-engine garden tractor features a flawless 19-horespower engine from Briggs & Stratton. It’s mated with a Foot-Pedal automatic transmission, and the tractor can achieve speeds up to 5.2 miles per hour. The mulch kit, bagger and bumper are not included, but they are supported and available at the time of purchase or down the road. Furthermore, it also supports a broad range of front and rear attachments.

Something that we really liked about this machine was the ability to mow in reverse. If you have some difficult areas that you often need to hit a few times, this option makes that a lot easier. Other worth-noting features include the high-back chair, which we found more comfortable than the Craftsman’s seat, as well as the integrated deck wash system. Just being able to hook up a hose and clean out the deck on the double makes regular cleaning and maintenance a lot easier.

  • Sturdy and durable engine
  • Seat is comfortable and ergonomic
  • Maintenance free battery
  • 5 different cutting height positions
  • Soft and responsive steering
  • Good value for the money
  • Slow reverse speed
  • Suspension lacks a bit

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6. Best ZTR Runner-Up: Husqvarna MZ61

Quick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 61 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Briggs and Stratton Endurance V-Twin
  • Engine Horsepower: 27
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 8.5 MPH
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic
  • Turning Radius: 0 Degree Turn Radius
  • Unit Weight: 770 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 5.0 gallons
  • Warranty: 4-year or 400 hrs (whichever comes first)

The Husqvarna MZ61 is the most expensive and heavy-duty ZTR mower on our list. Its features bring a lot to our discussion, including a 27-horsepower engine—the largest featured in our rankings—and a massive 61-inch cutting deck.

It’s high price tag is what stops it from being among the best riding lawn mowers for the money. It is priced much higher without reaching that same level of commercial performance and polish. That’s not to say it’s far off. It isn’t. But we feel that this would be a much more interesting discussion if it was priced nearer the ICON-X. More features equate to a higher price and this is exactly what happened with this ZTR machine.

Price aside, we really loved this Husqvarna MZ61. It is extremely comfortable to drive. The control arms are well-positioned, and in terms of fine control and responsiveness, this zero-turn mower is one of the best we tested so far. Along with powerful engine, it really makes it easy to cover a lot of distance in a short period.

Something else that stood out about the MZ61 was the engine start. We purposefully tested preowned lawn tractors wherever possible because of how notorious ride-ons are for being difficult to start down the road. However, this machine was particularly well-used and was the easiest start of all the ZTRs we tested.

We know that price will be an issue for many, but if you have multiple acres and difficult terrain, including brush and pine trees, for instance, you can’t go wrong here. This ZTR will take a beating and keep on delivering the kind of superior performance that you need.

If you are looking for something heavy-duty and don’t really care about the price, this beast won’t disappoint you. What further amazed us was the warranty, which is the longest you can find on the market right now.

  • Most powerful engine
  • Well-suited for large areas due to highest speeds
  • Safety Mechanisms
  • High positioned seat with armrests
  • Removable foot pan
  • 12 cutting height steps
  • High precision zero radius turns
  • Long term value
  • Pretty expensive
  • Can make skid marks in yard when turning around

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7. Also Consider: Husqvarna YTH20K42

Husqvarna YTH20K42 Yard Tractor Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 42 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Kohler 7000 Series V-Twin OHV
  • Engine Horsepower: 20
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 5.2 mph
  • Transmission: Pedal Operated Hydrostatic
  • Turning Radius: 18 inches
  • Unit Weight: 590 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 2.5 gallons
  • Warranty: 3-years

If you are looking for a garden tractor that is jack for all trades, then go for the Husqvarna YTH20K42. It’s a relatively small front engine tractor, which makes it ideal if you’re seeking a ride-on for one to two acres. It has a 42-inch cutting deck, which is more than enough for a mid-sized garden. It’s fine for about two acres, but we think it will prove to be small beyond two acres, or if you’re mowing multiple yards in a day.

Unlike most of our best rated lawn mowers, this one features a Kohler 7000 Series V-Twin OHV engine. The 20 horsepower that it delivers is powerful and efficient enough for the scenarios described earlier. The pedal operated hydrostatic transmission makes it simple to set your desired speed.

What perhaps impressed our team the most and convinced us to include it in our top 12 list is how well it handles hills and other rugged terrain. It’s responsive and easy enough to drive to get into tight spots, navigate around landscaping obstacles and go up and down slopes with ease.

The cherry on top is that it is fully equipped for both front and rear attachments. You can opt for a bagger and mulching kit but also dump carts, scoops, brush guards and much more.

  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Compact size makes easy to maneuver
  • Less storage space required
  • Adjustable seat and ergonomic steering
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Anti-scalping wheels
  • Superb cut quality
  • Not available for sale in California
  • Belt can occasionally slip off

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8. Best Electric Zero Emission Pick: Ryobi RY48111

Ryobi Electric Zero Emissions Riding Lawn Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 38 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Ryobi
  • Engine Horsepower: 100AH Battery
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Turning Radius: Tight
  • Unit Weight: 595 pounds
  • Warranty: 3-years

Although we didn’t expect an all-electric ride-on mower to get ranked on our comparison chart, but here we are with the Ryobi 38-inch 100Ah machine. It gives you enough juice for about 2.5 hours of runtime or 2.5 acres depending on how you want to look at it.

There’s also a 75Ah version of this model, but the savings are slight, and we don’t really see any scenario in which saving a couple of hundred is worth giving up more than 30 minutes of operating time.

Both models charge via any standard 120-volt wall outlet. If you have one conveniently located in your garage or shed, it makes it easy to keep this riding mower topped off and ready to go.

Our team was impressed with its overall design. Rather than be configured like most rear-engine models, Ryobi designed it like a standard lawn tractor. It’s about the same length and perhaps a bit narrower, but the result is very easy to steer and offers more traction than we expected.

The design also allows for a rear hitch that is part of the frame rather than a separate piece. This enables you to use a cart and a wide range of other rear-mounted accessories. We were also delighted with how well this machine pulled rocks and was able to cut through dense grass.

  • Noiseless operation
  • Environment friendly with no fumes
  • 12-point deck height adjustment
  • Mows really well
  • Nice headlights
  • No maintenance
  • Suspension is a bit stiff
  • Gas pedal is taller
  • Costs a pretty penny

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9. Honorable ZTR Mention: Ariens Zoom V-Twin 34″Ariens Zoom Zero Turn Radius Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 34 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin
  • Engine Horsepower: 19
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 6.0 MPH
  • Transmission: Hydro-Gear® EZT Transaxles
  • Turning Radius: 0 Degree Turn Radius
  • Unit Weight: 425 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 2.0 gallons
  • Warranty: 3-years

The Ariens Zoom shares a lot in common with the IKON-X that we ranked earlier. Sure, it may not feel and look as commercial-grade across the board, but it’s also about half as bulky, which make it a really nice option at this budget level.

A lot of good elements factor in when buying this riding lawn mower. These include a rugged steel frame, a 34-inch cutting deck and Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin engine that delivers 19 horsepower.

This ZTR tractor is lever-operated and features a EZT Transaxles drive system. It’s also responsive and easy to operate, and the bars have comfortable padded grips and are positioned just right over the lap area.

If you have half to two acres of land, then a zero-turn tractor like this will save you a lot of time. It achieves speeds up to 6.0 miles per hour, and coupled with the 34-inch cutting deck, that lets you mow large areas of yard quickly and efficiently. It run like a champ, and you can cut about 2.0 acres in an hour once you become comfortable and experienced with your machine.

There’s also a lot of little extras that make a big difference and put this among the best riding mowers list. Engage the mowing blades with just the flip of a switch. An on-board system reminds you of maintenance and service requirements, and you can clean the deck just by attaching a hose.

  • High Back Seat
  • Large Fuel Tank
  • Looks premium with solid built-quality
  • Professional Grade Engine
  • Supports multiple attachments
  • Good fuel consumption
  • Not suited for harsh terrains
  • Wet grass clogs up the deck

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10. Also Consider: Snapper 560z

Snapper 560z Zero Turn Mower reviewQuick Features:

  • Attachment Compatible: Yes
  • Cutting Deck: 52 inches
  • Engine Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton
  • Engine Horsepower: 25
  • Reverse Mow: Yes
  • Top Speed: 9.0 MPH
  • Transmission: Hydro-Gear® ZT-3200®
  • Turning Radius: 0 Degree Turn Radius
  • Unit Weight: 1164 pounds
  • Tank Capacity: 5.5 gallons
  • Warranty: 3-years limited
  • Mower Deck Warranty: Lifetime

This is a commercial-grade machine, and what’s impressive about it is that it delivers that build quality and level of performance at a very competitive price for the commercial market. It may not, however, be a reasonable price for the average homeowner. When you can get a ZTR mower like the ICON-X for several thousand dollars, it may be hard to justify this Snapper for a couple more.

If Snapper falls in your price range, then this is the kind of ZTR that you can invest in, own and use for decades if you keep up and remain careful with the seasonal maintenance required.

When compared with ICON-X, the seating area offers more of an upright design. We preferred the ICON-X seat itself, but we preferred the positioning here. You’re directly on top of what you’re doing, and that makes it easier to mow and to navigate around various landscaping obstacles.

Furthermore, it features a huge 52-inch deck, which really helps to chew up the feet when mowing multiple acres. It uses a 25-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, which is powerful but not quite the largest we tested in all of our reviews. The deck is constructed of 10-guage steel. You can achieve speeds up to 9 miles an hour, and the deck lift makes it easy to adjust the cut height from as low as 1.5 inches to as high as 4.5 inches.

On top of all that, Snapper provides an excellent warranty, including a limited lifetime warranty on the metal construction. A benefit of owning a Snapper is that there’s an authorized service nearby no matter where you live (in the U.S. at least) and that’s not always the case with some of the other mower brands.

  • Top-notch construction
  • Designed for high-performance applications
  • Easy deck-lift adjustment system
  • All steel construction for added durability
  • Intuitive Controls
  • Very Solid Warranty
  • Pricey for some buyers

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11. Yard Machines Riding Garden Tractor

Yard Machines Riding Garden TractorThis budget-friendly option was a pleasant surprise!

It’s a 42-inch 420cc garden tractor that delivers excellent value. The build quality and features are comparable to tractors that costs hundreds more. It’s suitable up to two acres of yard and features a 42-inch cutting deck, which is a little on the small side but more than adequate. It also has a seven-speed transmission and features mow in reverse, which makes this the cheapest riding lawn mower that offers this feature.

The Yard Machines tractor also surprised us with how it handled rugged terrain. This shouldn’t be your choice for a difficult mow, but if you have some small hills and ridges, we think you’ll be impressed with how well this model handles them. This is a big part of why it’s our value pick.

It features a side discharge by default but a mulching kit and a bagger are supported and sold separately as well as a host of front- and rear-mounted attachments.

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12. Worx WG794 Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower

Worx WG794 Landroid Robotic Lawn MowerThe Landroid by Worx isn’t a ride-on mower. Instead, it’s a robotic lawn mower. We tested a number of these robotic mowers, and this was the one we liked the best.

Robotic mowers are steadily improving but still have a long way to go. If you’re thinking robotic vacuum cleaner, know that mowers aren’t at that level of sophistication yet. When you factor in the relatively high prices as well, then it’s difficult to recommend them as an alternative to a ride-on or walk-behind.

This model uses bump-and-turn navigation, and although we’ve heard some garden destruction horror stories, it worked quite well in our experience. An issue with this precaution is that it will miss some areas, which can be big patches at times. You’ll definitely have to perform touchup with a trimmer, and you’ll probably want a push mower than can let you hit those areas that the robot mower misses.

Also, be aware up front that this machine cannot create those attractive parallel lines that a human using a ride-on or push or walk-behind mower can. That’s a shame. On the plus side, this robotic product was surprisingly easy to get set up and mowing. It even has a rain sensor that lets it seek cover.

We feel as if you have to plan your yard around the use of a robotic mower to get the most out of it. If you do that, then the performance can be exceptional. If you’re not willing to do that, however, then the mower will never deliver a good enough mow to make the investment worthwhile in our opinion.

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A Complete Buying Guide for Riding Lawn Mowers

Types of Riding Lawn Mowers

Riding lawn mowers are bigger and more robust than walk-behind items and come at different price points based on their features. Their bigger size also makes them more dangerous to operate when compared with traditional products. So, what differentiates the cost so much and what type of riding lawn mowers are currently available in the market?

The ride on mowers are mainly categorized into three types based on their overall design, power, engine position, maneuverability and cutting deck. There are different terms used for them interchangeably which are known as Rear Engine mowers (lawn tractors), Zero Turn Radius (ZTR) and finally Garden Tractors. Let us discuss each of them one-by-one with their advantages and disadvantages for the users.

1. Rear Engine Mowers Aka Lawn Tractors

These provide better visibility as they have their engines installed at the back. They have their deck size usually ranging from 28 to 34 inches and are considered ideal for areas less than one acre. With smaller deck size, these riding lawn tractors are easier to store and manage. They usually come with less robust engines that almost generate 11 to 15 horsepower. Unlike other types, rear engine mowers do not need extra amount of torque to operate. With multiple transmissions, these lawn tractors can reach to maximum speeds of 5 mph.

In terms of maneuverability, riding lawn tractors are easy to operate due to enhanced pivoting frame. With deck pivoting along with front axle, it ensures swift cutting even while turning around. On top of that, the smaller deck size sets in perfect ratio with steering to provide even a tighter turning radius. This helps to reach those difficult to reach areas that are normally left during lawn mowing.

With rear-engine riders, you can attach a number of tow-behind accessories such as carts, aerators, spreaders and dethatchers, etc. Their towing capability varies for each model and must be used with caution. In comparison with front engine lawn mowers, they are less capable and powerful. Their main function is to cut grass, so they may not perform well with hauling heavier accessories.

The rear engine tractors are an ideal choice for someone who owns one to two acres of land. They are an economical choice and cost a lot less as compared to other types. This is mainly due to their smaller deck size and less powerful engines.

2. Zero-Turn-Radius Lawn Mowers (ZTR)

The ZTR are designed to cut medium to large sized lawns with exceptional speeds and maneuverability. These machines can efficiently pivot around 180 degrees to leave no patch of grass remain uncut during mowing. It is not uncommon to see wide cutting decks and rear engine configuration with ZTR machines. What we really love about ZTRs is their unmatched speeds as compared to other mowers. On full throttle, the high-end models can reach up to 9 mph which is pretty impressive in our opinion. On the downside, you cannot toe multiple accessories with the unit. In reality, these products are not designed to handle such hauling tasks as compared to versatile garden tractors.

The ZTR mowers are great when it comes to mowing needs of more than 2 acres of land. They come with a large size deck that ranges in between 48 to 60 inches. A wider deck ensures reduced mowing time as it cuts more area of grass in each lap. By increasing size of cutting deck, you also cut down the time to get mowing job done. However, if you are someone who needs to get into lots of tighter places, consider buying a ZTR with smaller deck size. With large deck size, it becomes increasingly difficult to reach narrow places.

Unlike traditional machines, the ZTR are handled using bars and levers. You don’t even require much experience to control these machines as they are easy to move. If you plan to run these on difficult terrains such as hills, it may slow you down due to difficult handling. With obstacles, it becomes really hard to take a sharp turn on a hilly terrain. For these reasons, many manufacturers prescribe users the standard degrees of slope to run them.

3. Garden Tractors

The front engine riding mowers or garden tractors are designed to take care of heavy-duty stuff efficiently. These are an excellent choice for large gardens and properties over two acres. Due to their powerful engines, heavy-duty axles and rugged frames, they are preferred choice of professionals in the yard field. With engine powers ranging from 18 to 26 horsepower, they do not only mow grass but nicely toe-behind multiple accessories. For instance, you can haul dump carts, twin bagger, lawn sweeper, ATV carts, drop spreader, swivel dump, dethatcher, lawn roller, graders, snowblower and the like. Using a high-end garden tractor can significantly reduce mowing times due their higher speeds and large cutting decks.

The only downside with garden tractors is their wider turning radius due to large deck size and front axle mechanism. If you are in need of a capable riding mower with ground-engaging attachments to landscape wider areas, the front engine tractors are an ideal choice. However, they also cost more than any other type of ride on mower due to their larger parts and robust engines.

When deciding to attach accessories, do not forget to read manufacturer’s recommended weight and type of accessories to tow behind. Better not expect to haul very heavy items that can over-burden the machine. The ability to perform multiple tasks swiftly and effectively also makes garden tractors our top-rated choice in our comparison chart.

How the Top Riding Lawn Mowers Were Tested and Selected?

Husqvarna riding mower:small lawn tractor

Our team was able to secure ourselves an area of land that comprises many acres and was in desperate need of mowing. The area was quite varied too, which let us test all of these mowing machines in various grass lengths and when dealing with various different terrain challenges. All of the testing was performed over the period of about a week, and we had experts on hand, including landscapers and mechanics.

Perhaps our biggest challenge in selecting the best riding lawn mower was determining which models to test. The sheer number of models on the market was practically overwhelming. Although we knew that many models were just slight variations over others. It’s not unusual for what is essentially a single model to have a half dozen model numbers or more due to configurations and yearly iterations.

In order to make our reviews manageable, what we ended up doing was speaking to the manufacturers we were considering and asking their input. We wanted to know what were the lawn tractor models that they felt best represented their brands in each of the various segments.

From there, we tested performance, and as mentioned, in various conditions. We assessed these garden tractors objectively but also subjectively. For the subjective rankings, we used the opinions of professional landscapers, experienced home users and beginners as well as taking into consideration the aggregate lawn tractor reviews from consumers that we were able to compile online.

In ranking them, we wanted to provide you with context, so that if you were seeking the best riding lawn mower for hills, for instance, we could help in that regard. Our team also tested a large selection of automatic mowers, but these may have a long way to go still and are really only to augment rather than replace. Only one model that we tested managed to get included and did so as an honourable mention.

Who Should Consider Ride on Mowers, Garden Tractors or ZTRs?

Old man using his ride-on mower to cut grass in his garden

Ride-on- Mowers

When considering a garden tractor, there are some common considerations, such as is my budget too small, is my yard too small and is my property too unusual or obstructed. In trying to answer the question in the header, we’re going to attempt to deal with these common concerns.

  • Budget: The first point is a matter of budget. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a small fortune—as many suspect—and there excellent small riding lawn mower options on the market. If you’re seeking the best ride-on-mower under one grand, then that really is a realistic goal. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking the best riding lawn mower under half grand, then a self-propelled lawn mower is probably a better option, or if you already have one, consider saving more until you can get into that higher price range.
  • Lawn Size: As for lawn size, many people underestimate their area that needs mowing. Our rule of thumb is that we don’t recommend a ride-on lawn mower if you have less than a half-acre. If you have more than a half-acre, it’s a worthwhile consideration, and if you have an acre of land or more, then the riding machines are very worthwhile just in terms of the sheer amount of time and energy it will save you.
  • Terrain: The final issue is whether the yard is too unusual. The truth is that this is rarely the case. The best lawn tractor models are rather easy to control and can go in and out of obstacles with ease. If you have a lot of detail work you want to accomplish, then you may want to consider the zero-turn approach.

As for the riding lawn mower for hills, most of the products that we ranked are quite suitable in sloped environments. This is more about mower riding technique than the equipment itself. There is a learning curve, and it helps to go slow until you get comfortable with that kind of mowing.

What are the Most Important Factors to Consider Before Buying?

Snow blade for riding lawn mower

If you have already decided to buy a specific mower, here are few things to remember before hitting that add to cart button. The choice of any machine greatly depends on your own precise needs and requirements. What suits others may not suit you well based on the difference that lies in both of your requirements. If you are someone who wants to mow a very small garden or lack a handsome budget, you may want to pick a push mower or grass trimmer instead.

Here are few important aspects to keep in mind before making an ultimate choice.

  • Attachments and Accessories: Baggers, rollers, garden dump carts, dethatchers, aerators, utility cart trailers, disc pull behind tillers, disc cultivator and spreaders are rear mount attachments for a garden tractor. On the other hand, the front mount attachments comprise of spreaders, moss rakes, scarifiers, trailers, collectors, snow blade, snow thrower, brush guard and blades, etc. Furthermore, winter attachments like tire chains, snow thrower and snow cab are just a handful of so many that can work with a garden tractor. (We’ll also discuss these accessories in greater detail in a separate section of this guide)
  • Brands: Some of the popular brands of lawn tractors, ZTR mowers and garden tractors include Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, Snapper, Craftsman, Honda, John Deere, Toro, Cub Cadet, Ariens, Black+Decker, Ryobi and Greenworks.
  • Deck Size: The minimum deck size to look for is 38 inches or higher. Such sizes can significantly reduce mowing times due to better area coverage and fewer laps to complete.
  • Engine Brands: Major engine brands include Briggs and Stratton, Honda, Kohler and Tecumseh, etc.
  • Fuel Tank: The tank size usually range in between 1.3 to 6 gallons.
  • Gauge and Controls: All these should be easily accessible from driving seat.
  • Horsepower: The HP normally ranges in between 15 to 27 HP. The right choice of engine power is crucial especially when you need to toe various attachments and mow several acres of land.
  • Price: The prices vary for each model of lawn mowers, ZTRs and garden tractors. The lawn mowers are relatively low priced with engines at front while Garden tractors are on the high side with rear based engines. And the ZTRs fall in middle and high price bracket in terms of price.
  • Reverse Mow: This feature especially comes in handy when you need to mow a missing patch of grass or want to maneuver on a difficult terrain.
  • Seat: A good heighted and comfortable seat with ability to adjust and slide according to user’s requirements.
  • Traction Control: It really helps to avoid slipping when cutting wet grass and moving up or down the slopes.
  • Transmission Type: Manual gear, friction disc, automatic, CVT/IVT, Hydrostatic and enclosed double hydrostatic.
  • Uncut Circle Radius: This is actually the measurement of area that remains uncut when turning the mower.
  • Wheelbase: It is basically the space in between front and back axles of the riding mower.
  • Weight: All the lawn mower, garden tractors and ZTRs weigh in between 300 to 900 pounds. The lightest are rear engine mowers while the heaviest are ZTRs in weight category.
  • Warranty: A solid warranty of 2+ years in preferred when buying any of the products.

Once you’ve settled on a budget, you’ll need to determine which kind of mower you want. The top items come in three common configurations: rear-engine, lawn/garden and zero-turn.

Rear-engine riders tend to be the least expensive and the easiest to drive. Think of them as bridging the gap between riders and the kind of mowers that you push and walk behind.

The best lawn tractors and garden tractors — which are two terms often used interchangeably—are the next step up and a lot more versatile. You can not only mow more faster, but you can do a lot more than just mow particularly as you add attachments and whatnot. There’s more of a learning curve to operating these, but once you have it, slopes and similar challenges will be a lot easier as well.

Zero-turn radius (ZTR) tractors are the next step up. They offer finer handling and higher speeds. They’re often much more stable, and perhaps the most distinguishing features is the ability to turn in place, which makes them a lot easier to circle trees and bushes and weave in and out of obstacles.

You’ll also want to pay attention to the various features available and what may or may not be important to you. Handling of clippings is often particularly important and may play a large role in what is the best option for you and your property. A side discharge is the most common configuration, but bagger-capable and mulching-capable mowers may be worth the investment.

Finally, consider creature comforts. If you use your machine a lot or it takes you an hour or more to complete your yard, then those little perks can make your experience a lot more enjoyable. Popular options include cup holders, extended leg room, armrests, seats with high backs and so forth.

How to Video

Attachments and Accessories

After purchasing your favorite garden tractor, it’s finally time to grab some nice attachments to make your machine more productive and efficient. When it comes to versatility of accessories, garden tractors go above and beyond than any other type of mowers. You don’t really see a lot of implements available for other types. It is due to their less powerful engines and inferior built designs.

With a garden tractor, you can do a lot more things than just cutting grass. You can haul variety of items at front or back to get the job done sprucely. There is even a dedicated spot on garden tractors to hook or unhook attachments without any hassle. Although, these accessories cost a pretty penny but there are huge number of benefits associated with these items.

Let us discuss some of the most popular accessories you can grab for your darling garden tractor.

  • Aerator: It is the key to improve soil drainage and help grass grow using proper oxygenation. With such goals in mind for a large yard and, aerator is the tool you need to make grass roots increase by multiple folds. It makes the grass thick and roots to go deep with nutrients to reach much easily. The tool is basically designed to create tiny holes in the ground after getting attached with the garden tractor as it moves along.
  • Box Scrapers: Not all users need box scrapers to grade or level dirt, gravel, snow or sand. It is an efficient tool to use with garden tractors only. With a significant cutting width, it can cover considerable piece of land in just a single go.
  • Dethatcher: In order to keep your lawn healthy, dethatchers are another useful implement for garden tractors. During mowing, a layer of dead grass comes in between soil and leaves of grass. This can eventually weak grass roots and thus it starts to decline. With a dethatcher, you can lift thatch and loosen up grass for its healthy growth.
  • Disc Harrows: In case you need to start a new planting bed or want to plow ground to start over a fresh garden, disc harrows can come in real handy. This tool comes in adjustable working widths and can plow rough garden of variable sizes. Before opting for any disc harrow, make sure that it comes with a hitch or you may need to buy it separately if not.
  • Twin Bagger: It is one of the most popular accessories that can help you clean grass leftovers after mowing. When searching for a bagger, it is best to check its overall capacity so that you do not have to perform cleaning much often. Even if you buy a big bagger, it can be a bit of pain to empty it while it is full. It’s a good idea to check quality of materials used in manufacturing process. Some of the quality features that identify a good twin bagger include easy gliding, dumping, solid capacity and warranty.
  • Lawn Roller: When in need of leveling an uneven ground or compress soil of a newly sown area, the lawn roller is an excellent accessory to get that job done. All you need is to attach the roller with your garden tractor and start leveling the yard. As with other attachments, make sure that its hitch can sync in with your tractor. Also pay attention to key specs such as rolling width, empty and filled weight, material type, tethered expansion and offered warranty.
  • Lawn Sweeper: Also known as leaf sweeper, is one practical accessory to attach with your garden tractor. It expertly collects and removes debris, fallen leaves, twigs, grass clippings and pine needles from lawn and other adjacent areas. At the time of selecting a lawn sweeper, make sure that its hitch is either universal or adjustable with your garden tractor. The sweeper must be wide and convenient to store after use.
  • Canopies: These are designed in a way to protect operators from scorching heat of the sun. Normally, each of these canopies are manufactured using thick thermoplastic which is also UV resistant. This thermoplastic material is further supported with a steel frame to add more strength and durability. Before adding this accessory to your shopping cart, don’t forget to check its compatibility with your garden tractor or ZTR mower.
  • Spreader: A toe-behind spreader is a powerful way to sprinkle seeds, fertilizers or chemicals around the lawn. It is necessary to remember few things before choosing a spreader for your garden tractors. For example, the hitch should be able to fit in with your tractor. Secondlu, the materials used in manufacturing process should be able to resist rust or corrosion. Before making a final choice, you can look into top models of most prestigious brands such as Argi-Fab, Brainly and Earthway.
  • Snowblower: If you are live in a snowy area, you might have considered the option to attach a plow or snowblower with your garden tractor. Buying this implement not only helps you to remove heavy snow out of the way but also saves considerable costs on any other alternative equipment. Some of the popular snowblowers offer up to 24 inch of clearing width and offer long warranties for best customer satisfaction.
  • Snow Blades: Just like snowblowers, the snowblades are another awesome accessory to hook up with your garden tractor. They work great for pushing snow and can be completely controlled right from your driving seat. The blades can move in multiple positions, i.e. left, right or straight direction.
  • Utility Cart: It is a common attachment to see behind garden tractors. It can haul variety of materials to your desired project location. Some of them come with a tailgate hinged for easy removal and emptying. If you are looking to buy this accessory, look for a unibody steel construction for maximum strength, durability and capacity.

Are theses Worth It?

We mentioned earlier that we generally don’t recommend even the best riding lawn mowers if you have less than a half-acre of land. They’re just generally not worth the investment, and in such a small area, a ride-on mower, even small ones, can make cutting your lawn take more time.

If you have more than a half-acre of land, then yes, they are absolutely worth. Even if you’re under an acre, they will end up saving you time even if not so much money. Additionally, there’s the fun factor, and let’s face it: the fun of driving yard tractors is a thought for everyone considering a purchase.

If you step up to the level, then versatility is a factor as well. For anyone who has a large yard and perhaps a garden and does most of the maintenance themselves, the best lawn tractors can make a big difference. One of the best attachments for the money is a cart, which lets you carry just about anything around your yard: rocks, plants, mulch and so much more.

What are the Safety Tips for Optimal Usage

riding lawn mower accident

Riding Lawn Mower Accident

Any machine present risks, and it’s necessary to approach riding lawn mowers with the necessary respect and safety precautions. These are not toys and should be treated as such, and children should never be allowed to use these machines without adult supervision.

Perhaps the biggest risk when it comes to yard tractors is them overturning. A lawn tractor that overturns can injure an operator in a number of different ways, including crushing them. The largest risk of overturn only really occurs on uneven ground. For this reason, you should operate on slopes slowly and without any attachments and never when your anxieties may be an issue.

Read your owner manual thoroughly before operating your mower for the first time. Never operate a ride when you are intoxicated. Learn the safety checklist for your rider, and perform the complete safety inspection each and every time you intend to ride it.

Be mindful that slopes should always be mowed up and down and never across. Avoid sudden turns and stops, and be careful about accidentally throwing your rider into gear. That can cause the rider to lurch and cause discomfort at best and actually throw you from the garden tractor at worst.

Finally, you need to be aware at all times. Watch for kids, and keep an eye out for all manner of obstacles. You definitely don’t want to ride your mower over small obstacles just because you can. Yard missiles are a real risk that can break windows, dent cars and cause a wide range of other damages.

Final Thoughts

best rated riding lawn mower 2019

Woman riding on top of the garden tractor

Well, there you have it. Hopefully, we’ve answered the questions you arrived with and our garden tractor reviews have highlighted the top machines on the market for you.

Choosing a lawn mower tractor can be a big step, and the rear-engine models are great first step for first-time buyers.

Something else to keep in mind is that the best brands hold their value really well if the rider is well-maintained.

You can always begin with a rear-engine, and then when you’re ready to move up to a tractor, put that rear-engine riding lawn mower up for sale to offset some of that cost.

Paul Hickman