Grasstastic: The 5 Best Riding Lawnmowers
Pushing lawn mowers are for teaching your kid responsibility, they are not something that a grown person does. You’ve paid your dues, built up your character. You deserve to be able to make your lawn look like a Better Homes & Garden ad without breaking your back. It’s time to pamper yourself even as you make the grounds of your domain look clean and crisp with a riding lawnmower. It’s what all your neighbors judge you by. You need something worthy of a barbecue. A beautiful, lush piece of property that you can yell at kids to get off of.
Mowers of the riding variety have one of the broadest ranges of any lawn maintenance tool out there. You have your budget choppers, your tractor styles which give you more torque for making it up hills. You have zero-turn models that let you pivot to get every corner. There’s those that crank a bunch of ponies and those that let even the modest yard owner ride high on the hog. That’s why we’ve got the 5 best riding lawnmowers to help you and your lawn get everything you need.
30 inch Craftsman Model 29000
Best Budget: It doesn’t require many thousands of dollars to start sittin’ pretty. The 29000 is made for those that want a decent option for under a grand, just don’t expect it to get you much under. It works best on 1/2 to 3/4 acre lawns so joyriding it across your estate isn’t going to get much yard work done, but that is what gardeners are for. The deck is a 30-inch 3-in-1 that takes care of all your mulching and grass bagging needs.
The previous model of this unit had an issue with the safety switch on the deck discharge chute, but that has been fixed while maintaining the high standards it previously held. For a riding mower of this size the turning radius is small, but not a zero-turn. The traction is excellent and makes the most of the 420cc MTD motor. You won’t get much climbing and descending power out of it, so if you have hills on your property, you’ll want to look elsewhere. For those with a flat yard looking to upgrade, look no further. [Purchase: $999]
Cub Cadet RZT-S42 Zero
Best Electric: Riding lawnmowers used to be the absolute height of wasteful opulence. The Zero shows that you can be a sustainability-conscious person and still get the ease and comfort of a full electric. The zero-turn radius gives you the comfort of cut smaller lawns while the 42-inch deck will handle larger jobs without strain. Unlike other electrics, this doesn’t skimp on cutting power employing a 48-volt battery that let’s you keep going long into the day and a 22 HP professional Kohler 7000.
The potential drawback of the deck comes in its lack of a mulching or bagging option. The side output chute works well, but you 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 fans are going to be heartbroken. Given that it cuts cleanly and evenly, you won’t even really miss the other settings. Since it is an electric it is whisper quiet and won’t disturb wildlife around your home, on your land, or even the Blue-Breasted Angry Neighbor who works nights. It offers you premium performance and helps you save the planet, but also runs a little steep on your bank account, though zero-turn fans shouldn’t be surprised. [Purchase: $3,000]
John Deere X304 Lawn Tractor
Year Round: A riding mower is a big investment and it is one that you don’t want to make time and time again. The advantage here is it is multiple machines in one, just like a true Deere tractor should be. It does your mulching, your bagging, your snow plowing, your snow blowing, and your front blade work. You could buy it and never once even take it out on the grass since it has so many uses. It has an 18.5 horsepower engine with a 4-speed transmission that is buttery smooth whether you need power for hill climbing or speed.
The movement is a true joy. You’ll get easy forward and reverse action as well as maneuverability that is rare for tractor-style mowers. The trick is the true 4-wheel steering so you aren’t feeling like it is dragging the body behind the front end. You’ll pay more for this, but when you see the array of features, the massive warranty, and all the projects you can finally tackle, you know you’re paying for a real Deere. The deck is only 42-inches, and sometimes the cutting can be a little jagged, especially on angles. [Purchase: $3,799]
Easy Maintenance: Many riding mowers will give you fits when it comes to upkeep. Finding parts that fit can be dicey and finding a small engine repairman than knows your machine can be tricky. To drop these headaches, there is the YTH2042. It has an honest-to-goodness 20 horsepower Briggs & Stratton under the hood that is easily repaired by amateur wrenchers and most average mechanics. Parts are easy to find and the cutting power keeps clogs and other issues to a minimum.
The cutting deck falls in the mid-range at 42-inches while the height goes from 1.5 to 4 inches. The thing to love about this is not just the easy maintenance but the little features that offer a little more luxury. The seat is adjustable and comfortable, the steering wheel is ergonomic for greater comfort, and it has a cup holder for those that enjoy a cocktail with their yard work. The transmission is hydrostatic and lets you flip rapidly between forward and back without giving you whiplash. [Purchase: $1,918]
Toro TimeCutter SS5060
Does it All: When it’s time for quality and a huge cutting deck and zero-turn function, the SS5060 blows others away. The tires are big and reflect a philosophy of offering more traction with fewer lopsided spills or digs. The engine is a 23 gross HP two-cylinder Kawasaki that can get you up to 7 mph when you need to do a fast and loose cut. The gas tank gives you 3 gallons so you never have to hike back for a refill part way through a big job.
It’s a great mower that easily tops Toro’s line with room to spare. Naturally the large size is inhibiting for some. You’ll get up to 4.5 inches of cutting height which will give you that lived-in look or slice and dice with a deadly quickness. It’s just a fun machine that will have you offering to do a little yard maintenance on their overgrown heaps. As always, the fun comes at a price. [Purchase: $3,244]