Posted on Jul 24, 2020
Just like there are a lot of different types of properties, there are also a lot of different riding lawn mower options to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together this list of basic dos and don’ts. If you’ve just purchased your first home, or maybe it’s just your first home with a lot of yard to care for, this lawn mower buying guide should help you figure out which type of yard care equipment is best for your needs.
Do Know Your OptionsFor the most part, riding mowers fall into two categories: traditional riding mowers that are operated by a steering wheel and zero-turn mowers that are controlled by a lever system. They both come with a range of models that offer different engine and mowing deck sizes among several other features. Each has a leg over the other when it comes to certain applications. For instance, zero-turns are fast on flat land and exceptionally nimble. You can even hit top speeds of up to 10 mph with certain models like the Z740R. Fast as they may be, they’re typically not safe for hilly properties. A traditional riding mower does well in both situations but won’t be able to hit the same high speeds. And, while they can maneuver through obstacles, they do have a larger turning radius to account for.
Don’t Forget to Consider All Land ElementsThe three major land elements to think about are acres, terrain and obstacles. One of the easiest places to begin is with how many working acres you have to mow. Here’s what we mean by working acres: Let’s say your property is 3 acres, but most of it is brush and woods so your working space in this scenario is only about ½ an acre. You can then take into account whether you’re dealing with mixed terrain, such as a mix of slopes and hills, or whether it’s predominantly level. If it’s more mixed than level, you’ll want to explore equipment that has extra stability and added control features like 4WD and all wheel steering, like many options in the X500 Series. The next thing to think about is whether you have a lot of obstacles like flower beds to work around. While zero-turns are especially known for quick maneuverability, there are also options in the traditional riding mower category that are up to the task.
Do Take Care When Thinking About Deck SizeMost mowing decks are available in a variety of sizes. You may be wondering what’s the best size mowing deck for a ½ acre, 1 ½ or even 3+ acre lot. As a general rule, the wider the deck, the more ground you’ll cover with each pass and the faster you’ll complete the job. If your working acres fall between ½-1 ¼ you can opt for a deck that’s 42”—54” in width. If you have a bigger property that’s 3 acres or fewer, you’d still fall into the same range only you wouldn’t want to opt for anything smaller than 48” wide. A smaller mowing deck on a larger property means you’ll be spending a whole lot more time managing the same area. For properties that are larger than 3 acres, consider starting with a mowing deck that’s at least 54” or wider. Some of these 3+ acre properties might be better served by a sub-compact tractor or even a commercial lawn tractor for more efficient mowing.
Don’t be Shortsighted About Your TasksAnother major argument for getting a riding mower is that they can take on a long list of additional tasks outside of mowing. There are a number of compatible attachments for traditional riding mowers, from gardening to landscaping, to overseeding, fertilizing, snow management and more. So, as you’re narrowing down which equipment makes the most sense for you, it’s important to forecast out the types of projects you may want to take on in the shorter and longer term. The traditional riding lawn mower category will have the greatest number of attachment options. Zero-turn mowers are primarily designed to mow quickly, so they are not as well suited to additional tasks. However, there are a few attachments available if you’ll be tackling lighter workloads.
All in all, choosing the best riding mower is a balancing act between the way your property is set up, the number of acres, the types of chores you want to tackle and of course, additional important features we didn’t dig into like comfort and convenience options, maintenance needs and ownership costs. You can explore our available John Deere riding mowers by clicking on the link, or contact your local Ag-Pro dealership with any questions you might have. And if you’re interested in learning a little more about property care, you can check out some of our older posts like this one about lawn care tips for keeping a green lawn.