For many homeowners with unusually large yards, a riding mower is the most efficient way to keep the grass trimmed. Due to the size of the property, the height of the grass and the terrain, a push mower simply is not feasible. There are several types of riding mowers available. Understanding the differences between each mower will enable you to make the best decision for your lawn.
Typically used by homeowners, lawn tractors offer the ease of mowing you'd find in a ZTR (zero turn radius), but at a quarter of the cost. Lawn tractors start at around $1,000, which will get you a 13 to 17 hp engine, three speeds plus reverse, and three or four cutting heights. Because lawn tractors use typical front-end steering, the turning radius is compromised, resulting in lots of backing up in order to achieve a thorough cut. Cutting deck sizes on lawn tractors range from 30 inches to 42 inches.
Zero Turn Radius (ZTR)
These mowers are designed to move tightly around obstacles, leaving very little grass uncut. Most ZTR mowers use two steering levers which, when pushed forward, move the mower in that direction. The more forward the levers are pushed, the faster the mower travels. The pivot point is in the center of the rear wheels. The speed, precision, size and maneuverability of a ZTR mower come with a high price. Starting around $2,000, a residential quality ZTR mower has a 34-inch deck and a 13 hp engine. Deck sizes range from 32 inches all the way to 72 inches for a commercial mower. For properties in excess of two acres, a ZTR mower can't be beat.
Rear-Mount Rotary Mower
A rear-mount mower, also known as a finish mower, attaches to a tractor. It is useful for mowing huge tracts of land such as a pasture or field. Its unparalleled stability makes it the perfect machine for hilly or steeply graded properties. Deck sizes range from 48 inches to beyond 70 inches, depending on the size of your tractor. If you already own a tractor, a rear-mount mower is a cost-effective choice.
The newest addition to the riding mower lineup is the stand-on mower. It is compact, easy to store and is often less expensive than its rider counterpart. Stand-on mowers also engage the ZTR technology, allowing a close cut around objects. Deck sizes range from 36 inches to 72 inches. Studies conducted by Great Dane, one of the first stand-on mower distributors, found that users of this type of mower experienced less fatigue. With leg muscles being stronger than the back muscles, the body experiences less stress. The majority of stand-on mower usage occurs in the commercial field. However, residential stand-on mowers are being developed.