With all the different types of riding lawn mowers available it is difficult to know which to choose. But there are some key factors to consider when comparing mowers which can help you in your decision. In addition, the size of the area to be mowed, the type of grass you're mowing, and the specific terrain will also be strong indicators of the type of riding mower you need.
Consider the mowing area. Hilly terrain requires a mower with a low center of gravity, wide tires and a strong engine. Large parcels of land, over an acre, call for a fast mower with a big cutting deck. Manicured lawns need a light mower that's easy to maneuver, and easy to store.
Determine the horse power (hp) you need according to the property size, terrain and grass type. Smaller lawns don't require an overly powerful engine. A mower with 12 to 15 hp will suffice. For small hills a stronger engine is necessary--23 hp or so. If speed is important, you'll want a mower with a higher horse power. Realize this type of engine will use more gas and create more noise.
Decide how large a cutting deck you need. The average riding mower's cutting deck ranges from 30 to 54 inches. If you're mowing over an acre of relatively flat land, a larger deck will enable you to complete the job swiftly. Smaller properties with berms and obstacles are best mowed with a smaller deck. Storage is also a consideration. Purchase a mower with a deck size that is compatible with the storage area.
Determine the mower's turning radius. This number represents how large a circle of grass will be left uncut when the mower is turned 180 degrees. If your property is long and requires many passes with the mower, a mower with a turning radius of 16 inches leaves a lot of trimming in the end. Consider purchasing a zero-turn-radius mower. ZTR mowers are capable of completely cutting the grass while turning 180 degrees. Therefore no clumps of uncut grass are left behind, shortening the job time considerably.
Study the warranty provided with each mower. Recognize what the warranty covers, and how long it is in effect. Most riding lawn mowers come with a two-year warranty for residential use. Also learn where the nearest repair facility for your specific mower is located.
Watch for price reductions. Riding mowers range in cost from around $700 to over $4,000. When you've determined the mower you want, observe the price changes in the off-season, typically winter and fall. Also look for year-end clearance sales, when retailers need to move last year's models out in order to make room for the new year's models.