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The Lawn Review: Home » When To Buy A Riding Mower: 2024 Buying Guide

When To Buy A Riding Mower: 2024 Buying Guide

When should you make the leap to buying a riding mower? During the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, you’re going to need to mow your lawn regularly to keep it healthy and attractive. It can be a back-breaking task, especially if you use a push mower. 

Cutting Chute on Toro TimeCutter

You may have considered a riding mower, but is it the right choice for you and your property? Your physical abilities, yard size, and type are all factors to consider. After reading about my experiences with both push and riding mowers, you’ll be able to make the decision that best suits the needs of your yard.

And make your neighbors jealous.

My experience with riding mowers

When I was a kid and it was my older brother’s turn to mow the lawn, I remember my parents screaming at him for having the speed all the way up to “bunny” when it should have been on “turtle”. The mower was dang fast and my brother took every chance he could to max that thing out.

John Deere S110 mower

And at the risk of sounding old, they don’t make them like they used to. But there are still some great brands out there that make awesome riding mowers. Between zero turns and lawn tractors, you can get a high quality piece of equipment that is still made with serious care. I’ve had the pleasure of using dozens of different mowers and have found consistencies across some that have stuck with me over the years.

When to get a riding mower: my process

That is a difficult question for anyone to answer, except you. However, we can say that the type of lawn mower,  lawn tractor, zero turn or push behind, that will work best for you depends on a few things. Before you change over to a new type of mower, ask yourself a few key questions:

Is Your Lawn a Half-Acre or Less?

If you have a smaller yard, a push mower is generally going to be your best option. They are more maneuverable than a riding mower, which is essential for a small space. For lawns more than a half-acre in size, a riding mower will make the job faster and easier.

Here’s how I think about it:

Yard sizeType of mower
0 to ½ of an acrePush mower or self-propelled walk-behind
½ to 1.5 acresLawn tractor
1.5 acres and upZero turn mower
How I approach when to buy a riding mower.

Are You Physically Able to Push a Mower?

Your physical condition and stamina should be a top consideration when deciding on the type of mower to use. Starting a push mower is tough, and pushing it around is even harder. If you’re older, not fit, or suffer from health issues, a riding mower is a safer, more practical option.

greenworks 80v mower
A nice self-propelled mower.

You can definitely get self-propelled push mowers which take a lot of the burden off of the operator, but nothing compares to the speed and ease of use of a riding mower.

Do You Want to Decrease the Amount of Time Mowing Takes?

If you have a tiny yard, it might only take a few minutes, but mowing a larger yard with a push mower can be time consuming. If you would rather spend your free time doing things you enjoy, you want to ditch the push mower and get yourself a rider.

My family friend has a .92 acre lot of land where their home sits. Last time I went over there, I spoke with him about how he mows his lawn. One thing I noticed was the narrow stripes in his lawn. I was aghast to learn that he still uses a push mower in his lawn. 

best electric riding mower
Yeah, this one will save you time.

A whopping one hour and 15 minutes he spends every week pushing a mower across his lawn. A glutton for punishment or someone who uses their mower for cardio? Not sure. Either way, you would find me in a riding mower so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you.

Have Trees, Stones, or Other Landscape Obstructions?

Mowing around landscape features with a push mower can be time-consuming and exhausting.You’ll be pushing and pulling, turning, and back-tracking just to get the job done.Even if your yard is less than a half acre, a riding mower makes it easier on you to mow around obstructions. .

Mulch buying guide
Can NOT disrupt this beautiful scene.

This is where zero-turn mowers have a huge advantage. They are extremely nimble navigators and make quick work of complex lawns. Because you can turn so quickly and tightly, you don’t have to make 8-point turns just to get around your landscaping bed. 

Even riding mowers can do a great job of getting the vast majority of grass, which can then be followed with a nice weed eater to finish the job. Can’t do all that nearly as easily as you can with a push mower.

What’s the Terrain of Your Property Like?

If your lawn is sloped, the downhill strip will be relatively easy with a push mower, but the uphill strip will be much more difficult. With a riding mower, you can handle slopes and other terrain issues without all the physical strain.

john deere zero turn mower vs toro timecutter

One advantage of zero turn mowers vs lawn tractors is lawn scalping. Your lawn can get scalped, or random bald patches where you cut way too deep, because lawn tractors are more rigid in their construction and don’t flow as freely as zero turns.

Do You Need to Move Items on Your Property?

One of the major benefits of a riding lawn mower is that they are often equipped with a hitch on the back. That means you can attach a cart to carry whatever you need to. A dump cart, for example, is a great way to move garden supplies, debris, and more.

lawn mower trailer riding mower

A lot of folks reach out to me to ask about what kinds of attachments you can pull. I wrote a long article about the best trailers for lawn mowers that can really up your lawn mower game. Some of them even have little carts on the back, covers for use in the snow, and collection bags – which are great for leaf clean up.

Rider or Push Mower? What’s Your Choice?

Mowing your lawn is a necessity. Working too hard isn’t. Choosing the right kind of new lawn mower can be a bit daunting. But, now you have a few guidelines to help you make the right choice between a riding mower and a push mower.

Why we started writing about mowers

The reason we started The Lawn Review in the first place was because we had so much trouble trying to find reasonable, understandable, honest reviews for lawn equipment. And it’s not cheap! After hours and hours of research, trying products and returning them, and messing up our yards – we started this site. 

toro mower battery recycler

As people who had to learn the hard way, we want you to know exactly what you are signing up for before you purchase a piece of equipment. That’s why we are committed to providing honest, easy-to-understand reviews that mean something. 

Alex K

Alex K

Alex is not a lawn care natural. He had to learn things the hard way. But after stumbling through his first few seasons of lawn care, he learned a lot. Mostly - what not to do. Alex has become one of the country's advocates of battery-powered lawn tools, quoted in the Washington Post among other highly visible publications. Alex started The Lawn Review with his friend Tyler - who you may see in some of the videos on this website - to help normal people like you understand how to take care of their lawn themselves with the best tools possible. Alex has thousands of hours of experience using hundreds of different lawn tools and has found exactly what to look for in each type of tool. He speaks with deep experience not only about the boring technical specifications, but what the tool actually feels like when you are using it, what to look for before you make a purchase, and how the lawn tool measures up when you factor in price.