riding mower buying guide

How to Choose a New Riding Mower – Buying Guide


Man mowing lawn with a new Craftsman self-propelled gas mower

Why Buy a New Riding Mower?

Riding mowers are the workhorse of lawn care. They can handle a wide variety of tasks including snow removal, tilling, aerating, fertilizing, seeding and hauling debris. If you have a large yard over a ½ acre or it takes you more than two hours to mow your lawn with a traditional push mower, then a riding mower is right for you and your landscape.
When choosing a riding mower, consider your landscape. Do you have a flat yard or uneven terrain? Are there a lot of obstacles you’ll need to maneuver around like trees and flowerbeds? How large is your landscape? Zero-turn radius mowers and yard/lawn tractors are ideal for ½ acre or larger, but if you have a larger lot, a heavy-duty garden tractor would be a better fit.



Poulan Pro Zero Turn Radius Mower

Zero-Turn Radius Mowers

  • For lawns that are ½ acre or larger
  • Precision steering and maneuverability to navigate obstacles
  • Better for flat landscapes
  • Cut maintenance time in half compared to standard tractors

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Yard Tractors and Lawn Tractors

  • For lawns that are ½ acre to 2 acres
  • Traditional design with steering wheel and smaller wheels for increased maneuverability
  • Less horse power (15-25 HP) so great for traditional lawn care
  • Can tow light yard trailers and can accept some small seeding and yard fertilization attachments

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Shop Lawn Tractors

Husqvarna Garden Tractor

Garden Tractors

  • Ideal for yards with lots of acreage requiring heavy-duty care
  • Traditional design with steering wheel and often equipped with locking differentials for better traction
  • More horsepower (20-30 HP) so ideal for hilly terrain and tough yardwork
  • Great for hauling material and have a wide variety of attachments such as grading, blading and snow removal

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undercarriage of a riding mower showing two clean cutting blades


Consider what mower features work best for your needs.

  • Cruise control – so you can use one speed to mow long, straight stretches
  • Cut width – related to the blade number, describes how wide of a patch of grass the mower cuts in a single pass
  • Deck wheels – maintains mowing height over uneven terrain
  • Speed – lawn and garden tractors move as fast as 5-1/2 mph, while ZTR mowers can go 8 mph
  • Automatic parking brakes – a ZTR mower feature for safety and convenience
  • Comfort – high-backed, adjustable seats, cup holders and rubber foot pads all contribute to making you comfortable
  • Riding mower attachments – options available that help you maintain your yard year-round by spreading fertilizer, aerating, dethatching, spreading seed, hauling away debris, clearing snow and much more



5 speed shift riding mower

Type of Transmissions

Riding mowers come in three different types of transmissions. A manual transmission offers a range of speeds and requires you to shift. An automatic transmission works more like a car where you control speed with the gas pedal. A hydrostatic transmission works like an automatic, but offers an even smoother ride and requires less maintenance.

Grass being discharged from the side of a push mower

Grass Clipping Options

Consider your grass clippings. Side-discharge mowers are ideal for taller, coarser grass types. Bagger-capable mowers make for easy cleanup by collecting the clippings for disposal, and are also great for clearing leaves. Mulching-capable mowers turn your clippings into mulch as you go, but may require additional attachments to function optimally.



Ready to shop riding mowers, riding mower attachments and tractor attachments and accessories such as snowblowers, blades, lifts, loading ramps and more? American Freight has unbeatable prices on the best riding mower brands available like Craftsman, Husqvarna and Poulan Pro. Have a smaller lawn to mow? Check out our selection of push mowers perfect for lawns under ½ acre or our push mower buying guide to learn more.

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