Ride on mowers are halfway between professional and DIY tools, with applications for domestic gardeners, and landscapers alike.
In this article, we’re going to walk through some of the key factors to look out for when choosing the best riding lawn mower, and our buyer’s guide to ride-on mowers shares everything you need to know about the different types of mowers, and whether or not you really need one.
Best Riding Lawn Mowers for 2022
Ride on Mower Buyer’s Guide
What are Riding Lawn Mowers?
Riding lawn mowers or Ride on mowers are, as the name suggests, lawnmowers that you sit on and drive, but it’s not quite that simple. There are a few variations to consider when looking for ride-on lawnmowers, and the first is whether you want a true ride on mower (with a steering wheel, and traditional central blade), or a zero-turn mower, which is more expensive, but more accurate, and has a lever steering system.
Riding lawn mowers are perfect for gardeners with big spaces, or contractors with lots of small spaces. They save time, they save effort, and they do a better job than most push mowers with a suspended cutting deck rather than a rolling deck.
Do You Need a Riding Lawn Mower?
Riding lawn mowers is, if you need one, indispensable, and if you don’t, a waste of money. So don’t get caught up in the excitement of ride-on lawn mowers if your lawn is only small, or even average-sized, as you could save yourself a bunch of cash by buying a push lawnmower, or even a robot lawnmower instead.
Also, for groundskeepers, riding lawn mowers might not be enough, and you should really be considering zero-turn mowers for specialist work.
Ride-on mowers are for gardeners with a lot of space to manage, but a budget to consider, to make sure you understand the sort of space you have, the limitations of ride-on lawnmowers, and the price you’re willing to pay (which is a big influence in the quality of mower you’ll end up with.
What to Look For When Buying Ride On Mower
When choosing a new ride-on mower, you need to consider budget over all else. What you spend is what you get with any lawn mower, and riding lawn mowers are no different.
Some riding lawn mowers cost upwards of $25,000, and some cost as little as $3,000 but there is a huge difference in comfort, and quality as you might expect.
There are three main factors to help you decide what lawnmower you want, regardless of budget: What’s the turning circle like? What fuel does it use? How wide does it cut?
We’ll explain each in detail below, but by understanding these three factors, you’ll be able to find the best budget option for you.
While perfect corners might sound nice, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a luxury, only usually afforded to golf course mowers, and high end zero-turn mowers.
Perfect corners on ride-on mowers are achieved by front mounted cutting decks, where the driver sits behind the blade, therefore being able to drive the cutting blades right into the corners and over the lawn edges for perfect results.
That might seem useful, but think about your garden. If your lawn has curved corners and hedges, then you can save at least $1,000 by choosing a riding mower with a central cutting deck, which will do a perfectly good job of lawn-hedge cutting.
What Fuel to Use
This is more of a long-term question, because buying a ride-on mower is an investment for most gardeners, and even for commercial gardeners, it’s worth considering electric engines for your lawn care machinery.
Most lawn mowers are still sold with petrol or diesel engines, but the future is electric, so why not take the leap now while electric mowers are less expensive than petrol.
Ride on Mower Cutting Depth / Width
The most important factor, especially when buying an electing riding mower, is the cutting width. The wider the blade, the longer our charge lasts, because you’ll cover more ground in a short time.
Conversely though, narrower blades make neater cuts, so it depends on how much time you’re looking to spare. To find the cutting width, look out for the measurement of the ‘cutting deck’ in mower listings.
How to Use a Riding Mower
There is not a one-size-fits all guide to using ride on lawn mowers, but generally the new electric engine riding mowers are much easier to use, and far simpler to start than petrol mowers.
To start an electric lawn mower, make sure any blade guards are down, and start the engine. Push the throttle and away you go. Electric lawn mowers are normally automatic too, so there are no gears to worry about either.
For petrol engine lawn mowers, you can buy automatic engines, but they’re much more expensive, so for the average petrol or diesel ride-on lawn mower, they should be started and driven essentially like a car.
Check the manual before starting up any new lawn mowers.
Riding Lawn Mower Safety Tips
Lawn mowers are built with safety in mind at every turn, so almost all lawn mower related injuries are through improper use.
When using a lawn mower, ensure any blade guards are in place before use, and when you service the mower, or clean the blades, ensure the key is nowhere near the ignition to prevent accidental starts.
Where possible, rake over the lawn before first use too, as large stones can blunt the lawnmower blade and flick out from beneath the machine.
Ride on Mower Reviews
I’ve always been a fan of Cub Cadet mowers, they look good, they’re quiet, and they’re efficient at what they do.
Their new range of fully electric ride-on mowers and zero-turn mowers has revolutionised the lawn care industry in recent years and puts huge pressure on other companies to provide greener options for gardeners.
What I really love about the Cub Cadet CC 30 E ride on mower though, is that it’s small. It might not cut the biggest lines with every pass, but that means it’s easy to store, and great for smaller gardens where the lawn is just a little too big for a push mower, but riding mowers seem like an extravagance.
The Cub Cadet electric ride-on mower is a great middle-ground option for the average-sized garden.
I don’t normally rave about Ryobi products because the battery packs are fiddly, and almost never get supplied with the product. But, Ryobi have pulled something pretty special out the bag with their new brushless riding mower from Bunnings.
Ok, so it’s not that powerful, and recharging is more complicated than plugging the entire machine into a charge point, but it works, it’s a great budget riding mower, and it’s convenient too.
The Ryobi ride-on mower can have its entire cutting deck removed so it’s available for use as a basic utility vehicle for towing trailers and heavy goods, making it one of the most adaptable mowers on review here.
The 103cm cutting deck on this Husqvarna riding lawn mower makes it suitable for home use, and it comes in cheaper than most of its serious rivals from the big-name lawn mower makers.
The genius thing about the Husqvarna lawn mower though is that it’s accurate enough to use commercially with a front cutting deck that allows you to get right into the corners, and all the way over the edge of borders, and under hedges.
The design is more typical of zero-turn mowers used for landscape maintenance and big estates, but the clever design on a budget makes it great for residential gardeners too.
Kubota are a high-end lawn mower manufacturer, and their price match, so this isn’t a mower for a casual gardener, but for serious lawn perfectionists, you won’t get a neater cut or a more intuitive drive than the Kubota, with its standard steering, full suspension and 42” cutting deck.
The only downside is the petrol engine, so if you’re looking for long term investments maybe think about electric instead, but as far as petrol mowers go, Kubota have great fuel efficiency, using Kawasaki engines you can trust.
John Deere is one of the best mower manufacturers in the world, with a reputation for landscape and agricultural machinery dating back almost 200 years.
The biggest advantage of John Deere tractors and John Deere ride-on mowers is that they integrate their own engines, making them really easy to maintain, typically with cheaper services too.
The John Deere riding mower x500 series is a great, simple, lawn tractor that gets the job done.
Toro’s Ride-on electric lawn mower is a super powerful lawnmower, with an incredible run time that can cut constantly for up to 2 hours.
For a gardener on a budget, it’s a clever alternative to a full-size riding mower but much more convenient than a push mower.
While it’s technically better value than some comparable electric mowers, its steering can be quite jittery, so it does take some getting used to when you first use it, but in general, the Toro is a wonderful machine that will do the job of some much more expensive brands, and do it for longer!
For gardeners who prefer to rein in their spending, the Stiga Tornado is a good budget mower.
It’s not the best mower in the world by a long shot, but for around ¼ or the price of the top-end models, you’ll have a capable lawnmower that stores easily, steers well and can manage bumpy ground too.
Best Ride On Mowers Australia
Best Ride On Mower - Our Top Pick
Cub Cadet are leading the future of lawn care right now, pushing big brands for more electric service vehicles, and helping transform the industry in the process.
The Cub Cadet CC 30 E might be a small lawnmower, but it packs a serious punch, and even though it’s more expensive than similar models, with long run times, it’s a much more comfortable drive.
I’m always really into new products from Cub Cadet, so I know I’m a bit biassed, but this is an incredibly good lawnmower from a leading brand, and it’s affordable for domestic gardeners, which is the cherry on top.
Best Value Riding Lawn Mower
I never thought I’d be putting Ryobi into a Top Pick section. They’re not a bad brand by any measure, but there’s nothing more frustrating than finding a dead battery, and knowing you’ve got to wait two hours before using any of your tools.
So I was thrilled when I saw the new Ryobi Brushless Ride-on Lawn Mower came with its own batteries, with more power than most of the range, and with an impressive 1 hour run time too, meaning it can cut up to an acre of lawn on a single charge. All for a fraction of the price of similarly sized petrol models.
Premium Choice Riding Mower
Of all the ride-on lawnmowers we got to review, there weren’t any that could best the Husqvarna. Ok, so it’s a bit pricey, but there are definitely more expensive lawnmowers out there, and they don’t come with a front end cutting deck for accurate cuts, neat corners and crisp edges like the Husqvarna R 316TX.
If you’re looking for a ride-on lawnmower that’s more like a zero-turn then this is absolutely the model to go for.
Ride On Mower FAQs
Who is the best lawn mower manufacturer?
The two best lawn mower companies are John Deere and Kubota, with very little separating any of their comparable models. Kubota typically use Kawasaki engines to build better performance.
John Deere build their own engines for all products, making them much easier to maintain. The cutting performance, pricing, and lifespan of each mower brand are relatively similar.
How much do riding lawn mowers cost?
Ride-on mowers can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000 and the price makes a big difference in quality, but how much you spend should be defined by two things: 1) Do you need a professional finish?; 2) How big is your garden?
Is a riding lawn mower worth it?
If you have a lawn bigger than a quarter of an acre then a riding lawn mower is probably worth it. Cutting large lawns is incredibly time-consuming, and while riding lawn mowers cost almost 10x as much as push mowers, they save more than 10x the time.
How fast do riding lawn mowers go?
The average riding lawn mower has a top speed of around 4-5 mph, which is equivalent to a slow jog, so you’re not going to win any drag races in a lawnmower any time soon, but it’s definitely faster than cutting the lawn with a push mower.
Wrapping Up Our Ride On Mowers Guide
The best riding lawn mowers are obviously the most expensive, but you get what you pay for, so if you really want the best riding mower, you need to pay for it.
For most homes though, the best budget riding mowers can be affordable and still make great cuts, so take your time on this decision. Buying the best ride on mower is an investment, and when you get yours, it will be worth the wait.