It’s common for a homeowner to wonder if purchasing a riding lawn mower is worth the high initial cost. But while it’s true the best riding mower for hills is expensive, it can definitely be worth it if you take into consideration how much time and energy these mowers can save you. Not only that, if you have a medium or large sized lawn, then a push mower can end up consuming more gas compared to a riding lawn mower that’s more energy efficient and specifically designed to handle this type of load. If you have more than an acre to mow, you can expect your push mower to stall out at some point. basically, traditional mowers are best suited for smaller yards. If you have a large property and don’t want to replace your push mower every two to three years, then a riding lawn mower is the way to go.
But since newer riding mowers are so energy efficient, easy to use, and versatile, the market is now flooded with these vehicles, which can make it difficult, if not impossible, to choose a model that will work for your budget, mowing needs, and property size.
That’s where we come in.
We’ve spent several hours reviewing dozens of the best-selling riding lawn mowers. While each manufacturer claims they have the most powerful models, we found that only five passed our tests. After looking at important specs such as single cylinder and dual cylinder engine designs, transmissions, grass length settings, ease of use, and ease of use, we ended up with a total of five riding mowers that have it all.
If you’re looking for a mower that won’t quit on you, one that’s designed to last season after season, and a mower that’s packing the type of power you need for pro or home use, then read on to get an in-depth look at the best riding lawn mowers on the market.
Below, we’ve included a comparison chart that includes each of the five mowers that made it on our list. The chart will give you a look at each mower’s engine design, deck size, price, and rating.
Top Riding Mowers Comparison Chart
|Troy-Bilt 382cc||30 inches||Single cylinder||$$$$$|
|Ariens 915223 IKON-X||52 inches||Dual cylinder||$$$$|
|Husqvarna MZ61||61 inches||Dual cylinder||$$$$$$|
|Husqvarna LTH1738||38 inches||Single cylinder||$$$|
|Craftsman T225||46 inches||Single cylinder||$$$$|
Mowers that are Crushing it
Not all riding mowers can handle hilly terrain, steep inclines, and uneven surfaces. In fact, if the terrain isn’t perfectly flat, many riding mowers will struggle to ride over the terrain or power up a hill. But the models we’ve chosen are known for their durable design, tough anti-skid wheels, and powerful engines.
Below you’ll find summaries for each of our top picks.
Overall-Best-Troy-Bilt Premium Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower
This Troy Bilt riding lawn mower earned the top spot on our list for several reasons. Not only is it powerful and easy to handle, but its thirty-inch deck will allow you to cut your grass quickly and efficiently, in just a single pass. The mower’s eighteen-inch turning radius makes maneuvering in and out of tight spaces a cinch. Of course, the single-cylinder engine will only allow the mower to reach a top speed of four miles per hour, but for small and medium-sized properties, the mower’s speed capabilities are more than sufficient.
Best Commercial-Ariens 915223 IKON-X Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower
This Ariens riding lawn-mower is the perfect model for larger properties or commercial use. If you own a landscaping company and you’re searching for an affordable riding lawn mower that can handle heavy daily use, then the IKON is it. Beautifully designed, beginner-friendly, and loaded with some great features including a fifty-two-inch deck, a variety of cutting length settings, and zero turn capability, this mower comes with all the bells and whistles the buyer could want.
Best Under $2000-Husqvarna MZ61 Zero Turn Riding Mower
The MZ61 is just one of Husqvarna’s leading riding lawn mowers, but its powerful design makes it a great choice for larger properties. The zero turn design will allow you to maneuver around obstacles in your path, quickly and smoothly. Additionally, the mower features a total of twelve grass height settings, a powerful hydrostatic gear transmission, and a sixty-one-inch deck that allows you to quickly take on three acres or more of grass in a fraction of the time other mowers in this price bracket can.
Best Zero Turn-Husqvarna LTH1738, 38 in. 17 HP Loncin Hydrostatic Gas Riding Lawn Mower
The LTH1738 features a sixteen-degree turning radius, a compact design that allows you to easily fit into tight spaces, and a powerful engine that can handle steep inclines, tough terrain, and slick surfaces. Its most powerful feature, reverse cutting, is perfect for hard to access spots in the yard, where you don’t have enough room to turn around. With this feature, you can simply back up as the blades continue to cut the grass. Beginner-friendly and loaded with important safety features, this model is a steal for the price.
Best Small Riding Lawn Mower-Craftsman T225 Riding Lawn Mower
The T225 by Craftsman may be small, but it’s packing the engine power to back it up. This compact riding lawn mower is perfect for homeowners with smaller yards and comes equipped with a forty-six-inch deck, a Briggs & Stratton engine, and turf saving wheels that won’t tear up your lawn even in wet and muddy conditions. Despite its smaller size and single cylinder engine, this mower can easily ride up hilly terrain and uneven ground like a pro. Compact, easy to use, and loaded with features you won’t commonly find on a mower in this price range, the T225 is a mower you can rely on for heavy, daily use.
Riding Mowers Buyer’s Guide
The best riding mower for hills are perfect for homeowners who have large yards to mow but don’t have much time to dedicate to lawn maintenance. These mowers come in a variety of styles and sizes and can even be used by homeowners with smaller yards or those with several acres of property. They’re available in upgraded models that can be used with a variety of attachments, or as a basic model that’s solely used for mowing.
Whether you’re looking for a mower you can use in the summer to keep your lawn looking great or one that doubles as a snow plow in the winter months, these riding lawn mowers are a great option.
Many of the newest models of riding lawn mowers come with a wide range of features that will allow you to quickly and cleanly mow your large property in just a fraction of the time it usually takes you when you’re using a push mower.
When you’re shopping for a riding lawn mower there are several important factors you need to consider, such as yard size, terrain type, and any major obstacles you have in your yard such as shrubs, a fountain, or trees.
Before you hit that buy now button, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you need to bag the grass?
- What size cutting path do you need?
- What type of obstacles are you dealing with?
The following characteristics will help to ensure you end up with a lawn mower that will provide the type of outstanding mowing experience you want and the features you need:
One of the most important things you need to consider when you’re shopping for the right mower is how it handles. A mower will have zero-turn handling, front-drive, or rear drive.
If there are several obstacles in your yard, then you’ll need to slow down the mower’s speed in order to get a quality cut. If you have a very open, large yard then you may want to increase the speed to get the job done quickly, so a multi-speed system can be the answer since a mower with this ability can slow to a crawl, allowing you to maneuver around obstacles, or it can speed through short grass. It can also propel you rapidly over the terrain if you have long open areas and can increase the mower’s cutting efficiency.
A riding lawn mower will come with a variety of cutting width options. The deck size in a mower is the width that the mower can cut with just a single pass. If you have a small yard then you can easily get by with a mower that has a smaller deck.
The following information will provide you with a guide of the deck size you need based on how big your yard is:
- Thirty to forty-inch mowing deck-Yards up to one and a half acres
- Forty to forty-eight-inch deck-Yards that are one and a half acres up to three acres
- Forty-eight inches to sixty-one-inches-Will work for yards that are three acres or more
A Versatile Machine
The biggest reason a person will buy a riding lawn mower is that they have a large yard and this type of mower can make cutting the grass a faster and easier process. However, in some cases, people aren’t always aware of what else these models can do. Some riding lawn mowers will come with exciting add-on features such as:
- Dump carts
- Tow behind sweepers
- Snow blower
Of course, these attachments are sold separately but can add plenty of value to your riding lawn mower so you’ll get a lot of use out of it year-round.
If you’re looking at the spec sheet and trying to determine which mower has what you’re looking for, make sure you check out the mower’s engine power. However, how powerful an engine is isn’t the only spec you should pay attention to.
Make sure the engine comes equipped with a cooling system that’s designed to prevent the engine from overheating. If the mower has an oil filtering system, this can lengthen the amount of time the mower can go between oil changes.
Make sure the air filter is easily accessible so you can change it on your own as opposed to having the mower serviced by a professional.
Does the engine have a twin or single cylinder? If you have a large property, then you’ll want a twin cylinder since they provide more power, while single cylinder engines are a better option for yards under an acre.
Hydrostatic or automatic transmissions will make it easier to control the mower’s speed without changing gears or using the clutch. If there are a lot of obstacles in your yard then a transmission can make it easier when it comes to slowing down when needed and all without sacrificing a mower’s ability to pick up speed in wide open spaces.
The use of a clutch to change speeds is required for gear-driven or manual transmissions. If you don’t have many obstacles to mow around in your yard then this can be a cost-saving feature.
Models with a basic steering wheel can be easy to operate, however, they can struggle when it comes to making tight, clean turns. A mower that’s equipped with dual level steering can be trickier to operate, however, they offer more versatility in terms of their three hundred and sixty degrees turning radius. While more expensive, the zero-turn mower is often favored over basic steering mowers because they can provide better, cleaner results.
Many riding lawn mowers will allow you to choose the type of cutting method that will work the best for your personal preferences and yard. Most models come equipped with the ability to bag, mulch, or side discharge. Bagging or collecting will provide neat results that will eliminate the need to rake up any lawn clippings, saving you plenty of time. A basic two or three collection system can also be used for cleaning up leaves during the fall. A collection system is crucial if you or a family member has seasonal allergies, since collecting the clippings can decrease the spread of seeds.
A side discharge system is perfect for coarse grass, wild grass, and tall grass. Mulching will work well if you mow each week and want your yard to have a pristine look. Mulching helps to fertilize the grass and can even help it to thrive during a drought.
A large riding lawn mower will be much heavier than a compact model. Because of this, they require more engine power to drive them. More engine power will usually equal a higher price tag. Aside from that, a mower that’s equipped with a large deck will take up plenty of storage space. Models with a forty to fifty-inch deck will need a space that’s at least five feet by seven feet.
Without the right riding mower, homeowners and landscapers would waste several hours pushing a mower with an engine that’s not suited for the job and a grass collection system that’s not up to the task. These powerful machines can make short work of any yard, and considering they’re now available at prices that are more affordable, there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to see bigger, better, and more energy efficient models released in the coming years.
Do I Need a Riding Lawn Mower
If you have a large property and a beautiful lawn to maintain, then a riding lawn mower can make that job a fast and simple one. Because they work just like a car, a riding lawn mower can be operated with minimal effort and allow users to avoid the intense physical exertion that comes with a basic push mower. If you choose a top model then you’ll have a nice comfortable seat and some great extras that can make mowing several acres of grass feel totally effortless.
The wide range of attachment options is another unique advantage of the riding lawn mower. While the standard push lawn mower only comes equipped with a blade deck designed to cut grass, many of these riding models can be equipped with attachments that will help you plow snow, dethatch, or spread grass seed.
While the riding mower has a few features that can take some time getting used to, most offer improved handling compared to a standard mower. This means that a riding mower will make it much easier on the user to cut grass, when they’re dealing with hilly terrain or other types of rough terrain, and all while maintaining total control of the mower’s speed.
However, a big disadvantage of a riding mower is the steep price tag. But while these models tend to have a higher initial cost compared to a traditional mower, buyers will enjoy a much higher return on their investment, especially people who purchase them for their landscaping business.
To learn more about riding lawn mowers and how they work, click here to read our article on riding lawn mower tips.
Some potential buyers are hesitant to pull the trigger because riding lawn mowers have a reputation for their high-maintenance needs. But for the most part, they don’t need as much TLC as most people think. All models will come with a user’s manual that you should take the time to read from cover to cover so you can learn what makes your mower tick and what you can do to ensure it remains in perfect working order.
Keep in mind, all models will have a break-in period. This means the oil needs to be changed after eight hours of use, after which point the oil should be checked before you use the mower each time.
Additionally, each time you use the mower you should do a fast inspection:
- Look for loose parts and signs of damage
- Check the tire pressure
- Check the fuel level
- Remove any excess debris
Less frequently, you’ll need to change the oil and check the air filter. The air filter will only need to be changed annually. If you have a large property and live in a drier, dusty environment you should clear the air filter more frequently. Oil changes are also usually changed annually, or after every one hundred hours of use. Like the air filter, you may need to change the oil more frequently based on operational conditions and how often you use the mower.
Check the mower’s deck periodically, including the belts and blade, in order to ensure that nothing is dull, cracked, or clogged. The blade must be sharpened every six months, and always at the beginning of mowing season. The blades can be sharpened regularly, however, it’s important that you don’t overdo it since sharpening the blade too much can actually degrade the metal.
If your mower is stored for several months at a time then the fuel will need to be changed. Ethanol and gas blends tend to separate over time which can lead to water in the carb or condensation build-up. If you know that the mower is going to take an extended break then you should always add a fuel stabilizer. Another option is to drain the fuel completely before it’s stored away for the season.
Last of all, some manufacturers offer annual inspections. If possible, take advantage of this service to get an accurate assessment of your mower’s condition and to take advantage of any free services offered. This type of routine upkeep will ensure that your mower continues to work for you season after season.
Riding mowers come with many benefits, especially if you have several acres of property. The best riding mowers for hills should have a powerful engine and the ability to easily maneuver around obstacles in your yard. Additionally, it should also come with important features that you can rely on and the ability to use attachments if you’re looking for a multipurpose riding lawnmower. We hope our buyer’s guide and our reviews of the leading models on the market has helped you to narrow down your options in terms of finding a model that will work for you, your yard, your mowing needs, and your budget.