Riding Mower Buying Guide

How To Find The Perfect Riding Mower For Your Needs

When purchasing a riding lawn mower, it’s important to consider numerous factors like the size of your lawn, type of terrain, and number of obstacles (trees, bushes, flower beds) within your yard. That’s why before you buy, you’ll want to consider a variety of riding mower types to determine what is the best fit for you.

To find the right mower to meet your needs, follow the tips we’ve assembled for you in this helpful buyer’s guide.

What’s the Best Fit For Your Yard: Choose a Mower Wisely

When shopping for a lawn mower, consider the features that are important to you. Ask yourself questions like

  • How many obstacles are there? How important is maneuverability?
  • What size cutting path do I need?
  • Do I need to bag the grass?

Consider some of the following riding mower characteristics to make sure you end up with a purchase that will meet your needs and provide you with an outstanding mowing experience.

  • Handling - One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a riding lawn mower is how it handles. Different configurations are designed to handle the different demands of your specific yard. Riding mowers typically have front-drive, rear-drive or zero-turn handling.
  • Speed - If your lawn has many obstructions, you will need to slow down to get the quality cut you want. On the contrary if you have a very large and open yard you may want the added speed to get the job done quickly. Have both? Consider a multi-speed system. Advantages include:
  • Ability to slow down around trees, bushes and other obstructions
  • Capability to speed through short and dry grass but slow down when mowing long or wet grass
  • Rapidly propels you through the long open areas of your lawn
  • Considerably reduces time and increases efficiency.
  • Cutting Path - Lawn mowers come in a variety of cutting widths. The size of a mower deck is the actual width that a mower will cut in a single pass. The smaller your yard, the smaller the mower deck can be. The following gives you a guide of what types of jobs require what cutting path
  • 30 to 40 inch mowing deck for yards up to 1 ½ acres
  • 40 to 48 inch mowing deck for yards 1 ½ to 3 acres
  • 48 to 61 inch mowing decks for yards 3 acres or larger

Additional Features: What Else Your Lawn Tractor Can Do

The main reason most consumers buy riding lawn mowers is because they have a large yard and a riding mower makes the job quicker and easier. However, many times it's not until after they buy the lawn mower do they realize what it can do for them. Many models come with these available add-on features:

  • Tow Behind Sweepers brush up lawn clippings, leaves and debris left on your lawn
  • Aerators allow you to aerate your lawn while mowing by simply towing this device behind your tractor
  • Spreaders attach to the back of your lawn tractor and can complete tasks like fertilizing your lawn as you mow
  • Dump Carts allow you to move items quickly and easily across your yard
  • Snow blowers can be attached to the front of your lawn tractor to easily move snow off your driveway
  • Tire Chains can be installed for additional traction

Engine Considerations

Engine power is not the only thing that should be considered when shopping for a riding mower.

  • Does the engine have a good cooling system to keep engine temperature down and extend the life of the engine
  • Does the engine have an oil filtering system to extend time between oil changes
  • Is the air filter easy to access allowing do-it-yourself changes
  • Is the engine a single cylinder or twin cylinder [twin cylinders provide more power, single cylinder engines are sufficient for yards smaller than an acre]
  • Does the engine have a quick, hassle-free way to change the oil


Automatic or hydrostatic transmissions make it easy to control the speed of the mower without the use of a clutch or changing gears. If you have a lot of obstacles to mow around, this will make it easier to slow down when necessary without sacrificing faster mowing in open areas.

Manual or gear driven transmission require the use of a clutch when changing speeds. If you don't have a lot of trees or flower beds to mow around, this can be a cost saving feature for your purchase.

Lawn Mower Safety Tips

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 60,000 injuries are treated by hospital emergency rooms each year because of unsafe operation of power lawn mowers. Kids under the age of 15 are the most common victims. Regardless of which mower you choose, don’t forget to practice safety. We’ve assembled some guidelines below to help keep you safe while using your equipment:

  • Always wear protective eyewear.
  • Mow only in daylight, when the grass is dry.
  • Check your yard for any debris or objects, such as toys that could pose a hazard if you mowed over them.
  • Keep your children and pets out of the mowing area.
  • Look three to four feet directly ahead of you while mowing.
  • Never tilt a mower; always keep all four wheels on ground.
  • Take special care when mowing hills and inclines: 
  • With your riding mower: It's advised to mow up and down an incline, not across.
  • Always turn off mower when crossing a sidewalk or driveway
  • Never leave mower unattended unless spark plug wire is disconnected
  • Never adjust mower height, clean grass chute, or remove the grass catcher with engine running
  • Never de-activate safety devices
  • Never attempt to lift or repair mower with engine running
  • Always stay clear of a hot engine. Mufflers can reach up to 1,200˚F
  • Always read your Operator's Manual thoroughly before operating your mower for the first time
  • Children under 16 should not operate a riding mower

Ask About Service

As with all Briggs & Stratton products, our lawn mower engines are supported by America's largest service network. Should you need assistance, Briggs & Stratton has authorized repair centers around the country. Locate a dealer near you.


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