If you've got a large lawn and don't fancy pushing around a heavy mower, a ride-on mower could be a sensible option. But before you part with your money, it's important to know which key features to look out for, plus how much you should expect to spend.
With prices starting at around £1,000, a ride-on mower won't be a cheap addition to your gardening toolkit, but it could be the best. Popular models are easy to use and able to navigate slopes and muddy areas.
Read on as we take a clooser look at the various types of ride-on lawn mower and what they offer.
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Whether or not you need a ride-on mower ultimately depends on your property and your budget.
If you have a medium lawn and don’t want to spend more than £500, a ride-on lawn mower probably isn't a priority. Instead, you might want to consider buying a petrol lawn mower or a powerful cordless mower instead, as these will tackle lawns over 150 sq m.
Assuming reducing the work of cutting the lawn is your priority, a robotic mower (also known as a robot lawn mower) is a good option as it will look after the lawn by itself. Alternatively, you could opt to pay for someone to cut the lawn and get rid of your mower entirely.
If you're shopping for a ride-on lawn mower, be prepared to spend at least £1,000, with prices varying depending on engine size and the machine's ability to tackle tricky terrain.
Here's an overview of the different ride-on lawn mower types and expected costs:
If you have less than an acre of lawn to cut, a ride-on mower with the cutting deck towards the front (or even ahead of the front wheels) is a good bet. The engine sits at the back and they’re small, manoeuvrable machines, ideal for cutting around flower beds, trees and under furniture.
Ride-on mower features to look for:
Generally, lawn tractors are larger than ride-on mowers. They have the engine in front and the seat behind, and rotary cutting blades under the seat. They have more powerful engines than ride-on mowers, which makes them suitable for large areas and tough terrain.
These machines are ideal if you have a mix of flat lawn and rough paddock to deal with. However, they may not be the best for sloping lawns.
Although lawn tractors are expensive, they don’t cost more to maintain than smaller ride-on mowers. But you’ll need to be happy to keep an eye on some things, such as the battery charge and tyre pressure, to make sure your machine starts easily and gives your lawn an even cut.
Lawn tractor features to look for:
If you want to do more than mow, a heavy-duty garden tractor capable of handling over five acres might be what you’re looking for.
Garden tractors generally come with an integrated tow-bar and power source at the back, so you can attach different accessories that allow you to use it for much more than mowing. Trailers and grass collectors are fairly common choices, but you can get leaf blowers and chemical sprayers, too.
Garden tractor features to look for:
Dedicated mulching mowers give the best result – the blade cuts the clippings until they are very fine, and then blows them into the lawn, where they decompose and help feed the turf.
You can convert some collecting mowers into mulching mowers by fitting a special mulching plate.
The cheaper systems rely on airflow to push clippings into a collection bag. More expensive ones use a powered sweeper to brush them up, or an integrated rear-collection system. If you don’t want to pick up the clippings, you can often buy a deflector, which goes on the back or side of the mower and helps to distribute the clippings evenly over the lawn.
If you do decide to buy a collector mower, look at the size of the collection bag. The larger it is, the less frequently you’ll have to stop to empty it – although it will also be heavier. Some have to be emptied manually, while others have an automatic tipping system to reduce the effort involved.
Lawn tractors that have mid-mount cutting decks with side ejection give you the option of spraying the clippings from the side of the deck when you don’t want to collect them.
Manual is the most common option; this system uses a clutch to change gears and will be familiar to most car drivers.
However, the hydrostatic system is easier to use and good for going around obstacles, but it's more expensive. Models with hydrostatic transmission also have better speed control and many offer cruise control, which is great for cutting large, open areas.
The wider the cutting width, the quicker the mower will get through large areas of well-maintained grass. However, don’t buy a mower that’s wider than the narrowest gap that it will have to fit through (gates, for example). Also consider how wide your storage area is, as you’ll need to be able to park the mower.
When considering how powerful an engine to go for, think about what sort of additional tasks you’ll want to perform (such as pulling a trailer). Also, what sort of terrain will you be working on? Going up steep ground takes more power.
A popular name for ride-on mowers. As a brand, Honda is well known for its engines, which have a reputation for reliability. It has a modest range of machines that are mid-priced, ranging from small ride-on mowers for around £2,000, to garden tractors costing more than £4,000.
Husqvarna, which owns Flymo, has a very large range of ride-on mowers with the cutting blades at the front, as well as lawn and garden tractors. The Swedish brand has a reputation for making easy-to-use lawnmowers. Models range from domestic mowers for around £2,000 to commercial ones for parks for £12,000.
A well-known name for large garden equipment. It’s a premium brand, associated with farm equipment. The smallest lawn tractors cost over £2,000 and tend to be heavy machines that can deal with a large range of attachments.
Kubota manufactures a huge range of garden tractors and ride-on mowers, many of which are aimed at amenity use, such as on golf courses or sports pitches, and have price tags to match. The brand is well known for zero-turn mowers. You can expect to pay around £4,000 for the smallest Kubota lawn tractor, but if you’re looking for a professional-quality machine, the brand is worth considering.
Owned by Global Garden Products, Mountfield is the second most popular brand of lawn tractor with members. Mountfield mowers are widely available, so getting them serviced is easy. The small range of ride-on lawnmowers and lawn tractors are a lot less expensive than other brands, and cost just over £1,000 for the entry-level ride-on mower, and £5,000 for the most expensive lawn tractor.
Stiga is also owned by Global Garden Products, but the range of ride-on mowers is wider and focused on larger gardens. There are zero-turn models and a large range of mowers with front-mounted cutters to cut close around obstacles. Although you can buy a small ride-on mower from Stiga for around £1,000, it has models that cost up to £25,000.
This British firm makes garden tractors and is the second most popular brand of garden tractor with our members. Its models have some features specifically designed to appeal to a British market. For example, if you buy a machine that collects the grass clippings, it comes with a heavy rear roller to add stripes to your lawn. Prices start at £3,400 for the smallest garden tractor.
Whether you decide to shop online or in-store, make sure you pay attention to the shop's returns policy.
Popular online retailers that sell ride-on lawn mowers include:
Some manufacturers offer extended warranties and others, such as Honda, offer a five-year warranty, conditional on an annual service. Most are subject to normal maintenance, which is often outlined in the operator’s or owner’s manual.
Servicing can cost up to £200, depending on the model.
Punctures are usually only a problem where there are thorny hedges, but tyres can be protected by puncture-proofing products.