One of the main reasons that homeowners look into ride on mowers is that they can cut wide swathes of grass – anywhere from 70cm to over a metre. Compare this with the 46cm to 48cm width cut by standard walk-behind mowers and you can see why anyone with a large property would prefer a rider. With so many models to choose from, picking the right one for your garden can be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can look for to ensure that you’ve made the right choice:
Similar to shopping for a new car, it is highly recommended that you try before you buy to ensure the mower is a good fit for you. Is the seat cushioned for your comfort and does it offer back support? Are the controls easy to use? Can the controls and any pedals be reached without stretching? Is the steering wheel or levers at a comfortable height?
You might be drawn to a traditional rider with a steering wheel, but if you have a lot of trees or awkwardly shaped garden beds you might want to consider a zero turn model. They have a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel-brake steering, which provides a very tight turning circle. You might need a little practice with the lever controls, but very quickly it will become second nature and easy to use.
Ride on mowers have two discharge options – side (which is best for longer, rougher grass and wider cutting decks) and rear (which is best for finer grass). Some models are also able to mulch grass clippings as they’re cut, dispersing them onto the lawn as fertiliser. Others come with catchers, which make clean up a breeze.
Ride on mowers are typically quite heavy, often weighing 150kg or more. When you sit on the seat (particularly with tractor-style models), the centre of gravity is raised. As such, it is not recommended that you mow sideways across slopes greater than 10 degrees otherwise you risk accidentally tipping the machine over.
Whilst manual transmission is a great choice for homeowners shopping on a budget, automatic or hydrostatic transmission is easier to use (it allows you to speed up, slow down and even reverse without changing gears). Safety features that you might be interested in include seat shutoff switches and automatically stopping the blades when in reverse.
The size of your garden will help you to determine the size of your mower. Up to 2 acre of grass, for example, generally requires a cutting width of 110cm (42 inches) and a 16-21hp engine. Between 2 acres and a hectare, on the other hand, you will need a cutting width of approx.120cm (48 inches) and a 20-24hp engine.
Don’t forget to also take your budget into consideration. Prices for new ride on mowers range from around $3000 to more than $20,000 depending on the size of the engine, the width of the cutting deck, the catcher features, the transmission type (manual or automatic) and the overall design. If you need help choosing your perfect mower, contact the team at Hastings Mowers.