Spring is around the corner and in some areas, the rain started coming down turning the dreary winter gray into lush green lawns already. And if you have a yard bigger than a postage stamp size, especially your property size is measured in acres, you are considering buying a riding lawnmower.
The question is, “how to choose one?”. What are the most important aspects of a riding lawnmower, so that you can choose the one best suited for you?
The 3-S Basics
The “3 S”es are, the swath, the speed and the steering. Let’s expand these words.
The cutting swath is how many inches of grass one pass of your mower can cut. A cutting swath, also known as the cutting deck size, of a standard size conventional push mower usually is 18 to 22 inches wide as a reference. If your lawn is half an acre or larger, cutting 20 inch wide strips at a time will take you what seems like forever with a push mower, and we are totally ignoring how tiresome is walking that much, while trying to push and maneuver that tool.
Even with the riding mowers, you want to get a large cutting swatch to make your work fast and efficient. Larger the area you need to mow, the larger the cutting deck should be. But also, considering larger cutting deck mowers need larger engines and cost quite a bit more, you need to do your homework to get the best bang for your buck. For an average half acre to one acre size lawn, a 40 inch cutting deck will serve you right. For the lawns above an acre, you should consider 42 to 48 inch cutting deck sizes.
The speed is quite self explanatory here but again larger the size of your lawn, higher the benefits of a faster moving mower. Otherwise, nobody wants to spend a whole weekend day doing yard work. Faster you mow your lawn, more time you can spend playing golf or watching the games on the TV.
Steering is a little more involved. Riding lawn mowers come in two types: 2-wheel steering and 4-wheel steering. 4-wheel steering lawn mowers are more expensive but they provide some additional benefits. 2-wheel steering mowers are well suited for smaller and open space lawns with not too many obstacles like hardscapes, shrubs, or flower beds. More of these obstacles exist in your lawn, better off you are investing in a 4-wheel steering riding mower as their turn radius is tighter than 2-wheel models and gives the driver more comfortable handling.
Most riding mowers in the market today do much more than mowing. With the right attachment, they are versatile to handle many other landscaping jobs. Mulching, Bagging and lawn sweeping are mostly sought after features in a riding lawnmower. Dethatching, tilling and aerating as well as attaching a trailer to carry lawn supplies are other uses for a riding mower.
When deciding which riding mower to purchase, buyers should consider the planned use of this tool, availability and pricing of the attachments for the purpose and make a decision best suited for them.
Buying New or Preowned
This is more of a personal preference but in areas where the houses have large and manicured lawns, people tend to buy a lot of riding mowers either not suitable for their property, because they didn’t do their homework prior to buying, or disillusioned by the non-glamorous nature of yard work. Most of these people, either return the equipment to the stores they purchased it from or sell it to a service and maintenance shop at a loss.
If you are not the type of person who has to have everything brand spanking new, there are very good deals in riding lawn mowers.
Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure saying is also true with riding lawn mowers. Keeping your machine properly maintained is of utmost importance. You should not treat your mower any less than how you treat your car. Yes, maybe it doesn’t get used as much as your car, but at the end of day, it is a self moving equipment and there are parts of it subject to the elements of earth. Doing regular maintenance can extend the life of your equipment and your enjoyment of it tremendously. Hence, make sure there are authorized service and repair centers for the mower you are thinking of buying, in your vicinity.
Also, after purchasing a riding lawnmower, few things to check on your own periodically are as follows:
- Check fuel and oil levels
- Grease moving parts like steering joints or cutting blade connection
- Check for signs of damage or loose joints
- Clean debris from the cutting deck and other places as well
- Check tire pressures
- Have the mower serviced by an authorized service shop before the season starts
Enjoy the glorious spring season and may the blades of your mower be ever sharp.