When trying to choose between a riding mower and lawn tractor, many homeowners struggle with understanding the difference between the two. Coming to a decision about which machine is best for your needs requires a fair amount of research. After all, buying a piece of equipment like a riding mower or a lawn tractor is an investment that will save you time and money in the future if you make the right choice, in addition to making your lawn look beautiful and pristine.
Although basic riding mowers can be less expensive and use less gas, that is hardly the only difference to consider. For those with large lawns and gardens, either a riding mower or a lawn tractor can make cutting the grass much easier and more enjoyable. Some people use these terms interchangeably, however, there are differences between the two types of machines you need to know about.
Riding mowers are designed to do one thing in particular, and that is to cut the grass. They are usually not as powerful as lawn tractors – making them a good choice for small- and medium-sized yards and gardens. If your yard is just big enough that cutting it with a push mower is a substantial task, a riding mower may do everything you need. One of the main differences between the two is that the location of the cutting deck in riding mowers is different than on a lawn tractor. On riding mowers, you will find the cutting deck located under the front of the machine. This position makes the vehicle more maneuverable around shrubs, trees and other obstacles that may get in your way. For tractors, the deck is moved back, more centrally located on the machine.
Lawn tractors are usually what people think of when referring to riding mowers since you have the ability to mow from the comfort of a seat in both cases. That said, lawn tractors have the engine mounted in the front and are designed to do more than riding mowers. Not only are they more powerful and often have bigger cutting decks than riding mowers, but you can also add more accessories to it. These accessories will make your life easier if you have a very large lawn or live in a place with lots of snow during the winter.
Lawn tractors can be outfitted with a wide variety of attachments like carts, baggers, aerators, snowplows, snowblowers, leaf mulchers, spreaders and various other gardening equipment. This allows them to be extremely versatile and to be used during all four seasons. Lawn tractors are more powerful than riding mowers since they are intended to be used with these other attachments that may require more power or torque to work properly. This extra power can also make them faster and better for larger yards. In comparison to riding mowers, lawn tractors are designed with more extended and varied use in mind. During the summer, they can be equipped with more comfortable seating, cup holders for cold beverages and a sunshade to protect you from harsh, hot weather conditions. During the winter, lawn tractors can be equipped with a variety of snow accessories like plow blades, a 3-stage snowblower attachment and a snow cab. However, with a more powerful engine, lawn tractor owners should always make sure to follow all safety precautions to avoid any accidents.
Another great advantage of a lawn tractor is its ability to tow objects, allowing you to not only mow grass but also tackle an endless amount of landscaping projects. This versatility is very unique to lawn tractors, and you’ll find lots of examples online of creative ways people use or modify lawn tractors to do all sorts of things, such as aerating lawns, tilling and plowing. Additionally, the lawn tractor’s powerful engine allows you to transport materials and tools for projects around the garden with the addition of a cart.
Lawn tractors are more likely to be equipped with Power Take-Off (PTO). A PTO is controlled with a switch or lever that is placed on the controls of the machine and directs power from the engine to a shaft. This shaft can be hooked up to various types of accessories. You will find that the shaft can be placed mid-to-front or in the rear, with these placements corresponding with different types of powered attachments you may want to use for your landscaping and yard maintenance projects. When considering the full range of ways you may want to use your machine for, make sure to research and carefully check the types of attachments available when buying your machine. You should pay particular attention to how they are mounted and hooked up if they need to be powered. If you’re not sure about the compatibility of some attachments, it is best to ask a customer service representative at your local dealer or reach out to the manufacturer’s customer support.
Lastly, it’s important to also mention residential zero-turn mowers when comparing riding mowers and lawn tractors. Zero-turn mowers are most often seen in the hands of professional landscaping crews and with good reason. They provide unprecedented handling and speed for the toughest mowing jobs and are available in various cutting deck sizes. They might not have the broader versatility of a lawn tractor, but if you need to tackle large areas with obstacles, tight corners and steep slopes, maybe a residential zero-turn mower is the right machine for you. Zero-turn mowers are named after their ability to execute turns on the spot. This comes in particularly handy for mowing along the edge of organically shaped garden beds. Similarly, trees, bushes, lamp posts, and other large obstructions can be navigated very easily and quickly.
There’s lots more to learn online about lawn tractors. Be sure to check out the ultimate Canadian Lawn Tractor Buying and Maintenance Guide for more advice on choosing the right machine, taking care of it, making the most out of it, and most importantly, using it safely.