Many homeowners want to mow their own lawn, but they would like to spend less time mowing. If you fall into this category, you may be considering an upgrade to a larger, faster mower. But mowing efficiently is about more than just speed and deck size. As you consider upgrading your mower, be sure to ask more than just, “What size lawn mower do I need?”
How to Choose a Lawn Mower
Before purchasing a new lawn mower, consider these factors to determine the best mower for your yard and landscape.
- Walk or ride? The first step is to choose between a riding mower and a walk-behind. Most lawn mower buying guides use a ¼-acre of actual mowing area as the walk mower threshold. That is a lot of walking, and with any more ground to cover, you’ll want to ride if for no other reason than to get the lawn done faster.
- Lawn size. For lawns from ¼ of an acre to two acres, you’ll most likely want a rear-engine riding mower, light-duty lawn tractor, or a residential-duty zero-turn mower. Anything more than two acres and you’ll need a commercial-duty zero turn mower.
- Terrain. Every type of mower handles obstacles and terrain differently. Before buying, consider the number of trees and structures, yard steepness and hills, and any other mowing difficulties you may regularly encounter (like twigs, nuts, fruit or leaves).
- Time factor. Lawn mower cutting width is a major factor when considering the amount of time you will need to spend mowing your lawn. The wider the strip of grass a cutting deck mows in one pass, the less time you’ll spend mowing. It is estimated that a 42-inch deck mounted on a standard garden tractor can mow 1 acre of lawn in about one hour.
Determine Mower Deck Size
Your lawn size and terrain are the most important considerations when determining the best mower deck size for your yard. A good starting point for a medium-sized yard – an acre to an acre and a half — is a 42” mower. With a larger mower, you’ll spend a lot of time maneuvering into position and around tight corners. For homeowners with one and a half to three acres to mow, a mower with a cutting deck between 42” to 48” is a good size. Over three acres, you’ll want something larger.
Before buying a 72” mower for lawns greater than three acres, consider your terrain. Wide mowers perform best on flat, open ground. If your yard resembles a football field, a wide mower deck may be your best bet. However, if you have three acres of hills, dotted with trees and plantings, a wide mower may not be the right choice. Mowers that are too wide can scalp areas on uneven ground. A mower that’s too big will make mowing around obstacles, trees and shrubs more difficult.
If you have a large, hilly lawn, a mower with a smaller deck and a bigger engine may be the best option. You’ll be able to mow faster, without sacrificing precision or maneuverability.
What About Less than an Acre
If you have between a quarter of an acre and a full acre, and want a riding mower, and a deck under 40. If your home is on an average U.S. lot (.35 acres) and you feel it’s too small for a riding mower, but a standard push mower isn’t working for you, consider a 30” self-propelled mower. It will cover a third more lawn on every pass, with less effort on your part.
Is My Yard Large Enough for a Wide-Area Mower
For most homeowners, no. Wide-area mowers are designed for commercial use, especially for mowing parks, cemeteries, recreation fields and other wide, flat properties. If you run a residential lawn mowing service, you’ll need to calculate whether you have enough large properties among your mowing customers to make the expense a good investment. Getting the right size mower is critical, whether you choose a 42” zero-turn or a 30” self-propelled walk-behind. For help determining which size mower is right for your residential or commercial needs, a local dealer can help you figure out the best mower type, deck width and engine size.