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Best riding lawn mowers: 7 convenient buys for large lawns

Invest in the best riding lawn mower if it's a pristine carpet of green that you're aiming for in your yard – and for easy maintenance

Best riding lawn mowers graphic with Ryobi mower, Cub Cadet mower and EGO POWER mower
(Image credit: Future)

Investing in the best riding lawn mower this spring is a smart idea. Let's be honest: cutting the grass is one of the chores that we avoid for as long as possible, until the sight of our unkempt lawns visits us in our sleep and we can't ignore the nagging voice in the back of our head any longer. 

Mowing the lawn can take up a lot of time, and can often leave us feeling flat-out exhausted. The best riding lawn mower will make a real difference not only to the state of our outdoor spaces, but to how we feel when the time comes around to trimming them. 

If your land covers more than half an acre, we're sure you already agree that the best riding lawn mower is a must-have, but they can also be a real game-changer for anyone who's looking to make cutting the grass easier for themselves, whatever your garden looks like. A riding mower will save you hours of time and help you achieve an immaculate finish much quicker than a push mower alternative.

Whether you're looking to replace an old riding lawn mower that you (or your garden) has now outgrown, or you're keen to upgrade from a push mower for the first time, we're here to help you make the right choice. Investing in the best lawn mower is no small feat given that it involves parting with thousands of dollars, so we want to make sure you feel confident before you take the plunge and invest. 

We've selected the best riding lawn mowers on the market. There are options with a zero turning radius meaning you cover ground more quickly, and both electric and gas engines to pick from. Browse our picks below to find the best riding lawn mower for you. 

The best riding lawn mowers to buy in 2022

RYOBI Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

(Image credit: The Home Depot)

1. RYOBI Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

The best electric riding lawn mower

Specifications

Power: N/A
Cutting width: 38 inches
Fuel capacity: N/A (battery)
Turn radius: Not available (feels zero turn)
Speed: 8 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Eco-friendly/fume free
+
Quiet
+
Low maintenance
+
Good performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Batteries are expensive when they need replacing      
-
Run time won’t be enough for bigger lawns

Gas-powered ride-on lawnmowers might be the go-to for most due to the added power they offer, but electric is worth a look if you prefer lower maintenance, less noise, and better eco-credentials.

The Ryobi 38in is powered by 75Ah batteries and offers up to two hours of runtime. That should be enough to get around a couple of acres with ease, and it can be charged via a standard 120-volt outlet when it needs it, which is handy. It’ll take about 14 hours to charge from the flat.

It features three brushless motors and a two-blade 38-inch deck, with 12 different cutting heights. It cuts well too, plus the ride is smooth, quiet, and fume-free.

Cruise control and automatic transmission are on board for an easy ride, plus there’s a battery indicator on the control panel that’ll tell you how much juice is remaining at a quick glance.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that for all the time and hassle you’ll save in servicing your mower as often as a gas one requires, the batteries of your electric mower will need replacing every now and then. They should last a fair few years though, so it’s far from a pressing concern.

Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Troy-Bilt Pony Riding Lawn Mower

The best riding lawn mower on a budget

Specifications

Power: 17.5HP
Cutting width: 42 inches
Fuel capacity: 1.36 gallons
Turn radius: 18in
Speed: 5.5 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Wide 42in cutting deck
+
18-inch turning radius for minimal re-mowing
+
Good power for the price
+
Seven speeds

Reasons to avoid

-
Manual transmission
-
Fuel capacity on the smaller side

The Troy-Bilt Pony 42-inch riding lawn mower offers all the power and features you need to manage a few acres of lawn, as the high-end versions, but does so at a very affordable price point. 

With a solid engine onboard and 17.5 horsepower to deal with, there’s plenty of power to go around, though you’ll need to know how to use a manual transmission with seven speeds to work through.

The 42-inch deck ensures you’re cutting a good amount of grass with every pass, with five cutting positions to use when in use. There’s also an 18-inch turning radius to ensure minimal re-mowing, plus the ability to mow in reverse, which isn’t a feature you see on a lot of the competition.

Next, there are additional features: automatic headlights, a cup holder, and a comfortable low-back seat. 

Lastly, you will find accessories such as bagging and mulching kits also extremely useful and included.

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50" Mower

(Image credit: Cub Cadet)

3. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50" Mower

The best riding lawn mower for hills

Specifications

Power: 23HP
Cutting width: 50 inches
Fuel capacity: 3.5 gallons
Turning radius: 0
Speed: 3.5–7.5 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful commercial-grade motor
+
Hydrostatic transmission
+
Large 50-inch deck
+
Good on hills

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

If your lawn is on the hilly side, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a machine that’s up to the job. The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is a superior option for situations like this, with 20-inch rear tires and a powerful commercial-grade 23HP engine to give it the extra oomph and control it needs up slopes.

With a large 50-inch cutting deck and all the precision a zero-turn mower offers, it should cut a strip of lawn in a single pass, with 15 cutting heights in quarter-inch increments to choose.

It also has a 7.5mph forward speed, with a 3.5mph reverse speed helping you to make quick work of those larger jobs, as well as a hydrostatic transmission for straightforward operation.

It’s a comfortable ride too. There is a fully adjustable lap bar and high-back seat, as well as ergonomic handgrips and electronic blade management at the touch of a finger.

Toro Titan 60" 75303 Zero Turn Riding Mower

(Image credit: TITAN®)

4. Toro Titan 60" 75303 Zero Turn Riding Mower

The best riding lawn mower for 2 acres

Specifications

Power: 24.5HP
Cutting width: 60 inches
Fuel capacity: 5 gallons
Turning radius: 0
Speed: 8.5 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Commercial-grade power
+
Large cutting deck for larger lawns
+
Comfortable
+
Reliable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
The controls are sensitive

If you have the money to spend, and the space to make the most of what it’s capable of, the Toro Titan is a beast of a machine, and nothing short of a powerhouse.

Offering a commercial-grade 24.5HP engine, with a large 60-inch deck and upgraded blades, it’ll make quick work on acre after acre. You'll be fine servicing lawns of up to seven acres with this machine, be that your own or a client’s.

With a maximum speed of 8.5mph, you can cover a decent amount of ground pretty quickly with this mower, and hills are tackled without issue, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

You can choose between cutting heights of 1.5 to 4.5 inches and enjoy a number of thoughtful features that make it incredibly comfortable to operate. This includes a step-through front end for easier obstacle clearing, smooth steering, and a comfortable padded seat and armrests.

EGO POWER+ 42" Zero-turn Lawn Mower

(Image credit: Ego)

5. EGO POWER+ 42" Zero-turn Lawn Mower

The best riding lawn mower for 1 acre

Specifications

Power: 22HP
Cutting width: 42 inches
Fuel capacity: n/a (battery)
Turn radius: 0
Speed: 3–7 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Battery-powered
+
Can mow up to two acres in one charge
+
Tech connectivity including USB port, lights and Bluetooth
+
Customize blade control, speed, and cut

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suited to spaces bigger than two acres
-
Can hold six batteries but only comes with four so could go further

Advances in battery power motors mean there are some great riding lawn mowers that can take on the gas-powered models, running off battery alone. Ego Power has designed this model with a 22 horsepower brushless motor to tackle large yards up to two acres.

The EGO POWER+ 22-HP Brushless Motor Direct Drive 42-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower comes with four batteries but it can hold six. And to get that two acres you really need the six so factor in the cost of buying a few extras. 

It is zero-turn too so ergonomically designed for those who have got the hang of this style of driving. Plus, there are three driving modes: Control, Standard, and Sport. Where 'Control' helps users maneuver around items like trees, 'Standard' is great for clear and open yards. It is also quieter than most gas mowers and great on slopes.

Also, the added tech features may appeal. There are lights so if you want to mow in the evening, you can. Bluetooth capability and an app mean you can customize your cut from your phone to control the blade and travel speed. Plus, little things like a USB port to charge your phone while you mow do make this a great mower for the busy landowner.

Craftsman 20428 46" Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Lawn Technology

(Image credit: Craftsman)

6. Craftsman 20428 46" Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Lawn Technology

The best riding lawn mower for rough terrain

Specifications

Power: 24HP
Cutting width: 46 inches
Fuel capacity: 3 gallons
Turning radius: 0
Speed: 3-7 mph

Reasons to buy

+
Zero-turn so no re-mowing
+
46-inch wide deck
+
Connects to the Craftsman Smart Lawn app for checking in and maintaining the mower
+
Suitable for rough terrain

Reasons to avoid

-
Runs on 1 gallon per hour which is on the higher side
-
Expensive

If your previous mower has struggled to cut through tough grass, this 46" Zero-Turn Riding Mower from Craftsman is definitely one to consider. Powered by a 24HP 724cc Briggs & Stratton Platinum Series OHV V-Twin engine, it's able to easily maneuver difficult terrain. The Hydrostatic transmissions will also give you a ride that is smooth and comfortable, so no bumping around in your seat when you're trying to get the job done. 

We also love this one because you can connect it to an app on your phone, where you'll be able to check in on the mower, troubleshoot issues, and get service notifications. All this makes maintaining the mower a lot easier than if you were relying on physically checking it for mishaps yourself.

A hand lever lets you adjust the cutting height to eight different positions, so you'll be able to achieve that immaculate finish whatever your lawn looks like. And obviously, the zero-turn radius means you don't have to worry about re-mowing, which is a huge bonus. 

With the price point being on the higher side, we wish Craftsman had added some headlights to the mower, so you wouldn't be limited to mowing in daylight. But, considering the battery is 12v, you could fix your own lights on if you wanted.

Ariens IKON-XD 52" KAWASAKI

(Image credit: Ariens)

7. Ariens IKON-XD 52" KAWASAKI

The best riding lawn mower: the most comfortable ride

Specifications

Power: 23HP
Cutting width: 52 inches
Fuel capacity: 2.8 gallons
Turning radius: n/a
Speed: 3-7 mph

Reasons to buy

+
13 different cutting positions
+
Wide 52-inch cutting deck
+
Two steering levers provide good maneuverability 
+
Very comfortable seat

Reasons to avoid

-
Only suitable for going downhill and on flat grass

Mowing the lawn has never been so comfortable with this IKON-XD mower from Ariens, which is fitted with a plush, high-back seat and padded armrests so you'll never associate cutting the grass with an achy back again. 

We're also impressed with the width of the 52-inch cutting deck, as well as the 13 different cutting positions afforded by the dial-operated lever, which will make that neat finish all the more easy to achieve. The tubular steel frame means strength and durability are built into the mower, so it's likely to last you for years. 

The mower arrives pre-assembled, and the only thing you need to attach is the seat. There is the choice to attach a powered 2-bin bagger to catch your grass clippings, which we'd recommend if you value your time and want to get the end result quicker. 

It also comes with a 3-year warranty, so if you had any problems (which hopefully you won't), there's plenty of time for a replacement. The design feels fresh with the bright orange color, making a fun choice for spring. 


How did we select these riding lawn mowers?

There are several things to consider when buying a ride-on mower, including engine power, deck size, transmission, and ease of use. You might also want to look into how ergonomic the seats are and how grass clippings are collected, and of course, you can choose between gas and electric.

Our picks are largely gas-powered due to the extra power and exact run-time offered. However, if you don’t need those things, there are some sensational electric options out there that will be cheaper to run, easier to start, and quieter, too. 

You’ll see some of our choices split into a ride-on and zero-turn. Regular ride-on lawnmowers have a wider turn radius, which will require a little bit of going back over already-cut grass to complete the job. 

A zero-turn mower can turn 180-degrees to leave no strip of grass uncut, saving you time and effort. You’ll pay for the privilege of this, of course, but prices are coming down, and those of you with large lawns may find it worthwhile.

Plus, most homes should aim towards a residential-grade riding mower. Though, for those with significant acreage, you can find commercial-grade mowers that are suitable. 

Of course, you can expect to pay a lot more for them, but if your needs warrant it, it could be worth the investment.

How much should I spend on a riding mower? Can I negotiate the price?

While you can pick up the most budget ride-on mowers for upwards of $1,000, good riding mowers for residential use will generally start around the $1,500 mark and can go up to around $3,000-$4,000. If you step into the more commercial-grade territory, you can be looking to spend $5,000 or more, so this is no small purchase. 

Negotiating the price will be dependent on where you go to buy your mower. You’ll probably find some of the best prices from online retailers, and they will be non-negotiable. 

Go to your local dealer, and there may be some movement based on how old the stock is and whether you’re paying cash or credit.

Don’t expect significant savings, but there might be something to be gained by asking. A credible local dealer can be a handy contact when it comes to servicing your mower too.

Do I really need a riding lawn mower?

It depends on how big your lawned area is or how much you need to reduce the physical activity of pushing a mower around your yard. There’s also your budget to consider too.

Those with many acres of grass to cut would almost certainly benefit from the speed and ease a riding mower offers, as would those struggling to get around seamlessly. However, if you don’t have the budget to spend on one that’ll do the job well, it may be worth paying for a gardener to do it instead.

Got the money to spend? We say do it. Unless you’ve got a smaller scale lawn, a riding lawn mower takes the time and stress out of keeping your grass neat and tidy.

How do I take care of a riding mower?

Keeping your riding mower in good working order is essential to ensure it operates at its best, and one of the most essential parts of this is simply keeping it clean. Ensure the mower deck is clear of grass and leaves, take a look under the hood to brush off any debris, and do a general check of the outside, ensuring wheels are free of twigs and hazards.

You can avoid too much wear and tear on your mower’s moving parts by using a grease gun to keep them lubricated, while keeping your mower topped up with oil will ensure a good performance too.

You’ll want to carry out an annual change of your spark plugs and air filter to keep your mower running at its best, plus you should keep an eye on your riding mower belts to ensure the correct tension.

You can do all of this maintenance yourself with some know-how, but you may prefer to find an experienced local dealer who can do it instead, something which would probably save you time in the long run. 

Brittany Romano
Brittany Romano

Brittany Romano wrote for Homes & Gardens as a U.S. Shopping Editor. A graduate of New England College, Brittany started her career as a freelance fashion market assistant at Marie Claire. She later joined AMI, where she designed a highly profitable commerce vertical. Noted for her award-winning content, she's covered everything from celebrity beauty hacks to the most lavish home decor.