Choosing The Best Riding Mower For Small Lawns

A properly trimmed lawn is the joy and pride of any homeowner. In most of the cases, it remains an enjoyable activity that can be carried out over the weekend. After rigorous research and review analysis, we found a number of riding lawn mowers for our best riding mower for small lawns review to suit every pocket and small to medium-sized property.

Mowers We'll Be Considering In This Article:

PLUS....a couple of lower cost alternatives you might not have considered.


Using a push mower for your lawn care quickly turns the job into a daunting task. Especially for lawns that require attending to regularly. A better alternative is to invest in a riding lawn mower. This makes tending to your lawn a breeze., and is the best way to mow a lawn professionally without the cost of bringing in lawn care contractors.

Though riding mowers are not as gentle on grass blades than say a reel mower, they allow you to trim your lawn in a much shorter time. Moreover, they hardly ever break down. With a little maintenance, they are bound to give you service for many years to come.

Things To Consider When Shopping For A Lawn Mower

With so many options to choose from, a buyer would be spoilt for choice as to which mower to purchase. The following decisions should guide you towards making the right choice.

1. Choosing Between A Lawn And Garden Tractor

Deciding what to go for ultimately depends on the size of your property. Lawn tractors work best for properties that are 0.5 to about 2 acres in size. These ship with attachments such as clippings bagging, seed spreading or aerate attachments. These riding lawn mowers are enough for any homeowner that simply wants to cut grass.

For larger tracts of land with several acres, a residential garden tractor would work better. These are heavy duty garden equipment with the same design as a lawn tractor but have a more powerful engine (20 - 27hp) and a more capable transmission system. Additionally, they can be used with more demanding, ground-breaking attachments, such as a thatcher, tiller or a cultivator.

2. Cutting Deck Width

Picking the right deck size is just as important. Striking the right balance between price and deck size makes your cutting efficient. For 0.5 to 1 acre properties, a 42-inch cutting deck would suffice, while for tract less than 2 acres, a 42-inch to 46-inch works better, and for 3 acres or more, you are better off choosing a cutting deck between 46-inch and 54-inch.

Looking at it in another way, it takes 2 hours to tend to a 2-acre property on a 42-inch deck. A 46-inches deck would do it in 1 hour 48 minutes, a 50-inch deck in 1 hour 40 minutes, while a 54-inch deck is 24% faster than a 42-inch deck, managing to complete the task in 1 hour 30 minutes.

3. Handling Of Clippings

There are three ways that grass cuttings and leaves can be handled by a ride-on mower:

Mulching Ride On Mowers - The nutrient-rich clippings can be returned to the soil to enrich it. Some lawn mowers have special blades which receive cuttings from the deck and cut them into smaller sizes. These are then returned to the ground as mulch. The method works best for a lawn that is regularly cut and therefore have shorter grass blades.

Side Discharging Ride On Mowers - If you are comfortable with raking cuttings, then these would be the most ideal mowers. Properties that usually have tall or coarse grass should also use these mowers. They direct cut grass clippings directly to the ground for raking once the grass is cut.

Bagger Ride On Mowers - Using a separately bought bag, some mowers can collect clippings. Bagging helps keep the spread of weed seeds down and gives a clean finish that does not require raking.

4. Engine And Transmission

There are two varieties of engines, single and twin cylinder engines. Single cylinder engines are best suited for small sized lawns. Their smaller engines produce lower horsepower output compared to the twin cylinder engines. Nonetheless, plenty of horsepower for mowing a home sized lawn. Twin cylinder engines can output 16 or higher horsepower. This is ideal for a larger piece of land. Other than power, their engines run much cooler than single cylinder engines. Owners also get to enjoy a longer engine life-span.

In terms of transmission, there are three types you could choose from. The gear operated manual transmission has a set of pre-selected speeds. Go for the shift (up or down) operated gears instead of the clutch operated gears. They are much easier to operate.

Much like automatic transmission, hydrostatic transmission is pedal operated. It, however, uses fluids to transfer power to the wheels instead of moving belts. These mowers hardly break down and therefore need less maintenance. They offer the smoothest ride you can find in a mower.

Automatic transmission similar to that of a car has been a hit among many shopping for a ride-on mower. By regulating the pressure applied to the gas pedal, you are able to speed up or slow down the mower. Their agility make s them easy to navigate around obstacles.

5. Zero Turn Radius Ability

Lastly, a mower’s turning radius is also important when picking a mower. There are special mowers whose turning radius is effectively zero. Though a majority of these z-turn mowers are lap-bar steered, there are a few that have a steering wheel. There are many benefits they support, such as lower fuel consumption, better manoeuvrability, cleaner mowing job, less time per job, and ultimately more fun to use.

For a small yard with tight spaces, around garden beds, or a lawn that require regular mulching or even lawns with many obstacles, you can do no better than a zero turn mower. In line with the engine performance is emissions. This is of great concern, especially when using a gas powered mower. No one appreciates gas fumes lingering in the air long after mowing.

Best Riding Mower For Small Lawns

Taking into account all the above factors, we came up with the list below of some of our favorite picks. These checked all the boxes and additionally justified their price. We eliminated some mowers, such as the Poulan Pro 960420181 15.5 HP, simply based on the budget to feature set ratio.

Toucan City Toro TimeCutter HD 75211

This riding mower by Toro is a compelling choice for a top of the range, zero radius mower. 

Powerful Engine

It is powered by a reliable, 22.5 HP, V2 or V-twin engine. V2 engines provide more power in a relatively small space. A double barrel carburettor gives the lawnmower enough power to power through most terrains.

With a fuel capacity of 18.9 liters (5 gallons) this lawn mower can achieve a maximum ground speed of 13.7 km/h. To keep your engine running for longer, a self-cleaning air filter is on-board.

Comfortable Ride

The model also includes the proprietary MyRide suspension system. This system gives the rider utmost comfort when cutting grass. It is stated as having up to 40% smoother ride than on an ordinary mower. The system uses coil-over-shock technology to support the operator. A single centrally place shock at the front and two rear shocks keep the ride smooth. Their rear shocks are adjustable on 4 points to suit individual operator comfort levels. The operator is also treated to premium thickly padded 18-inch seat and armrests.

In keeping with comfort and maneuverability, the mower has massive 22 inch rear wheels. This makes riding on uneven terrain much smoother. Steered using a lap bar, the mower is capable of turning on a near 0-degree turning radius.

Large Cutting Deck

A deck width of 48-inch is wide enough to make easy work of your lawn. A wide cutting deck cuts down your time out on the loan. It is also strong enough to cut through tough grass. Each cutting deck is made of a high performing, fabricated grade 50 steel shell. In essence, this is high-strength 10-gauge steel. The heavy-duty construction continues in its cast iron and steel engine guard and front axle.

Many gardeners would also be interested in the mower’s cutting height. Using a foot-operated lever, you can adjust the blades to cut anywhere between 1.5-inch to 4.5inches. This height variance is quite versatile. Heights greater than 2.5-inches are however recommended by experts to avoid damaging your lawn. 

Great Features

A handy tow hitch allows you to use tow attachments with better speed control. These include sweepers, aerators, de-thatchers, spreaders and even sprayers. Also built onto your mowers rear is a lip that allows you carry a utility bucket to ferry gardening tools.

Other extras include a 12-volt accessory port to power any gadgets on hand, or better yet a fan, cup holder, and the Toro’s SmartSpeed control system which lets you shift among 3 speeds (Trim, Tow, and Mow). Furthermore, you can keep track of hours worked using the hour meter.

Mustering enough strength to power through any task, the Toro TimeCutter HD series mower is a well rounded, professional grade riding lawn mower that is sure not to let you down.

>> Check this mowers reviews and availability on <<

Not everyone is looking for top of the range features. Sometimes we just want a lawn mower that does its job well. This budget-priced mower fits the bill. It brings features found in riding mowers in a compact size closer to a walk behind mower. Coming in at the budget end of the scale, this small-ish mower is easy to love.

Capable Engine

Powered by a 23 HP Kawasaki engine, is quite capable. It has sufficient power to manage top speeds of 10.5 km/h. This is enough to trim 2.8 acres in an hour. A side-mounted, 3.5-gallon fuel tank supplies the twin cylinder engine with fuel. Its fan-cooled pumps displace at a steady 10 cubic centimeters.

Operators will rely on its hydrostatic transmission system manufactured by Hydro-gear, to keep things moving. Not only does this result in a smooth ride, but it also implies maintenance requirements are low. When maintenance is required, the mower’s foot pan can be removed allowing easy access to its pulley system and belts.

Cutting Deck

The powerful engine runs the mower’s wide 54-inches cutting deck at a blade-tip speed of 18500 fpm. Employing air induction mowing technology, the mower draws air above and below the deck to lift grass while cutting. This gives your lawn a much even cut than can be achieved by most mowers in this range.

Its deck conveniently lifts or lowers using a spring-loaded, manual operated system. This all happens with the shift of a lever that is within easy reach of the operator. There are 6 cutting heights to select from. The cutting deck allows the mower to side-discharge or mulch grass clippings. What’s more, it allows the operator to attach a bag at the rear to catch the grass blades.

The 3 piece blades cut a minimum height of 1.5-inches to a maximum of 4-inches. The fan’s spindle is built out of cast aluminum. As such it remains light while providing enough strength to make it robust.

Having a reinforced mower deck - using 14 gauge steel, it has a reassuring design and construction

Riding Comfort and Ease

The mower features basic seat spring to ease the ride. A rocky terrain might be a bit taxing on the back. A medium high back supports the back well, even when working over a long duration.

Though it has a rugged frame that is robust, the front features casters that seem durable and work hard to keep chassis flex low. 18-inch pneumatic rear tires are also comfortable enough to get you through most terrains. Navigating through terrain remains easy thanks to its zero turn support. As with many other zero turn models, the mower is steered using a lap bar.

Other Features

Finished in vinyl, the seat is easy to clean and rather resistant to stains. A plastic cup holder is present to ensure you keep hydrated while working. Thankfully, just like the Toro TimeCutter HD 75211, the Husqvarna Z254 keeps track of time elapsed while working. A separately sold trailer attached to its rear hitch, features as one of its accessories.

Other favorite accessories with operators are headlights and armrests.

You should be aware though that there is no engine guard. Therefore try avoiding extremely rocky terrain to keep your engine in top form.

Not everyone is looking for top of the range features. Sometimes we just want a lawn mower that does its job well. This budget-priced mower fits the bill. It brings features found in riding mowers in a compact size closer to a walk behind mower. Coming in at the budget end of the scale, this small-ish mower is easy to love.

Balanced Engine Performance

Powered by its 382cc OHV engine, the mower achieves a decent forward speed of 6.8 km/h. A 6-speed, single cylinder transmission produces about 15 HP. Its 1.3-gallon fuel tank has a helpful fuel sight window that allows the operator to keep tabs on gas levels. The transmission is shift-operated. It does require a 12-volt battery to get things started. For a reasonably priced mower, these numbers are excellent.

Modest Deck

At 30-inches, the deck is wide enough to dispense with mowing duties quickly and small enough to keep the mower compact. It has 5 adjustable settings. Blade engagement felt fast and easy even though it requires manual power take-off. Constructed from 14-gauge steel, the mower deck is robust enough to be reliable. Deck pulleys are constructed from the same gauge of steel.

Different from the previous riding mowers, the Troy-Bilt mower is steered using a 13-inch wheel with a soft grip for ease of use. The mower lacks mulching or bagging capabilities. Its deck only allows for side discharging.

Ride Comfort And Manoeuvrability

Unlike other models mentioned previously, the Troy-Bilt lawn mower requires a wide, 18-inch turning radius. Even so, its compact size allows it to navigate through tight spaces that can be managed by the Husqvarna and Toro TimeCutter. Storage is also quite easy, even in a small garage.

Pneumatic 13-inch front wheels and 16-inch rear wheels keep the ride smooth and are equally good for navigating over vast terrain as others in this list.

Just like the Husqvarna, the ride-on mower has a comfortable mid-back seat. The seat is adjustable to suit different riders.

Other Features

Probably our favorite feature on the mower was its quiet ride. Noise pollution can be an issue in residential areas. A near-quiet mower would be a treasure in such a case. The rear hitch can also let you pull light attachments such as small dump carts. A rear bagger also collects clippings so that you do not require to rake them.

Based on its top speeds and power output, we would not recommend using this mower on properties greater than 2 acres. All the same, it is one of the best small riding lawn mowers you will find.

>> Check this mowers reviews and availability on <<

Also worth a look, is this extra-compact mower that is powered by a rear positioned, Briggs and Stratton engine. It might not have made the cut for our top reasonably priced mower, but we found this mower quite good for small lawns. For under USD 1000, the mower’s engine is quite powerful, managing 10.5 HP.

The rear wheels are 16-inches in diameter. So manoeuvrability is a non-issue. The turning radius is not too bad either at 14-inches. Its 30-inch delivers a relatively good cut. It does, however, seem to struggle a bit in taller, tougher grass. The deck’s height can be adjusted between 1.5 to 4-inches.

Similar to higher priced models, the mower features a soft touch steering wheel, cup holder, and mid-back adjustable seat.

So where are the compromises, you might wonder? Well, it is not as fast. Forward speeds are 8km/h at best, while reverse speeds are 3.2km/h. Quite slow. In reverse, it is no faster than a walk behind mower. Its small size too limits the terrains it can be effective on. 

All this can be forgiven as we figure it would work pretty well on a small, even piece of land. For the price, we found the mower a bargain.

>> Check this mowers reviews and availability on <<

Are There Viable Alternatives To These Ride On Mowers?

If the above models are not within your budget, or you intend to mow a much smaller property with much tighter spaces then you better off looking at either a reel or robotic lawn mower. Gas-fuelled garden equipment contributes up to 5% of air pollution. Such concerns can also be addressed by using methods which produce a much lower carbon footprint.

Our top pick for an environmentally friendly reel mower is powered by none other than the operator’s push and effort. This Scotts’ model was lightweight (only 34 pounds) and such does not need great effort to push. At 20-inches wide, this mower can get even into the tightest of spaces. It is also wide enough to cut down on time spent mowing.

As with our gas powered ride-on mowers, we ensured that we only used mowers that could guarantee 2 1/2-inch minimum cutting height or more. This reel mower has 3 blade height settings that can be adjusted using a sliding lever that snap the blades into place. At the lowest setting, you can cut 1-inch from the ground and 3-inches at the highest setting. Its five-blade reel is an efficient cutter that snips the top of your grass blades instead of tearing into them. This gentle approach is less traumatising to your lawn.

10-inch primary wheels are sufficient to get through the moderately uneven terrain. 6-inch rear tracking wheels make manoeuvrability a breeze. Though shipped as separate components, it is easy to assemble. Moreover, it runs quiet and is easy to store.

There are of course, pros and cons to using reel mowers, but I love mine, it actually works great on my small lawn.

>> Check this mowers reviews and availability on <<

Electric and robotic lawn mowers are gaining popularity in the mowing industry. Preferred for their green approach to landscaping, they offer a number of benefits. For those who would rather not work up a sweat by using a push mower, the Worx WG794 should be right up your alley to complete our best riding mower for small lawns review.

The mower comes fully loaded with an algorithm which gives the mower its perceived intelligence. The robotic mower is, therefore, able to get around narrow passages. It can also detect changing weather conditions.

 This feature allows it to return to base should it start raining. This also happens when the mower runs out of power. The Landroid has an intuitive and user-friendly interface for programming the mower.

On the cutting front, the mower has 5 cutting positions that raise or lower the blades to cut at 1.6 to 4 inches high. In terms of terrain, the mower cuts efficiently on properties with a gradient lower than 20 degrees. The onboard shock sensor system is a prominent feature that allows the mower to accurately mow the grass around obstacles. The 28-volt battery powers it takes only a few hours to fully charge. It can then clear a quarter acre without needing to recharge.

The Worx WG794 mower is recommended for a small lawn of up to 0.25 acres. What we liked most about this mower is just how little maintenance goes into it. A bit of a wipe now and then to remove debris is all that was required. It is also built from premium materials and does not feel like would break.

>> Check this mowers reviews and availability on <<

Here's a fun video showing the Worx WG in action.

Worx Robot Mower Video

Great fun er? Unfortunately I have a collie who would take great pleasure in chasing that robot mower around the lawn for hours on end, barking at it and irritating the neighbours, so it's not for me. But robotic mowers and vacuum cleaners are really starting to take off in the market, so they are not such crazy ideas.

I hope this overview of some of the best mowers for smaller lawns has been useful to you. We all have to spend time mowing, might as well make it as pleasant an experience as possible.

Good luck, and happy mowing!

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