Troy-Bilt Pony riding lawn mower
Credit: Courtesy of Troy-Bilt

The 7 Best Riding Mowers to Mow the Lawn with Comfort and Ease

A comfortable riding mower, like Cub Cadet’s Ultima ZT1, will have you looking forward to your weekly lawn maintenance chores.
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A good riding mower is a must for large lawns of an acre or more. After all, it can be the difference between loathing lawn maintenance or actually looking forward to the task. While there are a few different types of riding lawn mowers available to buy—the main ones being either lawn tractors or zero-turn mowers—the best riding mower for you depends on the size of your yard, the type of terrain, and your budget.

"With buying a good riding mower, you are essentially investing in your home, which is one of the biggest and best investments people can make," says Don Quinn, who has over 30 years of experience handling riding lawn mowers and working on several farms, including his own 1.5- and 3-acre properties. "A good riding mower or tractor is going to make the work that you have to do on your property easier, safer, and more efficient."

To help you decide the best riding lawn mower for your home, we researched a variety of picks, keeping in mind each unit's power, ideal lawn size, speed, deck height, and deck width. We also consulted Don Quinn.

Overall, we recommend the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower. This riding lawn mower is perfect for lawns of up to 4 acres thanks to its large cutting deck of 50 inches. Its zero-turn capabilities let it zip around obstacles effortlessly while creating straight, clean lines for a perfectly manicured lawn.

Here are the best riding lawn mowers.

What We Recommend

Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Home Depot

Best Overall: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

View at Home Depot ($3,849)

Why You Should Get It: This mower has a large 50-inch deck size that covers more ground in less time, a mid-range price, and an ideal size for residential use.

Keep in Mind: As a zero-turn mower, it has levers instead of a steering wheel, so there's a bit of a learning curve if you've never used one of these mowers before.

Cub Cadet's Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower is the best riding lawn mower thanks to its superior build and handy features. Though it's a zero-turn mower and requires some practice to get used to if you've never operated one before, it's actually quite user friendly. 

The riding lawn mower has a large 50-inch deck with 15 different height position options for a custom cut. It also has an adjustable high-backed seat, so you won't get sore even if you're mowing 4 acres of lawn in one go.

It cuts fast and smooth and can turn with ease thanks to its zero-degree turning radius. In other words, you won't have to switch the mower blades off, circle around, then start them up again to go in the opposite direction to get those straight lines. It performs as well as a much more expensive and professional-grade model and is priced reasonably for a lawn mower that can pretty much do it all.

Product Details:

  • Power: Gas, 23 horsepower, 726 cc Kawasaki twin-cylinder engine
  • Lawn Size: Up to 4 acres
  • Deck Width: 50 inches
  • Deck Height: 1 to 4.5 inches 
  • Speed: 7.5 miles per hour (forward), 3.5 miles per hour (reverse)
Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Tractor Supply Co.

Best Budget: Troy-Bilt Pony 42K Riding Lawn Mower

View at Tractor Supply Co. ($1,980)

Why You Should Get It: This mower is designed for yards of up to 2 acres and has one of the lowest prices of the mowers on this list.

Keep in Mind: There's no rollover protection, unlike other options on the market.

Whether you're trying a riding mower for the first time or just don't want to invest in a more expensive option, the Troy-Bilt Pony model is a great riding mower to consider. Ideal for residential use on small- to medium-sized yards, the compact tractor is user-friendly and effortless to mount and dismount, thanks to its handy side step. Plus, for a gas mower, it's not too noisy, and it doesn't guzzle fuel either.

Since it doesn't have any rollover protection, it's worth noting that it's better suited to flatter terrain. However, it cuts smoothly and quickly, and it has an 18-degree turning radius to navigate obstacles—for comparison, similar mowers have turning radiuses up to 30 degrees. There are five deck positions, adjustable speed settings, and even a cup holder to hold a cold bottle of water while you mow. Since it's still a bit of an investment, you'll appreciate that it comes with a two-year warranty.

Product Details:

  • Power: Gas, 17 horsepower, 541 cc Kohler four-cycle engine
  • Lawn Size: Up to 2 acres
  • Deck Width: 42 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.25 to 3.75 inches 
  • Speed: 5.2 miles per hour (forward), 2.5 miles per hour (reverse)
Riding Lawn Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Lowes

Best Gas: Husqvarna YTH18542 Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower

View at Sears ($2,445)

Why You Should Get It: It's easy to steer and navigate thanks to its intuitive and simple-to-use steering wheel and pedals.

Keep in Mind: It's only suitable for up to two acres, so it's not ideal if you have a much larger outdoor space to cover. 

The Husqvarna YTH18542 Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower is easy to use and safe, too, thanks to its pedal-operated system. The model allows you to keep both hands on the ergonomic steering wheel at all times for maximum safety, so you'll always be in control. Plus, with a 16-degree turning radius, it provides a much tighter turn than some other non-zero-turn mowers, saving you time as you go up and down the lawn.

Its mid-height seat is comfortable and adjustable, and you can even mow while going in reverse. Though its wheels are sturdy and grippy, they won't damage your lawn even on damp days. Plus, in addition to a three-year warranty for any bumper-to-bumper damage, there are plenty of accessories that you can add to your machine, including a mulch kit, tire chains, and a snow blower, so you can use it throughout the seasons.

Product Details:

  • Power: Gas, 18.5 horsepower, 540 cc Briggs & Stratton Intek engine
  • Lawn size: Up to 2 acres
  • Deck Width: 42 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.5 to 4 inches 
  • Speed: 5.5 miles per hour (forward), 2.5 miles per hour (reverse)

Related: The 8 Best Weed Whackers for a Tidy, Weed-Free Lawn

Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Greenworks

Best Electric: Greenworks Pro 60V 42-Inch CrossoverZ Zero Turn Lawn Mower

View at Greenworks ($5,000)

Also available at Tractor Supply Co.

Why You Should Get It: This mower runs on battery power, meaning you don't have to worry about dealing with fuel or gas fumes.

Keep in Mind: There's no power steering or cruise control.

Allowing you to zoom up and down medium-sized lawns of up to 2.5 acres at 8 miles per hour, the Greenworks Pro CrossoverZ riding lawn mower is our choice for the best electric riding mower. The unit can turn on a dime to mow clean and straight 42-inch widths of lawn at a time. Plus, it has a padded high-back seat with back support and armrests for user comfort as well as a USB charging port in case your phone runs out of juice and a cup holder for your beverage. 

The riding lawn mower can be fully recharged in just 90 minutes, and it features bright dual-LED headlights so you can see clearly in low-light conditions. Whether you have straight terrain or rolling hills with slopes of up to 15 degrees, this mower can cut the grass with ease thanks to its large 20-inch tires. And while the price is an investment, the mower is protected by a four-year limited warranty. 

Product Details:

  • Power: Battery powered, 60 volts, six 8-amp hour batteries, equivalent to 24 horsepower
  • Lawn Size: Up to 2.5 acres
  • Deck Width: 42 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inches 
  • Speed: 8 miles per hour (forward), 3 miles per hour (reverse)

Related: The 8 Best Electric Lawn Mowers for Easy and Efficient Mowing

Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Lowes

Best Zero-Turn: Ego Power+ 42-Inch Z6 Zero-Turn Riding Mower

View at Lowe’s ($5,499)

Why You Should Get It: In addition to a durable design and reliable battery life, this mower has a maximum speed of 8 miles per hour that makes for speedy and efficient mowing.

Keep in Mind: It's more expensive than other options on the market. 

 If you're looking for a reliable zero-turn riding mower option, the Ego Power+ 42-Inch Z6 Zero-Turn Riding Mower is worth a look. The battery-operated machine has an impressive battery life, mowing up to 2 acres of land per charge.

The riding mower only takes two hours to fully charge—for comparison, other similar battery-powered riding mowers need around 17 to 20 hours to fill up. Once in use, you'll appreciate the LED display screen that gives you all the important stats, like your speed and the remaining battery life. Plus, it has strong high-intensity LED lights for superior visibility in low-light conditions. 

The seat is cushioned, making it a comfortable place to sit for a few hours. While it's more expensive than other options, there's a five-year warranty on the tool, battery, and charger so you know you're getting a machine that is built to last.

Product Details:

  • Power: Battery powered, 56 volts, six 10-amp hour batteries, equivalent to 22 horsepower
  • Lawn Size: Up to 2.5 acres
  • Deck Width: 42 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inches 
  • Speed: 8 miles per hour (forward), 3.5 miles per hour (reverse)
Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Home Depot

Best Heavy Duty: Toro Titan Max 60-Inch Zero-Turn Mower

View at Home Depot ($7,199)

Why You Should Get It: This fast and durable riding mower has a large 60-inch deck that is ideal for professional-grade results.

Keep in Mind: The model is significantly more expensive than other options. 

The best heavy-duty riding mower is Toro Titan's Max 60-Inch Zero-Turn Mower, which is suitable for yards up to 7 acres. This mower packs 26 horsepower, the most powerful mower on our list.

The riding mower features a padded seat that has back support and armrests as well as suspension, so you'll hardly feel any jolts even on the bumpiest terrain.

This durable mower provides a professional finish with its superfast blades that cleanly cut the grass, effortlessly eliminating any clumps. While gas lawn mowers can be high maintenance, this riding mower provides a toolless filter change to make maintenance easier. Plus, its 22-inch tires are thick and provide superior traction for added safety without damaging the lawn, and it even has protective tire fenders to shield users from stray mud or flying lawn clippings. 

Product Details:

  • Power: Gas, 26 horsepower, 747cc Kohler engine
  • Lawn Size: Up to 7 acres
  • Deck Width: 60 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inches 
  • Speed: 8 miles per hour (forward), 3 miles per hour (reverse)

Related: The 8 Best Lawn Mowers to Keep Your Yard Neat and Trim

Electric Riding Mower
Credit: Courtesy of Home Depot

Best Rear Engine: Ryobi 48V Brushless 42-Inch 100Ah Battery Electric Riding Zero-Turn Mower

View at Home Depot ($4,548)

Why You Should Get It: This mower has cruise control and 12 deck heights. 

Keep in Mind: It takes 17.5 hours to fully charge up, so overnight charging is recommended.

A rear-engine riding mower mower, like this electric model by Ryobi, is ideal for those who have limited storage space as they tend to be smaller and they're also typically easier to control. This riding mower provides a quiet and comfortable seated mowing experience, and it can mow up to three acres in a single charge—though just keep in mind it takes 17.5 hours to fully recharge. 

It has a sturdy and durable 42-inch, two-blade deck that adjusts to 12 height positions for more landscaping design options. 

Plus, it features cruise control that allows you to effortlessly drive it over all types of terrain, a USB phone charger, and an automatic safety function that limits the speed when going downhill so you don't lose control of the machine. You'll also appreciate the rear charging port for easy access. 

Product Details:

  • Power: Battery-powered, 48 volts, 100-amp hour battery
  • Lawn size: Up to 3 acres
  • Deck Width: 30 inches
  • Deck Height: 1.5 to 4.5 inches 
  • Speed: 5 miles per hour (forward), 2 miles per hour (reverse)

The Bottom Line

The powerful, sturdy, and durable Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower with its 50-inch cutting deck, 23-horsepower Kawasaki engine, and comfy high-back cushioned seat is our top pick for the best riding lawn mower. A zero-degree turning radius means you can easily maneuver around obstacles, get up and down large lawns of up to 4 acres with no downtime, and can create awesome landscaping designs too. For a less-expensive option, consider the Troy-Bilt Pony 42K Riding Lawn Mower. The riding mower is compact and is ideal for up to 2 acres of land.

What to Know About Riding Mowers Before Shopping

Types 

The main two types of riding lawn mowers available are lawn tractors and zero-turn riding mowers. Lawn tractors come in a great variety of sizes and options of mower deck attachments. Each model is designed to mow up to a certain size lawn, usually from .5 to 2 acres and beyond. As the mower's ability to cut larger lots increases so does the price, as well as the overall size of the mower and mower deck. 

Zero-turn lawn mowers have two levers (as opposed to the steering wheel on lawn tractors, which most people are familiar with), and there is a little bit of a learning curve if you've never operated one before. These levers must be turned in or pushed in opposite directions to steer the mower. 

The benefit of a zero-turn mower is that you can maneuver around objects or obstacles quickly and easily and can make perfectly straight rows or intricate patterns that you wouldn't be able to create with a standard ride-on mower. Zero-turn mowers come in many different sizes to accommodate just about any type or size of lawn. Zero turn mowers are generally much more expensive than lawn tractors, however, so that's something to keep in mind if you're looking to stick within a certain budget. 

Power 

Ride-on lawn mowers either come in gas or cordless battery-powered options. Battery-powered lawn mowers run on batteries, and each mower's runtime is different depending on its voltage and battery amp. Generally speaking, the higher the voltage, the longer the mower will last on one charge. In addition, the type of terrain, as well as the grass height and its type can factor into a lawn mower's run time. Some battery-operated models provide quick charging of around one to two hours, but cheaper models could take up to 20 hours to fully charge.

Gas ride-on mowers are powered by fuel, emit fumes, and are usually the most powerful type of mowers, making them the preferred choice of professionals. Gas lawn mowers require more maintenance than other types, and yearly servicing (fuel, oil, and spark plugs) is highly recommended in order to maximize the life of the tool.

Property Size

Buying the right size mower for the job is important so that with proper maintenance, it will last you a long time. Every new riding lawn mower has the ideal property size clearly written out in its description so you can be sure to buy the best riding mower for your yard.

"Many people make the mistake of buying too small of a riding mower and then end up overworking it on a bigger property," Quinn says. "This can cause major issues with maintenance and shorten the mower's life in the long run." 

Cutting Deck

The height and the width of a cutting deck let you know how much lawn can be mowed by the machine in a single pass and also how long the grass will be once it's cut. The cutting width is also known as the swath. Most riding lawn mowers have adjustable height decks with numerous positions that give you the option of different grass lengths, usually ranging between 1 to 4.5 inches.

Accessories

There are many available accessories that can be bought along with, or in addition to, your riding mower, such as kits that can mulch, fertilize, aerate, till, and cultivate the soil. In addition, you can buy snow clearing machinery like snow blowers that can be attached to your mower as well as accessories that can load and dump soil. Accessories allow you to get more use from your riding lawn mower throughout the year.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you clean a riding lawn mower?

Riding lawn mowers are typically heavy-duty machines that are designed to cut grass and get messy and muddy, so thoroughly cleaning them is not a necessity. A hard brush taken to the wheels and around the deck to get rid of thick mud and stray clippings is usually all that's needed. Hosing the whole thing down with water is not advised. Many riding mowers do come with their own cleaning apparatus, such as deck cleaning tools and an attachment that can hook up to a garden hose for cleaning the deck.

How often should you mow your lawn?

The general rule of thumb when it comes to how often you should mow the lawn is about once a week. This will maintain a healthy lawn and still give you the look of a well-kept property. 

"Cut your lawn when it is over 3 inches long," Quinn advises. "Set your mower height to 3 to 3.5 inches to ensure that you're cutting it in a manner that allows for a strong root system and creates a healthier, thicker lawn. This will also reduce the number of times you have to water it. Cutting your grass below 2 inches creates a thinner lawn that will be more susceptible to damage from the summer sun."

In addition, it is highly advisable to not cut off more than a third of the grass blade's length at a time so as not to damage it.

Are riding mowers safe to use?

Riding mowers are designed to be safe if used properly, but they should be kept away from children. Most manufacturers recommend that children under 16 should not use them without adult supervision. Though these machines look fun and rather toy-like, they can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

"The center of gravity on most riding mowers is very high, so the chance of rollover is greatly increased," Quinn says. "The user should be aware of what types of hills could potentially cause a rollover." 

To avoid an accident on a hill, Quinn advises mowing perpendicular to the grade of the hill and avoiding cutting parallel to the grade. "In other words, cut uphill and downhill but not across," he says.

Most modern riding mowers are equipped with rollover safety devices that stop the spinning of the blades and shut off the mower as soon as a rollover occurs, or even if the operator stands up and leaves the seat. Another great feature in some riding mowers is a button that is located behind the driver that must be pushed in order to go in reverse.

 "The idea behind this is to create a habit within the operator to look over their shoulder before backing up so that you never go in reverse without looking," Quinn says.

Who We Are

This article was written by Kat de Naoum, who has over 10 years of commerce writing experience. Kat is also the Commerce Editor-at-Large at Thomas-Xometry, the leading US online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing. For this article, Kat researched and reviewed multiple riding mowers and considered factors such as each riding lawn mower's power, cutting deck width and height, speed, comfort, noise-level, durability, and value for money. She also consulted Don Quinn, who has over 30 years of experience handling riding lawn mowers and working on several farms.