If you're looking to buy a riding mower, other than a ZTR, you have two basic options: a lawn tractor and a garden tractor.
They both cut grass, but that's where the similarities end. The decision is actually about all the other chores around your yard.
If you're primarily looking to cut grass and perform light yard work, a lawn tractor will serve you well.
If you also want to use your tractor for heavy-duty, earth-moving chores like tilling and cultivating, you'll want to step up to a garden tractor.
Take a look at the comparison chart below to see the differences between garden and lawn tractors:
Lawn tractors are lighter duty than garden tractors, featuring lower torque transmissions, less horsepower, and smaller rear tires.
Lawn tractors pack enough punch to tow light carts and spreaders. Plus, they can be converted into snow plows or snow blowers in the winter. They're even effective at handling advanced lawn work, such as aerating, dethatching, spraying, and spreading.
For added traction and stability on uneven terrain, you should look for a lawn tractor with locking rear differential. While you won't have the same forward speed, the stability you gain on slopes will be well appreciated.
Garden tractors are like a beefed-up version of a lawn tractor, capable of more heavy-duty ground engaging jobs. They're capable of tilling, furrowing, towing heavier cart loads, and even plowing dirt and snow.
Garden tractors all have at least 24 horsepower engines, capable of towing heavy-duty attachments. They also include larger back tires for extra ground clearance. These larger wheels also provide enhanced stability on slopes and inclines. However, if you're using it on slopes greater than 15%, you should consider a tractor with a traction control system or locking rear differential.
Mulch or Bag?
Another option for disposing of grass clippings is a bagger. Rear-mounted baggers suck cut grass from the blades, through a chute to the collection bags.