Lawn Tractor Buyer's Guide
How to Pick the Perfect Lawn Tractor
Landscaping on wheels. Thats what lawn and garden tractors provide. If you're serious about having a professional looking lawn, then you need to move beyond a simple mower. At this level, mowing becomes just one task out of many that you need to perform.
Enter the lawn tractor, a heacy-duty machine that lets you handle whatever curveballs your lawn throws your way, from dethatching, to aerating, to snow plowing. Keep reading to learn about the different types of lawn tractors and how to pick one.
How to Choose a Lawn Tractor
When deciding what kind of lawn tractor is best for your yard, you should consider what you'll be using it for. If you just need it for some light mowing on a small yard, then an entry-level lawn tractor will work fine. However, if you want to use heavier attachments for aerating, dethatching, or even tilling, then you'll need either a mid-frade lawn tractor, or even a heavy-duty garden tractor.
Two important factors to consider when shopping for the perfect lawn tractor are the grade and the size of the tractor.
1. Select a Grade
Lawn tractors can be grouped into the following grades:
Entry-Level Lawn Tractor
Entry-level lawn tractors work best for mowing yards that are 1-1/2 acres or less. They have lower horsepower, single-cylinder engines which aren't really suited for mowing larger areas or pulling attachements.
Entry-level lawn tractors offer the option of gear-driven (manual) transmissions, which are fine if you have a few obstacles to mow around. A gear-driven transmission tends to be durable and trouble-free but doesn’t offer incremental speed control between the pre-set speeds.
Mid-Grade Lawn Tractors
Mid-grade lawn tractors provide greater power and versatility. They have twin cylinder engines, which offer more low-end torque and horsepower over a single cylinder engine and are a must if you intend to mow large areas or use any attachments on a regular basis.
Some tasks that mid-grade lawn tractors can perform with the proper attachements include aerating, dethatching, spraying, spreading, and even snow plowing during winter.
Mid-grade lawn tractors are designed with hydrostatic transmissions, which offer simple speed adjustments while driving. There are two hydrostatic transmission options: lever or pedal-operated. The pedal-operated option provides the most comfort and flexibility in speed. A hydrostatic transmission is much easier to operate and maintain than a manual transmission; just shift where you want to go and the machine takes you there.
Garden tractors are lawn tractors on steroids, capable of everything lawn tractors can do plus tilling, furrowing, towing heavier cart loads, and more. Their minimum 24 horsepower overhead valve engines give them the power to tow heavy-duty attachements.
They also include forged or cast iron axles, which are stronger and a good indicator of overall quality level. Finally, their larger back tires provide extra ground clearance and enhanced stability on slopes and inclines. However, if you're dealing with slopes greater than 15%, you should consider a tractor with a traction control system or locking rear differential.
|Horsepower:||15 - 24 HP||15 - 29 HP||24 - 29 HP|
|Cutting Width||38 - 54"||40 - 54"||42 - 54"|
|Transmission:||Manual / Hydrostatic / |
|Hydrostatic / Automatic||Hydrostatic / Automatic|
|Seat Type:||Low Back||Mid / High Back||Mid / High Back|
2. Select a Mower Deck Size
After choosing your lawn tractor grade, the second step is to choose a mower deck size. Deck size refers to the width of the cut on your tractor.
Use the following rules of thumb to estimate the proper deck size you will need based on acreage.
- 1 Acre = 36-42” Deck
- 1-2 Acres = 42-46” Deck
- 2+ Acres = 48”+ Deck
Following these recommended deck sizes will help ensure that your tractor mows your lawn in the most efficient way possible.
Mulching vs Bagging
Lawn and garden tractors can either mulch or bag your grass clippings.
- Mulching Kits plug the mower's discharge chute and cut the grass into fine, nutrient-rich clippings that are then distributed under the deck. Make sure your kit is the same size and brand as your tractor.
- Rear-mounted baggers collect grass clippings through a chute for disposal. Baggers come in either double-bag or triple-bag styles, depending on the tractor size. Again, choose the same brand to ensure compatibility.
Heavy-Duty Power for a Heavy-Duty Yard
A lawn or garden tractor make a statement that you're serious about your lawn. Most people mow their lawn and call it a day, but not you. You take pride in your yard, and the right tractor is a symbol of that pride.