While our guide to the best lawn mowers on the market in Australia includes one ride on mower and one lawn tractor, it doesn't delve too deeply into what the difference is and why you might want one over the other. You may think that something you sit on and cut grass is the same as something else you sit on and cut grass. But you'd be wrong.
A look at the price tag of a ride on mower and a lawn tractor should be enough to convince you there is a big difference. The former is usually much cheaper than the latter, so it stands to reason that it doesn't do quite as much.
However, if your yard isn't that huge and you just want something you can cut the grass on in comfort, then a ride on mower might be just up your street. Riding mowers have their cutting deck under the front, whereas lawn tractors boast a mid-mounted cutting deck. That is the basic difference.
The former offers a greater degree of manoeuvrability, meaning you can whiz around bushes with ease, while the lawn tractor has the option of towing trailers and other equipment. You can also remove the cutting deck in the case of lawn tractors and stick on a snow thrower during the winter months.
Riding mowers have a cutting width of around 30 inches (76 centimetres), while a lawn tractor can cut up to 48 inches (121cm) of grass.
In other words, if you have a smaller yard and just want something to cut the grass, then a ride on mower is more affordable and is probably the best option for you.
If you have more ground to cover and require a greater degree of comfort while mowing the lawn (a good idea if you're going to be sitting on it for longer periods of time), then a lawn tractor is probably the right choice.
The riding mower exists to cut grass - that's it. The lawn tractor is a more versatile tool. It will have room for car like comforts such as cup holders and the seat is more comfortable meaning that it's designed for longer working hours - in short, working on bigger areas.
It stands to reason that the ride on mowers are generally smaller than the lawn tractors, so if storage room is an issue, then a riding mower may be your best bet.
It is worth remembering the prices for the higher end ride on mowers and the lower end lawn tractors do overlap - you really do get what you pay for in these instances.
Lawn tractors are, of course, more powerful than riding mowers. This means that they are not as simple to control, but are quicker when you have a large lawn area to cover or when you simply want to get from one part of a large farm property to another. Unless you own a massive property you probably wouldn't own a lawn tractor, even then you might just call in a professional garden maintenance company.
The basic questions you need to answer when deciding between the two are:
- How big is the space you need to mow?
- Do you have bushes or trees you need to manoeuvre around?
- How long are you going to be sat on the machine?
- Do you need to pull a trailer or to add a snow thrower?
- What cutting width do you require?
- What is your price range?
Answer these six questions and you should be able to decide which machine is best for the job you want it to do.