If you have a yard that is a half acre or more in size, you will want to consider getting a riding lawn mower. There are many to choose from, so you will want to know what to look for before you go shopping. Safety issues should also be considered. This article will give you some guidelines to keep in mind.
One consideration when shopping for a riding mower is the cutting width. Widths can range from as little as 28 inches to as much as 60 inches. While it may seem that bigger is better, this isn't always the case. For example, if you have many shrubs, or lawn decorations like water fountains, bird baths, garden gnomes or lawn furniture, a large cutting width will simply be aggravating. Smaller cutting widths are good for yards that have many obstacles to go around. Larger cutting widths are best for wide open spaces.
Turning radius is another item to consider. Typical riding mowers have a turning radius of anywhere from 4 to 28 inches. Again, you will need to keep in mind what you have in your yard. If there are several obstacles to maneuver around a smaller turning radius will be very helpful.
Another possibility is a zero turn mower. Zero turns are the most efficient as far as speed and movement. Steering is also different, consisting of two steering handles that move the back wheels separately. This makes it possible for the mower to turn around in one place. Keep in mind that the popular zero turn mowers are more expensive. If your budget is tight and there isn't a real need for a zero turn, you can purchase a perfectly good standard riding lawn mower that has a wider turning radius for less money.
Engine horsepower can range from 12 to 25. Horsepower will determine the speed of mowing as well as how fast the blade turns on your mower. For the average homeowner, a horsepower of 20 should be sufficient.
Riding Lawn Mower Accessories
If you are going to invest in a riding lawn mower, you should get the most value from your investment. This is where accessories come into play. Here are a few accessories to consider:
- Mower cover--This should be your first purchase if you do not have a good place to store your mower, like a garden shed or garage. Protect your investment by protecting your mower.
- Tow-behind aerator--This can be a handy tool for aerating your lawn in the spring.
- Bagger--Great if you like to bag your lawn clipping, especially if you plan to compost them.
- Towing cart--If you need to transport several flats of seedlings or you are harvesting a pile of pumpkins, a towing cart will be a true back saver.
- Seed spreader--Are you seeding a new lawn or re-seeding your current lawn? A seed spreader will make your job easier.
- Lawn roller--If you are seeding a new lawn or laying sod, a lawn roller that attaches to your riding lawn mower will save time and reduce the chance of injury from manually pushing and pulling a heavy roller.
- Snow thrower or plow blade--Northern climates will appreciate an accessory that will save them from the back breaking chore of shoveling each winter.
A riding lawn mower is a wonderful labor saving tool but it is still important to respect safety when you are operating this or any other piece of machinery. Keep in mind:
- First, be sure the area that you will be mowing has been cleared of any debris like rocks, sticks and even children's toys.
- Always inspect your mower before you start to be sure the blade is sharp and undamaged, bolts are tight and the mower is fueled.
- While operating your riding lawn mower, wear hearing protection and safety glasses to protect you from objects that may be thrown from your mower's blades.
- Only allow adults to operate a riding lawn mower.
- If there is a grass clog, turn off the motor, wait for the blades to stop turning, before clearing it out.
- Never carry passengers.
- Keep children out of the area you are mowing. Objects thrown from the spinning blade of a riding lawn mower fly at 200 miles per hour. At this speed, even a small rock can be deadly.
Above all else, use common sense when operating a riding mower. Read the manual that comes with your mower, keep your mower properly maintained, and use it with care. Following these guidelines will assure that you will enjoy many years of use from your riding lawn mower.