Having a lawn on your property adds considerably to the beauty of your house, especially if it follows the natural contours and slopes of the ground. A gently sloping landscape can significantly enhance the overall appearance of your house and property. However, maintaining the lawn yourself can be very exasperating, if not difficult, especially, if you don’t have the proper equipment. One of these pieces of equipment is the lawn mower. There are at least five types of lawn mowers that are currently available on the market. They include the original manually-pushed reel mowers, the very popular powered lawn mowers, the ride-on lawn mowers, the hover mowers, and the robotic lawn mowers.
As modern lawns increase in size, the demand for the ride-on or riding lawn mowers has grown significantly over the years. Moreover, lawn owners are looking for mowers that are easier to operate and maintain. As a matter of fact, as you grow older, you would find mowing lawn a very tiring task, and you would need a machine that you could ride on as you mow the lawn. The ride-on lawn mower has its operator seated above the rear wheels. Some riding mowers look like small tractors, while others look like standers on steroids with a seat.
Here are some important factors to consider when buying a Ride-on Lawn Mower:
1) Lawn Conditions
Before purchasing any expensive piece of machinery, you need to know, understand, and consider some essential factors in order to select the most suitable riding lawn mower for your needs. First of these factors that you need to consider is the landscape condition where the mower will be used. This landscape condition includes the size of the lawn, the slope angle, and the turning radius that is needed for trees and plants that populate the landscape.
The size of the lawn is significant as it also dictates the size and type of mower that you need to use. For lawn sizes, less than 10,000 square feet (929 square meters), a cheaper type of lawn mowers like the manual reel mower or a walk-behind powered lawn mower is a more practical solution for your lawn-mowing needs. For medium-sized lawns with sizes between 10,000 and 14,000 square feet (929 – 1,300 square meters, respectively), a large heavy-duty walk-behind self-propelled lawn mower or a small riding mower is the best choice. For big lawns that measure from 15,000 square feet (1,394 sqm) to 5-6 acres (2-2.2 hectares), a heavy-duty riding mower to a compact tractor with category zero (Cat-0) implement is required.
3) Slope Angle
Another important lawn condition that needs careful consideration is the angle of slope. Mowing angled ground can be very challenging, especially on an uphill climb. Many riding lawn mower models are limited to slopes not more than 15 degrees, especially, those with front-mounted engines. Front-engined lawn mowers’ designs are susceptible to toppling over due to its high center-of-gravity. Riding mowers with rear-mounted engines have the lower profile and center-of-gravity (CoG) that make them less prone to overturn. Any slope with the inclination greater than 15 degrees, requires a walk-behind powered mower with very low CoG to prevent the machine from overturning.
Most medium-sized lawns or backyards have at least a couple of trees that dot their landscapes. Trees can significantly enhance the appearance of a lawn and provide a right shade for blocking harsh sunlight. However, mowing grass around a tree trunk can be tricky when using a ride-on lawn mower for most of these machines have large turning radii. The most suitable mowers for mowing lawns with multiple trees are the zero-turn mowers.
Zero-turn or ZTR mowers are capable of maneuvering by pivoting on their axis. This turning action is due to the use of hydrostatic gear transmission that can turn the drive wheels independently of each other. ZTR mowers are characterized by the absence of the steering wheel and on its place are two driving levers or handles that act as throttle and/or brakes. Steering is achieved by pushing one lever forward and pulling the other rearward. Pushing both levers forward can initiate a forward movement while pulling the levers can reverse or stop the wheel movement.
Features That Every Ridding Lawn Mower Must Have For Mowing On Hill
A hilly terrain has its own intrinsic beauty when it comes to landscaping. The slope of the ground adds to the overall elevation of the house. Likewise, it provides a commanding view of the surrounding areas. However, it is difficult to mow the grass on the slopes of the ground, especially, with the use of incorrect equipment. It can be very dangerous as well. In order to zero in on the best ride-on lawn mower that you can use to mow a hilly or sloped property, it is important to remember the following features that a lawn mower should have:
1) Rear Wheel Drive
When it comes to mowing grass on uneven terrain or slope, it is important to note that rear-wheel drive has far better capabilities than that of a front- or all-wheel-driven lawn mowers. A riding mower with front-wheel drive may perform well on level ground but not on the sloping ground. All-wheel-drive mowers feature four similar-sized tires, but due to their smaller diameter, their tires tend to slip their grip on the slopes.
2) Center of Gravity
As mentioned above, ride-on lawn mowers with rear-mounted engines are more suitable for uneven grounds. This is due to the location of their centers-of-gravity (CoG). The CoG is the hypothetical point within the vehicle wherein the vehicle’s weight is concentrated. It is very important that the CoG resides very low within the mower. Mowers with front-mounted engine tend to have higher CoG that makes the mower unstable on a slope.
3) Traction and Stability
When mowing on slopes, rear wheel-driven riding lawn mowers provide better traction than the front- or all-wheel-drive machines. Most rear-wheel-driven ride-on mowers have larger rear wheels that provide better traction. This is accomplished due to the total area of the tire that is always in contact with the ground. Moreover, traction and vehicle stability are heightened as the mower’s profile gets lower.
4) Cutting Deck Size
Having a large cutting-deck size can be very advantageous in mowing the unobstructed lawn. The wide cutting deck also adds to the riding mower’s stability on uneven terrain. However, riding mowers with large cutting decks can be a disadvantage if the ground is dotted by trees. Riding mowers with front steering have limited turning radius. Moreover, the narrowness of the space between the tree trunks can limit the mowers movement. For tree-dotted landscapes, a smaller deck sized mower like a self-propelled stander is the more appropriate equipment. But, with the introduction of the hydrostatic transmission, it has become possible for riding mower to steer around tree trunks and other obstructions.
5) Ease of Operation
At present, there are several brands and designs of ride-on lawn mowers competing on the market. Most brands advertise and claim better qualities and features of their machines. This type of slanted advertising leads to not better choices on the part of the consumers that they would later regret. Consumers sometimes would discover the weaknesses of their choices too late. Such weaknesses include the ease of operation, maintenance, and after-sales support like service warranty and spare parts availability.
In most cases, buyers’ disappointments focus mainly on two design flaws, namely: the “not user-friendly” operation and the difficulty in maintenance. To avoid such troubles, it is important for the prospective buyer to read reviews and learn more about the machine before shelling out their hard-earned money for a particular brand or model.
For slopes of about 15 degrees of inclination, the best riding lawn mower should be of a rear-wheel drive along with rear-mounted engine and hydrostatic transmission. Additionally, a wide-cutting deck is also necessary. These features, when combined together in a lawn mower, would surely produce an optimal performance on the part of the lawn mower and better handling when operating on hilly terrain.
Moreover, when buying expensive machines like a ride-on lawn mower, the most important consideration is the budget. Hence, you need to ask the question: “Do you really need it?” If you do, you should again ask yourself if the machine you want to buy is worth its price? Don’t fall victim to sweet deals or compelling advertisements. Engage in research about the equipment, the manufacturer, and its after-sales support. Lastly, test drives the machine before buying it.