11 Best Small Riding Lawn Mowers: Your Easy Buying Guide

Best Small Riding Lawn Mowers

123rf.com (Bogda Mircea Hoda)

If it’s time to mow the lawn and you’re thinking of how to get out of doing it, you should consider stepping up your game! There is simply no comparison between a typical walk-behind model and the vast improvements a small riding lawn mower will bring to taking care of your yard.

These incredible small mowers include many updated features, drastically cut down on time, and take the effort out of mowing through thick grass. Small riding lawn mowers are a fun investment that you’ll be happy you made. We’ve found these exceptional 11 options for a variety of needs and budgets.

What Are the Best Small Riding Lawn Mowers in 2020?

Snapper 28 inch Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • User friendly controls
  • Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Simple to operate
Price: $1,799.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • 7-speed system
  • Mows in reverse
Price: $2,060.28 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Ryobi 38 inch 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Modern look
  • Clean sustainable power
  • Quiet operation
Price: $3,863.42 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Snapper 360z Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 23HP engine
  • Quick mow speed
  • Big fuel tank
Price: $2,799.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Husqvarna 42 Inch Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great maneuverability
  • Easy to start
  • Plenty of power
Price: $2,789.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Ariens Edge 34 Inch Zero Turn Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Good gas consumption
  • Durable construction
  • Comfortable seat
Price: $3,099.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Husqvarna TS142 42 Inch Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy to use
  • Reliable
  • Premium model
Price: $2,289.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Simplicity Regent 42 Inch Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy start feature
  • Great motor
  • Quiet operation
Price: $2,599.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Craftsman E225 42-Inch 56V Electric Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Steel cutting deck
  • No gasoline or oil needed
  • 56V battery and charger included
Price: $3,499.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great entry level riding lawn mower
  • Made and tested in USA
  • Compact size
Price: $1,345.36 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34 Inch Riding Lawn Mower Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Powerful engine
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good fuel economy
Price: $2,136.24 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Snapper Classic 28 inch 11.5 HP 344cc Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Vertical stand on edge capability
    • Disc drive transmission
    • Powerful lawn clipping vacuum
    Cons:
    • Tight blade operation lever spring
    • Weak axle pins
    • Brake and throttle cables wear out easily

    Small but mighty, the Snapper Classic Rear Engine Riding Mower is perfect for the homeowner who can get by with a walk-behind lawn mower but may be looking for a machine to reduce time doing it. This small riding lawn mower features a straight forward design that offers easy-to-reach controls and a convenient 5-speed shift-on-the-go disc drive system. The 11.5 hp Briggs & Stratton Power Built 4-Cycle OHV Engine provides an excellent size-to-power ratio. The Snapper Classic is the smallest riding mower on our list however its utilitarian build and simple nature could be the best choice for the average homeowner.

    It uses its size to a clear advantage. It can get between trees and around other obstacles easily. The Snapper steers easily and shifting on the fly with eh disc drive transmission works very well. Shifting into reverse and mowing backward is a breeze. Visibility while mowing is good; it’s very easy to get a bearing on what you are trying to get close to. This mower also has a really great feature: the ability to be stored vertically in your garage or shed to reduce space or to make deck maintenance simple.

    The Snapper Classic does what it was designed to do, cut grass, very well. The procedure for engaging the blade for mowing is a bit awkward the first few times out but becomes second nature soon enough. Changing the mowing height is easy to do. And if you have changing elevation, this small riding lawn mower takes it on like a little red billy goat. It mulches better than most walk-behind mowers and, with the additional single bag collector, sucks up to 6.5 bushels of grass like a vacuum.

    If you are looking for a fun little riding mower, this one may be for you.

  2. 2. Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Cup holder
    • Automatic headlights
    • Good for up to two acres
    Cons:
    • Infrequest reports of missing pieces upon delivery
    • Seat is a little high and slippery
    • No anti-scalp wheels on mower deck

    Troy-Bilt makes some fine mowers and the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower is no exception.  In the last couple of years, Troy-Bilt has gone from names like “Horse” and “Pony” to “Bronco” and “Mustang” but don’t let the marketing fool you: this little buckaroo will make your next lawn mow feel like you’re riding the open prairie.

    This small riding lawn mower features a 42-inch side discharge mowing deck and foot-controlled hydrostatic transmission for smooth transitions from forward to reverse. No more clutching and shifting between ground speed ranges! The Pony 42 features a 439cc Troy-Bilt engine that will make your landscaping maintenance quick and easy.

    For easier access getting on and off the tractor, the Step-Thru frame provides a larger open area between the seat and control panel. The multiple position deck height adjustment provides five different cutting-height options to fit your lawn care need of choice. The Ponx 42X also features a rear hitch for attachments, automatic headlights for increased visibility and a two-year limited warranty.

    Another great feature is the integrated deck wash system that makes cleaning the underside of your mower a breeze. Simply hook up a garden hose, turn on the spigot and that’s it! With all of the options listed above along with the rugged look and feel, the Troy-Bilt Pony 42X Riding Lawn Mower is a great choice for your ranch…er…yard.

  3. 3. Ryobi 38 inch 100 Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • 3 brushless electric motors
    • Charges using standard 120-volt outlet
    • Up to 2.5 hours of runtime
    Cons:
    • Bumpy ride
    • Awkward forward/reverse toggle switch
    • Expensive

    Sustainability is a real (and responsible) topic these days and Ryobi is one of the pack leaders with their line of rechargeable electric home and yard equipment. Powered by 100Ah Lead Acid Batteries 2.5 hours of run time, the Ryobi 38 inch 100 Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower is a green alternative to traditional gas riding mowers. It comes equipped with 38 in. 2-Blade Deck and 12 Position Manual Deck Adjustment to get a clean, level cut on your lawn.

    What might be the best feature of the Ryobi small riding lawn more is the lack of noise it provides while cutting the grass. It emits only 70 dB during operation making it extremely quiet. Imagine mowing the lawn in the early morning without waking up the neighbors! The Ryobi 38 inch 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower also comes equipped with LED headlights, USB phone charger, and cruise control.

    This is one small riding lawn more that makes mowing as efficient and convenient as possible. And it looks great while doing it, too.

  4. 4. Snapper 360z 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • 13 height adjustment levels
    • Quality steel construction
    • Great fuel economy
    Cons:
    • Too small for the price
    • Seat angle could be better for longer cutting sessions
    • Reports of bad solenoid issues

    The Snapper 360z 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower is an enormous step up from your standard walk-behind lawn mower. This machine is commercially inspired but never feels like it during operation.

    The 12-gauge welded steel frame and thick-walled front axle provide a more even surface cut even when mowing over uneven terrain and tough landscapes. The cutting deck is strong, durable, and a decent size for maneuvering in and out of those tight-spaced areas in your yard. The deck floats with 2 anti-scalp wheels to prevent scalping over any high spots during mowing.

    This small riding lawn mower features a foot pedal operated commercial style deck lift system which you can use to simply adjust the height of the cutting deck through its 13 (!) different cut height positions from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. This model also has ball bearings in the caster spindles, reducing friction during extended periods of mowing over rougher terrain. The engine is quiet and provides good fuel efficiency with a large tank.

    The Snapper 360z 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower has all the bells and whistles you need to make your lawn mowing fast and fun!

  5. 5. Husqvarna Z242F 42 inch Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

    Pros:
    • Excellent turning radius
    • Sturdy construction
    • Removable floor panel make cleaning easy
    Cons:
    • Not great on hills
    • May scalp uneven terrain
    • Blade height settings too low

    Performance and style define the Husqvarna Z242F 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower. Slick design, historical performance, and innovative features make lawn mowing an event rather than a chore! 

    The 18 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and smooth, reliable power. Electric start is standard. The hydrostatic transmission allows the user to take on a variety of cutting conditions, speeds, and shifting on the fly. It also means less maintenance and on top of that, Husqvarna provides a limited three-year warranty.

    The parking brake system automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved outward or inward for safety. The “ClearCut” deck features a deep cutting design, is welded instead of stamped, allows for consistent air-flow, and cuts down on chassis flex. Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged although the mulching kit and bagger attachment are sold separately. The control panel and steering levers are quite ergonomic, making operation simple and efficient. And did I mention the cup holder?

    Husqvarna is known for proven quality (I personally love the orange color used across their product line) and the Z242F 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower continues that trend. 

     

    VideoVideo related to husqvarna z242f 42 inch hydrostatic zero turn riding mower2020-05-04T14:26:45-04:00

  6. 6. Ariens Edge 20 HP V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic 34 Inch Zero Turn Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Stamped Steel Deck
    • Briggs & Stratton 20hp Intek engine
    • Twin hydrostatic transaxles
    Cons:
    • Wet grass can clog up deck
    • Requires even terrain to work properly
    • Easy to scalp grass with quick turning
    Ariens stopped manufacturing its Zoom series of zero-turn radius mowers in favor of the introduction of its Edge series. I’m happy to write that this small riding lawn mower is packed with premium features at a decent value. Ariens lawn mowers are fabricated by Husqvarna these days and I’ve been a fan of their line of equipment for a long time. Quality isn’t sacrificed here.
     
    Its 20 hp Briggs and Stratton V-Twin engine and 34 inch stamped steel deck with a four-point hanging system provide consistent lawn cutting performance. The Ariens Edge has good power and solid construction all around. Twin EZT hydrostatic transaxles deliver responsive control with speeds of 6 MPH. Reverse speed tops out at 3 MPH.
    • The compact design can fit through a standard gate and not take up all your garage or shed space. The high back seat with natural airflow is a must; ask anyone who has had to use a riding lawn mower with an uncomfortable seat for longer than 20 minutes. The Ariens Edge offers a foot-operated deck lift for seven height adjustments with the slide of a lever. This model could handle larger plots of acreage but the Edge is ideal for smaller yards and homeowners looking to upgrade their mowing experience to a zero-turn mower.

     

    VideoVideo related to ariens edge 20 hp v-twin dual hydrostatic 34 inch zero turn lawn mower2020-05-04T16:39:10-04:00

  7. 7. Husqvarna TS 142 42 inch 18.5 HP Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Reinforced cutting deck
    • 10-year limited shell warranty
    • Top of the line seat
    Cons:
    • Expensive because of the premium options
    • Not fuel economic
    • Number of features limited but ones present are high quality

    The Husqvarna TS 142 42-inch Riding Lawn Mower is an efficient, compact-sized tractor specifically designed for homeowners who want a small riding lawn mower that is comfortable to operate, easy to start, and just a little bit of luxury. 

    Most small lawn tractors attempt to bridge the gap between mowing small lawns and clearing large fields. As a result, most of them end up not really pleasing anyone completely. The Husqvarna TS 142 knows its place: a low duty tractor for occasional use in mid-sized gardens. It has been designed from the turf up as a highly dependable and comfortable suburban riding lawn mower. This model has everything you’d want in a premium machine: hydrostatic transmission, 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine, reinforced cutting deck reinforced with heavy flat-stock steel (with a 10-year warranty!), and beefy tires with loads of traction.

    But what the TS 142 excels at are the details that make you exclaim, “Whoa!” The top-of-the-line deluxe seat is extra cushioned for enhanced comfort with joined premium vinyl and stitched design. The manual blade engagement is conveniently located on the dash. Speed and direction are managed by foot pedals. The steering wheel is ergonomically positioned and cushioned.

    It simply looks and feels good and makes no bones about the fact that when it’s time to cut that small to medium lawn, that someone is going to do it in style.

  8. 8. Simplicity Regent 42 Inch Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Vibration free deck seat
    • LED headlights
    • Push button blade height adjustment
    Cons:
    • High fuel consumption
    • Not as durable as other riding lawn mowers
    • Needs more traction for hills

    Simplicity Manufacturing is a company that manufactures the Snapper brand of lawn equipment as well as their own name brand. After doing more research on this particular small riding lawn mower, I found more loyalty for Simplicity than any other brand I looked at. Owners of Simplicity lawn mowers have used them for several years or more and are fierce in their support for the brand.

    The Simplicity Regent 42 inch Riding Lawn Mower features a number of options that may explain the loyalty including a free-floating mower deck with full-width rear rollers. The manufacturer claims a “scalp-free” cut and the ability to “create ballpark lawn stripes”. As a baseball fan, I loved that bit of marketing! Briggs & Stratton provides the 724cc engine here however the speed tops out at 5.5 MPH, slower than other models at that size.

    The agenda of the Simplicity Regent is fairly simple: endurance, power, and comfort. LED headlights are a plus as is the push-button blade height adjustment on the console. The contoured seat is a bonus as well.

    This small riding lawn mower looks like what most people would expect of an average engine-front riding tractor. It’s not going to win any beauty contests but that’s not the point. This little lawn tractor will cut through the thickest vegetation without breaking a sweat.

    VideoVideo related to simplicity regent 42 inch riding lawn mower2020-05-04T17:31:52-04:00

  9. 9. Craftsman E225 42-Inch 56V Electric Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • Battery is 30Ah that delivers up to an hour of cutting time
    • Battery provides full power until drained; no power fade
    • Foot pedal control for shifting between forward and reverse
    Cons:
    • Slower speeds may feel a little jerky
    • Charger can get very hot while charging the battery
    • Tough to get parts and local service if things go wrong

    There are a lot of reasons why it’s exciting to live in the 21st Century. The Craftsman E225 42-Inch 56V Electric Riding Lawn Mower is one of those reasons. Here is a full-sized riding lawn mower with a 42-inch steel deck that runs not on gasoline but with a 56V 30Ah rechargeable battery with up to an hour of runtime. You may find that when you receive this riding lawn mower that it’s the easiest assembly of a power tool that you’ve ever handled. 

    This small riding lawn mower is actually pretty big. The battery is housed in the front compartment where you would expect a gas-powered engine to go. Once you install the front number and charge the battery, you’re free to cut the grass. A quick press and hold of the start button, a beeping sound, and you’re off. Press the accelerator pedal and it takes off!

    The Craftsman E225 runs quiet than a golf cart. The bearings and joints are well designed resulting in a smooth, quiet ride. The blades are attached to independent motors with (this is the best part!) no belts to worry about. This small riding lawn mower can cut through high grass with no issue. This mower can cut a half-acre of six-inch-high grass with ease. A safety override switch allows for cutting in reverse, too.

    When you’re finished, unplug the battery and insert it into the charger. Cordless electric lawn mowers have come a long way. Who would have thought a 42-inch riding lawn mower could work this well on a battery? Apparently Craftsman did.

  10. 10. Troy-Bilt Neighborhood Rider Riding Lawn Mower

    Pros:
    • 382cc Troy-Bilt single cylinder engine with electric start
    • 30 inch cutting width with adjustable height
    • 6-speed transmission
    Cons:
    • Awkward gear shift placement
    • Low traction on foot-rest area
    • Flat land use only

    If you’re looking for a compact, entry-level riding mower perfect for smaller lawns then look no further. The Troy-Bilt 30-inch Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower couples the benefits of a standard riding lawn mower with the size of a wide cut walk behind mower. This small riding lawn mower is ideal for standard land owners with a medium sized landscape and relatively even terrain. 

    With a powerful 382cc OHV engine and a 1.3-gallon fuel tank with a sight window, this machine is built to last and provide clean performance. This mower features a 5 height adjustable blade with manual power take-off for easy and fast blade engagement. The seat raises to mid-back for added comfort and the steering wheel is a 13-inch soft grip wheel. 

    Made and tested in the USA, the Troy-Bilt 30-inch Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower comes with a 2-year warranty and a price point designed for those with an eye on their budget who still want a similar quality of cut as more expensive options.

  11. 11. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Lawn Mower with 34-Inch Deck and 452cc Engine

    Pros:
    • Easy to operate
    • Rugged design
    • Simple 8-position blade height adjustment
    Cons:
    • Has trouble with mowing damp grass
    • Turning quickly could harm lawn
    • No floating cutting deck

    The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34 is a compact zero-turn mower with enough power to tackle any lawn. The large 452 cc Troy-Bilt engine, dual hydrostatic transmission, and reinforced heavy-duty frame, this small riding lawn mower will give you durable performance for years. Its compact size fits through a standard 36-inch gate easily and is easy to store in the garage or shed. The lap bar steering control provides for a quick mow with the same legroom and high-back seat and comfort as larger mowers. The controls feature an integrated parking brake to safely stop the mower quickly.

    It is perfect for smaller yards with trees or obstacles. The zero-turn ability on a small riding lawn mower is a plus, allowing for maneuverability in tight spaces. There have been some online reports of lawn damage when turning in too tight a radius too quickly or with steep curves or hills so caution is recommended. 

    The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34 features an 8-position height adjustment from 1.25 in. to 3.75 in. high, the ability to mow in reverse, and a garden hose deck attachment for easy cleaning after each mow. This riding mower includes a limited lifetime frame warranty on the frame and a 2-year limited/120-hours warranty on the other components. Optional attachments like a rear bagger or mulch kit provide additional versatility.

Why Do I Need A Small Riding Lawn Mower?

There's a right tool for every job and that statement couldn't be more true when it comes to mowing the lawn. Don't ruin your brilliant summer day by using the wrong mower! If you have a medium yard or larger, push mowers may not be the best option when it comes to medium to larger lawns. Your best answer to quick and easy lawn care is a small riding lawn mower.

If you have more than a 1/4-acre to take care of, there are many great benefits to owning a small riding lawn mower (also called lawn tractors) including efficiency, convenience, and time savings. You've got better things to do than mow the lawn, right?

What Kinds of Small Riding Lawn Mowers Are Available?

There are a wide variety of sizes and models when it comes to mowers: rear-engine riding mowers, zero-turn mowers, and light-duty lawn tractors. They typically begin at a 30-inch cutting width on the small end and top out at 48 inches. If you're taking care of more than two acres, you should look at a larger riding lawn mower than 48 inches.

What Should I Look for In A Small Riding Lawn Mower?

It really comes down to what type of yard you have to take care of. Size, terrain, elevation, and climate all have unique demands on your landscaping time. Make sure to choose a small riding lawn mower that makes sense for your property. You probably don't need more than a 36-inch cutting width for your typical suburban yard but that's up to you. Any small riding mower will cut down on mowing time significantly.

Do you have hills to take care of? Make sure to look at the reviews posted here as well as those online. Zero-turn lawn mowers are great with obstacles and tight spaces but may not handle changing terrain well. Is your lawn smooth and even or are there bumps and divots? Look at the cutting decks of each unit to make sure the machine you're looking at can handle your particular terrain.

Of course there's your budget to consider as well! Plan on spending at least $1,500 on the low end for a small riding lawn mower that meets your needs. Bargains can be had depending on the time of year and how many of the previous year's models are still available.

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