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 your average walk-behind model (even a cordless lawn mower) and the vast improvement that a small riding lawn mower will bring to your weekend chore.
Small riding lawn mowers come with many updated features, drastically cut down on time, and take the effort out of mowing through thick grass. Small riding lawn mowers are a good (and fun) investment that you’ll be happy with. We’ve found these exceptional options that meet a variety of needs and budgets.
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1. Snapper Classic 28 inch 11.5 HP 344cc Rear Engine Riding Lawn MowerPros:
- Vertical stand on edge capability
- Disc drive transmission
- Powerful lawn clipping vacuum
- 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. Ryobi 38 inch 100 Ah Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn MowerPros:
- 3 brushless electric motors
- Charges using standard 120-volt outlet
- Up to 2.5 hours of runtime
- Bumpy ride
- Awkward forward/reverse toggle switch
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.
3. Snapper 360z 42 Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn MowerPros:
- 13 height adjustment levels
- Quality steel construction
- Great fuel economy
- 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!
4. Husqvarna Z242F 42 inch Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding MowerPros:
- Excellent turning radius
- Sturdy construction
- Removable floor panel make cleaning easy
- 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.
5. Ariens Edge 20 HP V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic 34 Inch Zero Turn Lawn MowerPros:
- Stamped Steel Deck
- Briggs & Stratton 20hp Intek engine
- Twin hydrostatic transaxles
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.
- Wet grass can clog up deck
- Requires even terrain to work properly
- Easy to scalp grass with quick turning
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.
6. Husqvarna TS 142 42 inch 18.5 HP Riding Lawn MowerPros:
- Reinforced cutting deck
- 10-year limited shell warranty
- Top of the line seat
- 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.
7. Simplicity Regent 42 Inch Riding Lawn MowerPros:
- Vibration free deck seat
- LED headlights
- Push button blade height adjustment
- 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.
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 lawn 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. Some riding mowers tackle hilly terrain like billy goats. Others have some challenges with how steep the slope may be.
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 yard type.
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.
What if I Don't Need a Small Riding Lawn Mower?
The market for power tools to use in your yard is very, very vast. There are cordless, gas-powered, and manual units to meet the needs of any homeowner.
We've got plenty of lists to look at depending on your preferences. Would you prefer a walk-behind cordless electric mower? No problem. Want to save some money on a lawn mower? No problem.
Speaking of cordless electric tools, all sorts of implements like leaf blowers and string trimmers are going electric and cutting the cord at the same time.
- Best Cordless Electric Mowers
- Best Cordless Leaf Blowers
- Best Cordless String Trimmers
- Best Lawn Mowers Under $300
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