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Choose the Best Lawn Mower for Your Yard Size

When homeowners start thinking about replacing their mowers, they usually look for something bigger and more reliable. It’s rare that I encounter a customer who is looking to downsize unless they are moving to a much smaller space.

You may have the correct size mower for your yard now, but maybe you don’t. Let me give you a few tips that will help you make the right decision.

The right lawn mower for your yard size is a push mower with 18″ – 36″ deck width for less than 1 acre, a riding mower or zero turn lawn mower with 36″ – 61″ deck width for 1 to 5 acres and a zero turn lawn mower with 42″ – 61″ deck width for over 5 acres.

YARD SIZELAWN MOWER TYPEDECK SIZE
Less than 1 acrePush Mower, Self Propelled
Walk Behind
18″ – 36″ Deck Width
1 to 3 acresRiding Mower, Zero Turn36″ – 42″ Deck Width
3 to 4 acresRiding Mower, Zero Turn42″ – 54″ Deck Width
4 acres and moreZero Turn Mower60″ – 72″ Deck Width

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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual prior to diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.

Items to Consider When Purchasing a Lawn Mower

Don’t cut yourself short, no pun intended, when it comes to lawn mowers. Look around and ask a lot of questions.

Mower Deck Size

  • The amount of acreage you mow will affect the deck size you need. Having over an acre to mow in a wide open area with a generally flat terrain leaves you the option to mow with a larger mowing deck.
  • Landscape beds, pools, and other obstacles need to be considered. Having a mowing deck that will run through tight areas and around obstacles without discharging grass into flower beds and other landscaping will save you time from having to remove grass from the beds.
  • Mowing time can be reduced when you are mowing larger areas. Getting the largest mowing deck you possibly can to cut down on time won’t necessarily save you over a slightly smaller mower deck because larger format decks can offer less mobility, especially in tighter areas.
  • Storage should also be considered. People get so caught up in getting a mower with a larger mower deck, that they fail to consider their storage options. If you plan on storing in your garage or in a storage shed make sure you measure the space and the opening so you’re sure you can accommodate the size.

Mower Deck Durability & Options

  • Determine whether the deck is a stamped deck or a fabricated deck. Stamped decks are lighter weight when compared to a fabricated mower deck.
    • Stamped Deck
      This deck is stamped out of a single piece of metal typically using thinner steel than a fabricated deck. Thinner quality steel is more likely to bend than a heavier gauge deck if impacted.
    • Fabricated Deck
      This deck is usually made with heavy gauge steel that is welded together. This makes the deck stronger and more durable.
  • Make sure the additional accessories you choose for your mower will fit your deck size. If you are choosing to add a mulch kit or bagger system to your mower, you’ll want to double-check to make sure the manufacturer of your deck has an option for your selected deck.

Engine Horsepower

Size of the Drive Pumps for Mowing Speed

The preferred mowing speed is about 4.5 miles per hour, but who really has that kind of time to waste especially if you have 5 or more acres to mow.

Accurate Blade Speed for How You Like To Mow

You want a fast blade tip speed for a good cut. 18,500 – 18,700 fpm (foot pounds per minute) is what the best lawn mower manufacturers are achieving on their lawn mowers.

Lawn Mower for 1/2 Acre & 1 Acre

Push Lawn Mower Features

If you have a small city-sized lot a push lawn mower may be a good fit for you. It is very easy to use, lightweight, and easy to maintain. A push mower may make good sense for because of these reasons:

Starting the Mower

Push lawn mowers are easy to start for most people. If you don’t have a lot of arm strength you may have some difficulty or you may want to look at an electric start function offered in a few models of push lawn mowers.

To start a push mower, you will have to set the choke or pump the primer bulb. Slowly pull the handle on the pull cord until you feel resistance and then pull quickly.

Engine Size

Engine Displacement of 125 – 160cc, approximately 3.0 – 4.7 HP

Mower Deck Sizes Available

17″ – 21″ Deck Options

Ease of Handing

The push mower is a small-format mower. It is pretty easy to maneuver as it is lightweight.

Speed Control

Push mowers do not have speed control. You will have to manually push this mower.

Price Range

$150 to $300

Additional Features Available

  • Front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive
  • Foldable handlebar for tighter storage spaces
  • Deck wash ports to add a garden hose to clean the underside of the mower deck
  • Bagger and mulch kit options for grass clippings
  • Multiple height adjustments

Recommended Push Lawn Mowers

PowerSmart
DB2194CR
Craftsman
M110
Craftsman M110 Lawn Mower
Engine: 170CC OHV GasEngine: 140CC Briggs and Stratton
21″ Deck21″ Deck
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.18 to 3.0 Inch
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.25 to 3.75 Inch
Warranty: 3 YearsWarranty: 2 Years
Additional Features:
Foldable Handle
Side Discharge
Additional Features:
Adjustable Loop Handle
Side Discharge, Mulch or Rear Bag Clippings
BUY NOW on AMAZONBUY NOW on LOWE’S

Self Propelled Walk Behind Lawn Mower Features

If you have a small lot under an acre and you want to splurge a little or you have up to a few acres of property to mow the self-propelled lawn mower may be right for you.

It offers the same simplicity of operation as a push mower with a few more levers to operate. The self-propelled mower will have a bit bigger engine and a belt system or transmission to drive the wheels.

Starting the Mower

Like the push lawn mowers, the self-propelled mower is easy to start for most people. If you don’t have a lot of arm strength you may have some difficulty with the pull cord. The good news is there are many options available with an electric start.

To start a push mower, you will have to set the choke or pump the primer bulb. Slowly pull the handle on the pull cord until you feel resistance and then pull quickly.

Engine Size

Engine Displacement of 150 – 350cc, approximately 4.2 – 12 HP

Mower Deck Sizes Available

21″ – 33″ Deck Options

Ease of Handing

The small format of a self-propelled lawn mower makes it easy to maneuver. The added benefit of a belt system or transmission system on this mower assists the operator with moving the lawn mower forward.

Speed Control

Self-propelled mowers come as single-speed or variable-speed lawn mowers. The variable speed option typically costs a little more than the single speed.

I personally went with the variable speed option because I want to be able to walk at my own pace and not at the pace set by the lawn mower.

Price Range

$300 to $1800

Additional Features Available

  • Adjustable Speed
  • Foldable handlebar for tighter storage spaces
  • Deck wash ports to add a garden hose to clean the underside of the mower deck
  • Bagger and mulch kit options for grass clippings
  • Multiple height adjustments
PowerSmart
PSS2020
Craftsman
M230
Craftsman PSS2020 Self Propelled Lawn MowrCraftsman M230 Self Propelled Lawn Mower
Engine: 170CC OHV GasEngine: 163CC Briggs and Stratton
20″ Deck21″ Deck
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.21 to 3.15 Inch
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.25 to 3.75 Inch
Warranty: 3 YearsWarranty: 2 Years
Additional Features:
Foldable Handle
11″ Rear Wheels
Side Discharge, Mulch or Rear Bag Clippings
Additional Features:
Deck Wash Port
11″ Rear Wheels
Side Discharge, Mulch or Rear Bag Clippings
BUY NOW on AMAZONBUY NOW on LOWE’S

Lawn Mower for 1 Acre to 5 Acres

When mowing lawns larger than one acre it is more efficient to use a riding mower or zero-turn lawn mower over continuing to use a push mower. Not only will it save you a lot of time, but it will be less exhausting when you can sit down and mow.

The way many people think today is everyone needs a riding mower. Homeowners buy a riding mower hoping to get the mowing down quicker so they have more free time for their family or hobbies.

The truth is a riding mower, known as a belly mower or garden tractor, is usually not as fast as you hope for. It is one of the slowest sit-down mower options because of its larger turning radius and slower speeds when compared to a zero-turn lawn mower.

There are major differences between zero-turn lawn mowers that are not often considered when buying one of these mowers.

There are a few major commercial mower companies out there that build a zero-turn mowers for residential use that are built with the same quality as their professional mower lineup and often times those companies have an entry-level mower that doesn’t come close to being a commercial mower.

Riding Lawn Mower Features

Starting the Mower

Key start ignition system

Engine Size

11.5 – 25.5 HP

Mower Deck Sizes Available

30″ – 54″ Deck Options

Ease of Handing

If you’re used to driving a car then a riding mower or garden tractor will be second nature to you since it uses a steering wheel to maneuver the mower.

The riding mower doesn’t have a 0-degree turning radius so you’ll have to make wider turns at the end of each row of mowing when turning around to make another cut.

Speed Control

Riding lawn mowers often use a foot pedal to control speed, but some models still utilize a speed lever near the dash.

Price Range

$1,400 to $4,000 online and at commercial big-box stores
$3,000 to $13,000 independent retail locations

Additional Features Available

  • Power Steering, mulch kits, and bagger systems are available on some riding lawn mowers.
Husqvarna
YTH18542
John Deere
E140 CARB
Husqvarna YTH18542 Riding Lawn MowerJohn Deere E140 Carb Riding Mower
Engine: 18.5HP Briggs and StrattonEngine: John Deere 22HP V-Twin
42″ Deck48″ Deck
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.5 to 4.0 Inch
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.5 to 4.0 Inch
Warranty: 3 Year LimitedWarranty: 2 Year Limited or 120 Hrs
Additional Features:
Max Forward Speed 5.5 mph
Max Reverse Speed 3.0 mph
Front Wheel Size: 15 Inches
Rear Wheel Size: 20 Inches
Fuel Tank: 2.5 Gallons
Turning Radius: 16 Inches
Additional Features:
Max Forward Speed 5.5 mph
Max Reverse Speed 3.2 mph
Front Wheel Size: 15 Inches
Rear Wheel Size: 20 Inches
Fuel Tank: 2.4 Gallons
Turning Radius: 18 Inches
BUY NOW on LOWE’SBUY NOW on LOWE’S

Zero Turn Lawn Mower Features

Starting the Mower

Most zero-turn mowers have a key start. You don’t have to worry about having the arm strength to pull-start the engine.

Engine Size

You will find engines in zero turns to range from 18 hp (horsepower) to 38 hp. Generally the greater the horsepower the more powerful the engine.

Keep in mind, if you are going to add a bagger system to your unit or any other accessory that utilizes the engine to power the unit, you will want to look at upgrading to a larger engine.

Not all engines are created the same. Every engine manufacturer out there has lower price point engines to help get lawn equipment to a price point a consumer can afford.

There are many differences between entry-level budget engines and commercial engines including component durability, air filter systems, and carburetors.

Mower Deck Sizes Available

Zero-turn mowers come in mower deck sizes from 36″ to 72″ decks. For extreme commercial usage, you can find zero turns with mower decks up to 96″.

Ease of Handing

Using the levers on a zero-turn takes a little getting used to, but with a little practice, you will be able to operate and make turns in your zero-turn like you’re a professional.

Speed Control

Most zero-turn mowers have a variable speed system where the speed can change with the push of the levers. A zero-turn mower operates at speeds greater than what is allowed with a riding mower.

Cost of Investment

You can find an entry-level residential zero-turn mower starting at around $3,000. The price of zero turns increases in excess of $13,000. The items that impact the price the most are the thickness of the steel, component durability, and engine size.

Additional Features

There are many additional accessories that can be added to a zero-turn mower including a mulch kit, bagger system, lights, and operator-controlled discharge chute. Some of these items are offered by the manufacturer and some items can be purchased with an aftermarket manufacturer.

Note: if you are looking for a bagger system, make sure you select a mower with a large enough engine to be able to support this system.

Read more about Choosing Between a Residential & Commercial Zero Turn

Entry Level Residential Zero Turn Mowers

John Deere
Z335E
Husqvarna
Z254
John Deere Z335E Zero TurnHusqvarna Z254 Zero Turn
Engine: 20 HP V-Twin John DeereEngine: 26 HP Kohler
Deck Cutting Width: 42″Deck Cutting Width: 54″
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.0 to 4.0 Inches
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.5 to 4.0 Inches
Fuel Capacity: 2.1 galFuel Capacity: 3.5 gal
Transmission: Dual HydrostaticTransmission: Hydrostatic
Speed:
7 mph Forward
3.5 mph Reverse
Speed:
6.5 mph Forward
3.2 mph Reverse
Warranty: 2 Year LimitedWarranty: 3 Year
Available Options:
Mulch Kit
Bagger System
Available Options:
Mulch Kit
Bagger System
BUY NOW on LOWESBUY NOW on AMAZON

Heavy Duty Residential Zero Turn Mowers

Exmark
Radius S-Series
RAS691GKA523
Kubota
400 Series
Z421KW-54
Exmark S-SeriesKubota Z421 Zero Turn Mower
Engine: Kawasaki FX691V 22 HP 726ccEngine: Kawasaki 24 HP 726cc
Deck Cutting Width: 52″Deck Cutting Width: 54″
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.5 to 5.0 Inches
Adjustable Cutting Depth
1.5 to 5.0 Inches
Fuel Capacity: 7 galFuel Capacity: 6.8 gal
Transmission: Hydrostatic
Dual Hydro-Gear ZT-3100
Replaceable Filters
Transmission: Hydrostatic
Dual Hydro-Gear ZT-3600
Replaceable Filters
Speed:
0-9 mph Forward
0-5 mph Reverse
Speed:
0-10 mph Forward
0-5 mph Reverse
Warranty: 2 Year LimitedWarranty: 3 Year
Available Options:
Mulch Kit
Bagger System
Operator Controlled Discharge
48″ and 60″ Deck Options
Available Options:
Mulch Kit
Bagger System
Operator Controlled Discharge
48″ and 60″ Deck Options
MORE INFO on EXMARK.COMMORE INFO on KUBOTAUSA.COM

Other Equipment Needed to Finish Lawn Care Project

There is not a mower on the market that will solve all of your yard-cutting needs so you may need these items to complete your yard care.

  • Weed whip/trimmer for trimming around your landscape, water features
  • Push Mower for those hard-to-reach spots
  • Blower for cleaning grass clippings off of sidewalks and driveways. It’s also good for cleaning debris off your lawn mower to keep it clean.