questionswhat are the differences between riding mowers…

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Well, unless there's been some new revelation out there, those are all really the same thing, but aimed at different buyers. The real concerns are how much lawn you have to mow, and how much money you have to spend. Those two concerns need to meet somewhere, so here's some helpful hints on whether you even need one, and if so, which kind.

There are the zero-turn style mowers, which are worth every penny if you have a large and complicated yard. I have a smaller riding mower, and one of my considerations is who would be repairing and maintaining it. I bought from someone local, rather than a big box store, and have been pretty happy with mine (which is not zero-turn). Don't forget that you'll still probably want a walk behind of some kind or other, and you'll still need to edge, too.

Here's a nice consumer reports thing to get you started (but take their top choices with a grain of salt).

http://www.consumersearch.com/lawn-tractors

Back later.

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@shrdlu: Thank you for the link. That helps me rule out the zero-turn, as I have a very sloped yard with some rugged terrain (the back end of the property is part of a protected fish stream).

I will need to replace our walk behind mower as well as looking for a riding mower. Price and maintenance are not an issue, just quality and endurance.

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@theoneill555: Then you need to consider who is going to do the yearly maintenance, which is JUST as important as the quality of the mower. I have a Husqvarna, and I'm perfectly happy with it. In the Autumn, when it's time to quit mowing, it gets picked up, and stored, over the winter. They drain the gas, do an oil change, check the filters, and whatever other items need to be taken care of. One of the features it has that I like is that the engine stops if you get up off the seat.

John Deere was another brand I'd looked at, and would have had the same arrangements, but with a different group of people. I shop at the place I bought the mower far oftener. If you have a lot of beds, or other obstacles, then a walk behind is still essential, but you might try using a weed whacker first, to see if that could do the trick. I have an electric Craftsman mower, and it gives my neighbors great entertainment to see me with the 150 feet of extension cord.

[Continued]

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@theoneill555: I know you are all pretty mechanical, and if you already handle (or have one of your boys handle) the oil changes and similar items on your vehicles, this one's simpler to do. Parts are easy to order, and the biggest nuisance will be winterizing it (consists mostly of draining the gas).

I love having it stored somewhere else, and not in the way, even though I'd have plenty of room to do so. I don't keep it in the garage while I'm using it, either (and invested in an official blankie for it, to keep the dirt and the rain off). If you haven't had one before, be sure to buy from a place that will offer to help you get the hang of it, and let you practice a bit, before you take it home (or even buy it). This is yet another reason to buy from someone local, rather than the big box stores.

I liked having a service, but I do better work than they did.

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@theoneill55 If your land is truly rough, make sure you look at the mower in person and check the quality of the deck. It will be part that takes the most damage. Each bounce provides stress at a relatively few locations.

I believe you misunderstood shrdlu's comment about trimmers and push mowers. You'll probably want/need one regardless of the type of riding mower you get.

Zero-turn mowers are huge time savers, but provide a completely different feel. They also CAN put divots in your grass if you aren't careful.

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Although the terms have been used interchangeably, a riding lawn mower is technically only able to mow. A lawn tractor has a hitch usually and can perform other functions in addition to mowing, like pull a trailer.

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Those terms are basicly used to describe all mowers if you're shopping at a big box store. Garden/Lawn tractors usually have more horsepower. When shopping for a mower, quality is in direct proportion to cost. You can buy a mower that will last years if you want it to, but you'll pay for it. The usual dead give away for the cheap mowers is that they don't use a solid, cast iron front axle. If you have rough land to mow, go to a Deere or Exmark, etc. dealer and get a mower that will stand up to the use. They don't require as much maintenance as you might think, simple oil changes, air filters, that any power product dealer can do, it's not complicated at all. You'll pay more, but you'll have a mower that will be around for quite a while!

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Thanks, all. Thank heavens the oldest kid took small engine repair classes and actually paid attention in class, so no worries about maintenance.

@knollbert: No misunderstanding and thanks for the warning. We already have a four step yard maintenance system (big mower for most of the yard, a smaller mower for the tight areas, the weed wacker for the almost impossible to get to crevices in the large rocks and the edger). I am just needing to replace the smaller push mower also, as it is a 14 year old Craftsman with a hole in the deck. I will make sure that I check the decks on the riding mower for durability.

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Rear engine tractors are the basic riding mower. It'll cut your lawn fast and efficient. Their simplistic design and low riding deck make it easier to maneuver.

Lawn tractors are the most common riding mowers available. Their durable design, powerful engines and ability to add attachments, a lawn and garden tractor turns into a fully-functional, multipurpose, yard-sculpting tool. Though not the fastest tractor available, it provides the most for your money.

Zero-turn mowers are popular when looking to mow large areas of grass the fastest way possible.With speeds of up to 8 mph you can cut your grass in record time.Its ability to turn on a dime easily gets the rows on your lawn looking professionally done.Though zero-turn mowers are fast and agile, they do not perform as well on slopes and could slip due to their lack of capable tires.

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