Garden tractors and lawn tractors are generally much quicker at cutting a lawn than a push mower, but they are only worth the added expense if you have a large enough amount of grass that needs cutting. They cost a lot more to purchase, can require additional maintenance, and need a large space to house them when they are not in use.
The rest of this article will go into detail about the pros and cons of using a garden tractor, how they compare to a more traditional push mower, and what you can expect if you choose to use one in your own garden.
How Much More Does a Garden Tractor Cost Than a Push Mower?
The first thing to consider when you are looking at which mower is right for you is often the cost, and garden tractors are certainly on the more expensive end of the spectrum. An electric push mower might cost around $90 and a self-propelled gas-powered model closer to $500, but a ride-on mower can set you back $1000-$3000.
Is a Mower Worth the Cost at All?
If you care about the state of your lawn and want to keep it relatively neat and trimmed, having your own mower of any description will generally be a worthwhile investment. Paying a grass-cutting service can cost between $30 and $70 per visit, so most mowers will pay for themselves after a year or two.
Do I Need a Garden Tractor for My Lawn?
If you are looking to make your life easier, a ride-on mower can make a big difference but may not be worth it for a smaller lawn, or if you don’t have a big budget. A traditional push mower will manage 150m² relatively easily, but for cutting 2000m² or greater you will definitely benefit from a ride-on option.
Is a Garden Tractor Easy to Use?
Pushing your mower around on the grass can be very tiring, awkward, and time-consuming, so a ride-on mower can seem like an ideal easy option. Using a steering wheel and a gas pedal can make a garden tractor feel like driving a car, and the ability to reverse without having to drag the machine around is an added bonus.
Can a Garden Tractor Turn Easily?
One benefit of a traditional push mower is the ability to reposition it quickly and relatively easily, though it does require some manpower. A ride-on mower is not as precise, as they generally have a large turning circle and need to drive over previously cut grass to turn around, but are much easier to keep in a straight line.
Does a Garden Tractor Move Faster?
On average, a garden tractor travels at around 5mph, though this can change significantly depending on the make and model, but the benefit of a ride-on is in consistent speed over time. An electric push mower can move quickly, but garden tractors maintain their traction and speed as they travel, which allows for a cleaner cut.
Do Garden Tractors Work Well on Hills?
If your garden is uneven, or if you are trying to cut grass on a slope, a push mower can feel far too cumbersome and heavy. Garden tractors, on the other hand, are much more powerful and can climb steeper inclines with ease, where a push mower would be struggling to gain traction.
Do Garden Tractors Require a Lot of Maintenance?
To keep your garden tractor in good condition and to make the most out of the cost of purchasing one, you will need to maintain it well over time, which means changing the oil, sharpening the blades, and monitoring the engine. This is also true, however, for a gas-powered push mower, as only electric mowers are relatively maintenance-free.
Is the Cutting Width of a Garden Tractor Much Bigger?
One of the main benefits of using a ride-on mower is a wider cutting width, meaning you need fewer trips back and forth to get your lawn neatly trimmed. This only makes a difference if you have a large enough space in which to use it, but garden tractors do offer a much wider cut than push mowers.
Is Storage an Issue for a Garden Tractor?
You should consider the amount of available space that you have for storage when looking at purchasing a garden tractor. Where a push mower can be tucked away in the corner of a garage, or stored in a medium-sized shed, a garden tractor will need considerably more room, though they can be covered and kept outside.
Are All Ride-On Mowers Very Large?
If you are looking for a ride-on option that will allow you to drive through gateways and won’t take up too much room in the garage, there are more compact models available. Compact ride-on mowers with a rear engine can have a cutting deck of 66cm-77cm and take up much less room than a full-size garden tractor.
Are There Other Ride-On Options Available?
If you are looking to manage grass over particularly large areas, you might consider a zero-turn ride-on mower, which can rotate in 360º, so you don’t need to reverse backwards and forwards to get into corners. There are also front cut options that can reach under foliage more easily and have a particularly wide cutting deck.
Is a Garden Tractor Worth More than a Lawn or Yard Tractor?
When you are looking at the specifics of the different types of mowing tractors available, the garden tractor typically has the most power. Garden Tractors are also generally able to pull lawncare and gardening attachments as well, such as sprayers or spreaders, and can move snow or till soil too.
When is the Right Time to Buy a Garden Tractor?
If you choose to go for a more expensive mower, you want to consider the time of the year that you make your purchase. In the winter options are limited, and prices are more expensive in the spring, so you want to look for holiday deals in the summer, or preferably shop after September, when the prices come down.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.