The five top riding lawn mowers come from the most trusted names in yard equipment. These include Troy-Bilt, John Deere, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna and Toro. Many of these are very affordable while others can handle the roughest terrain.
There are many great riding lawn mowers and it was difficult to decide which ones are at the top. However, the ones listed below are some of the most popular among homeowners and independent contractors.
- Most Affordable & Readily Available: Troy-Bilt 30 Inch Riding Mower
- Best Riding Mower for Rough Terrain: John Deere E120
- Best Compact Riding Mower: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT
- Most Powerful & Durable Riding Mower: Husqvarna YTH18542
- Best Riding Mower for Large Swaths of Land: Toro TimeCutter 75754
Most Affordable & Readily Available: Troy-Bilt 30 Inch Riding Mower
While most riding mowers can easily cost in excess of $1,000, this one from Troy-Bilt is only around $1,500. It has a 30-inch mowing deck with a 382cc single-cylinder rear engine that comes in six speeds. It includes a mulching kit and powered with gas.
The rear engine gives you a better view on turns from the front and is easy to maneuver around obstacles like huge rocks and trees. You can pull a sprayer or cart and choose to discharge mulch from the side as you mow.
However, it’s only best for flat terrain because of the auto-choke feature on the engine. It will struggle over hills and rocky gravel.
|Sold almost everywhere you can find riding mowers
|Small cutting deck
|Only good with flat terrain
|Can haul a cart or sprayer behind
Best Riding Mower for Rough Terrain: John Deere E120
For the smoothest operation and ride over the roughest terrain, the John Deere E120 is most ideal. It has a 42-inch mowing deck with a 12-guage welded steel frame that’s 11 inches. It also comes with solid cast iron in the front axle. The composite materials of the hood are sturdy while also being fade and rust resistant.
The engine has 20 horsepower (HP) that allows for all kinds of outdoor jobs such as cutting dense grass, bagging clippings and mulching as well as attachments for hauling, snow plowing and aeration. The hydrostatic transmission provides ease of use over hills, rocks and other tough obstacles.
The engine has a 300cca battery with other unique technological features that give a smooth, choke-free ride. It also has a quick oil changing system which greatly simplifies servicing. This mower can handle a yard as small as ½ acre to as much as two acres.
|Trusted and reliable brand
|Allows for a host of seasonal outdoor jobs
|Cannot handle large acreages of land
|Quick oil changing system
Best Compact Riding Mower: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT
With a 42-inch cutting deck, the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT offers the best compact riding mower. It has 12 adjustable cutting positions with an 18 HP engine from Kohler and a hydrostatic transmission. This provides for a flawless and effortless ride with a 16” turning radius.
The steering is responsive, which makes maneuvering around obstacles a breeze. Its corrosion resistance adds to its lifespan and durability. It has rear wheel drive with a three-gallon fuel tank. For an extra fee, you can buy attachments for snow, bags, a sun shade and carts.
This model by Cub Cadet even has a feature that allows you to remove debris and grass after every mowing session. But, it does require some assembly upon purchasing it. However, there are plenty of videos and online support to help you with this.
|12 adjustable cutting positions
|You have to assemble the model yourself
|Special features to help remove grass and debris
Most Powerful & Durable Riding Mower: Husqvarna YTH18542
Husqvarna’s YTH18542 provides the most powerful and durable riding lawn mower. Not only is it compact but it has a 42-inch cutting deck with double blades. It’s easy use, providing a smooth ride with a side discharge. Its solid cast iron front axles can handle rough terrain or flat yards.
The engine has 18 HP with a Briggs & Stratton 540cc. It can therefore mulch, haul, mow and so much more. This model by Husqvarna has a hydrostatic transmission to give flawless acceleration along with variable changes in speed.
You have the most control over acceleration and direction via the 16” turning radius. It’s choke-free and provides superb comfort while doing any outdoor chore. It also has air induction technology to improve airflow in the deck which contributes to a consistent and clean cut.
|Double blades in the cutting deck
|Blades tend to drop shortly after purchase
|Operates well over almost any type of terrain
|Tears up pristine grass
Best Riding Mower for Large Swaths of Land: Toro TimeCutter 75754
This zero-turn riding mower by Toro lives up to its name in being a solid piece of machinery from a trusted brand. It has a 54-inch cutting deck and powered by gas. The V-twin engine has a dual hydrostatic transmission and a sturdy suspension system. All this contributes to an enjoyable and smooth ride on almost any type of terrain.
The engine has 24½ HP and the company claims to decrease mowing time by up to 50%. It offers professional performance with exceptional quality and durability. The 10-gauge deck comprises forged iron, which means it will last for decades with little to no repairs.
This mower by Toro makes it easy to move around obstacles like trees and rocks. What’s more, it also gives you the utmost control over speed and direction. There are even protective fender shields on the tires to guard you against any flying debris like twigs, branches and flying stones.
|Superior suspension system
|This is very noisy
|Can potentially decrease cutting time by up to 50%
|Leaves behind undesirable cut lines
|Easy to maneuver around rocks and trees
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.