For those of us with medium-sized yards, spending more time enjoying our yards and less time mowing can be challenging. If your yard falls under the medium-sized category, using a push-mower takes a considerable amount of elbow grease and work and even using a self-propelled walk-behind mower will take up a good chunk of your day. So what’s the best solution for a moderately sized lawn that is not big enough to justify the expense and storage space needed for a full-size lawn tractor or zero-turn mower?
Before diving in, let’s define “medium-sized yard.” A medium-sized yard is usually a space in the range of three-quarter to a full acre of space. This would be equivalent to being just short of the size of a football field at the larger end of the spectrum. If your yard falls under this category, a small, compact riding lawn mower may be just right for you and your lawn. These compact riding mowers are comparable in deck size to that of a wide area walk-behind mower but provide comfort and power almost comparable to that of a full-size lawn tractor or zero-turn mower. Not too big, not too small, easy to store, simple to maneuver, and built with mid-sized yards in mind.
These versatile machines can be called by different names depending on their manufacturer. Some common names include garden tractors, neighborhood riders, mini-lawn tractors, and small riding mowers. No matter what you call them, compact riding mowers are the perfect in-between mower when a walk-behind mower doesn’t quite cut it. For example, the TB30 Riding Lawn Tractor would fall into this category but can include front-engine small form factor lawn tractors as well.
Also, keep an eye out for the new electric model alternatives available from some manufacturers now. These battery-powered alternatives hit a sweet spot for exactly this kind of use case. With a single charge, you will have plenty of power to mow your mid-sized lawn and the reduced maintenance requirements for electric mowers make them a very appealing alternative to their traditional gas-powered cousins. Of course, gas mowers have the benefit of a long history of reliability when properly maintained compared to battery-powered riders which have only been around a few years now.
So let’s jump into the specifics of what differentiates a compact riding mower from walk-behind mowers on the one side, and full-sized riders on the other.
Easy to Store
Storing larger lawn tractors both during the mowing season and the off-season can be difficult depending on the space you have available. While larger cutting decks allow for faster mows, larger riding mowers also tend to be much wider, longer, and taller. This means that they will be taking over a significant portion of a garage. You will likely need more than a standard single car garage, or a very large garden shed for storage. A compact riding mower has a space-saving design but still has a relatively powerful engine compared to most walk-behind mowers.
This machine strikes a great balance between coverage and storage. It is easy to park in one corner of your garage or a reasonably sized garden shed. At the end of the season, you’ll find it easy to tuck away, as it won’t take up nearly as much space over the winter months when it’s not in use. You’ll fine that most larger walk-behind mowers will take up almost the same amount of space unless you’re taking the time to partially disassemble them between uses. There are a few walk-behind models on the market that offer a quick option to break them down and hang them up though.
Easy to Maneuver
An added benefit to a compact riding mower is its ability to maneuver through tight spaces. This makes it the perfect option for yards with narrow access between front, back, and side yards or for gated yards. This feature can help avoid having to do a second pass on hard-to-reach areas with a push mower or string trimmer. The most maneuverable zero-turn or 4-wheel steering riding mowers are generally larger machines for seriously big jobs. In terms of walk-behind options, larger self-propelled mowers that offer a similar efficiency of cut are also going to be heavier to move around to get into those tight spots, even with a powered drivetrain.
Easy to Operate
Getting a compact riding mower doesn’t mean giving up on the features that are usually associated with a full-sized lawn tractor or zero-turn mower. Small and compact riding mowers are designed for ease of use in mind. Compact riding mowers come equipped with features like high-back seats for maximum comfort, a reliable name-brand engine, a steering wheel for easy control, and can still support additional attachments that can help you save time and energy around the garden outside of your keeping your grass trimmed. Whether you go with a walk-behind or larger riding mower, the gas engine models require similar ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Should you need to bring it in to be seen by a professional, a walk-behind or small rider is going to be simpler to transport.
Save Time & Energy
A compact riding mower is a perfect alternative to the traditional push, self-propelled, or wide-area walk-behind mowers. When your yard is too big for a push mower, this small and nimble riding mower will save you time and energy when lawn mowing. This will allow you to spend more time this summer tending to your garden and relaxing while enjoying a cool drink in your yard.
If you’re looking to narrow down your options for which particular brand or model is right for you, consider visiting both your local independent dealer and major big-box retailers. They will have different options available along with knowledgeable staff that can help guide you through the decision-making process. Once you have a shortlist take a look at reviews online from reputable third parties as well as user reviews on both retailer and manufacturer websites. A riding mower is a big investment, even if you’re going with a compact model!