If your lawn is a half-acre or larger, you'll probably need a riding lawn mower. Riding lawn mowers have a seat, steering wheel and various controls. Besides these basic design elements, various types of riding lawn mowers are largely defined by the front cutting deck, a covering that shelters the blade. The longer the blade, the longer the deck. It logically follows that you should select a longer deck for large lawns, since the blade will also be longer and can cut more. (The riding mower is not to be confused with gardening tractors or lawn tractors, which have decks mounted in the middle, making them less maneuverable.)
You can choose between gas and electric riding lawn mowers. To run an electric one, just make sure the battery is charged before you start. Electric mowers are quieter, better for the environment and cheaper to run. On the flip side, electric riding mowers are much less efficient than gas mowers, as they expend less energy. Also, the battery dies fairly quickly, especially in wet conditions.
Whether a mower runs off of gas or electricity, top-of-the-line riding lawn mowers feature extras like cup holders, cruise control, sun shades and even CD players. And these advantages come with a price tag: Riding mowers can cost between $1,000 and $9,000.
Because they're bigger and more robust than walk-behind mowers, riding mowers are more dangerous to operate. Common problems include the mower tipping over, people getting run over by the mower or falling off from the seat, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Keep your riding lawn mower safe and in good condition with regular maintenance. Quality care includes changing the oil and filter, inspecting and replacing the spark plug, cleaning or replacing air filters and lubricating grease fittings. Run the engine long enough for it to warm up before use.
If you live in a region that gets winter weather prohibitive to lawn mowing in the winter, you will want to do some extra cleaning before storing your mower for the cold season. It should be a place protected from nasty weather, such as your basement, garage or workshop. Winter maintenance can include removing all grass clippings from the exterior, cleaning the battery and more.
Next, find out what's on the inside. Continue to learn about engines and which ones will give you the horsepower you need for exquisite lawn care.