How to choose the Best Ride On Lawn Mower in 2021
Investing in a new ride on mower can be a daunting task at the best of times, especially nowadays where there is so much choice available at the click of a button.
The way we cut grass here in the UK has not actually changed all that much in the last 20 years, unlike the Automotive industry where battery technology is at the forefront of most people’s minds when thinking into the future.
In relation to ride on mowers things have started to change somewhat in the last 2 to 3 years and there is a clear shift towards battery power from certain manufacturers such as ‘Ariens’ with their new Zenith zero-turn ride-on mower and ‘Mean Green’ who sell mainly all battery powered products. There is no doubt that over the coming years other large manufacturers such as Kubota and John Deere will follow suit and that many more products will come into the market in order to meet consumer demands.
How to decide which ride on mower is right for your requirements?
You will then then need to decide if you are looking to cut and drop the grass on the ground or collect the grass and dispose of it. This will help further narrow down your search to either a ‘cut and drop’ or ‘cut and collect’ machine.
Other things to consider are what type of mower you require; you have the choice of machine with either a deck underneath the power unit, this is commonly known as a ‘mid-mounted mower’ or alternatively a machine with a deck positioned at the front of the power unit, usually referred to as an ‘out-front mower’.
Both types of machine have their advantages so depending on the type of ground and terrain you are working on you will need to weigh up which one works best for you. A mid-mounted mower is usually more compact in size and therefore better for getting into tight spaces, whereas an out-front mower is better for getting into corners and up to obstacles. If you have particularly undulating or soft ground, you may also want to consider investing in a machine with 4WD (4 Wheel-drive) and a lower centre of gravity, the 4WD drive will offer extra traction and lower centre of gravity will provide stability and increased safety to the operator.
You then need to think about what budget you have available and if this will be restrictive in finding the right machine for your job. If this is the case, you may be better served looking for a good quality used commercial machine as opposed to a new domestic machine, it is recommend buying a used machine from a dealership as you should receive a minimum 3-month warranty.
What is the difference between and domestic and commercial ride on mower?
A domestic ride on mower is built to a price point and is designed for infrequent cutting, usually around once a week throughout the season.
This type of machine is usually aimed at homeowners with a lawn up to around 2 acres in size or a small landscape gardener with several small garden plots to maintain. Usually, domestic machines come fitted with petrol engine and have a limited life expectancy of around 1000 hours usage subject to maintenance.
A commercial ride on mower is predominantly built and designed to withstand years of hard work, these high output machines are aimed at professional users such as local authorities, contractors or country estates, to name a few. They are usually built with a strong, heavy-duty deck and chassis and a commercially built diesel or petrol engine.
These machines such as a Kubota ride-on lawn mower are designed to be able to tackle large quantities of grass and be worked daily throughout the cutting season, their life can run up to around 3000 hours usage and beyond in some cases.
What is a cut and collect mower?
This type of machine is designed to remove the grass from the lawn which means that the grass clippings will need to be disposed of in a compost heap or taken to a green waste recycling centre.
Nearly all cut and collect ride-on mowers UK have a collection bag attached at the rear of the machine, in most cases the grass is thrown directly into the collector through a chamber built into the machine below the operator’s seat. Some manufacturers also offer side discharge collection system or mechanical collection with the use of a rear brush system, the Countax range of mowers would be a good example of this. These machines are popular with homeowners as they have different attachments available for carrying out various tasks from rolling to scarifying, removing thatch from a lawn and sweeping up leaves.
Most domestic cut and collect mowers will have a manually operated handle or lever to open the collector and discharge the grass. However, with most commercial machines this is usually done with the simple operation of a hydraulic lever or electric switch and the same usually applies to the deck lift and lower as well.
You also have the option of a high dump collection system with some manufacturers such as the Kubota ride on lawn mower G231 which means you can lift the collector up into the air (via the hydraulic/electric control lever) and empty into a tipping trailer or to the back of a compost heap etc.
What is a Cut and Drop Mower?
This type of mower is designed to leave the grass clippings on the ground, otherwise known as recycling.
With a standard cut and drop mower the grass is cut and discharged out of the deck, most commonly at the rear which is referred to as ‘rear discharge’ or it can also be discharged out of the side, known as ‘side discharge’. The latter is usually only recommended for longer grass situations where infrequent cutting occurs, and the user is not concerned with the aesthetical finish.
What is a mulching mower?
A mulching mower usually comes fitted with a fully enclosed deck and is fitted with high lift blades which are designed to keep the grass in the ‘blade cutting zone’ for longer. This process produces finer grass clippings, and these are then dropped vertically into the uncut grass left beneath.
Mulching has two main advantages:
1) The grass clippings are cut into much smaller pieces which means they will break down and decompose much more quickly which in turn puts nutrients back into the soil.
2) Any cut grass will tend to disappear into the uncut grass and therefore will leave a much nicer aesthetic finish.
N.B. For effective mulching it is important not to cut the grass to short, as a rule you should only cut off the top third and mulch it back into the two thirds below. For the optimum results, a more regular cutting cycle of once per week is recommended and to cut in dry conditions where possible.
Over the past few years, the ‘Zero Turn’ type of ride on mower has become more popular, this type of machine is designed to offer maximum efficiency and is on average 20% more productive than other more conventional ride on mowers.
The operation of these machines is through a lever style system instead of a conventional steering wheel type machine which makes turning at the end of each run much quicker. This is an excellent type of ride on mower to consider if you have a lot of grass to cut or have a lot of intricate tight spaces in and around trees and bushes etc.
Zero Turn mowers aren’t recommended for steep slopes or soft ground as they only come in a 2WD option. However, if you are looking for a battery powered option, arrange a trial of the Ariens Zenith professional zero turn mower, new to the UK market in 2021.
> ARRANGE A ZENITH E DEMO
Which is the most reliable manufacturer?
In many people’s opinion the most reliable mower you can buy is a Kubota ride on mower, the Kubota Corporation (Japan) are world renowned for their engines which are used by many other manufacturers in thousands of commercial products.
Kubota products are usually excellent value and a sound investment which seem to hold their residual value better than most. John Deere is also a well reputed brand with good quality products. Other credible brands worth considering are Kioti, Countax, Izeki, Husqvarna, Stiga, Honda and Mountfield.
How do I go about purchasing a Ride on Mower?
Once you have done your online research, it’s advisable to seek professional advice from your local dealership. Try and provide the salesperson at the dealership with as much information as possible and try to give them an idea of your budget, what jobs you are looking to do with the machine and the type of terrain you are working on.
Once you have decided on a make and model, discuss servicing and basic daily maintenance. It is also worth asking about warranty, some manufacturers such as Kubota now offer an optional commercial warranty up to 5 years for very little cost.
What are the most important things to consider when purchasing from a dealership?
When looking to purchase a ride on mower it’s best to treat this in the same way you would when buying any highly priced item. Always approach a minimum of two, ideally three companies and check out their products online or better still try and visit their showroom.
Main things to consider are; how fast they respond to your enquiry; how helpful the staff are and how passionately they talk about their products and their company.
Read more on the GGM Blog:
What to consider why buying a ride on mower?
Cylinder mower or Rotary mower which to choose?
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