What is the difference between a Ride-On Lawnmower, a Lawn Tractor & a Garden Tractor?

If you need to maintain a large garden or grassed area where you are questioning the efficiency of even a large petrol mower, it may be time to consider a ride-on lawnmower or lawn tractor.

But what is the difference between a ride-on mower, lawn tractor or even a garden tractor? All these types of machine are good for maintaining large grassy areas but they also have some key differences. Understanding how they differ and matching this to your own requirements will help you choose the right type of machine for your garden or area of land.

Ride-On Mowers

ATCO Rider 28H Ride on Mower
ATCO Rider 28H Ride on Mower

This is the smallest type of ‘ride-on’ – also sometimes referred to as a Rider Mower, Sit on Mower or Ride-On Front Mower. The engine is located at the back with a seat at the front. Its main function is mainly to cut grass and it is effectively a lawnmower with a seat.

The cutting deck on a ride-on is under the front of the mower enabling the ride-on to be more manoeuvrable, which is useful if you have a lawn with trees, flower beds or obstacles to get around and to reach under. The cutting width on a ride-on is generally smaller than on a lawn tractor starting at around 60cm.

We recommend the popular range of ATCO Rider Mowers starting with the ATCO Rider 28H Ride-On Mower at £1,699.

Lawn Tractors

Murray MSD100 Side Discharge/Mulch Tractor
Murray MSD100 Side Discharge/Mulch Tractor

A lawn tractor tends to be larger than a Ride-On Mower with the engine at the front and the seat behind. With a lawn tractor the cutting deck is mounted at the mid-point / centre of the tractor. With more powerful engines they are ideally suited for larger gardens and rougher terrain. They are generally better for tougher tasks e.g. they will tow a low weight.

They are good for a larger expanse of grass which is relatively obstacle-free (large trees or bushes are fine) as the position of the cutting deck means they are not good for reaching under lower objects. Cutting widths tend to be wider starting at around 76cm and a lawn tractor will also have a larger turning circle than a ride-on mower.

A popular small lawn tractor is the Murray MSD100 Side Discharge/Mulch Tractor – ideal for lawns 1 – 1.5 acres.

Garden Tractors

ATCO GT36H Garden Tractor
ATCO GT36H Garden Tractor

Garden Tractors are similar to lawn tractors (the name is often interchangeable) but the difference being that they are the most robustly built of all machines, designed for heavier duty work. They have the widest cutting widths and the most powerful engines. They are ideal for tougher work with a range of attachments such as towing (heavier weights than a lawn tractor), sweeping leaves, clearing snow or fertilising. As such, Garden Tractors are the most expensive option.

Our best-selling Garden Tractor is the ATCO GT36H with a 92cm cutting width

Choosing A Walk Behind Lawn Mower

Choosing a walk behind lawnmower can be quite confusing when it comes to the different types of mower, your requirements, your type of garden and of course your budget. There are many types of mower available: rear-roller rotary, four-wheel rotary, hover mower, cylinder mower, and then the question of whether to choose petrol, electric or cordless.

For some people, the priority is to find the very best quality mower available for their garden and for others they will have a set budget and want to find the best value lawnmower for their money. All of these points are relevant when choosing a mower. This is a broad guide to the sort of questions you should consider when buying your lawn mower.

Size of Garden.

Probably the first place to start is considering the size of your garden as generally speaking, the bigger your garden the bigger the lawnmower. However, what constitutes a small, medium, or large garden? A rule of thumb is to think of your garden in terms of the size of a tennis court – so up to ½ a tennis court would be considered small; a tennis court size would be medium and any bigger than that would be considered large.

Small Garden
For a small garden, you might consider a small petrol mower, electric mower or cordless mower. The decision here can be down to several factors such as budget, access to the garden (consider steps), acceptable noise levels, and storage as a petrol mower will take up more space. Electric and Cordless mowers are lighter in weight than petrol mowers and of course, they need less servicing.

ATCO-15E-1600W-Electric-Lawnmower
ATCO-15E-1600W-Electric-Lawnmower

For a small garden, a good electric mower that we would recommend is the ATCO 15E 1600W Electric Lawnmower.

If you are considering a petrol four-wheel rotary mower for a small garden with a general-use lawn then one with a 16in/41cm cutting width will do the job well and really there is no need to go for a wider cut as it will simply cost more.

Hayter Spirit 619
Hayter Spirit 619

If you have a flat even lawn and want to have stripes then you will need a mower with a rear roller so could look at either a Petrol or Electric Rear Roller Mower. The Hayter Spirit 619 is an ideal choice with a 16in/41cm cut and offering a good combination of reliability and performance.

Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower
Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower

Cobra produces a range of electric and petrol lawnmowers which offer style and exceptional performance at a very good price. The Cobra RM40SPCE 16 inch Rear Roller Petrol Lawnmower is a very reasonably priced, reliable petrol mower with great performance and has been one of our best-selling lawnmowers.

Medium Garden
If your garden is the size of a tennis court then your choices are similar to that for a small garden but probably excluding the electric option due to cable length.

If you require a more formal lawn then you will want to look at either a cylinder mower or rear roller rotary mower (for formal short grass) but if you are looking to cut a general use lawn, then you will very likely be considering a petrol four-wheel lawnmower.

Ego Cordless Battery Mowers
Ego Cordless Battery Mowers

These days some of the cordless lawnmowers with Lithium-ion batteries rival the power of petrol and can be worth considering as well. They are lighter than petrol mowers to handle and are better for the environment as they emit no polluting fumes. The downside can be battery life although this can be overcome by having 2 batteries. If considering a cordless lawnmower, the EGO range of cordless lawn mowers is worth looking at.

Large garden

Toro-Steel-Deck-55cm-AWD-Self-Propelled-Recycler-Lawnmower
Toro-Steel-Deck-55cm-AWD-Self-Propelled-Recycler-Lawnmower

For large gardens over the size of a tennis court, the width of cut is important and you will need to look at large walk-behind lawnmowers with a cutting width over 50cm/20in. These are big mowers and will necessarily be self-propelled. If you have flowerbeds and obstacles in your garden to go around then opt for one with speed control so that you can easily slow down in the appropriate areas. For a more formal lawn (with stripes) if relatively free of obstacles you could consider a large rear roller lawnmower. For large gardens with obstacles and/or a less formal lawn a large 4 wheel rotary lawnmower would be a good choice.

Both Toro and ATCO produce quality large petrol lawnmowers. In particular,  we think the Toro Steel Deck 55cm/22in AWD Self Propelled Recycler Lawnmower is a very good value lawnmower with exceptional performance.

And for an excellent cylinder lawnmower have a look at the Allett Buckingham 20H Cylinder Lawnmower 51cm / 20in

Allett-Buckingham-20H-Cylinder-Lawn-Mower
Allett-Buckingham-20H-Cylinder-Lawn-Mower

 

Choosing the type of lawnmower to buy

Buy a cylinder lawn mower if you want…

  • short fine grass and/or stripes for your lawn
  • a lawnmower where you can change the cutting widths / heights
  • a neat looking finish to your lawn as cylinder mowers can cut the grass at low height
  • to attach a collection box for the grass
  • to buy an electric, petrol or hand push cylinder mower

Buy a rotary lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawnmower where you can change the heights
  • a lawnmower where you can attach a collection box for the grass
  • to buy an electric, petrol or cordless lawn mower
  • a self-propelled lawnmower for ease of pushing – better if you have a heavier lawnmower and also for large grass areas
  • a lawn mower for many lawn types as the blade rotates horizontally and can tackle longer grass

Buy a hover lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawn mower that is ideal for small lawns and easy to use
  • a lightweight mower that can mow the grass, uneven areas and slopes
  • a lawn mower where the finish of the cut is not so important to you and you are looking for something that will do the job effectively
  • some larger hover mowers can tackle larger grassed areas and also come with grass collection bags

Buy a cordless lawn mower if you want…

  • a lawn mower that has the power to rival that of a petrol mower
  • a lighter lawn mower than that of a petrol mower of the same power
  • an easy to start lawn mower
  • a lawn mower with the benefits of petrol and the ease of an electric mower
  • a quieter lawn mower that also offers an environmentally friendly option to petrol
  • to use other garden tools with the battery

Other points to consider when buying a lawnmower

Cutting width
The wider the cut of the lawnmower clearly the more grass it will cut each time you run up and down the lawn. Consider the time you are happy to spend cutting the grass. A wider width of mower will cost more.

Length of Cable
If you are considering an electric lawnmower then make sure that the cord is long enough to reach across your garden.

Adjustable heights
Most lawnmowers have height adjustments so check the settings on any mower you buy to ensure that the height settings are suitable for your requirements.

Adjustable handle
Make sure that you can adjust the handle to the right height to ensure that you are comfortable with the mowing position. Also, see whether the handle folds for ease of storage and space saving.

Battery life
If you are considering cordless then make sure that the battery life is sufficient for the job in hand. Alternatively, buy a spare battery so that one can always be on charge.

Bag volume
Consider a mower that can have a sufficient grass collection bag attached so as to minimise emptying.

If you require any advice at all when choosing your lawnmower then please give Nigel or Sam a call on 01380 828867.