- Are lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers the same thing?
- Want to know how to compare riding lawn tractors and riding lawnmowers?
- What about garden tractors and zero turn mowers; where do they fit in?
You may not have suffered sleepless nights worrying about the answers to these questions. But if you’ve got a decent sized piece of grass and you need to find the best means of cutting it, you might well need to know.
What’s more, if you are starting to research the riding lawn tractor market you might just have found that the terminology is just a little bit confusing.
A little bit confusing? Okay, I’m prone to understatement 🙂
The terminology is confusing. Very confusing. And let’s face it, it’s hard to know what you’re looking for if you don’t really know what to call it.
Although the American Society of Agricultural Engineers has set out a standard from of categorisation of ride-on lawn mowers, there doesn’t seem to be universal agreement about what these mowing machines should be called in practice. There especially seems to be some overlap between what gets called a Lawn Tractor and what gets called a Riding Lawn Mower, even among the manufacturers and retailers.
Anyway, in keeping with the aim of this site, which is to give you the essential information you need in an easy to follow format, I’ll do my best to clear up some of the confusion.
Follow this link, where the main lawn tractor features are explained in a way that will help you compare lawn tractors. Read on for the run down on the way lawn tractors are named.
The most obvious thing about a lawn tractor, as you can see from the example below, is that it actuallylooks a bit like a tractor. The rear wheels are bigger than the front wheels and the engine is at the front. The lawn tractor’s cutting equipment (or deck) is mounted in the middle of the machine and it will generally be more powerful but in some cases less manoeuvrable than a riding lawnmower. Some lawn tractors will accept attachments, such as an aerator or garden tiller.
You need to be aware that this description (along with ‘riding mower’ or ‘ride on lawnmower’, which is generally used in the UK) is very often applied to any kind of mower that you ride on as you mow – which makes sense if you think about it.
However, that means that the term riding lawnmower is sometimes used to describe a machine that should properly be called a lawn tractor.
The basic distinguishing feature of a true riding mower is that it’s cutting deck will not be detachable and will be mounted at the front. So that means that it will generally be a rear engine riding mower. I tend to think that these mowers look a bit like a go-kart – this Weedeater riding mower is a good example – although (to add to the confusion) some do look like small tractors.
Garden tractors are like lawn tractors but more powerful. They are raised higher off the ground and, as well as cutting the grass, can accept lots of attachments and carry out a lot of different tasks. You could, for example, use a garden tractor plow, trailer or even a garden tractor backhoe with one of these machines.
Zero Turn Mowers
Zero turn mowers are quite different from the others. They are more like riding mowers than lawn tractors but are steered with levers that allow each rear wheel to be controlled independently, thus allowing the machine to turn without leaving any uncut grass. The best zero turn mower will allow a faster cut than a lawn tractor or riding mower on flatter areas and on areas with obstacles.
This term isn’t used that often, but if there is a distinction, it is that yard tractors fall somewhere between a lawn tractor and a garden tractor. The yard tractor has more power and more accessories than the lawn tractor, but is not quite as big and versatile as a garden tractor.
Riding Lawn Tractors
So what about riding lawn tractors? That’s where this page started.
The truth is that ‘riding lawn tractors’ is just a combination of terms used by some manufacturers rather than a different type of machine, but it’s generally used to mean a lawn tractor rather than a riding mower. Which just goes to show how confusing the jargon can be.
You’ll also find the following terms referred to a lot in these and other riding lawn tractors pages, so it will help to have a good understanding of what they mean.
|Deck, Mowing Deck, Cutting Deck||The structure housing the mower’s cutting blades|
|Discharge Method||The means of disposing of the cut grass. Cut grass may be discharged from the deck straight to the side or to the rear of the machine, it may be retained within the deck and choppped finely and deposited back onto the lawn as mulch, or discharged to a side or rear collection bag|
|Four Wheel Steer||A steering mechanism whereby all 4 wheels are turned in the same direction at the same time by means of the steering wheel|
|Four Wheel Drive||Power is delivered to drive all four wheels at once|
|Power Take Off (PTO)||a driveshaft that allows attachments and accessories to be powered from the tractor’s engine|
|Power Train||generally used to refer to the components that generate power and deliver it to the wheels, i.e. the engine, transmission, driveshafts or belts and differentials|
|Transmission||the means by which the power from the engine is transmitted through the drive components to turn the tractor’s wheels and attachments, such as the cutting blades.|
Riding lawn tractors terminology – summary
To sum up, I’m not convinced that the terminology is that important.
Generally on these pages we use the same terminology that the manufacturers use in relation to their machines. Sometimes we use the terminology that we think that people will be using to search for the machines we are reveiwing or referring to.
Terminology aside, what is really important is finding the machine that does the job that you need it to do.
That is what this site as a whole will help you with.
It’s what these machine can do that matters, not whether they’re called a riding lawn tractors, mowing tractors, ride on mowers or whatever…
You can find out what the various machines we review can do by following the links on the left.
Don’t cut corners (although you might want to find a Lawn Tractor that does) and research well.