How to Really Tell If You Need a Lawnmower or a Tractor

How to Really Tell If You Need a Lawnmower or a Tractor
Photo: veres szilard, Shutterstock

When it comes to cutting your grass, you have several options (including not planting and maintaining a traditional American lawn to begin with). The decision may be easier for those with larger yards, as using anything other than a tractor is going to be pretty time consuming.

But what about smaller or medium-sized yards? How do you know when you’d be better off with a mower versus a tractor (and vice versa)? To help us answer these questions, the team at Consumer Reports put together a guide to lawnmowers and tractors, and figuring out which is best for your yard. Here’s what to know.

Battery push mower

Best for: Flat yards up to 1/4 acre

Battery-powered mowers can be annoying if you keep running out of juice before finishing the job. But that’s not an issue with smaller yards, which can be mowed in a single charge. The exception to that is if any hills are involved — in which case you may want to opt for something self-propelled.

Self-propelled mower

Best for: Yards up to 1/2 acre

Powered by either gas or battery, self-propelled mowers are ideal for yards that are big-ish, but don’t really warrant getting a tractor. According to Consumer Reports, self-propelled mowers cost about $US100 ($139) more than regular push mowers, but when you have more ground to cover, it’s worth it for not having to put in as much effort and energy.

Gas lawn tractor

Best for: Yards that are more than 1/2 and regularly shaped

As far as tractors go, the experts at Consumer Reports single out two main options: A traditional gas lawn tractor, and a zero-turn tractor (which we’ll get into in a minute). Gas lawn tractors are great for cutting large grassy areas — as long as they’re relatively straight. They can run for hours and leave you with an evenly cut lawn, but they’re not the best with manoeuvrability.

Zero-turn tractor

Best for: Yards that are more than 1/2 and irregularly shaped

If your yard involves more than large stretches of grass — like trees, flowerbeds, or other landscaping that can’t/shouldn’t be mowed — you may want to consider a zero-turn tractor, according to Consumer Reports. It will be better equipped to deal with the narrow turns and obstacles in your yard, and once you do get into the areas of uninterrupted grass, it will operate at a higher speed.

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