Many homeowners want to sit down while mowing. But what type of riding mower or tractor is right for the homeowner?
Choices range from small riding lawnmowers to small farm tractors, with correspondingly wide range of prices. Riding mowers and tractors fall into a standard classification system established by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
Although the terminology may differ slightly from one company to another, most manufacturers and dealers use these general categories. If you understand the classification system when shopping for a machine, you can speak the same language as the dealers, and can better compare different brands.
Riding Lawn Mowers
(ASAE: ride-on lawn mower) are the smallest machines. They are designed to mow grass, not to accommodate other implements. Many have rear engines, but some look like small tractors with the engines in the front. Most riding lawnmowers are about 38 inches wide. The mower deck is not detachable.
(ASAE: lawn ride-on tractor) are the next step up. Somewhat larger and more powerful, they are designed primarily for mowing, but will accommodate a limited number of implements such as lawn carts, sweepers and snow blowers (not a big seller in Louisiana). They may have a lift linkage for the implements. Mowing width is typically 36-48 inches. The mower deck may or may not be detachable.
Lawn and Garden Tractors
(ASAE: lawn and garden ride-on tractors) generally have larger engines and bigger tires, and all implements, including the mower deck, are readily moveable. They are designed for general lawn and garden work but their primary purpose is lawn mowing. Tractors in class must provide a means of lifting an implement, but it may be a manual lift. Implements suitable for use with this class include plows, tillers, cultivators, sweepers, dozer blades and snow blowers. Mower decks up to 54 inches are usually available.
(ASAE: garden ride-on tractors) are designed for general-purpose garden work. They generally have larger tires than lawn and garden tractors, and may or may not have more power. They are designed to supply power for garden implements and will handle such tools as a plow, cultivator, rotary tiller, snow thrower, sweeper, or dozer blade. The tractor must have a lift system for implements, but it can be manual. Most tractors in this class are sold with a center-mounted mower-deck, but the mowers are optional, not a part of the tractor, and are readily detachable. In this class, the tractor may have bar-tread (tractor) tires of turf tires. Mower deck width may be as much as 60 inches.
Compact Utility Tractor
(Also called a compact tractor or a grounds maintenance tractor) is the top tier and is aimed at homeowners with a small acreage. These tractors usually have water cooled-diesel engines; they may have four-wheeled drive, and either bar tread tires or turf tires. Mower deck width is generally 48-72 inches. Mowers may be center-mounted or rear-mounted. Mowers are optional, and tractors may be sold without mowers. These tractors have a standard power-take-off (PTO) at the rear, and possibly another at the front or center. They have a power lift for implements, which may include small farm tools, front-end loaders and backhoes. The smaller tractors in this class are sold primarily for lawn mowing; the larger merge into the farm tractor category.
An additional category between garden tractors and compact utility tractors and compact utility tractors. Subcompact tractors are about the size (power and dimensions) of garden tractors, but are built like compact utility tractors with water-cooled diesel engines, PTO’s, three-point hitches and remote hydraulics.