The Best Lawn Mowers for Different Yard Sizes

The Best Lawn Mower For Your Yard Depends on the Amount of Ground You Need to Mow

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: Photo by J. Keeler Johnson

The best lawn mowers for your yard depend in large part on the amount of ground you wish to mow. A mower that’s perfect for a quarter-acre lawn might not suit a 10-acre field, and a mower designed to quickly and efficiently handle 10-acre fields might be unnecessarily expensive if you have only two acres to mow.

Let’s explore the best lawn mowers for different yard sizes:

Lawn Mowers for Small Yards

At the small end of the lawn mower spectrum are hand-pushed reel mowers. They’re inexpensive and maneuverable. They don’t require engine maintenance because they don’t have engines. They deliver clean, healthy cuts to grass blades and can mow grass to very short heights if needed. But they can struggle if grass grows more than a few inches tall, so you’ll want to mow frequently. And since they’re small and hand-pushed, a quarter-acre is about the maximum area you’ll want to mow with one.

Stepping up, walk-behind mowers generate cutting power with a small engine. On self-propelled models, the engine also saves you pushing effort by providing drive power for the mower. If you’re ambitious, a self-propelled walk-behind mower might be suitable for yards up to half an acre in size. But the top speed is likely to be a modest 3-4 miles per hour, so mowing large areas can be time-consuming.

If you’d rather ride than push or walk behind your mower, a rear-engine riding mower or a lawn tractor is the next step up. These small riding mowers won’t offer much in the way of abundant power or fancy features, but they’ll reduce the effort you spend mowing an acre or two of land while staying relatively budget-friendly. Plus, you’ll get a wider mowing deck than a small reel mower or self-propelled walk-behind mower, reducing the time you spend mowing. A 42-inch deck on a lawn tractor will cut more than twice as much grass in each pass than an 18-inch walk-behind mower.

Mowers for Large Yards

While you could theoretically mow a five-acre field with a hand-pushed reel mower, it’s not a sensible use of time and effort. Even a small lawn tractor is undersized for such a large job.

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If you have more than a couple of acres to mow, you may wish to step up your game with a garden tractor. A garden tractor is a lot like a lawn tractor, but more powerful and versatile. The mowing deck may be wider than on a rear-engine mower or lawn tractor, allowing you to complete your mowing jobs faster. You’ll be able to use other helpful attachments when not mowing, such as a snow blower. And a quality garden tractor may prove more durable and long-lasting than an inexpensive rear-engine mower or lawn tractor, an important consideration since you’ll accumulate a lot of driving hours mowing all those acres of grass.

But once you get to where you’re mowing four acres, five acres, and even more, you should consider investing in a zero-turn mower. These maneuverable machines can spin 360 degrees in place, making them ideal for mowing around obstacles and in neat rows. And the decks on the largest models can be spectacularly large, exceeding 100 inches. But perhaps the biggest advantage of a zero-turn mower is speed: they can mow at higher speeds than garden tractors (in some cases more than 10 miles per hour), reducing the time you spend mowing. Just be aware they’re not suitable for use on overly sloping ground since their steering relies on operating the drive wheels at different speeds, and if you lose traction, you’ll lose steering too.

Another option for multi-acre yards is to use a finish mower with a large tractor, such as a compact utility tractor. This can be a fine approach for mowing large, open fields, but you’ll sacrifice maneuverability compared to a zero-turn mower.

With so many options on the table, the best lawn mower for your yard size is definitely out there somewhere, just waiting to conquer all your mowing needs.

This article about the best lawn mowers for your yard size was written for Hobby Farms magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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