10 Terms Every Farmer Should Know About Mowers

Do you know what terms such as "deck belt," "hydrostatic" and "zero-turn" mean? Here's a guide to features of riding lawn mowers.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock

With an ever-increasing number of riding lawn mowers on the market now sporting features such as mulchers, baggers and zero-turn technology, knowing what to buy can be confusing. To help you cut through the terminology, here’s a glossary of common mower parts and features.

1. Air Filter

Because mower engines need air in order to run, the air filter is an important part of the engine that helps catch particles and prevent them from getting into the engine. Because mowing lawns is a dusty job that produces a lot of particles, the air filter should be cleaned frequently so that your mower can draw a steady supply of clean air.

2. Bagger

Some riding mowers allow you to catch the cut grass and funnel it into a bag, saving you the trouble of raking up the clippings later on, which is especially handy if you’re cutting long grass that will leave behind a substantial mess. The clippings will make a great addition to your compost bin.

3. Deck Belt

This belt, which resembles a huge rubber band, transmits power from the engine to the blades in the mower deck. Deck belts wear out over time and will need to be occasionally replaced.

4. Garden Tractor

This riding lawn mower is larger than a basic lawn tractor with more power and options for expansion through attachments.

5. Hydrostatic

This type of transmission is powered by hydraulic fluid and allows for seamless adjustment of tractor speed without changing gears. A lawn mower with this transmission can be easier to drive and control.

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6. Lawn Tractor

When you think of a riding lawn mower, this is probably what you think of: a fairly basic but capable machine that can mow grass and perhaps pull a cart or push a small snow plow when needed.

7. Mower Deck

Located between the front and rear wheels, the mower deck contains the blades that cut the grass. The wider the mower deck is, the wider the swath of grass that your lawn mower can cut in one pass.

8. Mulcher

Some lawn mowers are capable of mulching grass, which means that they make multiple cuts in the same blades of grass, slicing them into small pieces that are spread unnoticeably across the yard. This eliminates the need to rake the clippings and allows their nutrients to return to the ground.

9. Rear-Engine

This is the simplest of riding lawn mowers, with the engine mounted in the back instead of the front. They tend to be very small with narrow mower decks but can be a good choice if you have a small yard or if storage space is limited.

10. Zero-Turn

This is a special type of riding lawn mower that usually lacks a traditional steering wheel. They are capable of mowing at higher speeds and turning in place, making them ideal for mowing large areas or complicated yards with a lot of obstacles to mow around.

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