Best Riding Lawn Mower For The Money In 2019

You want a high quality riding mower that does the job and doesn't cause problems, and doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.

Am I right?

And even if you don't realize it yet, you also want more... you want a comfortable seat, a wide deck so you can mow quickly, and you want a machine that will make a clean cut every time so your lawn looks professionally cut every time.

Right again?

Let me introduce you to our #1 top pick that we believe is the best riding lawn mower for the money...

Our Top Pick: Husqvarna YTH24V48

husqvarna YTH24V48 side view

There are several things we really like about this model...

Clean Cut

If you really care about how nice your lawn looks after it's mowed then you'll be relieved to hear that this Husqvarna mower is custom designed to deliver a perfectly clean cut, professional looking lawn.

The mower includes a feature called "air induction mowing technology" which simply means that the mower uses airflow to "pull" more of the grass up so that the blades can cut them.

Why?

So you don't get clumps of patted-down grass that didn't actually get cut.

Ever notice that before? You finish mowing the lawn and walk through the yard and notice patches of grass that are longer than others.

Super annoying, right?

Well thankfully you don't get that with a mower that has air induction tech. Instead, you get an evenly cut lawn, and even the previously patted-down clumps of grass become loosened up cut cleanly.

There's one other feature worth noting that helps you get a clean cut, and it's called an "anti-scalp deck."

A what?!

It just means that there are four 3.5" wheels evenly distributed around the deck so that if you hit an uneven or bumpy section of your lawn, then it's the wheels (not the blades) that make contact with the high parts of the lawn.

Here, let me circle the "anti scalp deck" on this mower so you can see what I'm referring to...

riding mower anti scalp deck circled


As a result of that feature, you avoid "scalping" which is what happens when your mower cuts high parts of your lawn to short.

Wide Mowing Deck

The width of the mowing deck determines how wide of a span of grass gets cut at a time.

So what's an ideal cutting width for most lawns?

48 inches.

That's what the Husqvarna YTH24V48 has. For lawns big enough to use a riding mower, you really need at least 40" (that's 40 inches). Most walk behind mowers have an average cutting width of about 20", so getting even 40" out of a riding mower is already a big advantage.

Few riding mowers have decks wider than 54", and that can be overkill for the typical 1/2 to 1 acre lawn.

Why?

The obvious benefit of a super wide deck is that you theoretically have to spend less time mowing because the mower mows more grass with each pass.

But the disadvantage that not everything thinks of is that a wider deck can make it more difficult to mow around obstacles. So if you have a lot of "stuff" in your back yard, then 54" might be too wide for you.

That's why we think the 48" cutting width that this Husqvarna riding lawn mower offers is ideal for most lawns.

It's wide enough to save you a lot of time mowing, but it's not so wide as to make it challenging to mow around obstacles.

Comfortable Operation

You might not realize it now, but being comfortable while you're mowing can make a big impact on your mowing experience. Especially if you're spending more than 45 minutes mowing (that translates into about 1 or more acre of lawn without obstacles).

There are several things about the YTH24V48 that make it more comfortable than the average riding mower:

  • Tall seat (15") with arm rests
  • Cup holder for water
  • Smooth motion (not jerky)
  • Ergonomic steering wheel

With a tall seat, you can lean back comfortably and have back support, and it's adjustable so you can get it just right even if you're taller than most people. You might not think you'd use the arm rests that much, but if you have long stretches grass you may use them more often than you think.

Cup holder? Come on, you know you want it!

Do you really want to make the trek back inside part way through mowing the lawn, just to get a sip of water? Keep your water handy and stay fueled up for the whole ride!

The hydrostatic transmission means that your ride is smooth and comfortable, even as you adjust your speed, whether you're going forward or in reverse.

The ergonomic steering wheel might not be the most impressive feature, but it's one of those "little" features that comes in handy and could help prevent blisters especially if you're turning the mower around quite a bit (if you have a lawn with lots of obstacles).

Other Cool Stuff

With speeds up to 7.75mph moving forward or 3mph in reverse, you can move faster and thus get your mowing done more quickly with this mower than with most other mowers (5mph moving forward is pretty typical)

The large 3 gallon fuel tank means you could mow two or three acres before needing to stop and add more fuel. Or if you have just one acre, you could mow twice before needing to refuel.

This mower comes ready to connect attachments to let you do mulching, fertilizing, etc. This way you don't have to buy separate machines to do those tasks that your mower could do.

You also get a bumper to bumper 3 year warranty that comes standard with the machine, but only for consumer use (i.e. not commercial use). It doesn't cover everything, but can come in handy. For more warranty info, click here.

What About Hills?

While we're pretty confident saying that the Husqvarna YTH24V48 is one of the best riding mowers for the money, the one area worth mentioning that this mower may be lacking in is its ability to do well on hills.

Keep in mind that in general most riding mowers (including this one) do much better on hills than zero turn mowers. But if we're comparing apples to apples, it's worth noting that some users have reported issues with the tires having low tread and therefore slipping a little too easily on steep hills.

If you just have a couple small slopes, you probably don't have any reason for concern. But if you have steeper inclines, you may want to compare this mower with the Troy-Bilt Pony 42X which is the riding mower we recommend for hills.

Runner-Up:
Poulan PRO 960460075 Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower

My first reaction when I saw such a great price coming from such a big name was to look and see how often this model breaks down. What I found is that it has the dependability you would expect from Poulan.

The most frequent maintenance complaints were about wear and tear components like belts and blades. So it is not a cheaply-built mower. But it is reasonably priced, which is why we consider this a great riding mower if you're on a tight budget. But the Husqvarna YTH24V48 mentioned above has better user reviews, so that's why we consider this Poulan PRO model the second best riding lawn mower for the money (aka "runner up").

The 17.5 horsepower engine is impressive at the price. So is the 42" deck (but again, smaller than the 48" deck in the Husqvarna model).

Ed Kirkland
 

Hi, I'm Ed, and I've been doing lawn work since my mid teen years, picking up jobs here and there mowing and helping with basic landscaping projects. I worked at a couple different lawn care / landscaping companies throughout my college years, and now thanks to the internet I'm able to make a share my knowledge and advice with people about lawn care and landscaping.

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