Terms to Know When Comparing Riding Mowers

Published: 27th April 2011
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It may be confusing comparing the features of a riding mower if you don't know the terminology. It is not only important to know what the terms mean, but also how those features will help an ambitious homeowner like yourself keep your yard looking pristine. This primer will make shopping for a mower a bit easier.

Swath is the space covered by the cut of riding mowers. Some manufacturers also refer to swath as the cutting width. The wider the swath, the fewer passes it will take you to mow a large area of lawn, making your work quicker and more efficient. If your yard is less than one acre in size, riding mower models with a swath of about 42 inches will suffice. Yards between one and two acres in size require a riding mower with a cutting width between 42 and 46 inches wide. If you are fortunate enough to have a yard larger than two acres, you will need a model with a swath between 46 and 60 inches.

Another term frequently found in the manufacturer's specifications of riding mower models is turning radius. Turning radius is defined as one-half the diameter of the uncut grass circle with the wheels turned the maximum amount. If you have a yard with a lot of landscaping features such as flower beds, trees, shrubbery and birdbaths the turning radius is very important. A riding mower with a tighter turning radius will enable you to easily mow around the objects without constantly slowing down, stopping and reversing to make the turn. Zero-turn riding mowers can turn 180 degrees and can often cut the mowing time in half. For this reason Zero-turn riding mower models are becoming increasingly more popular with homeowners who have many obstacles in their yard.

Power takeoff, or PTO, is the power output shaft found on the rear of a riding mower. It allows you to connect and power small accessories such as aerators. If you plan to use your new mower for multiple functions, choosing a model with PTO is an important feature to look for. If you are shopping for riding mower models for no other reason than to cut your lawn, however, a simple connection will suffice.

When the specifications of riding mower models boast tool-free adjustment, they are referring to adjustments such as blade height, deck leveling, deck removal or other maintenance that does not require the use of tools. This is especially convenient if you need to tweak something while mowing your yard.

Hydrostatic drive describes a type of transmission found in higher end riding mower models. Hydrostatic drive riding mower models use hydraulic power which provides very smooth shifting on the go, or shiftless propulsion. A riding mower with hydrostatic transmissions typically yields higher speeds and more constant torque than belt-driven riding mower models. If you have an extremely large yard, the comfort and speed offered by hydrostatic drive riding mower models may be worth the extra investment for you.

These are some of the most frequently used terms on the specifications of riding mower models. Now that you know what they mean and how they may apply to your needs, you can make a more educated and informed decision.

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