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Best ride-on mower 2023: Cut the grass without the legwork

If you’ve got a large garden that’s your pride and joy, you’ll want the best ride-on mower to keep the lawn trim

For lawns bigger than half an acre or for people with mobility issues, a ride-on mower is normally the best option – provided you’ve got somewhere undercover to store it during the winter months. A ride-on mower will not only make short work of any large lawn, it’s also great fun to ride.

With that in mind, we’ve scoured the online world and alighted on this fine quintet of models that have been highly rated by both professionals and garden owners for their ability to cut a large lawn with almost zero effort. Just hop on, start it up and mow like you’ve never mown before.

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Best ride-on mowers: At a glance

How to choose the best ride-on lawn mower for you

Cutting width is the key consideration when determining the best size of ride-on mower for your garden. Naturally, a wider cutting width will reduce the overall time spent mowing, but the mower itself will be larger, more expensive and not as easy to store.

Manoeuvrability is another important factor. If you have a large square or rectangular expanse of lawn with straight-edged borders and few obstacles, then any model will be fine. But if your garden is landscaped with curved borders or there are other obstacles such as trees, benches, gazebos and ponds in the middle of the sward, your best bet is a ride-on mower with either articulated steering or a smaller model with a tight turning circle. 

Another consideration is seat position. Do you want a tractor-style model with the engine in the front and the driver cab to the rear, or a model with the engine in the centre or rear and the driver up front? Front-engined tractor-style mowers look better and make you feel more like Farmer Giles, but for greater visibility and easier lawn maintenance, a ride-on with the driver cab to the front is the best option. Up-front cabs are great for tight curves, obstacles and tricky edges, even if they are a bit ugly looking.

If at all possible, you should sit on the model you plan to purchase, if only to make sure you’re comfortable and you have enough leg room. Thankfully, most of the mowers in this list have adjustable seats.

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Petrol or battery power?

Most current ride-on mowers use petrol-driven engines and some are more powerful than others, so make sure to check the horsepower specifications. Usually, the larger the cutting deck, the more power the engine has.

Unless you have a sizeable budget, we would advise a petrol ride-on lawn mower every time because, while the engine does require some TLC, unleaded petrol is easy to come by and when the engine runs out of fuel you can simply fill it up and continue.

However, if you have the funds and fancy embracing the future – albeit with a degree of inconvenience – a battery-powered model is well worth investigating. A battery-powered mower will be quieter and much better for the environment, but you will need to practise the art of battery management and always ensure you have your batteries fully charged in readiness for your next mowing session. Not many manufacturers have jumped on the battery bandwagon yet, but of those that have, Ego leads the way with its new high-tech Z6, which we conveniently review below.

What’s the best fuel for my petrol lawn mower?

When it comes to fuel, all ride-on mowers powered by a four-stroke engine use unleaded petrol. However, forecourt petrol has a tendency to go off after only a few months if left in the tank or in storage. If that happens, the mower’s engine may refuse to start properly and the carburettor may even start surging, where the revs climb and dip erratically.

Your best option is Aspen 4, a super-clean alkylate petrol that is methanol-free and virtually free from sulphur, benzene and solvents. Aspen 4 has a shelf life of three to five years, whereas unleaded lasts for only three to five months. Yes, at around £22 for five litres, this eco fuel is a pricey option for a ride-on mower, but its engine will love you for it and will start and run perfectly every time, even after a winter in storage. In fact, you should use Aspen 4 or Aspen 2 (the two-stroke variety) in all of your petrol-powered garden machinery. It’s that good.

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The best ride-on mowers you can buy in 2023

1. Stihl RT 4082: Best ride-on lawn mower for ease of use

Price: £2,879 | Buy now from Mowers2Go

Believe it or not, some ride-on mowers are quite complicated to operate, but not this model. Simply hop on, adjust the seat as you would in a car, turn the key, push the hydrostatic transmission lever next to the steering wheel and hit the throttle pedal. To reverse, just pull back the lever. There’s a foot brake, too, lest you run out of control towards the rhododendrons, but that’s it. 

If the Mountfield below is too small for your ample 4,000m² sward, consider this similarly styled but larger model from Stihl, the professional gardener’s brand of choice. This sterling ride-on is equipped with a centrally located 10bhp Stihl EVC 4.000 engine married to a hydrostatic gearbox for variable speed drive and smooth, easily maintained speed around the garden. 

The Stihl RT 4082’s 80cm cutting deck has six cutting heights (35mm-90mm) and is good for gardens up to and beyond 4,000m² (an acre or more). There’s a massive 250-litre grass box on the back that’s emptied by simply extending a side-mounted lever and pulling on it. Handily, a beep is emitted when the hopper’s full.

If you’re in the market for an unflinchingly reliable ride-on that easily handles large gardens, is extremely simple to operate and isn’t prohibitively expensive, then this is the model to jump on.

Key specs – Garden size: 4,000m²; Cutting width: 80cm; Cutting height: 35-90mm; Grass collector: 250 litres

Buy now from Mowers2Go

2. Mountfield 827H: Best ride-on mower for manoeuvrability and storage

Price: £1,945 | Buy now from Mowers Online

If you have just under an acre of lawn (less than half a football pitch), the Mountfield 827H is an excellent option because it’s easy to handle and narrow enough to squeeze through most garden gates.

Powered by a 224cc Stiga ST250 ES OHV petrol engine, the Mountfield 827H features electric key-start ignition, hydrostatic transmission – for infinitely variable speed control, superb manoeuvrability and quick acceleration – a medium-sized 66cm cutting deck and a 150-litre grass box that can be emptied without getting off one’s posterior. An optional mulching kit is also available for those who want grass cuttings fed back into the lawn.

This model comes with a 3.8-litre fuel tank, easy lever access to its six cutting heights (30mm to 76mm) and a hassle-free cleaning system that uses a hose attachment and a blast of water to purge the blade and cutting deck of sticky grass cuttings.

Given the narrowness of this model and its high centre of gravity, we wouldn’t advise riding this mower at an angle on a slope unless you want to end up on YouTube, but for gentle undulating lawns it’s a sterling operator that will manicure a large lawn with little effort.

Key specs – Garden size: 3,000m²; Cutting width: 66cm; Cutting height: 30-76mm; Grass collector: 150 litres

Buy now from Mowers Online

3. Ego Power Z6 Zero-Turn Lawn Mower: Best battery-powered ride-on lawn mower

Price: £4,299 | Buy now from the Green Reaper

Battery-powered mowers are still in their infancy and have a much higher ticket price than their petrol-powered counterparts. But if you’re prepared to fork out a sizeable sum, then Ego is the brand to plump for. The Z6 is one of the world’s first battery ride-ons and it’s an amazing machine, capable of cutting lawns and paddocks of up to three acres using a bank of six high-powered 12Ah batteries.

With its huge 106cm twin cutting decks and ten cutting heights, this mower’s four motors produce an equivalent of 22hp, which is powerful enough to scythe through grass up to 10 inches in height without breaking sweat. Like many larger-scale mowers, the cuttings are discharged out of the side chute so you will be left with a lot of clumps. But once the lawn has been cut, subsequent cuts will leave a much tidier finish.

The Ego Z6 uses zero-turn technology, which means it can turn on its own axis, like a dodgem car. This makes it a fine choice for oddly shaped gardens that require plenty of tight turns. Moreover, the uninterrupted view up front makes it very easy to see exactly where you’re going. The soft-cushioned seat, meanwhile, is fully adjustable and equipped with full suspension for unparalleled comfort.

The Z6 comes with three driving modes – Control, Standard and Sport – and four blade-speed modes. Most users find that Control mode and blade-speed two are sufficient for long cutting sessions without draining too much battery power.

In the pantheon of ride-on mowers, this thing is very nippy (up to 8mph in Sport mode) and great fun to drive. Crucially, it cuts grass brilliantly well with acres of torque to handle even the roughest of conditions. And it’s keenly priced, too – at least for a battery model.

Key specs – Garden size: 8,000m²; Cutting width: 106cm; Cutting height: 35-90mm; Grass collector: 250 litres

Buy now from the Green Reaper

4. Honda HF 2317 HME: Best tractor-style ride-on lawn mower

Price: £3,750 | Buy now from Garden Machinery Direct

This classic tractor-shaped mower is fitted with a reliable 530cc Honda four-stroke OHC V-twin petrol-powered engine that will likely go on running for years. It has variable transmission for smooth pedal-operated speed control, five different speed settings that take you from a sedate 1.2mph to a spritely 5.5mph, and a decent-sized 5.4-litre fuel tank. Everything under the hood is monitored by Honda’s intelligent diagnostic system.

For the cutting system, the Honda HF 2317 HME comes with a medium-sized 92cm twin-blade cutting deck with seven height settings (29mm-80mm) and a massive 280-litre grass collector that’s tilted back manually using a lever without having to leave the seat. Optional extras include a mulching kit and a tow hitch for transporting garden refuse.

The Honda HF 2317 HME is an excellent performer, exceedingly well built and comfortable for long sessions in the saddle. However, it’s Honda’s renowned reliability record that makes this ride-on an especially enticing proposition.

Key specs – Garden size: 5,000m²; Cutting width: 92cm; Cutting height: 29-80mm; Grass collector: 280 litres

Buy now from Garden Machinery Direct

5. Husqvarna RC 320TS AWD: Best ride-on lawn mower for undulating terrain

Price: £7,035 | Buy now from FR Jones and Son

This extraordinarily expensive all-wheel drive mower features a huge 112cm cutting deck with seven different cutting heights (from 25mm to 75mm). This premium ride-on also boasts a large, transparent 12-litre fuel tank for extensive mowing sessions and articulated steering that enables the mower to make extremely tight turns. And since its plucky 656cc Briggs & Stratton petrol engine is mounted behind the driver, you get a much better view of the terrain ahead.

The Huskie’s all-wheel drive system is a massive bonus when used on slippery slopes and gnarly terrain, while its hydrostatic drive allows for faster acceleration. Its clog-free grass collection system is also worthy of mention, since it compacts clippings into its massive 300-litre grass collector, substantially increasing the length of time between trips to the compost heap. When you get there, you simply press a button and the grass collector tips backwards like a tipper truck, emptying all the cuttings in one fell swoop. 

If you have a wildly undulating garden in excess of two acres and can afford the stiff asking price, you won’t rue the day you opted to buy one of these. It cuts most heights of grass stupendously well and steers like a dragonfly, while its superb grass-collection system ensures the sward is left in an immaculate state with no unsightly clumps left behind.

Key specs – Garden size: 10,000m²; Cutting width: 112cm; Cutting height: 25-75mm; Grass collector: 300 litres

Buy now from FR Jones and Son

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