Lawn Mower Buying Guide
What should I consider before choosing a lawn mower?
Every yard needs a reliable lawn mower, one that’s built to help make yardwork less of a chore. Investing in a lawn mower is an exciting time and there are many factors to consider. Troy-Bilt® is here to help you learn the different types, specifications and features. But before you dive in, consider these tips with everything you need to know on how to choose a lawn mower:
Yard size: The most important consideration when searching for a lawn mower is lawn size. Walk-behind mowers will work well for yards of less than an acre, but if you live on a property larger than that, then you’ll want to narrow your search to riders.
Mow time: How much time you want to spend mowing, combined with the size of your yard, will focus your lawn mower selection. Riding lawn mowers can significantly reduce your mowing time compared to walk-behind mowers, which is why they are generally recommended for large properties. A rugged and reliable Troy-Bilt walk-behind mower will get the job done for smaller yards, but you might also consider a small riding mower if you’re looking to get the job done quickly.
Terrain type: A small yard might be hilly – a large yard might be flat. The kind of terrain you’ll be mowing over will help guide you in deciding which features will be most helpful in making the task easier.
Obstacles: If your yard has a lot of trees or obstacles to maneuver around, a mower with a tighter turning radius or one that is self-propelled will come in handy.
Storage space: Whether it’s in the garage or a shed, you’ll need space to store your lawn mower. Take stock of your available capacity and make sure there’s enough for the new addition. Also measure the width of your gates and other entrances you’ll need to maneuver your machine through so that the mower will fit with ease.
Mow frequency: If you only like to mow when you need to and want to avoid raking grass clippings from your yard, consider purchasing a mower with a rear bagger included, such as the TB200 Self-Propelled Lawn Mower. Alternatively, you might be able to purchase a rear bagger attachment for your mower to collect clippings for easy disposal. Mulching grass clippings puts nutrients back into the soil for a healthy lawn and may be best accomplished when you mow more frequently. (See “How should I dispose of grass clippings?”, below, for more on discharge options.)
What are the different types of lawn mowers?
Walk-behinds and riders are the two general types of lawn mowers, but they come in many shapes and sizes. Get to know some of the most common ones:
Reel mowers: With no engine, reel mowers, such as the TB18R Reel Lawn Mower, are powered entirely by operator effort. They also provide a quiet operation, allowing you to mow earlier or later depending on your schedule.
Push mowers: These predominantly use gas-powered engines to propel the blades, requiring the operator to push the machine forward.
Self-propelled mowers: Some walk-behinds feature a transmission that propels the machine forward with two primary speed types. Single-speed offers a set speed that can be engaged or disengaged. Variable-speed systems allow you to set your pace more precisely by squeezing on a lever or the handles. Troy-Bilt self-propelled mowers also come in two different drive types — front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. (See “What kind of drive system do I need?”, below, for more on the different drive types.)
Wide-area walk-behinds: If you’re looking to get the job done more efficiently than a walk-behind with a standard deck, a wide-area walk-behind mower comes with a larger deck. Available in 23" or 28" deck sizes, such as the TBWC28B Self-Propelled Lawn Mower, these self-propelled mowers can make the job a little easier than standard deck mowers by reducing cut time because they can cut more grass with each pass.
Mini riders: A more compact riding lawn mower with a 30" deck, mini riders such as the TB30B are ideal for smaller properties because of their smaller size; however, they still offer many of the same features as a standard riding lawn mower. They’re great if you’re tight on storage space or have a smaller gate you’ll need to regularly maneuver through.
Lawn tractors: These riding mowers, such as the Pony® 42 Riding Lawn Mower, are great for larger properties and designed to accept lawn mower attachments like grass baggers, dump carts and other pull-behind accessories like aerators and sprayers so you can use your machine for more than just cutting grass.
Zero-turn mowers: Named for their turning radius, zero-turn lawn mowers are ideal for large properties of at least 1 acre or more. Zero-turns like the Mustang™ Z42 are designed to turn on a dime, helping you to trim close to all lawn edges quickly, and navigate around trees and other obstacles with relative ease. All Troy-Bilt zero-turn mowers are attachment capable.
What size lawn mower do I need for my yard?
A general rule of thumb is: The bigger the yard, the bigger the cutting deck you’ll need. If your yard is less than an acre, a walk-behind lawn mower should do just fine. Reel mowers are great for homeowners who have virtually no yard to worry about, or less than one-fourth of an acre. A push or self-propelled mower is ideal for yards less than a half-acre to ⅓ acre. If your yard is bigger than a half-acre, consider a wide-area self-propelled lawn mower with a 23" or 28" deck. People often wonder whether they need a riding mower for a ½-acre yard; however, a mini rider (30" deck) would also be a good choice, bringing many of the advantages of a rider in a compact size that saves on storage space.
Lawn tractors or zero-turn mowers are ideal for properties of 1 acre or more. These come in a variety of deck sizes and powerful engines, allowing you to easily tackle the task.
Size is not the only factor. For example, your yard may be less than a half-acre, but if it consists of mostly uneven terrain and lots of obstacles, then you might want to consider a self-propelled lawn mower or a model with high rear wheels, such as the TBWC28B Self-Propelled Lawn Mower, to help you navigate it.
Learn more about the best types of lawn mowers for your yard.
When is the best time to buy a lawn mower?
Like with most other necessities, it’s best to think about buying before you actually need one. The best time to buy a lawn mower is in early spring, as it means you should have a larger selection of available products with the features you’re looking for. And you’ll be ready to go the moment your grass is ready to be cut.
What specifications should I consider when buying a lawn mower?
Your perfect fit is striking a balance between your needs and preferences. Here’s a closer look at some of the key features of Troy-Bilt lawn mowers.
Engine size: Bigger yards need bigger lawn mowers, and bigger lawn mowers need more power to get the job done. A lawn mower with an engine that features higher horsepower or larger cylinder volume capacity (measured in “cc”) is designed to handle tough grass conditions.
Deck size: Like engine size, the bigger the deck, the more grass you can cut in one pass, allowing you to work efficiently. Technically, large decks will work on small yards, but that may make it hard to get around tight spaces. It’s important to choose the right deck size based on your yard size, the number of obstacles, and how quickly you want to get the job done.
Drive type: As explained above, there are three primary drive types for Troy-Bilt self-propelled walk-behind mowers. Troy-Bilt riding mowers also have different drive types available (explained further below.)
Discharge options: Disposal of grass clippings is an important part of cutting grass. Many mowers feature side discharge or rear bagging, while others are also compatible with a mulch kit (explained further below).
Attachments: Many Troy-Bilt lawn tractors and zero-turns are attachment capable , allowing you to use them for more than just cutting grass. Not all attachments are available on all models – so consider what else you want to use your lawn mower for. (See “What are some must-have attachments for my riding lawn mower?”, below, for a list of available attachments.)
What kind of drive system do I need?
Troy-Bilt self-propelled walk-behind lawn mowers are designed to allow you to put minimal effort into pushing your machine and can make mowing over uneven terrain easy. Here’s a look at some of the advantages:
Front-wheel drive: FWD helps deliver traction to the front wheels and helps you maneuver easily around beds and trees. Since the drive controls the wheels up front, FWD is engineered for smooth handling.
Rear-wheel drive: RWD helps deliver traction to the rear wheels and will help provide handling for excellent performance on hills.
InStep™: Troy-Bilt’s drive control system – InStep – makes the job easy by adjusting to your pace so you can mow at a speed that’s comfortable to you. Available on select walk-behind mowers.
Riding mowers are more involved than walk-behinds, so naturally they’ll operate differently, utilizing a speed adjuster, levers, pedals or a combination of all three. Whatever set of controls you’re most comfortable with will guide your decision among these options.
Shift-on-the-Go®: This is the entry-level transmission that sets your speed and direction prior to mowing. You don’t have to constantly have your foot on a pedal, and there is a brake to stop.
Continuous variable transmissions: CVTs utilize a shifter and a pedal to give the user control over direction and speed. Troy-Bilt AutoDrive™ allows you to shift into forward, reverse or neutral, then press down on the pedal. Like driving a car, your speed is determined by how much you press on the pedal.
Hydrostatic transmissions: A drive system that allows the operator to directly control the speed of the mower through the pedals (one for forward and another for reverse). The more you press on the pedal, the faster you’ll go, allowing you to customize your speed to your liking.
How should I dispose of grass clippings?
There are three primary ways most Troy-Bilt lawn mowers process grass clippings: side discharge, rear bagging and mulching. During your search, you’ll probably run into terms like 2-in-1 and 3-in-1, particularly when looking at walk-behind lawn mowers. A 2-in-1 mower generally will be side discharge- and bagging-capable, while a 3-in-1 mower also will generally be compatible with a mulch kit.
Riding lawn mowers typically do not use the 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 vernacular, but they still predominantly rely on the same three methods to process grass clippings. There are advantages to each option:
Side discharge: This is the most common method of disposal, as the grass clippings will discharge out from the mower’s side chute as you mow, allowing them to circulate across the yard. It’s quick, easy and efficient – ideal if you have a small lawn, short grass or mow frequently. Keep in mind that this method may come with some additional cleanup work if your grass is on the longer side, as clippings could spray onto your driveway and on the sidewalk. And if the grass is too long, side discharging may create lumps in the yard.
Bagging: Instead of discharging the grass clippings all over your yard, the mower sucks them into a bag, usually attached to the back of the mower. If you’re looking for a clean-cut, well-kept look, bagging is the way to go as most grass clippings will be collected with the bag. You’ll also be able to clear certain other debris – like weeds and leaves – from the yard while you mow, saving you time by integrating multiple tasks into one. Just be sure you don’t accidentally clear debris that is too big for your mower to handle, as that could cause damage to the machine. Keep in mind, you may need to empty the bagger multiple times throughout your cut, adding time to the task. A bag that can handle more bushels of debris will mitigate the number of times you need to stop and empty it.
Mulching: Both side discharge and mulching methods return grass clippings to your yard. However, using a mulching blade in your mower may create finer pieces of grass that provide natural nutrients to your lawn. To utilize this method, you will need to install a mulch kit to replace the standard blade and block the discharge chute. This allows the mower to recut the clippings multiple times, creating a fine mulch that helps fertilize your soil. It is important to note that, as with side discharge, frequent mowing is necessary when mulching to avoid large clippings that may not decompose quickly enough. This is especially true for tall or thick grass, which may not be chopped finely enough for effective decomposition.
Not sure whether to mulch or bag grass clippings? Read our tips to learn whether mulching or bagging grass clippings is best for your lawn.
What features should I consider for my lawn mower?
Don’t forget to consider what you, the operator, need out of your machine. Troy-Bilt lawn mowers can come engineered with various features to help make the task easier. Some helpful and time-saving features to consider include:
Convenient height adjustment: On a walk-behind, look for dual- or single-lever adjustment if you want to quickly adjust the cutting height with no tools required. On Troy-Bilt riding mowers and zero-turns, this is done by a hand lever.
Deck wash: Decks with a deck wash allow you to simply attach a standard garden hose to help clean debris from the cutting system.
Traction: If your yard has uneven terrain, consider a walk-behind mower with high rear wheels or front caster wheels, as this will help you navigate it smoothly. Riding lawn mowers often come with automotive-inspired wheel options with tread patterns designed to deliver a smooth ride and help prevent turf damage.
Auto choke: A feature built into the engine that eliminates priming, auto choke is designed to provide quick and easy starting.
Blade engagement: Riding lawn mowers with this feature will allow you to disengage the blades so the rider can be used for more than just cutting grass. This is generally done with a power takeoff clutch (PTO), either with a hand lever or with an electric knob/button.
Headlights: These enhance visibility to help you see better. On many Troy-Bilt riding mowers, they automatically turn on when you start the machine.
AGM batteries: Many Troy-Bilt lawn tractors and zero-turns are equipped with AGM batteries, which are designed to provide a longer life span, lower maintenance and improved starting performance compared with traditional lead acid wet cell batteries.
What are some must-have attachments for my riding lawn mower?
Many lawn tractors and zero-turns are designed to do more than just cut grass and are engineered to accept a variety of attachments and accessories. Not all attachments are compatible with all models, so be sure to look closely to make sure the attachment works with the mower you’re considering. A few options to consider for getting the most out of your lawn mower are:
Baggers: Twin- or triple-bagger attachments save raking time and allow for quick cleanup and easy leaf pickup in the fall. Troy-Bilt’s twin bagger system has up to a 6.5-bushel capacity, while triple baggers have up to a 10-bushel capacity, allowing for long mowing time before emptying is needed.
Mulch kits: These are helpful for various types of lawn mowers. Recycling grass clippings back into your lawn through mulching is one of the best ways to help your lawn stay healthy. Help reduce yard waste by mulching frequently during the mowing season.
Striping kit: Adding patterns to your yard gives it the well-manicured look of a golf course or a professional sports field. Striping kits allow you to mow and stripe at the same time, making it easy to get the lawn you’ve always wanted.
Sun shades: Shades help to shield the operator from the sun while mowing. Designed for easy installation and removal, the Troy-Bilt sun shade features a heavy duty frame for long-lasting quality.
Hauler: The Troy-Bilt EZ-Stow Hauler can hold up to 10 cubic feet of soil or mulch, brick, stone, shrubs, plants, or even garbage bins. This versatile two-wheeled cart features four collapsible sides, so it can be folded flat and stored vertically to take up less storage space in a garage or shed.
Snow plow: Plow blade attachments, like the Troy-Bilt 52" All-Season Plow Blade Attachment, are designed to move snow, dirt, gravel, mulch and other commonly used materials that you need to remove in order to maintain your yard.
Are there any additional tips on finding the right lawn mower for my yard?
Troy-Bilt lawn mowers are designed to meet a variety of needs and are built to withstand the demands of yardwork. Whether you’re in the market for a sturdy walk-behind mower or a reliable riding mower, Troy-Bilt has you covered. Visit our website, troybilt.com, and use our Virtual Shopping Assistant to easily identify the ideal mower for your yard.