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Garden Tractors: Do You Really Need One?

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

While buying a ride-on mower may seem the right thing to do if you have a lot of lawn to mow, garden tractors are expensive and not suited to every yard. Here's what to ask yourself before you take the plunge and buy a ride-on mower:

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  • Does your lawn size justify a garden tractor? If you have less than a half acre of land, it is more economical for you to stick with an electric or gas push mower.
  • Do you have storage space? Garden tractors are considerably larger than a gas push mower. They also come with a variety of attachments that need storage.
  • Are you committed to maintaining it properly, much like a car? A garden tractor is a vehicle, unlike a push mower. It has bearings, axles, steering mechanisms, filters, spark plugs, engine oil, and more.
  • Do you need the tractor for more than mowing? If so, you need more than just the mower--there's the added expense of attachments, like a snow blower, tiller, and vacuum bag (for leaves and lawn clippings). This may be a big investment for you if you don't already own that equipment and plan on using the tractor year-round for various yard maintenance activities.
  • Is your yard an obstacle course? It may be more difficult to use a garden tractor if your yard has many buildings, patios, trees, fountains, gardens, etc. that would make it awkward (or even dangerous) to mow using a ride-on mower. Hills increase the chance of deadly rollovers. (The Consumer Reports article, Hills Pose Risks for Some Riding Mowers elaborates on this topic.) For more safety tips on ride-on and other lawn mowers, consult the National Traffic Safety Institute.

Before spending thousands of dollars on a ride-on garden tractor, make sure it's the right choice for you and that you know safety procedures and are willing to maintain and store your investment properly.


About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at

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