The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for 1 Acre of 2022

Whether you want a fast zero-turn mower, a clean electric mower, a versatile lawn tractor, or a compact rear-engine mower, find one of the best in this guide.

By Mark Wolfe | Updated May 25, 2022 1:13 PM

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Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre

Photo: depositphotos.com

When you have a large yard, mowing the lawn can consume an outsize portion of a weekend. Push mowers and walk-behinds work fine to a point, but somewhere between a half acre and 1 acre, many end up choosing a riding lawn mower. In addition to letting the operator have a seat while mowing, riding mowers offer more mowing power, a wider deck, and a faster mowing speed to get the job done faster.

These machines may be used to help care for a property in other ways, too. They can pull a utility cart for hauling tools, gardening supplies, and yard debris. They can tow a fertilizer spreader, a lawn aerator, or a yard sweeper. They can even help with snow removal by pushing a snow plow or powering a snow blower. Since every yard is different, there are different sizes and types of riding lawn mowers to choose from. However, knowing which may be right for you may not be entirely intuitive. So what is the best riding lawn mower?

To help you identify the right mower for your yard, read on to learn about some key shopping considerations that we used to identify some of the best riding mowers for a variety of yards. Whether you are looking for the best riding lawn mower for the money, the best garden tractor, or the best small riding lawn mower, one of the following top picks for the best riding lawn mower for 1 acre or more, may be the right lawn mower for you.

  1. BEST OVERALL: John Deere S130 Riding Lawn Mower
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Craftsman 46 in. Automatic Gas Riding Mower
  3. BEST ELECTRIC: Ryobi 42 in. 100 Ah Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower
  4. BEST LAWN TRACTOR: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46 in. Riding Lawn Tractor
  5. BEST ZERO-TURN: Toro 42 in. TimeCutter Zero Turn Lawn Mower
  6. BEST FOR HILLS: Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. Gas Riding Lawn Mower
  7. BEST COMPACT: Troy-Bilt 30 in. Riding Mower with Mulch Kit
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Husqvarna YTH18452 Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower
Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Riding Lawn Mowers for 1 Acre

When shopping for a lawn mower, several design and comfort factors will help you narrow the search to find one that is right for your property. Read on to learn more about choosing an appropriate type and size as well as other features that can extend its usefulness beyond mowing.

Engine Power and Source

To quickly and efficiently mow an acre of grass, a mower needs adequate power. The most popular large lawn mowers to date are still gasoline-powered because they offer plenty of power with an extended runtime. But, they do emit exhaust and require fuel handling and storage, along with oil and filter changes and other routine maintenance.

Battery-powered electric riding mowers have become widely available over the past decade and are rapidly increasing in popularity. Battery electric mowers operate without emissions, and with significantly less noise, but they are significantly more expensive to purchase. Also, the batteries must be replaced every 5 years or so.

The most popular gasoline-powered riding lawn mowers for 1 acre are built with 17- to 24-horsepower (hp) engines. Compact rear-engine riding mowers may get the job done with just 10 horsepower. Battery-powered riding mowers typically require a 48- to 60-volt (V) battery and 75-to 100-amp hours (Ah) to mow an average acre of lawn.

Cutting Width

The cutting deck is a major point of discussion because it affects both the speed and the quality of the cut. Not only is the overall width important, but so is the number of blades and the depth of the deck. Generally, the fastest, highest-quality cut comes from a wider, deeper deck with more blades. But a larger, deeper deck with more blades requires more engine power, and it is less maneuverable.

Manufacturers of riding mowers usually pair a 42- to 46-inch-wide deck with a 17- to 24-hp engine. These mowers are far and away the most popular for landowners who have between 0.5 acre and 2 acres. This combination will mow an acre of average lawn grass in 30 to 45 minutes.

Fuel Capacity

On mostly flat ground an average riding mower will use between .5 and .75 gallons of gasoline to mow for an hour, or .25 to .5 gallons per acre. All gas riding mowers have fuel tanks larger than that, but some are only slightly larger. The smallest fuel tank in our lineup is just 1.3 gallons, which could risk running out of gas before completing the job if the terrain is steep or the grass extra tough. Running out of gas could also be an issue with heavier tasks like hauling heavy loads uphill or powering a snow blower. For tough jobs, look for a mower with a fuel capacity of at least 2 gallons.

Electric fuel capacity is measured in amp hours (Ah). Often, electric mower batteries may be upgraded to higher Ah to increase runtime. As a general rule, while shopping for a battery-powered mower it is wise to cut in half the manufacturer’s stated “mows up to [number of acres]” because real-life conditions are never the same as those in the lab where the promotional numbers were recorded.

Transmission

Riding mower transmissions may be manually geared, automatic, hydrostatic, or independent electric motors.

Manually geared transmissions require the operator to select a gear and then go, and may or may not offer “shift on the fly” capability. Shift on the fly means users don’t have to stop to select a different gear. These are the most difficult transmissions to master.

Automatic transmissions are similar to driving in an automatic automobile. Simply select the forward or reverse gear, then press the pedal to move and the mower’s system of belts will change gears as needed.

Instead of belts and pulleys, hydrostatic transmissions use hydraulic pressure to power the wheels. This drive system is superior to both manual and automatic transmissions because it is easier to operate, delivers smooth acceleration, and requires less maintenance. Because it eliminates shifting gears, hydrostatic is a great choice for hills.

Electric mowers use direct drive electric motors instead of transmissions. The drive wheels and blades each have their own motor, which is powered by the one battery. This system requires the lowest maintenance of all because the motors have a very long working life and require no maintenance.

Additional Features

Up to this point we have only discussed performance features. Other considerations that are equally important relate to user comfort, convenience, and multitasking. The following are some of the more important features to consider.

  • Mowing height adjustment is an ergonomic, spring-assisted deck lift lever that takes some of the work out of raising and lowering the mowing deck.
  • No-choke startup, also known as auto choke, is a feature that simplifies starting the lawn mower.
  • An upgraded high-back seat has more cushion in the bottom and support in the back, which makes it more comfortable to operate the mower.
  • A dash-mounted fuel gauge allows users to easily view the fuel level while operating the mower so they can avoid running out of gas.
  • Easy oil-change systems vary among brands. The patented systems make draining the oil and changing the filter faster and easier.
  • A deck washout port allows users to connect a garden hose directly to the top of the mower deck for easy cleanup of grass clippings and debris, rather than raising the entire deck to pressure wash from below.
  • A towing hitch provides the ability to tow a utility cart, a fertilizer spreader, a spike aerator, and other attachments, increasing the usefulness of a riding mower.
  • A mulching deck, or a mulch-on-demand system, shreds the clippings to a finer texture for faster breakdown compared to side discharge. Many mowers require a mulching conversion kit, while others come equipped for the job.
  • Compatibility with a bagger, a mulch kit, a striping kit, a sun canopy, and other attachments further extends the range of possibilities.

Our Top Picks

We’ve compiled the following list of the best riding lawn mowers for 1 acre. Read on to learn why we picked them and whether one may be right for you.

Best Overall

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: John Deere S130 Riding Lawn Mower
Photo: lowes.com

In any discussion of lawn equipment, John Deere is one of the top brands that immediately comes to mind and the S130 shows the reason. This lawn tractor features a John Deere– branded 22-hp V-twin engine built by Briggs & Stratton, a 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, smooth hydrostatic transmission, and a 2.4-gallon fuel tank that enables it to cut 2 acres before refueling.

By many measures the S130 could be the best riding lawn mower for 1 acre. For a price that’s around average among its competition, it includes a variety of features that set it ahead. The wide tires and premium two-piece high-back seat offer a higher, clearer vantage point and a more comfortable ride. The ergonomic deck lift lever is spring assisted for easier operation. The dash-mounted fuel gauge makes it easy to see when it’s time to refuel, and the tank is conveniently located under the seat for easy filling. And when mowing season is over, the S130’s numerous available attachments can do other jobs during the off-season, like plowing snow or hauling firewood. For more on the John Deere S130, check out our in-depth review.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lawn tractor
  • Engine: 22-hp Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine
  • Deck: 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Powerful engine
  • Comfortable seat with a high vantage point
  • Spring-assisted deck lift lever
  • Easy oil change system

Cons

  • Limited capability on hills
  • Premium price for a quality machine

Get the John Deere riding lawn mower at Lowe’s or a local John Deere dealer.  

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Craftsman 46 in. Automatic Gas Riding Mower
Photo: acehardware.com

Save a few hundred bucks and get comparable quality and performance. This Craftsman automatic riding mower features an 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, 46-inch 12-gauge stamped deck, and easy foot-pedal operation. The easy and reliable starting system requires no priming and no choke.

Although this Craftsman riding mower does not include a long list of comfort features, the mid-height seat does offer a good amount of cushion and lower back support. The best features are its strong, dependable construction; consistently reliable start-up; and easy operation. For excellent basic functionality at a highly competitive price, this one is the best riding lawn mower for the money.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lawn tractor
  • Engine: 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton single cylinder
  • Deck: 46-inch 12-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Cuts a wide 46-inch swath
  • Heavy-duty 12-gauge steel deck
  • Easy to operate automatic transmission
  • Value priced

Cons

  • Fewer convenience features than more expensive options

Get the Craftsman riding lawn mower at Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, or Walmart.

Best Electric

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Ryobi 42 in. 100 Ah Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower
Photo: homedepot.com

Instead of using a conventional engine and hydraulic wheel motors, this Ryobi zero-turn riding mower is completely electric. It uses four efficient brushless motors, which are powered by a 48-volt 100 amp-hour rechargeable battery to drive the wheels and blades. No need for gasoline, no oil changes, and no plugs or filters. On a mostly level, consistently mowed lawn, it cuts up to 3 acres per charge, but battery runtime varies with the conditions. The 42-inch deck is stamped from 12-gauge steel.

Battery power comes with some distinct contingencies that must be considered. The Ryobi 48-volt 100-Ah battery provides 2 to 2.5 hours of runtime per charge in average mowing conditions, which is adequate for well over an acre of well-kept lawn on mostly level ground. Tall, dense, or weedy grass; uneven terrain; and inefficient mowing patterns (read: excessive maneuvering without actually mowing) drain the battery faster.

Recharge time from 30 percent charge takes about 12 hours. With proper charging and maintenance, the battery can work about 5 years before it needs to be replaced. Those looking for a quiet, powerful mower that eliminates most of the gas engine inconveniences may find what they are looking for in this electric mower.

Product Specs

  • Type: Zero turn
  • Engine: 4 brushless electric motors, 48-volt 100 amp-hour rechargeable battery
  • Deck: 42-inch 12-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Quiet operation
  • No exhaust fumes
  • Mows up to 3 acres per charge

Cons

  • Bogs down in overgrown grass
  • Reduced battery runtime in tougher mowing conditions
  • Premium price

Get the Ryobi riding lawn mower at The Home Depot.

Best Lawn Tractor

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT 46 in. Riding Lawn Tractor
Photo: homedepot.com

For tough mowing conditions and other all-purpose lawn-tractor tasks, this may be the best choice. The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro LT features a premium 22-hp Kohler V-twin engine and a rugged 12-gauge steel 46-inch deck that are perfect for mowing up to 2 acres of mixed level and hilly terrain. It is also compatible with a wide range of add-on equipment, like utility carts, spreaders, a snow plow, and others, to help maintain a property throughout the year.

The XT1 Enduro LT boasts thick steel in the deck, a wide cutting swath, and tight turning radius to work hard in difficult conditions. The all-purpose Cub Cadet’s added weight supports superior traction and maneuverability, making it the best garden tractor in our roundup.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lawn tractor
  • Engine: 22-hp Kohler V-twin engine
  • Deck: 46-inch 12-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Powerful 22-hp V-twin engine
  • Heavy-duty 46-inch deck
  • Premium 15-inch high-back seat
  • Attachment capable

Cons

  • Premium price for a quality lawn tractor

Get the Cub Cadet riding lawn mower at The Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., or Blain’s Farm & Fleet

Best Zero-Turn

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Toro 42 in. TimeCutter Zero Turn Lawn Mower
Photo: tractorsupply.com

Zero-turn mowers are grass-cutting specialists with the maneuverability to literally turn on a dime, or even pivot in place. The Toro 42-inch TimeCutter is powered by a 22-hp Kohler V-twin engine and is capable of mowing up to 7 miles per hour, which is nearly double the speed of a lawn tractor. It features commercial-quality hydro pumps and wheel motors, and it comes with a rugged 10-gauge fabricated deck for durability to match its speed.

This zero-turn mower is a superior choice for mowing large, relatively level and open lawn areas dotted with obstacles. It includes a drop-pin tow hitch suitable for pulling a fertilizer spreader or a lawn aerator to help with maintenance, and it is compatible with the Toro TimeCutter twin bagger, which is sold separately.

Product Specs

  • Type: Zero turn
  • Engine: 22-hp Kohler V-twin engine
  • Deck: 42-inch 10-gauge fabricated steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Mows up to 2.5 acres per hour
  • Commercial-grade wheel motors
  • 10-gauge steel-fabricated deck
  • Compatible with add-on lawn care equipment

Cons

  • Not suitable for hilly terrain
  • Premium price tag

Get the Toro riding lawn mower at Tractor Supply Co., The Home Depot, or Mowers Direct.

Best For Hills

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Troy-Bilt Bronco 42 in. Gas Riding Lawn Mower
Photo: homedepot.com

Lawn tractors are usually the best choice for hilly terrain thanks to their balanced-weight design and easy-to-control steering. The Troy-Bilt Bronco offers the needed stability and control for mowing slopes, with the easy access of a step-through frame, and easy operation of an AutoDrive transmission. It is powered by a durable, pressure-lubricated 19-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, and it features a 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck.

The Bronco’s cutting deck includes anti-scalping rollers to eliminate gouging the grass on uneven terrain. The simple design, mow-in-reverse feature, and intuitive automatic operation helps operators focus on navigating the terrain instead of fumbling with controls. One feature  that Troy-Bilt could improve upon is the small 1.3-gallon fuel tank that could risk running low before the job is complete. Overall, this one could be a smart choice for durable functionality in rugged terrain.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lawn tractor
  • Engine: 19-hp Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine
  • Deck: 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Easy-to-use AutoDrive transmission
  • Anti-scalping deck wheel system
  • Full pressure lubricated Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Running headlights

Cons

  • Undersize fuel tank

Get the Troy-Bilt Bronco riding lawn mower at The Home Depot, Troy-Bilt, or Walmart

Best Compact

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Troy-Bilt 30 in. Riding Mower with Mulch Kit
Photo: homedepot.com

When more mowing power is needed but a lawn tractor or zero-turn rider is too big, that’s where a compact rear-engine rider excels. Our pick for the best small riding lawn mower, the Troy-Bilt TB30B mower, requires half the storage space of a lawn tractor, maneuvers most walk-through gates with ease, and improves mowing speed over typical walk-behind mowers. It features a reliable 10.5-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, and a 30-inch 13-gauge steel deck capable of side discharge or mulching.

Although it is considered a lightweight mower, the TB30B’s rear engine configuration balances the weight over the drive wheels to offer good traction on sloped terrain. The manual six-speed transmission is shift-on-the-fly capable for easy speed control. This compact mower takes up only 30 by 62 inches in storage, and it navigates passages as narrow as 3 feet. Those who want a compact mower or have learned that bigger is not always better may want to consider this small riding mower.

Product Specs

  • Type: Rear engine
  • Engine: 10.5-hp Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine
  • Deck: 30-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, 1 blade

Pros

  • Easy storage in a garden shed or a garage
  • Easy access into gated areas and landscape bottleneck areas
  • Mow-in-reverse capable
  • Tow-hitch for utility cart or lawn care accessories

Cons

  • Relatively wide turning radius

Get the Troy-Bilt riding lawn mower with mulch kit at The Home Depot, Troy-Bilt, or Walmart

Also Consider

The Best Riding Lawn Mowers for One Acre Option: Husqvarna YTH18452 Hydrostatic Riding Lawn Mower
Photo: lowes.com

The Husqvarna brand includes a wide range of dependable, high-functioning outdoor power equipment, and this entry-level riding mower is no different. It features a 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton Intek engine for year-round use, and a 42-inch 13-gauge stamped cutting deck with air induction technology and dual anti-scalp wheels for a superior cut, all at a bargain price.

Although this mower is less powerful than our other picks, it does offer adequate power and functionality to perform many of the same jobs. It works well on hilly terrain and is compatible with a variety of attachments for year-round property maintenance. Consider this a low-cost alternative for the top performers or a higher-functioning alternative to other less expensive picks.

Product Specs

  • Type: Lawn tractor
  • Engine: 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine
  • Deck: 42-inch 13-gauge stamped steel deck, 2 blades

Pros

  • Dependable 18.5-hp Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Compatible with many lawn and garden attachments
  • Rated for level or hilly terrain
  • Value price point

Cons

  • Less powerful than other top picks

Get the Husqvarna riding lawn mower at Lowe’s or Rural King

Our Verdict

Riding mowers are usually either universal property-care equipment or grass-cutting specialists. When it comes to cutting an acre of grass, it’s essential to have a dependable machine that will get the job done quickly and efficiently. Those who value multitask equipment that offer excellent power and performance with outstanding comfort may appreciate the John Deere riding lawn mower. It will mow up to 2 acres in just over an hour and is built to support all kinds of property maintenance functions, like snow removal and towing a utility trailer.

The Ryobi riding lawn mower, on the other hand, is a grass-mowing specialist. It runs cleanly and quietly on pure electric power and mows open, level ground at speeds up to 7 miles per hour, or just over 2.5 acres per hour.

How We Chose the Best Riding Lawn Mowers for 1 Acre

We researched the top riding lawn mower brands and models sold through brick and mortar stores as well as online retailers. Through this research we compiled more than 20 models from more than a dozen brands, and then we whittled the list down to include only the best sellers within the categories of lawn tractors, residential zero-turn mowers, and rear-engine riding mowers.

After comparing the measurables, like deck size, engine power, travel speed, turning radius, and price, we determined the awards and named the top performers.

FAQs

If you’re searching for a new riding lawn mower, you may have lingering questions about the best mower for your property. Read on for answers to a few common questions asked by other shoppers.

Q. What should I look for when buying a riding lawn mower?

Determine the type of riding mower that best fits your needs: lawn tractor, zero-turn mower, or rear-engine riding mower. Consider the engine power, deck size, and mowing speed. For one acre, most users prefer the performance of 17 to 22 horsepower, 42- to 46-inch deck, and travel speed of 4 to 5 mph for lawn tractors, or 7 mph for zero-turn mowers.

Q. What size mower is best for 1 acre?

The most popular deck size of mower for an acre is 42 inches. However, a wider deck, up to 54 inches, could be a great choice if the space is wide open and relatively flat.

Q. How long does it take to cut 1 acre of grass?

Most lawn tractors equipped with a 42-inch deck can mow an acre in about 36 minutes. Mowing speed in acres per hour (APH) is calculated by factoring the deck size and travel speed. A mower with a 42-inch deck, averaging 4.5 miles per hour, can cut 1.7 acres per hour. Change the deck size to 46 inches and the acres per hour increases to nearly 1.9.

For the most accurate calculation, use this formula: APH = (MW/12) (MS x 5,280) / 43,560 x 0.9

APH Acres per hour

MW Mower width

MS Mower speed

5,280 feet in a mile

43,560 square feet in an acre

Q. What is a good horsepower for a lawn mower?

For a 1-acre lawn, choose a lawn tractor with between 17 and 24 horsepower, or a zero-turn mower with between 20 and 25 horsepower.

Q. How do you transport a riding mower?

Load the mower onto the trailer or into the truck bed with the engine toward the front of the vehicle. On a trailer, position the engine in front of the trailer axles. Set the mower’s parking brake. Tie down the mower front and back to anchor points in the truck bed or trailer bed with ratchet straps.