Riding Mower vs Lawn Tractor: What’s the Difference?

Trying to decide between a riding mower and a lawn tractor? This can be a difficult task when both pieces of lawn equipment are quite similar. Keep reading to learn about differences between these pieces of machinery, as well as their uses, capabilities, and how to choose the perfect piece of lawn care equipment for your needs.

What is the Difference Between a Riding Mower vs Lawn Tractor?

While the terms "riding mower" and "lawn tractor" are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two pieces of lawn equipment.

Capabilities and Attachments

While both riding mowers and lawn tractors have the capability to connect with a variety of attachments, riding mowers are primarily designed for mowing. On the other hand, lawn tractors are often equipped with a rear hitch allowing them to use attachments like a snow blower, aerator, or trailer.


Riding mowers tend to be small and light, making them a great piece of equipment for navigating tight spaces across a lawn and making tight circles around trees. Lawn tractors on the other hand are often heavier and larger pieces of equipment, which offer more stability on uneven terrain, steep hills, slopes, etc. Lawn tractors also have wider turning circles, which may make it difficult to maneuver in a smaller landscape.

Terrain Usage

Riding mowers are better for smaller lawns with obstacles and slight terrain changes, while lawn tractors are better for larger lawns or areas with more varied terrains, such as slopes.

Cutting Deck

On a riding mower, the cutting deck traditionally sits under the front of the machine, while on a lawn tractor, the cutting deck is often mounted on the middle section of the machine.

What is the Best Ride-on Mower for My Garden?

Choosing which riding mower is best for you is dependent on the size of your lawn, budget, and personal needs. That said, the John Deere X300 Select Series lawn tractor is a great riding lawn mower given its seasonal capabilities with a variety of mower attachments, its optional one-touch MulchControl™ technology, and its three different Accel Deep™ Mower Deck sizes.

When is the Best Time to Buy a Mower?

The best time to buy a lawn mower can vary depending on the type of mower you're interested in, where you are located, your timeline, and any specific preferences you may need. If you’re interested in purchasing a mower now, contact your local John Deere dealer to see what types of lawn equipment is in stock in your area.

4 Tips for Shopping for a Lawn Mower

Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision when shopping for your lawn mower.

Tip 1: Choose your Prefered Cutting Method

Lawn mowers are equipped with either a rotary or cylinder cutting method. A rotary mower cuts with a blade that rotates on a horizontal plane while a cylinder mower, or zero-turn mower, rotates against one fixed blade.

Tip 2: Buy a Mower that Fits your Lawn

Bigger isn’t always better, and it's important to be sure the piece of lawn equipment you choose will be capable of navigating tight spaces or trees if your lawn is on the smaller side. Choosing an appropriate size lawn mower will make your cutting experience easier, faster and more enjoyable.

Tip 3: Choose your Power Source

There are 4 options when it comes to choosing a power source for your lawn mower; petrol, cordless, mains electric, and hand powered lawn mowers. Be sure you understand the differences between the 4 before choosing your piece of machinery, as well as the maintenance required to keep them in good shape.

Tip 4: Identify Must-Have Features

Many lawn mowers are equipped with a variety of features that make them more appealing for the job you are trying to complete. Be sure to compare the features of certain brands and mowers to be sure you are sourcing the right piece of machinery for you.

How to Choose Between a Riding Mower vs Lawn Tractor

Choosing between a riding mower and a lawn tractor comes down to a few key components. When purchasing, consider your lawn size, terrain, and must-have features. Riding mowers are best for smaller, flat lawns, while lawn tractors offer versatility for larger, varied terrains. Assess your needs, attachments, and budget to make an informed decision.

For more information regarding lawn tractors and riding mowers, contact your local John Deere dealer.

Additional Resources

What is the Best Lawn Tractor?

Understanding John Deere Lawn Tractors: A FAQ Overview

The History of John Deere Riding Mowers: 1960s to 2000s