Tips to help you determine the ideal mower for each property

August 17, 2023 -  By
Knowing the right mower for a property saves time and allows for greater productivity. (Photo: Gravely)

Knowing the right mower for a property saves time and allows for greater productivity. (Photo: Gravely)

No two lawns are the same, making it important for landscape company operators to choose the safest and most efficient equipment for each one. From ride-on and walk-behind to stand-on and robotic mowers, companies need equipment that will best tackle a job site’s terrain, size and obstacles.

“Having the right type of mower — whether it’s the brand, category or size — can make a dramatic difference in how productive and efficient you are on a property,” says Lenny Mangnall, product manager for Exmark.

Here’s a look at the different types of mowers and which environments each is best suited for.


Zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers are the workhorses of a fleet. These mowers also provide operator comfort on larger properties and rough terrains, says Angie Ansorge, product manager for Gravely Commercial.

Ride-ons are popular with contractors because of the speed to complete a job, especially on flat, open properties, says Chad Carney, go-to-market manager for commercial mowing with John Deere.

“If you have a large field or property that you need to mow, then you probably don’t want a stand-on or walk-behind and would rather use a larger deck zero-turn to get the job done more efficiently as well,” Carney says.

However, ride-on mowers aren’t ideal for tight spaces, properties with fences, medians, parking lots, sidewalks or roadways, Carney adds. Also, even if a mower fits on a job site, that doesn’t always mean it’s the most efficient option. “If it’s too wide, you’ll be making more turns and circle backs compared to a smaller mower,” Mangnall says.

When mowing around retention ponds or ledges, ride-on mowers wouldn’t be the safest option, says Per Kvarby, vice president of product management and marketing for Greenworks Commercial.

“Ride-on zero-turn mowers are very productive on large open areas but not ideal on land with steep inclines or multiple obstacles like hedges and trees creating narrow passages,” Kvarby says.


Perfect for small residential properties, trim work or hard-to-reach spots, walk-behinds are also the go-to mower for areas with safety concerns. That includes maintaining turf around retention ponds or steep slopes.

“Nothing will hold a hill like a walk-behind does,” Mangnall says. “You can be more confident with what you’re mowing, and that helps with safety, efficiency and productivity.”

Crews are often more comfortable using them on slopes of varying steepness. “Some prefer walk-behinds so they don’t have to dismount at all on angles,” Ansorge says.

Customers on residential properties might also request not to have larger equipment on their lawns, so it’s important operators consider those preferences and opt for a walk-behind.


A hybrid between a walk-behind and ride-on, stand-ons have a compact design that provides a smaller footprint to fit into tight spaces and save on trailer space.

“You still have to be concerned around safety zones, but stand-ons give you the speed and productivity of a ZTR,” Mangnall says.

Stand-on mowers are ideal for properties that require operators to jump curbs or smaller areas like strip malls where they need to mow and move on to the next site, Ansorge says.

“For somewhat smaller spaces requiring more maneuverability, a stand-on mower would work best,” Kvarby says.


Installed on a residential property, compact and lightweight robotic mowers offer less mobility than other options, Kvarby says. However, these autonomous mowers provide the convenience of not needing to manually cut the grass.

“These mowers are best suited for areas under 1 acre in size with summer-type grasses like Bermuda or Zoysia,” Kvarby says.

Commercial options include technology to retrofit existing mowers and larger stand-alone options.

Customer demands, property and crew sizes are different for each operation, so it’s about finding the best mower options to meet those specific needs.

“For every property, it is important the professional landscaper studies the lot and discusses expectations about the end result with the property owner,” Kvarby says.

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