What Size of Mower Do You Need?

Cub Cadet Mower

Picking a mower is more than just getting the biggest deck you can afford. There are several factors at play that determine how well it will fit your needs from how easy it is to use to how it handles the shape of your yard. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a new lawn mower.

Riding or Walk-Behind?

Regular walk-behind mowers are best suited for lawns smaller than an acre and work best for lawns under a half-acre. Riding mowers have large decks and move faster so they can cover a lot more ground.

Wide area walk-behinds blur the line between these mowers. A mower like the CC 800 has a deck that mows more with each pass, letting the operator cover up to two acres per mow. If you don’t mind adding some walking to your lawn care, this is an inexpensive alternative to a riding mower. Cub Cadet’s new Pro Hydro Walk commercial mowers can be used with a sulky. The operator stands on this trailer as its pulled along by the mower, letting the deck cut grass at the same speed as a riding mower. Once in tight quarters, it can be used like a regular walk-behind, maneuvering around obstacles. While it won’t be as comfortable as a riding mower, these models are a great option for properties with a mix of open areas and obstacles.

Push or Self-Propelled?

Push mowers are lighter, cheaper and easier to steer. If you have a small lawn, these are a good choice.

Self-propelled mowers take most of the effort out of mowing, making them practical for larger lawns and areas with slopes. Owners used to have problems disengaging the drive system before their mower runs over flowerbeds and other landscape, but this is no longer a problem with Cub Cadet’s MySpeed drive. It’s controlled by the pressure the operator puts on the handle, so if you stop moving, so does the mower.

Low Wheels, High Wheels or Caster Wheels?

High wheel walk-behind mowers provide more leverage when lifting the front end to make turns, and they can handle uneven terrain better than low wheel mowers.

Front caster wheels like those found on the SC 500 Z let the mower be turned without lifting the front end. This makes it a great choice for lawns with a lot of obstacles. Wide area mowers also use casters so the operator doesn’t have to lift the heavy deck.

Mower Speed

Top speed on most mowers is intended for transport while getting a good mowing finish depends largely on the deck design. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to get good mowing quality on flat terrain at these speeds:

Walk-behind – 2 mph
Residential riding mowers – 5 mph
Professional mowers – 7-8 mph

Deck Size

Other factors aside, you can expect these decks to be the best match for the size of yard you’re mowing:

Half acre – walk behind mower
One acre – 36-42 inch riding or wide area walk-behind mower
One to two acres – 42-54 inch riding or wide area walk-behind mower
Over two acres – 46-60 inch riding mower
Over four acres – 60 inches or more

Tractor or ZTR?

Lawn and garden tractors have more stability on slopes, while ZTRs can more easily maneuver around obstacles. ZTRs can also turn back to the exact spot needed for the next pass, saving time on re-mowing the edge of the lawn. However, if you’re looking to use attachments with your mower, you’ll have a lot more options with a lawn or garden tractor.

Lap Bar or Steering Wheel?

Steering wheel-based systems are easier for beginners to learn. The four-wheel steering system on Cub Cadet’s Pro Z models increase mowing speeds even when used by professionals with plenty of lap bar experience. However, opting for this system does add to the cost of the mower.

The CC 30 Rider may look like a ZTR, but it’s really a compact tractor. It has the same steering limitations of other lawn tractors, but its small size helps with maneuverability.


Cub Cadet chooses the engines for their mowers based on each model’s needs, so there’s no direct advantage to choosing a model with more power. However, if EFI is an option for the model you want, it’s worth getting. These engines require less maintenance and have lower fuel consumption.

Can I Get Parts?

No matter which Cub Cadet you end up buying, you can get the parts and accessories you need from www.cubparts.com. We’re a certified dealer for Cub Cadet and their manufacturing partners, so we’re able to offer OEM replacement for everything from blades to spark plugs. Our site lets you search based on your model and can show you factory parts diagrams and descriptions so you know exactly what you’re ordering. We ship across the U.S. and Canada.

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