Best Small Riding Lawn Mower [2021]

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Best Small Riding Lawn Mower: Troy-Bilt TB30

Among the 15 different riding lawn mowers we’ve tested, the best small riding lawn mower is the Troy-Bilt TB30. It’s an excellent, entry-level, residential-grade lawn mower with a sizable deck and excellent steering.

Here’s a quick look at the TB30’s key specifications—

  • 15.5-HP Engine
  • 30-inch Deck
  • Manual Transmission
  • Soft-Touch Steering

The TB30 is a super-reliable entry-level riding lawn mower for residential and even lightweight commercial purposes.

It sports a hefty 15.5-HP engine that powers the 30-inch mower blades to saw effortlessly through tall grass without trouble.

It uses manual transmission to move up and down slopes with relative ease. Mastering manual transmission takes time, but it offers full control of the rate at which you’re mowing.

The soft-touch steering mechanism turns the TB30’s front wheels with the slightest guidance, allowing you to add final touches to your work without backing up.


  • Incredible fuel-efficient
  • Decent-sized mowing deck
  • Easy to control and maneuver
  • Very little maintenance


  • Engine could be quieter

All in all, the TB30 is an excellent riding lawn mower for homeowners and commercial workers alike. It tackles small-scale mowing jobs easily, thanks to its robust engine and easy maneuverability.

If you’re looking to upgrade your push or walk-behind lawnmower to a riding one, you don’t need to find a mega-wide machine.

For residential purposes, small riding lawn mowers are the best option you can find.

We’ve researched over two dozen different models to create this list.

Hopefully, you’ll be equipped with all the info you need to find the most suitable small riding lawnmower.

Top Small Riding Lawn Mower Compared

Here’s a comparison between Top Small Riding Lawn Mower:

Product ImageProduct NameFeaturesPrice
Troy-Bilt TB30
  • Engine Size: 15.5 hp
  • Deck: 30 in.
  • Transmission: Manual
  • USP: Soft-Touch Steering
Husqvarna Z242F
  • Engine Size: 18 hp
  • Deck: 42 in.
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic
  • USP: ClearCut Deck
Craftsman R105
  • Engine Size: 18.5 hp
  • Deck: 30 in.
  • Transmission: Manual
  • USP: Comes with Mulching Kit
Ariens 915213 Zero Turn Mower
  • Engine Size: 19 hp
  • Deck: 42 in.
  • Transmission: Dual Hydrostatic
  • USP: Xlerator Deck
Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Lawn Mower
  • Engine Size: 452 cc
  • Deck: 34 in.
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic
  • USP: Integrated parking brake
Snapper 2691402
  • Engine Size: 21.5 HP
  • Deck: 42 in.
  • Transmission: Hydrostatic
  • USP: Foot-Operated Deck

Reviews of the Top Small Riding Lawn Mower

Even though the Troy-Bilt TB30 tops our list, there are several other noteworthy small riding lawn mowers you should consider.

Best Premium- Husqvarna Z242F 42 in. 18 HP

best overall rating

Key Specifications

  • 18-HP Engine
  • 42-inch Deck
  • Hydrostatic Transmission
  • ClearCut Deck

Our premium pick is none other than the infamous Z242F by Husqvarna. This is a fantastic lawn mower that flirts with the dividing line between small and medium-range mowers.

If your lawns are more than an acre in size, this is your best option.

The Z242F features a powerful 18-HP engine and 42-inch deck that reduce the number of passes needed to clear tremendously large yards.

The hydrostatic transmission ensures seamless up-and-down shifting of gears for a more comfortable, jolt-free ride.

The Z242F’s unique ClearCut deck is designed to promote better airflow to saw grass and clippings multiple times for quicker composting.


  • Extra-wide 42-inch deck
  • Moves easily on all terrains
  • Easy, comfortable hydrostatic transmission
  • Enhanced mowing performance


  • Gas tank could be larger

If you’re looking for a premium-quality small riding lawn mower, the Z242F is your best option. Quicker mowing capabilities mean more time spent enjoying the summer!

Best Budget- Craftsman R105

best overall rating

Key Specifications

  • 18.5-HP Engine
  • 30-inch Deck
  • Manual Transmission
  • Mulching Kit

If you don’t mind purchasing a smaller riding mower, then the Craftsman R105 is your best option. It’s also our budget-pick of small riding lawn mowers, though it doesn’t perform like a low-cost machine.

The R105 uses 30-inch blades to slash thick blades of grass efficiently and effortless, though moisture in the grass significantly reduce cutting speed.

Plus, it doesn’t have a reverse gear, so to unclog the deck, you’ll have to shut off the engine to manually clean the deck.

This is almost a non-issue since the R105 has a wash port. Plus, this super-budget-friendly small-sized riding mower comes standard with a mulching kit, which you would typically have to purchase separately.


  • Fantastic mowing and mulching performances
  • Long-lasting engine
  • Convenient wash port
  • Mulch kit included


  • Could cut wet grass better

If you’re looking for tremendous value from a super-small riding mower, the Craftsman R105 is most likely your best option.

Ariens 915213 Zero Turn Mower

best overall rating

Key Specifications

  • 19-HP engine
  • 42-inch Deck
  • Dual Hydrostatic
  • Xlerator Deck

The Ariens 915213 is a zero-turn lawn mower that moves quicker than traditional riding mowers while also having the benefit of making super-sharp turns without toppling over.

This specific Ariens model is equipped with a 19-HP engine and 42-inch-wide deck for mowing through tall grass easily.

With dual hydrostatic transmission, shifting up and down gears is hardly noticeable. This makes for a comfortable ride when zooming across flat terrain in large yards.

Also, with the proprietary Xlerator deck, the 915213 produces better airflow beneath the deck to chop grass and grass clippings multiple times for quick composting.


  • Improved airflow under the deck means finer clippings
  • Moves easily on all terrains
  • Extra-wide deck
  • Amazing fuel economy


  • Suspension system could be better designed

The 915213 is a fantastic small-sized zero-turn riding mower for nearly any situation. Definitely consider getting this one if your job requires mowing around sharp turns and obstacles regularly.

Troy-Bilt Mustang Lawn Mower

best overall rating

Key Specifications

  • 452-cc Engine
  • 34-inch Deck
  • Hydrostatic Transmission
  • Integrated Parking Brake

The Mustang is another Troy-Bilt fantastic small riding lawn mower. It has a 452-cc engine and 34-inch deck that work reasonably well at chopping down thick blades of grass.

If there’s one thing about the Mustang that’s perfect, it’s mobility. The Mustang can move easily across large yards with numerous obstacles, as well as up and down hill sides.

The Mustang’s shining feature is the integrated parking brake. By aligning the turn levers, the brake will automatically engage without for quick and safe dismounting.


  • Decent mowing performance
  • Safety auto-parking brake great for new users
  • Easy to store
  • Zero-turn maneuverability


  • Gas tank could be larger

In the end, the Mustang is a great small-sized commercial lawn mower. There’s certainly room for improvement (mowing capabilities), but it does the job rather well.

Snapper 2691402

best overall rating

Key Specifications

  • 21.5-HP Engine
  • 42-inch Deck
  • Hydrostatic Transmission
  • Foot-Operated Deck

The Snapper 2691402 is easily one of the best small riding lawn mowers you can find today.

It comes with all of the frills you’d want in a small riding mower while also delivering a hard-hitting punch to knock down grass blades of all sizes.

The Snapper features a 21.5-HP engine that spins the 42-inch mower blades at a high rate to fell thick, wet blades of grass in a single pass.

With the foot-operated deck, you have full control over where you mow and how close to shave the ground.

Though not small in a traditional sense, it moves as easily as the best of them. And it’s a zero-turn lawn mower that turns on a dime and in no time at all.


  • Maximum comfort
  • Easy to use and run
  • Incredibly durable fabricated frame
  • Wide mower deck


  • Engine could have better fuel economy

The Snapper 2691402 is a fantastic small-size zero-turn lawn mower that travels incredibly well and mows better than most.


In this section, we’ll try and address the most FAQs about small riding lawn mowers.

How many acres can a small riding lawn mower handle?

Small riding lawn mowers can generally handle gardens of 3 acres or smaller, though it depends on the mower’s fuel capacity and deck size. The wider the deck, the faster it can chop down tall grass. If you’re looking for a small riding mower for commercial purposes, consider getting a 40 to 42-inch deck on your mower.

How long do small riding lawn mowers last?

Their average lifespans are between 8 and 10 years, or about 350 to 400 hours of overall mowing. You can extend the life of your mower’s engine by several years by taking good care of the engine (oil changes, replacing the spark plug, etc.), but beyond the 8-year mark, you might want to consider retiring the machine.

Should I get a zero-turn lawn mower?

The advantages of a zero-turn lawn mower include better maneuverability and faster movement speeds. Essentially, they are more productive than other sorts of lawn mowers. If you’re working against the clock, then you should consider getting a zero-turn lawn mower such as the Husqvarna Z242F, the Ariens 915213, and the Troy-Bilt Mustang.

Are 30-inch decks too narrow?

In some instances, they can be. If you’re a pro landscaper, a 30-inch deck is not as efficient as a 42-inch lawn mower. For homeowners, the size of the deck isn’t a priority since you’re not on the clock, and you can take your time to pay more attention to finer details on your lawn.


This, folks, is the end of our guide on the best small riding lawn mower.

We’ve researched over 25 different riding lawn mowers to tell you everything you need to know about the best models the market has to offer.

You should have enough information to make an informed decision to find the best model that suits your every need.

If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, please let us know by dropping a comment below.

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Kevin Stewart

Kevin is an expert metal worker with a passion for designing and making. He is passionate about his power tools. He contributes his ideas to various online platforms.

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