What Size Lawn Mower For 1/3 Acre? A (Complete) Guide to Lawn Sizes and Mower Needs

Lawn mower cutting grass

When you move home and take on a new lawn in the process, it can often be confusing trying to work out exactly what size, style and type of mower you need.

Especially if your new lawn is much bigger or smaller than your old lawn.

What size lawn mower do I need for ⅓ acre is a perfectly reasonable question to ask if you have been used to mowing an acre of land for the past few years, or vice-versa.

So in this article, we are going to do our best to explore the tricky matter of what size lawn mower you need by yard size.

Let’s get started…

What Size Lawn Mower For ⅓ Acre?

Generally anything up to ½ acre in size you won’t need a riding mower, a good self-propelled push mower will be just as effective. From ½ acre to an acre you are entering something of a grey zone where either a push mower or riding mower can do a job depending on the lawn in question. Above an acre, you will want a riding mower.

What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need? The Basics to Consider

Often the first decision to make when considering what lawn mower you need is whether you want a push mind mower or a riding mower.

In fact, a regularly asked question is whether you need a riding mower for ½ an acre of lawn. So that seems a good place to start this discussion.

As a very generic rule of thumb, I’d always say you don’t NEED a riding mower for anything under ½ an acre, unless you are particularly old, immobile, or suffer from some kind of condition that makes it dangerous to overt exert yourself.

In particular, if you have a lawn under this size that has a number of trees, rocks, planting beds etc, it might actually take you longer to mow it with a riding mower due to all of the maneuvering you will have to do.

I’d say when you get to around ½ acre to an acre in size, then you are entering the fuzzy spot of whether you need a riding mower.

There are a number of things to consider:

  • COST
    Obviously, a riding mower is a more significant outlay and comes with more costs in times of maintenance, servicing, fuel, etc.
    If you buy a riding mower then you need somewhere to store it. Ideally, somewhere undercover where it can stay dry and safe. On top of that, you need to make sure you actually have enough space to get your riding mower to your lawn, you don’t want to buy a 34-inch riding mower and then discover it is too big to fit through the gate to your lawn!
    As mentioned above, if your lawn is somewhere between ½ acre to an acre in size, but is full of obstacles a riding mower will probably end up taking just as long to mow it as a good self-propelled push mower.
    Even with a riding mower, there might be spots around trees, tight corners etc your riding mower can’t get to and you might still need a push mower (or a weed whacker) to finish these areas off.
  • TIME
    The bigger your lawn gets, the more time a riding mower will save. You might only have ⅓ acre, but if it is nice and flat with no obstacles you could probably get it mowed in 20 minutes with a riding mower, whereas with a push mower you might be talking three or four times that figure. If you can afford it and want to spend more time with your family/relaxing after work than cutting your lawn, it could be a worthwhile investment.
    Obviously, a quicker cutting time will have a payoff in terms of the frequency with which you cut your lawn. If it only takes 20 minutes, you are more likely to mow it on a regular basis than if it takes 120 minutes.
    With lawn tractors and riding mowers, you can buy numerous extras such as an aerator, dethatcher, sweeper, snow plow, etc, etc, which will allow you to get other jobs done.

And then if you do decide to buy a riding mower, there are more decisions you have to make.

    A wider deck will get the job done more quickly, but obviously limits you a bit more to the spaces you can use it in.
    The quicker a riding mower or lawn tractor can go, the faster it will do the job, particularly relevant if you have a big plot.
    Thicker steel is stronger and will resist wear and last longer, but it needs bigger tires and a stronger drive train as it is heavier and will cost more.
    There is no doubt particular manufacturers (ahem, Kawasaki) has developed a reputation for building engines that outlast and outperform the competitors, largely due to their ability to deal with heat and prolonged usage. But again, a better engine comes at a premium price.
  • FUEL
    I always prefer diesel engines as they use less fuel and have a longer service life. On top of that, you can buy off-road diesel that doesn’t have road tax added.

Of course most of these factors you also need to consider when you are buying a walk-behind mower, but the outlay for a riding mower or lawn tractor is much more, so you need to be even more aware of them!

It can seem a bit of a minefield trying to work out what size and type of lawn mower you need. 

It goes without saying that it pays to do as much research as possible and to speak to local dealers if you can.

If you are in two minds as to whether you need a riding mower or a walk-behind mower, I always think it is best to start with a walk-behind mower and see how you get on with that.

If you are finding it is taking too long, then you can upgrade to a riding mower without too much harm being done.

It is better that way round than buying a riding mower and finding the time and effort it saves you is negligible and it wasn’t worth the money.

So without further ado, let’s quickly look at yard sizes and mower requirements.

RELATED ===> Buyers Guide: The Best Lawn Mowers on the Market

What Size Lawn Mower for ¼  Acre?

With a good push mower, a ¼ acre plot could be mowed in anything from 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or so.

A yard this size is easily small enough for a battery-powered push mower to do a good job too.

A self-propelled mower would speed things up even further.

A riding mower would probably not save sufficient time in such a relatively small space.

The bigger the deck size the quicker it will get done, but you could easily do this with a 20-inch deck.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Ego Power+ Self-Propelled Battery Mower, Toro Timemaster 30” Self-Propelled, Cub Cadet SCP21E Push Mower

What Size Lawn Mower for ⅓ Acre?

Moving up a step and a push mower would still be sufficient here, although a self-propelled push mower will save you a bit of time.

A good self-propelled 21” mower should see you get it done in an hour or so, but if you go up to a 28-inch or 30-inch deck you will cut that time back significantly.

Again here a riding mower is an option, but with fences and corners and turnarounds there might not be enough time saved to warrant the outlay.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Honda 21” Self-Propelled, Toro Timemaster 30” Self-Propelled.

What Size Lawn Mower for ½ Acre?

We are now approaching the size where possibly a small riding mower might be a worthwhile investment.

This would be the case if your lawn was fairly flat and open, and you just want to save yourself some time after a busy week at work/to spend time with the family etc.

Otherwise, a push mower of some kind is still an option. I’d estimate you’d be looking at somewhere between 1 hour 15 minutes and 2 hours 15 minutes with a push mower, depending upon the mower you go for and the type of terrain you have.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Honda 21” Self-Propelled, Toro Timemaster 30” Self-Propelled, Craftsman M230 21”

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What Size Lawn Mower for ⅔ Acre?

As your yard size increases if you are still considering a push mower then you will need to think more seriously about getting something that is self-propelled with a wider deck.

I always recommend the Toro Timesaver, as at 30” it is one of the bigger push mowers and it is so good. 

As you can see I like the Honda 21” self-propelled mower as it is built to such high levels of quality, but by the time you get to a yard this size, even a mower as good as that will probably take you two hours with its 21” deck.

We are also reaching the size here where a battery-powered mower will probably be too power-hungry as well.

You could also consider a riding mower with a 42” deck or something similar.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Toro Timemaster 30” Self-Propelled, John Deere 42″ Riding Mower E130, Cub Cadet XT2 42″ Riding Mower.

What Size Lawn Mower for ¾ Acre?

As we get to a lawn of around ¾ of an acre the benefits of a riding mower over a push mower start to become more evident.

I reckon a 21” self-propelled push mower would probably take around a good two to three hours to mow an area this size. Move up to the Toro Timemaster with its 30” deck, and you could be looking at 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.

A 42” riding mower and you are probably looking at 45 minutes, move up to a 52” zero-turn riding mower and you will probably get it done in under 30 minutes.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Toro Timemaster 30” Self-Propelled, John Deere 42” X350, Poulan Pro 42” Riding Mower

What Size Lawn Mower for 1 Acre?

This is probably the last size at which I’d even think about my old favorite the Toro Timemaster.

If you are moving to a house with a bigger lawn and already have a Toro Timemaster then maybe take it out once or twice and see how you feel about it, but you will probably be looking at a minimum of two hours mowing time.

With most other push mowers it’ll probably be three hours upwards!

Managing the time to mow a lawn this size with a push mower is the problem here. Once you get lax with it, you will be encouraging weeds to grow.

If you go really big here, a 60” riding mower could get your lawn done in 20 minutes, choose something a bit smaller like a 36” deck and you will probably get it done in somewhere around 45 minutes.

Budget is the sticking point here, avoiding the likes of riding mowers you see at Home Depot or Lowes will get you a mower with better transmission and a better cut. Ideally something in the 36” to 48” range.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Cub Cadet 50” ZT1, Gravely 42” ZTR, Husqvarna 48” TS 348XD, John Deere X3xx Series (48” to 54” deck).

What Size Lawn Mower for 2 Acre?

We are definitely moving into the realm of commercial riding mowers or lawn tractors here.

Ideally, you will most likely want at least a 46”, or larger, riding mower or a zero-turn mower.

At this size you would probably be looking at a couple of hours on a riding mower or 90 minutes on a zero-turn.

With a good 60” zero-turn riding mower like a Gravely or Ariens Ikon XD60, you could likely mow your lawn in 45 minutes.

If you have lots of trees and irregular beds, and can afford it, than a zero-turn mower will definitely be worthwhile.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Husqvarna MZ54, Gravely ZT HD52, Ariens Ikon XD60, Cub Cadet Pro-Z Series.

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What Size Lawn Mower for 3 Acre?

A commercial-grade, zero-turn mower is what you would ideally be looking for here.

In terms of deck size you probably want something in the 52” to 60” bracket.

A good 60” zero-turn mower should get a three-acre lawn mowed in just over an hour.

If money is at a premium you can still get some very good used mowers in the above category at the end of the season.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Gravely Pro-Turn 160, Gravely ZT HD 60, Ariens Ikon XD 52″

RELATED ===> Buyers Guide: The Best Riding Lawn Mowers on the Market

What Size Lawn Mower for 4 Acre?

View of persons feet on riding mower deck

By the time you get up to four acres, you really do want to avoid buying from a box store like Lowes or Home Depot and at the least buy from a local dealer.

Sizewise, a zero-turn commercial mower (as long as your plot isn’t very hilly), with a 60” to 72” deck will be a good choice.

A 62” zero-turn mower might take around 1 hour 15 minutes to mow a lawn this size.

Getting the widest deck and fastest speed you can afford and it will help if you don’t want to spend too much time on your mower.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Look at Scag, Exmark, Hustler, Bad Boy and Everride models.

What Size Lawn Mower for 5 Acre?

At this size you might be considering a compact utility tractor, something like the Kubota BX series.

The advantage of that is you get a lot of optional additions to use for snow and tilling, etc, etc.

But a good commercial zero-turn mower, will get the job done a lot quicker.

Ideally you would want a 72” cutting path, which would probably take somewhere in the region of 90 minutes to mow a lawn this size.

Closely consider the warranty when you buy, and again, if you can, buy from a local dealer.

SUGGESTED MOWERS: Again look at Scag, Exmark, Hustler, Bad Boy and Everride models or the Kubota BX Series if you decide to go for a lawn tractor.

Final Thoughts

What Size Lawn Mower Do I Need infographic

We have covered a lot of ground in this article looking at what size lawn mowers suit what size yards!

As a very basic overview, I would say anything under ½ acre you don’t need a riding mower.

From ½ acre to 1 acre you are in a bit of a grey zone where you could definitely use either a push mower or riding mower depending upon a few factors such as terrain type and how much you value your free time.

Above an acre, you will almost certainly want a riding mower, and it goes without saying that the bigger plot you have to manage, the more carefully you will need to consider what kind of riding mower to buy.

Just a small difference in deck size can make a big difference in cutting time to a very big lawn!

But I hope this article helps in some way.

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