The adult in me knows the lawn needs to be mowed. The 12 year old boy in me heard someone say “Tractor!”
I’ve almost always used a walk-behind (a.k.a. push-mower) for lawn mowing but the busier life gets with kids, commitments, and other chaos I need to save time where I can so when Troy-Bilt sent us the Neighborhood Rider lawn tractor to review, I jumped at the chance to sit down and mow fast.
The Neighborhood Rider runs well on twisty, chopped up terrain and can definitely save time or the need to hire a landscaper on lots of small to medium sized yards. It turns completely around in a 1-lane driveway and leaves a clean cut. The center-position cockpit makes the machine more compact and easier to maneuver than larger tractors and a great choice for small-ish to biggish yards with typical residential terrain consisting of modest hills, wide-open spaces and tighter areas around the house—in other words, what it’s designed for.
And it is friendly for the homeowner budget as well, coming in at $999 at Lowes.
Round About Room. For any tractor other than zero turns, you need a place to turn around. The Neighborhood Rider has a rated 18 inch turn radius. What that means in real life is that I can swoop around a bark mulch bed at the base of a tree, using that as pivot point for direction changes. I can also wheel around in my one-lane driveway.
Maneuverability. I can see over the edge of the mower deck while seated and really see what—and where—I’m cutting. That means I cut right up to that mulch bed. I can also mow along a long, straight run of fence after string-trimming that edge.
Size. With a 30 inch cutting deck (excluding side discharge chute) the Neighborhood Rider is smaller than a full-dress tractor. Taking nothing away from a full-size machine, they can be too much mower for many yards. In real terms, this also means I can sail through a 48 inch gate (there are 3 at the MyFixitUpLife HQ) and can also swing through nooks and crannies in the yard more easily than with a bigger, more expensive machine.
Gear Change, Height Adjustment. For those times when I do drive myself into a dead end and have to reverse out, the gearshift is easy to reach. You have to disengage the blade to go in reverse (safety feature), but you can operate one lever with one hand and one with the other so it is fast (doing this quickly is easy but takes a little practice.) The blade height adjustment is awesome—just a graduated up-down lever. Sweet.
Cool Features. Compared with other tractors I’ve operated, the Neighborhood rider is quieter (not quiet, but quiet-ER.) It has 6 speeds so I can run flat out or find the right speed for the terrain and obstacles I’m dealing with. I can swap out the side discharge chute for a mulch plug—which is both ideal for my yard from a clean-up perspective (LOTS less grass on the sidewalks to blow away later, etc.) and healthy grass perspective (grass likes a fine mulch.) All told, these features save me mowing time. Plus, I’m seated. The tractor’s seat is even mesh, which is great because it wont hold water if the unit gets caught in the rain.
Cut Quality. I mowed tall grass and maintained lawns and the Rider powered through the tough stuff and left me with a nice, clean cut. After all, I Iike mowing my lawn because I like making it look good. And tools that help me do that make the cut.