Riding Lawn Mower Accessories: Covers, Parts And Blades

Many riding lawn mower manufacturers offer a variety of optional accessories that can turn your rider into an all-season lawn tool.

The name "riding lawn mower" is really a misnomer since this remarkable piece of equipment does so much more than just mow lawns while carrying its operator. The large number of optional accessories that can be purchased with many of today's mowers can make your rider the perfect year-round yard tool. Here are some of the more common accessories, categorized for your convenience, and available on the Web and in retail stores.

Summer and Fall Lawn Care Accessories: Blades, Mulching Kit, Grass Catcher, Bagger Cart, Lawn Sweeper

The most important part of a riding mower is the blade system. Two types of blades can be used: regular cutting blades and mulching blades. If you're mowing a large field or a small lawn--where raking isn't an issue--then regular cutting blades will serve your mowing needs well. With regular blades, grass is dispersed back onto the yard where it can remain or be raked up. However, if you don't like to rake grass or your yard is too big to rake, then a mulching blade is your best bet.

Some riding mowers come with a mulching blade already installed. If not, then you can purchase a mulching kit that includes (a) mulching blades that shred grass into fine clippings, and (b) a mulching plate that covers the opening where grass clippings exit the mower. When this opening is covered, the grass becomes trapped under the mower deck and thus is chopped repeatedly into fine clippings that fall unnoticed back onto the lawn. As a result, no raking is needed, and the clippings add valuable nutrients back into the soil.

Turning your riding mower into a mulcher can cut down on mowing time since no raking is required, plus the grass mulch conserves water in the soil and acts as a natural fertilizer. However, a mulching blade doesn't work well when the grass is high or too thick to cut the grass effectively. Under these conditions, consider purchasing a grass catcher or lawn sweeper to collect grass clippings.

A grass catcher functions like a giant wastebasket that attaches to the back of the riding mower. A tube feeds the cut grass into two or more collection bags that can be emptied easily. Grass catchers are available for most riding mowers, but they often are proprietary pieces of equipment. That is, you can't use a grass catcher from one brand of riding mower on a different brand. If you want to avoid buying a proprietary piece of equipment but still want to bag your grass clippings, here are two alternative accessories to consider.



The most expensive alternative is a bagger cart, which essentially is a heavy-duty enclosed "wagon" (into which grass clippings are fed) that you haul behind the mower. Its advantage: You can collect a large amount of grass clippings, which reduces the need for frequent emptying of the cart, plus you can use it on virtually all riding mowers.

A less expensive alternative is a lawn sweeper, a light-duty cart that sweeps grass clippings into an open receptacle. It also is hauled behind the mower, and it can be used with all riding mowers, especially smaller models because of its light weight. However, lawn sweepers need to be emptied more frequently because of their smaller bagging capacities.

Grass catchers, bagger carts, and lawn sweepers are perfect for eliminating the tedious task of raking grass clippings, but they also make the perfect leaf rakers as well. If you spend a lot of time in the Fall raking leaves, just hook up one of these three accessories to your riding mower and take a spin around your yard instead. The mower blades will chop the leaves into fine, natural mulch and bag it for you.

Winter and Spring Lawn Care Accessories: Snow blower, snow plow, tire chains, lawn cart

Many riding mowers can function as a heavy-duty winter tool that eliminates backbreaking snow removal chores. For smaller driveways and sidewalks, a snow blower attachment fastens to the front of the mower and throws snow to the front or side. For longer and wider driveways, a snow plow attached to the front of the mower can quickly remove large amounts of snow. And if you live in an area that gets lots of snow and ice, you can purchase tire chains to help prevent the mower's wheels from spinning in their tracks.

In the spring, a lawn cart makes perfect sense for making yard cleanup a breeze. Because it attaches to the rear end of the riding mower, you can use it to haul away branches or haul in new soil for garden planting. And for year-round convenience, just load your trash cans into the cart and haul them down to the curb.

Health and Safety, Accessories: Canopy, Roll-Over System

Summer mowing can get quite hot, so a few riding mower manufacturers offer an optional canopy accessory that provides much-needed shade and protects you from the sun's most harmful rays. If you need to mow on hills and slight inclines, consider purchasing a special rollover system which includes heavy-duty bars that help protect the operator should the mower ever roll over.

Mower Protection Accessories: Front Bumpers, Covers

When it comes to protecting your lawn care investment, some manufacturers provide an optional front bumper that can drastically reduce (or prevent) mower damage should you accidentally bump the rider into a tree or other hard object. And finally, special covers can be purchased to protect your riding mower from the outside elements.

As you can see, the name "riding lawn mower" doesn't do justice to the capabilities of this sturdy piece of equipment. Now more than ever, because of its many optional accessories, you can turn your rider into a safe, productive, time-saving, and fuel-saving all-season yard tool.

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