Riding Mowers, Lawn Tractors and Zero Turn Mowers for People With Disabilities.

I’ve received a few inquires over the last year about riding mowers for people with disabilities.  Primarily people are looking for lawn tractors with fender mounted speed controls. Here are a few of the questions they asked.

Physical Disabilities:

“I’m a paraplegic who uses a 25 year old Craftsman with an obsolete Hydro-Gear, a hand control bolted to the left foot brake pedal and the forward/stop/reverse handle on the right fender that both work real fine without use of legs. They no longer offer units with the fender handle and the zero turn units, even the units with a steering wheel, really frighten me on the hill. What do you advise me to replace the Craftsman to provide similar safety and longevity?

I’m looking for a durable transmission, a tall cut (for horse), comfortable foot pedals, and a steering wheel I don’t have to lean forward to reach comfortably (long legs). I have driven my neighbor’s Husqvarna 46-48″, 23HP, Briggs & Straton-not a big fan, but the pedal was too high and I couldn’t mow in reverse.

When using my lawn tractor with a foot control my leg wants to cramp up all the time. Is there a mower with a fender mounted speed control?

It would be nice if they made adjustable pedals or an extendable steering wheel.

I’m looking at a Craftsman 19HP 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower… being paralyzed, if u tell me this thing is very reliable and i wont get stranded cos of the automatic tranny failing or a belt or whatever, i’m getting it today. btw how’s the motor?
thank you very very much for ur input u have been a great help!!!

I am a paraplegic and I refuse to let anyone else mow my lawn. I used an 1862 cub cadet with 44″ deck for 18 years. It has finally died and need a new one. Being paralyzed, I need a hand operating hydro. It took me about 4 hours to mow with the old cub for I mow all my neighbors also. no hills just 6 or 7 trees. I only have about $2500 to spend.”

What’s available: 

There are six lawn tractors for 2017 that I know of that use a fender mounted speed control. (If I missed one please let me know in the comments below.)  I’m not going to review each model here. Just put then model number in the search bar above and you’ll find a review. I’ll also mention how a zero-turn can help in another section below.

Lawn tractor seats have the hinge in the front and the spring suspension in the rear. This lets you tip the seat up to keep the seat dry and critters from leaving footprints but if you have a hard time sitting upright it make it hard to stay in the seat.  I found a seat belt kit at Amazon that will be easy to install.  Drive Medical Wheelchair Seat Belt, Auto Style Closure, 48″.  Just drill two 3/8 inch holes in the metal fender and attach the seat belt with bolts and locking nuts from your local hardware store.

All of the Craftsman and Troy-Bilt lawn tractors listed here have the taller high-back seat.

Click on the Craftsman tractor’s name to read more and purchase at Sears.com

The Craftsman and the Troy-Bilt all use hydro-static transmissions. Just move the lever to go forward and back. The more you move the lever the faster you go.  These hydrostatic transmissions have a neutral position where the tractor will not move but the parking brake is not set. To set the parking brake you have to press the left foot pedal. If you park it on slope, it may want to “creep” down the hill. If you can’t set the brake make sure you are on a level surface and turn the engine off.

All of these tractors use the slightly longer yard tractor frame so you can step through the tractor. You don’t have to swing your leg over the seat like the old lawn tractors or today’s inexpensive lawn tractors.

Craftsman – Right Hand Fender ControlCraftsman 42″ 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic TurnTight® Riding Mower Model 20381 (about $1499)

Craftsman – Right Hand Fender ControlCraftsman 46″ 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic TurnTight® Riding Mower Model 20383 (about $1599)

Craftsman – Right Hand Fender ControlCraftsman 46″ 20 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic TurnTight® Riding Mower w/ Smart Lawn Bluetooth Technology Model 27390 (about $1699) My choice for most people. This tractor has a nice V-Twin engine, 6 inch Turn-Tight steering and a great cutting deck.

Craftsman – Right Hand Fender ControlCraftsman 54″ 24 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Riding Mower w/ Smart Lawn Bluetooth Technology Model 27394 (about $1999)

Craftsman – Right Hand Fender ControlCraftsman 48″ 24 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Garden Tractor Hydrostatic w/ TurnTight® Model 20407 (about $2499) This one has arm rests, a heavy-duty frame and larger tires.

Troy-Bilt – Left Hand Fender Control –  Troy-Bilt Model #TB46 – Horse Lawn Tractor (about $1399) Available through Troy-Bilt.com and many Lowes stores.

Getting on and off a mower.

“I really need help. I am an older handicapped female. I am now widowed. My husband always mowed our 1 acre yard. I have a John Deere lawn tractor with a 42″ deck, but I am not able to get on it. My legs are weak and I cannot step over the deck to get to the seat.”

Here is a picture of an old kitchen step stool I found at an auction. You or someone you know can make something similar with a 6 foot piece of 1X8 pine board and few wood screws. Set on the stool and then step over to the tractor.

Most zero-turns with lap bar steering. 

A zero-turn with lap-bars can also be a good option. The 42-46 inch residential models are about $800 more than the equivalent lawn tractor but will mow your lawn faster.  Most zero-turns with lap-bar steering don’t have foot controls. If they do, it is just for lift assist to raise the deck up and down.  When you are looking at inexpensive ZTR though make sure they don’t have the blade engagement or parking brake between your legs.

Getting on and off a zero-turn may still be an issue. The decks stick out the sides so you have to stretch over the deck to get on and off.  Also standing up from the seat can be hard for some people.  Two brands, Toro and Country Clipper offer an assist bar or an assist rail to help you get on and off. The Country Clipper setup is especially nice and will work with either their lap-bar or joystick models. The step on the Country Clipper is at the front making it even easier to get on and off.

Country Clipper Handrail

Country Clipper Handrail and step.

Toro Assist Bar and Step

Toro Assist Bar and Step

The Country Clipper set up is available through your local Country Clipper dealer.

The Toro Assist Bar and Step Kit for TimeCutter SS and MX is available through Home Depot or your local dealer.

https://www.toro.com/en/product-safety-information/ztr-safety-tips

How to operate a zero-turn mower

Country Clipper Joystick.

Last but not least Country Clipper offers their patented joystick control.  If you can use your right hand and forearm this is one of the best ways to drive a mower. I love the system and wish it was available on more zero-turns. If you don’t now Country Clipper they have been in the ZTR business as long as anyone else. They use primarily rural lifestyle dealers and farm implement dealerships for distribution.  They make a complete line of residential and commercial ZTRs and are very dependable zero-turn riding mowers. I highly recommend their products.

Here is a quick Promotional video on the residential models with joystick.

The Joystick Country Clipper front step and handrail for easy access to the mower.

A longer video that shows you how to drive the joystick.

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24 Comments on "Riding Mowers, Lawn Tractors and Zero Turn Mowers for People With Disabilities."

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Jamie Julius
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Jamie Julius

Hi Paul,
I have a bum right leg. I need a left foot break lawn mower/tractor. I currently have a Husqvarna that I like but it has seen better days. Is Huskey the only company who makes them?

Kristi Hartless
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Kristi Hartless
Hello, I’ve been paralyzed from the mid-chest down for the past 23 years. I recently moved to a wheelchair accessible house on an acre lot. Right now , it’s mostly weeds but I would like to put a lawn in next year. Whether it be cutting weeds or a mowing a lawn, I’d like to be able to take care of the area myself. I want to adapt a riding lawn mower so I can operate it from my wheelchair. I’ve seen people use sliding boards as well as lifts /slings to get in the seat of the lawn mower… Read more »
Gregory
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Gregory
Hi again Paul, I’d like to pick up a couple accessories for my T3300 273900. There’s a guy near me who has a LOT of accessories for various Craftsman Riders all at reasonable prices, yet doesn’t have a Cross-Reference guide for what older parts numbers match to newer part numbers and or will fit the newer mowers with an adapter kit or easy modification. Can you point me to the right web-site or place where I can find such a list … AND … what is involved or required to mate each piece? Thanks again for your help and dedication… Read more »
Gregory Saint-James
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Gregory Saint-James
Hi Paul, First and foremost … THANK YOU for all the advice and guidance you’ve put forth! I am not only appreciative of your knowledge, but enjoy your writing stylings. I’ve found a Craftsman 273900 for about $1000.00 with less than 1 hour on it. After a thorough inspection, one of the blades does not spin freely when disengaged. After some pressing, the owner finally admitted there was a faint smell of burning rubber when they used it. I am “ass-u-ming” it’s the belt burnishing itself against a highly resistant-to-spin pulley because the spindle seems to be bound up. With… Read more »
Sheldon S. Cantor
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Sheldon S. Cantor

Thanks for your reviews regarding John Deere lawn tractors. My wife insisted that I go to a dealer rather than Home Depot because she heard that they “switch engines” or whatever, and they weren’t the same.
On another note, I’ve heard that when you purchase a John Deere, someone is suppose to come out and show you how to run and maintain. Did I miss that in your review or am I mistaken?

Michael
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Michael
Hi, Paul. I continue to enjoy your reviews and feedback. I have a Craftsman T2200 with the hydrostatic transmissions which I enjoy. I have had a minor issue with the cutting deck. It has been making a pinging noise when I am cutting thick tall grass. The noise will get louder the longer I cut in such grass. If I move to cut grass that is not very high or thick, the sound will slowly quiet down. I have had a Sears repair man look at it three time with little change or success. He thought it maybe a spring… Read more »
Jeff Frizzell
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Jeff Frizzell
Hi Paul, Ok. I am going with the Model # 27390. What kind of life do you get from the drive belt? Do you need to jack up the front end to get to the belts or does the cutting deck have pins or bolts that allow for easy belt service? Is the belt system reliable? Any common issues with the mower? Jeff Loading...
Craig scott
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A question on the craftsman 247.203702 mower. Is the deck vibration normal on this model?

Matt Sheline
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Matt Sheline

I read your article about mowers for people with disabilities, and wonder if you have a recommendation for people with back problems. Specifically I need to cut about 3/4 acre, and wonder if a stand on or walk behind mower would be less punishing on my back because my legs could absorb the bumps. Is there a walk behind or stand on mower you would recommend in the $5,000 price range?