Best "Smaller" Riding Mower?

We are looking for a riding mower/lawn tractor for my parents. They have about a 1/3 - 1/2 acre lot, mostly level and a lot of "flat-out" mowing. The gas push mower is getting to be too much for them. We are looking into a rider, and would appreciate any advice as to the correct size/type/brand. Preferably one that is easy to learn and easy to drive for someone who has moderate arthritis.
-- Thanks!
-- pelirojaroja ----------------------------------------------- "There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again."
-- Elizabeth Lawrence
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moderate arthritis.
We've a Deere we're pretty pleased with (2 acres, though)... but something to consider... riding mowers don't have a whole lot of suspension, and if you've got an arthritic back, it can be pretty rough going. There are a lot of different brands available, with different types of controls... hand controls may be difficult for someone with hand/shoulder arthritis, while foot controls may be difficult for someone with arthritic legs.
Another possibility to consider: switching from a traditional yard to one that doesn't need mowing or needs mowing infrequently ... native plants, low covercrops, buffalograss, shrubs, etc.
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I agree, too. I'd replace lawn with "woodland" if it were me. Unfortunately, convincing my 70+-aged parents to tear out most of their lawn would take an act of God. They'll either have to get a good riding mower or hire a lawn service, since my siblings and I live away. I just wanted to give them some good recommendations. My dad would rather do it himself, if he gets a rider mower.
-- Thanks! -- pelirojaroja ----------------------------------------------- "There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again."
-- Elizabeth Lawrence
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Yet another thought, though I don't know how it would work on their terrain... how about one of the robotic mowers? My husband's boss, who wants a lawn but hates mowing (?!?!?) is happy with a Toro iMow (http://www.toro.com/home/mowers/imow /) -- however, it does only about 5000 sq ft (.11 acres) on a battery... so you'd either have to swap batteries or have it buzzing around almost every day.
Any chance of persuading them to substitute buffalo grass or similar low- growing grass for much of the conventional lawn? e.g. EcoLawn, Turtleturf, etc.? That would cut the mowing down to about once a month.
What's the terrain like, and are your folks sensible about balance and slope? The previous owners of our house (who bought the Deere) were an elderly couple who had disconnected all the safety switches on it, and there was clear evidence they'd been mowing some pretty steep bank on the cross-slope, all accidents waiting to happen. My mom has a pretty big lawn, and I'm delighted she chose to hire someone to mow for her when the push mower got to be too much, as I don't think I'd want to see her mow the back bank on a riding mower!
Kay Lancaster snipped-for-privacy@fern.com

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Thank you, Kay. The terrain is quite flat, so I don't there there is an obvious safety issue. But the lawn is about 1/2 acre, so the robot thing is probably out. . .
-- pelirojaroja

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