What Is a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower ( Are they Any Good?)

What Is a Hydrostatic Lawn MowerIf you are considering getting a new Lawn mower you might have heard of Hydrostatic Lawn Mowers.

While more expensive than regular mowers due to more advanced transmission -What exactly are you getting with hydrostatic mowers?

Will they make lawn mowing faster and easier?

In this article we will see what are hyrdostatic lawn mowers,how do they work and If they are any good.

What Is a Hydrostatic Lawn Mower?

Hydrostatic transmission lawn mowers, often referred to as HSTs, hydros or hydro-drives will shift through varying speeds without the need for gears or a clutch. This means you can operate at varying speeds, providing you with much more control over your grass-cutting experience and crazy good dominance over direction. Like driving a go-kart these amazing mowers are simply a case of step and go, making that Sunday morning cut much more bearable.

These new age machines offer a technological solution to some age-old backyard issues. Providing ease and comfort with longevity and a relative lack of maintenance needs, Hydrostatic lawn mowers provide an awesome alternative in the lawnmower sphere.

HSTs combine hydraulic pumps and hydraulic motors to allow for increased range of speeds. As well as offering an increased range of speeds, the technology used in these mowers allow for more maneuverability meaning change of direction and speeds becomes easy, flaunting a big advantage on the more traditional gear or pull string petrol lawn mowers. When using mowers with hydrostatic transmission, you’ll not only have yourself turning with ease but you’ll also have your neighbours heads turning.

The hydrostatic lawn mower certainly brings a whole new dimension to the lawn-mower game. This article hopes to identify why these mean-lean-cutting-machines pros outweigh their cons, and why you should seriously consider indulging in one for yourself.


What does hydrostatic mean in a lawn mower?

Hydrostatic simply refers to the way this lawn mower operates. It brings the use of pressurised oil as its main operation which seems to outdate the established manual/automatic use of gears and belts, providing a much more 21st century gardening approach.

Hydrostatic lawn-mowers bring an impressive alternative to the traditional manual transmission or automatic transmission lawnmowers the average household is used to. If you have decided to invest in riding mowers, you would have historically been faced with the choice between manual or automatic as the two mainstream options. But increasingly, hydrostatic mowers are starting to make inroads within the wonderful world of gardening.

How does a hydrostatic lawn mower work

Now you may ask the all important question – how does it work? So let’s begin with a sophisticated technical description. The new technology uses a hydraulic pump and motor and a hydraulic pump to utilise oil. This oil releases pistons which ultimately result in the powering of the engine through the initiation of the hydrostatic motor which in turn rotates the driving wheels to make the mower move where the driver intends with ease.

If all of that sounded a tad complicated, it’s okay I also felt overwhelmed by this technology when I first encountered it. But that’s what I’m here for. Let’s talk Layman’s terms. This machine uses a pedal in much the same way an automatic car would, but the hydrostatic technology has extra control over the speed and direction of your ride. This means you can get a much more precise cut over the unruly turf. Providing further ease to your lawn mowing experience the hydrostatic mower allows the user to simply press the pedal, and the further the pedal is pressed, the faster you go. The lighter you press, the slower the mower goes. Simple, right?

Advantage of hydrostatic lawn mowers

As mentioned prior, the main advantage hydrostatic mowers provide is the control. The use of this technology means both speed and direction are handed over to the discretion of the driver much more than other models would. This provides a whole new sense of control whilst retaining ease and comfort. Indeed, hydrostatic technology allows a smaller machine to pack more of a punch, eventually lending these mowers to impressive maneuverability. This means you can switch directions quickly and effectively in tight spaces, which is all important for they pesky patches of blades that you have previously had to roughly obliterate.

Read Also: How Sharp Should a Lawn Mower Blade Be

Instead, you can now tend to the aforementioned area with grace and decorum. Their exemption from gears allows for swift acceleration and deceleration, whilst the improvement on the belt and pulley system of the automatics means dynamic braking, no power loss in wheels when shifting and a much better starting to moving transmission. Due to their use of liquid instead of belt transmission, hydrostatic riding mowers are much more smooth and less maintenance. It has also been noted that they tend to last longer, which is always a win.

Are hydrostatic transmissions good?

Easily put, yes they are. Infact, they would be your best bet for lawn mowing if you are willing to invest in these machines. Specially if you plan to Start a Lawn Mowing business than you should really look in to them! Their pros tend to outweigh both manual and automatic mowers in all departments. Their main attraction of increased control and the ability to constantly manage speed and direction with absolute ease is certainly enticing. Whilst, by no means perfect, the hydrostatic transmission technology offers an upgrade to manual or automatic transmissions. Despite losing out on efficiency, they produce consistent advantages over their competitors in the market

Do hydrostatic transmissions wear out

Hydrostatic transmissions do statistically run at around 20% lower efficiency rates than that of their manual or automatic counterparts. This means that their lifespan can be shorter due to increased pressure put on the motor. Indeed, this lower efficiency can also lead to issues involving increased wear and tear, that ultimately cost a fortune to repair. Finally, whilst this transmission’s biggest benefit is the speed and control you have over the mower, this can also become problematic when drivers aren’t used to the feel of the pedal.

Lack of experience could easily lead to lack of control through pedal sensitivity, and is certainly something with which those who are intending on buying a hydrostatic lawn mower should certainly remember. The need to maintain care of hydrostatic pumps fools many who seem to believe that this type of transmission requires less attention and maintenance, which ultimately leads them to despair when their vehicle falters. Hydrostatic transmission mowers certainly need maintenance, with some recommending constant oil checks and at least a service every season, which is more than some may expect but would normally not be any obvious increase in maintenance than what one would have to perform on manual or automatic motors.

Common problems with hydrostatic lawn mowers

It is however not all sunshines and rainbows in the hydrostaticy world would you believe. Price and the need to maintain can be a much bigger process, both financially and physically, if things do go wrong. Constant checking of oil levels is necessary and sometimes the need for purging the machine of excess air becomes a hassle. Additionally, the main problem you will face with these mowers is their unavoidable hike in price compared with other mowers on the market. They will set you back a lot more than other options, but with this comes the increase in advanced technology. For me, the trade off is certainly worth it!

What to look for when buying a Hydrostatic lawn mower

It would really depend how much you are willing to spend on your lawn mower. Perhaps what’s best to look for when buying a hydrostatic lawn mower is what type of garden you have. If the terrain your garden is on is inclined, has many obstacles such as trees and shrubs or requires constant maneuverability, then this mower will make your life so much easier. The type of garden that you have will definitely help influence whether you should buy a hydrostatic mower. If you are seeking complete ease with your grass cutting experience then you should consider hydrostatic lawn mowers over the other options too, as they provide extreme comfort and ease. My main tips would be when looking for a hydrostatic lawn mower to consider what the landscape of your garden is and how much you want to spend on your mower.

Also Read: How Much Horsepower Does a Lawn Mower Need

Different brands of hydrostatic lawn mowers? Which are the best?

Depending on your needs, different brands offer different advantages in their HST lawn mowers. The brands mentioned here are all very worthy buys for varying reasons. Looking to details this article aims to identify what sets them apart. Some offer cheap and compact mowers for a small area, others have hugely effective and hard-wearing bodies to offer bigger and better grass cutting, but with a price.

John Deere 

Known as the Rolls Royce of the lawn cutting world, these beasts are sturdy and robust. Remaining versatile and easy, these machines will last your life. John Deere hydrostatic motors tend to have twin touch pedal control, providing extreme ease and control over pace and turning. They incorporate a two-range hydrostatic transmission (HST) within a die-cast aluminium case allowing for easy flow of oil to prevent unexpected oil problems, with optional cruise control and a fancy dashboard which provides you with all the information you need. The transmission fill point is easy to access, which is a key factor you wouldn’t necessarily look out for, but couldn’t live without once you have experienced it. A truly solid piece of kit, but holds a hefty price tag because of this.


Known for their cheaper price tag, these mowers are regularly branded as the best lawn mowers for your average household. The hydrostatic transmissions used in Husqvarna come in two varieties. The classic pedal-operated transmissions which provide an easy ride, or a level-operated hydro, which offers a solid alternative to the normal pedals. Husqvana offers a large scale of width within their mowers which makes it easy to purchase the correct machine for your garden. Alongside this, they utilise a strong catalogue of attachments which add to the basics of the lawn mower. Husqvarna hydrostatic mowers regularly falter and need frequent repairs as opposed to the likes of Deeres or Hondas. Numerous reviews and consumers have reported issues with their transmissions which seemingly need a regular ‘purge’. Something that is necessary to consider before snapping up that cheap price tag.


The household name is held in high regard for its car manufacturing, but how does their lawn mower game hold up? They have recently managed to use their ingenuity in cars to manufacture their hydrostatic transmission technology into a casing the size of a baseball bat. This means they can now provide the powerful HST, which in Hondas case relies on the oil interacting with the angle of the swash plate within the motor, into self-propelled walk behind mowers. This offers a clear difference to other companies on the market who tend to reserve their hydrostatic technology for ride on and commercial mowers. Honda have managed to fill a hole in the market, helping those with seriously steep hills overcome their gradient battle. Whilst also retaining their place in the ride-on mower market.


Sporting a family run business from 1987, Craftsman are starting to firmly establish themselves in the gardening world. They provide what you would regard as a normal hydrostatic transmission engine and motor within their sturdy casing. British through and through these machines are built to last. They tend to have issues surrounding their transaxle which results in faltering speed and direction upon use, but with knowledge of the machine and an ability to identify when this issue needs rectified, the Craftsman remains relatively hassle free. An important spec that these mowers uphold is they offer mowers in a front wheel drive, which can become an issue when going uphill but offers a huge bonus in maneuverability compared with traditional back wheel drives.

Troy Bilt 

American through and through, Troy Bilt is known around households in the US and takes great pride in this. With many preferring machines born and bred in the USA, Troy Bilt has managed to craft an empire through their name. Famously known for their revolutionization of the rotary tilting design, these machines incorporate a standard hydrostatic transmission. Compared with others, Troy Bilt mowers offer a great combination of long-lasting quality, compact size which works efficiently and a very reasonable price tag. It is with this combination that these mowers have managed to historically place themselves in American gardening history, much more known than some others on this list.


After a buyout Murray motors are now owned by Briggs and Stratton. This means they usually boast a solid engine and motor, whilst retaining one of the cheapest price tags on the market. These mowers are what you would class as the lower end of the market. Normally Murray mowers use a Tuff Torq HST which provides a powerful cut with minimal effort. Retaining cruise control and sporting twin rotating blades with electronic blade engagement means Murray mowers can power through tall grass with ease and continue to make that gardening experience all the more enjoyable. Combining these features with the lower end of the market price tag makes up for the relative risk with this seemingly financially unstable company


Difference between a hydrostatic and automatic lawn mower

Automatic transmission lawn mowers are much the same as automatic cars. They operate through the use of the gas pedal in combination with a belt and pulley system, which changes the speed of the machine and allows for easier movement around obstacles. Hydrostatic mowers differ with automatic through their use of pressurized oil alongside their hydraulic system which ultimately leads to a much more comfortable, easy and controllable ride.

Difference between a Hydrostatic vs manual transmission on a lawn mower/tractor?

Manual transmission lawn mowers are what you would imagine a conventional lawn mower to be like. Whether it be a hand pushed petrol number or a seated mower, manuals require clutch and the necessity to shift gears or push the bad boy around. Whilst requiring extra labour, they hold value in their sturdy nature and provide the grass with a much better look and actual health. Hydrostatic transmissions offer ease, automation and comfort to what could have been previously a gruelling task. They bring a whole new dynamic to what you would picture a classic manual lawn mower to provide.

What does dual hydrostatic transmission mean?

Dual hydrostatic transmission adds an extra feature to the already high-caliber of single hydrostatic transmission. Where single HST requires physical turning of the wheel, dual provides triggers for turning. This means you require even less physical exertion during your lawn mowing experience. These triggers automatically turn the machine and make for true precision on that turf. Alternatively, single HST  will not change direction unless the wheel is moved. This is the main difference between Single and Dual HST.

Related Questions:

Can you push a hydrostatic mower?

As previously detailed, yes. Honda have recently adopted brilliant new technology to compact HST into handheld devices for truly steep hills or those wanting a handheld device through choice. But handheld HST mowers are available across the market. You can expect these to become cheaper and better as this market grows.

How can I make my hydrostatic lawn mower quicker?

By installing a larger pulley into your motor you can make your mower go quicker. This change in pulley would allow you to gain speed but you may lose power, leaving you potentially stranded going uphill. Whilst this change in the pulley is easy, make sure to do some research on whether your transmission can achieve it.

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