Re: Riding Mower - The answer?
Eliminating as much grass as you can is a great option. I reduced my mowing time by about 1/2 by doing this. In my case, the actual time spent on yard care probably has not gone down (I like the work), but instead has shifted to the kinds of things I personally like to do, working with perennials, beds, etc.
In your case, I would recommend doing the same, except with the advice to choose your plants carefully. Luckily, in your region there are gazillions of evergreen shrubs that you won't have to constantly care for, so the option of reducing the size of the mowable turf is definitely feasible.
An additional recommendation would be to sculpt your beds to accomodate the mower. This will help to reduce trimmer work.
If you do this right, you won't have enough time on the rider to even finish the drink in your cupholder!
Next Reds manager, second shooter. --Confirmed on Redszone.