7 Best Zero Turn Mower For the Money: An Efficient Way of Yard Maintenance

best-zero-turn-mowers

If you have a medium to large sized garden, then you know it involves a lot of work to maintain and keep it tidy.

But you can make your job a bit easier with the help of the Best Zero Turn Mower (ZTR) which you can use for residential or commercial lawn mowing purposes.

With a zero-turn mower, you can cut grass without a need for the weed whacker later. But these mowers are not cheap, and you need to make a well-informed decision before buying one. 

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This is why we have included the zero-turn mower buyer information. It provides you all the information you need to know when buying the mower.

Moreover, whether you are looking for an entry-level mower or commercial grade mower or anything between. We have covered the zero turn mower in each category. You can confidently pick any of these mowers as per your need.

Quick Picks:

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Premium

Snapper 360Z 18HP 603cc Kawasaki

The high power engine of zero turn mower comes with multiple accessories. You can set deck to be at 13 different positions depending on your need. 

Best Overall

Zero Turn Mower

This is a true Zero-turn radius mower which comes with powerful air-filtration system. Ideal for both professionals and semi-professionals. You can operate deck lift with a foot. 

Best Value

Ariens Zoom 34

This lawn mower has a high fuel economy and is a good zero-turn mower at a reasonable price. The high quality cushioned comfortable seating makes cutting a lawn an easy job. 

The 7 Best Zero Turn Mower

Our Top Pick 

Ariens 915213 Zero Turn Mower

Our top pick for the best zero turn mower is the Ariens IKON-X 52. The 23 hp Kawasaki FR V-Twin Engine provides enough power to handle even the toughest terrain to mow. The 52-inch fabricated deck is 4.5 inches deep, which provides a smooth, clean cut of the grass.

This zero-turn mower is designed keeping comfort in mind. The high-back padded seat and armrests provide the support for an extended period of mowing.

Best of all, it comes completely assembled, so it ready to use after delivery. Ariens IKON-X 52 struck the right combination of price and performance. 

The Best Zero Turn Mower Review

1. Ariens Zoom 34 Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Ariens Zoom 34

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

Ariens

Cutting Width

34 Inch

Engine Power

19 HP

Where To Buy

Ariens Zoom 34 is a reliable 19 HP ZTR mower. Don’t get deceived by its simple small look. It has a V-twin engine which packs enough power to finish mowing your yard whether doing it commercially or residential in no time.

The compact and small design of the machine makes it easy to store and transport. The 34-inch cutting width provides the wide cutting coverage area, which means you don’t have to fiddle around back and forth to cut the same area grass.

For your comfort, Ariens Zoom 34 comes with an 18-inch seat, which is very comfortable to sit on. The natural placement of controls allows you to control your machine without overextending your arms.

There are some limited options to adjust the height of the seat, but it is not something which should be a big concern. The comfortable padding on the seat keeps the pressure off for an extended period of mowing.

Ariens sturdy 12-gauge deck is stamped from a single piece of steel. This provides excellent airflow and high-quality cut. For greater flexibility in cutting the size of grass, the foot operated deck lifts with a foot pedal.

You can adjust the cutting heights in half-inch increments from 1.4 to 4.5 inch. It has three blades and 7 height settings. For unexpected obstruction or ditch, you can instantly lift the deck to go over the objects quickly. Ariens Zoom 34 has some of the best zero turn mowers blades which we liked. 

The fuel tank is conveniently located, which makes pouring the gas in the mower very easy without spilling the gas. It weighs approximately 425 lbs. This is mid-range weight for the best mower in its category as some of the mowers weigh more than 600 lbs.

The high-quality material used in the construction means, the mower can last longer even after doing some heavy mowing.

The only issue you may sometime run into is when mowing on a slope. The weight of the mower pulls it down if you are mowing at the steep hill or mowing wet grass.

Ariens Zoom 34 uses 19 HP engine made from Kohler. With this mower, you get a 3-year warranty on the mower plus engine. The gasoline-powered engine packs enough punch to clear over half acre lawn in around half hour.

The 34-inch deck size with a 12-inch thick reinforced material makes it very durable. The use of steel in deck prevents corrosion and heat. 

See More information on Ariens Zoom 34

What we like: 

  • Good mower at a reasonable price
  • High fuel economy
  • Good comfortable seating
  • High powered engine
  • Foot pedal operating deck position adjustment

What we don't like: 

  • Slips at steel slope or wet grass
  • Not suitable for harsh terrains

2. Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower

Husqvarna Z254

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

Husqvarna

Cutting Width

54 inches

Engine Power

21.5 HP

Where To Buy

Husqvarna Z254 zero turn mower is a right mower for residential and semi-commercial use. It comes with 21.5 hp engine made by a Briggs and Stratton. Starting a Husqvarna Z254 is a breeze as it comes with an automatic choke system which makes it begin quickly.

Unlike some of the other zero turn mower which claims to have zero turn radius but take some angle on turning, the Husqvarna Z254 lives up to its word.

The robust cooling fan on the mower keeps the machine cool even when operating in the hot summer. The improved air filtration system design improves the air-flow and prolongs the life of the mower.

The use of Air induction mowing technology allows it to draw the air from the top and bottom of the deck. This helps with the lift of the grass and provides a clean grass cut. The maintenance-free transmission makes Husqvarna Z254 operate effectively in any type of lawn.

The mower has reinforced steel deck. The use of flat-stock steel on the stamped cutting adds strength and durability. To mow in any type of obstacle, Husqvarna Z254 has added a convenient deck lift.

The spring assisted lift allows you to raise the deck with a simple push of control lever. This is conveniently located right across the seat. This makes it faster to lift the deck for an unexpected obstacle.

The maximum speed of 6.5 mph makes this mower to finish the task in no time. You can mow on average 2.8 acres/hr, which is good mowing speed.

The electric clutch on the mower makes it easy on blade engagement. The 54 inches reinforced stamped deck makes it ideal for mowing wide lawn area. This has a gasoline-powered engine and 3.5-gal fuel tank capacity.

If you use it for residential purposes, then it comes with a 3-year warranty. Unfortunately, for commercial use, there is no warranty. This is one of the best zero turn mower under $4000.  

See More information on Husqvarna Z254

What we like: 

  • High powered engine
  • 54 inches wide reinforced stamped cutting deck
  • Larger fuel tank
  • Electric clutch to engage the blade
  • Integrated, maintenance free transmission
  • High-performance engine air filter

What we don't like: 

  • Hard to use on sharp slopes
  • Grass buildup on the deck

3. Ariens IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

Ariens Company

Cutting Width

52 inches

Engine Power

23 HP

Where To Buy

Ariens IKON-X 52-inch zero turn mower is the best bang for your buck when it comes to zero turn lawn mowers. The 4.5” deep fabricated deck is made with an 11-gauge durable steel. This means you get a sturdy and robust design deck which can cut any grass like a butter.

The heart of Ariens IKON-X is the 23 hp Kawasaki engine. It is a professional grade 4-cycle 90 degrees V-twin engine, which means business. The engine provides high powered output. The automatic compression release distributes power smoothly.

The mower turns on very quickly, and the credit goes to its electronic spark ignition. The pressurized lubrication in the engine keeps the smooth oil flowing. It means a highly efficient operation of the machine.

One of the challenges with lawn mowers is the environment it operates. Due to the continuous cutting of the grass, the dust and other particles blow into the mower and clogs the engine.

Ariens uses a single-stage air filtration system which prevents dust and small particles getting into the engine. This lets you keep cutting without any interruption.

For smoother and efficient mowing, the 4.5 inches deep fabricated deck generates massive airflow inside. The airflow lifts the grass for a cleaner cut.

The frame is made with high quality fully tubular steel frame rails. It provides better support to the machine for cutting any type of grass in a wide variety of environment.

Ariens IKON-X boasts 13 cutting positions, which range from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches, in a quarter-inch increment. You can easily change the cutting height by turning a dial at the top. The 4-point hanging deck creates a level cut suspension even when going over uneven terrain.

There are several accessories available with Ariens IKON-X. Some of the accessories are Mulch kit, 48-inch detacher, Bagger, 8-inch wheel cover and LED headlight.

The Ariens IKON-X 52 comes with 3 years limited warranty on the machine and 5-year limited warranty or the deck and frame. This is an excellent mower to create a best lawn. 

See More information on Ariens IKON-X 52"

What we like: 

  • Steel-gauge commercial style deck
  • High power engine
  • True Zero-turn radius
  • Powerful air-filtration system
  • Foot-operated deck lift
  • Easy to start and low operating noise
  • Wide cut height

What we don't like: 

  • Accessories to be purchased separately
  • No headlight included
  • Not sold in California

4. Swisher Response 24HP Zero Turn Mower

Swisher ZTR2454BS Response 24HP

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

Swisher Acquisition, Inc

Cutting Width

54 inches

Engine Power

24 HP

Where To Buy

Swisher Response 24 HP is high-performance semi-pro zero turn mower. It has a powerful Briggs & Stratton (724cc) engine which makes mowing lawn a breeze.

The 54-inch deck comes with three 18-inch gator mulching blades. The full deck enables cutting a more substantial area in a single swoop. The three high strength gator mulching blades provide the best corresponding performance.

The rapid response control system boosts the mower to keep munching grass at a speed of 8 mph in forward and reverse. It is designed with performance and efficiency in a mind with increased maneuverability and fast response.

Swisher's massive 54-inch deck and heavy-duty fender allow it to mow in rough terrains. The 8-gallon fuel capacity means, it will not stop till the job gets done.

The foot assisted deck lift raises the height of the deck from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches.

For comfort and ease of use, the Swisher provided with a comfortable, cushioned high back seat and armrest. If you are mowing in a hot summer, then it includes, for an additional price, a storage compartment, 12-volt adapter, and a cup holder.

Swisher is a reputable and reliable manufacturer of mowers and other electrical products over 6 decades. This is made in the USA and comes pre-assembled.

This means that you don’t have to keep the toolbox ready to put everything together. When you order online, the mower gets delivered with a lift gate. 

See More information on Swisher Response 24HP

What we like: 

  • High-performance engine
  • 54-inch deck
  • Comfortable seat with armrest
  • 8-gallon fuel capacity
  • Responsive and easy to drive

What we don't like: 

  • No grass catching accessories
  • Expensive

5. Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 25HP 54-Inch Zero-Turn Mower

Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 25HP 54-Inch Zero-Turn Mower

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

MTD Products

Cutting Width

54  inches

Engine Power

25 HP

Where To Buy

The Troy-Bult Mustang 54 is designed for use in a medium size residential lawn. The 54-inch-high performance deck provides a wide cut angle while providing excellent maneuverability around trees, fences, and flower beds.

The unique design of Troy Bilt Zero turn mower allows you to keep more control on trimming grass on the hill and uneven slopes. The forward speed of 7 mph and reverse speed of 2.5 mph provides the unique balance between the speed and performance.

The Reverse mow control allows the safe operation of the mower. With a full 54-inch riding deck, you can easily mow up to 1.5 acres in half an hour.

The Troy Bilt Mustang is powered by 25 hp twin cylinder engine which is made by Briggs & Stratton. The 54-inch triple blade side discharge deck provides the maximum coverage areas in each mowing turn.

The Electric Power Take-Off (PTO) feature allows these blades to have a faster engagement, which means quick mowing when you need it.

You can adjust the deck to the 8 different positions which provide the greater flexibility to use the mower as you see fit. The good premium quality 18 inches high back seat and dual suspension provides smooth mowing without worrying much about all the bumps in the yard.

The front caster wheels are made with sturdy rubber materials, which means the longer bearing life. The zero-turn maneuverability saves time without doing a follow-up trimming. You can also attach the optional bagger for collecting grass.

The deck is designed to be compatible with accessories, so if you want to enhance your mower with other parts, then you can easily attach to it. The four-deck gauge wheels provide extra support to the deck and allow you smooth clear to the grass. The additional rear roller offers increased stability while mowing at the slope or hill.

Although it comes preinstalled with most of the essential parts. But you still have to do minor assembly such as install the seat, adjust the control levers, set up the front wheels, and connect the front cables. The product manual contains the detail instructions about how to do it.

Troy-Bilt comes with 3-year limited residential warranty and the limited lifetime frame warranty.

See More information on Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 25HP 54-Inch

What we like: 

  • High powered engine
  • High maneuverability
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Good for tall grass
  • Can mow in and around tight spots

What we don't like: 

  • Noisy engine
  • Uncomfortable seat for a longer duration

6. Snapper 360z Zero Turn Mower

Snapper 2691319 360z Mower

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

Briggs & Stratton

Cutting Width

48 inches

Engine Power

23 HP

Where To Buy

Snapper 360z is a compact zero turn mower. It includes features which are generally available in commercial mowers such as welded steel frame, thick-walled front axle, durable steel deck, and easy access maintenance points.

These features improve its reliability as residential zero turn mower. It is powered by Kawasaki engine which provides 18 hp thrust to the mower with its twin cylinder engine. You can use up to 3-gal fuel, which is enough to mow a vast lawn area. There is also optional Brigg & Statton engine choice if you need some extra power to your mower.

At the back of the mower, there is an integrated cargo bed with 50 lb capacity, which means you can place additional tools or grass bags while mowing.

The side rails allow for the use of aftermarket ATV accessories. You can also insert wooded 2x4 through its convenient cutouts from where you can add removable tailgate.

The foot operated deck allows you to easily adjust the 13 different height positions from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. The Snapper 360z is an easy to use Zero turn mower. The high back padded seat provides comfortable mowing even for an extended period.

You can also attach a bagger to the mower, but for this model, you will also need the 42-inch deck adapter boot kit.

The deck is hanging, which allows for some side movements while mowing and floats up and down. This is helpful as when you roll over the hills or berms, the roller guides the deck based on the contours of the land which maintains the steady cut quality.

Snapper comes with multiple attachments, which allows you the extended flexibility in using this mower. For example, the twin catches enable you to mow the lawn and collect clippings and debris in two easy to empty grass bags.

The grass mulching kit provides several numbers of blades which you can use to fine tune the grass cut size.

In prolonged hot summer days, sitting on a padded seat can become uncomfortable. You can choose to have a mesh style seat kit which keeps your back fresh and improves the comfort. These accessories are not included in the initial purchase, and you have to buy it extra.

Overall, this is an excellent zero turn mower which lasts longer and provides the ability to mow season after season. All fabricated decks come with a limited lifetime warranty

See More information on Snapper 360z

What we like: 

  • High power engine
  • 13 height deck position
  • Multiple accessories
  • Can handle thick grass
  • Minor assembly required

What we don't like: 

  • Bit pricey
  • Expensive accessories

7. Husqvarna MZ61 Zero Turn Mower

Husqvarna MZ61

Product Specs

Description

Manufacturer

ABC

Cutting Width

61 inches

Engine Power

27 HP

Where To Buy

Husqvarna MZ61 is a 61-inch fabricated deck zero-turn riding lawn mowers to get the best lawn. The hydrostatic gear transmission allows the smooth maximum cutting of grass in each pass.

Husqvarna MZ61 is powered by 27 hp Briggs and Stratton endurance V-Twin engine. It means powerful mowing without stopping. And the increased comfort for extra-long mowing sessions.

The 61-inch cutting width deck means, this unit can be used for larger lots or for semi-pro landscapers. Even with a strong engine, it is still tranquil. So you don’t have to worry about disturbing your neighbours when you mow.

The use of precise three blades inside the deck gives a smooth, precise cut to the grass. So when you are done mowing, the yard looks cut to the same height. The Hydrostatic gear transmission allows the quick direction change or speed adjustment over any kind of lawn.

You can quickly raise the deck with a pedal assisted deck lift. This means no more stopping and changing the cutting height to clear any obstruction or size of the grass. A simple press on the pedal allows you to change the height of the deck.

The wheels of Husqvarna MZ61 are driven by individual hydraulic motors which means you get the actual zero turn radius. This provides very precise maneuvering and allows the mower to rotate around its own axis at tighter spots.

For comfortable steering of the mower, the rubber isolator separates the rider from the frame. This increases the shock absorption while mowing through uneven ground surface and causes less fatigue.

The high back ergonomic seat supports the full-back area, which allows you to ride it for a longer duration. The controls are well designed and placed at a closer distance, which makes steering the mower quite easy. You can also adjust the placements of these controls as per your need or body type.

Husqvarna included the hour meter which displays the number of hours the mower had worked with a service reminder. So no more guessing when was the last time you serviced the mower.

There are many easy to access service points. This allows you to fill oil, change a filter, or replace the battery without opening the whole unit. This is heavy as it weighs around 770 lbs.

Overall, this is one of the best zero-turn mowers which you can use semi-professionally.

See More information on Husqvarna MZ61

What we like: 

  • Wide deck
  • Multiple deck height selection
  • Powerful engine
  • Smooth engine ride
  • Responsive and easy to drive
  • Handles rough terrain and overgrown space

What we don't like: 

  • Expensive
  • Very heavy

Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide

What is a Zero Turn Mower?

Zero turn mower (ZTR) can turn in any direction with a minimum curved distance. This increases the maneuverability of the mower as you get the maximum coverage to cut the overgrown grass in your yard.

To give you some mental picture, imagine you are driving a car, and you realized that you were going in the wrong direction. Now you decide to take a U-Turn, but even if you turn the full steering wheel, you still have to go in some curved path to make a complete U-turn.

When you are mowing the lawn, you will be cutting grass in the different shape and design of the yard. It becomes essential that mower can reach all the hard to reach places without getting stuck in one place.

So, to answer what zero turn lawn mower is?

The zero-turn mower is a riding lawn mower with a zero turning radius. This makes the lawn mowers to turn at a sharp curve, drives faster, and becomes more agile. But this comes at a price, as zero turn lawn mowers are a bit more expensive than a conventional riding lawn mowers.

It is crucial that you know all the features of zero turn mower so you can make the right buying decision.

traditional ride-on mowers vs. zero turn mowers

You might be wondering how the zero turn mowers different from the traditional ride-on mowers.

The traditional ride-on mowers have a steering wheel which is suitable for mowing medium to extensive flat mowing grounds.

But these traditional mowers are not very useful in mowing at slope, hills, curves or slants. The broad angle curve needed by the conventional ride-on mowers means less maneuverability around the tight corners and trees.

Most of these traditional ride-on mowers have the engine located in the rear which makes mowing on a hill or slopes a bit dangerous. 

Whereas the zero-turn mower can change direction at any single point. This increases the maneuverability and allows you to cut hard to reach narrow areas. This means less cutting involved to the left-over places.

Types of Zero Turn Mower

There are different types of zero-turn mowers on the market. The main primary types of zero-turn mowers are:

  • Mid-Mount Zero Turn Mowers
  • Out-Front Mount Zero Turn Mowers

Mid-mount zero turn mowers

In a mid-mount zero turn mowers, the decks are installed between the front and rear wheel of the mower. The deck of mower is placed under the operators' seat and at the front of the engine.

All the drive parts such as the engine, push tires, and drive system is located at the back of the mower.

When operating mid-mount zero-turn mower, the person sits above the deck. This is between the zero-turn-radius pivot point and the drive wheels.

A mule belt connects the clutch to the deck. This provides increased stability and balance to the mower. 

Out-front zero-turn mower

The out-front zero turn mower is also known as front-mount zero turn mower. In this, the deck is mounted at the front of the operator seat.

The seating is located at the front of the engine, above the powered drive tires and closer to the zero-turn radius pivot point. The deck is powered through a sturdy PTO drive shaft.

The out-front design makes it easy to remove the deck for easy cleaning, storing, and maintaining. Moreover, you can change the mowing deck with other tools such as snow throwers, rotary brooms, and dozer blades.

So, which zero turn lawn mower should you choose then?

You can choose a mid-mount zero turn mower if you mow in the open area where there are few obstacles. This also includes the hilly and climbing areas as the mid-mount zero turn mower can easily climb and have more excellent stability.

But when doing a lawn care where there are several trees, fences or obstacles, you should choose out-front zero turn mower. The front-deck design makes it easier to maneuver around the obstacles. The low profile, an out-front deck, can reach around any barriers which reduce the trimming time.

The out-front zero turn mower allows you to add other attachments. For example, in winter, you can remove the mowing deck and attach the snow blowing module. This effectively converts the lawn mower into a snow blower. 

It reduces a significant cost as you don’t have to buy several machines for a different task. And you will also have lower maintenance cost as you have to maintain the only single machine. 

How does Zero turn mower work

The out-front zero-turn mower gives you the best flexibility and productive use of the machine. In 1949, Max Swisher came up with the design idea of zero turn mower.

It was a basic design at the beginning where the machine had three wheels. The two rear wheels pushed the mower forward while the third wheel at the front provided balance to the mowing deck.

In 1963, inventor John Regier improved the mower design using a counter-rotational wheel to steer the mower. This design became very popular and effective. Several modern machines today such as forklifts, front-end loaders, and warehouse trucks use this rotational wheel design. 

Power

The zero-turn mowers are powered by diesel or regular gas type engines. Noways, due to push toward clean energy and efficiency, there are propane powered mowers available in the market.

The engine powers the drive wheels of the mower which are controlled by independent hydraulic motors. The hydraulic transmission provides the capability to each wheel to move separately. This improves the maneuverability of the mower. 

Wheels

The wheels of zero turn mowers are made with high-quality tubeless tires which increase the life of tires. The back wheels are powered directly by the engine while the front wheels are smaller than the others.

In the out-front, the front wheels are castors, which means it can rotate freely in any direction. For increased stability, some zero-turn lawn care mowers have an additional fifth wheel. This wheel is generally placed directly behind the operator. 

Control Levers 

Zero-turn mowers use levers to control the direction and motion of the machine. But some mowers are designed to use with a regular steering wheel or a joystick.

The steering wheel or joystick takes less effort to operate than the control lever mowers. But the control lever design is simple and needs less maintenance. This makes control lever design mower a bit cheaper to run.

Here is how you can operate zero turn mower. 

Move Forward: To move forward, push both levers forward.

Move Backward: To move backward, pull both levers back, which puts the mower in reverse.

Turn Direction: To turn direction, push one lever more than the other and the mower will turn into the path which is pushed more.

For example, if you want to turn right, then push the right control to the front while leaving the left control at its place.

Half Circle-Turn: To make a half-circle turn, keep one-wheel standstill while turning others. This will make the mower to turn on the standstill wheel in 180 degrees which will be at the same width as the mower base.

Zero-Turn: To make a zero turn, pull back on one lever while pushing forward the other control lever. This makes the one wheel to turn in reverse and other moves ahead. This causes the zero turning radius. In this way, you can make a quick 360 degree turn with no turning circle. 

Note: 

Be careful when using it on a slope as the mower can quickly lose the traction if you turn too quick. Like anything else, it may need some practice before operating the machine.

What to Look For When Buying?

When buying a zero turn mower look for a mower which has a robust engine, adjustable deck design, and flexible transmission and control options.

Engine power

The engine size and horsepower are the first thing to consider when choosing to buy the best zero-turn mower.

The size of the lawn or the desired use of the mower such as for residential or commercial purposes determines the required engine power.

The engine horsepower also determines the gas the mower will consume, and the speed and rate it will mow the lawn.

You can determine the power rating of zero-lawn mower by checking the horsepower (HP) rating on the engine. This is the same as when you buy a car. As a general guideline, the higher the horsepower, the more power the lawn mower will have.

We suggest that you use a commercial grade engine type in the zero-turn mower. There are some cheaper but lesser quality regular engine-based riding mower available in the market. But if your budget permits, choosing the commercial grade engine will be a far better option than the regular engine-based mower.

The commercial grade engine includes a heavy-duty air cleaner, multiple-cylinder, massive displacement, and crankshaft alignment.

The commercial grade engine increases the life and utility of the mower. As an added benefit, a zero-turn mower reduces the mowing time by up to 70 percent compared to a standard mower. Good engine power is important to have for the best zero turn mower for hills or slopes. 

Zero-turn mowers come in the various engine power range. With the most common in between 14 HP to 27 HP. 

Lawn Size

Engine Horse Power (HP)

Small Size Lawn

Between 14 HP to 16 HP

Medium Size Lawn

Between 16 HP to 18 HP

Large Size Lawn

Over 18 HP

Single Cylinder Engine: It is best for small lawn care. It produces less torque but is less expensive. 

V-Twin Powered Engine: It is suitable for more extensive lawns or for commercial use. It provides more power, speed, and gas mileage.

It works best when you are mowing hill or larger yards. It can also tow trailers with tools and accessories but is more expensive than the single cylinder model. 

crankshaft alignment

There are two types of crankshaft alignments for zero-turn mowers; vertical and horizontal.

The vertical crankshaft alignments are cheaper than the horizontal crankshaft. But for higher performance and less maintenance, we recommend that you choose a horizontal crankshaft.

The horizontal crankshaft provides more uniform cooling, better lubrication, and airflow to the engine. This increases the durability and performance of the mower. 

Transmission

Zero-turn mowers use hydrostatic transmission. In many beginners to mid-level zero turn mowers, the trans-axle transmission is used.

The trans-axle transmission has a gear-reduction system which includes moving internal parts. It is less expensive than other transmission types, but it gets worn out over time.

The high wear on trans-axle transmission affects the cooling, steering, and performance of the mower. This means the shorter life of the mower and much earlier repair.

Moreover, the gear-reduction system needs a break-in period after changing the internal transmission fluid. You may have to change the oil filter after every 200 to 500 hours of use.

The “no gear” system uses a hydraulic, pump-and-wheel-motor drive systems. The hydraulic transmission system increases the performance, responsiveness, and the durability of the mower.

This better power transmission from the engine to the deck means you can cut more thick grass and weeds with ease.

The hydraulic transmission system needs less maintenance and need services only after 1,000 hours of use. This lowers the operating cost of the mower. 

Durability

There are two common types of deck; fabricated and stamped deck.

Most of the commercial zero-turn mowers use the fabricated deck. It provides more durability during mowing, and the special reinforcement extends the life of the deck against impacts.

The sturdier design of the fabricated deck makes it ideal for midrange and professional grade ZTR mower but is more expensive.

The stamped deck is used in the entry-level zero-turn mowers. These are lightweight and are suitable for light yard work. But it is cheaper than the fabricated.

Regardless of which deck type you choose; the cutting width of the deck is an essential consideration. The wider the deck size is, the more you will be able to mow. This will cut down your mowing time.

Sometimes there is a trade-off between the deck size and maneuverability. The large deck size may restrict the mow at tight space or corners. So be aware when making a decision on the deck size.

Here is a general guideline for deck based on the size of your lawn:

Lawn Size

Cutting Deck Size

1 - Acre Lawn

Between 36 - 42 Inch

1 -2 Acre Lawn

Between 42 - 46 Inch

2+ Acre Lawn

48 + Inch

You can go above or below the ideal size depending on the layout of your lawn or how fast you want to mow it. Don’t buy too wide cutting deck riding mower if you have lots of trees or curved structure.

The ZTR riding mowers work great for vast flat open areas of grass. The broader cutting deck cuts more grass with every pass and reduces the mowing time. Keep in mind the lawn size and then try to match it tightly with the deck size to speed up the mowing. 

mower size

The mower size is different than the cutting deck size. The cutting deck size determines the mowing area in each passage, whereas the riding mower size determines the total size of the machine. Some riding mowers allows you to fold the cutting decks, especially on both sides. But even if you fold it, these mowers are not a small machine.

When buying the mower, consider the area you will be mowing as well as the storage area. If you are planning to buy the zero-turn mower for commercial use, then you need to consider how you will be transporting it to different places. If you use the truck or trailer to carry, then know the dimensions of the bed to move the mower.

Consider the tire width and wheel size, for a more uniform weight distribution of the riding mowers. The wider tires improve the traction and reduce the pressure on the grass. For higher maneuverability and speed, we recommend you to look for ZTR with four-ply-rated tires. 

Mowing Speed

Mowing speed depends on the mowing area and the type of lawn. Lawns, which are flat and have fewer obstructions, takes less time than a yard with lots of obstacles. The mowing speed determines how quickly you can finish the mowing job.

For residential and entry-level zero turn mower, the mower can go up to 5 to 6 mph speed. The mid-range zero-turn mower goes faster, up to 6 to 7 mph speed.

For a bigger lawn or for commercial mowing, consider a semi-pro model which can go up to 8 to 9 mph speed. The full commercial model can to at maximum 13 to 15 mph speed. 

Mowing Comfort

Mowing is a physically exerting job regardless if you are doing it for a short duration or for an extended period. You need a comfortable seat to sit and then operate it.

During a mowing, you will be going through various types of surfaces, which means a lot of bumpy rides.

When choosing the seat of the mower, make sure it has enough back support. This will be more so if you use the control stick to operate the mower as you won’t be leaning on the steering wheel.

Consider the reach of control from the seated positions. It will make your job easier and comfortable as you won’t have to stretch yourself. Also, check out the armrest so you don’t have to keep your arms extended for a longer duration. 

deck height adjustment

The ability to adjust the mowing height is essential as you don’t want to over-cut or under-cut the grass. Plus, you should be able to change the cutting height in a steep or uneven area.

When adjusting the mowing height, look for the feature which lets you adjust the height quickly without stopping.

The foot assistant to change the mowing height is convenient as you can raise or lower the cutting deck with a simple press of a pedal.

But as a cheaper alternative for mowing on a flat surface and less obstruction, you can choose manual deck raising model. 

Benefits of using Zero Turn Mower

So far, we have talked about the features and use of ZTR. There is no doubt that this is an expensive machine which requires an ongoing cost. For a small lawn or casual gardening, you should not invest in ZTR but look for cheaper alternatives.

Here are some of the advantages of using Zero-turn-mower.

  • ​​​​Higher cutting speed ​​​​with a reduced effort
  • Reinforced steel makes the cutting deck more durable
  • High traction, wide anti-scalping wheels provide better mowing control even on damp grass
  • Faster engine available
  • Higher cutting area due to a 180-degree turn spot. This means you can cut more turf in a single pass, rather than turn back and re-mowing
  • Ability to trim steep and narrow areas
  • Some model allows the extra attachments or change the deck. This provides you with higher flexibility in using the machine

Which zero turn mower to buy

Below is a feature summary of each zero turn mower for comparison.

Entry Lever Zero Turn Mower

entry-level-best-zero-turn-mower

For light use

Limited features

Smaller fuel tank

Less powerful engine

Ideal for residential yards

Less expensive

Mid-Grade Zero Turn Mower

Mid-grade-zero-turn-mower

For weekly mowing of larger yards

More durable and can handle heavier loads

More engine and deck position options

Comfortable seating

Semi-Pro/Commercial Zero Turn Mower

Semi-pro-zero-turn-mower

For daily use by landscapers

Durable, stronger materials

Large fuel tank and deck

More customizable features

Commercial Zero Turn Mower

Commercial-Zero-Turn-Mower

For landscaping professionals

Most powerful engine and massive fuel tank

Heavy duty steel frame and deck

Most expensive

Most comfortable ride

Here are some tips when you are operating zero turn mower which will make your equipment last longer. 

Tips on Maintaining Zero Turn Mower

  • Air Filter: Clean regularly for the best fuel efficiency
  • Mower Deck: Clean after each use to prevent from grass, and lawn debris to build-up
  • Mower Blades: Sharpen 2-3 times per year or as needed
  • Tire Pressure: check tire pressure regularly
  • Storage: Keep in a safe storage place when not in use
  • Lubrication: Keep the engine and cutting deck blades well lubricated for the best performance
  • Oil Change: A regular oil change as per the manufacturer recommended schedule will increase the life of the riding mower.
  • Mowing Hill: Exercise some care when mowing on the hill or slope as it may cause the riding mower to slide if the grass is wet
  • Ear-Plug: Mower produces lots of noise coming straight from the engine and blade cutting the grass. The longer duration high noise may damage your eardrums. Use a noise protection ear-plug
  • Operational Manual: Read the operation manual before using the machine. It will allow you familiarize with the device as well as provide you some safety information

Safety Tips when using Zero Turn Mower

  • When not mowing, turn off the blades. Put the mower in a park position and shut off the engine when dismounting
  • Do not let other people ride on mower with you. The zero turn mowers are not designed to carry passengers
  • Do not try to clean or remove objects from the mower while the blade is moving. Turn off the engine, and let the module to come to a complete stop before you attempt removing or cleaning the mower
  • Pay attention to the traffic when operating near or crossing roadways
  • Use extreme care when loading or unloading the machine into a truck or trailer
  • Always wear ear and eye protection while operating machine

Our Top Pick 

Ariens 915213 Zero Turn Mower
Ariens IKON-X 52 Zero Turn Mower

Our top pick for the best zero turn mower is the Ariens IKON-X 52. The 23 hp Kawasaki FR V-Twin Engine provides enough power to handle even the toughest terrain to mow. The 52-inch fabricated deck is 4.5 inches deep, which provides a smooth, clean cut of the grass.

This zero-turn mower is designed keeping comfort in mind. The high-back padded seat and armrests provide the support for an extended period of mowing.

Best of all, it comes completely assembled, so it ready to use after delivery. Ariens IKON-X 52 struck the right combination of price and performance. 

best-zerp-turn-mowers-buying

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