The 7 Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023. Zero point turn mower
The 7 Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023
Sage McHugh has written for Dotdash Meredith since 2019. With over a decade of experience in consumer-oriented content, Sage has a passion for products and how they enhance our everyday lives.
Mary has been a Master Gardener for 30 years and a commercial and residential gardener for 50 years. She is a former Clemson University Extension Agent.
Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire. The Baltimore native also covered the technology scene for LocalBusiness.com and has been a regular contributor to the sports pages of The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post.
Thanks to a zero-turn radius, wide cutting deck, and higher speed capacity, a zero-turn mower can tackle a large yard in less time than a standard riding lawn mower. “Using a zero-turn mower is one of the fastest ways to get a larger lawn cut,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Manufacturers today bring to market zero-turn mower models with features to help homeowners stay comfortable, safe, and productive.”
When researching the best zero-turn mowers, we evaluated products based on their size, weight, fuel source, horsepower, and cutting deck options.
RYOBI RY48140 48V 54-Inch Electric Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Earning the top spot in our roundup, this fully electric zero-turn mower from Ryobi is emissions-free and low-maintenance. It’s powered by 115 aH batteries and can mow up to 3.5 acres on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. This mower features a 54-inch, 10-gauge heavy-duty steel deck, which can be adjusted to provide a shorter or longer cut. It has a maximum speed of 7 MPH going forward and 4 MPH in reverse. Despite weighing a whopping 796 pounds, the mower is easy to maneuver–even in tight spaces.
The Ryobi Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower has an advanced control panel that allows you to adjust the speed, reverse mow, check the battery level, and operate the headlights. You can even charge your phone using the built-in USB charging port. Ergonomic controls, armrests, and two cup holders provide a comfortable riding experience.
This electric mower is a great alternative to gas-powered options. Just keep in mind that the batteries need to be charged before use. For added convenience, this mower plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet and features a rear charging port that’s easily accessible. And while this mower has a hefty price tag, it is packed with features, and if you have a large yard, it could be well worth the splurge.
Price at time of publish: 5,500
Power Type: Electric | Horsepower: Not applicable | Cutting Width: 54 inches | Weight: 796 pounds | Terrain: Flat with obstacles
Toro 75746 42 inch 22.5 HP TimeCutter Commercial V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
This compact yet powerful zero-turn lawn mower from Toro is one of the more affordably priced options on the market. It is gas-powered and has a 22.5 HP twin-cylinder engine, making it an ideal choice for yards up to two acres in size. Note that it’s best suited for flat terrain with a few obstacles rather than hills or slopes. The 42-inch wide cutting deck houses two sharp cutting blades, and its height is adjustable to achieve a more precise cut.
With a fuel tank capacity of three gallons, you don’t have to worry about running out of gas in the middle of a job. Although most gas-powered motors are more powerful than their electric counterparts, the additional cost of fuel and the emissions are potential drawbacks. This zero turn mower has some noteworthy creature comforts such as a padded seat, under-seat storage cubby, and built-in cup holder. It also has padded control levers to help reduce user fatigue and improve maneuverability.
The Toro TimeCutter Zero-Turn Riding Mower can go up to 7 MPH when moving forward and 3 MPH in reverse. At 502 pounds, it is notably smaller than other options. While it’s ideal for smaller yards, it’s not a good choice for bigger jobs or challenging terrain. On the upside, its compact size allows you to mow in tight spaces and makes it easier to store in a garage or shed.
Price at time of publish: 3,800
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 22.5 HP | Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 502 pounds | Terrain: Flat with obstacles
EGO Power 52” Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower
This electric zero-turn mower from Ego can cut up to four acres on a single charge. What’s even more impressive, the battery system can be expanded to mow as many acres as needed. The batteries can be fully charged in less than four hours, which is up to four times faster than competitors, according to the manufacturer. Delivering the equivalent of 25 horsepower, the Z6 is just as powerful as a mid-range, gas-powered zero-turn mower. It can reach speeds up to 8 MPH, allowing you to cover more ground in less time.
The Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower offers three driving modes—control, standard, and sport—for various terrains. To ensure a quality cut, the height of the 52-inch cutting deck is adjustable. Other noteworthy features include LED lights, USB charging port, a phone holder, and Bluetooth. Another major advantage of this electric mower is that it runs very quietly and is easier to maintain than a gas model. With all of these bells and whistles, it’s no surprise that the Z6 comes with a steep price tag. However, the mower, batteries, and charger are backed by a five-year warranty to protect your investment.
Price at time of publish: 7,000
Power Type: Lithium batteries | Horsepower: Equivalent to 25 HP | Cutting Width: 52 inches | Weight: 655 pounds | Terrain: Uneven
Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZT2 60 in. Fab Deck 24HP Kawasaki V-Twin Zero Turn Mower
- Large capacity fuel tank
- Adjustable speed and reverse mowing option
- LED headlights for low-light conditions
- Ergonomic seat and hand grips
With a three-gallon fuel tank capacity and a twin-cylinder engine, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT2 V-Twin Gas Zero Turn Mower can run for hours without needing a refill. Thanks to a wide triple-blade deck, this mower delivers a more precise, even cut with fewer clumps and finer clippings. It also has a dial control knob that allows you to adjust the deck height from 1 inch to 4.5 inches. This zero-turn mower can go up to 7.5 MPH forward and up to 3.5 MPH in reverse, so you tackle yards to up to five acres in no time. It can also be adjusted to navigate slight rolling hills, rough terrain, and other obstacles with ease.
This mower is designed with comfort in mind: It has a fully adjustable ergonomic seat with armrests, as well as ergonomic hand grips that reduce operator fatigue. Other noteworthy features include LED headlights for mowing in low-light conditions, a cup holder, and a tow hitch. Like all models in this category, the Cub Cadet Ultima requires frequent gas refills. At 752 pounds, it’s also one of the heaviest options on the market.
Price at time of publish: 5,600
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 24 HP | Cutting Width: 60 inches | Weight: 752 pounds | Terrain: Slight rolling hills and several obstacles
Best for Hills
John Deere Z330R ZTrak Mower
This commercial lawn mower from John Deere has air-filled pneumatic tires with deep treads, which provide excellent traction on rough and hilly terrain. It’s available with a 48- or 54-inch cutting deck, with the latter being ideal for yards larger than four acres in size. The triple-blade, flat-top design delivers a clean cut even on uneven ground. Despite its hefty weight of over 600 pounds, the John Deere Z330R is easy to control and maneuver. It has a forward speed of up to 7 MPH and a maximum reverse speed of 3.5 MPH.
Both the seat and armrests are padded for a comfortable riding experience. There are also shock absorbers under the seat to provide a smoother ride on rougher terrain. The fuel tank has a generous three-gallon capacity, and it’s translucent, so you can easily monitor fuel levels. Other convenient features, including LED lights, front bumper, and rear hitch, come standard on this model. As with all gas-powered mowers, the ongoing fuel costs, emissions, and maintenance can be a potential drawback.
Price at time of publish: 4,000
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 23 HP | Cutting Width: 48 or 54 inches | Weight: 611 or 623 pounds | Terrain: Hills and slopes
Husqvarna Z254F 23-HP V-twin Dual Hydrostatic 54-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower
The Husqvarna Z254F 54-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower features a 23 HP twin-cylinder engine, which makes it a great mid-range residential option for yards between two and three acres in size. The mower can go up to 6.5 MPH when moving forward or 3.5 MPH in reverse. This zero-turn mower has a deep, 54-inch cutting deck, which allows for easier bagging and mulching. However, both the bagging and mulching kits are sold separately. To achieve a precise cut, you can use the deck lift to get in a perfect position. The hydrostatic transmission requires no maintenance, which is another plus.
Thanks to a high-backed seat, ergonomic control panel, and anti-slip foot area, this zero turn mower is safe and comfortable to operate. For added safety, it’s also equipped with an automatic parking brake system. Note that the Husqvarna Z254F is intended for flat terrain with a few obstacles; it should not be used on slopes that exceed 15 degrees. Like all gas-powered models, it will require refilling on a regular basis. We read some reports of broken parts, however, this product is backed by a bumper-to-bumper three-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 4,200
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 23 HP | Cutting Width: 54 inches | Weight: 610 pounds | Terrain: Flat with obstacles
Best for Big Yards
Toro TimeCutter 50 inch 24.5 HP Zero Turn Riding Mower
This gas-powered zero-turn mower from Toro is a great choice for larger yards ranging from two to four acres in size. It has a large three-gallon fuel tank, so you can get the job done without having to worry about running out of gas. Thanks to Toro’s Smart Speed technology, you have full control of your mowing speed to achieve a more precise cut. This mower has a maximum forward speed of 7 MPH and 3 MPH in reverse, plus it can go up to 4 MPH in trim mode.
The 50-inch wide cutting deck houses three cutting blades, and you can adjust the length to achieve a more precise cut. Shock-absorbing dampeners allow for smoother steering and riding. The Toro TimeCutter has a high-backed seat, padded armrests, and a built-in cup holder for comfortable operation. Note that this mower isn’t suitable for hills or slopes higher than 15 degrees. It works best on relatively flat terrain, but it can handle some minor obstacles.
Price at time of publish: 5,200
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 24.5 HP | Cutting Width: 50 inches | Weight: 694 pounds | Terrain: Mainly flat
Our best overall pick is the Ryobi Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower, which offers an array of convenient features and a low-maintenance, emissions-free design. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Toro TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower is both lightweight and fuel-efficient.
What to Look for in a Zero-Turn Mower
Residential zero-turn mowers often have smaller, 42-inch cutting decks, making them an ideal choice for yards less than 3 acres in size. While the smaller width is great for maneuvering around obstacles in your yard, it will take longer to get the job done. Something else to keep in mind: Lightweight zero-turn mowers are not recommended for daily use and will wear out faster than commercial zero-turn mowers if they are used daily.
Commercial zero-turn mowers have wider cutting decks (54 inches or higher), allowing you to get the job done in less time. They also offer superior power and durability, and unlike residential models, they can be used daily without wearing out. Our top choice for navigating hills, the John Deere Z330R ZTrak Mower, offers cutting decks in several sizes to suit your specific needs.
Lightweight zero-turn mowers have the advantage of being more fuel-efficient than heavyweight models. However, they don’t have as much traction as heavier zero-turn mowers, which makes them difficult to maneuver in wet conditions or on rough terrain. For that reason, they’re not suitable for mowing slopes that exceed 15 degrees. Our best budget pick, the Toro TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower, is one of the lightest, most fuel-efficient options on the market.
Heavyweight zero-turn mowers are intended for yards larger than 4 acres or mowing multiple large yards regularly. This type of mower is easier to control and better suited for rough terrain and steeper slopes. Not surprisingly, heavier zero-turn mowers are more expensive due to their sheer amount of power. They’re also less gas- and battery-efficient. If you have a gas-powered model, you will face higher fuel costs.
Fuel Source and Horsepower
Gas vs. Electric: Gas-powered zero-turn mowers are more popular, which means you can find a wider selection at various price points. When it comes to power, gas-powered mowers almost always surpass electric-powered mowers. However, you should consider the following: Gas-powered zero-turn mowers weigh more, require regular gas refills, and release emissions into the air.
Electric-powered zero-turn mowers are newer to the market and often have a slightly higher price point. Most electric options are not as powerful as commercial, gas-powered zero-turn mowers. However, their power output is on par with mid-range residential gas zero-turn mowers—a major plus for homeowners. An electric mower has the benefit of emissions-free operation, and you don’t have to worry about fuel costs.
Horsepower: The power output of a zero-turn mower engine is measured in horsepower. If you have a small yard (one acre or less), a zero-turn mower with 10 to 20 HP is a solid bet. For larger yards up to three acres in size, a 20 to 25 HP zero-turn mower is a great mid-range option. Our top choice for bigger yards, the Toro TimeCutter Zero Turn Riding Mower, offers 24.5 HP and handles yards ranging from two to four acres with ease. Just keep in mind that residential mowers (25 HP or lower) aren’t equipped to negotiate rough terrain and inclines over 15 degrees.
Zero-turn mowers with 25 HP or higher almost exclusively fall under the commercial category. These mowers are extremely powerful and intended for use on large properties, such as golf courses or multiple large yards. A commercial zero-turn mower is also more adept at handling rough terrain and steep inclines.
Cutting Deck Options: The cutting deck is the covered portion of a zero-turn mower where the blades are located. When the mower is powered up, the blades rotate to cut the lawn. Smaller cutting decks range from 32 inches to 48 inches, and they’re an ideal choice for yards less than three acres in size. For larger yards, look for a model with a bigger cutting deck–54 inches or wider. Our top pick for a gas-powered mower, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT2 V-Twin Gas Zero Turn Mower, has an impressive 60-inch cutting deck and can quickly tackle yards up to five acres in size.
Some routine maintenance is required to keep your zero-turn mower in tip-top shape. Sharpening the blades is relatively inexpensive, but a full engine tune-up could cost a few hundred dollars. Because zero-turn mowers are incredibly heavy machines, you may not want to perform the maintenance yourself. DIY will cut down on costs, of course, but you may need a hydraulic jack to get under the mower safely.
While most standard lawn tractors travel at 3-4 miles per hour (MPH), most zero-turn lawnmowers can go between 5-8 MPH. The appropriate speed will vary depending on the task you’re performing. If you’re mowing a flat yard, you should be able to cruise along at top speed. Terrain with slopes and obstacles will require more precise maneuvering at lower speeds and in reverse.
The exact amount of time will depend on your speed and the width of the cutting deck. Zero-turn mowers with a higher speed capacity and a larger cutting deck are more efficient. To save time while mowing, Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), suggests clearing your lawn beforehand. “Be sure there are no obstacles in the way of the mower, such as rocks, branches, and other debris,” he says.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. To select the best zero-turn mowers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their size, weight, fuel source, horsepower, and cutting deck options. McHugh consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For additional insight, she interviewed Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Zero Turn Mowers
For the discerning lawn enthusiast, nothing beats a Rover Zero Turn Mower for precision mowing done with effortless ease and efficiency. For that perfect finish, Zero Turn mowers cut right up to the edge, regardless of trees or irregularly shaped garden beds.
TOP 3 Commercial Zero Turn Mowers UNDER 10,000. 2023
500 Dealers Australia Wide
67 Years in Australia
With ample legroom and a relaxed seating position, a Rover Zero-Turn mower makes mowing lawns of all sizes a pleasure. Intuitive and easy to operate, with a wide high-back comfort seat and cup holder, you can cut in comfort all day. Zero-Turns are the perfect choice for large or irregularly shaped blocks, and blocks with many trees or other obstacles. The “zero” turning radius, means no more overshooting or 3 point turns, and greater productivity compared to a similarly sized tractor style ride on mower.
Safe 4 Wheel Steering
At Rover, your safety is our top priority. Our patented SynchroSteer (Steering Wheel) equipped Zero Turn Lawn Mowers offer exceptional traction and control over all four wheels to ensure your mower doesn’t slip, slide or tear up turf, especially in hilly and slippery conditions. SynchroSteer models offer superior manoeuvrability and handling and are capable of mowing safely on slopes up to 20°.
Rover’s residential Zero Turn Mowers deliver professional results when cutting lawns of all shapes and sizes. Cover ground quickly and completely with the help of the Zero turn’s wide cutting deck, high cutting speed, and its ability to turn on the spot.
All Rover Australia Zero Turn mowers are manufactured in the USA and are robust and reliable, offering the ultimate in precision grass cutting, sustained power and comfortable handling in Australian conditions.
Providing superior productivity to regular ride-on or rotary push mowers, the zero-turn steering system effectively eliminates the need for a turning circle giving you clean uniform cutting right up to the edges of your lawn regardless of obstacles.
Available in either 2-way adjustable lap bars or steering wheel control, your hard-working Rover Zero Turn is powered by a Rover, Kawasaki or Kohler engine with dual hydrostatic or Dual EZT transmission for a smooth, precise drive and exceptional performance.
Our versatile zero turn mower models come with a tow hitch and are compatible with mulch plug, catcher and other lawn care accessories to make maintaining your lawn and garden easy and efficient all year round.
All Rover Zero turn and Ride-on mowers powered by a Rover or Kawasaki engine come with our industry-leading 5-year domestic warranty on both the motor and unit for added peace of mind.
What is a zero turn mower?
A Zero-Turn riding lawn mower is a type of ride on mower with a virtually zero turning radius. The ability to turn on the spot is achieved because each back wheel turns independently, allowing the operator to turn 180 degrees on the spot and head back the other way. Z-Turns are more manoeuvrable than standard lawn tractors, which require a turning circle allowance, making them more efficient and providing a more uniform cut as there is no doubling up or running over the same spot twice.
I have lawn trees and irregularly shaped garden beds; which mower should I choose?
Depending on how closely your lawn trees are planted, you may be able to get around these obstacles on a standard ride-on mower. However, to mow right up to the base of trees and the edge of garden beds without having to make 3-point turns, your best option is a zero-turn mower. Even on straightforward flat lawns, because a zero turn mower turns on the spot at the end of a row, they are also significantly faster.
Which sized cutting deck do I need?
Rover Zero Turn cutting decks are available in 42-inch or 46-inch, depending on the size of your property and your budget. The larger the deck, the less time you will spend mowing as each pass will cut a wider section of grass. If you have a smaller property or have obstacles requiring mowing around, a smaller deck may be better.
Do Zero turn mowers have a hydrostatic transmission?
Rover zero turn mowers feature not one but two hydrostatic transmissions, one for controlling each rear wheel. These work independently of each other, for example sending the left wheel backwards and the right wheel forwards will result in a zero radius left hand turn. These independent transmissions and zero turning radius are what gives zero turn mowers their name.
What fuel do I use in my mower?
Rover recommends standard unleaded petrol with less than 10% ethanol content. IMPORTANT! Fuel with more than 10% ethanol content, such as E15 (15% ethanol), is NOT recommended.
Where are your dealers located?
Rover Zero Turn lawnmowers are for sale through out network of over 500 dealers Australia-wide, covering all major metro and regional areas. Below are just a few places you’ll find a trusted Rover sales and service partner, but to find one nearest to you, we recommend popping your postcode into our handy Dealer Locator facility. Australian Capital Territory – Canberra, Mitchell, Queanbeyan New South Wales – Bathurst, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Broken Hill, Byron Bay, Campbelltown, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Goulburn, Newcastle, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong Northern Territory – Alice Springs, Darwin, Tennant Creek Queensland –Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Mackay, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Townsville South Australia – Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Renmark, Victor Harbor Tasmania –Devonport, Hobart, Launceston Victoria –Ballarat, Bendigo, Burwood, Chadstone, Dandenong, Echuca, Frankston, Geelong, Gippsland, Melbourne, Pakenham, Ringwood, Warburton, Werribee Western Australia – Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Fremantle, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Mandurah, Perth Port Hedland
Find a Dealer
Use our dealer locator to find Rover’s range of quality Australian rider mowers for sale near you.
Zero-Turn Mower Operating Tips
Are you looking to purchase a new mower? Or maybe you are the proud owner of a shiny new zero-turn mower! If so, you are about to experience a whole new level of convenience! These machines can make your lawn care routine faster than ever. That being said, learning to operate a zero-turn mower takes time and practice. The following tips can give you a head start!
This guide comes courtesy of Ebling’s Service Plus, your trusted source for lawn care equipment in central Pennsylvania. If you have any questions about zero-turn mowers, feel free to contact us!
Choose the Right Mower For Your Needs
You are probably aware that zero-turn mowers are the most advanced mowers on the market. What you might not realize is that not all zero-turn mowers are created equal! There is no “one size fits all” solution to lawn care, so your choice of mower is important.
First and foremost, make sure to choose a zero-turn mower that is the right size for your lawn. If your mower is too large, you will have difficulty handling it. Meanwhile, if your mower is too small, it will take more time than necessary to mow your lawn.
You should also consider the kind of terrain you will encounter. Some zero-turn models are better able to rough terrain, so remember to check the specs before you make a purchase.
Now, you are ready to shop. Call us or stop by one of our stores to check out the different brands and models to compare what we have to what fits your needs and budget.
Read the Operating Manual
Remember to read the operating manual for your zero-turn mower before you start using it. This volume will provide detailed information on how to operate and maintain your mower. Keep the manual close at hand for quick reference, and be sure to follow all safety guidelines! The manuals also have a service guide in it. Maintaining your investment is essential to getting a lifetime of service out of your mower.
Get Used to the Controls
The controls for your zero-turn mower may feel unfamiliar at first. Zero-turn mowers don’t have foot pedals or steering wheels like most other vehicles do. Instead, they use a system of levers to move the mower forward, backward, and side to side.
Take some time to get acquainted with all the levers and buttons on your zero-turn mower before you start using it. Practice making three-point turns, putting the mower in reverse, and maneuvering around obstacles in your lawn.
Use Safety Products
Just like any piece of equipment, you should practice caution when operating a zero-turn mower. Before each mowing session, remember to put on ear and eye protection, and remove any debris from your lawn that could pose a hazard. Avoid making sharp turns, and steer clear of slopes that are steeper than 15 degrees.
Need more advice on zero-turn mower operation? Feel free to consult the team here at Ebling’s Service Plus! We proudly have served central PA for over 80 years!
Zero-Turn vs. Riding Lawn Mowers
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BEST NEW RESIDENTIAL ZERO TURN MOWERS of 2023
What’s the difference between traditional and zero-turn riding mowers? We break down the distinctions to help determine which option is best for you.
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In today’s market of big box stores and online shopping, there are more models of lawn mowers to choose from than ever before. This is great for consumers, but can also clutter the decision-making process. One such point of confusion is the difference between “riding” and “zero-turn” lawn mowers.
Consumer lawn mowers are generally classified by design (i.e. whether you ride it or push it) or by feature, like whether it’s powered by gas or a battery. Zero-turn radius (ZTR) is a distinctive feature that allows for precision cutting.
There are a limited number of zero-turn push mowers; zero-turn technology is much more common in riding lawn mowers. While not all riding mowers are zero-turn, most consumer zero-turn models are riding mowers. (If you’re curious about zero-turn push mowers, here’s one with a single swiveling front wheel and one with no wheels at all.)
To provide a good side-by-side comparison of a riding vs. a zero-turn lawn mower, we’ll refer to two models from John Deere: the traditional S100 and the zero-turn Z330M. Although the specs on mowers vary by manufacturer, these models serve as good stand-ins for our purposes.
What Are the Differences Between a Traditional Riding Mower and a Zero-Turn Riding Mower?
There are two main differences: turn radius and steering controls.
This is the defining characteristic of zero-turn mowers. A traditional riding mower turns the same way as a rear-wheel drive car. The rear wheels propel it forward while the front wheels control the direction it moves, resulting in a curved arc.
But a ZTR mower can rotate its drive wheels in opposite directions simultaneously. That gives it the ability to turn without moving forward.
Most zero-turn riding mowers feature lap bars rather than a steering wheel. Each bar controls a single rear tire. Push both bars forward and you’ll go forward. Pull them both back and you’ll go in reverse. Push one forward while pulling the other back, and you’ll rotate in place.
It’s worth noting not all zero-turn mowers use lap bars. Some zero-turn riding mowers come with a standard steering wheel but still offer pinpoint turning.
Traditional Riding Mower Advantages
Traditional riding mowers have two clear advantages over their zero-turn counterparts.
A traditional riding mower typically costs 30% to 50% less than a comparable zero-turn mower. In our examples, the John Deere S100 costs about 38% less than the Z330M, a savings of 1,500.
Easier to repair
Because they’ve been around for many years, it’s usually easier to obtain replacement parts for traditional riding mowers. If you’re a DIYer, chances are the steering and drivetrain of a traditional riding mower will be familiar enough to perform basic maintenance on your own.
Zero-Turn Riding Mower Advantages
Traditional riding mowers have an advantage in price and simplicity. Zero-turn mowers excel at saving you time.
It takes a great deal of maneuvering for a traditional riding mower to navigate standalone obstacles like bushes, trees and swing sets. A zero-turn riding mower can maneuver around these without the repeated backing up and redirecting of a traditional riding mower.
Precision controls reduce mowing time, but a zero-turn radius mower is faster than traditional mowers in pretty much every other category.
Zero-turn mowers tend to have wider cutting decks — typically 48- to 54-inches, compared to 42- to 46-inches with most traditional riding mowers — along with a faster operating speed. The maximum mowing speed for the Z330M is seven miles per hour, while the S100 tops out at 5.5 mph.
Zero Turn vs. Traditional Riding Mower Buying Considerations
If you’re deciding between a traditional or zero-turn riding mower, consider these key points.
If your budget is less than 3,000, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a zero-turn mower in your price range. A traditional riding mower can cost more than 3,000, but you’re likely to find a good fit between 1,200 and 2,800.
If you have a particularly large yard, the speed and deck size of a ZTR mower will make a huge difference in the time you spend mowing and refueling. The S100 is recommended for yards of about an acre, while the Z330M can handle three to four acres.
Yards with narrow pathways between obstructions often benefit from zero-turn mowers. But be sure to compare the width of the narrowest sections with the width of a mower’s cutting deck. The most agile mower in the world is useless if it’s too wide to fit through your gate.
The wider ZTR mower deck requires a fair amount of space in storage. A traditional riding mower is better in a tight garage, while a zero-turn mower needs a bigger outbuilding or small shed.
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.