A powerful yard machine with few complaints. It's fairly easy to maneuver once you get use to it, and combines a 61 in. cutting deck with a 27 HP Briggs and Stratton V-twin motor for a clean, beautiful cut every time.
It's expensive, and if you want the compatible bagger you will have to spend even more. It's also difficult to avoid making skid marks in the yard until you master the mechanisms.
Its zero-turn capability and 420cc motor make it a true powerhouse in a walk-behind model. Capable of cutting tall, thick grass with ease. Cutting deck has 8 levels that adjust easily with the touch of a lever.
It's pricey for a walk-behind mower, but you are paying for extreme power. The side discharge doubles as a mulcher, but the bag must be purchased separately.
Has a lower price than other zero-turn mowers but its 22 HP Briggs and Stratton V-twin motor and 46 in. cutting deck is fully capable of tackling serious lawn jobs. Accelerates and runs smoothly.
If you've never used this type of mower, it takes a little getting use to. The deck housing feels a bit flimsy. A few owners report difficulties locating replacement parts.
A mid-range zero-turn option that falls in the middle of the price spectrum for this type of mower. Has a 54 in. deck and is powered by 23 HP motor. Air induction technology lifts grass for an even cut.
Some quality concerns have been reported, including belt issues, broken battery terminals, and confusing instructions.
Features a 24 HP Briggs and Stratton motor and a 54 in. cutting deck – a middle-of-the-road model with a price that falls in the middle of the spectrum for zero-turn models.
Some owners have complained that it has difficulties going up hills. The seat is sub-par, and there are reports of belt and traction issues.
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Mowing the lawn isn’t a chore that most homeowners enjoy all that much, but if you want your yard to look neat and polished, cutting your grass regularly is just one of those tasks you have to get used to.
WIth a zero turn mower, though, you can cut your mowing time in half and make an annoying yard chore a little more bearable. Not only does the mower allow you to cut your lawn more quickly, it also provides a closer, neat cut, so your yard looks picture-perfect.
Because a zero turn mower is a costly investment, it’s important to choose the right model to suit your landscape’s needs. With the variety of options on the market, it can be difficult to select the right mower and features for your yard. At BestReviews, we can help you make sense of the many zero turn mower choices.
We purchase all our own products, so our recommendations are always 100 percent unbiased. We also consult with experts and owners to understand real-world experiences and get deeper insight, and then conduct field research to ensure that they meet the top standards.
Ready to buy a zero turn mower? Check out the matrix above for our top recommendations. For general tips on choosing a zero turn mower, keep reading our shopping guide.
A zero turn mower is a lawn mower with a mowing deck that is in front of the mower, rather than underneath it.
It’s called a zero turn mower because its turn radius is zero, which means that the mower can pivot on its back wheels to turn much more quickly than other types of mowers.
Most zero turn mowers have four wheels, with two swiveling tires in the front and two large drive tires in the back. The wheels operate independently of one another, and the mower usually doesn’t feature a steering wheel. Instead, they usually have two levers that connect to the rear wheels’ motors.
If you push both levers forward, the mower moves forward. If you pull them back, the mower moves in reverse.
For a right turn, you push the left level forward and leave the right lever alone. For a left turn, you push the right lever forward and leave the left lever alone.
With a zero turn lawn mower, you can mow your lawn more quickly than with other types of mowers. That’s because you can move around trees and other obstacles more quickly and change direction easily.
A zero turn mower allows for better maneuverability when you’re mowing the lawn because the wheels operate independently of one another.
Because it doesn’t take as long to mow your lawn, you’ll use less fuel with a zero turn mower – and save money as a result.
Since you don’t need to run the mower as long as other types, a zero turn mower usually lasts longer than other types of lawn mowers.
A zero turn mower allows for a cleaner cut because its blade tips move at a higher speed than other types of mowers.
You can often mulch more effectively with a zero turn mower because its high speed blade tips make easy work of leaves.
Because a zero turn mower allows you to cut your lawn more quickly, it can help save on fuel costs and reduce pollution.
Appropriate for most homeowners but not suitable for daily use.
Can greatly reduce your mowing time.
Fairly affordable because it’s constructed with less expensive materials than higher grade mowers.
Durable and dependable.
An entry-level zero turn mower usually has a maximum speed of 5.5 mph, while a mid-grade model typically has a max speed of 6.8 mph.
Features more expensive materials and components than entry-level models.
Usually provides a greater number of engine options than entry-level models.
Offers a heavier duty transmission and larger wheel motors than entry-level models.
Often features foot-controlled height adjustment for the deck.
Can be fairly expensive.
Suitable for professional landscapers who are just starting their businesses or homeowners with a large property.
Meant for daily use.
Feature a heavy-duty transmission, larger fuel tank, and heavier gauge steel construction than entry-level and mid-grade models.
Offers greater acceleration than entry-level and mid-grade models.
More comfortable with a high back seat and adjustable arm rests.
May be equipped with cruise control.
Switching from a standard riding mower to a zero turn style can reduce your mowing time by up to 70 percent depending on the grade.
Meant for professional landscapers.
Can be used daily.
Feature the most powerful engine, largest fuel tank, largest mowing deck, and fastest acceleration of all zero turn mowers.
Highly comfortable and dependable.
Some zero turn mowers can be fitted with a front-mounted snow blade, snow blower, or brush to help clean up snow during the winter months.
A zero turn mower’s deck is the lower portion at the front of the mower that contains the blade. Zero turn mowers tend to have larger decks, but they can vary in size from 30 to 60 inches in width.
In general, the larger your yard is, the larger the deck you’ll want for your mower in order to make cutting the grass as quick as possible.
However, if your property has a variety of obstacles on the lawn, such as trees or garden beds, you may prefer a smaller deck, so you can navigate those items more easily.
It’s also important to consider the area where you plan to store your mower. A model with an extremely wide deck requires more storage space.
A bagging system can be attached to a zero turn mower, which allows you to collect the grass clippings as you go.
Like other lawn mowers, a zero turn mower’s engine power is measured in horsepower. More powerful engines can make easier work of thick, tough grasses and larger yards. They’re also better equipped for handling rocky or hilly terrains.
Zero turn mower engines typically range in power from 14 to 27HP.
For a small yard, choose a model with at least a 14 to 16HP engine.
For a mid-sized yard, choose a model with a 16 to 18HP engine.
For a large yard, choose a model with at least an 18HP engine.
Zero turn mowers with wider tires have more evenly distributed weight, so they’re gentler on the grass.
The faster your zero turn mower can go, the more quickly you can finish cutting your grass.
An entry-level model will likely top out at 5 to 6 miles per hour, while a mid-range mower can usually reach 6 to 7 miles per hour.
A semi-pro model can usually reach 8 to 9 miles per hour, while a commercial mower can hit up to 13 to 14 miles per hour.
Most zero turn mowers don’t have a foot brake pedal. Instead, you stop the mower by pulling the steering levers back to the neutral position.
Zero turn mowers don’t have steering wheels. Instead, most are controlled by two levers – you push them forward to move ahead, and pull them back to move in reverse.
To make a turn, you push the opposite lever forward. To stop the mower, you pull both levers to the neutral position. Some higher end zero turn mowers feature joystick controls, which are often easier to use and allow for greater maneuverability.
When it comes adjusting the cutting height of the mower, look for a model with a hand lever and a foot assist, so you have extra leverage that allows you to raise the deck quickly if you’re about to go over a large obstacle, like a fallen branch or large rock.
Avoid models that require you to get off the mower and manually adjust the cutting height, which can add to your mowing time.
Most zero turn mowers feature a seat, and while you can mow your yard more quickly than with a traditional riding mower, you still want to ensure that the seat is comfortable.
Make sure that the seat has sufficient back support because you’ll be leaning back against it rather than over a steering wheel. Check that you can easily see and reach the controls from the seat as well.
Most zero turn mowers have seats, so the driver remains seated during operation.
Zero turn mowers vary in price based on their size, grade, and other features, but you can typically expect to spend between $1,500 and $10,000.
For an entry-level zero turn mower, you’ll usually pay between $1,500 and $2,500.
For a mid-grade zero turn mower, you’ll usually pay between $2,500 and $3,500.
For a semi-pro zero turn mower, you’ll usually pay between $3,500 and $6,000.
For a commercial zero turn mower, you’ll usually pay between $6,000 and $10,000.
To ensure that you have the hang of using a zero turn mower, take it for a test drive in your driveway before driving it out on the lawn. Move in straight lines and curves, and practice backing up and turning around so you can handle your lawn easily.
A zero turn mower can be fairly noisy so it’s a good idea to wear earplugs or earmuff-style headphones to protect your hearing. Protective safety glasses are also a good idea in case of flying debris.
For safety reasons, don’t use a zero turn mower on slopes that are greater than 10 degrees. Use a walking mower on those areas, or landscape your yard so there’s no grass on the slopes.
If your property has any ponds, streams, or other water features, be sure to keep the zero turn mower at least one mower’s width away from the edge to avoid falling and slipping into the water.
Be careful when running a zero turn mower over curbs. Going over them too quickly can ruin the mower.
Keep a zero turn mower from gouging your lawn by avoiding sharp turns or pivoting the mower in one spot.
Q. How difficult is it to learn to use a zero turn mower?
A. Getting comfortable driving a zero turn mower definitely takes some practice, but it’s fairly straightforward. It can be somewhat confusing because there’s only one set of controls for both steering and braking. Before mowing your lawn, practice going straight, turning both right and left, and backing up in your driveway before actually driving over grass.
Q. What type of yard is a zero turn mower best for?
A. While a zero turn mower can work for just about any yard, they offer the biggest advantage in a large yard. In a landscape where you have to make a large number of turns to cut the grass, they can drastically reduce your mowing time.
Q. How long does a zero turn mower usually last?
A. If properly maintained, a zero turn mower typically lasts up to 3,000 hours of mowing. For residential use, that usually means the mower will last a lifetime.