Zero Turn Lawn Mower Reviews
Riding lawn mowers are a popular way to mow the grass on a large lawn. You might be surprised to hear that there are several different types of riding lawn mower.
Rear engine riding lawn mowers and lawn & garden tractors certainly have their place in this niche. Some can even be used to tackle other lawn care tasks. Though with both you often run into the problem of stray blades of grass left behind around trees, retaining walls, and other landscaping features. This means going back after a potentially long mowing session and cleaning things up with a string trimmer.
To answer this all too common problem, lawn mower manufacturers developed a riding lawn mower with a zero-degree turning radius. These are incredibly nimble lawn care machines that turn on a dime. They weave around trees and dance along landscaping features with the greatest of ease.
Zero turning radius riding lawn mowers are available at the consumer-grade, but most are commercial grade with the build quality and engineering to appeal to lawn care professionals. While this does tend to drive the price up, it also means you are likely going to get a high-quality zero turning radius lawn mower that is sure to give you a major return on your investment.
Of course, the growing popularity of zero degree riding lawn mowers also means it is a little bit of a crowded field. To truly find the best zero turning radius riding lawn mower for your home or lawn care business, it helps to ask a few key questions, and take a closer look at some important features.Just Show Me The Mowers
Does A Riding Lawn Mower’s Deck Size Matter?
The commercial-grade build quality of zero turning radius riding lawn mowers means that they can support some seriously large cutting decks. While “Bigger Is Better” still rings true in most cases, it isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule for every size yard.
When shopping for the best zero turning radius riding lawn mower for your yard, the goal is to match the size of the deck to the size of your yard and its landscaping features. Deck size is measured in inches of diameter, which means that the larger the deck size, the more lawn it can mow in a single pass.
If you need to tackle a wide-open lawn devoid of trees and landscaping, then you can go as big as you want. There are even some zero turn riding lawn mowers that have cutting decks over 50-inches in diameter to accommodate a lawn like this.
However, if you have a smaller lawn, with a lot of mature trees and landscaping to contend with, you might want to prioritize a zero turning riding lawnmower with a slightly smaller cutting deck. That way you can take full advantage of the nimbleness of the riding lawn mower while also enjoying the high cruising speed for times when you need to mow wide-open spaces.
Does Horsepower Matter?
Each zero turning radius riding lawn mower has a horsepower rating for the engine. This is a metric that helps you understand the torque it can produce for the drive train, the transmission, and the cutting deck. The smaller the cutting deck, the more power that can be used by the drive train, while also giving the cutting blades the ability to really eat up thick grass. Pairing a higher horsepower engine with a smaller cutting deck might be called for if your lawn has a lot of thick grass like Bermuda or Buffalo grass.
Is A Hydrostatic Transmission Better In Zero Turning Radius Riding Lawn Mower?
Hydrostatic transmissions represent the next step up from automatic, geared, transmissions. Hydrostatic transmission has a lot in common with a hydraulic system that you find powering a lot of heavy machinery. It typically employs cylinders filled with an incompressible liquid (Hydraulic Fluid) that when pressurized moves the piston or other moving parts forward.
This translates into more responsiveness as well as more efficient use of the power produced by the engine. Some of the best zero turning radius riding lawn mowers will have dual hydrostatic transmissions. This helps to better distribute the power to the blades of the cutting deck as well as the propulsion system of the wheels, without having the performance of one bogging down the other. It means you can tackle a steep hill and while the drive train might strain, the blades will continue to cut grass effectively.
If you need a commercial-grade zero turning radius riding lawn mower for your professional lawn care business, or you have a property with inclines to tackle, you probably want to prioritize a unit with dual hydrostatic transmissions.
What Is Mow In Reverse?
Mow in reverse is a special transmission system that you see showing up more and more in high-end riding lawn mowers. It’s much more common in models that have dual hydrostatic transmissions.
Rather than having to disengage the cutting blades or risk bogging down the transmission, you simply press a special button or pull a lever to engage the “Mow In Reverse” feature. Then you can back up the zero turning radius mower with the blades of the cutting deck engaged. Just keep in mind that this is only meant to short-term operation, and not for cutting the grass in reverse for a prolonged distance.
Are Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mowers Hard To Maintain?
In general, zero-turn riding lawn mowers are no harder to maintain than a large lawn & garden tractor. You need to periodically change the oil per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Fuel and air filters will need occasional replacing, and you will also need to properly lubricate all the moving parts.
You will also need to make sure to properly winterize your zero turns riding lawn mower. This calls for things like using fuel stabilizer and either removing the battery or storing the lawn mower in a place where the battery won’t be adversely affected by the cold.
Are Safety & Comfort Features Important On A Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower?
Zero turning radius riding lawn mowers tend to put on a lot of miles throughout a single growing season. Especially if you are going to use one for professional use. Commercial-grade build quality is one thing, but comfort is also very important. The following are some comfort and safety features to keep an eye out for in a zero turning radius riding lawn mower.
Ergonomics really start to come into play in commercial-grade zero-turn riding lawn mowers for professional use. An operator might need to spend many hours a day making deft turns and keeping the cutting path straight.
This is an area where lawn & garden and rear engine riding lawn mowers tend to skimp, but is very important in zero-turn riding lawn mowers. Padded armrests not only help take the strain off the operator’s shoulders, but they also keep the elbows from getting beat up during a long day of making turns.
A Padded Lap Bar
Lap Bars are an important safety feature that also needs to be comfortable. Especially for professionals and homeowners who need to endure long mowing sessions.
A zero-turn riding lawn mower’s suspension system also plays a lot in the overall comfort and handling of the machine. The stiffer the suspension system the more responsive the handling will be. Though a soft suspension system will be more comfortable. Some manufacturers will engineer the suspension system to be firm, then put spring suspension system into the operator’s seat for added comfort.
A High Back Seat With Lumbar Support
The seat itself is an interesting piece of engineering in most zero-turn riding lawn mowers. They tend to be nicely padded all around, but if you are going to be sitting in the operator’s seat for long hours a day, or in the case of a professional for multiple days in a week, then you want to look for a model that offers a high back chair, preferably with increased lumbar support.
Are Standing Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mowers More Comfortable?
One of the newer innovations in the zero-turn riding lawn mower niche is a standing operator position. This operating style is finding traction for a few different reasons. Ergonomically some people feel that standing is much easier on the body than sitting, much in the same way that office workers are starting to trend toward standing desks. At the same time, when you’re standing on the back of a zero-turn riding lawn mower you get a more commanding view of the field, which can be handy if you need to maintain a large area like a golf course.
Why Do Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mowers Have Casters Instead Of Front Wheels?
With zero turning radius riding lawn mowers you typically find some sort of caster in the front. This is part of the engineering that lets them turn on a dime, opposed to riding lawn mowers with front wheels joined by an axle.
Ideally, you want to keep your eyes out for a zero-turn riding lawn mower that has independent front suspension for each caster. Especially if you have to take it over bumpy uneven turf.
If your lawn has soft subsoil, or you have thick grass like Bermuda or Buffalo grass, you might want to prioritize a zero-turn riding lawn mower with pneumatic front casters. They are a little beefier and the soft air inside them as well as the superior traction helps it move over soft turf without digging in like some small, hard casters are sometimes prone to do.
The Best Zero Turning Radius Riding Lawn Mower Brands
Zero-turn riding lawn mowers represent the cutting edge of lawn care machinery. They are powerful, nimble, and infused with the impressive build quality. The following brands are some of the tops in this industry offering high-quality zero turn riding lawn mowers for nearly any imaginable type of lawn. While most have a premium price tag to match their premium performance, some manufacturers make it a point to offer models with entry-level prices.
Troy-Bilt has a well-earned reputation for providing its customers with durable riding lawn mowers and zero-turn riding lawn mowers that are built to stand the test of time. They do tend to weigh a little bit more, but Troy-Bilt makes sure that their mowers have the power to take care of your lawn without missing a step. This robust build quality also speaks to its overall value, which is further backed by a strong warranty.
Another strong player lawn mower industry Cub Cadet makes it a point to offer zero-turn riding lawn mowers that appeal to both professionals and the average consumer. This is through superior material selection, high-end build quality, and solid engineering design. They also make a strong dual hydrostatic transmission system Cub Cadets mid-range and entry-level zero turn riding lawn mowers have a slightly higher price tag, but you’re still getting a superior machine.
Ariens is best known for its heavy-duty riding lawn mowers and zero-turn riding lawn mowers that have robust build quality. They recognize that commercial lawn care companies are a strong primary market for them. Though the do have models with a price tag that’s friendly enough to appeal to homeowners who understand the long-term value of a quality machine. They also make it a point to back their products with strong warranty coverage.
Craftsman is known for build quality and the kind of engineering principles that make their models easy for the average persona to use. They also tend to back their zero-turn riding lawn mowers with superior warranty coverage. Craftsman has several models that are engineered to be easy to start and maintain.
Honda is well-known for offering high-quality riding lawn mowers based on solid engineering principles, and high-end build quality. As specialists in small gasoline engines, Honda zero turn lawn mowers are designed to start easily and last for a long time. They also back their zero-turn riding lawn mowers with superior warranty coverage.
Husqvarna is one of the stronger international power tool and lawn equipment brands. They are well-known for impressive build quality and sophisticated engineering principles. They offer zero-turn riding lawn mowers that are engineered to start easily and with engines and mechanical systems that are easy to maintain. Most of their models have very durable dual hydrostatic transmission systems to make the most out of the power produced by the four-stroke gasoline engine.
John Deere is well-known superior build quality throughout their line. To that point, they have a large loyal following throughout North America. Their zero turn riding lawn mowers are known for comfort and build quality. As a statement of confidence, they tend to back their models with a solid warranty program. Some also have optional extended warranty options to ensure that you see a maximum return on your investment.
Snapper is one of the more well-known riding lawn mower manufacturers. While they started out with lawn & garden tractors and rear engine riding lawn mowers, they have since evolved to offer some truly high-quality zero turn riding lawn mowers. Their broad line up has entry-level models as well as zero-turn riding lawn mowers meant to appeal to lawn care professionals. Their models tend to be easy to operate, easy to start, and require a minimal amount of maintenance.
Toro is a very well established brand with a wide range of high-quality lawn mowers, including some very sturdy zero turn radius riding lawn mowers. They make a point to offers models that are typically easy to start and maintain. Many of their zero-turn radius mowers are backed by superior warranty coverage. This makes a strong statement about Toro’s dedication to build quality and sound engineering. These riding lawn mowers have a low cost of ownership for a robust return on your investment.
Ryobi zero turn lawn mowers are the next evolution in this quality electric power tool brand’s product line. They have a long-standing reputation for build quality, as well as time-tested products. The higher-end of their battery-powered zero turn lawn mowers tend to have superior warranty coverage compared to the competitors.
Other Great Zero Turn Mower Brands
Zero-turn riding lawn mowers are taking the lawn care industry by storm. Their commercial-grade build quality and sophisticated engineering make them a great option for homeowners who need to maintain a large yard as well as professionals who need a comfortable machine for long hours of operation.
If you have a wide-open lawn that you need to chew through in a short amount of time, you might prioritize a zero-turn riding lawn mower with a large cutting deck paired with a powerful gasoline engine. If you need to maintain a smaller lawn with a lot of trees and landscaping features, you might want to look for a zero-turn riding lawn mower with a slightly smaller deck.
A dual hydrostatic transmission might also be a good idea if you have a lawn with a lot of changes in terrain. This way you can tackle a steep hill without the drive train having to steal power from the cutting blades.
Once you have a good idea of the features you prioritize, you can start dialing in the right make and model. These days zero turn riding lawn mower manufacturers are keen to provide customers with a wide range of options capable of tackling just about any size lawn within a reasonable budget.