This mower is a great option in the lower price point range. It’s got a heavy welded mowing deck. Many other mowers in this price range have stamped decks. The Z345M is loaded with features like an adjustable seat, adjustable control levers and the convenient chokeless engine ReadyStart system that ensures it will start up easily every time. This mower can mulch or discharge grass and leaves to the side. The John Deere mowers come with an impressive array of add-on accessories including a rear bagger to collect everything.
This is a great mower but does suffer from a lot of the problems smaller economy machines have, such as less stability, smaller tires that offer less traction and maneuverability, even with its zero-turn radius. The accessories are cheaply made. We do like that it offers the same blade tip speed found on Toro’s higher-end models as well as the same 22.5 HP commercial V-twin engine. There is a rear engine guard protecting it and there are fenders to protect the operator from grass and moisture. It is built with a stamped cutting deck.
We were so impressed with the features and sturdy build of Bradley mowers. They are exceptionally made with quality and features typically found in the higher-end commercial models that cost twice as much. The 48-inch deck model is on the smaller end of their line-up. We chose it over the 36-inch mower for increased stability but the 36-inch and the 52-inch models also have outstanding reviews. Its floating deck offers a better, more uniform cut. With practice, most operators find that these standing mowers feel more stable and intuitive for driving. It offers a shock-absorbing platform and beefy tires to offset damage to the grass.
The Arlens is another great 42-inch front-deck zero turn mower with a strong Kohler engine moving things along. It offers a comfortable seat with armrests to absorb vibration while the mower is in use. This is a well-built unit without the cheap plastic components found on cheaper mowers. Its 4-point hanging deck offers a level, even cut even on uneven areas. It’s very easy to control the height of the blades using a dial next to your right arm. For the price, we feel it offers excellent value with sturdy construction, more precision, agility, and comfort.
This is a larger Toro zero turn mower with a 50-inch fabricated steel cutting deck. Its blades cut at the same speed as the commercial models and also has the same large engine. Its air filter system is self-cleaning to increase the life of the engine. It mows at speeds up to 7mph and trims at about 4 mph and with a 3-gallon fuel tank you can get pretty far very quickly. The Toro MX5075 has a very comfortable seat, armrests, and fenders to keep the operator comfortable. A safety feature is the automatic parking brake engaging when the control levers move outwards so it won’t roll away from you. Toro mowers have a great reputation for excellent customer service and a 3-year warranty with unlimited hours (but we really wish there was an hour meter so we could keep track of when it needs to be serviced).
We love the idea of a more quiet, less stinky zero turn mower that’s well-suited for the property without a huge or hilly yard but still nimble and easy to use. We found it in the Ryobi 42-inch electric mower. This mower is great for a relatively flat property as it’s not really souped up like some of those big gas-powered engines. That being said, this one does not emit a lot of fumes or require as much maintenance. It is advertised to cut 3 acres per charge but we’re finding the actual amount of acreage is a little less, particularly on slopes. This mower has a great display showing your battery level and run time, so as long as you pay attention you should be ok. It uses 4 high-powered brushless motors powering 2 steel blades. As much as we like to say that using electric power is truly “going green” and does not utilize gas or emit as much exhaust as a gas-powered motor, remember that the batteries in electric vehicles and tools will eventually need to be recycled. The carbon footprint created from building the batteries for these mowers and generating the electricity to charge them should also be considered. We liked this mower and feel it’s a great choice as far as electric zero-turn units go.
The Husqvarna is a well-made rugged zero turn mower meant for properties of up to 3 acres. It’s got a very powerful 26 horsepower Kohler engine powering its 3 blades mounted in the fabricated steel deck. We like the washout port making it easy to keep the cutting deck and blades clean. There are a lot of thoughtful touches for the operator including a comfortable seat, cup holder, and padded steering levers. Husqvarna mowers are built entirely in the USA and offer a great 3-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
This is one of the best zero-turn mowers and for good reason. Swisher has a great pedigree, making innovating mowing products for over 70 years. Not only does this mower look like the Batmobile, but it is also loaded with great technology and features that will forever change your lawn care routine. This one handles like a commercial mower but has the size and agility of a semi-pro model. The front-mount fabricated cutting deck is controlled electronically to change the mowing height and has 3 commercial-grade mulching blades. The entire mowing deck will flip up for easy cleaning. Big beefy chevron-tread tires grip the ground and the wide stance of the cutting deck with wide wheels there too will keep the mower stable. We love the joystick style controls. If you’ve ever had sore wrists and arms after using a lever-steered mower you’ll appreciate the ergonomic qualities of the steering, the adjustable suspension seat, and the other creature comforts aboard. We love the 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, hour meter, cup holder, and storage, all housed in the attractive carbon-fiber composite fenders on either side of the seat. This mower is very fast and with LED headlights can keep going so you can finish the job all in one day. If you need high performance for long hours, rougher terrain and a lot of ground to cover quickly, this one is well worth the investment.
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Mowing the lawn is generally not on the top of most homeowner’s list of favorite things to do. Unfortunately, frequent mowing is essential for a well-groomed, attractive swath of lush green grass, and lawn care technology has evolved from frustrating, finicky lawnmower your parents made you push as a child on hot summer afternoons. For property owners with a lot of green areas to mow a ride-on mower or lawn tractor can make short work of big mowing tasks. Improving on the traditional mower is the zero-turn mower, a widely thought to have been invented by Max Swisher and still manufactured by the company that bears his name over 70 years later.
The zero-turn mower (ZTR) is an extremely maneuverable, heavy-duty tool allowing the driver mower an extreme turning radius, a clear view, flexibility, fast cutting and far more options than a ride-on lawn mower. This is typically achieved by a four or five-wheeled mower with the drive wheels rotating independently of one another allowing for pivoting and very precise maneuvering.
Most of them are steered by differential steering technology, where the speed of each wheel is controlled by a lever on each side of the operator. Pushing both levers at the same time moves the mower forward, pushing one or the other will cause the mower to turn, and a zero-radius turn is achieved by pushing one forward and one back.
Other mowers are steered by a traditional steering wheel, a joystick, or in the case of stand-on mowers, levers at arm height.
The zero-turn mower also utilizes a design where the cutting deck is on the front of the unit or under your feet versus behind you. It’s like riding a weed whacker. If you’ve ever watched one of these in action, you’ve seen how nimble these units can when driven by a skilled operator with far more control than a traditional tractor mower allowing you to travel in wide swaths. They offer superior control with full cutting paths (depending on the size of the cutting deck), and many are loaded with features to make you more comfortable as you mow.
Many companies have adopted the zero-turn technology, and today there are many great mowers for homeowners to choose from. Many manufacturers will utilize motors made by other name brand companies- for example; you may find a Husqvarna zero turn riding mower with a Kohler engine. Some of the best engines on the market tend to be built by Kawasaki and Briggs & Stratton Vanguard. The engines are important but should not be the main determining factor in whether or not a mower is a good choice. There are other attributes and features to take into consideration.
We recommend a zero-turn mower if you own at least three-quarters to an acre of land or more. If you have a lot of trees, bushes, and landscaping to maneuver around on a lot of lawn a commercial grade mower can help you get into those tight spaces. However, if you have more landscaping features, trees, and rock beds than grass, this may be a toss-up as to whether or not a zero-turn mower will be worth the purchase. If you buy a mower that’s too big for your property, you’ll spend more time maneuvering it around than mowing.
These mowers come with varying sizes of cutting decks (the area in front that mows) and work well on slopes up to 15 degrees as well. Most ZTR engines are more powerful, and they move faster when maneuvering around obstacles and trimming, but unless you purchase a higher-end model they do not drive on a flat surface in a straight line much quicker than a traditional ride-on lawnmower. Higher end models do move faster though, and the drawback is that this may be intimidating to some users, some who have described riding on a fast zero-turn mower to be like riding bumper cars. If you have never used one before, there is some trial and error to avoid destroying your lawn and use the mower efficiently. You will need to practice turning to be able to avoid damaging things.
As agile as they look, you should not consider a zero-turn mower if you have slopes you need to mow greater than 15 degrees. Many of them have anti-scalping wheels to grip the grass and ground beneath them, but they can still slip on wet grass or get stuck in the mud. A mower may topple, and they can be extremely dangerous around swampy areas, steep embankments or cliffs. A lawn tractor or other vehicle may be better than a ZTR if you have hilly terrain because you will not have as much maneuverability or speed in a zero-turn mower when traveling up or down a hill.
Zero-turn mowers are high-performance machines and need frequent maintenance such as lubrication, oil changes, cleaning, and proper storage. You do get what you pay for. Economy models will not hold up well to mowing large acreage.
ZTR mowers are meant for cutting grass no taller than 5 inches. They are not designed for farm use and should not be utilized to trim extremely rough terrain that would be better served with the use of a rough-cut mower, rotary trimmer or tractor. We’ve seen a mower destroyed when its operator tried to cut down extremely tall fibrous ornamental grass surrounding a pond on the property.
Most ride-on mowers aren’t exactly environmentally friendly because they don’t have the same emissions standards as our cars and trucks. Depending on the type of engine, they may give off a fair amount of pollution.
And last but not least- if you typically delegate your lawn mowing to teenagers who you cannot trust to ride the mower safely, you may end up putting the chore back on your own to-do list.
Zero-turn mowers have various sizes of cutting decks, engines, fuel tanks, and price tags.
How much acreage will you need to cut regularly?
Based on the cost, features, and quality, we’ve categorized our favorite mowers from these groups:
Typically offering a stamped cutting deck between 30 and 42 inches, a single or twin cylinder engine. These rarely can go faster than 7 miles per hour, and their ideal cutting speed will be even less. Mowers with a cutting deck narrower than 42 inches are extremely unstable on uneven terrain. Based on consumer reviews, we’d consider them unsafe on a slope even when mowing diagonally. Because of how top-heavy they are, we’d honestly feel safer in our grandmother’s wheelchair than on a 32-inch zero turn mower.
The front ends of these mowers are weighted to keep the front wheels from coming off the ground, but this also means they get stuck easily in swampy terrain, loose dirt, and mud. Many of them don’t have the beefy rear tires that give the mower its traction and because they slip around, can cause your lawn some serious damage if they slip or you aren’t experienced in turning them quickly without scalping your grass. These models also will not hold up as well under heavy or daily use.
Offering sturdier fabricated or welded cutting decks made from heavier steel, these mowers are sold with twin cylinder engines, better engines/transmissions, and more comfortable seats.
These mowers have the beefier tires that will help with traction and maneuverability, and because they are heavier, will not bounce around as much as the cheaper, lighter mowers. Bigger engines and better transmissions will mean faster speeds and better performance on sloped surfaces.
Many of them have additional extras such as cruise control, adjustable steering levers, or even the option for a traditional steering wheel. When learning how to use levers or “lap bars” for a zero-turn mower, some users may inadvertently leave holes in their lawn. If lever/lap bar steering makes you nervous, a steering wheel may be a better option for you.
A semi-pro grade zero turn mower is an excellent compromise between the mid-grade models but will include many of the features and options found in commercial mowers. These are generally much more comfortable to sit on for long periods and will mow for longer due to higher capacity fuel tanks. Their engines are meant for many hours of use. Features may vary, and while these are not nearly as significant an investment as a commercial zero turn mower, they do last a long time, and we recommend you try these out in person.
These are great for property owners with large acreage or multiple properties to maintain.
The best of the best, commercial mowers are exceptionally well built, designed for constant use in both good and bad weather. These will have better suspension and many features to keep the user safe and comfortable. High-performance engines allow the user to mow quickly and efficiently save the property owner time and money. The heavy weight of these units combined with improved suspension, will keep the operator comfortable and also mow more efficiently for a smoother, more even look. Cheaper mowers bounce around more- the equivalent of a barber trying to cut hair with a shaky hand holding the clippers. If the appearance of your property and lawn is essential, a professional finish will be easily achieved with the right equipment.
We recommend commercial mowers with a front cutting deck for the most control over your trimming and cutting. Some users may even prefer a standing mower, which offers even greater control and precision. These may look a little wild but are easier to step onto or step off in the event you need to hop off for any reason quickly. Because they are a bit more stable, they are ideal for more sloped landscapes. The risk of being injured if the mower slides or topples will be diminished because you are not on top of the mower, just behind it. These are also easier to load onto trailers or into the bed of a truck.
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