10 Best Zero Turn Mowers – [2020 Reviews & Ultimate Buyer’s Guide]


best zero turn mower

If you own or are responsible for mowing large swaths of grass, you’d probably like to find the best zero turn mower (ZTM) to fit your needs. The first zero turn mower was introduced in 1966 and was called the “Hustler” (Source).

Zero turn mowers—also called “Z-Turns” (Source)—can turn a full, zero-radius circle. They come in many shapes and sizes and can be customized with add-ons like a grass clippings collection bag.

ZTMs are preferred over other mowers because they’re faster, more comfortable, produce an even cut, and cut more grass in less time.

Features to consider when shopping for a ZTM include engine size, horsepower, comfort, deck size, safety features, and tire width.

Commercial zero turn mowers—the most powerful type—mow large areas like parks and sports fields. Also, there are entry-level, mid-level, and semi-pro ZTMs.

Below we’ll explain those different types, answer common questions, review the top 10 zero turn mowers, discuss brands of zero turn mowers, and provide a buyer’s guide. We’ll start with key ZTM features.

Key Features to Look for in a Zero Turn Mower

There are many features to look for in a zero turn mower. But these four features are among the most important: deck size; personal comfort; tire width; and engine size.

Deck Size

Deck size refers to the width of a mower’s cutting area. Mower deck sizes range from 30 to over 70 inches wide.

Personal Comfort

Mowers vibrate your body, so you’ll want features such as a comfortable seat with back support, and a control panel that’s easy to reach.

Tire Width

Wider tires are better than slim ones because they distribute the mower’s weight more evenly and are easier on the grass.

Engine Size

You can measure engine size by the number of cylinders one has. Cheaper mowers typically have one cylinder while the best of the best have up to four. The more cylinders your engine has, the smoother the ride will be, reducing the jarring effect on your body.

Our Top 10 Picks for the Best Zero Turn Mowers

Here is a sneak peek at our selections for the 10 best zero turn mowers:

  1. Husqvarna MZ61 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower – Best Overall
  2. Snapper 560Z Zero Turn Mower – Best Commercial Mower
  3. Husqvarna Z242F Confidant Mower – Best for Hills
  4. Husqvarna Z242F 42 in. Zero Turn Riding Mower – Best 42-Inch Model
  5. Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower – Best ZTM Under $4,000
  6. Craftsman Z560 V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower – Best for the Money
  7. Husqvarna Z142 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower – Best Under $3,000
  8. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. 23 HP Zero Turn Mower – Best Residential Pick
  9. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Mower – Best on Budget/Cheapest Model
  10. Toro TimeCutter SS3225 Zero Turn Mower with Smart Speed – Smallest Zero Turn Mower

Below we provide full zero turn lawn mower reviews for each mower listed above.

How Does a Zero Turn Mower Work?

Zero turn mowers are more similar to a mini tractor than a push or riding mower. There are many models available from small zero turns for residential use, to massive zero turn mowers designed to mow enormous areas such as golf courses.

They have a turning radius of zero, hence the name. They are faster, more efficient, and more durable than regular lawn mowers. Instead of a steering wheel, they typically have two levers that control direction.

How Much Do Zero Turn Mowers Cost?

The price of zero turn mowers varies considerably. Residential models are cheaper and cost around $2,500, give or take a few hundred dollars. The best zero turn mower—well, rather the most expensive mowers—will cost as much as $25,000 or more. It all depends on your needs.

Reviewing Our Top 10 Picks

We’ve covered some important information potential buyers need to consider when evaluating top rated zero turn mowers. Now we’re ready to present our zero turn lawn mower reviews.

We’ll start with our top pick: The Husqvarna MZ61 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower.

1. Husqvarna MZ61 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower: Best Overall

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • Husqvarna 61 in. zero-turn lawn mower from the MZ series delivers commercial-grade power and amazing ergonomics
  • 27 HP Briggs Endurance engine provides reliable startups and high ground speeds
  • Fabricated 11-gauge steel cutting deck offers an excellent 54 in. cut with an ergonomically designed deck lifting system for quick and easy adjustments from the operator’s seat
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged with a 9-bushel triple bag collection system (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • High-back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners make mowing comfortable for hours on end
Husqvarna is one of the top zero turn mower brands in the market. That’s why four out of our top ten picks are Husqvarna mowers. This particular mower landed at the top of our list for a few key reasons.

It is a super solid mower, constructed with very durable materials to withstand the wear and tear of mowing long hours. It holds up under the most rugged conditions and performs well on uneven terrain.

Comfort

This mower includes comfort features that provide users with a smooth ride. Those include a high-back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips, and vibration insulation to reduce the jarring effect on your body.

Users can mow comfortably for many hours, which is a key selling point for this zero turn mower. That’s one reason it’s the top choice for landscapers who mow all day, every day.

Engine Power

It features a powerful Briggs & Stratton engine with lots of horsepower that allows users to mow much faster than is possible with other models.  This allows professional landscapers to mow more lawns in less time and grow their customer base.

Customization

On top of all that, it can be customized so that grass clippings can either be discharged, mulched, or bagged with a nine-bushel, triple bag collection system. All of these features and traits combined make the Husqvarna MZ61 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower the best zero turn mower on our list. It also happens to be the best pick under the $5,000 price range.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • Cutting Width: 61 inches
  • Power Output: 24 horsepower
  • Cut Height: 4.5 inches
  • Cutting Blades: 3
  • Deck Lifting System: Manual, foot assisted
  • Cutting Deck Material: Steel
  • Deck Thickness: 11 Gauge

2. Snapper 560Z Zero Turn Mower: The Best Commercial Zero Turn Mower

Snapper 560Z 52-Inch 25HP Briggs & Stratton Commercial Engine Zero Turn Lawn Mower w/ Cargo Bed, 5901564
  • The integrated cargo bed dumps to the rear for easy clean-out and provides on-tho-go versatility for dirt-hauling, tool-toting and flower-delivering.
  • Built for high-performance applications, the hydro-gear zt-3200 hydrostatic transaxles deliver a Smooth grass cutting experience while you are changing directions and speeds.
  • Commercial-inspired components such as rugged 1.5'' x 2'' Steel front axles, high-performance transaxles and a wrap-around Steel Bumper ensure this mower is built to handle tough mowing applications.
  • Wide, 61” fabricated mower deck made from thick 10-gauge Steel with speeds up to 9 mph. Welded and reinforced for years of repeat mowing and are also backed by a limited lifetime Warranty.
  • Easy-to-use lawn mower controls, including a fuel-level indicator, are all within reach. A wide-mouth gas fill ensures you can easily fill gasoline without any spills.
Commercial zero turn mowers must pack a punch like Mike Tyson because the success of a business normally rides on its durability, effectiveness, and efficiency. The Snapper 560Z Zero Turn Mower actually hits harder than Tyson.

Engine

It features a Briggs & Stratton Commercial Series engine that delivers a powerful 25 horsepower drive. This allows the Snapper to reach speeds of nine miles per hour moving forward and four miles per hour in reverse. Its twin-cylinder engine features an electric start mechanism, making it not only a powerful zero turn mower, but also an easy one to operate.

Tire Width

The Snapper features wide back tires measuring 22 x 11 inches for a more uniform finished cut. And its front caster tires measure 13 x 6 inches. This is a key reason commercial zero turn mower users are so fond of this machine.

Durability

This commercial zero turn mower could probably even out punch Cassius Clay—also known as Muhammad Ali.

Because it is designed for high-performance, it includes a hydro-gear ZT-3200 hydrostatic transaxles, which provide users with a very smooth and comfortable mowing experience, even when changing directions and speeding up or slowing down.

Plus, it delivers super-rugged steel front axles and a wrap-around steel bumper, making this mower as durable as George Foreman. It’s doubtful that other commercial zero turn mowers would want to get in the ring with “The Snapper.”

Additional Features and Specifications

  • Cutting Deck Width: 52 inches
  • Max Cutting Height: 4.5 inches
  • Min Cutting Height: 1.5 inches
  • Mechanical foot-operated deck lift
  • Intuitive electric blade engagement
  • Overall Length of Zero Turn: 92 inches
  • Overall Width of Zero Turn: 63 inches
  • Roll bar for protection in case you flip the mower

3. Husqvarna Z242F Confidant Mower: The Best Zero Turn Mower for Hilly Terrain

Riding a zero turn mower is much more pleasant than pushing a non-motorized push mower. However, if you’re mowing hilly terrain you can easily run into problems.

Safety

Some mowers start to slide on undulating land, others have tires that can’t handle moving uphill and start to spin, eating up the grass below them. This can damage your mower or, even worse, injure you if the incline is steep and you roll the mower.

And unlike “The Snapper” this model does not include a roll bar in case you do flip the machine on its side. However, this rarely ever happens with the Husqvarna Z242F Confidant Mower because it is built to withstand hilly terrain and not roll over. That’s why we called it the best zero turn mower for hilly terrain.

So, unless you live in the Midwestern United States, it’s possible that you will, at some point, need to mow a non-flat landscape. When that time comes, the Z242F would give you peace of mind knowing that you’re not going to flip, damage your mower, or injure yourself while mowing.

Tires and Stability

That peace of mind primarily comes from the fact that this mower features pneumatic tires. What are pneumatic tires? They are similar to 4×4 truck tires. They are inflated to the desired pressure point and have thicker teeth (tread) than most zero turn mower tires.

This gives them the ability to absorb the tilt caused by uneven terrain without leaning to the side and making the driver feel like they are about to roll their multi-thousand dollar mower. And that’s why we selected the Z242F as the best zero turn mower for hilly terrain, as well as the third-best zero turn mower in general.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • Power Output: 23 horses
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.5 gallons
  • Engine Brand: Kohler
  • Engine Size: Twin cylinders
  • Consumer Engine Warranty: 3 years
  • Three Cutting Options: Rear discharge, bagged, and mulched
  • Deck Material: 10-Gauge
  • Cutting Width: 42 Inches
  • Maximum Speed: 6.5 miles per hour
  • Maximum Reverse Speed: 3.5 miles per hour

4. Husqvarna Z242F 42 in. 18 HP Hydrostatic:  The Best 42 Inch Zero Turn Mower

Husqvarna Z242F 42 in. 18 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 18 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • Hydrostatic, no-maintenance transmission is worry free, allowing the mower to take on a variety of cutting conditions
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved outward or inward
  • ClearCut deck offers a best-in-class 42 in. cut and better bagging thanks to its deep deck design, superior air flow and high-performance blades
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
Many zero turn lawn mower reviews have listed this John Deere model as the best zero turn mower in the market. We named it the best 42 inches zero turn mower, although other models on our list also have 42-inch wheels.

Comfort

We didn’t just place this John Deere on the list because it has 42-inch wheels. It also features many capabilities and strong selling points that make it a great option for many buyers. Comfort is one of those feature areas where it excels.

Its comfort features include convenient operating controls, an adjustable seat, handy armrests, and—going the extra mile—a pair of cupholders because mowing in the summer months (when you typically mow your grass, can easily overheat your body. If you want comfort, this model is a great choice.

High-Quality Performance

The Z345R is designed for residential use and best-in-class performance. It certainly delivers on performance. It has outstanding maneuverability and trimming capabilities. Its engine is made by John Deere, which is perhaps the top tractor producing brand and has been for decades. Its ReadyStart system provides a choke-free ignition, which is much like starting a car.

Plus, its ZTrak mowing system is designed to weather the storm because it is constructed with a heavy-duty welded steel frame that makes it one of the most sturdy, strongest, and most reliable zero turn mowers out there.

Mowing Speed

Its 42-inch deep deck facilitates rapid mowing. Mowing speed is also heightened by its dual EZT transmission and large 18-inch tires, which allow the zero-turn mower to reach speeds of 7 miles per hour or more.

5. Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower: The Best Zero Turn Mower Under $4,000

Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 26 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved outward or inward
  • Air induction mowing technology draws air from the top and bottom of the deck, improving grass and delivering a superior cut
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck is made of heavy flat-stock steel for maximum durability
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
Are you shopping around for the best residential zero turn mower? What does your budget look like? If you’re looking for a mower that costs less than four grand but still performs like a more expensive model, the Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower by Husqvarna is one you should seriously consider.

Weight and Speed

For a zero turn mower that weighs over 1,000, features a 52-inch cutting deck, and has the power of 26 horses, this thing can scoot. Reaching up to 6.5 miles per hour, it is quite fast for such a heavy mower (it’s twice the weight of the John Deere model above).

Durability and Construction Quality

If you’re looking for a durable zero turn mower—and most buyers would—you just found it. The Husqvarna Z254 features a beefy, reinforced, steel stamped cutting deck. This deck is constructed with heavy-duty, flat-stock steel to deliver maximum durability and reliability.

Plus, this Husqvarna model comes with a built-in air induction system that pulls air in from both the top and bottom of the cutting deck. This feature results in a superior, uniform cut that your neighbor will envy. Want to be the talk of the town? Consider this zero turn mower.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • An Innovative transmission system that requires zero maintenance
  • Cutting Methods: Discharged, bagged, or mulched
  • Its patent-pending parking brake mechanism activates and deactivates automatically when you move its steering levers inward or outward
  • Engine Brand: Kohler
  • Max Cutting Height: 4 inches
  • Min Cutting Height: 1.5 inches

6. Craftsman Z560 V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic: The Best Zero Turn Mower for the Money

CRAFTSMAN Z560 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum 54-Inch Gas Powered Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower with ReadyStart
  • POWERFUL BRIGGS AND STRATTON GAS ENGINE WITH READYSTART: Powerful 24 horse power gas engine suitable for larger yard jobs while ReadyStart technology provides a quick, efficient start.
  • 54-INCH CUTTING WIDTH WITH INCLUDED DECK WASH: Riding lawn mower comes equipped with wide 54-Inch deck for cutting, trimming, and clipping grass in one quick sweep. Included deck wash saves time when underside cleaning.
  • MOW-IN-REVERSE: Mower can continue to cut when in reverse; no need to pause your yard work!
  • 360 DEGREE TURNING RADIUS: Change direction in an instant for more efficiency.
  • SUPPORTIVE HIGH-BACK SEAT: High-back cushioned seat provides optimum comfort.
Craftsman is a tool-producing brand that has been around since 1927. With almost a century of experience fine-tuning its products, you can comfortably rely on this model.

It’s reliable, powerful, durable, and relatively cheap for the features and capabilities it delivers. That’s why we feel it’s the best zero turn mower for the money; users experience a high return on their investment with this zero turn mower.

Engine Quality

Like others on our list, this Craftsman zero turn mower houses a Briggs & Stratton engine with ReadyStart technology, which provides easy and quick ignition. It does not require choking or priming, you just hit the ReadyStart button and it powers up immediately.

It’s a powerful, 24 horsepower engine that is well-suited for mowing larger lawns. Moreover, it comes with a Dual Range Hydrostatic Transmission that gives this mower more power than you’d expect. This allows you to finish the job faster and more efficiently.

Cutting Ability

It’s cutting deck includes a built-in deck washing feature that lets you keep your mower clean and shiny at all times. Plus, with a 54-inch deck, it can cut a wider area of grass as it moves along. Plus, you can customize this mower with a mulching kit so you don’t leave clumps of grass in your wake.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • 54 inch reinforced stamped steel deck provides superior durability
  • Includes a three-year manufacturer warranty
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 3.5 gallons
  • Engine Size: V-Twin cylinders
  • Blades: 3
  • Max Cutting Height: 3.75 inches
  • Min Cutting Height: 1.5 inches
  • Max Forward Speed: 7 miles per hour
  • Max Reverse Speed: 3.5 miles per hour

7. Husqvarna Z142 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Mower: The Best Zero Turn Mower Under $3,000

Husqvarna Z142 42 in. 17 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 17 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • No-maintenance zero-turn transmission is worry free, allowing the mower to take on a variety of cutting conditions
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck is made of heavy flat-stock steel for maximum durability
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Air induction mowing technology draws air from the top and bottom of the deck, improving grass and delivering a superior cut
Here is another zero turn mower produced by Husqvarna. As we mentioned above, they are certainly one of the top brands in the industry. Yes, it costs less than $3,000. But that’s not its only selling point.

Performance

This model is made for residential use and is very compact, while still providing outstanding maneuverability and a smooth, uniform cut, leaving your lawn looking like the ninth hole green at Pebble Beach.

Its 660 cubic centimeter Kohler four-cycle engine gives you a surprisingly smooth ride even under an intense load. Plus, its lightweight design and impressive fuel efficiency make this the best zero turn mower under $3,000, as well as one of the best zero turn mowers overall.

Weight and Speed

As mentioned above, this mower is lightweight. But that’s not the end of the story. It weighs 474 pounds and only has the power of 17 horses. However, it reaches speeds up to 6.5 miles per hour, which is almost unheard of for a 17 horsepower zero turn mower—but wait until you read about the TimeCutter below.

As a comparison, the Craftsman mower that came in at number six above weighs 865 pounds and has a whopping 24 horsepower engine. It reaches a speed of 7 miles per hour. The Craftsman has around 30% more horsepower but can only reach a top speed of 7 miles per hour.

When you consider that, you realize that the Husqvarna Z142 is a speed demon, which is probably a blast to ride.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • It features pneumatic wheels which make it easier to confidently mow uneven terrain
  • Maximum Speed: 6.5 miles per hour
  • Maximum Reverse Speed: 2.5 miles per hour
  • Blades: 2
  • Cutting Width: 42 inches
  • Cutting Methods: Discharged, bagged, or mulched
  • Deck Material: 13 gauge steel
  • Engine Brand: Kohler

8. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. 23 HP Kawasaki FR Series V-Twin: The Best Residential Zero Turn Mower

Cub Cadet is a popular brand in the zero turn mower space. This model is a tough zero turn mower that’s durable with high performance and comfort levels and delivers great value for the price, which is around $3,000. In our opinion, it’s the best residential zero turn mower out there.

Durability

The Ultima ZT1 features a super solid continuous 2-inch x 2-inch tubular steel frame, which gives you maximum strength and durability. This is a zero turn that will last a long time if you take proper care of it. It also includes an e-coat frame on the lower part of the mower as well as a triple guard defense system that prevents rust buildup.

Furthermore, its unique multiple-step process automatically applies electronically-driven corrosion protection that’s on par with automotive-grade corrosion resistance that provides superior protection against wear and tear.

Comfort

The ZT1 features comfort elements that are hard to match. It is equipped with 20″ high back seat and a durable, advanced polymer seat suspension system that maximizes comfort while reducing user fatigue. Additionally, its 3- way adjustable ergonomic lap bar combined with the features mentioned above make this one of the most comfortable zero turn mowers available.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • Deck Material: 11-gauge fabricated steel
  • Blades: 3
  • Deck Cutting Width: 50 inches
  • Engine Brand: Kawasaki
  • Engine Power: 23 horses

9. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Mower: Best Budget Zero Turn Mower

Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Lawn Mower with 34-Inch Deck and 452cc Engine
  • Powerful 452cc engine with EZT hydrostatic transmission packs enough power to mow large lots of rough grass
  • Zero-turn maneuverability allows you to turn on a dime and save time
  • Extra-wide 34-inch side discharge cutting deck cuts a wide path
  • Operator-controlled mow-in-reverse capability for ultimate maneuverability
  • Comfortable high-back seat with dual suspension springs and ample leg room for a Smooth ride
Troy-Bilt has been around since 1937, indicating that they’ve clearly learned how to continually improve their products to the point of excellence. The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Mower is a zero turn mower, although the name doesn’t indicate so.

It is a great zero turn for those on a tighter budget. For the price, it delivers excellent features that are ideal for residential use. This compact ZTM is best known for its durability and level of power for such a small zero turn mower.

Durability

The “Mustang” is equipped with a reinforced heavy-duty frame, high rear wheels that enable it to maneuver across rugged terrain, and a 13 gauge steel deck, providing long-lasting durable performance and the ability to mow larger areas while being so compact that it can easily fit into tight spots.

Powerful Compact Design

For being as compact as it is, the Mustang is quite powerful. It features a 452 cubic centimeter engine that can reach speeds up to seven miles per hour. Plus, it delivers an EZT hydrostatic transmission system with enough power to plow through large areas of rough grass. And with two blades and heavy-duty front axels, it impressed us enough to name it the best budget zero turn mower.

Additional Features and Specifications

  • Deck Positions: 8 position settings
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 2 gallons
  • Cutting Deck Size: 34 inches
  • Reverse Speed: 2.5 miles per hour
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime frame warranty

10. Toro TimeCutter SS3225 Zero Turn Mower with Smart Speed: The Best Small Zero Turn Mower

This mower truly is a little guy. It has the smallest cutting deck of any mower covered here, at 32 inches. However, in this case, size doesn’t matter. It’s surprisingly powerful for its size.

Since we’ve already used boxing metaphors, we’ll say this little guy packs a punch like Manny Pacquiao—one of (if not the) greatest featherweight boxers of all time. A little guy with a ton of power. That’s the TimeCutter SS3225.

Speedy like Gonzales

So, how powerful is this small zero turn mower for residential use? It weighs 465 pounds, which is only nine pounds less than the Husqvarna Z142 (474 pounds). However, its 452 cubic centimeter, 16 horsepower engine with only one cylinder can reach a speed of 7 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, the Husqvarna Z142 basically weighs the same, has a 660 cubic centimeter, 17 horsepower, two-cylinder engine, and can only reach a speed of 6.5 miles per hour. With the TimeCutter, small doesn’t mean slow or weak.

With that kind of speed and power, it’s no wonder this zero turn mower is called the TimeCutter. It’s not only the best small zero turn mower. It’s also a deserving runner up for the title of best residential zero turn mower. And at a cost of $2,600, it’s hard to dispute the value this mower brings to the table.

Types of Zero Turn Mowers: Which Mower Best Fits My Needs?

Just like price, there is a variety of zero turn mower types. Here we’ll cover the four types that dominate the market.

Entry-Level Zero Turn Mowers

As you would imagine from the term “entry-level,” these are residential zero turn mowers for beginners.

They are easier to use, cheaper, and accordingly are not as powerful or durable as higher-tier mowers. But, they are ideal for small lawns.

Typical Engine Size: Single or twin cylinders

Typical Fuel Tank Capacity: 2 to 3.5 gallons

Entry-level doesn’t mean they can’t do the job well—it all depends on the size of the area you need to mow. They have less horsepower and weaker engines, yet they are very effective for people who simply want to mow their yard quickly and effectively.

Mid-Grade Zero Turn Mowers

Ready to graduate from entry-level zero turns to mid-grade mowers? Mid-grades are also meant for residential use. They are more powerful, built with more durable materials, more efficient, and faster than their entry-level counterparts.

If you find the best mid-grade zero turn mower for your unique needs, you’ll enjoy heavier-duty design and better overall performance. You’ll also pay more. But if you have a small lawn to mow, mid-grade mowers may be more than you need.

Typical Engine Size: Twin cylinders

Typical Fuel Tank Capacity: 3 to 4 gallons

Semi-Pro Zero Turn Mowers

Semi-Pros are perhaps the most versatile type of zero turn mowers. Look for the best semi-pro zero turn mower you can find. When you find it, you won’t be disappointed.

They are designed for daily use, can reach speeds of eight miles per hour or more, and can mow up to five acres or more without having to stop and refill the gas tank.

Typical Engine Size: Twin cylinders

Typical Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 to 8 gallons

Commercial Zero Turn Mowers

Now we move to the mowers used by businesses—for the most part. If you have an enormous lawn, a commercial zero turn mower would also serve you well. But we’re talking about a yard larger than five acres.

As you might have guessed, these are the powerhouse zero turn mowers on steroids. You would never purchase one to mow your half-acre lawn.

Typical Engine Size: Twin cylinders

Typical Fuel Tank Capacity: 5 to 8 gallons

Zero Turn Mower Buyer’s Guide

Now that we’ve finished our zero turn reviews, we’ll move forward and present a buyer’s guide. This short guide will educate you on things to consider when shopping or a zero turn mower.

Do You Actually Need a Zero Turn Mower?

First off, how large is your lawn? To use a comparison that most of you will understand, is your lawn larger than a tennis court? If so, you could use a zero turn to mow it. But you could just as easily mow it with a normal riding mower.

Our suggestion is to use half an acre as the minimum area for which you’d benefit from using a zero turn. Otherwise, the return on your investment will be minimal.

The Importance of Comfort Features

You may be wondering how uncomfortable riding a zero turn could be. Certainly, it can’t be that uncomfortable. Let’s take a step back. How often do you mow? When you mow, how long does it take you?

If you mow professionally like a landscaper does, you use your zero turn all day, every day. In that scenario, comfort is incredibly important to prevent back pain and general body aches.

Alternatively, let’s say you have a medium size lawn that you mow once a week and it only takes you 20 minutes to finish the job. If that’s the case, comfort features become less of a concern.

Purchasing Your First Zero Turn Mower

If you’ve decided to go for it and buy your first zero turn, don’t go straight for the Rolls Royce model—unless you’ve been using these mowers for years but have never owned your own. That’s like jumping directly into the deep end of a pool before you learn to swim.

Instead, purchase a cheaper, beginner mower with simple controls, a slower max speed, a smaller engine, and plenty of safety features. Take your time to learn how to use it because maneuvering one is nothing like driving a car.

Cutting Discharge Methods

Cut grass doesn’t just disappear. It must be sent somewhere. Fortunately, some mowers give you a choice of how that grass is discharged. Those models let you choose between:

  1. Discharging (shooting) it out the side of the mower, similar to how push mowers work
  2. Bagging it in an attached container that fills as you mow
  3. Mulching it, which involves shooting clippings back through the spinning blades to create a fine, nutrient-rich mulch that sinks into the dirt rather than clumping up above the grass.

Ideal Deck Size

Deck size is an important variable to consider when shopping for a new mower. Larger deck sizes cut more grass with each pass, reducing the time needed to finish mowing.

On the other hand, if you need to cut around obstacles and get into tight corners while mowing, a large deck size will prevent you from reaching all the grass and the finished job will look amateur.

So, remember this rule of thumb: if you have a small area to mow with various obstacles, opt for a smaller deck size (between 32 and 42 inches). If you mow football fields, look for the largest deck size you can find.

Grass Types: Engine Size, Horsepower, and Blades

As you likely know or assume, the larger the engine and the more horsepower it has, the faster and stronger it is. Depending on where you live, you may be cutting any number of different grass types. Some of them are very coarse and thick, such as Zoysia and Bermuda grass.

If you’re cutting grass like that, you need more power and thicker, stronger blades, as well as more of them. A one-blade mower will struggle with Bermuda grass but will work just fine with thinner types of grass.

You’ll also need more horsepower and an engine with at least two cylinders to give you the power you need to cut thick grass quickly. Keep this in mind when evaluating zero turn mowers.

Durability and Aesthetics

Many people get distracted by bright, shiny objects, which end up blinding them, metaphorically speaking. Just because a mower is sleek and pretty doesn’t mean it’s a good mower.

So, try to remove the appearance of your potential mower from your requirements checklist. If you’re purchasing a sexy mower just to impress your neighbors, you’re using the wrong criteria to determine your purchase decision.

Durability, on the other hand, is incredibly important. You want the mower you invest in to last for many years. Try not to skimp on price just to save a few dollars. Because having to buy a new mower every five years will cost you way more than the $1,000 extra dollars you’ll spend for a more rugged, sturdy mower with a high gauge steel cutting deck and a heavy-duty steel frame

The Top Zero Turn Mower Brands

Various brands sell zero turn mowers as you’ve seen in our zero turn review section above. Let’s ignore the poor and mediocre brands for a moment and focus on the best-in-class brands, starting with the clear leader of the pack, Husqvarna.

Husqvarna

Despite its difficult-to-pronounce name, this brand leads all others in the zero turn mower industry. The brand sells many models of zero turn and tractor style mowers.

They also sell everything from chainsaws to log splitters, protective helmets, and axes, but those products and accessories are beyond the scope of this article.

If there is one brand with the experience to have learned how to fine-tune its products, it’s Husqvarna. The company has come a long way since then. With over 340 years of experience comes deep wisdom and business acumen. This is why they are widely considered the best zero turn mower brand in the world.

John Deere

Most Americans who have spent any time in rural farming areas are familiar with John Deere green. Their logo and branding sticks and their products are always of the highest quality.

It was founded in 1837 by—you guessed it—a man named John Deere. The company now has 183 years of experience. Not as many as Husqvarna, but enough to matter.

Mr. Deere started out making tools in Vermont, then moved his base of operations to Illinois to escape pending bankruptcy in Vermont. In 1912, long after John passed away, the company started to produce tractors. The company was still run by members of John’s family.

Throughout the 20th century, the company continued to expand into new markets and eventually joined Husqvarna in the zero turn mower industry. Today, they remain the leading tractor producer in the world and are now one of the best zero turn mower manufacturers in the market.

Hustler

Although none of their models made our top ten list, Hustler—the company that invented the first true zero turn mower—still holds a top spot in the zero turn mower industry.

But not just zero turn mowers; Hustler is a leading brand in a variety of industries, including utility vehicles, power equipment, and more.

Hustler may not have made our list, but their diversity and the quality of their products makes them one of the best manufactures of zero turn mowers in the world. Besides, they invented them.

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet, founded in 1960, is no new player in the mowing game. It has been producing award-winning mowers for over half a century.

In addition to zero turn mowers, Cub Cadet also manufactures rugged power equipment for outdoor use, utility vehicles, and a number of other products.

However, they do excel at producing zero turn lawn mowers and currently sell over 25 models of Z-turns, including the model we feel is the best residential zero turn mower on the market.

The company is known for producing super durable products that last. They may be a little more expensive than the competition, but you get what you pay for. It would be hard to go wrong with a Cub Cadet product.

Frequently Asked Questions

We may have answered some of these by now, but for good measure, we want to include a section that answers some of the most frequently asked questions about zero turn mowers.

How do you stop a zero turn mower once it is in motion?

Stopping is a simple process. Just as you push the handles to move forward and pull them to move backward, all you need to do to stop the mower is to bring both handles to the neutral position and this will stop the wheels from moving.

Is my yard too small for a zero turn mower?

That entirely depends on the size of your yard. Small zero turns like the Toro TimeCutter SS3225, which we reviewed above, is small enough for a yard that is only half an acre.

However, you may be spending money unnecessarily if you purchase a zero turn because half an acre can easily and quickly be mown with a regular riding lawn mower.

Can I use a zero turn mower on a steep slope?

You could try, but you would be running a big risk and putting both your mower and yourself in danger. Some zero turn mowers handle inclines better than others. But, at any rate, we would not advise you to use a zero turn on a slope with an inclination of more than 10 to 15 degrees.

How fast can a zero turn mower go?

None of the mowers we reviewed in this article can move faster than nine miles per hour. But, there are hundreds of brands that produce zero turn mowers. And the fastest models can reach speeds of up to 16 miles per hour.

Can I use my zero turn mower year-round?

That depends on where you live and what the climate is like there. If you live in a tropical area where the grass keeps growing all year round, they yes, you can use your mower 365 days a year.

However, if you live in a place with four distinct seasons, the grass stops growing sometime during the fall. At that point, you should stop using your mower, store it for the winter, and bring it back out in the spring when new grass starts to grow.

Which zero turn mower is the fastest?

If you feel the need for speed, you can purchase a zero turn mower that can scoot along at 16 miles per hour. It is called the Scag Cheetah, which is a very appropriate name.

Manufactured by the Scag company, it is the fastest known zero turn mower in existence. It costs around $13,000 and features a coil-over shock system that reduces the jarring effect produced by driving a lawn mower at 16 miles per hour.

Which zero turn mower will give me the smoothest ride possible?

The Ferris brand of zero turn mowers is considered to be the smoothest riding, most comfortable mowers in the market. Ferris produces various models and all of them give you a smooth comfortable riding experience. This is because Ferris has developed its own exclusive, proprietary suspension system, which absorbs shocks better than any other mower available.

Ready to Start Shopping for Your Own Zero Turn?

If so, now you should be fully prepared. Before buying a zero turn mower, educate yourself in how they work, which types are best for residential or commercial use, and what features to look for.

Our 10 picks are all set in their own category to help you determine which one would meet your needs. Don’t forget the fun part of the journey—diving deep into your research on various brands, models, and their features.

Look for a mower that offers a certain money-back guarantee.  Try to find the perfect balance between your budget and the mower that meets most of your needs, while still aligning with your budget.

Pay attention to what users say about durability—you don’t want to purchase a zero turn that breaks down after three years—it should last a decade or more at minimum as long as you properly care for it.

Follow those tips and trust your intuition. Purchasing a zero turn mower is a significant investment and just like any investment, it’s essential to complete your due diligence before committing to buy one. Good luck and have fun mowing.

And, if you’re looking to do more work around the house, consider taking a look at these pressure washers and cordless leaf blowers, which will help you tidy up your home’s deck and yard.

Isaac Atia

I am a home improvement enthusiast who enjoys sharing my tips and latest projects with other homeowners. When not working on the house, I enjoy playing soccer, hiking, traveling, and retail therapy!

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