Mowing the lawn isn’t exactly an activity that one looks forward to doing. The only thing you get out of it is feeling sore and having all your clothes covered in bright green stains.
But this does not have to be your experience with lawn mowing anymore. With the right equipment, mowing your lawns can become one of your favorite tasks to do.
Enter zero-turn mowers.
A good zero-turn mower will do the trick in this case. And we’re here to present the best zero-down mowers available today. Using one of these zero turn mowers (aka. ZTR), you will see reduced mowing times and more enjoyable mowing experience.
Buying an excellent zero-turn mower will not be a life-changing event, but we know it will change how you look at your yard work.
What is great about them? You ask.
What’s great about them is that they come with a turning radius that helps you get around the obstacles. They come with a turning radius of zero (and hence they are called zero-turn mowers). This feature, in turn, makes the job easy to maneuver around plants that you want to keep, lawn decor, or the kids’ pool.
A zero-turn mower can cost as much as a few thousand dollars, maybe even a bit more. It’s something that you have to think thoroughly about before the final purchase. Go through all the options and find the model that’s right for your yard’s needs.
Fortunately for you, this buying guide will help you determine everything related to that. When you are looking to buy a ZTR, you will probably hear many differing opinions.
The market is filled with many mowers with different options, and often choosing the right one for you can become a daunting task.
So, let’s discover what makes the best zero-turn mower, shall we?
The Best Zero Turn Mowers – Our Picks
If you’re in rush, the following is the list of zero-turn mowers that we’re going to review today:
- Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower
- Husqvarna MZ61 Zero-Turn Riding Mower
- Snapper 360z Zero-turn Mower
- Troy-Bilt Mustang Zero-Turn Mower
- Ariens Zoom 34 Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin Zero
#1 – Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower
We start the list of best zero-turn mowers with the Ariens IKON-X Zero-turn Mower.
Whether you’re a commercial or a residential gardening enthusiast, this heavy-duty, sleek zero-turn mower is definitely a good investment.
You get a maximum speed of 7MPH and 3MPH for reverse gear. These speeds are possible due to the 23 HP, 726 cc FR V-Twin engine that drives the triple-blade system.
It was made to withstand the dirtiest of conditions and harshest working environments. The engine is equipped with a rotating metal grass chopper screen that prevents debris from getting inside. It also has got a full-pressure lubricating system with a full-flow filter. You get to smoothly operate the mower without needing any shifting thanks to the equipped hydrostatic drive transmission system that’s both highly responsive and fan-cooled.
The mower has a very durable tubular steel frame with welded joints that increase stability and strength. The 52-inch 11-gauge steel deck is made to withstand impact and high pressure. And you won’t get any excess deck movement thanks to the four-point dual-arm hanging system.
You also can perform zero-turns on turf and better cut very quickly with the 18-inch rear pneumatic tires, 11-inch front tires, and the decreased chassis.
The mower was designed to be ergonomic and comfortable. The user has the high-backed padded seat with adjustable armrests to relax in a while doing the work. The cut level can be easily controlled, thanks to the height selection dial. It gives you the option of choosing between 13 cutting heights with a ¼-inch difference between each height. The mechanical foot life is there for you to use it when you want to adjust the deck height with ease as you seated on the machine.
To make things more convenient, the zero-turn mower was made to have a towing capacity of as much as 300 lbs. There’s also the fuel gauge sight that allows you to keep track of the gas gauge.
To top it all off, you get a three-year warranty from Ariens. There is no doubt that the Ariens IKON-X is the best zero-turn lawn mower out there.
- Suitable for both commercial gardening and residential use
- Max speed of 7 MPH and 3 MPH for reverse
- Good quality to price ratio
- Up to 5 acres of mowing
- Three-blade system
- Strong engine
- Excessive consumption of gas
- Not available in California
#2 – Husqvarna MZ61 Zero-Turn Riding Mower
The second entry on the best zero-turn lawn mowers list is the Husqvarna MZ61 Zero-turn Mower, which can provide you with an enjoyable mowing experience if you’re looking to accomplish a residential or a light commercial task.
The mower has excellent durability, outstanding cut, quiet functioning, and a smooth power output, all thanks to the 24 HP, 26cc engine. In addition to that, it features an 11-gauge, 61-inch steel deck, three durable cutting blades, and a mega-sized welded steel frame.
It was designed to create a machine that delivers the ultimate mowing job for any given terrain. The seat is 18-inches high that slides back with spring suspension. For optimal comfort, you’re provided with vibration dampeners, foam-padded handgrips, and armrests.
The machine can be easily steered and controlled by using intuitive controls. The same goes for transitioning between speeds; it’s quite effortless and straightforward. Thanks to the durable six-inch pneumatic wheels and industrial hydraulics, zero turns become very easy. To avoid the risk of mower rolling over, a ROPS (roll-over protection system) has been put into place.
The deck lifting system is assisted by pedals to make it more ergonomic for the user to accurately and quickly adjust the cutting height adjustments from a seated position. With this mower, the removable foot pan makes the maintenance easy. There is an hour meter that would remind you of service-maintenance based on the numbers of mowing hours. And you can work on it for long hours with the sizeable 5-gallon tank.
You can bag, discharge, or mulch the clippings with the nine-bushel triple bag system. However, you’ll have to get a separate mulching kit and bagger.
And the warranty offered by Husqvarna spans four years. What Husqvarna offers here is one of the best zero-turn lawn mowers you can hope for.
- It can cut a surface of 4. Acres at a speed of up to 8.5 MPH./li>
- Ease of maintenance and use
- Good quality to price ratio
- Heavy-duty construction
- Comfortable to sit on
- Removable foot pan
- 4-year warranty
- Need for a separate mulching kit and bagger
- Tallgrass may cause problems
#3 – Snapper 360z Zero-turn Mower
The Snapper 360Z is yet another one of the best zero-turn mowers on the market. It’s a suitable machine for maintaining a commercial property or a backyard of a small size.
First, you get immense cutting force from the high-performing 23HP engine with ReadyStart. Isn’t that impressive?
This machine was made to last, the frame is fully welded, with a thick-walled axle, ball bearings in the castor spindles and a sturdy fabricated steel mower deck.
The design was thought of to be user-friendly, having a comfortable seat, integrated brake, and an easily operated deck with 13 positions for the height of cut (going from 1.5 to 4.5 inches).
With integrated rear cargo bed, you can carry tools, haul dirt, bush cutting, or grass that would weigh as much as 50lbs. Additionally, the ATV accessories can be used thanks to the rails you get easy insertion of a wooden 2×4 due to the two predetermined cutouts.
With the newly-introduced compact deck options, you get to collect the debris and clippings after mowing in2 6.5-bushel-capacity bags. To monitor the usage of fuel in the 3-gallon tank, you’ll find a sight gauge that indicated your fuel level.
You get to choose between 3 models for the snapper mower: the 23HP/42-inch, the 21.5HP/48-inch, and the 21.5HP/42 mower.
Remember that this is a mower that works best for surface areas under 1 acre. While you can still use it for yards of a larger area, it’ll take such a long time due to the smaller cutting width.
Snapper provides a 3-year limited warranty on the zero-turn mower. And for one of the best zero-turn mowers out there, the price is definitely an appealing point.
- A powerful Briggs and Stratton engine
- Great for smaller-sized yards.
- Three years of warranty
- Reasonable price
- Durable design
- No so great for heavy-duty usage
- Ethanol-free gas is required
- Lack of armrests
#4 – Troy-Bilt Mustang Zero-Turn Mower
As long as it’s a small to medium-sized terrain, the Troy-Bilt Mustang monster, one of the best zero-turn lawn mowers, will go through it like it’s nothing. Be it residential or professional; it doesn’t really matter.
A sturdy 25HP 724cc engine powers this machine, making it a fuel-efficient and powerful zero-turn lawnmower. And all the smooth-running power that you can hope for, you’ll get from the dual hydrostatic EZT transmission.
The deck can be adjusted to 8 different positions of height. The heavy-duty frame is reinforced, with 54-inch-gauge aluminum 3-blade side discharge deck and an integrated dual deck wash. It’s a machine that was made to last.
The PTO system (electric power take-off) allows the three steel cutting blades to engage quickly and efficiently. The speed you get is at 7 MPH and 2.5 in reverse.
To make sure that it can perform zero-turns efficiently at all times, the mower is equipped with durable 18-inch rear wheels and 13-inch front caster wheels.
A high back seat will give you a comfortable ride as you sit and use the Mustang. The vehicle even comes with a more significant foot deck section to keep your legs at ease as performing extended mowing operations.
As you perform complicated tasks, you can get more natural control as the lab bars are easy to handle and to adjust. In addition to all of that, you’ll also find a fuel tank window to monitor the fuel consumption, an hour meter, and even a cup holder to keep your preferred beverage at reach.
Troy-Bilt provides a three-year warranty with the Mustang, which is just the cherry on top.
- 8 different heights for the deck
- 3 years of warranty
- Fuel tank window
- Side discharge
- Can produce too much dust in the air
- Reverse PTO shut off
- A bit pricey
#5 – Ariens Zoom 34 Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin Zero
We come to the last entry in our list of the best zero-turn lawnmowers. Now it’s the turn of the Ariens Zoom. For a flat, small to medium size residential property with minimal obstacles and no slope gradient, this 19-horsepower lawn mower is an excellent investment.
The mowing deck can be raised to go above tree roots and minimize clumping when discharging clippings. The maximum forward speed is 6 MPH, while in reverse, the mower can go in up to 3 MPH.
For highly responsive and smooth control, the Ariens zoom is equipped with twin EZT hydrostatic transaxles. It also provides adjustable control arms and a mid-back seat for extra comfort during long-hour jobs. You can see why it’s on the best zero-turn mowers list.
- Can get the job done around tight spots
- Convenient for small lots
- Works well with tall grass
- Great power
- If it carries too much weight, it won’t be able to turn on wet grass
- You’ll need to get rid of clogged up grass underneath it.
Choosing the Best Zero Turn Mower – Buying Guide
First, What Is a Zero-Turn Mower?
You’ll have to understand this terminology because you’ll see it being used everywhere to describe certain mowers on the market. Making sure you know what it means first will allow you to know whether its features are things you’re looking for or not.
In traditional lawnmowers, the cutting deck is located underneath the machine. This allows the grass clippings to fly out from the mower. But in the case of a zero-turn mower, the deck is located either in the front or the side of the machine and extending from its sides. Zero-turn mowers are designed with unique systems that prevent the grass from being thrown all over your yard as you cut it down.
What makes these mowers “zero-turn” mowers is the fact that their turning radius is much smaller than that of the traditional lawnmowers. As you choose to turn it, it will quickly pivot in whichever direction you want it to turn. It would be best suited for yards with several corners and unusual angles. You’ll get around on it quickly without having to stop every now and then to back up and adjust your direction. It will also help you to easily maneuver around different obstacles found in the way, like toys left by kids after playing. In addition to that, zero-turn mowers are made with two handles that move it to the right or the left. To a significant number of people, this is the best type of mowers that you can get.
Why You Should Get a Zero-Turn Mower
Here’re all the nice stuff that you can get from using a zero-turn mower:
- Getting as much out of your money as you can. A zero-turn mower is a good investment. It will last for two times as long as a traditional mower, with commercial models lasting even longer than that.
- Better cutting: the blades of a zero-turn mower would usually be bigger and sharper than those of a traditional mower. This allows for cleaner and better cuts than what you’ll get from anything else.
- A lot of models are either sold with their mulching kit or are compatible with a mulching kit. The kit can be used to lay down mulch or to make it out of lawn clippings.
- Save money: zero-turn mowers have better fuel consumption as they would get the job done faster than any other lawnmower.
- Do everything faster. Zero-turn mowers perform quick turns and can mow around corners as well as being able to move around potential hazards.
Types of Zero Turn Mowers
Entry-Level Zero Turn Mowers
And entry-level mower would be an excellent choice for someone wanting to try out the feeling of a zero-turn mower every weekend or so without having to pay the price of a professional model.
You’ll find in this category affordable yet dependable mowing machines that can cut a yard in half the time of a lawn tractor. They can easily get around obstacles such as tress. They would come with smaller and less-powerful engines that have smaller gas tanks, and they would reach speeds of 6 to 7 MPH.
Additionally, beginner zero turn lawn mowers are made out of less expensive material. They aren’t suitable for daily use, but they’ll help out a ton during the weekends. And you’ll find some of the best zero-turn mowers in this category. They are certainly not to be dismissed.
Mid-Grade Zero Turn Mowers
Do you want to take it to the next step with something more powerful?
Consider mid-grade zero-turn mowers. These mowers come with heavier-duty parts in specific places where more sturdiness and stability really count. That will make every task more comfortable than ever.
Now, instead of the stamped mower decks that you’ll find on entry-level zero-turn mowers, a mid-grade mower will have a heavy-duty deck that’s made out of heavy gauge steel with welded joints for more strength. More robust transmission is another feature of a mid-grade mower. It’ll also have larger pumps and wheel motors, more torque ratings, and a more substantial load limit.
Another feature of the mid-range class is the foot-controlled height adjustment for the deck in addition to the more comfortable seats.
The variety of engines is also quite remarkable. You’ll find famous brands like Kohler, Kawasaki, and Briggs & Stratton. What you’ll get out of these engines is a higher level of reliability and overall better performance.
Semi-Pro Zero Turn Mowers
If you’re a budget landscaping contractor or a property owner looking to take care of their field of dreams, then this class of zero-turn mowers is what you should aim for.
These are durable machines specifically made for daily use. They’re made with the heavy-duty transmission, larger fuel tanks, and heavier gauge steel frames.
You’ll get an acceleration of up to 8 MPH and a mowing time of 4 to 5 acres without the need for a gas refill.
When it comes to the ergonomics, you’re getting cruise control, several cup holders, adjustable armrests, and high back seats. Semi-pro zero turn mowers are some of the best zero-turn mowers you can get.
Commercial Zero Turn Mowers
This is the top of the mountain class. For anyone looking to get some real business done, a commercial zero-turn mower will get it done for you. These are the best of the best zero-turn mowers that anyone can get their hands on.
A commercial mower comes with everything in extra size – the fastest speeds, biggest fuel tanks, most powerful engines, = largest mowing decks, and, consequently, the highest price tag.
To understand the high limit of their performance, know that a commercial zero-turn mower can mow up to 3 or 4 acres in an hour. These are machines that were specifically built to be used daily by professional landscaping experts who make a living out of mowing lawns.
What to Consider When Looking for the Best Zero Turn Lawn Mower
Different sizes will be available to you to purchase, as you would notice from the list of mowers mentioned above. You must clearly understand the difference in cutting sizes before getting a mower. The range would usually be from 30” to 72”. There isn’t an undisputed size for the best zero-turn mower. What would suit you best in size would heavily depend on where and how you’re going to use the mower.
- 30” – This is on the smaller end of the cutting width spectrum. It would be suitable for the small and flat yards but won’t be recommended for a yard with slopes.
- 34” to 42” – larger in comparison to the 30”. Suitable for yards around the size of 2 acres. Maneuvering around trees and landscaping won’t be an issue for them, and the same goes for most zero-turn mowers.
- 46” – These are the mowers that are usually chosen to work on mid-sized lawns. They can do a better job with slopes than what was previously mentioned, and can even operate underneath bushes.
- 48” – Another good option for medium-sized lawns. You won’t have a problem operating them in moderate slopes or hills that can go up to 15°degress.
- 50” to 54” – This is a category of larger models. Not only can they be operated in moderate slopes but also on different types of terrain, as rough as they may get. The larger beams that they have also provide more stability overall.
- 60” to 72” – The largest size of the zero-turn mowers. Aimed at commercial and overall large properties. No terrain is too rough for them, and they can handle hills of angles up to 15°.
This is one of the principal aspects to consider when getting a new lawnmower. The larger the deck size, the fewer passes it will take you to finish mowing the lawn, saving both money and time. Having a large deck size and a tight turning radius and maneuverability is a game-changing feature when using a lawnmower. But you must know precisely the size that you’ll require before making your purchase.
Again, this is another aspect where there isn’t an objective answer for the best zero-turn mower. It all depends on your needs. There’s a delicate balance between getting easy maneuvering between obstacles and being able to cut your grass in the least number of passes possible.
If you won’t have to get around tight spots and you’re going to operate in an open flat field, then get yourself the biggest deck in size and don’t think twice about it. But if you’re yard is full of plats that you want to protect and obstacles along the way, then having a big deck will only cause problems rather than solve them. You must also keep in mind the storage requirements for a mower with a wide deck. The bigger the mower, the more storage space it will need.
For a professional landscaper, having more than just one lawnmower in the arsenal is probably a good idea (of course, if they can afford it). In this case, having two mowers of different sizes (one up to 50 or 60” and another smaller one around 30”) will make you more prepared and ready for the different yard cases that you may face. That way, you can use the large deck for large, open areas and the smaller one for tighter yards with obstacles along the way.
Engine Size and Horsepower
Having different engine sizes for differently-sized mowers is something to be expected. Obviously, this would also mean a difference in the horsepower that each mower would pack. As you might have guessed, commercial zero-turn mowers will be the ones to have the largest engines and, consequently, the most horsepower.
On the other end of the spectrum, entry-level zero-turn mowers will be the ones with the smaller engines and the least horsepower. But this isn’t the only distinction you have to keep in mind as it goes more profound with each category. You’ll find a variety of sizes in commercial mowers, as well as a variety of sizes for entry-level ones.
The bigger the engine and the more horsepower the mower has, the tougher it will be. For someone with vast land and several types of plants to mow like the Bermuda grass and the St. Augustine, this is a very critical aspect. If you’re looking to cut thick grass, then we don’t recommend a mower with little horsepower because it will have a hard time cutting it. A weak engine will mow the lush lawn slowly, and over time, it will start to wear down due to its inability to meet the required power. This will cause the need for more frequent maintenance and will shorten the lifespan of the mower.
Also, for someone who’s going to operate on uneven terrain, you don’t want to be using a mower with little horsepower as it won’t be able to move around the land quickly. The best zero-turn lawn mowers have more horsepower, so go for more power if you want to have a good mowing experience.
Speed is yet another characteristic that varies from one lawnmower to the next. If you’re a professional landscaper, whose time is equated to money, then this is something you want to pay attention to. The bigger it is and the faster it can go, the less time it will take you to get the job done.
A professional will have to finish each job they get as quickly as possible and move on to the next to do the same. As for a regular house owner, this means that you’ll be taking care of your weekend chores in no time, and you’ll get back to relaxation before you know it.
When comparing entry-level mowers to mid-range ones, you won’t notice much difference in top speed. In both categories, the limit will be around 6 to 7 MPH. The semi-pro mowers can take it up a notch to 8 or 9 MPH. Now commercial zero-turn mowers will exceed that frontier significantly to reach 13 to 14 MPH. This means that it will only take 70% of the time needed by a semi-pro mower to cut the same lawn. 50% compared to the mid-range mowers. Good mowers are fast, and the best zero-turn lawn mowers are the fastest.
Traditionally speaking, zero-turn mowers have been operated in the past by dual levers. But recently, the usual design has been somewhat altered. The two-lever system is still the most common out there, with each lever controlling the distributed power to each wheel. Having the two levers at the same power level will keep the mower speeding in a straight line.
But pushing one past the other and the mower will start moving in a curved line. And if you choose the power one lever while keeping the other at zero will cause the mower to pivot around its central axis.
This is a perfectly functioning method for driving the mower, but it will definitely take some time to get used to it for someone who’s never tried this control system before. It’s not a very intuitive method, but it does get the job done with some practice.
Now, on the other hand, we can find newer designs that favor a more ergonomic joystick control system rather than the two levers. Some would consider this as a deciding factor in choosing the best zero-turn lawn mower for them.
One of its benefits is allowing one hand to be free as the other is used to control the joystick. Another great thing about the joystick is the fact that it’s more responsive than the levers making it easier to drive the mower.
Of course, we can’t forget to talk about the price. Zero-turn lawn mowers are definitely not cheap. Even the least expensive models of the lot, which are the entry-level mowers, still go for as high as $2000. As for the more expensive ones, they would start at the $5000 mark.
Before you decide which price is right for you, you have to consider the features you need and the price tag associated with them. Getting a semi-commercial or a commercial mower that’s made out of the durable components and welded steal will be a better long-term investment as these machines are built to last for long and to need little maintenance.
This means that for someone looking to use their zero-turn lawn mower for professional landscaping or daily work during the week, getting one of the more higher-end will be a wise choice. A pricy mower will always be stronger; it will always last longer and provide better options like a powerful engine and a full deck.
You won’t be cheated out of your money. In the long run, you’ll be saving yourself maintenance and replacement costs and making up for its initial price with work in a couple of years.
Always put the needed features and the price in the balance and find the best zero-turn lawn mower that brings both of both worlds. Find a good compromise between the features and the bank.
Picking the Best Zero Turn Mower – Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Should a Zero Turn Mower Cost?
A simple push mower will only cost you around $300, maybe even less. In comparison, a riding mower that can be operated in a seated position will cost you more. For the traditional riding mowers with a large turning radius, you’ll have to pay anything between $500 and $1000. Some models even exceed this.
What makes a zero-turn lawn mower even more expensive than that is that they’re made with more options and features that help simplify and accelerate the mowing process even further.
After doing some digging, we found that the cheapest model that we came across is at about $1500. On the other hand, the top models of the zero-turn mowers will cost as much as $3000 to $4000. Taking this a step further, you’ll have to spend anything between $5000 to $7500 and, in some cases, more for a commercial zero-turn lawnmower. That means that you might have to spend on a mower more than you would spend on a used car.
After fixing your budget, look around for all the models that mean your price range and choose one of the higher-tier lawn mowers that you can get for that price. You’ll want a solid deck made of forged steel or some other sturdy and hard material. Also, meeting the 20-horsepower range for the engine is recommended.
The higher you go with the price, the more features you’ll get, the better. A right zero-turn mower won’t break the bank, but the best zero-turn mower will give you your money’s worth and more.
How Can I Maintain My Zero Turn Mower?
Here are several keynotes to keep in mind when using your zero-turn mower. The best zero-turn mower requires the best care.
- Get noise protection earplugs to protect your ears
- Be careful when operating on wet grass. On a slope, some of the heavy mowers will slide even if it’s not that wet.
- Remember to change the oil regularly. It’s just like a car. Clean oil means better performance.
- Keep it clean. The mower will get dirty as you use it more and more to cut grass. For better performance and longevity, clean it up regularly.
- Keep the cutting blade sharp to make sure that the grass is always cut smoothly.
- Grease the mower frequently to maintain its performance at an optimal level.
- Read the zero-turn mower’s manual thoroughly before using it and follow the instructions precisely.
What is a Lawn Tractor?
A lawn tractor is an alternative for the zero-turn lawnmower. A tractor will look like a regular riding mower but will be compatible with different attachments for mowing, bagging up, and so on.
Are There Different Fuel Options?
You’ll come across the fact that zero-turn mowers use different types of fuel as you do some research on them. Some mowers run on the same kind of gasoline as your car does; others will be operated with diesel, which can be obtained from the gas station.
Propane mowers also exist, though they are not as popular as the rest. All we know is that the best zero-turn mower will have minimum fuel consumption. You want to save money, don’t you?
What Happens to the Grass?
This will differ from one model to the next. While some mowers will release the cut grass from underneath the mower, others will throw it out of the back. If you want to collect the grass that you cut, you can attach a collection bad to the cutting deck, which will trap all the grass that the blades go through.
Is There a Learning Curve?
Using a zero-turn lawn mower won’t be very easy the first time. You must go ap a steep learning curve before you get to a comfortable zone in using the mower, especially when trying to operate the handles in maneuvering around the lawn.
The best zero-turn lawn mower will be an easy to learn mower. But you’ll always want to be ready to operate one of these machines. Zero-turn mowers sit apart from the traditional riding mowers when it comes to maneuvering and steering. While a conventional mower will use a steering wheel for control, a zero-turn lawn mower will utilize two levers to control movement backward, forward, and for turning.
It would be advisable for a first-timer to try and drive their newly bought mower without mowing the grass, to get a feel of how to maneuver in it before getting down to business. Take an hour or two of your time to drive around the yard to practice and improve your skills in controlling the machine.
Doing it at first, you’re going to get a weird feeling out of the driving, it won’t feel natural. But as time goes by, and it won’t take much, it’ll become like second nature to you.
Hopefully, this guide gave you a deeper understanding of this particular type of lawnmowers, and we hope that our list of best zero-turn lawn mowers will be beneficial for you in choosing. Now, all you have to do is consider your options thoroughly and pick the best zero-turn lawn mower for you and your lawn.