TOP 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers Reviews
Personally, I like all Zero Turn Mowers since every brand has a unique set of features or something inventive. Hence, imagine my predicament when trying to decide which mower comes first and which comes last. Nevertheless, here’s my TOP 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers Reviews Index. To go directly to the detailed review itself, just click the review button!
What Is a Zero Turn Mower?
Imagine doing a perfect spin on your heel rooted to the spot. Now imagine yourself on a mower and doing the same. Any mower that is capable of turning a perfect 360 degree without moving an inch either ways falls under the category of Zero Turn Riding Mower or ZTR. These mowers are also known as Z-Mowers and they are among the most fun to drive.
Did you know that the first Zero Turn mower was invented back in 1963 by an engineer, John Regier who sold his patent to Excel Industries and out came the first commercial ZTR by the name, “The Hustler”.
Unlike a typical riding mower, a Z mower lacks brake and gas pedals, does not use a steering wheel for direction. Instead, these machines have a handle on either side that control the movement of each individual wheel. As you can imagine, a conventional engine, drivetrain and gearbox is not capable of handling such a delicate juggling act. Engines and in fact, the entire mechanism of a ZTR is so complex that it needs regular servicing to keep all the wheels aligned and the mower behaving as it ought to.
If you´re intested in learning how a ZTR mower works, check out my collection of videos on how to drive a Zero Turn Mower.
How to Drive a ZTR Mower?
Basically to control a zero turn mower, you need to push on either handle. The analogy here is how you would control a shopping cart. The harder you push, the faster you go. And to slow down, you simply press less. And to move straight ahead you push with both hands on the handle. The same applies to a ZTR mower. Push down at the same time on both handles and you go forward. If you wish to move to the left, you push the right handle ahead while keeping the left in the neutral position and vice versa. Now to make a tight left turn you push the right handle forward while simultaneously pulling back on the left handle. This forces the left back wheel to spin in the opposite direction to that of the right front wheel helping the mower perform a perfect 360 degree spin.
Why Buy a Zero Turn Lawn Mower?
Zero Turn mowers can cut the mowing time in half. So, if your lawn measures more than 1 acre getting a Z Mower will make mowing less of a chore and more of a breeze in the park.
Unlike Tractor Mowers that tend to miss patches near obstacles and trees, a Zero Turn mower can get up close and personal, eliminating the need to take out a reel or walk-behind mower afterwards.
Ever dreamt of making beautiful designs in your lawn like you see on a baseball field or football stadium? You can with a Z Mower, albeit after a little practice.
Less Mowing Time
A zero turn mower usually cuts your mowing time in half. ZTR mowers are very easy to handle and yet feature enough riding speed to get your mowing job done in no-time.
Easy To Master
Did someone teach you how to drive a shopping cart or did it come naturally to you the first time? Zero Turn mowers operate using the same principle so learning how to ride it is super easy.
Take care of your Zero Turn mower, adhere to safety precautions at all times and maintain or replace components as and when required – your Z mower will be a faithful companion for life.
When Not to Purchase a Zero Turn Lawn Mower!
While Zero Turn mowers have plenty of advantages there are some inherent downsides to also consider. To begin with, if you happen to have areas with slopes that are angled more than 15 degrees, a ZTR is never a safe option owing to its unpowered front wheels that can cause the mower to tip over. However, if your large yard has just a few sloping areas you can compensate by using a push mower for these vicinities.
Additionally, mowing on wet terrain increases the chances of losing control by sliding, again owing to the weight of the mower and the underpowered tiny front wheels. The best practice with a zero turn riding mower therefore is to mow when your lawn is at its driest. Basically be alert anytime you come across a spot that happens to be wet or sloped.
Then there is the matter of pollution. Because zero turn mowers are slow and rely on powerful gasoline engines, they tend to guzzle up a lot of gas, which in turn is not good for your immediate environment. Add to this the complication of continuously having to refuel the beast to keep it going. Likewise, the use of hydrostatic transmission in these machines introduces the problem of regular maintenance and plenty of fluid controlled parts, which can cross-contaminate or leak. Thankfully, ZTRs cut down mowing time by up to 70 percent as compared to a walk-behind mower thus making up for the pollution and fuel efficiency.
Different Types of Zero Turn Mowers
By now you already know whether you need a ZTR or not. The next logical question is what kind of Zero Turn mower do you need? Let me be the first to tell you that there are in fact 5 types of ZTRs! From large and powerful to small and quick, you can find Zero Turn Mowers in all sizes.
For an average homeowner though anything other than the most expensive commercial grade ZTRs will suffice. For the moment those are also the only devices that I include in my zero turn mower reviews and zero turn mower comparison charts.
Any Zero Turn mower that has a deck size larger than 42 inches, but less than 54 inches falls under this category. They are larger than the compact residential variants and usually offer more cutting options and a larger engine. They may even come with additional features such as electric clutches, hour gauges, foot assisted deck lifts and more. If you have a yard more than 1.5 acres in size but less than 2 acres with a few undulating regions, this is the perfect Zero Turn Mower to own.
Estate class ZTR mowers are quite similar in their size to residential large mowers but they tend to offer better construction quality, more durable and larger engines with frames that are rugged enough to handle the toughest terrains. Estate class zero turn mowers typically feature fabricated decks instead of the stamped deck found with residential class mowers. They have heavy duty transmissions, better seats and are capable of taking larger accessories too.
Entry Level Commercial
Designed for folks who have massive grass covers to manage and yet do not want a full-fledged commercial unit, these entry level commercial zero turn mowers pack in almost all the commercial necessities without a lot of creature comfort features. They tend to have smaller transmissions with larger decks, engines and overall size. Deck sizes in this category usually range from a modest 42 inch to massive 61 inches!
You can see these beasts operating out on your local golf course or parks and zoos. They have the widest cutting path, largest engines and the most ergonomically designed seats. Usually packed with premium drive systems, higher fuel tank capacities, more speed and rugged frame – these commercial ZTRs cost at least twice that of an average residential Zero Turn Mower. Some commercial ZTRs can feature decks as large as 72 inches!
Safety Tips When Using A ZTR Mower
A sports car is fun to drive but when driven without training and restraint, it can be your undoing. The same applies to Zero Turn Mowers. These machines are a lot of fun to drive, but there are some safety precautions everyone must always adhere with. As long as you remember the following four laws of Z Mower operation, you and your lawn will be just fine.
Before you start mowing make sure to read the instruction manual carefully. Many manufacturers give valuable riding advice for better maneuverability. Also, often in the included documentation you can find really handy tips and tricks on the maintenance for extra long living of your new mower!
Almost all Z Mowers have a maximum limitation of 10 to 13 degrees when it comes to slopes. The problem with a Zero Turn Mower is that it is rear heavy with at least 75 percent of the weight distributed to the back. Add to this the simple castor wheels to the front and you have a lot of weight pushing down on the front wheels when coming down a slope. If the downhill region is uneven, wet or slippery, the front wheels will lose traction disturbing the forward momentum of the mower. This can lead to rollovers, cracked front castors and more.
To avoid mishaps on slopes carry a pitch & angle reader (costs less than $10) and if the inclination is more than 10 degrees, use a walk-behind mower for that region.
Your lawn can have lamp posts, trees, small water bodies, curbs and drop-offs. These obstacles might seem easy to navigate around thanks to the nifty movement of a Z mower but be vigilant of where you are around them. Always keep at least one mower’s width away from all such edges, especially near water bodies and curbs. Running over obstacles will cause irreparable damage to your mower, quicker than you can say, ”Oh My God!”.
With enough practice you can mow as close as possible to lamp posts, trees and curbsides but never get too close to side slopes and water bodies.
Avoiding Lawn Damage
A Z-Mower can do many things and because of its impressive maneuverability it is also a danger to your lawn’s health. Take the time to practice mowing in the center of your lawn with your brand new ZTR before you attempt at mowing the entire acre or two of land. And once you get the hang of it remember never to make sharp or jagged turns as this can gouge the lawn.
The best way to turn as you come to one end of your lawn is to slow down until you reverse a bit back and then push both handles forward to get onto the adjacent un-mowed area. Then reverse back until you are parallel with your previous lane and start mowing in full forward. This prevents pivot holes from appearing all over your lawn and also lets you landscape or add designs to your lawn. Alternatively you can learn the art of mowing in the forward and backward direction in an alternating manner.
Always wear eye protection, a hard hat and keep the Roll bars fully extended. These bars once locked in place above your head prevent the mower from completely tipping over the side on your head. Do not leave the mower on idle when you aren’t on it and never reverse without looking back first! My zero turn mowers reviews may help you land the perfect machine but not taking safety seriously enough will land you in the hospital!
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