The Best Zero Turn Mower – Why Even You Should Own One
If there’s one thing Americans are proud of, it’s their lawns. Having a big, beautiful lawn full of healthy, well-manicured grass is about as big of a part of the American Dream as a white picket fence. Owning the best zero turn mower for the money is the fastest way to make that dream come true.
For those of us still using push mowers or the old clunky riders, mowing the lawn has to be one of the most menial, boring chores around the house. It’s dirty, it’s sweaty, and if you have allergies, it can turn a Saturday into the worst day of the week.
Zero turn mowers make quick work of your lawn and allow you to get back to taking on the important tasks of the day.
Quick Look: Top Zero Turn Mower
Zero Turn Mower Name
Over the past few years, zero turn lawnmowers have been gaining popularity among residential families that are eager to take advantage of their features. Zero turn lawnmowers are able to quickly cut around obstacles, and their huge decks make quick work of even the biggest of lawns.
Check out this youtube video showing the basic controls of these popular lawn care machines.
This guide will compare some of the top zero turn mowers out on the market right now. In addition, it will show you mowers for those of us with hilly terrain, residential specific concerns, and even discuss the best budget-friendly mowers out there.
Best Zero Turn Mower Features
A mower to conquer any terrain
So why have zero turn lawn mowers become so popular? The primary reason is their ability to turn 180 degrees at the drop of a hat, making a lawn cutting job significantly faster and more efficient than a traditional riding lawn mower would.
This means that no matter the terrain, a zero turn lawn mower will make the job faster, more efficient, and look much more professional.
Residential users, despite having relatively smaller yards, can still benefit from the time saving features of a zero turn lawn mower. Those who have hilly yards may have a difficult time with riding tractor mowers, but many zero turn models will handle that obstacle with ease.
A common misconception about zero turn mowers is that they are too expensive for residential use, and are actually meant for commercial use. There are many quality zero turn mowers that go for under $3,000, making this vehicle an attainable tool for many families.
Mowing on hills
One of the major features of zero turn lawnmowers is their rear-wheel drive. The front wheels are caster wheels, and function for sliding around a zero turn. This can cause the mower to drift in the direction of a hill without adjusted steering from the operator.
Fortunately, there are some zero turn mowers out there that, because they are more heavy in the front, are better for mowing for a hilly terrain. Although no zero turn mower or tractor mower is suitable for mowing a hill steeper than 15 degrees, using a zero turn to tackle your hilly yard may yield some great results if you get the right model.
Lap Bar vs. Steering Wheel
Zero turn mowers operate with a lap bar as a steering device instead of a traditional steering wheel. You steer it by pushing one side and not pushing another, like you would turn a shopping cart. Although it takes some getting used to, this intuitive way of steering is far more accurate and quick.
There are some zero turn mowers on the market that are steered with a traditional steering wheel and foot pedals. These are a little more front heavy, and as such may be more suited for hilly terrain. It all comes down to preference--as with all products, it’s essential that you try out some of these different mowers to get a feel for what is best for you.
Engine Power and Speed
Where zero turn mowers really differ from traditional riding lawn mowers is the speed at which they move. A tractor riding lawn mower will typically top out at a mowing speed of 3-4 miles per hour. On the other hand, a zero turn mower can cut at speeds of 5-8 mph, with commercial models pushing speeds as high as 14 mph.
These mowers are able to cut at these speeds without compromising quality. They do this because, for the most part, they are equipped with twin cylinder engines that provide power to the rear wheels only, which benefits handling but also benefits speed.
Better Quality Lawn Care
Zero turn mowers don’t just make your job easier and faster--it’ll make it better quality as well. As these mowers have an infinite ability to maneuver through your yard, you’ll be able to cut straight, attractive lined patterns in your yard in no time. Perfectly swerving around any trees, bird baths, or boulders that may in the way is a piece of cake.
There is a diverse selection of zero turn mowers. For those of us with huge, field-like yards, zero turn mowers can have decks as large as 60 inches in residential models (with commercial options having even more room than that!), making a previously grueling chore easy. For those of us with more intricate details in our yards, like plants, art, etc., there are models with smaller decks and better handling to consider.
Tractor lawn mowers have a wider turning radius, which requires you to cover your tracks and mow over areas that you’ve already hit. Not only does this waste time, it makes the lawn’s cut appear messy, uneven, and asymmetrical. With a cut from a zero turn mower, your lawn will definitely appear more clean, healthy, and attractive.
How to choose
Choosing the perfect zero turn mower for your situation may feel tough, but this guide should help you. Depending on the size of your yard, the composition of your yard, and the amount of money in your budget, you may benefit most from any number of these zero turn mowers.
Fortunately, this guide will suggest the best models for residential turn mowers, mowers for hilly terrain, and the best zero turn mowers under $3,000.
Read our comparisons below to get a better feel for which product is best for you.
Which Model is Best for You?
Zero Turn Mower Name
Residential Zero Turn Mowers
Those that are looking for a zero turn mower for their residential property have different needs than other consumers. There are mowers that are designed for this kind of customer, with features ranging from smaller deck size to more user control. Here are three residential zero turn mowers that are great purchases for those on the lookout for a more efficient lawn care routine.
Troy-Bilt Mustang 54
The Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 features a large, 54 inch mowing deck that includes four additional deck wheels to increase turning efficiency. This no-frills, professional level mower is great for residential users because it is sturdy without being too big.
What we like:
25 horsepower twin cylinder engine
7 miles per hour forward speed will far outpace a tractor riding mower
High back chair with dual suspension springs makes the ride comfortable
Limited lifetime frame warranty offered by Troy-Bilt
The Mustang 54 is a fantastic mower for a residential customer that means business. It’s relatively cheap, at just under $3,500, and it definitely gets the job done. It’s not going to have the cutting ability to handle pastures or thick, overgrown jobs, but it is perfect for the standard residential yard.
Husqvarna, a favorite manufacturer for a variety of equipment and tools, certainly excels at making lawn mowers too. This mower features a 26 horsepower, Kohler 7000 twin engine. It will zip along your yard at up to 8 miles per hour.
What we like:
Compact but sturdy 54 inch deck, perfect for residential yards
Powerful Kohler 7000 twin engine can easily handle tough jobs
Anti-scalping rollers on mowing deck
This mower from Husqvarna is a little more expensive than the Mustang 54, but it offers a little more of a polished product. It has a dual-hydro EZT transmission and a robust frame that will last for a long time, protecting your investment.
Poulan Pro P54ZX
The final mower on this list of residential zero turn mowers puts a premium on durability. It comes with a ten year warranty and a sturdy 54 inch deck frame. It also has an electric clutch and 24 horsepower engine, more than enough to make residential jobs a piece of cake.
What we like:
Extremely sturdy, triple bladed 54 inch deck
Great maneuverability, allowing you to mow around lawn features and plants
One of the best warranties in the industry
EZT transmission and drive system
Coming in at just over three thousand dollars, the Poulan Pro P54ZX should be on every residential customer’s list. It offers the features and durability of much more expensive machines, and is sturdy enough to handle tough jobs. It maintains the quality of an industrial-grade machine while still being priced like a budget mower.
Zero Turn Mowers for Hilly Terrain
Just because you live in a mountainous area doesn’t mean you need to mow your lawn. Unfortunately, many zero turn lawnmowers aren’t great for hilly terrain--the sliding wheels on the mower deck that make it possible to have a zero turn radius are also very poor for traction.
However, there are zero turn mowers out there that are able to mow on hills of 15º or less, so they are still an option for these areas. The following three mowers have features that make them better on hills than others.
One of the most important aspect of a zero turn lawn mower that is capable of handling hills is a heavy front end frame. The Husqvarna MZ61 is a beast--it’s heavy 61 inch cutting deck will keep the front end sliding wheels more grounded than most mowers. Its 27 horsepower engine makes it capable of cutting through tough jobs with ease.
What we like:
Premium three blade cutting system
27 horsepower V-Twin engine
Customizable pedal lift cutting deck with three settings
Affordable industrial model zero turn mower
Although a pretty heavy duty lawnmower for the typical residential consumer, for those of you that have steep hills, tough terrain, or require a little more horsepower, you may want to consider the Husqvarna MZ61. It will set you back nearly five thousand bucks, so it’s not cheap. But for what it offers, that’s a great price.
The Z-Beast mower offers a plethora of features as well as a heavy front end frame that provides ample traction for steep grade hills. One of the reasons this is such a good mower for hills is its included roll bar--a feature that not many other mowers on this list offer.
What we like:
62 inch width cut deck is among the widest of residential-style models
26 horsepower Briggs & Stratton dual engine
Premium features like halogen headlights, leather seat, seatbelts
Blade rotation speed of nearly 19,000 per minute
The 62ZBBM15 has the most substantial of any of the cut deck builds on this list, and its 7 gauge commercial steel welded structure is sturdy and will provide much more traction than smaller, thinner decks. This will prevent the slipping and sliding down hills that many zero turn lawnmowers suffer from.
Troy-Bilt 25HP 725cc Twin Cylinder Transmission 54-inch Pivot Zero Turn Mower
Troy-Bilt zero turn mowers offer a feature that’s different than any of our other items on this list; a steering wheel rather than steering bars. The thought is that a wheel offers more stability, a perfect feature for those that will need to mow up hills.
What we like:
Comfortable 18 inch seat with adjustable knob
7 miles per hour top speed
25HP Kohler 725cc twin cylinder engine
Steering wheel provides control on steep hills and slippery terrain
This mower isn’t as heavy as the others we’ve suggested for hilly terrain, but the steering wheel steering system makes up for that loss of traction. At just over three thousand bucks, it also costs a lot less than the other two hill-capable mowers on this list.
Best Zero Turn Mowers Under $3,000
For most residential consumers, heavy duty, commercial grade zero turn lawnmowers aren’t really necessary. A much more basic mower that allows users to speed up their lawn care routine while not breaking the budget is much more relevant to most of the general public. The following three mowers offer all the necessary features while remaining under $3,000.
Husqvarna 967323903 V-Twin 724
At under $2,800, this Husqvarna mower will give you all of the quality of more expensive Husqvarna products in a smaller, more budget-friendly package. The 46 inch frame is perfect for normal residential sized yards, and the superior maneuverability will allow you much greater speeds than a traditional tractor riding lawn mower.
What we like:
13 gauge stamped steel cutting deck
Three anti scalping roller wheels to prevent damage to your lawn
This mower contains all the features that make zero turn mowers fantastic products. Ergonomic control panel, intuitive steering, and powerful motors that allow you to cut through large swaths of grass quickly are all included in this smaller machine, and its perfect for a consumer on a tight budget.
Ariens Zoom 34
The Ariens Zoom 34, despite being a name that most people recognize, offers a plethora of features despite only having a 34 inch deck. It keeps price down by having a smaller engine at only 19 horsepower, but it’s more than enough to power the smaller frame.
What we like:
Extremely affordable despite having all the necessary features
34 inch frame is perfect for small to medium sized yards
Smooth slip free handling
Kohler 19 horsepower engine
The Zoom 34 won’t blow you away with power or speed, but it is a small machine that will cut small to medium sized yards with precision. With a price of less than $2,700, it’s also great for those who are budget conscious. With such a small size, it’s also going to be easier to store. It doesn’t sound like such a big feature, but it can be pretty frustrating to park a huge lawn mower in a garage.
Poulan Pro P46ZX
The Poulan Pro P46ZX is a powerful machine for costing so little. It has a 46 inch deck but includes a 22 horsepower v-twin pro engine, far more powerful than some of the other mowers of this price. The features don’t stop there, though--it has a large 3.5 gallon fuel tank and an included 10 year warranty for the cut deck.
What we like:
A powerful 22 HP motor allows speedy operation
EZT transmission and electric clutch
High quality steel build
This Poulan Pro mower doesn’t ride like it costs just under $2,700. It’s motor feels like it belongs in a much higher costing machine, and it will make quick work of the medium to large sized residential jobs you throw at it . The Poulan Pro P46ZX proves that quality doesn’t have to come at the expense of your budget.
Purchasing one of the best zero turn mower will definitely change the way you look at lawn care projects. Instead of a chore, mowing your lawn will be almost effortless, and the precision and speed which zero turn mowers operate with will cut down on time spent edging and weed eating, as well.
In this guide, we went over three potential scenarios that you may be in the market for a zero turn mower for.
For residential uses, we think the Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 offers the most for your money, and it’s able to handle intense residential jobs.
For cutting grass on a hilly terrain, look no further than the Husqvarna MZ61, which has a 27 horsepower engine that will give all power you need while handling jobs on steep terrain.
For budget-friendly mowers, we suggest the Poulan Pro P46ZX, which is able to feature a 46 inch cut deck and a 22 horsepower v-twin motor without breaking the bank.
It’s easy to see why the best zero turn mowers are gaining popularity so quickly among residential customers. They shorten the time it takes to cut your lawn and leave a professional looking finish that will certainly be noticeable. We hope that this guide helped you in your search for one of these helpful machines.
For another awesome product that help you maintain the best looking lawn around, check out our Best Lawn Roller article.