Should You Buy a Zero-Turn Mower?


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Zero turn mowers can seem a little intimidating at first but they have been a massive game changer for the mowing industry. If you haven’t driven a zero-turn mower, it’s certainly a difference experience and a lot of fun.

Once you go zero-turn, there’s no going back!

Zero turn mowers have a turning radius that’s close to zero degrees. This gives them excellent maneuverability to get around tricky obstacles in your yard. ZTR’s are fast too!

Let’s cover some more benefits and drawbacks of zero turn mowers.

Benefits

  • Zero turn mowers are excellent for large yards. If you’ve got over a few acres of grass to cut, you can reduce your mowing time into a fraction of what it would take with a riding mower.
  • Excellent maneuverability – It’s great for getting around different obstacles that you may have in your yard like shrubs and flower beds. They are very efficient to reduce the time you spend on the mower.
  • Zero turn mowers have excellent visibility. When you’re sitting in the operator’s seat, it’s easy to see out.

Drawbacks

  • These can be a little hard to operate if you’re not used to it. Don’t be surprised if it feels a bit overwhelming on your first couple of mows.
  • Its critical that you keep both of the wheels moving when making your turns. If you end up locking one of the wheels, you’re going to end up tearing up the grass in your yard.
  • You purchase a zero-turn mower to mow the grass and that’s about all you can do with it. You’re not going to get many attachments for this type of mower.
  • They don’t work great on steep slopes. If you’re wanting to mow on a hill with a zero-turn mower, you’re going to struggle with traction and it’s not uncommon for the wheels to raise up off the ground.

Factors to consider when buying a zero-turn mower

  • Dealer support
  • Comfort
  • Price
  • Design
  • Durability

You can get all different types from consumer grade zero turn mowers to commercial grade.

In terms of the design, you’ll want to look out for…

  • Cutting Width
  • Horsepower
  • Cylinders
  • Fuel Tank

Buying a zero-turn mower for lawn business or personal use

If you’re considering whether to get a zero-turn mower or not, you should consider what you’re going to be using it for.

If you’re running a lawn care business, you’ll certainly want to go with a zero-turn. There’s almost nothing as important to your business than getting a ZTR because they are just so much more efficient than other mower types.

If you’re just wanting to use a ZTR for your own yard, that’s fine too. Just know that they are quite pricey and you might not necessarily need one if your lawn is quite small.

Make sure you’re going to get the use out of any piece of equipment you buy. If you already have the customer base for it, then go ahead but don’t be spending your money on something that you’re not going to use a lot.

Zero turn mowers – Ride On vs Stander vs walk behind

Ride On

  • The ride on zero turn mower is probably the most popular option.
  • With this type, you’re going to get a large frame.
  • These tend to be the most powerful with a good ground speed.
  • The most obvious benefit is that you get to sit down. If you’re mowing large yards and you’re going to be out there for a long time, the ride on is going to be the most comfortable option.
  • They do well on hills.
  • One downside is that a ride on mower is going to take up more space than a stander or a walk behind, so it might become a little more problematic if you’re going to be using a trailer.

Stander

  • Stander mowers are the most compact so they’re great for putting on a trailer or getting in tight spots in a yard.
  • They are less stable on hills.
  • They are great for hopping on and off quickly. If you have to open up a gate, or remove an obstacle, you can quickly jump on and off without turning the mower off.
Top 4 Lawn Trends x
Top 4 Lawn Trends

Walk behind

  • Walk behind mowers are very versatile.
  • They tend to be lighter in weight.
  • They are usually cheaper.
  • Perform great on hills.

What zero turn mower should you get?

Again, it really depends on what your budget is…

The larger mowers tend to be more expensive. If you’ve got a $10k budget, then you’re going to be able to get the top of a range mower, but if you’re only working with $3k, you’re going to have to look at things differently.

In general, I’d recommend starting out with something between 48” to 54”. If you know you’re going after large properties, you might be better off with a 60” or a 72” mower.

If you’re just starting out a lawn care business, it’s best to avoid going into debt if possible so you should choose something that stays in budget.

Here are some of the most popular brands for zero turns.

  • Exmark
  • Scag
  • Hustler
  • Gravely

Of course, each of these have high to low end commercial and residential models.

New vs used

There are advantages to buying retail. You’re much more likely to get a good warranty and the equipment will be new so there’s less risk of something going wrong.

I’d personally rather get something that is slight used. It drops the price significantly and you can often find great deals out there.

You’ll have to weigh up the number of hours a mower and how old it is. I’d rather choose something that has around a couple hundred hours on it. If you go with something that has a lot of hours, you can run into difficulties with down time or maintenance expenses.

If you’re going to buy used, it’s good to understand the market before you make a purchase. Try and get an understanding of what the going rate is for different zero turn mowers.

What are the alternatives to a zero-turn mower?

If you’re not going to purchase a zero-turn mower, the obvious choice would be a lawn tractor.

  • Riding mowers are usually easier to operate than zero turn mowers. They have traditional steering wheels.
  • With a riding mower, you’re not limited to cutting grass. You can get different attachments for it too.
  • Riding mowers are more stable – no risk of tipping.

If you’re going to buy a zero-turn mower…

If you’re interested in a used ZTR, the off season can be the best time to start looking. During this time, less people are looking to upgrade their own equipment for the summer ahead.

Some of the best places to look for used zero-turn mowers are:

  • Facebook marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • Buy sell trade

Remember that if you do choose a larger mower, you also need a solution for the smaller properties so you might want to consider getting multiple mowers in the future if you wish to expand grow a lawn care business.

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