How to Choose a Zero-Turn Mower

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Types of Zero-Turn Mowers

A zero-turn mower is a riding lawn mower that is often called a z-turn. It is a standard mower that has a turning radius of essentially zero. Each zero-turn mower will achieve that “zero” in a different way, although it is most commonly achieved by controlling each drive wheel with the hydraulic speed.

Most z-turn mowers are more expensive than standard riding lawn mowers, and they typically have four, sometimes five, wheels. As a general rule, there are four types of zero-turn lawn mowers, and they are:

Entry-level z-turn

These are good for large residential yards and people who try to mow the lawn every week. They are reasonably priced because they tend to have fewer features and less power in the engine, but they are good for standard mowing jobs.

Mid-grade z-turn

These are perfect for people whose yards are more than one acre in size. They are more powerful and durable than the standard entry-level z-turn mowers.

Semi-pro z-turn

These z-turn mowers are often used by professional landscaping companies that need them every day. They have larger decks and bigger transmissions than either entry-level or mid-grade mowers, and they are made out of much stronger materials.

Commercial z-turn

With the largest decks, most powerful motors, and the highest-quality materials, these are made for landscaping pros that have to cut very large areas on a daily basis.

As you can see, finding the right z-turn lawn mower is easier than you think, especially because you have so many of them to choose from.

Deck Sizes

Your deck size is the width of the cutting surface found just below the mower, and it is measured in inches. Deck sizes usually range from 42 inches to 72 inches, and you can decide which one is best for you based on several factors. For instance, consider how much land you need to mow, how often you mow, and how difficult the terrain is to mow, and this should help you decide which size to purchase.

As an example, a one- to two-acre plot that you only mow once a week doesn’t need a 72-inch deck size, while mowing more than two acres a few times a week may need a deck size of more than 48 inches. Finally, deciding if you’re going to be using it for your home or for commercial purposes can help you find the best deck size in the end.

Remember that the wider your deck size is, the more area you can mow at one time and the faster the job will get done. Because of this, most smaller yards can make do with smaller deck sizes, and vice versa. There is just no need to buy a z-turn mower with a huge 72-inch deck size when you’ll only be cutting an acre of grass once a week.


When you go shopping for your z-turn mower, some of the brands will start to become familiar to you. Some of the many brands that make z-turn mowers include:

  • Ariens
  • Craftsman
  • Cub Cadet
  • Husqvarna
  • John Deere
  • Snapper
  • Swisher
  • Toro
  • Troy-Bilt

When you start to notice the same brand over and over in different Internet searches, this is a sign that that particular brand is a good one.


Durability is naturally important when choosing a z-turn mower. Some of the things you can look for include four-ply-rated tires, durable and high-quality components, and a strong cutting deck.

The more expensive models will naturally have more durable parts, but keep in mind that as long as you choose the right brand, do your due diligence, and research the mower you’re considering buying, you shouldn’t be disappointed with your choice.

Deck Construction

This is where a little research online will do you some good. The longevity of your z-turn mower is affected by a lot of things, one of them being the materials the cutting deck is made out of. In many mowers, the cutting deck is made out of reinforced heavy flat-stock steel or some type of 12-gauge steel to ensure that it will last a long time. In other words, you want your cutting deck to be made out of some type of steel so that it can withstand everything that you put it through and keep on going.

Remember that stamped decks are lighter and best for light yard work and fabricated decks are best for heavy-duty or commercial use. Stamped decks are also more affordable, and fabricated decks are most often found on mid-range and pro-grade z-turn mowers.

Engine Design

The engine in your z-turn mower makes a difference because this is what makes your mower operate the way it should. As a general rule, you shouldn’t waste your time on an engine with less than 20 HP simply because they either don’t last that long or they can leave spots of grass uncut or not cut low enough. If you’re a business owner who cuts large estates or commercial properties, you’ll need a minimum of 24 HP or the job will be too inconvenient.

Fortunately, many of the models on the market today have a standard 25 HP engine, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a z-turn mower that will take good care of your yard.

And in addition to the engine, take a look at your transmission as well. You should choose a transmission that is a hydrostatic one if possible, which means that it uses hydraulic fluids in order to switch gears and to get power to those drive shafts. Hydrostatic transmissions have three main advantages. First, they provide plenty of power when you need it, even for jobs that are tougher in nature. Second, they will not burn out quickly, meaning that you can keep the transmission for a very long time without replacing it. And third, a hydrostatic transmission has an efficient clutch that is usually much more low-maintenance than a regular transmission, saving you a lot of money through the years.


A comfortable z-turn mower is not just one with a comfortable seat. You also have to look at the controls and levers. Controls that are ergonomically designed are much more comfortable than those that aren’t because they reduce the amount of hand fatigue and pain you might experience while you’re operating the mower. Grips that are soft and ergonomic are the best ones because they allow you to operate the machine with little effort on your part.

In addition to all of this, the mower should have controls and levers that allow you to change any of the settings on your mower without getting out of your settings to reach any of your switches or levers. In other words, operating the mower and the settings on the mower should be simple and fast and not require a lot of awkward movement on your part.

Ease of Use

With the right ergonomic designs, a good z-turn lawn mower is going to be easy to use, but there are other things to check out as well. For instance, the setting you use that determines how low your blade will go and which determines how short you’ll be cutting the grass needs to be easy to adjust. Many people find that they change that setting from low to high, or vice versa, on a fairly regular basis, so you’ll want that feat to be as simple as possible.

If you are mowing hilly or tough terrain, you might want to consider getting a commercial z-turn mower because those usually have air-filled pneumatic tires, which means the tires grip the ground with ease and make the job a lot easier. Traits such as these go a long way in helping you operate the mower without it being difficult or cumbersome.


As you can imagine, the cost of a z-turn mower varies quite a bit, depending on the type and the features it has. Z-turn mowers range from just under $300 to $6000 or more. Keep in mind, though, that the ones made for personal use are normally very reasonably priced, so you usually don’t have to spend thousands of dollars just to get a good one.

Turning Radius

Because a z-turn mower has a turning radius of zero, you can make turns around tight corners very easily. This is important whether you’re using it for residential or commercial purposes. In fact, some push-behind lawn mowers also have a turning radius of zero, although this trait is normally associated with z-turn mowers only. A zero turning radius means that your lawn-mowing job will be faster and simpler, especially if you’re using it around a well-landscaped yard because the zero turning radius allows you to maneuver easily around bushes, flower gardens, and uneven terrains.

As you can see, a lot of different factors go into your decision to buy a zero-turn lawn mower. The first thing to do is determine if you’ll be using it for residential or commercial purposes, then do your due diligence so that you can decide which type and brand to choose. It really is a lot easier than you think.

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