What are the best zero-turn mowers?

A zero-turn mower has a turning radius of zero — they’re maneuverable and fast. Zero-turn mowers, also called ZTRs, have no steering wheel. In its place is a pair of handles. Push them forward and you go forward. Pull back on the handles and your mower goes backward. Push one handle forward while pulling the other back and it turns in tight circles. 

Zero-turn mowers have no gas or brake pedals, either. Instead, the same two handles that control the direction also control the acceleration and braking. Push the handles farther forward and the mower goes faster. Pull back on the handles and it stops.

Is a zero-turn mower right for you?

Zero-turn mower pros

  • You’ll spend less time mowing: Ride-on zero-turn mowers are made to cut large open spaces quickly. They mow about twice as fast as suburban lawn tractors.
  • Greater efficiency: With shorter mow times, you use less fuel and your equipment lasts longer.
  • Greater maneuverability: Because they can turn in such tight circles, zero-turn mowers are ideal for lawns with trees. Regular riding mowers can’t make tight turns, so they waste lots of time and fuel.  Zero-turn mowers can cut around even the smallest trees in one tight circle.
  • Wider cuts: Zero-turn mowers’ decks are bigger. Combined with their higher speeds, you spend half the time mowing the lawn that you would with a riding lawn tractor.
  • The view is great: The operator can see more from the higher vantage point, so the mowing is more precise. It’s more efficient, too, because you don’t get the overlaps and gaps you see left by suburban lawn tractors going up and down rows.

Zero-turn mower cons

  • The learning curve: Humans are accustomed to controlling motorized vehicles with a steering wheel that turns both the front wheels in the same direction at the same time. Learning to use lap bars to steer, accelerate and brake takes a bit of practice.
  • Less traction: Zero-turn mowers have only two powered wheels. Some lawn tractors have four-wheel drive.
  • They’re more expensive: Expect their prices to be somewhere around half again higher than comparable lawn tractors.

What to look for in a zero-turn mower

Deck width

Wider decks let you cut a wider swath so you make fewer passes. Smaller decks are more maneuverable, especially in tight spots. 

Deck strength

Forged and fabricated decks are stronger than decks that are stamped. The thicker the deck, the more durable it is.

Horsepower

More power means higher speeds. Higher speeds mean you spend less time mowing.

Cutting heights

The more adjustment choices you have, the better you can set the exact mower height you want for your conditions.

Comfort

Armrests and seats with back supports reduce operator fatigue while soaking up some of the bumps and bounces.

Best gas zero-turn riding mowers

Top large zero-turn mower

DeWalt Z260 60-Inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

DeWalt Z260 60-Inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: The 60-inch cutting deck makes short work of lawns up to 10 acres.

What you’ll love: The 24-horsepower Kawasaki engine drives the high-torque transmission to power your mower at speeds up to 9 mph. You can easily dial any one of 17 mowing heights with the intuitive deck controls. The fully adjustable high-back seat with armrests is designed for operator comfort.

What you should consider: Some buyers say a better seat would be nice.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top medium-size zero-turn mower

Toro TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

Toro TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: You get a smooth, comfortable ride, even over bumpy ground with the MyRide suspension system.

What you’ll love: The 22.5-horsepower engine and 50-inch forged deck are the ideal combination for mowing yards up to 4 acres. Mow at a steady pace with any of three preset speeds: 4, 5.5 or 7 mph. 

What you should consider: Some wish the large drive wheels had treads for better grip.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top budget zero-turn mower

Cub Cadet ZT-1 Zero Turn Riding Mower

Cub Cadet ZT-1 Zero Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: The Aeroforce cutting system delivers finer clippings, fewer clumps and a more even cut.

What you’ll love: The 23 horsepower twin cylinder engine, rear-wheel transmission and 50-inch mower deck deliver mowing speeds of 7.5 mph forward and 3.5 in reverse. The rugged tubular steel frame is coated to guard against corrosion and the 50-inch deck adjusts for cutting heights from 1 to 4.5 inches.

What you should consider: The battery takes four hours to fully charge.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top Briggs and Stratton zero-turn mower

Toro TimeCutter 15.5 Horsepower Briggs and Stratton Riding Mower

Toro TimeCutter 15.5 Horsepower Briggs and Stratton Riding Mower

What you need to know: Mow in tight spots with this space-saving mower with a 42-inch mowing deck.

What you’ll love: It has a storage cubby for your phone, keys and wallet, along with cup holders and a front step-through for the operator’s convenience. Mow at 4, 5.5 and 7 mph, all with the same blade tip speed. Get peace of mind from the three-year residential warranty that includes unlimited hours,

What you should consider: An hour meter would make it easier to keep on a maintenance schedule.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Best electric zero-turn riding mowers

Top large electric zero-turn mower 

Ryobi 54-inch Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower

Ryobi 54-inch Electric Zero Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: You can cut up to 3.5 acres on a single charge. 

What you’ll love: Five brushless motors provide superior power for this quiet, smooth electric mower. The 54-inch heavy-duty steel deck adjusts for cut heights from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. You get ergonomic control handles, armrests and two cup holders. A 40-volt Ryobi string trimmer is included at no extra charge. 

What you should consider: Some buyers wished the mower battery charged more quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top medium-size electric zero-turn mower 

Cub Cadet 42-Inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

Cub Cadet 42-Inch  Zero Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: You get six 56-volt lithium batteries and a 2-hour recharge from the industry’s fastest charger.

What you’ll love: Cut up to two acres on a single charge at up to 7 miles an hour using control, standard and sport driving modes. You can choose from side discharge, mulching or bagging with this mower that has the equivalent of 22 horsepower.

What you should consider: Some buyers struggled with uncrating their mower..

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top robotic electric zero-turn mower 

Worx Landroid Robotic Electric Zero Turn Mower

Worx Landroid Robotic Electric Zero Turn Mower

What you need to know: This fully automated robotic mower is controlled by an app on your smartphone and has a turning radius of zero just like the ride-on zero-turn mowers. 

What you’ll love: The highly efficient brushless motor runs on 20-volt batteries and is compatible with all Worx-brand power tools. It comes with 820 feet of boundary wire, has good ground clearance on uneven terrain. When it needs a charge, it comes back to the docking station.

What you should consider: To do its best, this little robot needs a flat lawn.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

 

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