With prices dropping, more people are exploring the possibility of buying a zero-turn mower.
How to know if a zero-turn mower is right for you:
Is your time at a premium?
A zero-turn mower cuts more grass in less time than a conventional riding mower or lawn tractor. The time saved may be well worth the added cost. The ability to mow in reverse means you do not have to turn completely around to cut a small strip of grass you missed.
Do you have an acre or more of land to cut?
A high quality zero turn lawn mower cuts large areas quickly and easily, leaving you more time for other things.
Does the land contain obstacles such as trees, stumps, bushes, flowerbeds, or vegetable gardens?
The ability to make tight 360-degree turns allows you to maneuver around obstacles with little effort. Add in comfort, performance, speed, durability, and overall versatility, and a zero-turn mower presents an impressive package.
When choosing a zero-turn mower, keep in mind your specific needs.
- A large deck gives you the ability to cut large areas quickly, but a smaller deck offers greater maneuverability around obstacles.
- Look for a combination of strength and durability: a solid frame, a high horsepower engine, and corrosion resistance.
- A high-back adjustable seat with plenty of legroom, ergonomic hand grips, and a comfortable ride goes a long way to making your job easier.
- Ask about low maintenance features like maintenance-free spindles and a hinged floor pan.
Ohio State University tested a number of zero-turn mowers for the quality of their cut using the side discharge, mulching, and bagging. The mowers tested were the Ariens ICON X 52, the Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZT1 54, the Husqvarna Z 254, the Hustler RAPTOR 52, the John Deere Z355 E, and the Toro TimeCutter SS 5000.
The test used a combination of ryegrass, fescue, and bluegrass. They evaluated evenness of the cut, overall appearance, visible ridges, visible surface clippings, and the appearance of the grass the following day.
The Cub Cadet beat out all of the other mowers. Using side discharge, the testers noted the even cut and uniform distribution of clippings. Mulching, the Cub Cadet had better cut appearance with fewer uncut pieces. Bagging, the Cub Cadet completely filled the bag.
While most zero-turn mowers use lever controls and require a learning curve, the Cub Cadet Z-Force and RZT Series have old-fashioned steering wheels, turning all four wheels at once for the utmost in maneuverability.
All Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers have heavy gauge steel decks and ergonomically designed high-back seats.
The S/SX series, for yards up to 5 acres, features a steering wheel and amazing maneuverability with unequaled stability on uneven terrain. Its attributes include a 19-inch high-back seat and a forward speed of 7 mph.
The Ultima Series features a continuous square tubular frame for maximum strength and durability, 20 and 24-inch fully adjustable seats, lever-operated steering and forward speeds of 7 to 7.5 mph.
The Ultima Series ZT uses 11-gauge fabricated steel with the ZT1 using 13-gauge stamped steel. The ZT series is intended for yard sizes of up to 5 acres.
The Ultima Series ZTX, recommended for yard sizes of up to 12 acres, has a 10-gauge AeroForce Max fabricated steel 1.5-inch x 3-inch frame, double plate reinforced spindle mounts, and 7-gauge side wraps with a skid plate.