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How to Choose the Best Zero-Turn Mower For A Professionally Landscaped Look

What is a zero-turn mower?  It is basically the mini version size of a tractor that is usually made for residential properties.  People typically get a zero-turn mower because they have a larger property, or just like its features, such as driving the mower and getting the job done that way.

Zero-Turn Mower

Remember not to confuse the zero-turn mower to a lawn tractor. They are similar but they have different qualities. Today we will be talking about riding zero-turn mowers and everything about them.

Top Picks

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero-turn Mower

“I looked up the Kawasaki engine specs, and the torque is high even at slower speeds.” *customer review*

Craftsman Z525 Zero-turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower

“Featuring a powerful Craftsman gas engine, this zero-turn has the mowing power suitable for larger yard jobs while its auto choke capabilities provide a quick and efficient start.”

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero-turn Riding Mower

“With a rugged fabricated steel deck that is mulch and collection capable, the MZ is practical for all of your property maintenance needs.”

Best Eco Friendly Zero-turn Mower-RYOBI 42 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Riding Zero-turn Mower

“Powered by 100 Ah Batteries and 4 High-Powered Brushless Motors, this mower can cut up to 3 acres on a single charge”

Ariens IKON XD 60 inch 23 HP (Kawasaki) Zero-turn Mower

“With a solid tubular frame and a wide range of cutting sizes, the IKON XD brings power and flexibility to all yard sizes.”

Husqvarna Z254F 54 in. 23 HP Kawasaki Zero Hydrostatic Turn Riding Mower

“Hydrostatic, no-maintenance transmission is worry-free, empowering the mower to take on a variety of cutting conditions.”

How to Decide if a Zero-Turn Mower is for You

There are a few factors in deciding if a zero-turn mower is for you.  Do you like pushing the mower? Or do you like riding the mower, getting the job done quickly.  You’ve done some research online, trying to decide which mower you’d like to buy and now ready to make a decision if investing in a zero-turn mower is for you or not.

Zero-turn mowers are relatively new in the history of mowers (came out in 1949) and every year there seems to be more and more accessories that you can add to the riding mower. For example, mulching capabilities, collection systems, new blade attachments and more.  These days you can even get a sun canopy attachment for your zero-turn mower so that you don’t sunburnt while mowing your lawn.

Size of your land

If you have over an acre of land, a zero-turn mower makes sense.  Why? It’s because of the time it takes to mow the lawn and the zero-turn mower is just better at cutting thicker grass/weeds that you may have missed.

Convenience

If you’re super tired and don’t feel like pushing the traditional mower, a zero-turn mower is certainly for you.  You can sit there and maneuver the mower in difficult areas which we will discuss next. 

Curves

With a push mower, it’s extremely difficult to maneuver around trees, bushes, flowerbeds because it doesn’t have the dual-hydrostatic transmission that the zero-turn mowers have.  You can turn a sharp corner anytime with a zero-turn mower, where with a push mower you can’t.

Easier control

If you know how to drive a car, you can drive a zero-turn mower.   The wheel is easy to use and you put your foot on the gas pedal.  However, using the mower, you’ll have to learn how to use the levers and such to make sure you are going at the right speeds.

Speed

Can you imagine trying to cut your 1+ acre with just a push mower? That would take ages and that’s where the riding mower would come in because a riding mower is powerful, therefore, making it faster.  The reason it’s faster is because it has horsepower, whereas a push mower does not have that. Some riding mowers are faster than others depending on the horsepower.

Saving gas

You don’t use as much gas on a zero-turn mower than if you did with a push mower.  Why? Because you are getting the job done, faster. Therefore, you are saving gas money to refill the tank.

Cost

A zero-turn mower will typically be more expensive than the cheap gas push mowers. Why? It’s because the zero-turn mowers are using two hydrostatic transmissions which is pricey on its own.  Zero-turn mowers also have larger engines, decks, frames and way more steel than their push power counterparts.

While it costs more, you’ll be saving more money in the long run because you are literally cutting your mowing time in half and that means you’re saving gas. You’re also saving money on the wear and tear, because you are operating the mower less. So, it will be painful at first when you invest in a zero-turn mower, but over the years, you will realize how much money you’ve saved because of these reasons.

The Best Time to Mow Your Lawn

Many people actually mow the lawn while they have free time in the evening. But there is a perfect time to mow the grass. Why is it important to know the optimal time to mow your grass? Unless you are an expert, you probably don’t know when the absolutely best time is to mow. Let’s take a look at the time of the day to do so:

Earliest in the morning

Some people want to wake up and mow their lawns early.  But the grass is very wet from the morning mildew and it may affect the zero-turn mower’s performance or expose the lawn to disease unintentionally.

Lunchtime

This is one of the best times to mow your land because most of the mildew will be gone. Also it’s not too hot where the lawn or your land will be burned, and it’s not too hot for yourself.

In the afternoon

This is your second opportunity to mow your lawn if you were too tired to get up in the morning.  Later in the day is much better because it’s no longer the hottest part of the day and it’s just before the evening where the lawn can get ready to heal at night.

Late evening

This is the time of day where everyone prefers to mow their lawns because they have just gotten off work or whichever they were doing during the day. But as the evening sets in, so do mildew. You can literally make your lawn sick because you will have exposed them to diseases caused by the mildew.

Bottom Line

It’s very clear that there are 2 optimal times to mow your lawn, which is mid-morning and the afternoon.  Those two times of the day ensure the lawn stays healthy while you mow your lawn. Midday could be a good time but only if you don’t have a lot to mow, but assuming that you do, the mid-morning and afternoon outweighs that as far as optimal times.

Best zero-turn mowers

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero-turn Mower

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The Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52″ Zero-turn Mower runs on 23 HP, so that means you’ll be able to mow your lawn/land at a decent speed. It also has a 52” fabricated deck which is 4 ½” deep and made of 11-gauge steel.

This model is made out of tubular steel frame and has a highchair with armrests to make mowing comfortable. It is made with Kawasaki engine, a brand that’s extremely popular with engines so you know it will be reliable. If you live in a somewhat hilly area (no more than 20 degrees slope), this mower will get you up and down without any issue.

Pros:

  • Kawasaki engine
  • Sturdy
  • Reliable
  • Can go up some hills

Cons:

  • Some buyers reported quality issues

Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower

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The Craftsman Z525 Zero-turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower has a 46” deck. The deck can cut, trim and clip grass in one quick sweep.  The deck wash, which is one of the features, helps save a lot of time when underside cleaning the mower.

The Craftsman mower can turn in 360 easily and even continue mowing grass if you are in reverse.  The Craftsman also has a comfortable seat to help make mowing comfortable if you are stuck doing it for hours.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Reverse mowing

Cons:

  • Some buyers have reported issues with starting

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

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The Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic Zero-turn Riding Mower is one of the most expensive mowers on our list, but we’ll tell you why. The entire frame is made out of steel so you can be rest assured that it’s durable. It has a 11-gauge steel cutting deck with 54” cut.   That means you can cut a wide area smoothly and effectively.  This model also has an easy lifting system to help lift the deck so you can waste no time mowing your lawn/land.

This zero-turn mower runs at 27 HP, so it supplies plenty of speed.  This model has a comfortable seat with armrest, foam padded grips and vibration dampeners so that you can be comfortable mowing if you’re going to be mowing hours on end.  You can choose to buy a mulching kit and bagger attachment (which is not included with this mower) to deal with the clippings easily.  This particular model also has an hour meter that gives you a service reminder to service this mower which is very cool.  A 9 bushel collection system is also included with this mower, which makes it easier to get rid of the clippings.

Pros:

  • Speed
  • Wider and smooth cuts
  • Comfortable seating
  • Easy to control
  • Service meter

Cons:

  • Buyers have reported quality issues

RYOBI 42 in. 100 Ah Battery Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower

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The RYOBI 42” Battery Electric mower is our only electric zero-turn mower in our top picks for a reason. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it has a 100-ah battery which means you can mow 3 acres on a single charge. That’s right, you can mow that much space without emissions.   This model is equipped with a 42” steel deck and 2 steel blades to make clear and concise cuts when you’re mowing with this model. It also includes 12 position manual deck adjustments, so that you don’t have to worry about running over branches. It also comes with 4 high power brushless motors.  When adjusting the height with this model, you can expect to adjust it from 1.5 in to 4.5 in.

The RYOBI is quiet (which is expected for electric mowers) and it features a led display that will let you know how much power it has before dying. The mower can be charged into a 120-volt outlet (which is standard) and you charge the mower from the rear.

Pros:

  • Eco friendly
  • 3 acres on 1 charge
  • Quiet

Cons:

  • Some buyers reported quality issues.

Ariens IKON XD 60 inch 23 HP

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The Ariens IKON XD 60 inch 23 HP zero-turn mower is another mower by the Ariens brand that has a Kawasaki engine.  It features a 60” cutting width which means you’ll be able to cut a large area of grass in a shorter amount of time.  It has a solid tubular frame, with a high back seat that’s very comfortable for the operator.

This zero-turn mower is durable and has a speed of 23 HP. That means you’ll be able to get a lot done in a short amount of time. It can cut between 1.5-4.5 inches of grass depending on your setting.  This model is recommended for flat surfaces only so that is something to keep in mind when making your decision.  It also has the ability to mulch and bag, but those kits are sold separately from this mower.

Pros

  • Wide range of cutting areas
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Can’t climb hills, even a small “hilly area”
  • Buyers reported low quality

Husqvarna Z254F 54 in. 23 HP Kawasaki Zero Hydrostatic Turn Riding Mower

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The Husqvarna Z254F 54 in. 23 HP Kawasaki Zero Hydrostatic Turn Riding Mower boasts that it is low maintenance (which is always good when it comes to things like that) and has a speed of 6.5 MPH.  It also has a 54-inch cut, which is very wide and will get the job done quicker if you’re mowing acres of land.  This model also has a comfortable seat and a anti slip foot area to ensure you do not slide anywhere which is a plus because no matter what mower you’re riding, safety is always #1 priority.  It can cut 1.5-4 inches depending on settings.

This mower can have attachments such as the mulching and bagging kits (sold separately from the mower).  We can note that this mower does come with a 3-year warranty should there be any issues with it.

Pros:

  • Warranty
  • Kawasaki engine
  • Fast speed
  • Anti-slip foot area

Cons:

  • Buyers reported it “broke” after 1-2 times of usage

FAQ

What are the best zero-turn mowers?

You can see from our top picks that some of the best zero-turn mowers are built by Ariens, Craftsman, Husqvarna and RYOBI.  They have the quality that you expect from a zero-turn mower and all decently priced according to that.

What is the best zero-turn mower under $5000?

The Craftsman, which is already on our Top picks list, is the best zero-turn mower for the price of $2,699.  It’s affordable for most people who want a zero-turn mower without spending more than they wanted too.

Is it worth buying a zero-turn mower?

If you have a larger yard, or have acres of yard, yes, it is worth buying a zero-turn mower.

Who makes the best 42 zero-turn mower?

You can see from our top picks, that in our opinion, the RYOBI 42” zero-turn mower is one of the best. Why? Because not only is it environmentally friendly (it is electric), but it is also one of the easiest to maintain.

In Conclusion

So, if you are in the market looking for a brand new (or even used) zero-turn mowers, consider the needs of your property and of course your budget.   You’ll want to make sure you invest in the right zero-turn mower, because if you buy one, and you can’t go up a hill, you’ll have that resentful feeling because you didn’t do the research. Take that opportunity to look for a new zero-turn mower and remember to consider your property needs.  A small yard really doesn’t need a zero-turn mower because you can easily get the job done with the push mower. But if you have over ½ acre, a zero-turn mower may be perfect for you.