Considering a zero-turn lawn mower? Here are some reasons to buy one, or skip them entirely and get a conventional mower.
What Are Zero-Turn Mowers?
Normal riding lawn mowers and lawn tractors have a 2- to 3-foot turning radius, which makes cutting your lawn a slow process with a lot of reversing. Zero-turn mowers can spin in place without the need for wide turns.
Zero-turn mowers are controlled like a tank instead of like a car.
In A Hurry?
Here are the five advantages of a zero-turn lawn mower.
- Control: A zero-turn mower gives you the ability to mow in any pattern you want. With a zero-turn mower, you can mow around trees, flower beds, or other obstacles with ease. This includes cutting on a diagonals, like they do on baseball fields.
- Maneuverability: With a zero-turn mower, you no longer have to make large, wide turns to navigate around obstacles.
- Ease of Use: A zero-turn mower is lightweight and simple to operate. You can easily maneuver the mower around obstacles and tight areas.
- Safety: A zero-turn mower is low to the ground. You can easily see what’s in front of the mower.
- Convenience: With a zero-turn mower, you can mow a much larger area in a shorter amount of time.
How Does A Zero-Turn Mower Work?
The zero-turn radius allows you to zip around your lawn quickly and easily. But what makes this possible?
The key to this maneuverability is the turning wheels in the back and pivoting wheels in the front. The turning wheels can spin in the same direction to move forward or backward. They can also spin in opposite directions so that you can turn in your current location. This means a turn can be reduced to a 180-degree turn around.
You can also do wide turns (larger radius turns) with a zero-turn mower, you simple push one of the handles less than the other.
So if moving forward requires pushing both handled forward and spinning in place is pushing one forward and pulling one backward, a wide turn could be pushing one handle forward and the other forward half way.
Spinning in place is the key though, as it means you never need to reverse. As any tractor owner can tell you: without the need to reverse, you can mow your lawn much faster. A zero-turn mower is also easier to maneuver around obstacles such as trees and flowerbeds at speed and it never gets trapped in corners.
Keep in mind that not all zero-turn mowers will be able to mow when you are spinning or reversing. You’ll want to look for the “mow-in-reverse” feature before you buy.
What Are the Disadvantages of Zero-Turn Mowers?
The biggest disadvantage of a zero-turn mower is the cost. A zero-turn mower is more expensive than a regular riding mower and considerable more than a walk-behind more.
Another disadvantage is that the mower is harder to control when you’re mowing on hills.
There is an added safety fact that you likely never though of before when mowing your lawn: zero-turn mower can flip over if you are using them on a very steep grade, particularly if you turn too fast. This a rare thing, but it’s not impossible. OSHA has all the details you need about using a mower on a slope.
You’ll notice that some zero-turn mowers have roll bars on top of them. This isn’t so much because they are likely to turn over, but rather that they can turn over and their weight and width means that there is a crush hazard if there is a rider on it when it does flip. The roll bars help prevent injury to the rider if a flip occurs.
Most zero-turn mowers are sold with some form of roll bar, but some owners remove them.
How Do I Choose a Zero-Turn Mower?
This is going to be a big decision because of the price of the mower, but you’ll want to consider:
- the size of your lawn (hence the width of the mower)
- type of grass (clover, weeds, etc.) you have
- how often you’ll use the mower
- how you will store and transport the mower
- conditions when mowing, for instance if the lawn will often be wet
If you have a large yard with a lot trees, you should consider getting a zero-turn mower, but choosing the right one should be based on more that the price!
For example, if you are a home owner (not a lawn care professional), you are cutting under 2 acres of grass, and you have a $3000 budget, you might consider the popular John Deere Z335E.
Why do some zero-turn mowers have roll bars?
These mowers have roll bars or roll-over protective structure (ROPS) in order to prevent injury to rider if a flip were to occur. Flips are possible when using the mower on a steep grade, usually when turning. These mowers can also go quite quickly, which means gradual turns are required — high speeds combined with sharp turns can also lead to flips, even on flat ground.