What Is A Zero-Turn Mower?
A zero-turn mower is similar to a standard riding lawnmower. However, its turning radius is zero when the two drive wheels rotate in opposite directions. Most have 4 wheels: 2 driving wheels at the back, and 2 swiveling wheels at the front. They are known for their maneuverability and speed.
In this review, we take you through the basics of purchasing a zero-turn mower. We cover everything from what to consider to what they’re good for. We’ve reviewed 8 of the best on the market to help make your decision on what to get easier!
Key Things To Consider When Buying A Zero-Turn Mower
Mowing Area Size
If you have a large area to mow (2-4 acres), we recommend prioritizing a large cutter deck and a powerful and reliable motor. Although large decks might not maneuver as tightly as their smaller cousins, their cutting power and speed are unrivaled.
Hills And Rough Terrain
Although primarily designed to cut flat areas of grass, some zero-turn mowers handle contours better than others. If you have small hills to contend with, we recommend looking for a cutting deck with a lot of “float”. This enables it to move independently from the mower’s chassis, hug the ground, and maintain a consistent cut.
Commercial Or Residential Use
If you are purchasing a zero-turn mower for commercial use, you need to have some additional considerations in mind. Firstly, we would recommend looking for a powerful motor and wide cutter deck. After all, time is money when you’re running your business. You need to be able to mow large grass areas quickly and efficiently before moving on to the next job.
For the very best commercial zero-turn mowers, reliability will be a major concern. We recommend mowers from well-regarded commercial brands like John Deere, Ariens, and Husqvarna. As a residential buyer, you are unlikely to be working your equipment as much as a professional. You could save money by compromising on independent suspension and other features.
The 8 Best Zero Turn Mowers
Best All-round Zero Turn Mower
1. Ariens IKON-XL 52” 24hp Kohler 7000 Series
⤍ 24HP Kohler motor
⤍ Large 52” Floating mower deck
⤍ 4 ½” deep deck provides great airflow and minimal blockages
⤍ Dial-operated cut height
⤍ Large diameter tires
⤍ Electric PTO
Alongside with Husqvarna, Ariens has long been the professional’s choice when it comes to machinery, and the Icon XL follows in that tradition. With a large 52” cutting deck, this zero turn mower is aimed squarely at the premium residential and commercial markets – and although not the cheapest machine in our review it offers the kind of features you would come to expect from a brand like Ariens.
Fitted with a 24HP Kohler motor, this mower has plenty of power on tap for long mowing sessions, and with the 3-blade cutter deck, you can expect to make quick work of demanding mows. This machine is going to be a great choice when confronted with a wide variety of terrain, as the cutting deck features a full floating mechanism allowing it to hug the ground over different contours. This feature makes it our best zero turn mower with a floating deck.
The Ariens IKON-XL will be particularly appreciated by the commercial worker who finds themselves working across a wide variety of applications.
As one would expect from a brand like Ariens, this mower is equipped with dual ZT2800 Hydrostatic hydraulic transmissions, giving you efficient power transfer from the motor, great maneuverability, and low maintenance. This mower also features an electric PTO, which can be used to power a wide variety of accessories available.
In conclusion, the Ariens IKON-XL 52” will be a great fit for heavy residential and commercial use. With a large floating cutting deck, powerful motor, and robust chassis, this zero-turn mower will handle anything that you can throw at it. Sadly, this mower is no longer in production, but you can still get some through local dealers.
Best Residential Choice
2. Husqvarna Z254 54 In. 26 HP Kohler
⤍ Fast and lightweight – 6.5mph top speed from 26hp Kohler motor
⤍ Highly maneuverable with hydraulic transmission
⤍ Triple bladed 54” cutting deck for efficient mowing
⤍ Options to discharge, bag or mulch cuttings
⤍ High-end residential price point
The smaller cousin of the popular Z61, the Husqvarna Z254 has no shortage of fans itself. Equipped with a medium-sized 54” cutting deck, this mower is an excellent premium quality residential mower, offering many of the features of a commercial model in a smaller, more maneuverable, and ultimately more affordable package. In fact, it comes in as one of the smallest zero turn mowers in the review.
Like it’s bigger brother, this mower is fitted with a highly regarded hydrostatic transmission, offering a precision mowing experience with little maintenance to worry about. The smaller chassis may not handle rough terrain as well as larger models, but that comes with the added benefit of taking up less room in your garage.
Also noteworthy is the ability to bag, mulch, or simply discharge your cuttings, which can be hugely helpful in a residential environment where you might have a variety of mowing requirements around your property.
All in all, the Husqvarna Z254 offers a supremely powerful and reliable residential package for homeowners who demand the best.
Best Commercial Zero Turn Mower
3. Husqvarna MZ54F (24HP Kawasaki)
⤍ Highly rated Kawasaki motor
⤍ Precise & reliable hydrostatic transmission
⤍ Comfortable seat and handles for long sessions
⤍ Oversize chassis provides stability on rougher terrain
⤍ Medium-large 54” cutter deck for efficient mowing
⤍ Mulching and bagging options available
As an outstanding performer across all measures, the Husqvarna MZ54F Kawasaki 24HP is our clear favorite. With a medium to large 54-inch mower deck, this model is capable of the toughest residential work and even light commercial use. Equipped with a powerful yet reliable Kawasaki motor, there is plenty of power on tap to tackle hills and take care of large areas of grass quickly and efficiently. Power is nothing without efficient transmission though, and Husqvarna’s hydrostatic transmission offers precise maneuvering control with the added reliability of a professional-grade hydraulic system.
Husqvarna’s years of experience and attention to detail are even apparent in their cockpit specification. Fitted with a generous and comfortable high-backed seat, and foam vibration dampening on the handles, this mower is designed to be used comfortably for long periods. We were also delighted to see Husqvarna add their Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) to this unit – something often not found on cheaper consumer-level mowers. With all these great features it’s no wonder that the MZ54F is our best commercial zero turn mower for rough terrain.
All in all, this is an outstanding mower for all but the heaviest commercial uses, and why it is rated as our best commercial zero turn mower. We should note that there are two versions available, the one we reviewed here with the Kawasaki motor, and another model equipped with a Briggs & Stratton unit. We did encounter some mixed opinions of the Briggs & Stratton equipped version, despite it’s higher horsepower, so we would recommend you stick with the Kawasaki model.
4. Craftsman 17ARFACQ091 Hydrostatic Gas Mower
⤍ Powerful, affordable option
⤍ 50” cutting deck paired with 24HP Kohler Twin Cylinder Engine
⤍ Great maneurabulity
⤍ Optional mulching unit
⤍ Made in the United States
Produced by venerated US tool manufacturer Craftsman, the 17ARFACQ091 is a great value offering aimed at the residential market. Equipped with a 24HP Kohler Twin Cylinder Engine, this mower will have plenty of power available for all but the toughest residential applications. Paired with a medium-sized 50” cutting deck, owners can take advantage of efficient cutting whilst maintaining a high level of maneuverability and a compact package designed to fit into most regular-sized garages.
Featuring a 46″ steel deck with adjustable cutting heights and comfortable supported high-back seating, the precision driving experience offered by this mower will rival the more expensive offerings from the likes of Husqvarna and Ariens. The comparison doesn’t end there though, as this unit features many of premium features, including a sleek frame design, hydrostatic transmission, high-back seating, and the option to add a mulching kit.
For buyers looking for great performance at an attractive price, the Craftsman 17ARFACQ091 is a great place to start.
5. John Deere Z345R
⤍ 22HP John Deere V-Twin Motor
⤍ Extensive warranty program
⤍ Easy maintenance from deck hatch
⤍ Reliable hydraulic transmission
⤍ Minimal marking tyres
John Deere is a household name when it comes to machinery, and offer performance that is second-to-none. The Z345R zero turn mower is their residential machine – offering commercial performance in a smaller package and at a very attractive price point.
Equipped with commercial grade EZT Hydraulic transmission, this mower delivers exceptional maneuvering over a wide variety of terrain. The 18” drive tires offer a very smooth ride, and leave minimal marking on the grass, making this a great choice for owners who do a lot a precision lawn mowing.
The 22HP V-Twin John Deere branded motor delivers confident and relatively quiet performance for a mower of this class. Fitted with Ready Start technology, the engine does away with the need for traditional choke-style starts – providing a clean and simple start more like a car.
Featuring all the high-quality specs you would expect from a premium brand like Deere – this mower will allow owners to bag, mulch, or discharge grass cuttings from the ample 42” cutting deck. It’s also worth mentioning the extensive warranty and white-glove service available with this model – which is available when purchasing through Home Depot.
In our opinion, this is a great premium residential mower for most common applications and you can’t go far wrong choosing from a household brand like Deere.
Best Electric Zero Turn Mower
6. Ryobi 75AH
⤍ Four powerful brushless electric motors
⤍ 2 hours mowing on a single charge
⤍ Mid-sized 42 inch cutter deck
⤍ Small lightweight chassis offers great maneuverability
⤍ Quiet operation due to electric motors
Yes, you can now buy an electric zero turn mower! The Ryobi 75AH will exceed most people’s expectations about what an electric mower can do, and put several gas-powered versions to shame.
Featuring four powerful 75AH batteries, connected to 4 brushless motors, this mower is faster than some of the smaller gas offerings in this review, reaching speeds of 7mph. In busy residential environments, the reduction in noise from the electric powerplant will serve as a huge added bonus – making lawn care a much less disruptive process.
With a compact wheelbase, this mower will be perfectly suited to most traditional residential applications, running for about 2 hours for each full charge. Reviews on the Home Depot website seem to be full of praise for its performance – in many cases asking themselves why they had stuck with gas for so long.
From a cutting perspective, this mower features a 42-inch deck which we would classify as ample for personal use but perhaps a little too small for professional or commercial applications. In addition, if you are running your own lawn care business, recharging while on the go could also be an issue, so you’ll probably be best looking toward one of the larger gas offerings from Husqvarna or Ariens.
In summary, this new entry into the market will be a great choice for light-medium residential applications. The ultra-quiet electric motors and powerful LED lights will make lawn care a breeze at any time of day – so you can get out and mow when you previously would not have thought it possible.
7. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1
⤍ Ergonomic cockpit with 18” seat and easy touch grips
⤍ Briggs & Stratton 23HP engine
⤍ Full hydraulic transmission
⤍ Thoughtful chassis design for easy maintenance
⤍ Great value at this price point
⤍ Mow in reverse
Fitted with a reliable Kawasaki 23HP motor and a hydrostatic transmission, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 carries many of the features you would expect to find on a unit from a big name brand manufacturer at a much lower price point.
Featuring a mid-sized 50-inch cutting deck, this mower is definitely designed to give the residential owner fast and efficient cutting with a bigger machine than regular residential units but without the bulk of a full commercial machine. Owners will enjoy the emphasis this design puts on comfort, with an 18” high back ergonomic seat, soft-touch handgrips, and ample legroom.
Cub Cadet put a huge amount of work into producing a great chassis design, which has clearly paid off. Fabricated from welded tubular steel, this sturdy chassis features removable panels in key maintenance zones making it very easy to perform routine maintenance tasks. Owners who prefer to do their own maintenance will greatly benefit from this – making it much easier to replace and sharpen blades than on other machines.
Designed for up to 4 acres with moderate terrain, this mower will continue to impress owners who are looking for the performance of a big-name mower but at a fraction of the price.
8. Snapper 2691402 360z
⤍ Compact size great for tight or small applications
⤍ Available in two sizes: 42” and 48”
⤍ 13 cutter height options
⤍ Welded rigid steel frame
⤍ Low price point
⤍ Briggs & Stratton 21.5HP Ready Start Motor
If your mowing takes you between tightly packed obstacles such as trees or flower beds, the super-compact Snapper 2691402 360z could be a perfect choice. Featuring a 42” or 48” deck, this is one of the smallest zero-turn mowers in this review, giving it the ability to fit into tight spaces that other mowers simply can’t.
Despite its small size, the Snapper still packs a punch – and comes equipped with a well-respected Briggs & Stratton motor, offering the additional reliability of their proprietary Ready Start technology. It’s worth mentioning that this is a great motor for a zero turn mower of this price point, and we’re certainly impressed to see Snapper including it on this model.
The rigid stainless-steel chassis is basic but sturdy, giving the driver reassuring confidence when mowing for long periods. It is worth mentioning, however, that due to the smaller size of this mower and lack of suspension, it’s not the best choice for yards with hills or other types of rough terrain.
Although the cutter deck is technically floating, movement is limited compared to other models, so this mower won’t cruise over bumps and other contours as well as other machines.
That said, for most residential applications where budget and size are important factors, this mower remains a great choice.
Our Zero-turn Mower Buyer’s Guide
With so many different machines on the market, it can be hard to understand which features are the most important. Don’t forget to keep your lawn well-watered in between cuts to allow it to grow and thrive. Below, we’ll go over some of the main things you should consider to find the best mower for your application.
Cutter Deck Size
The size of the cutter deck is important for two reasons. Firstly, large cutter decks will enable you to mow larger bands and therefore cut more grass in a shorter time. This is often hugely important for commercial and high-end residential buyers, who have to mow a lot of acreages. Obviously, larger decks are often associated with higher prices too.
Secondly, the mower deck size will impact the mower’s ability to navigate obstacles and mow in tight spaces. In a small residential setting of maybe a few acres, this can be the difference between being able to complete the job using the zero-turn mower and having to use a self-propelled mower to finish up.
In addition, garage space might also be limited. A smaller cutter deck could be essential in freeing up much-needed space. We highly recommend walking around your yard with a tape measure before you buy it. Measure up the tightest spaces to ensure you find the correct size mower.
Make sure that your cutter deck height from the ground is fully adjustable. Depending on the terrain or season, you may need to adjust the height. If rough terrain is a concern then lookout for a zero-turn mower with a floating deck. Keeping your lawn longer in the spring helps reduce the need for lawn weed treatment as the weeds are crowded out by the thicker lawn.
Motor power often goes hand in hand with cutter deck size, but it’s worth briefly touching on. Mowers with larger decks will have higher horsepower motors as a general rule. Although this helps you mow faster, it can impact fuel efficiency. Large mowers will need more fuel to complete the job. If you’re a mobile landscaping company, that means having to carry more gas as well as all your tools around.
Interestingly, most mowers are actually available with a variety of different motors. We recommend checking with your local service center regarding their servicing capabilities. If your local service center is most experienced with Kawasaki motors, this might be a better choice than another motor brand. In the long run, you’ll probably save time and money.
Fuel Tank Size
Related to the point mentioned above, it’s worth thinking about the acreage and terrain of the land you’ll be mowing. If it’s a large area without somewhere to refuel, a mower with a larger gas tank will be critical.
Mulching, Bagging & Cutting Discharge
These days, almost all mowers will allow you to bag, mulch, or simply discharge your cuttings. However, almost all mowers on the market sell bags and rollers as an additional accessory which is not included with the mower purchase. Think about what accessories you’ll need before you buy.
We recommend you pick up accessories shortly after your purchase to avoid compatibility problems when models become superseded. To perfectly stripe your lawn with a zero-turn mower, make sure your machine has a roller fitted to the rear of it. You will also need a bagger to pick up clippings after the grass has been cut. A leaf blower can be useful in collecting clippings into one location as well.
Ergonomics & Comfort
In a commercial setting, where you could be spending long hours on your machine. We highly recommend giving ergonomics a lot of thought. We even suggest going to sit on various machines if possible, to find the ideal fit. After all, if you feel cramped when using the machine you could find yourself with long-term health issues. These can result from poor posture and other ergonomic issues.
Electric Zero-Turn Mowers
Although not yet ready for commercial applications, electric zero-turn mowers are rapidly improving. These machines now make a great choice for most residential settings. As we mentioned in our review of the Ryobi 75AH machine, the noise reduction from electric power can make a real difference. This could allow you to mow early in the morning and late into the evening. Previously these times would have been impossible. Avoiding the messy process of refueling and not having to transport are big benefits in small residential garages.
One other benefit to electric mowers that isn’t often mentioned is their reduced reliance on complex transmission systems. Because of how electric motors work, they don’t need to use hydraulic transmissions often found on traditional gas machines. This can translate into a cost reduction.
Zero Turn Mower FAQ
For commercial use, we first recommend looking to a well-established brand like Husqvarna, Deere, or Ariens. After all, this will be a substantial investment for your landscaping business, and you can’t afford to be let down by an upstart brand. Our personal favorite commercial mower is the Husqvarna Z61, which features a large cutter deck size for quick and efficient mowing.
It’s worth mentioning however that a cutter deck that large could be difficult to handle if you’re traveling from yard to yard. If some of your clients have small or tight yards, then the smaller Husqvarna Z254 or the Ariens IKON-XL with smaller 52” cutter decks will probably be a better choice.
Brands like John Deere, Husqvarna, and Ariens have many years of experience in making lawn machinery, including zero-turn mowers. If you’re looking for a premium quality machine, look no further than one of these brands. It is worth mentioning, however, that they often come with a higher price tag, and that might not fit everyone’s budget. Read our complete review for more information.
Although a little unusual at first, driving a zero-turn mower is not difficult and will quickly become second nature. Many people describe it as like driving a shopping cart: to go forwards, you push both levers forward as you would a cart. To turn left, you’ll push your right hand forward and pull your left hand back to turn the machine. The opposite is true for turning right, where you’ll need to push forward your left hand and pull back your right. In order to back the mower up, you simply pull both handles towards you.
On account of the hydrostatic transmission, many first-time drivers describe zero-turn mowers as being quite sensitive: small movements in the handles can cause the machine to move quickly.
Over time though, you do grow accustomed to it and will soon be mowing like a pro! Most mowers are also equipped with several safety features, such as the handles needing to be pulled over the drivers’ lap to start mowing, and the driver needs to be sitting on the seat.
For many applications, we believe they are! The superior maneuverability of a zero-turn mower makes them a fantastic choice for quick and efficient mowing. For certain applications, for instance very hilly terrain, a ride-on mower may be a better choice – but for the majority of applications in normal residential settings, they will shine. From a commercial perspective, the investment in a good machine can free up additional time for you to deal with new clients and grow your business, so we highly recommend it.