The 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers [Ranked]
Zero turn, or z-turn, mowers are a style of powered, riding lawn mower that have a 'zero' turning radius (Source).
This is achieved by employing individual hydraulic speed control for each drive wheel- the two front, swiveling tires that are backed by the two tires in the rear (Source).
The two drive tires rotate independently, depending on how you are wielding the throttle levers.
The classic 'z-turn' occurs when the driver pivots the mower around a point that is midway between its drive wheels (Source).
How To Properly Use A Z-Turn Mower
The waist/shoulder-high levers control the mower's rotational direction and speed of each of the two drive wheels. While more expensive than traditional riding mowers, they are typically faster and more maneuverable (Source).
Most buyers we spoke with said it cut their lawn maintenance time in half. The 5 z-turn mowers we examined commonly differed by the length of the cutting deck, weight, horsepower, and price (Source).
If you buy online, they are shipped in a large pallet crate that you can crowbar open.
Our Top Pick: The Husqvarna 724
Buyers say this 54" option has blades that run in reverse- an important buying consideration for some. They also praise its relatively simple assembly. You'll just need to install the seat, its steering handles, connect the battery, and fuel up- check out the User Manual for more info.
In terms of tough weeds, buyers say that this option is a non-commercial option that works best on common lawn grass and weeds, so you'll need to re-sharpen or replace the blades if you're frequently mowing especially tough weeds.
In terms of changing the blade and belt, you'll need to unscrew a panel by the foot rest to access the single belt that drives the deck. You can also adjust the deck height while the blades are engaged, helping you pass over small lawn obstacles.
- 24HP/726cc Kawasaki engine
- Ground speed: 7 mph forward/3 mph reverse
- 21HP Husqvarna Engine
- 26 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
Best Zero Turn Mowers For 2023
What Are Buyers Saying?
Before we dive in, check out our automatic lawn mower review- these are great if you have smaller yards that can accommodate a robot mower. Imagine, automated mowing! However there are larger, more conventional options like garden tractors if you need something a bit more robust.
The first option we examined is the Husqvarna. This 24 hp riding lawn mower has a 54-inch long cutting deck with an electric clutch designed to enhance blade engagement. It is recommended to use hearing protection when operating one of these high-tech lawn cutters.
Engineered to make landscaping and lawn maintenance a simpler and more entertaining event, the way the motor works air intake occurs from the deck's top and bottom, which helps to enhance grass lift while providing an excellent cut.
- Some buyers wondered whether it would work on a 40° slope- current Husqvarna owners say that because the machine is too top-heavy it likely wouldn't.
- Buyers say they were initially surprised they could purchase such a large item online from retailers like Sears, Home Depot, Bad Boy, Toro, John Deere, but found out it was pretty compelling because they discovered competitive pricing, sometimes without any tax, with free shipping and fast delivery.
- One satisfied buyer who has 10 acres of property he needs to mow tells us this has been a huge timesaver- handling high grass that was thick without any difficulty.
- In terms of assembly, it was surprisingly easy- with one homeowner telling us that he had it up and running in under half an hour after bolting the handles, integrating the battery, assembling the seat and performing some perfunctory fluid and fuel checks.
- Indeed, most buyers were pretty happy with this option, the one complaint is that cut grass has a tendency to collect on the underside of the deck.
Poulan Pro 22 HP
The second zero turn mower we examined is manufactured by Poulan Pro. This 22 hp mower features an electronic clutch, a 3.5-gallon capacity fuel tank and a 46 inch reinforced deck. It's marketed as a comfortable, high-performance option designed to last for the long haul with enhanced maneuverability on account of a hydro transmission dual wheel system.
What this means, is that each wheel is actually manipulated individually- so that you can go left, right, forward and backward merely by jerking your arms backward and forward. Indeed, one of the primary benefits of this style of power riding mower is that it will reduce the time you spend maintaining your lawn.
One of the ways these style of riding lawnmowers do that is by increasing their ease of handling- you can more easily avoid obstacles like branches, merely zipping around them. An established brand, perusing their marketing materials, we discovered that this company has been around since the mid 20th-century producing tillers, blowers, trimmers, chainsaws, and powerful lawn mowing solutions.
- Buyers say that it is shipped in a wooden pallet crate that you disassemble using a crowbar.
- Other customers say that there are some aftermarket attachments you can purchase, including a mulching kit.
- Some expert buyers advise this is not a commercial-grade solution, it's better off used by a homeowner looking to decrease lawn maintenance time.
- Buyers also say that it is a relatively inexpensive option that includes interesting optional accessories.
- For example an armrest, a rain cover, a headlight kit and a mulching kit.
- Assembly wasn't too difficult- you just need to bolt the seat, as well as take care rolling it out of the pallet crate, before finally connecting the battery and filling the fuel tank.
- Reviewers were, for the most part, satisfied, with one property owner telling us it provides even cuts, though the front wheels do have a tendency to leave tracks when you turn.
- Other buyers say that one of the best parts about the style of these lawn mowers is how easy they are to maneuver, accessing difficult to reach places in your yard, meaning you don't need to break out another garden tool to perform additional trimming and edging.
Swisher 24 HP
The third mower we examined was the Swisher option that comes with a 24 hp Kawasaki engine with a 54-inch cutting deck, capable of reaching 8 mph either in reverse or forward. Buyers praise its maneuverability and responsiveness, saying it made short order of high acreage properties and can even accommodate a snow blade for snow plowing.
The fourth riding mower we examined is provided by Z-Beast. This 48-inch option has a Briggs & Stratton engine that 20 hp and includes a drive system that is dual hydrostatic for increased speed and control.
It can reach speeds of up to 10 Miles per hour and has some interesting accessories including a seatbelt, a cupholder, and a roll bar.
- One buyer who was on the fence concerning purchase, coming from a John Deere mower, was advised that if you have a rocky property this can be a solid option for avoiding obstacles.
- Another reviewer tells us that local mower repair shops can often provide quality after-purchase maintenance if you need to perform fixes or install additional equipment to accommodate your lawn mowing requirements.
The last option we took a look at was the Husqvarna 61-inch mower- its extra-long cutting deck differentiates it from the other Husqvarna we examined. Besides its durable steel deck, it has integrated mulch-collection capabilities for enhanced property maintenance purposes.
- One buyer tells us that he purchased an aftermarket power bagger that enables him to pick up almost every loose acorn or twig on your lawn- this is great if your property has tons of trees on it.
- An elderly couple purchased it, and after a small struggle opening the crate, they tell us that their 8-acre lawn only takes half as long to mow.
- On the downside, while going uphill is not a problem, going downhill takes some care because it has a tendency to slide on account of weight shift.
- Other buyers advise that you spend some time getting comfortable and accustomed to the steering's responsiveness before tackling challenging uphill or downhill mowing.
- In addition, by using the integrated height pedal, you can glide over smaller obstacles like rocks or children's toys.
- Another savvy buyer tells us that if you spray on some anti-stick coating beneath the deck it makes cleaning out afterward easier.
- One final bit of advice is that when you receive it in a crate, take care to ensure that there aren't any loose nuts or bolts- you don't want them to vibrate and pop out once you power the unit up.
Some Old Favorites
|Zero Turn Mowers||Our Rating||Price ($)||HP||Cutting Deck||Weight|
|The Husqvarna 54” Zero Turn Mower||4.2||$$$||24||54"||780 lbs|
|The Poulan Pro Zero Turn Riding Mower||4.1||$$||22||46"||760 lbs|
|The Swisher Zero Turn Mower||5.0||$$$$||24||54"||791 lbs|
|The Z-Beast Zero Turn Mower||5.0||$$||20||48"||850 lbs|
|The Husqvarna 61” Zero Turn Mower||3.9||$$$$||27||61"||776 lbs|
How They Compare
The Husqvarna MZ61 had the largest cutting deck at 61", while the other options ranged between 46" and 61". Its 27 HP Briggs and Strattonalso engine also packs the most horsepower of all the options we examined.
The Husqvarna V-Twin 724 mower is one of the better-rated options. Buyers say they were able to outfit the Z-Beast with a snow-plow in the winter.