So, you've been looking around at yard mowers and you've noticed -- I see both riding and zero turn mowers all around. The question is: how do you decide which to consider?
Here's something to note: both of the choices above can each save time, get your yard looking great and most certainly prevent you from having to push mow a 2-acre lot. Not sure if this is on your bucket list, but that probably amounts to about x number of hours you will never get back in your life!
It really comes down to the size of your yard, specific features, and whether or not you will be using the equipment for a commercial purpose.
For this thorough review, we're going to look at two different pieces of equipment in the lawn mower family -- the zero turn and riding mower.
If you'd like to jump to a specific topic on the page, go ahead and use any link in the handy table of contents below!
What's The Differences?
There are different terms used around town to describe mowers: riding lawn mower, zero turn mower, zero turn rider, and lawn tractor for some of the common occurrences.
It doesn't mean that the way you say it is right and the way I say it is wrong, but some people refer to it the way they know.
Below are examples of the benefits, and how to know what type is right for you.
LAWN TRACTOR (AKA Riding Mower)
Used for hilly areas or smaller (1-2 acres of land)
When you've got an area of land that is greater than one-acre, but smaller than two, you might want to consider getting a lawn tractor. The great part about this is when you need to mow hilly areas, or something that isn't quite flat, you don't have to worry.
You'll get used to these if you've driven a car because they are fitted with a steering wheel and the traditional gas/brake combination. You can steer with the front wheels (instead of rear wheel driving) and this helps with the mower being stable and easier to handle if you're riding on a hill.
Image Source: jackssmallengines.com
ZERO TURN RIDER (or zero turn mower)
Typically used for a flatter area without hills
If your yard contains grass with 2+ acres, this might be more for you. These types of mowers are designed to give you more control over the mower for tighter turns and accuracy.
Instead of a steering wheel, they contain independent handlebars used to control either side of the mower. Push the left bar forward, move the mower to the right. Move the right bar forward and give the right side more power to help turn left.
With this type of control, you'll be dodging lawn gnomes, bird baths and sleeping dogs in no time!
What Are Considerations I Should Think About?
Aside from the obvious issue - cost, what are some reasons you might consider one or the other?
First thing, if you plan on using the mower with multiple people, having equipment that is age appropriate will help base the decision. Some feel that a teenager might not be suitable for using a zero turn mower. If this is the case, look into riding mower options.
Are you looking for storage? Read about our storage options here in this article.
Another consideration: a zero turn mower can make cuts at the end of a row by turning 180 degrees. This can be extremely helpful when thinking about efficiency.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Models?
There are many models on the market that get the job done. What are some of the most common/well-known?
Troy Bilt Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower
Mower Nerd Stats: 10.5HP, 30" Cutting Deck
Definitely great for a general sized landscape (around .5 acre or so) and simple terrain. Simple to start, run, and maintain.
Husqvarna Z246 Zero Turn
Mower Nerd Stats: 23HP, 46" Cutting Deck
Great, versatile all-around mower. Implemented in 2015, the Z246 comes with SmartSwitch technology (licensed by Husqvarna) to reduce having to use the old-fashioned key and ignition setup.
If you're interested in reading more about these, here's an in-depth article about Husqvarna Z200 series mowers.
Poulan PRO PP175G42
Mower Nerd Stats: 17.5HP, 42" Cutting Deck
One of the greatest features about this Poulan Pro is it offers 6 different cutting deck adjustments. Also, the deck is reinforced to help sustain longevity of the mower.
When Is The Best Time To Buy One?
Many people don't consider this. May comes around and it's time to cut grass. What happens? Time to go mower shopping.
One of the best times to find yourself a new mower is during the fall or winter months. Supply and demand is not very high, unless you find a mower that has a snow plow on the end of it.
You might consider utilizing this time to find a mower that suits your needs. If you don't need to use it until the beginning of spring, great. At least you can save the money and look forward to using that extra savings in the spring or summer months.
Where To Buy These Mowers?
Believe it or not, you can actually order a riding lawn mower or zero turn online.
If you're more interested in going to pick one up, you can do that too! The majority of home improvement stores and local dealers can help get what you're looking for.
As long as your budget fits it, I certainly think a zero turn mower is the way to go. You're going to get the efficiency, speed, and just pure fun. This is given the fact that the yard you own will accommodate the mower.
Traditional riding lawn mowers have the ability to work in a "multi-use" fashion, but it's going to take longer to get the same area done if you were to sit the mowers side-by-side.
Another advantage you will get with a zero turn is that the cutting decks tend to be larger, with the ability to get more grass under the blade.