Everyone knows what a chore mowing the lawn can be. It can be especially taxing if you have a big yard that’s not evenly laid out. If you’re looking for the best way to mow your lawn with both speed and maneuverability, it might be time to invest in a zero-turn mower.
Essentially, zero-turn mowers are designed to mow grass at least 50% faster than the more traditional lawn tractors. This means the straight-line mowing speed is greatly improved. While lawn tractors characteristically cut at about 3-4mph, the average zero-turn mows a long at 5-8mph. This begs the question, which model is the best zero-turn mower to invest in? Today’s review focuses on 5 of the best commercial zero-turn mowers. Our handy buyer’s guide will highlight the features you should consider when you’re narrowing down your options.
Top 5 Zero Turn Mowers Review 2023
- Operation mode: manual
- Power source: 26 HP Kohler engine
- Cutting width: 54 inches
- Cutting height: 1 ½ to 4 inches
- Weight: not specified
- Material: reinforced steel
- Dimensions: 72 x 61.49 x 34.48 inches
This impressive Husqvarna model boasts a 26 HP Kohler engine that can easily provide a maximum speed of 6.5 MPH. It also boasts a patent-pending brake system that automatically activates or deactivates when the steering levers are moved. A reinforced steel cutting deck ensures superior durability. This model allows for clippings to be discharged, bagged, or mulched. A nifty mulching kit and bagger attachment are sold separately if you require.
This model handles easily, and its cast-iron blades make it a breeze to mow acres of grass. It can easily motor through fields of long thick brush and can just as smoothly glide over shorter, more maintained grass. This model is the best zero-turn mower for 5-acre yards!
- The maneuverability on this machine doesn’t disappoint. It’s easy to cut through deep grass and gets close to the edge lines, which means there’ll be less need for trimming later. An added benefit is the speed at which this machine works. It cuts the cutting time by half, turning a day job into a quick chore easily done in the morning!
- From our point of view, the seat isn’t as comfortable as we’ve experienced in other mowers. We also noted that many reviewers were somewhat disappointed because the headlights were sold separately. This was especially the case in instances where the advertised image reflected light as part of the initial package. However, despite the shortcomings of the not-too-comfy seat and the missing light, this machine more than makes up for that in its performance.
- Operation mode: manual
- Power source: gas-powered
- Cutting width: 50 inches
- Cutting height: 1.25 to 3.75 inches
- Weight: 656 lbs.
- Material: steel
- Dimensions: 84 x 59.75 x 34.75 inches
This Craftsman model, with its 24 HP Kohler engine, has a simple and consistent starting system that doesn’t need a prime or a choke. An impressive dual hydrostatic transmission teamed up with a quality high-back seat provides the user with premium support and comfort. The steel frame ensures the machine is both durable and reliable. With its adjustable cutting heights, you can easily set the machine to the cutting height that works best for the grass that needs cutting. The cutting height varies from 1.25 inches at its lowest to about 3.75 inches at its highest.
Since this mower’s deck is generally smaller than other machines in its category, it’s probably best for smaller yards. A good feature is its versatility in cutting different types of grass. It’s no wonder this machine is commonly called the best residential zero-turn mower!
- The mow-in-reverse technology gives the user exact control over forward and backward mower speeds. Obviously, this feature makes mowing in narrow spaces a dream. Since it has a 24 HP V-twin engine, it has an advantage over some of the other more costly models in this category. This machine is proof that a higher price doesn’t always equal a better model.
- Two points stick out here. Firstly, this model has a small fuel tank, and secondly, it has a moderately small cutting width for a zero-turn mower. It might take longer than expected to mow a bigger yard.
- Operation mode: automatic
- Power source: not specified
- Cutting width: 42 inches
- Cutting height: 1 ½ to 4 ½ inches
- Weight: 252 lbs.
- Material: metal
- Dimensions: 48 x 48 x 48 inches
This model comes with a solid and sturdy tubular frame as well as a wide range of cutting sizes. It’s easy to cut yards of all sizes, although the cutting width is smaller than the average models in this category. It easily offers 13 cutting positions ranging from 1 ½” to 4 ½” by simply turning the dial. A lavish high-back seat with a padded armrest can easily be adjusted by the operator in the seating position.
With a 42” cutting width, this particular model is ideally suited for smaller residential yards. It’s also great for cutting around trees, gardens, and narrow spaces. So, if you have a yard that’s made up of narrow grass patches between your landscaping, you might consider this model. One could say this unit is the best zero-turn mower for a 1-acre yard.
- The IKON’s powerful engine is quite remarkable. Its 726cc Kawasaki FR V-Twin Engine provides hours of mowing power. It has a higher torque than expected which is impressive even at lower speeds. Additionally, it’s easy to handle and super easy to drive. Since the deck sticks out quite a bit on one side, it’s exceptionally easy to mow curb edges and saves on trimming around trees or shrub bushes.
- The one aspect that bugs us the most about this machine is the IKON’s short wheelbase. Ultimately, a short wheelbase may cause the machine to wheelie when trying to climb a small hill, especially since it has a heavy trailer load. Another aspect that could be better is the springs under the seat which can make the mowing experience a little uncomfortable.
- Operation mode: foot-operated
- Power source: 20hp Briggs® Intek engine
- Cutting width: 42 inches
- Cutting height: 1.5 to 4.5 inches
- Weight: not specified
- Material: 11-gauge steel
- Dimensions: not specified
The Edge in the Ariens range features a 42” fabricated deck that’s constructed of 11-gauge steel, making it strong and durable. A 20HP Briggs Intek engine powers this nifty machine. It also features a foot-operated deck lift which easily adjusts to cut in any of the seven cutting positions. A comfortable high-back seat with seat springs makes for an easy ride while you’re mowing.
With its small cutting width, this model is ideal for smaller residential yards. Since you can buy a separate bagger and mulching kit, this model can easily be described as the best zero-turn mower with a bagger.
- The 11-gauge steel fabricated deck is a commercial-style feature not usually found in mowers at this price range. Front caster tires of about 11” and 20” rear tires provide exceptional traction. This provides a smoother ride in yards of uneven terrain.
- There’s not much to not like about this model aside from its small fuel tank and limited cutting width. It’s not particularly ideal for a large yard.
- Operation mode: manual
- Power source: gasoline-powered
- Cutting width: 61 inches
- Cutting height: 4.5 inches
- Weight: 770 lbs.
- Material: steel
- Dimensions: 48 x 48 x 48 inches
If you’re looking for a zero-turn mower that easily provides dependable startups and consistent speeds, this is the machine for you. A roll-over protection system (ROPS) guarantees safer operation in just about any condition. Constructed from 11-gauge steel, the cutting deck offers a functional lifting system that can easily be adjusted from the seat. The high-back seat has armrests, and foam-padded hand grips make mowing for long hours both fun and comfortable.
If you live on a property that’s laden with hills and inclines, this unit is a perfect choice. Its heavy-duty steel frame and commercial hydraulics make for superior ease of use! This model is often referred to as the best zero-turn mower for hills.
- Aside from the ease of use on flat ground, this model provides exceptional traction on hills or elevated peaks. A deck height of 4.5 inches makes it easy for this model to go over rocks without any struggle. Its powerful engine makes it super easy to mow large areas in half the time it would take with a more traditional mower. We think this machine is the best 60” zero-turn mower because it gets the job done so efficiently.
- Despite providing excellent uphill traction, the downhill ride can be challenging. The sheer weight of this machine causes the mower to lose directional control and even slide. We accredit this hiccup to the weight. First-time users may need some practice in handling the downhills. Another issue we found lacking was the lack of a hose washout connector. This makes it rather difficult to clean the middle blade area with a hose.
Advantages of zero-turn mowers
As with any other purchase you consider, researching the advantages and benefits the product provides is crucial, read on to see why zero-turn mowers are more beneficial than traditional lawn tractors.
- Maneuverability: The golden rule with mowing is better maneuverability equals better efficiency. Lap sticks enable zero-turn mowers to move from forward to reverse in a fraction of the time. Zero-turn mowers can easily turn around in narrower areas.
- Timesaving: Since zero-turn mowers generally have faster ground speeds as a result of their lower gravity centers. With larger decks, they also cover more space in fewer passes.
- Comfort features: The more comfort features a unit has, the easier it is to get the job done. Some of these features include power steering and comfortable seats.
- Less trimming: With a better turning radius, it’s easier to mow closer to trees and fencing. This means you’ll have less trimming to do.
- Extensive range: There’s an extensive range of models from under 5 acres to well over five plus. That paired with a host of accessories and attachments means it’s easy to find the perfect unit for your yard.
- Attachments for versatility: There are a whole host of different attachments that can be added to zero-turn mowers. One of the most popular attachments is the bagging system which makes collecting grass clippings so much easier.
- Professional-looking lawn: Zero-turn mowers make it possible to have a lawn with perfect, straight stripes. Want your lawn looking as good as a sports field? Simply alternate your mowing directions.
- Easy to drive: Despite not having a steering wheel, zero-turn mowers are significantly easy to steer.
- Less strenuous: Since zero-turn mowers involve you sitting down and steering them while mowing, it’s less strenuous. With minimized overall strain, it allows the user to cover a more extensive area, and in doing so, they’re able to work faster. This, in turn, leads to an increase in productivity.
Features to consider before you buy a zero-turn mower
Zero-turn mowers are making a huge impact on the residential and commercial mowing scene. But, owning one isn’t as simple as walking into your nearest hardware store and picking your favorite one.
It’s important to consider features that will enhance your mowing experience and get the job done as efficiently as possible. We’ve listed a few of the more popular features to consider before making your final choice. Let’s break them down.
Zero-turn mowers are generally designed to pivot around their rear wheels and easily turn around. Most zero-turn mowers don’t have a steering wheel but rather make use of two levers that control two different motors connected to each rear wheel.
With choosing the operation mode of your zero-turn mower, you generally have three options:
- Manual: Craftsman 17ARFACQ091; Husqvarna Z254; Husqvarna MZ61
- Automatic: Ariens IKON XD
- Foot-operated: Ariens Edge 915253
Zero-turn mowers are usually powered by twin-cylinder OHV engines. These types of engines offer better power and increased performance.
It’s important to consider engines as you’ll need a high-powered engine if you have a larger yard.
The cutting width you need depends on the size of your yard. The cutting width is determined by the mower’s deck size. Simply put, cutting width tells you how much grass you can mow in one pass.
The smaller a cutting width is, the longer it’ll take to mow your yard because it will take several more mows to cut the entire yard. Ideally, you want a cutting width between 48 and 60 inches to mow 2.2 acres.
Ideally, you want your grass trimmed and mowed at a specific height. Doing this ensures your grass looks even and neat. This might require some areas being mowed at a different height.
If the grass is much taller, you’ll need a mower that allows for the deck to be raised. Adjusting the height of your lawn mower shouldn’t be difficult. Search for options that have easy-to-adjust height features.
The weight between residential and commercial mowers varies considerably. Lighter models are more suited to residential use and generally weigh anywhere between 250-400 pounds.
It’s important to consider the material used to construct a mower’s frame and deck. For a strong and durable option, you want a steel frame design.
Check the steel gauge. Thicker material will always have a lower gauge. It’s also important to check the type of material that will be protecting you while you’re riding the mower. The Husqvarna Z254, for instance, is made of reinforced steel, making it exceptionally durable.
When you think of the space, you have available to store your zero-turn mower, and it becomes important to consider the dimensions. The best place to store your zero-turn mower is obviously inside a garage or shed, so if your space is limited, you’d need to do the measurements upfront.
If you’re ever going to be transporting your mower on a truck bed, you’ll want to make sure to buy one within the right dimensions.
Since you’re going to be riding your mower around your yard regularly, you need to be comfortable. Bear in mind that not all seats aren’t the same. If you’re looking at options in a store, find out if you could sit on one of the seats to test it out.
It’s important to check if the seat has a prominent backrest and perhaps also an armrest to rest your arms as you steer.
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We’re confident our informative review of the five best zero-turn mower options has provided you with the necessary insight into selecting the best mower for your lawn cutting requirements. Still not sure? Let’s recap our top three.
Our Editor’s Choice, the Husqvarna Z254 rated at 9.7, is impressive because of its 26 HP Kohler engine that provides an average speed of 6.5 MPH, making it easy to cut any size yard. Our second favorite, the Craftsman 17ARFACQ091, rated at 9.5, is also a suitable choice because of its mow-in-reverse technology. It gives the user precise control over forward, and backward mower speeds, ensuring the job gets done efficiently. Lastly, there is Ariens 915267. With a 42” cutting width, this particular model is ideally suited for smaller residential yards. It’s also great for cutting around trees, gardens, and narrow spaces.
Using our feature list to narrow down your shortlist will ensure you get the right model suited to your mowing needs. The best zero-turn mower will provide you with a faster blade speed which means you’ll get a cleaner, better cut. Your lawn will always like a freshly cut sports field if you invest in the best zero-turn mower!