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What is a zero turn lawn mower?

Man on a zero turn lawn mower
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A lawn mower is a trusty tool for any gardener, but what is a zero turn lawnmower? Essentially, a zero turn lawn mower is a type of the best riding lawn mowers where you sit or stand on the mower. They’re designed to cover large spaces where your average mower doesn’t cut it. That’s why you’ll see them used in both professional and residential settings.

So what gives zero turn lawn mowers the edge over other riding mowers? The front and rear wheels work independently, which sets them apart. This nifty feature means they’re highly manoeuvrable, perfect for any tight spots. Plus, zero turn lawnmowers are faster than your typical riding mower. Your lawn will be pristine in no time.

Still wondering, but what is a zero turn lawn mower? Help is at hand as we ask the experts to give you all the information needed to decide whether a zero turn lawn mower is right for you. We’ll take a closer look at the benefits and cut to the chase about the drawbacks.  

What is a zero turn lawn mower?

So, what is a zero turn lawnmower? “A zero turn lawn mower is a riding lawn mower but has several distinctions for superior performance,” says Andy Massignan, Product Director for the Residential Lawn Portfolio at AriensCo. Like other riding lawn mowers or lawn tractors, they allow you to cover large spaces that your average mower can’t handle. You can choose between seated and stand-behind models depending on personal preference. If you’re not used to a riding lawn mower, the novelty of it makes mowing feel less of a chore.

Zero turn lawnmowers are specially designed to give you enhanced handling. “Instead of a steering wheel, zero-turns use two handles that steer the front and the rear wheels independently, giving them a near-zero turning radius that is useful for navigating tight spaces and mowing close to structures and around obstacles,” says Andy. So if you have awkward tight spots, a zero turn lawn mower can tackle these hard-to-reach areas. The maneuverability means they’re easy to handle which takes the chore out of maintaining your lawn.  

Yet what’s the difference between a zero turn lawn mower and a lawn tractor? “As zero turn lawn mowers are purpose-built grass cutting machines, they offer significantly reduced grass cutting times over traditional lawn tractors,” explains Andy.

What are the benefits of a zero turn lawn mower?

Zero turn lawn mowers have the edge over traditional lawn mowers when it comes to maneuverability and speed. 

What the expert says…

Andy Massignan, Product Director for the Residential Lawn Portfolio at AriensCo, says, “Zero-turns are useful for most grass cutting when speed and maneuverability are desired with the quality of a professional cut. This can include large lawns, sports fields, commercial properties, and more."

Looking for turning capability? Superior handling is where a zero turn lawn mower comes into its own. “For those with landscapes that require a more maneuverable machine due to tight spaces and obstacles, zero-turns are ideal mowers,” says Andy. So if there are obstacles like trees, planting beds, or swimming pools in the way, a zero turn lawn mower can get you out of a tight spot. Even better, many zero turn mowers allow you to reverse, which makes it easy to navigate around whatever is in your way. 

If you want to get the job done quickly, a zero turn lawn mower is your friend. Andy advises they’re a great choice “for people with large spaces to cut, such as sports fields or large lawns.”  Andy adds that zero turn lawn mowers are typically much faster than your average lawn tractor. You’ll free up time to sit back and enjoy the view. 

You’ll find that many of the latest zero turn lawn mowers are battery-powered. Andy explains that this can “help owners save on fuel costs, reduce noise, and simplify maintenance.”

What are the drawbacks of a zero turn lawn mower?

While zero turn lawn mowers offer a host of benefits, you’ll want to be aware of the drawbacks too. These are high-end products common to professional settings. As you might expect, these premium features come at a price.“Zero turns cost more than traditional mowers, but they provide exponential speed, maneuverability, and quality of cut,” says Andy. While they may be more expensive than other models, a zero turn lawn mower may be worth the investment if you’re mowing a large area. 

If, however, you have a small garden, a standard lawn mower is likely to be sufficient. Riding lawn mowers, including zero turn models, require more storage space than your average mower. Their size makes them better suited to people with large lawns to maintain. 

Want to tackle hills? Andy cautions against zero turn lawn mowers for steep terrain, so if that sounds like your garden, you’ll want to give them a miss. 

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

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