Most riding lawnmowers feature an engine and a steering wheel that control the driveshaft’s, allowing you to drive the machine as if it were a tractor. However, the turning radius of these machines means that you have to maneuver the machine to get it back on track.
As a result, it’s challenging to use these mowers in tight spaces. A zero-turn mower has all the same parts and components of a traditional riding mower. The difference in the machine comes from its controls. Instead of a steering wheel, you operate the mower using two levers on each side of the seat.
Pushing both levers makes you go forward, and pulling both backward gets you into reverse. If you want to turn in a circle with no turning radius, then pull one lever forward in the direction you want to turn. The machine turns on a dime, reducing the turning circle to zero.
Zero-turn mowers are ideal for getting into tighter parts of your lawn on your estate. They’re also great machines for mowing sports fields, allowing for precision cutting of soccer pitches and football fields, giving them a characteristic look of lines or cross-hatching on the grass.
If you’re a professional landscaper, then a zero-turn mower is a must-have machine for your business. Property managers of large estates and farms will also benefit from having a zero-turn mower in the toolshed.
A zero-turn mower is a reasonably expensive purchase for any landscaper. Choosing the best model from the dozens available online can leave you feeling overwhelmed at your choice. We put together this review of the best zero turn mowers for landscapers and owners of large estates.
- 1 Top Picks
- 2 Zero-Turn Mover Reviews
- 3 Zero-Turn Mower Buyer’s Guide
- 4 What to Look for in a Zero Turn Mower?
- 5 Zero-Turn Lawn Mower FAQ
- 6 Conclusion
We realize most landscapers are busy people. If you don’t have the time to go through all of the models in this review, then check out our top picks. We have a best-in-class, a premium, and a budget model to suit your landscaping requirements.
Best Pick: Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower
The Husqvarna Z254 is a powerful model that wins our top spot for the best overall zero-turn mower. You get a 54-inch cutting deck powered by a Kawasaki engine, as well as ergonomic controls and plenty of additional features.
Premium Pick: Husqvarna MZ61
- Husqvarna 61 in. zero-turn lawn mower from the MZ series delivers commercial-grade power and amazing ergonomics
- 27 HP Briggs Endurance engine provides reliable startups and high ground speeds
- Fabricated 11-gauge steel cutting deck offers an excellent 54 in. cut with an ergonomically designed deck lifting system for quick and easy adjustments from the operator’s seat
- Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged with a 9-bushel triple bag collection system (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
- High-back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners make mowing comfortable for hours on end
Landscapers looking for the best premium zero-turn mower can rely on the Husqvarna MZ61 for peak performance and the toughest mowing jobs. The massive 61-inch cutting deck makes this model the best choice for cutting grass on golf course fairways. If you need to mow a golf course or large piece of land above 4-acres in size, this model is your best option.
Budget Pick: Ariens IKON-X
- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
Landscapers looking for the best budget model in this review will find the Ariens IKON-X to be the best value-for-money in this review. You get the same Kawasaki engine powering our top model and a 52-inch cutting deck that’s suitable for large properties over 4-acres in size.
Zero-Turn Mover Reviews
We selected the top models for this review, and you’re sure to find a zero-turn lawnmower that’s the right fit for your landscaping needs. If you still need some more information to help you settle on your purchase, check out the buyer’s guide and FAQ sections later in this review.
Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower – The Best Overall Zero-Turn MowerThe Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower wins our award for the best overall zero-turn mower. Whether you’re an estate manager or a landscaper, this machine is your top choice for maintaining lawns up to 4-acres in size.
This model comes with a Kawasaki 21.5-hp motor that has enough power to trim your grass to perfection. The compact design of the machine features the cutting deck positioned underneath your feet in the center of the model.
The positioning of the cutting deck allows for swift and fluid turns on a dime. The Kawasaki engine also features Air-Induction Mowing Technology, which lifts the grass, providing you with consistent cutting heights.
The oversized cooling fan keeps the motor running efficiently during long mowing jobs, and the power of the fan assists the air-induction system, helping provide power to the lift when running at any speed.
This machine is user-friendly and easy to operate. The large handles are within easy reach while you sit comfortably in the padded ergonomic seat. The seat provides plenty of support for your lower and mid-back, ensuring that you don’t get tired on long mowing jobs.
All the gear levers and controls are on either side of the seat. There’s also plenty of room for your legs and feet in the front bay. You also get a traction pad on the front of the bay. This handy feature prevents you from slipping when getting on or off of the mower.
The 54-inch cutting deck is a good choice for those yards and estates that require weekly maintenance.
The large rear wheels with treaded tires provide plenty of traction when climbing soft hills on wet grass, and the front casters more freely when turning. You also get a crash bar fitted to the front of the frame in case you accidentally hit any rocks or tree stumps.
The Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower has all the features and power you need to cut lawns up to 4-acres in size. The 54-inch cutting deck is an excellent choice for yards up to 4-acres in size, but we feel this machine is underpowered and not a good choice for everyday use.
Therefore, professional landscapers should take a look at our premium model if you need a daily driver that has the power and durability you need for extensive use.
- Premium brand
- Powerful 23-hp Kawasaki motor
- 54-inch cutting deck
- Ergonomic handles and user controls
- Padded ergonomic seat
- Suitable for landscaping work and estate maintenance
- Fuel Capacity 3.5-gallons
Husqvarna MZ61 – The Best Premium Zero-Turn Mower
Professional landscapers looking for a top-of-the-line machine need the Husqvarna MZ61. There is no substitute for this mower if you’re taking on large mowing jobs every day of the week. This machine has the build quality and design to tackle the largest mowing tasks.
Unlike the previous model that relies on a Kawasaki power plant, this model swaps the motor out for a powerful Briggs & Stratton motor, providing 27-hp to the hydrostatic drive and cutting deck.
The 61-inch cutting deck is the widest you can get from these machines, and this Husky model is suitable for cutting lawns up to 5-acres or more in size. The induction-cooled motor and oversized fan keep your machine running cool during operation, even after hours of use.
The cutting deck has the same mid-range positioning as the previous model, allowing for fast and effective turns. You also get a 9-bushel, triple collection bag, allowing you to keep your trimmings for the compost heap.
The setup of the controls is the same as on the Husqvarna Z254. You get the same long levers directly in front of the seat for smooth movement while driving the mower. However, this model also includes the cutting height adjustment on the right side of the chair. You’ll find all the bells and whistles you need on either side of the wheel arches.
The levers also feature the same comfortable handgrips, reducing operator fatigue in your arms while mowing. The plush, padded seat helps to dampen vibration, while the ergonomic design reduces the need to shift around to get comfortable during long mowing tasks. We like that Husky included padded armrests with this model.
One of the standout features of this machine is the hour-meter. The mower notifies you when it’s time to take it in for a service, taking the guesswork out of maintaining your machine.
Like driving a car, accidents can happen when driving your zero-turn mower. It’s for this reason that Husqvarna included a seatbelt with this machine. Strap yourself in and protect yourself if things get out of hand while you mow.
The motor sits under your seat, and you can lift back the seat for easy access to the engine bay for servicing. The convenient positioning also makes checking the oil level a breeze.
The large rear-wheel arches cover the massive tractor-style air-filled tires. There’s plenty of treads on the machine to help you climb hills on wet grass.
The Husqvarna MZ61 is the most powerful model in this review. If you’re a professional landscaper, then this model is the best money can buy, and a machine worth having in your toolshed.
We only recommend this Husky model for use on the largest mowing jobs and daily use. If you’re looking for a smaller machine that offers all of the same features, then check out the previous best overall model mentioned earlier in this review.
- Premium brand
- Powerful 27-hp Briggs & Stratton motor
- 61-inch cutting deck
- Suitable for golf course maintenance
- Comes with a seat belt for safety
- Fuel capacity 5-gallons
- Might be too big for some smaller estates
Ariens IKON-X – The Best Budget Zero-Turn Mower
Landscapers looking for the best budget zero-turn mower should take a serious look at the Ariens IKON-X. This machine offers you the best value for money in this review, and it’s an excellent choice for estate managers that only need to wheel out the mower once or twice a week to maintain their property.
The build quality of this machine is fantastic, and if you took away the branding, you might confuse it with a Husqvarna model. The Ariens IKON-X has a 23-hp Kawasaki engine, providing you with years of hassle-free operation. The motor has plenty of power to get you up inclines and navigate wet laws without slipping.
This Ariens model comes with a 52-inch cutting beck, making it suitable for use on lawns up to 4-acres in size. The cutting deck also features design and construction with 12-gauge steel for additional durability.
The massive air-filled rear tires have plenty of grips, and the front casters of the machine keep you on your cutting line. The controls on this model are similar to the Husky. You’ll find the power levers in front of the driver’s seat, within easy reach. The bars are adjustable, ensuring that you don’t need to get out of your seat while driving.
You’ll find the other controls on top of the wheel arches on either side of your seat. One the right side, below the edge of the chair, you’ll find the height adjustment for the cutting deck, allowing you to adjust your cutting height on the move.
The padded, ergonomic seat dampens vibration from the motor, ensuring you get a comfortable ride. We like the inclusion of the adjustable armrests with this model, reducing operator fatigue while conducting your mowing duties.
We like the rear load bay on this mower. Pack your compost or gardening tools into the back, and then head out on your gardening duties around the estate. You get a decent amount of legroom, and a traction pad on the floor to prevent you from slipping as you get on and off the mower.
The Ariens IKON-X is a top choice for estate mangers that only need to pull the mower out once or twice a week.
The build quality is reliable, and the motor comes packed with plenty of performance. However, we don’t think this model is the best choice for landscapers. If you’re a professional, go with our best premium model instead.
However, if you’re looking for the most affordable machine with plenty of performance, then the Ariens IKON-X is a fantastic choice.
- Excellent value for money
- Powerful 23-hp Kawasaki engine
- 52-inch cutting deck
- Ergonomic controls and padded seat
- Suitable for large estates and smaller golf courses
- Cutting deck could be a few inches wider
Snapper 2691319 360zThe Snapper 2691319 360z is one of our favorite models in this review, and worthy of consideration. This model features a robust and powerful 23-hp Briggs & Stratton motor that has enough grunt to get you up an incline on wet grass.
The Briggs & Stratton motor also comes with ReadyStart technology, allowing for quick turning of the ignition and a fast startup every time.
You also get comfortable, adjustable levers to reduce operator fatigue, as well as comfy grips to reduce the fatigue in your hands.
The 48-inch cutting deck is suitable for estates with lawns up to 2.5-acres in size. The foot pedal operates the cutting deck lift, and there’s a drop-in pin system to hold it in place. It’s easy to reach the pin from your seat, and no dismount required to adjust the height.
The padded, ergonomic seat has support for your lower and mid-back and acts to dampen the vibrations coming from the machine during use. You’ll find the additional controls on either side of the seat, on top of the wheel arches.
We like the rear load bay in this model that lets you transport gardening materials around your estate. Load your compost or garden fork in the back, and head out for your gardening duties. The load bay also comes with handles to help you shift the machine around, or when carrying someone on the mower.
There’s a crash plate protecting the rear-mounted engine, preventing damage if you accidentally back into anything while mowing.
- User-friendly controls
- Durable design and construction with top-quality components
- 48-inch cutting deck
- 13-cutting height adjustments
- Versatile cutting bed
- 10-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Not suitable for everyday use
Swisher is the originator of the zero-turn mower. Founded in the ’60s, this brand produces top-quality machines, and it’s a favorite for landscapers around the country. The Swisher ZTR245BS is an excellent addition to this company’s legacy, and we think it’s a great mower for lawns up to 3-acres in size.
Most of the other models in this review use levers positioned directly in front of your seat. This Swisher model places them at your sides, with shorter levers that feature soft, comfy, ergonomic grips to reduce operator fatigue in your hands.
The Swisher ZTR245BS features a powerful 24-hp Briggs & Stratton motor that offers peak performance when you need it. This machine has no problems with climbing slopes or moving along wet brass. The large, air-filled tires found in the rear of the mower give you plenty of traction in demanding operating conditions.
You get an 8-gallon fuel tank, allowing for a long run time between fills. The foot lift on the machine allows for smooth movement of the cutting deck and quick maintenance after mowing.
The Swisher ZTR245BS is an excellent choice for landscapers that work on estates and find themselves mowing lawns every day. The robust design and construction of this mower ensure that it gives you a long service life.
The only gripe we have with this model is the price tag. We feel it’s worth investing in one of the Husky models mentioned in our top picks. However, if you’re a die-hard Swisher fan, then this is the best model they have on offer.
- Powerful 24-hp Briggs & Stratton motor
- Foot-lift for the cutting deck
- 54-inch cutting deck
- Fuel capacity – 8-gallons
- Ergonomic controls and digital readout
- Padded seat
Ariens Apex 60
Professional landscapers looking for another top-quality product that lasts for decades should consider the Ariens Apex 60 model.
This zero-turn mower is sturdy and features a massive 60-inch cutting deck for the largest jobs. Gas this mower up, and you’ll finish 4-acres of mowing in around an hour, making it one of the best performing models in this review.
The premium 25-hp Kohler 7000-Series HD V-Twin motor provides plenty of power to the 22-inch air-filled tires, providing you with plenty of traction when mowing wet grass or climbing slopes. The hydrostatic transmission ensures the right balance of power between the two rear wheels while reducing your service intervals.
You get a comfy and plush seat with the two adjustable lever bars positioned in front of you for easy management of the machine. The armrests also help to reduce operator fatigue while mowing.
The foot bay offers you plenty of legroom, and there’s a traction pad at the front to help you get on and off the machine without slipping.
This machine is a good option for professional landscapers that need to mow golf courses or large estates. It’s got plenty of power and a comfortable ride.
- Hydrostatic transmission
- Ideal for tough terrain
- Cones with padded ergonomic seat and armrests
- easy to reach control levers
- rugged design
- 60-inch cutting deck
- Suitable for professional use
- Bagging Capabilities
- Doesn’t come with additional accessories
Zero-Turn Mower Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing the right zero-turn mower is a challenge if you don’t know what you’re looking at in a prospective machine. Zero-turn mowers are only suitable for large properties, and there’s no way these machines will work in the average suburban yard.
However, even though these machines have design and construction for heavy-duty use, some are more industrial than others. If you’re a landscaper that services large estates and golf courses, then read through this buyer’s guide to get an understanding of the right machine for your work.
What are Zero-Turn Mowers?
Other riding mowers that require up to 18 to 30-inches for a turning circle. However, the zero-turn riding mower circles on a dime, without the need to turn in an arch. As a result, you get a fast turn, and you don’t have to readjust your cutting line.
Zero-turn mowers aren’t the ideal choice for properties than have grassed areas or lawns that are under 3-acres in size. These machines are for professional landscapers that require a sturdy and durable mower for use frequently during the workweek.
Zero-turn mower provides ease of use and plenty of comfortability when mowing, reducing operator fatigue while producing the perfect cut.
How Do Maintain a Zero-Turn Mower?
These machines are serious pieces of equipment. Trying to service them on your own is a challenge, especially if you don’t know your way around an engine.
Attempting to service your zero-turn mower by yourself may end up voiding your warranty, leading to a costly repair job. We recommend you take your mower to a dealer that specializes in working with the brand of mower you own.
Think of your zero-turn mower as a car. This machine has so many working parts; you’ll end up getting lost if you don’t know what you’re doing. Leave the motor and the electrical system to the professionals. Your mower will need servicing every 6 to 12-months, depending on how often you use it in your work.
All zero-turn mowers require essential maintenance to keep them running efficiently. At the beginning of the spring season, send your mower in for a service. The dealer should sharpen the blades, and check the motor and the cutting deck for damage.
After using your machine, use a lift to get to the underside of the cutting deck, and make sure you clean away all debris before your next job.
Does A Zero-Turn Mower feature a Brake?
Unlike other models of riding mowers, the zero-turn model doesn’t have a braking system. The levers on the sides of the machine control its movement. If you want to slow down, then all you need to do is release the pressure on the lever.
The further forward you push the lever, the faster the machine moves, and vice versa. If you want to throw the machine into reverse, all you need to do is pull back on the lever.
The levers also provide you with a turning circle that spins the machine around in place, providing a 0-inch turning circle that keeps you on track with your cutting line.
If you want to draw a larger turning circle, pull on one of the levers only. If you want a sharp turning circle, pull the levers in opposite directions to make the machine spin around on a dime.
Different Types of Zero Turn Mowers
While all zero-turn mowers have design and construction for mowing large lawns, some models are more robust than others.
For instance, if you’re a contractor that’s mowing large estates or golf courses every day, you’ll have different needs to a landscaper that only has one or two large lawns to mow each week.
What to Look for in a Zero Turn Mower?
If you’re thinking about investing in a zero-turn mower, then you’re talking about laying down $5,000 or more for a machine. Spending this much money on a mower means you should probably understand everything about these mowers before selecting your final model.
Let’s unpack everything you need to know about your prospective zero-turn mower, allowing you to make an informed purchase decision.
The power of the machine makes a big difference when it comes to mowing your lawn with a zero-turn model. These machines have large cutting decks of between 42 to 61-inches, depending on the model.
As a result, they need a powerful motor to drive the blades and produce a clean, efficient cut for your grass. Most models will have engines pushing out around 25-hp. Models offering less than 20-hp are a waste of time, as they may either burn out with extended use or leave high spots and uncut grass as you move it along.
Contractors dealing with large estates and golf courses will need a minimum of 24-hp from the motor to ensure they get extended service life and efficient operation from the machine. The larger the job, the more horsepower you need for the best finish on your turf.
Cutting Deck Width
Having a powerful motor on your machine is great, but you also need to balance that with the right cutting deck for optimal performance. Cutting decks typical y range between 42-inches and 61-inches, depending on the model you purchase.
Professional landscapers that use a machine for large mowing jobs should look for the largest cutting deck possible. A 61-inch cutting deck has nearly 50% more cutting width than a 42-inch model. Therefore, if you try to use a 42-inch machine when cutting a gold course, it could add hours to the job.
If you mow lawns less than 3-acres in size, then stick to a 42-inch cutting deck. Lawns up to 4 to 5-acres in size suit a 52-inch model, and any larger than that requires a 61-inch cutting deck for best results and less time on the job.
When searching for your ideal zero-turn mower, look for a model with a hydrostatic transmission. All of the models in this review come with this feature. A hydrostatic tranny uses hydraulic fluids to switch gears and send power to the drive shafts.
Hydrostatic models stand up to the toughest working conditions, and they don’t burn out with extended use. Instead, you get plenty of power when you need it, and an efficient clutch that doesn’t require as much servicing as a regular transmission.
Fuel Tank Capacity
The capacity of the fuel tank plays a critical role in the range of the machine. The last thing you want to have to do is stop your machine to refill halfway through the job. Choose a model that has a large fuel tank of up to 10-gallons, if you’re taking on large estates and gold courses above 5-acres in size.
Up to 4-acres, look for an 8-gallon tank, and anything less a 5-gallon tank will suffice. Before you start your machine, check the gas level, and fill it up with fresh gasoline. Check the fuel filter for any signs of blockages or dirt, and clean or replace it where necessary.
When storing your machine for the winter, make sure you drain all of the fuel from the tank before packing it into the garage for storage. Leaving the gas in the lines for months as you wait for the following spring will damage the carburetor and fuel lines of your zero-turn lawnmower.
Fuel also turns bad after a few weeks of sitting in the tank. The additives separate from the gas, and you’ll find it challenging to get the machine to start. Even if you do manage to fire it up, then the chances are the fuel will damage the carb or the fuel system itself.
Zero-turn mowers are heavy machines, weighing up to 700-lbs, depending on the model. Therefore, for basic maintenance, you’ll need a jack to access the underside of the cutting deck for cleaning.
Some of the smaller models allow you to turn the mower on its side for easy cleaning of the cutting deck.
The seat of your zero-turn mower is an essential feature of the machine. If you’re mowing large lawns of golf courses, then you can expect to be sitting down for an hour or two in the driver’s seat.
Therefore, we recommend you look for a model that offers generous padding and an ergonomic design to the seat. These features help reduce operator fatigue, allowing you to cut the largest areas in one session.
Levers and Controls
Levers and controls are also a concern for operator fatigue. Look for models with comfortable and ergonomic controls that also reduce operator fatigue in your hands during use. The levers and controls should feature soft, ergonomic grips that take the effort out of operating the machine.
The levers and controls should allow you to change the settings on the machine without getting out of your setting to reach levers or switches.
Some models come with digital displays that show you the current operating rpm and height setting of the cutting deck. These displays are useful to keep an eye on your machine, changing the operating parameters without the need to dismount and inspect the settings manually.
All zero turn mowers come with air-filled tires as you find on a go-kart. The tires provide traction, and if you’re cutting wet grass, you’ll need a model with plenty of treads on the tires for best results.
Check the safety options on your machine before you purchase. Some models come with automatic chokes, kill switches, and various other safety features to prevent accidents on the job.
Zero-Turn Lawn Mower FAQ
In case you still have some unanswered questions about selecting your ideal zero-turn mower, we suggest you look through these frequently asked questions.
Can I use a zero-turn mower at my home?
If you have a home with less than a 1/2-an acre of lawn, then you only need a regular push-along mower to cut your grass. If you have a yard that’s over 2-acres, you can consider buying a zero-turn mower. Otherwise, going to the expense of buying one of these machines isn’t necessary for a small yard.
How do I steer a zero-turn mower?
The zero-turn models work on a lever system for moving backward and forward. To make turns while steering your machine, all you need to do is push the lever slightly more forward on the opposite side you want to turn. Push the left lever forward to turn right, and the right lever to turn left. Pulling the controls backward will launch your mower into reverse gear.
Do zero-turn mowers work on slopes?
Most zero-turn mowers can handle a gradient of up to 15-degrees. Also, many models feature hydrostatic transmissions and split differentials that drive power independently to the wheel that’s struggling to gain traction. Some models also come with roll-over protection in case the machine turns on you while you’re moving uphill.
What’s better? – Lawnmower tractor or zero-turn mowers?
These machines both perform the same function of mowing your grass, but they operate entirely differently. The tractor mower tows the cutting deck behind it, while the zero-turn pushes the cutting deck in front of the machine.
Lawn tractors are best for vast farms and estates, and you won’t get the same type of cut quality as you would with a zero-turn model. Zero-turn mowers also cut grass far faster than tractor mowers, minimizing the time you spend on the job.
What is the maintenance involved with a zero-turn mower?
Service your machine with a dealer every 6 to 12-months, depending on your use of the mower. After every job, clean the cutting deck and inspect the other components for damage.
Is driving a zero-turn mower challenging?
The first time you hop onto your zero-turn mower, you might find the controls a little confusing. It takes a minute or two to get used to steering with the levers instead of a wheel. As a safety tip, keep the engine at a low throttle while you master the controls.
The low throttle speed ensures that moving the levers provides you with a gentle turning action that helps you master the control of the machine.
By now, you should have a good idea of the right zero-turn mower for your landscaping or estate management duties. However, on the off chance you’re stuck with your decision, why not rely on our top picks? We spent hours evaluating the best machines available, and our top picks are the best in the industry.
The Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower is our choice for the best overall zero-turn mower. Whether you’re a landscaper or an estate manager, this machine has everything you need to mow lawns up to 4-acres in size.
If you mow golf course fairways every day, then you’ll need a machine with a larger cutting deck and durable components. The Husqvarna MZ61 is our choice for the best premium model money can buy. This machine has a huge 61-inch cutting deck that makes short work of the largest mowing jobs.
If your lawn is less than 3-acres in size, and you’re looking for an affordable model to mow the lawn every week, then choose the Ariens IKON-X. This machine has the power and cutting deck to keep your estate looking tidy throughout the summer season.
Choose the model that’s right for your application, and take the hassle out of mowing grass with a zero-turn mower.