Best Zero Turn Lawn Mowers for 2020
Here are our picks for the top zero turn lawn mowers, in six categories.
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Buying a Zero Turn Lawn Mower
A zero turn lawn mower is a versatile tool that makes the work of lawn maintenance faster and more enjoyable. Sitting behind the lap bars of a zero turn radius (ZTR) mower is one step removed from an amusement park ride. With the ability to turn on a dime, and a ground speed as much as twice that of a traditional lawn tractor, a zero turn mower is an absolute treat to drive.
If you’re in the market for a mower, here is a rundown of six models that are perfect for different lawn needs.
Best for Big Lawns
Big lawns are where zero turn radius mowers really shine. The larger the lawn, the more the ZTR ground speed advantage comes into play. In this category, you’ll want to maximize your deck size, engine performance and speed.
The Husqvarna MZ61 has a massive 61-in. cutting deck and a 24-hp Kawasaki engine with hydrostatic transmission, along with rollover protection. It also has a high-backed seat and vibration dampers to make the time spent on your mower as comfortable as possible.
Best for Small Yards
On the opposite end of the scale, for small yards you’ll want a more compact cutting deck and excellent visibility. The best small yards for a zero turn riding mower are typically too large for a push mower — around half an acre — and peppered with obstructions like a backyard pool, standalone bushes or trees. All that makes a rear-engine rider or lawn tractor too ungainly to use.
This Ariens Zoom has a 19-hp V-twin engine and a 34-in. cutting deck. That’s small enough to pass through most standard gates (although be sure to measure yours first!) while still large enough to make quick work of your grass.
If your gate or yard is a little tight for the Ariens, this 32-in. Toro TimeCutter is a good alternative. It gives up some features like a hydrostatic transmission, but can fit into tighter spots.
The best value shouldn’t be confused with the lowest price. This Troy-Bilt zero turn mower is a great value because it packs in performance, features and adaptability at a competitive price. You can find ZTR mowers for less, and you can find ZTR mowers that perform better, but this Troy-Bilt strikes an excellent balancing between the two extremes.
Best Splurge for a Smooth Ride
While many ZTR mowers feature stress and vibration reducing systems, one brand makes comfort a key selling point: the Spartan SRT line.
The tech in the SRT series (the acronym means Smart Ride Technology) sets it apart. It starts with a vibration control deck and ergonomic cockpit. From the seat cushioning to the tire design to the frame build itself, everything about the SRT series is designed to provide comfort and handling.
A Spartan is a serious investment, costing about twice as much as most mowers on this list. But if you want to splurge for a smooth ride, then Spartan is the brand for you!
Best Eco-Conscious ZTR
Zero turn radius and zero emissions! Ryobi’s battery-powered ZTR mower with a 42-in. stamped deck allows you to mow up to three acres on a single charge. Plug into a standard 120-volt three-prong outlet, and you can charge up and be ready to go for another round of mowing. Electric mowers also benefit from reduced mower maintenance, although over time the batteries will hold less of a charge and will likely need to be replaced.
Best All Around
If your yard demands a serious riding mower and you can afford a top-of-the-line machine, consider the Cub Cadet Ultima with its 50-in. cutting deck, a 23-hp Kawasaki engine and dual hydrostatic transmissions.
This mower has easy access to all maintenance items, including a tilt-up deck and a SmartJet power assist washing port to clean off grass clippings and debris from the deck and blades. The fabricated deck will take more of a beating than the stamped decks found on many less expensive ZTRs.
Backed up by a three-year/unlimited-hour warranty, this Cub Cadet model is one of the best all-around investments in its class.