Zero turn mowers make mowing your lawn easy and—dare we say?—enjoyable, even. These ride-on machines can turn on a dime, giving you the ability to cut precise lines through your grass and to easily maneuver corners.
Zero turn mowers can be quite the investment, though, so how do you know which is the best fit for your yard? Read on to learn about our top five picks!
Our Top Picks
Cub Cadet ULTIMA Series ZT1 54 Zero Turn Mower
Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Lawn Mower
Best for Large Areas:
Ariens IKON Zero Turn Mower
The Cub Cadet ultima series ZT1 54 Zero Turn Mower is our overall pick for best zero turn mower. It features a larger cutting deck than its popular cousin, the ZT1 42—54 inches, as opposed to 42. This size makes it easy to maneuver around a medium- to large-sized yard efficiently.
The Cub Cadet’s powerful engine also makes mowing tasks a breeze, and its dual hydrostatic transmissions result in precise, smooth turns. It is also designed for comfort and intuitive control, with a high-back seat with armrests and user-friendly lap bar controls.
One of our favorite things about this zero turn mower is its deck wash system; just plug in your garden hose, and let the cleaning commence!
On the downside, the Cub Cadet does require more maintenance than other zero turn mowers. Blade sharpening, oil changes, filter replacements, and belt adjustments are some of the tasks you will need to see to in order to keep the Cub Cadet 54 in good working order.
If you plan to be mowing over rough terrain, expect a slightly less smooth ride.
- Large cutting deck
- Smooth to operate
- Comes with various attachments and accessories
- Not well suited for smaller yards
- Big—requires significant storage space
- Less smooth over rough terrain
The Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Lawn Mower is one of the best zero turn lawn mowers for the price. Its 54-inch cutting deck is great for medium and larger yards. Like the Cub Cadet, its reinforced steel cutting blade makes mowing easy and leaves your lawn looking great.
The Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Lawn Mower uses air-induction technology, which improves the airflow within the deck and ensures you get a clean, consistent, and efficient cut. This technology also enhances the mower’s lift, which comes in handy for grass collection. The mower supports various clipping management options, including mulching, bagging, or side discharge, providing flexibility based on your preferences and lawn conditions.
This Husqvarna model is also quite comfortable, with a high-back seat, foam-padded hand grips, and vibration dampening! And it also features a deck cleaning system, which we love.
- Large cutting deck
- Reinforced steel cutting blade
- Air-induction technology
- Comfortable set-up
- Pricier than other models
- Not suitable for small yards
- Louder than other riding lawn mowers
Best for Large Areas
Need to manicure a large lawn? The Ariens IKON Zero Turn Mower may just be the best zero turn lawn mower for your job. With a cutting deck of 60 inches, this mower can make quick work of your large lawn.
The Ariens IKON is also ergonomically sound, with a comfortable high-back seat, ergonomic controls, and foam-padded hand grips.
Some owners find the mower’s lack of a clear fuel gauge to be a problem, and others say the flexible crankcase oil drain line is too short and hard to access, making oil changes messier than necessary.
- Large cutting deck
- Lacks a useful fuel gauge
Best for Smaller Areas
The Toro Timecutter Zero Turn Mower is an efficient, relatively affordable zero turn mower that gets the job done. Our favorite feature of this zero turn mower is Toro’s Recycler Cutting System, which shreds your cut grass into small, fine pieces that fall back onto your lawn and act as natural mulch. This fertilizer breaks down quickly, adding valuable nutrients back into the soil to feed your lawn. (If you prefer a bag system to collect clippings, fear not—this mower also comes with one.)
Precise and easy to maneuver, users love the little features that make this one of the best zero turn mowers on the market, like the storage area under the seat and the smooth ride.
Although this mower doesn’t come with a high-backed seat or armrests, it still offers a reasonably comfortable ride.
- Good for smaller areas and in tight spots
- Reasonable price point
- Recycler Cutting System
- Not as many ergonomic features as other models
- Going too fast results in unevenly cut grass and clumping
In the market for a quieter, more environmentally friendly zero turn mower? Check out this Greenworks CrossoverZ Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower, which we think is one of the best zero turn mowers out there. Users can count on mowing about 2.5 acres before needing to recharge, and the battery recharges in about 90 minutes.
The Greenworks CrossoverZ Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower can hit speeds of up to 8 mph, and its dual-blade cutting system tackles thick, high, and even damp grass with ease. Tackle slopes up to 15 degrees, and take advantage of this mower’s integrated rear storage bin, which can haul up to 200 lbs of cargo.
As with any battery-powered machine, though, you do need to ensure your battery is charged or you won’t get very far.
The initial investment in this mower is steep compared to gas mowers, and replacement batteries for the Greenworks CrossoverZ Zero-Turn Mower can also be expensive, but overall, the mower is likely less expensive in the long run.
- Environmentally friendly
- Good coverage area on one battery charge
- High price point
- Battery charge wait time (although it is relatively quick to recharge your mower battery, it still takes longer than filling a gas tank)
Frequently Asked Questions
Which zero turn mower type is better: gas or electric?
As with any tool, the best zero turn mower for you is the one that suits your specific needs. However, there are pros and cons to each type of mower.
Gas zero turn mowers tend to be more powerful overall than their electric counterparts, and you don’t have to worry about your battery draining before you finish your mowing job. On the other hand, gas mowers emit dangerous exhaust fumes. They also require more maintenance than electric mowers, like oil changes and fuel filter replacements.
Electric mowers are a clear win for the environment, and they’re quieter than gas-guzzling models. Although they may be a larger investment initially, electric zero turn mowers are less expensive (and easier) to maintain than gas mowers. They are also easier to use.
The downside of electric zero turn mowers is, of course, that you are beholden to a battery, and if you don’t finish your mowing job before your battery dies, you’ll have to wait while it recharges.
What factors should I consider when choosing a zero turn mower?
The most important factors to consider when choosing the best zero turn mower are unique to your situation. You will want to consider the area you intend to mow, which may decide whether you choose a gas model or electric, and will influence the deck size of the mower you choose.
You should also consider the terrain over which you’ll be mowing. If you have to deal with rough ground or lots of hills, you will want to opt for a more powerful zero turn mower.
Similarly, consider comfort. Spending hours on an uncomfortable mower seat or straining to use the controls can be avoided if you select a machine with some ergonomic considerations built in. This is especially important to consider if you’re working a large or rough area of land.
And, of course, consider your budget. Try to match your needs with the right price when shopping for the best zero turn mower.
How do I maintain my zero turn mower?
First and foremost, read the manual! You should find all the maintenance tips you need there. However, some basic tasks include the following:
- Clean the mower after every use. Remove grass clippings, debris, and mud to prevent rust and corrosion. Don’t forget to clean the blades (and occasionally sharpen them).
- Regularly inspect the mower for any visible damage or worn parts. Promptly address any issues to prevent further damage. Inspect belts for cracks.
- Check the oil and change it and the oil filter regularly (if you have a gas-powered mower). For electric mowers, keep your battery charged and check the connections and terminals for corrosion.
- Also check the fuel levels and inspect the fuel system for leaks or damage. If you will be storing your mower for extended periods of time, you should consider using a fuel stabilizer or try to keep the fuel tank empty.
- Check the tire pressure before you use your mower. Properly inflated tires will make your mowing more efficient and will keep your tires from getting damaged.
- Check your hydraulic fluid levels and top them off, if needed.
- Store the zero turn mower in a dry area when you’re not using it.
Choose From the Best Ultimate Mowing Machines
The best zero turn mower for your lawn is up to you and your priorities, but there are so many great options on the market, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. With a little research, you can select a machine that shortens your mowing time and keeps your lawn looking like a professional tended it.
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- About the Author
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Ronda Lindsay is a writer and editor who loves getting outside in her garden, whether that’s in the temperate climates of the Pacific Northwest or Mid-Atlantic or in the sweltering heat of south-central Texas.
Growing up, she was a regular at pick-your-own farms, where she and her siblings gathered anything that wasn’t already growing in her family’s backyard to eat, freeze, or can. As an adult, Ronda has taken the vast gardening knowledge bestowed upon her by her mother and used it to grow everything from strawberries to jalapeños, arrange beautiful container gardens, and nurse sick plants back to health.
With a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in professional writing, Ronda enjoys using her skills to share information and advice with Minneopa Orchards readers!