It is safe to say that zero turn mowers transformed the grass cutting industry. Their uniqueness was not limited to the speed and ease of driving. They are highly versatile and easier on the operator’s body as well.
Maintaining a considerable sized lawn is now easy with the z-mowers. But how do you start? Do you just get on the machine as soon as you get it home? These are some seemingly silly but important questions that need to be addressed. It is particularly true if you are someone outside the industry or a first-time buyer. Well, rest assured. We’ve got you covered.
What to do when you first get the zero turn lawn mower.
Z-turn mowers have an intrinsically edgy aesthetic about them. Some folks assume that is why it is complicated in every sense. However, that is not the case.
The mower will most likely arrive at your doorstep in a crate. You have multiple options to assemble the mower. Yes, they will require some assembly.
- You can choose the option to have it assembled at the warehouse. You get a completely functioning machine right out of the box. The downside is, it can cost you some extra dollars.
- The next option is to call in a favor. If you have a friend or someone you know that trained in machinery, ask him to help you out — nothing more masculine and cool than bonding with a guy friend over machinery.
- Another way is to pay an expert to assemble it for you.
- The last option is, you assemble the mower yourself. Well, if you have a background in machinery or you have knowledge about z-turn mowers, why waste the dough?
Decided to do it yourself? Follow these instructions.
- Engage the transmission rods. Disengage the brake pedal and raise the cutting deck to its highest level.
- Carefully remove the unit from the crate. Disengage the transmission rods.
- Check the tires for the appropriate pressure.
- Install/connect the steering wheel or the handlebars.
- Attach and install the seats.
- Hook up the battery to the machine.
- Inspect the presence or level of fuel. And you’re all set to ride the mower.
- Irrespective of whether you are new to the zero turn lawn mower or an experienced one, always refer to the operator’s manual for the right instructions.
How to Cut the Grass
Now that you’re all set and ready to start mowing, how can you get the best out of it? Z-turn mowers are famed for their easy maneuverability, but additional knowledge is never a waste. Some tips to optimize the cutting experience are as follows:
- Easy does it.
Zero turn lawn mowers can quickly achieve top speeds of 12 to 16 mph. It can be an exhilarating experience in the beginning. However, remember that you are not in a race. The primary goal is to mow the lawn.
In a huge rush to turn the mower 180 degrees, patches of grass are mauled at the edges. It can be unsightly, and you have to mow again. To prevent these parts from looking like a rag doll, employ a three-point turn. Just before you make the majestic turn, bring the engine to a halt. Put both the levers and the steering wheel in reverse. Execute the turn while the wheels are running in reverse. This will make the turn seamless, and the lawn will be left looking perfectly manicured.
- Don’t push its limits.
A zero turn mower is ideal for a large sized lawn with uneven terrain. But pushing it to go up a hill is simply not logical. If you are uncertain about how steep that mound or hillock is, try backing the machine up. If you can’t back it up, it’s too steep and unsafe to be on it.
Typically, z-turn mowers perform best on slopes below an inclination of 13 degrees. For the best results, mow in an up and down direction as opposed to cutting it across the hillock. This will yield the best results while also keeping you safe.
- Dry and tall or wet and short.
Some retailers boast that ZTRs can effortlessly cut the tallest of grasses, which is valid to some extent. Given that they have variable cutting heights as well as cutting decks.
However, nobody in their right minds has lawns with grasses growing taller than 6 inches. Unless you are in the Amazon forests, which is a whole new scenario. There is a certain height that can be comfortably covered by a z-turn mower.
Although these mowers are badass and uncompromising, taking them to a tall wet grass puts enormous strain on it. Allow them to shine in their element and keeping them to dry; slightly damp and slightly tall grass is best. They also have better traction under these conditions. Not only is this safer but the end result is a golf course quality lawn.
- To squeeze or not to squeeze.
Into tight spaces, that is. ZTRs are infamous for being able to squeeze into the tightest and narrowest of spaces. Although this is quite correct, it can come at the expense of the machine’s lifespan.
Unless you are a professional landscaper and have years of experience, this might not be advisable in the beginning. The mowers can effortlessly fit into narrow places, but it must not be a compromise. Grasses in close proximity to porches, trees and fences can be cut and trimmed manually, anyway.
- The longer, the better.
The preferred length of the grass varies from one person to the next. Zero turn mowers are incredibly efficient and fast. There are many chances of getting carried away while the blades are in motion.
However, cutting the grass too short can have a lot of disadvantages. Weeds can overpower the grass, the loss of water and moisture occurs in the soil, and the health of the lawn can be compromised.
The ideal length of the cut grass is 3 inches, 3.5 inches and 4 inches, if the environment where you live is rather dry. A grass cut in this length holds the moisture better and discourages weed growth. The grass can also bounce back in a healthy manner. And that is what you want, a healthy lively lawn. Nobody wants to have a mangled, shaggy and sad-looking lawn.
- Employ anti-scalp rollers.
Although the following steps are not grass cutting tip per se, the right use of equipment is crucial to get that gorgeous looking lawn.
Anti-scalp rollers keep the deck as well as the blades from cutting and making a dent in the lawn. When the mower rides over uneven ground, the blades or the deck can easily slice off the top or cut through it.
The cutting height will determine their optimal position. These rollers stay put while you mow on a flat surface. As soon as the mower rolls onto a mound or uneven terrain, it kicks into action. This is a perfect ZTR accessory for giving your lawn the most professional results.
- Keep the blades clean.
Regular maintenance of a mower is a whole other topic in itself. However, keeping the blades in pristine condition is a criterion necessary for cutting grass with a zero-turn. After all, you don’t send a child to school without pencils nor does a warrior go into battle without a sword.
It is essential to clean the blades after every use. Fix a water hose to the washout port, turn on the machine and give the blades a thorough shower. After the water is turned off, allow the blades to rotate for a few minutes to completely dry. Now your blades are ready for the next mowing session for that manicured lawn.
What Makes Grass Cutting With Zero Turn Mowers Different?
For ages, everyone was used to spending hours laboring to get a decent looking lawn. The machines were a comfortable 3 mph to 5 mph. It meant countless hours in the sun, every weekend. Or they were paying some professional service a hefty amount for maintaining the lawn.
With the versatility and ease of use, faster productivity and convenience, ZTRs made us enjoy lawn maintenance. These over performing machines can mow a lawn three times faster than a conventional tractor. We can now own perfectly manicured lawns with minimal effort and money.
The adjustable cutting heights, as well as the deck, produce exceptional results. The wide array of accessories makes it very versatile as well as easy on the back.
The ergonomic designs make the ride very comfortable. There is minimal to no strain or fatigue.
Maintaining a professionally cut lawn is no longer an entitlement of the rich and the elite. The introduction of zero turn mowers has made sure that we all enjoy this necessary but rather mundane activity.
A well maintained and healthy lawn does not just attest to your landscaping skills. It reflects on the type of owners who live in those homes. With a zero turn mower in your arsenal, there is every reason to celebrate the beauty of nature in your own lawn.
Writer, designer and Husqvarna MZ61 owner. Expert on zero turn mowers.