Top 20 Frequently Asked Questions About Zero Turn Mowers

What is a zero-turn mower?

Zero-turn mowers, also known as z-turns, are lawn mowers that have a zero turning radius. This is made possible by the use of hydraulic speed control in the drive wheels. Generic lawn mowers and tractors have a steering wheel to drive the equipment. However, a zero-turn mower has levers or throttles that control and steer the machine.

They are typically faster than most lawn tractors. Some of the best zero-turn mowers have been known to reduce the cutting time by almost 60%. They are available in different sizes of cutting decks, engine power as well as different types of fuel.

Is a zero-turn worth the money?

A straightforward answer is yes. Z-turn lawn mowers have a premium price tag. And rightfully so. Consider the following reasons:

  • The materials used in their construction are industrial grade. They are resistant to rust and general wear and tear.
  • They can reduce the cutting time by almost 60%, which is an impressive feat.
  • They are equipped with significant power engines that can go up to 30 HP.
  • Z-turns can easily attain a top speed of 16 mph.
  • The cutting pattern that is achieved by using a zero-turn is unique as making a 180-degree turn is effortless.

What are the advantages of a zero-turn mower?

  • Reduced cutting time – They can reduce the cutting time by more than half the time.
  • Enhanced performance – Zero-turns have a displacement and torque ratio that is easily the best in the industry.
  • Ease of maneuvering – Their ergonomic designs and pedals eliminate the use of brakes and wheels which makes them effortless to use.
  • Reduced operator strain – They are designed to isolate the vibrational strain on the limbs. The seats and arm-rests are also padded and adjustable for more comfort.
  • Variable cutting deck – Makes cutting tall and damp grasses possible.
  • Versatility with accessories –They can operate a multitude of accessories with ease.
  • Durability – They are made with premium materials which make them more resistant to wear and tear.

What are the differences between residential and commercial zero-turn mowers?

  • Residential lawn mowers have lesser features in comparison to its counterpart. Even if they are present, they are less complicated.
  • In terms of power, residential mowers typically have around 24 HP. They are not built for constant use. A commercial one can have up to 31 HP. They are built for continuous use up to 6-7 hours, 5-6 days a week.
  • The cutting decks are also smaller in residential ones as they meant for use in the backyards and lawn. However, commercial lawn mowers are built bigger and heavier as they are used on larger fields such as soccer fields and golf courses.
  • Residential lawn mowers have a lower price tag while commercial ones carry a heftier price on them.

How much do zero-turn mowers weigh?

It depends on a host of variables. Some come with single engines while others have twin engines. Whether or not there are accessories attached. Size of the fuel tank and the engines, as well as the wheels.

Having said that, zero-turn lawn mowers with 34-inch cutting decks can weigh anywhere between 400 lbs to 450 lbs. These are among the lightweight zero-turnS.

Those in the middle category can weigh between 450 lbs to 650 lbs. The heaviest in the category can weigh between 800lbs to 1200 lbs. Some commercial zero-turns can weigh a massive 1900 lbs to a ton.

Keep in mind that residential zero-turn tractors are intrinsically lighter than the smallest commercial one.

Do zero-turn mowers have brakes?

If you mean a conventional pedal brake, then no. An emergency brake also called the parking brake is an addition. But it functions only in an emergency or to supplement the levers.

Zero-turn lawn mowers are controlled and driven by the two levers. Going forward or reversing, as well as the speed of the lawn mower is achieved by pushing or pulling on the levers or the throttles. Bringing them to the neutral position brings the machine to a stop.

How long does it take to mow an acre with a zero-turn mower?

Zero-turn lawn mowers are famed for being incredibly fast. But exactly how fast is still a question most mower owners have. An acre of a lawn is 43560 sq.ft.

The average speed of a z-turn mower is around 13 mph. Now, let’s assume that the lawn is flat with minimal slopes and uneven terrain. In any case, z-turns are not meant for steep slopes. So, the time it will take to mow an acre with a zero-turn mower, moving at 13 mph and a cutting width of 4.5 inches is 8.5 minutes.

What size lawn mower do I need for one acre?

For a lawn that is exactly an acre, a mower with a cutting deck of 38 inches to 42 inches is an ideal choice. The engine power in the range of 14 HP will have enough power to perform the mowing.

What size mower do I need for two acres?

For a lawn that is two acres or below, a mower with a cutting deck between 42 inches and 48 inches is the best. The horsepower can be anywhere from 14 HP to 16 HP.

What size z-turn mower do I need for three acres?

For a lawn of this size, a ZTR with a cutting of 52 inches should be the minimum size. This will ensure that the lawn gets cut efficiently and fast. Engine power can be anywhere from 20 HP to 27 HP which will provide sufficient power to execute the mowing.

How to maintain a zero-turn mower?

Proper maintenance of a zero-turn is detrimental to its performance as well as durability. Tips for maintaining it for optimum results are:

  • Inspect the air filter regularly. Blockage or damaged filter can hamper the performance as well as the fuel efficiency of the mower.
  • Check the engine oil after ten hours or so of use. The yellowish or golden color of the oil exhibits its healthy state, meaning it is still safe to use. Dark colored oil means that it needs to be changed.
  • Monitor the pressure on the tires for safety and performance.
  • Replace the spark-plug on the mower after every twelve months or so.
  • Keep the mower in pristine condition. You can do so by sharpening the blades and cleaning the decks.
  • Store in a garage or any other place without moisture and dirt. Exposure to elements can harm the mower significantly.

For more info on this please visit our guide ‘How to Maintain a Zero Turn Mower‘.

How to drive a zero-turn mower?

Zero-turn mowers are known for being very easy to drive. However, it is a machine, after all. So a little training is required. Follow the steps:

  • Understand the machine and its parts. Get to know the different parts and what they do. It includes the ignition switch, emergency brake, and deck adjustment lever, steering levers and mower clutch.
  • The basic operation. The throttles or levers function as the gas pedal, steering wheel, and brake pedal. The left levers control the left wheels and vice versa. Putting equal forward pressure on the levers accelerates the mower while the opposite is for reverse. Pushing the left lever moves the left while the right lever moves the right wheel.
  • Riding the machine. Engage the emergency brakes and adjust the arms as you get into a comfortable position. Disengage it, once you are ready to move. Making turns requires the operator to move the control bars in the opposite direction or keep one in neutral and move the other.
  • Learning to perform the three-point turn is a crucial step while riding a zero-turn mower. To execute the three-point turn, stop the mower before taking a turn, go backward or reverse, and take the turn once the wheels are in motion. The idea is to prevent the mower from spinning in a tight circle.

For more information on this, please visit our guide ‘How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower‘.

How to cut grass with a zero-turn mower?

Cutting grass with a ZTR can be interesting what with all its speed and power. However, it is essential to follow some basic rules while performing the cutting.

  • To prevent ugly torn edges, execute the three-point turn. It will result in a clean and professional looking lawn.
  • To achieve the best results, keep the z-turns to slopes within an inclination of thirteen degrees. Move it in an up and down direction as opposed to moving across the slope. This will yield the best cuts while keeping the operator safe.
  • Limit the use the mower to slightly tall and damp grasses. This will give them better traction while keeping the machine safe. Using them on ridiculously tall and dripping wet grass will damage the mower.
  • Squeezing into the tiniest of spaces to cut the grass in those areas can compromise the durability of the machine.
  • Keep the length of the grass between 3 inches and 3.5 inches. Grasses in this length are not only healthier, but they hold moisture better. It will also discourage the growth of weed.
  • Using anti-scalp rollers while cutting will prevent the mower from making dents in the lawn. It will also keep the decks of the mower safe from scratching and denting.
  • To get good quality cuts every time, it is a must to keep the blades of the mower clean at all times.

For more information on this please visit our guide ‘How to Cut Grass With a Zero Turn Mower‘.

How to deal with clippings?

Clippings are a problem for some, but they are boon to others. Consider the ways you can deal with them:

  • They make a very healthy option for animal feed. Clippings contain a lot of healthy nutrients that can benefit animals such as sheep, cows, and horses. They are even healthier than some types of hay.
  • Clippings also make excellent mulch. The high concentration of nitrogen in these cut grasses can make plants flourish.
  • They can also be used for making raised beds for increasing the yields and the quality of the soil.
  • Composting the clippings is also a great way to put them to use. Not only is this sustainable, but they provide great nutrients to the soil.
  • A lesser known way to deal with them is making clipping lawn tea. This is a process where the freshly cut grass is soaked in the water for many days. The water becomes infused with minerals which are then strained to be sprayed on plants and flower beds.

Can it pull attachments?

Yes. Zero-turn mowers have provisions to accommodate a wide variety of attachments. They include mulching kit, bagger, lights, hitch kit, snow blowers among others.

What kind of terrain is it good for?

Zero-turn lawn mowers are typically best for thick and rugged terrain. They can easily work with grasses that are thick and tall. They also work well with damp grasses.

Is it good on hills?

Zero-turn mowers can perform exceptionally well in slopes having an inclination of 13 degrees or less.  Technically, a hill has an inclination of 35 degrees or more. So the answer is no. Zero-turns are not good on hills.

The mechanism of caster wheels prevents them from climbing hills. They lose traction and stability on the steep slopes.

If you have a particularly steep slope, there is a safe way to figure out if the ZTR can handle it. Rev up the engine and try to back up the slope or the hillock. If it can climb it comfortably, then the mower can work on it efficiently and safely. However, if it doesn’t, then it is not safe to perform the mowing.

How many hours does a zero-turn mower engine last?

The life expectancy of a ZTR like any other machine, will depend on the frequency of use and the maintenance, including oil changes. That aside, the life expectancy of the two most common zero-turn engines, Kohler and Kawasaki according to expert estimates are:

  • 3000 to 4000 hours for a commercial lawn mower.
  • 1800 hours to 2100 hours for a residential mower.

Is it bad to mow in the rain with a zero-turn mower?

Some advertisers proclaim that zero-turns can cut wet grass with no problem. Although they can cut damp grass, there is no way to mow in the rain without putting the machine under tremendous stress. The wet surface also lessens the traction, which can be a safety hazard.

How many hours should a commercial mower last?

Commercial lawn mowers can comfortably last up to 4000 hours; provided that the machine has regular maintenance and oil changes after every 75 to 100 hours.