A zero turn mower is a riding lawn mower with a turning radius of essentially zero. This can be achieved in different ways, but hydraulic speed control of each drive wheel is the most common method. Initially designed for commercial use, these days a wide range of homeowner models exist, with varying engine power options, size of cutting decks, fuel type and prices. In this article, we review the most popular homeowner ZTR mowers and feature the best zero turn mower!
Why Would You Buy Zero Turn Lawn Mowers?
Regardless of whether you own a landscaping business or a home with a reasonably sized yard, a ride on mower is going to be a must have gardening tool. We have discussed already the main selling points and most looked after features of riding lawn mowers, and since the zero turn lawn mower is under that category, options and the decision making processes are fairly similar.
- Ease of use
- Great cutting capacity
- Cover huge yards
- More expensive
Manufacturers try to impress potential buyers with the top speed of their mowers, but don’t get fooled by this. The right mowing technique is much more important. Even with the best zero turn lawn mower you can make utterly ridiculous tire marks and tear up the turf, so fast sharp turns are not recommended.
Best Zero Turn Mowers Reviews
Best Zero Turn Mower for 2 Acres or Less – Ariens Zoom 42 – 19hp Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin 42″ Zero Turn Lawn Mower
Deck size (inches)
Ariens, founded in 1933 and based in Wisconsin, are well know for their lawn and snow equipment. They entered the lawn and garden market in 1956 with the first riding mower.
Living up to their reputation they have a whole range of zero turn mowers, from the fast and compact Zoom up to the pro-grade Apex line.
We are starting our reviews with this agile and convenient zero turn lawn mower, which is on the smaller deck side of all the offerings in this list.
Featuring a 42-inch stamped deck constructed of steel this ZTR mower is best for medium to large size yards the size up to one acre. Thanks to its compact size it is great even in areas with many obstacles as it can maneuver around those with ease, while still being much more efficient and comfortable as push and walk behind mowers.
This zero turn riding mower is powered by a professional-grade Kohler 6600 V-Twin 660cc engine with 19 HP. It won’t tear the ground apart with this power but it is enough for such a compact ride on mower.
Comfort features include a foot-operated deck lift, a high-back and padded seat.
Cutting heights are set to be between 1 1/2 and 4 1/2 inches with 7 different cutting positions.
Weight is around 440 lbs and despite the not so powerful engine it is capable of ground speeds of 6 mph (forward) and 3 mph (backward).
Customers seem to be generally happy with their purchase, highlighting how easy it is to drive this mower.
Some criticized the this gas mower for not being great on an incline. As a matter of fact, zero turn mowers with desk size on the smaller side (below 46 inches) are relatively top-heavy, making them less suitable for terrain with slopes and inclines over 10 degrees.
An other complain was due to the smallish gas tank of 2 gallons, which reportedly enough for 2 – 2 1/2 hours of solid mowing. It’s quite subjective how much mowing is enough in one sitting but you can always refuel in no time and the Ariens Zoom 42 would be ready to mow for sure.
Best Mid-Size Zero-Turn Mower – Troy-Bilt Mustang 46 22HP 46-Inch Zero-Turn Mower
Deck size (inches)
Troy-Bilt, with over 75 years of American heritage, is a family-owned company based in Valley city, Ohio, USA. They manufacture lawn care and gardening power tools for mowing, clean up, snow throwing and cultivating, among others.
The Troy-Bilt Mustang 46 is their medium range, medium size zero-turn mower. This deck size combines the benefits of still being agile and relatively compact while the increased clearing width comes with higher efficiency and improved stability.
Operating a two-blade setup, the discharge is on the side of the mower deck. The deck itself can be adjusted in 8 positions between 1 1/2 and 4 inches. It can cut grass up to 10 inches in height but anything higher could damage the mower.
The Mustang 46 mower is powered with a Briggs & Stratton Intek Twin engine outputting 22 HP providing plenty of juice.
Comfort features include the very useful 2-way adjustable ergonomic lap bars to fit riders of all sizes. The high back seat is 18 inches, should you be concerned about the riding comfort of your tractor.
With 660 lbs, the Troy-Bilt Mustang weights a lot more than the previously reviewed, although smaller, Ariens model. This is not necessarily a bad thing, more weight provides more stability. The 24HP engine can speed this mower up to 7 mph (forward) and 2 1/2 mph (backward).
Previous buyers praise how well the Troy-Bilt ZTR mower is built, how easy it is to operate and clean due to its integrated deck wash.
A concerned customer mentioned that the cutting deck was not properly leveled when the mower arrived, however the owner found instructions in the Troy-Bilt Mustang 46 manual that does explain clearly how to adjust it.
Some mentioned that the Mustang 46 zero-turn could slip uneven ground like wet, hilly sideways. Again, avoiding this needs some practice, and as with all zero turn ride on mowers, manufacturers discourage the use of their tractors on high elevations for health and safety reasons. So just be sensible and take out your push mower or string trimmer for those difficult terrains.
Best Zero Turn Mower for 2 Acres or More – Poulan Pro P46ZX 46-Inch V-Twin Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower
Deck size (inches)
Poulan Pro is owned by the Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna, famous mostly for its outstanding quality chainsaws and residential lawn care and snow clearing equipment.
Despite having different owners, the Poulan Pro P46ZX sharing many features with the previously reviewed Troy-Bilt Mustang 46. It’s not just that their deck side is the same, they actually use engine with same properties from Briggs and Stratton. Power output is similarly 22 HP, plenty to pull this medium sized zero radius mower around at the top speed of 6 mph.
Poulan Pro claims the 3.5 gallon fuel capacity and reasonably fast top speed allows up to four acres per hour lawn cut coverage.
As with most ZTRs, the dual wheel hydro transmission allow the driver maximum maneuverability. Controlling each wheel independently allows the operator to go forward, backward, right, or left just by moving the arms forward and backward.
The 46 inch deck is reinforced and enjoys a generous 10-year warranty (only the deck, otherwise the mower is covered by a 3 year limited warranty). The deck can be adjusted in 6 positions with a clearance between 1 1/2 and 4 inches.
Foam padded hand grips on the dual levers, digital hour meter and the extra high back seat (15 inches) all serve the operator’s comfort. There’s even a cup holder!
The Poulan Pro P46ZX has very good reviews online, praising its speed, ease of use, nice cuts and good size that suits most use cases.
Some customers recommend buying the optional rain cover, headlight kit, armrest and mulching kit as they proved to be all excellent additions to the already quite capable zero turn mower.
As most ride on zero radius mowers, needs some practice to master the handles. Also pay attention to the start up procedure when the mower arrives – always read the manual. One customer had to issues with start up but figured the battery was disconnected for transport, and this information was missing from the manual.
To summarize, we find this zero turn mower very competitive in its category. It is manufactured by Husqvarna but is cheaper than the same category riding mowers with the Husqvarna brand logo.
Deck size (inches)
We have arrived to the semi-professional big boy called the Husqvarna MZ61, which might be just the best zero turn mower we came across during our investigation.
Husqvarna is a well known brand headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, that manufactures top quality outdoor power tools including chainsaws, lawn mowers, snow blowers, hedge trimmers and others.
Power is guaranteed by the Briggs and Stratton Endurance V-Twin 810cc engine delivering 27 HP. This motor is combined with a commercial grade hydrostatic transmission with fan cooled 10cc pumps and separate wheel motors per driven wheels.
Weight is 770 lbs so the big engine is definitely a great thing to get this big boy moving.
According to Husqvarna, this monster can mow up to 4.2 acres per hour with the speed of up to 8 1/2 mph. Fuel tank has a generous 5 gallon capacity and can be filled on the side of the mower for easy access.
The most important aspect of this Husqvarna ZTR mower is the huge, 61 inch fabricated steel cutting deck with twin sheets of 11 gauge steel. Underneath, the 3-blade system does its job along with cast aluminium deck spindles. Cutting methods include collect / mulch and side discharge modes.
Deck lift is pedal-assisted, cutting height can be finely adjusted in 12 steps between 1 1/2 and 4 1/2 inches.
Further addition to improved comfort is the high back vinyl seat with armrests. The handles are comfortable but needs some getting used to, as due to the high performance engine, turns can be sudden and fast, with occasional skidding if not cautious enough. Unless you are a professional we suggest you take it easy in the first few weeks.
The Husqvarna MZ61 mower comes with 3 year residential warranty and 1 year commercial warranty.
Customers who bought this zero turn mower tend to mow at least one acre regularly, but reportedly, some managed to mow 6 acres in a matter of 4 hours.
There are no washout connectors for a hose as some other, smaller zero turn mowers have in this list, so some buyers advised to spray anti-stick coating before first use on the deck for easier cleaning later on.
People seem to be very happy with their purchase, just make sure you practice the controls to avoid skid marks on the lawn and other inconveniences to occur.