A big beautiful front yard is a huge selling point when buying a house. Who can resist relaxing and lounging in the great outdoors, after all?
After you buy the house, you realize that the grass is growing rapidly and that you have to mow the lawn regularly.
Mowing the lawn can be an enormous time commitment, especially with a lot of landscaping. It can be even more time-consuming if you don’t have the right mower for your needs.
Zero-turn lawn mowers are gaining a great deal of momentum as of late. People are opting for them over standard riding lawn mowers.
Do zero-turns cut better than regular mowers? Are they worth the investment? In this post, we compare zero-turns with regular mowers to find out which type is better. Stick around.
Do Zero Turns Cut Better Than Regular Mowers?
The short answer is yes, zero-turn lawn mowers are better cutters than regular mowers. This is because zero-turns are faster and can cover your lawn in fewer swaths. However, the main problem with zero-turns is that they’re harder to control and don’t perform well on inclined surfaces.
What Is a Standard Riding Lawn Mower?
You’re probably already familiar with regular riding lawn mowers, but if you’re not, here’s a summary:
Standard riding lawn mowers have four wheels. Two small tires in the front that rotate, and two large drive tires in the back.
It uses a 3-point turn system to move around the yard. You have to move forward, turn to one side, then back up to change direction. Very close to how we drive regular cars.
They’ve been around for a long time, and for a good reason. Here are some of the pros and cons of standard riding lawn mowers:
- Standard mowers can drive up hills and slopes easily. This is because of the powerful front-wheel-drive system pushing up slowly but steadily.
- The steering wheel system is similar to that of cars. This makes driving quite intuitive. It takes very little time and practice to master.
- It has a foot gas pedal, making the operation simple. You push the pedal to speed up and remove your foot to stop.
- Some models can help carry around yard equipment or other small objects.
- It has a wide turn radius, which means it will leave a patch of grass at the end of every swath.
- Depending on the engine power, it can be comparatively slow.
- Not as efficient at cutting grass as zero-turn mowers.
- Due to its relatively slow speed, it’s not advised for use on large lawns.
What Is a Zero-Turn Lawn Mower?
A zero-turn (z-turn) riding lawn mower is a normal mower with a turning radius close to zero. What that means is that you can turn in place.
It has two drive wheels. When you move them in opposite directions, you can rotate without moving out of place. This is like how tanks change direction.
Most gasoline or diesel-powered z-turn mowers use dual-hydrostatic transmissions controlled by two levers.
When you press both levers to the front, the mower will move forward in a straight line. Then, you pull one lever back while still pressing the other forward to turn.
Some models are battery-powered, housing electric motors. While they’re much better for the environment, they can be less reliable. They also need frequent battery changes.
Here are some pros and cons of a zero-turn lawn mower:
- A z-turn mower leaves fewer missed patches around curves and corners.
- Unlike the standard mower. It doesn’t leave a patch at the end of the swath, reducing the cutting time by up to 50%.
- It’s really fast, going up to 10 miles per hour, making it much easier to get around large spaces.
- Z-turn makes it possible to stop and change directions quickly. This can be useful if your yard has many trees, flower beds, and bushes.
- It also uses less fuel because you have to make fewer trips around the yard.
- Because of the dual-hydrostatic transmission, you have differential speed control. Providing a 360° rotational angle, meaning you can turn in any direction.
- If you’re finding the z-turn too hard to control, there’s a joystick model that’s a little easier.
- Z-turn mowers use rear-wheel drive. The driving force that moves the mower forward comes from the back wheels. This makes it harder to control.
- They may go up to 10 miles per hour, but they only provide clean cuts at 5 miles per hour or slower. Cut quality will decrease as speed increases, regardless of your mower.
- If your yard has uneven ground, you can lose traction, and the mower could potentially flip over.
Zero-Turn vs. Standard Riding Mower: Which to Choose?
Before you decide on a mower, there’re a few factors you should consider:
#1 Yard Size and Landscaping
A smaller yard filled to the brim with flowers and trees will have different needs than a large empty yard. Depending on your yard size and landscaping, the type and size of the mower you need will change.
For larger lawns that require a lot of landscaping, we recommend zero-turn mowers.
#2 Mower Deck Size
The deck size of your mower is critical. The more expansive the deck, the fewer swaths you’ll need to go over your lawn.
Yes, the biggest mower deck size will finish the mowing process quickly, but you shouldn’t forget that you need something that will fit between trees and flower beds.
Standard mowers have a deck range of 42 to 54 inches, while zero-turn mowers range from 42 to over 60 inches.
You also have to consider how inclined your yard is. If you have steep slopes and uneven ground, then it’s safer and more efficient to use a standard mower, as a zero-turn mower is prone to slipping.
It’s good to note that any mower can tip on extreme slopes. Usually, anything more than 15° off the floor. So with an inclined lawn, it’s better to use a handheld mower.
When buying a motorized helper for your lawn, you must prepare for a financial hit. Prices for standard and zero-turn mowers vary, but they’re both costly.
Standard mowers tend to be the more affordable of the two. A basic model can start at around $1,200. Unfortunately, this price doesn’t usually include any accessories like bagging kits and sprayers.
Zero-turn mowers start at around $2,500 and can go up to well over $5,000 without any accessories.
Purchasing a brand-new lawnmower can be a pretty big investment. So, when you find yourself wondering, “is a zero turn better?” You need to consider a few things first.
If you have a large yard with very little landscaping, your best bet is a standard mower. It’s also handy if your yard has steep slopes or uneven ground.
If your yard is full of flower beds and trees with narrow pathways, you’ll want to invest in a zero-turn mower.
Zero-turn mowers also tend to be much faster than regular mowers, but that isn’t always better. A faster mower will be harder to control. Besides, most mowers will only give you a clean cut at five miles per hour.
Before you make your purchase, do plenty of research on the model you intend to buy. There’s nothing worse than buying an expensive piece of machinery that you can’t use.
- How Can I Get Better Traction On My Zero Turn?
- Why Does My Zero Turn Mower Leave A Strip of Grass?
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- Why Does My John Deere Mower Cut Uneven?
- Are Mower Decks Interchangeable?
- How Do You Drive A Zero Turn Without Tearing Up The Grass?
- Is It Good to Cut Your Grass In Different Directions?
- Why Do Zero Turn Mowers Cut Faster?
- Do Zero Turn Mowers Have Suspension and Shocks?