How Do You Drive A Zero Turn Mower Without Tearing Up Grass?

When it comes to lawn care, there are many different options to choose from. If you’re looking for a way to cut your grass without tearing it up in the process, you may want to consider using a zero-turn mower. These mowers are designed specifically for this purpose – they allow you to make tight turns without damaging your lawn. It will take some practice to learn how to drive a zero-turn without tearing up the grass.

There are several tricks to avoid tearing up your lawn, and they include not mowing after it rains, letting the grass grow longer, not turning too quickly, and going slower. 

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a brief guide with all the tips and tricks that can help you minimize or avoid this effect altogether. So let’s dive right in!

Why Do Zero Turn Mowers Tear Up Grass?

There are several reasons why lawnmowers, especially zero-turn mowers, can tear up the grass. 

These tears are known as “divots” or “grooves,” and they’re created because the tires of the zero turn mower start digging into the top layer of the soil, which pulls out some of the grass and soil, leaving these skid or tire marks.

In addition to the mower tires, the state of the grass can also be a cause for tearing up. Weak, malnutrition grass with short roots won’t be as sturdy as longer grass stalks with roots embedded deep into the soil.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Drive a Zero Turn Mower without Damaging the Grass

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why grass can end up causing this phenomenon on the grass.

Luckily, there is also a wide range of tips, tricks, and techniques that you can keep in mind to bring the grass tearing to a minimum or even avoid it altogether. 

In this section, we’ll have a closer look at some of these points and how you can achieve them: 

1. Avoid Using a Zero Turn Mower After Rain

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that wet grassy terrain is much more likely to tear up and create divots when compared to dry terrain.

The simple reason here is that wet grass is quite sticky and would cling to the tires’ rubber, so it’s easily pulled as the tires go. 

Additionally, wet grass can clog the mower and reduce its efficiency, which drives you to go several times on the same spot, creating divots.

You should try to avoid using the grasscutter during or directly after rain. Additionally, you might want to avoid the temptation of mowing the lawn in the early morning, as the moisture from fog or dew can also cause divots.

Instead, choose a suitable time during the day when the grass is relatively dry to mow the lawn. To test that out, run your fingertips over the grass and see if your fingers are too wet before using the mower.

2. Consider Mowing the Lawn When the Grass is Longer

When you start cutting grass that is already short, it’ll be much easier to tear up the grass completely.

The grass is simply the plant’s stalk with a network of roots underground. In addition to absorbing moisture and minerals from the soil. The roots also double as the foundation of the stability of grass.

In other words, when the grass on the lawn is short, it’ll also have short roots and, therefore, will be much easier to pull out. 

Ideally, you should cut the grass when it’s between 3 to 6 inches. This way, the grass will be able to hold up when the mower runs over it.

3. Don’t Move Too Quickly While Turning with a Lawn Mower

While zero-turn mowers are designed to save you a lot of time, rushing the grass cutting process and driving the mower too quickly will make the lawn look messier than it was before cutting.

Instead, you need to maintain a consistent speed that isn’t too slow or too fast while driving the mower to achieve a clean, even cut.

4. Avoid Mowing in the Same Pattern

Driving over the lawn in the same direction repeatedly will cause soil compaction. With time, this will create a bending-over effect in the grass that makes it look like it was teared up.

Additionally, heavy soil compaction prevents air and water from reaching the roots of the grass, which makes them weak and facilitates the plucking of the grass as the mower tires run over them.

5. Consider the Three-Point Turn Technique

Turning is one of the most significant reasons why mowers tear up the grass. Luckily, this trick is one of the best ways to reduce or even avoid divots while turning with a mower. 

Zero-turn mowers dig up the soil while running over the lawn because the wheels are not locked in place while turning, which allows them to make 180-degree turns without moving in a unidirectional pattern. There are two ways to do the three-point turn. Here’s how to do them. 

For the first method, all you have to do is slowly bring the mower to a complete stop before you make a turn, then put the two control levers into reverse to make a single turn when the wheels go backward.

Instead, you can slow down before taking the turn, keep the speed at a minimum, and push one control lever into reverse while leaving the other forward.

These methods require some practice to perfect, but they should reduce your tears significantly, especially when the grass is long and dry.

7. Don’t Cut the Grass Too Short While Mowing

When you set the mower to cut the grass at a very short height, you’ll stress out the grass and might end up tearing it up. 

Instead, stick to the 1/3 rule of thumb. That states that you shouldn’t cut more than a third of the length of the grass at a time.

8. Clean the Mower Between Uses

With time, soil and grass clipping will pile up into the grooves of the wheels and reduce the mower’s traction. 

When that happens, controlling the mower becomes more difficult and causes the driver to take sharp turns that can tear up the grass. 

Additionally, the extra weight of the soil and clippings increase the tires’ pressure on the grass, which weakens them with time and makes them easier to come off. To avoid that, clean up the mower wheels between sessions to avoid the buildup of soil and clippings.

9. Make Sure That the Blades Are Sharp Enough

Last but not least, if your blades are dull, they won’t cut off the desired length of the grass completely. 

Instead, it’ll only tear up the tissue of the stem and make the plant more susceptible to infections that make them extremely fragile when you run over them again with the mower.


You now have a brief guide that walks you through all the tips and tricks that can help you avoid tearing up the grass while driving a zero-turn mower.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why grasscutter might end up tearing the grass. 

That’s why it’s essential to be careful and patient while cutting grass and make sure that you follow the previously discussed tips to reduce the impact of the mower as much as possible.

Related Article