If you’re shopping for a new lawnmower or upgrading your old one and have no idea what to choose, you may have considered zero-turn mowers. Homeowners with big yards prefer them because they cut faster and save time. So why do zero-turn mowers cut faster?
Zero turns are more efficient in cutting in line patterns and can make turnarounds quicker. Depending on the brand, the deck’s size greatly affects how fast it takes to mow a lawn. Other reasons they cut faster is the higher horsepowers, blade speed, etc.
Zero-turn mowers are considered a new standard in landscaping technologies. If you’re considering getting one, read this to understand what makes them faster at cutting.
Why Do Zero Turn Mowers Cut Faster?
A zero-turn mower is a type of ride-on lawnmower that doesn’t need the usual three-point turn to change direction.
Imagine a car trying to do a U-turn and how wide the curve it has to make. And now, imagine a tank turret facing one direction and then the other. That’s how the zero-turn does it—with its whole body instead of just the top.
The secret is that you control the back wheels, not the front ones. This makes the zero-turn mower capable of turning 360 degrees without creating a curve as a car would.
This is a huge advantage when you’re trying to go in straight lines without going over the same spot multiple times. But it’s also particularly helpful when maneuvering objects like trees and flower beds.
Zero-turn mowers cut faster thanks to features like higher horsepower, twin-cylinder engines, and higher available speeds.
What’s the Difference Between Zero Turn and Lawn Tractors?
If you’re wondering if zero-turns are better than lawn tractors, you need to know the main differences first. After that, you can decide which is better for your needs.
When you think of a lawnmower for a large yard, you probably picture a ride-on lawn tractor. Those have been the most obvious choice for garden and lawn maintenance for decades.
Simple enough, with a steering wheel, acceleration pedal, and brakes, they are operated the same way you would drive any motor vehicle.
On the other hand, zero-turn mowers usually come with a lever system that makes riding one as intuitive as pushing a shopping cart.
All you need is 30 minutes in an open yard, and you’ll feel like you’ve been riding one for years. Just make sure to go at the slowest speed first until you get the hang of it.
The most significant difference between zero turns and tractors is, of course, the mower’s turning radius.
While lawn tractors average about 18 inches, the zero-turn has a turning radius of zero. This makes its movement straight-lined rather than curved and avoids gaps between lines that you’d have to do later manually.
Another considerable difference is speed. Lawn tractors have a speed range of 4-7 mph, while zero turns start at five mph and can go up to 10 mph.
Of course, you don’t use the top speed to cut but move and haul things around the yard—unless you don’t mind scalping or messing up your lawn.
Nevertheless, zero-turn mowers truly shine with how effortlessly they glide over the grass, thanks to their twin-cylinder engines instead of single cylinders in tractors. They usually go from 18-24 hp, which is great for larger yards.
Another interesting aspect is that the zero turn’s seat is closer to the ground, so it helps with visibility as you can see the edges of the cut grass. It also has a lower center of gravity, so it doesn’t shake and vibrate half as much as a lawn tractor.
One of the significant advantages zero-turn mowers also have is their cutting decks. If you have a large yard (over 3 acres), then a zero-turn with a 60-inch cutting deck will do wonders for your yard.
Usually, lawn tractors offer cutting decks up to 54 inches, which isn’t much smaller. However, paired with their wide turn angles, it adds up to the mowing time as you’ll have to go over the spots you missed again.
Is a Zero Turn the Right Mower for Your Yard?
As we discussed earlier, zero-turn mowers can turn on a dime, which helps if your yard has lots of obstacles like trees or little flower gardens. This will reduce the frustration of having to do a roundabout several times until you get it right, cutting the grass unevenly in the process.
A zero-turn will help you get around faster while doing a great job at higher speeds if you have a large yard.
And for the striped look of a professional job, a zero-turn is the right answer. The actual straight-line movement of the mower makes it incredibly easy to achieve, and there are some attachments that help create this specific look.
A lawn tractor has the advantage if you have lots of little hills and slopes in your yard. Tractors have been around for some time, which helped develop their performance on sloped surfaces.
Unfortunately, a zero-turn doesn’t have the same traction, and there’s the danger of tipping. But you’re good to go if the slope is under 15 degrees.
How to Maintain a Zero Turn Mower?
Zero turns are like any other lawnmower; if you keep yours in tip-top shape, it’ll be faster and more enjoyable to move around in. Aside from the obvious tips for changing the oil and sharpening the blades, you should always check your belts for cracks before starting and change them if needed.
You should also check your air filter to maintain a healthy working condition and remove any caked-on soil or debris from your cutting deck to avoid corrosion.
What Are You Looking for in a Lawnmower?
People look for different things when choosing a lawnmower. For example, aside from the considerations we discussed earlier regarding yard size and terrain, some people prefer a lawn tractor because it’s more convenient for them to drive around a car-like machine.
However, lawnmower manufacturers also offer steering wheel options for zero turns.
Another thing some people might prefer a lawn tractor for is its multifunctionality. Lawn tractors are known to have multiple accessories that perform several other tasks aside from mowing the lawn.
Seeders, sprayers, baggers, and even snowplow attachments help make the investment worthwhile since those items are almost always sold separately.
However, lately, there have been some additions to accessories available for zero-turn mowers, so the gap in multifunctionality is closing.
The price point is also an essential aspect that factors into your decision. For example, you can get a decent lawn tractor for about $2000, but a zero-turn will set you back at least $2700.
Most professional landscapers don’t mind the investment, though, as they usually have one zero turn in their fleet.
I hope this answers why they are faster than typical mowers. Not only do they have the advantage of smooth riding and cutting, but they also make the process faster, easier, and more intuitive.
Coupled with their most prominent feature, which is in their name “zero turns,” they have larger cutting decks and are catching up with lawn tractors in the accessory arena.
They offer better performance in terms of engine, less vibration, and a finished product that looks like a professional job. And if you like keeping fruit trees, a rose garden, or a playground for your kids, zero-turn mowers will help you maneuver them easily.
They are quite the investment, though. But if your yard is larger than 3 acres, you’ll benefit from their speed and smoothness.