Riding Vs. Zero Turn Lawn Mowers – What’s the difference?

Yards come in different shapes and sizes, so do lawn mowers. Riding lawn mowers can cover more ground faster than a walk-behind mower, but gardening enthusiasts will tell you that it all depends on the type of machine you use. In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the different aspects of a riding mower vs a zero turn mower.

Zero turn lawn mowers

Popularly referred to as the Z-turn, this mower typically has its mowing deck in front instead of under the operator’s seat. Known for its speed, this type of mower offers you a zero-inch on its turning range. It’s also surprisingly easy to maneuver. These four-wheeled lawn mowers typically have two swivel wheels in front and two bigger drive wheels that support and push from the back.

They first came about in the yard scene in 1966. Although it took some time before it gained its notoriety, these mowers eventually became a favorite after inexpensive and durable hydraulic motors were invented. Revered for its speed and efficiency, it guarantees to take care of bigger yards in as little time as possible.

Generally, zero turn lawn mowers don’t come with a steering wheel. Instead, levers that manage the motors wired to the rear wheels act as the controls. The driver moves by pulling one lever forward and the other back.

To drive this mower do the following:

  • Push both levers forward to make it go forward.
  • Pull both levers back for reverse.
  • To curve, push a lever forward farther than the other.

This video will give you a quick intro into driving as well:

When you should consider getting one

Zero turn mowers are recommended for big lawn jobs. Here’s why:

1. Built for speed

This lawn mower’s ability to perform quick turns can cut your yard time in half. Move around trees and houses quickly and precisely with high fuel efficiency.

2. Clean trim

Zero turn mower’s love for speed doesn’t stop on its wheels. It also boasts of higher blade speed compared to other mowers, leaving a consistent cut every time for a more beautiful and healthier lawn.

3. Moves like Jagger

This mower is indeed a mover as it can move forward, back, left, or right at will. The dual wheel motor allows this maximum maneuverability as “cutting corners” has never been this easy.

4. A long and lasting cut

Due to its speed, zero turn mowers exert less effort without short-changing the tasks. This type of mower has less engine wear as it doesn’t run as long as other mower types.

5. Fuel-efficient

Less time on the mower translates to less time consuming gas.

Riding lawn mowers

old man on riding lawn mower

This type of lawn mower requires the operator to be seated firmly and securely before it starts operating. Although they could be mistaken as a smaller and more compact cousin of small tractors, they are typically bigger than walk-behind and zero turn mowers and are suitable for trimming a much bigger lot.

Otherwise known as ride-on mowers, they are designed to work on large expanses such as meadows or golf courses but may be less suitable for complex terrain due to difficulties in maneuvering.

Why choose a riding lawn mower?

Ride-on mowers may cost more than a traditional push lawn mower, but they aren’t pushovers when it comes to cutting grass. Here’s a list of benefits of riding lawn mowers:

1. Covers a wider area

It’s hands down a lot easier to use than a push mower. It may need a lot of maintenance check-ups, but to operate you simply sit and drive around conveniently.

2. Multi-tasking

Ride-on mowers, as bulky as they may be, can moonlight as a snowplow, a trailer, and a tow truck. If budget permits, you can purchase certain add-ons that give your mower extra features such as grinding leaves to turn them into fertilizers.

3. User-friendly

Compared to the size of push lawn mowers, a ride-on can be considered as the Titanic. But don’t let its size fool you since they can be operated and controlled as you would a car. This allows the user to mow a larger area with very little effort.

4. Starts with a key

Walk-behind mowers rarely offer keys to start the ignition. With traditional lawn mowers, you often need a pull cord to start the engine, but with riding mowers, it’s a lot simpler. You can find out more about starting one here.

When to use which?

Know the terrain

-Hilly: Riding mowers have bigger tires that can hold traction better which can be safer on steep slopes.

-Flat: Both zero turn and riding mowers can traverse without any difficulties. It is up to you how quickly you’d want the traversing to be.

What obstacles are you facing?

If your yard has trees and other decorative obstacles to maneuver around from, the zero turn might be your mower. It saves you from the added task of weeding later and several run-over garden ornaments.

One for all

Riding mowers can help you with other gardening tasks, while Z-turns were designed primarily for mowing. They can perform other lawn duties, but the stability of a riding mower makes it more reliable.

Bang for your buck

There is not much difference in the cost of maintaining either one of these lawn mower types. They both need regular oil and filter changes, grease points, and blade replacements. It all depends on your needs and how much you’re willing to shell out for one.

This video will help you decide as well:

Are you looking for a used riding lawn mower, try this page.