Pros And Cons Of Zero Turn Lawn Mowers

(Image credit: cindygoff)

Lawn mowers have become increasingly efficient due to consumer demand. The pull start lawn mower of our grandparent's age is rarely found, with battery powered, electric, and diesel powered models taking the forefront. For those with large lawns, zero turn mowers are more effective and reduce the time needed to cut a large area of grass. What is a zero turn mower? They contain certain features for safety and efficiency that are useful for some users. 

What is a Zero Turn Mower? 

A riding zero turn lawn mower boasts a larger output when cutting grass than standard mowers. The unit has the ability to turn each wheel independently. That means one side may turn in reverse while the other side is going forward. The hydraulic motors on each axle create a turn that makes a 180 degree turn quickly. The motion allows the unit to spin in one place. This means less turn radius which reduces efficiency. The mower stays on the grass that needs to be mowed, rather than overlapping during turning. The mowing deck is in front of the rider mower, rather than under the unit as in standard models. Zero turn models can get into tight spaces easily and mow close to obstructions. 

Where Zero Turn Mowers Excel

The zero turn concept first occurred in the 1960s, but the front deck design goes back to the 1940s. The rise of better hydraulic motors has seen the movement gain popularity. Zero turn models are great alternatives to tractor mowers. They maneuver much easier and, when operated by an experienced user, their ability to get close to objects can reduce the need to use a string trimmer. They are most appropriate in large lawn areas. A small, average sized city lawn will not benefit from a zero turn mower. In smaller grassy spaces, a conventional push mower is cost saving and practical. 

Cautions About Zero Turn Lawn Mowers

While zero turn units have standard safety features, some caution is advised on rocky or bumpy terrain. This is because when a turn is made, the wheels are not stable on the ground and could cause tipping. Similarly in heavily sloped areas, the mowers could pose a hazard. The mowers are not optimal for wet areas, where slipping could occur. Additionally, the blades could tear up, rather than cut grass, in certain situations. Because of the front mounted deck, zero turn mowers are longer than units with the deck under the machine. Storage areas will have to be larger, a consideration in most home situations. 

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.