For mowing lawns on larger residential properties with many obstacles, zero-turn lawn mowers will not only make the task easier but also comfortable and more enjoyable. As opposed to regular ride-on mowers, zero-turn lawn mowers can, as the name suggests, turn at a zero-degree radius, meaning you can get around trees, shrubbery, flower beds, garden ornaments, pathways, and any other landscape structures your garden may feature without having to turn the mower off and circle back.
While there is a little bit of a learning curve with zero-turn lawn mowers since they have levers instead of steering wheels, once you get the hang of them, you’ll soon find that owning one of these mowers can save you a lot of time and hassle when tending to larger gardens. They’ll also leave you with a professional outcome every single time.
When looking for the best zero-turn lawn mower for your needs, Jason Swanson, vice president of global product development and management at Greenworks Tools suggests first deciding whether a gas or electric model is best for you.
An electric lawn mower will require less maintenance than a gas mower, while a gas mower is traditionally the most powerful and professional option. Choosing a model that is suitable for the size of your property and one with an appropriately sized cutting deck is also important. “The larger the cutting deck, the more area it can cover in one pass,” he says.
To come up with this list of the best zero-turn mowers, we considered mower size, price, engine power, recommended yard size, cutting deck height, and other features.
Our top pick is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower as it’s one of the most reasonably priced zero-turn mowers for what it offers, namely, a large 50-inch deck, 15 deck height positions, and a powerful 23-horsepower engine capable of mowing up to 4 acres at a time.
Why You Should Get It: Despite being the most economical mower on this list, it has one of the largest deck sizes capable of covering more ground in little time.
Keep in Mind: The fuel tank holds 3.5 gallons, which is smaller in size than other gas models on this list.
Our pick for the best zero-turn mower, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-Inch Gas Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower has an economical price, but its lower price tag doesn’t mean it’s low quality or lacking in features. It performs just as well as much more expensive and professional-grade models.
Zipping around corners on this thing is a breeze, and, in addition to being reasonably priced, this durable mower features a deck that covers a 50-inch swathe (mowing width) at a time to help you mow more of your lawn in one pass. It also has a powerful 23-horsepower Kawasaki engine. Plus, with 15 different cutting deck height positions (from 1 to 4.5 inches), you can create an even cut for a professional look.
Keep in mind that the 3.5-gallon fuel tank is smaller than the tanks of other gas models on this list, so you will have to refuel this mower more often.
Mowing the lawn with this machine is incredibly comfortable, too, thanks to its high-backed cushioned seat, which is adjustable to suit you, meaning you’ll have no aches and pains the next day. It also has vibration-dampening hand grips and a floor mat to minimize machine reverberations and the impact of bumps and dips in your yard. LED headlights allow you to mow in low-light conditions.
It also has forward and reverse speeds that are comparable to higher-end models so you can get the job done quicker and, thanks to the zero-turning capabilities that mean no down-time when turning corners, your yard will be trim and tidy quicker than ever. Accessories, like a bagger, mulcher, and a cart, can be purchased separately.
Why You Should Get It: The batteries can fully charge in under 90 minutes.
While gas-powered gardening tools are typically the preferred options for professionals, electric and battery-powered alternatives are gaining popularity and require less maintenance than gas models. This Greenworks Pro CrossoverZ Zero-Turn riding lawn mower is an excellent mower for small- to medium-sized lawns of up to 2.5 acres and provides the equivalent of 24 horsepower.
It can zip along at up to 8 miles per hour, mowing 42-inch sections of grass as it goes—all while emitting no fumes. Its large 20-inch tires can comfortably navigate straight or bumpy terrain with slopes of up to 15 degrees, and there are even bright dual-LED headlights in case you need to mow in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
When it runs out of battery, fully recharging the six batteries that come with this electric zero-turn mower takes just 90 minutes. The runtime is up to 60 minutes. Its padded high-back seat has armrests and back support for a comfortable mowing experience, and there’s even a USB charging port and a cup holder to hold a water bottle and your phone as you mow. For peace of mind, the company backs its product with a four-year limited warranty.
Why You Should Get It: It has the largest fuel tank (6.5 gallons) of the mowers on this list, so you don’t have to stop to refuel as you mow.
Keep in Mind: There is no rollover protection, so it’s not recommended for steep terrain.
Nothing about the Bad Boy ZT Avenger 60-inch zero-turn mower is flimsy; it has an all-steel solid rail frame, durable reinforced-edge welded deck, large rear tires, and 60-inch cutting deck to help you tame heavy-duty mowing tasks in fewer passes.
Made to withstand rough terrain thanks to its stellar suspension system and to tackle long and thick grass and weeds, this mower is best for flat terrain as there is no rollover protection. The mower has a large fuel tank that can hold 6.5 gallons so you can get around your yard with just one fill-up.
There are 13 deck positions that you can adjust with the simple deck lift pedal and deck dial adjustment, which is conveniently located along with all the other controls, including the engine start, right by your right hand. When it comes to servicing your Bad Boy, the floorboard at the front of the machine lifts up easily, exposing the important components for maintenance and cleaning.
Why You Should Get It: If you have a smaller yard but would still like an easier mowing experience, this compact riding zero-turn mower has a 30-inch cutting deck to make maneuvering easier.
Keep in Mind: It’s for yards up to 1 acre in size, which is smaller than the other mowers on this list.
Even if you don’t have countless acres of grass to mow, you might still want to reap the benefits that a zero-turn lawn mower has to offer. Though zero-turn lawn mowers are typically made for larger properties, the Ryobi 80V Brushless 30-Inch Electric Zero-Turn Lawn Mower is designed for yards up to 1 acre and can even fit through a standard-sized 36-inch gate, making it our choice for the best zero-turn mower for small yards.
As an upgrade from the brand’s 48V version, this model has many improvements. For starters, the time to fully charge the batteries has gone down from an overnight session of 17.5 hours to just 1.5 hours with the included charger. In addition, there’s an LCD screen that shows runtime, battery life, and cutting and drive speed. You can also sync the mower up to an app to get blade replacement reminders, access operator manuals, and more.
At just 30 inches, the deck is quite small in comparison to some other zero-turns, but for yards of up to 1 acre, this is a perfect size for maneuvering around flower beds, trees, and garden ornaments. The mower can mulch and features 12 deck height positions, two cup holders, Bluetooth, a USB port to charge your phone, a comfortable seat with armrests, and space for storage.
Why You Should Get It: With a massive 60-inch deck, this zero-turn lawn mower is a professional-grade machine that can tend to lawns from 4 to 7 acres.
Keep in Mind: This is the most expensive mower on our list, so unless you have a large property, you can probably achieve your goals with a lower-priced model.
This beast of a zero-turn lawn mower from Toro is the best zero-turn mower for heavy-duty yard work. It has a powerful 26-horsepower engine, super-wide 60-inch cutting deck, and extra fast blades that cleanly cut grass and eliminate clumps with ease. Though the Toro Titan Max might be a more expensive option, it is suitable for cutting grass in yards of up to 7 acres—more than any other lawn mower on this list.
Featuring a cushy padded seat with armrests and back support, shock-absorbing dampers, and a suspension system that is suspended above the deck, this mower is designed to absorb any bumps from the terrain and give you a comfortable ride even when mowing over rough spots.
The steering is smooth and its large 23-inch rear-wheel tires are thick and grip the ground for safety and stability without damaging the grass. The tires also have protective fenders to stop stray debris or lawn clipping from flying at you. When it comes to changing the air filter, you can do so easily without any tools, and, for extra peace of mind, the manufacturer offers a three-year unlimited hour warranty.
Our overall choice for the best zero-turn mower, the durable Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 Gas model is a powerful and sturdy machine with a 50-inch cutting deck and a 23-horsepower Kawasaki engine that won’t have any issues dealing with lawns of up to 4 acres in size. It has a comfortable padded high-back seat and zero-turn technology that can easily get around obstacles, enabling you to manicure your lawn quickly and easily.
As the preferred option for professionals and for those working on large areas, gas zero-turn mowers are powerful and can run for a long time before needing a fuel top-up. However, they do emit fumes and need regular servicing and maintenance.
Maintenance includes a yearly checking of the fuel, engine, oil, spark plugs, and sharpening of the lawn mower blades, preferably by a lawnmower maintenance professional, to keep the machine in the best condition and maximize its lifespan.
Electric zero-turn lawn mowers run on batteries, typically lithium-ion rechargeable ones, and the run time of the mower is dependent on the batteries’ voltage and amperage. “Every electric lawnmower’s runtime is different, depending on their voltage and battery amp,” Swanson says. “The higher the voltage, the longer the mower will last.”
But that’s not the only thing that can factor into how long a battery-powered zero-turn lawn mower can run. “The grass type and height can also play a factor in lawnmower run times,” Swanson says. “For instance, a larger, tougher lawn may take more time [to mow] than a smaller and more maintained lawn. Typically, 24V mowers can last around 20 to 30 minutes, whereas an 80V mower can run up to 60 minutes with one single charge.”
Fully charging one of these mowers also varies from machine to machine. Some of the more affordable models could need to be plugged in overnight to fully charge up, whereas some other newer (and perhaps more expensive) models can be ready to go again after only an hour.
Thanks to advancements in the technology of battery-powered garden machinery and an increase in power and battery life, these electric mowers are gaining popularity even among professionals in the trade, especially urban gardeners. The only maintenance required on a battery-powered zero-turn mower is an annual blade sharpening to keep it in tip-top shape.
Whether gas or electric, a typical push lawn mower will feature a cutting deck of around 20 inches, but a riding mower’s deck can cut anywhere from 40 to 60-inch swathes of grass at a time. These massive decks allow users to trim larger lawns in less time.
In addition to a deck’s width, its height is another factor shoppers should consider. An adjustable deck height allows you to choose the length of your grass and create landscaping designs, too. Some of the more high-end mowers have up to 15 deck height positions, which will typically range between 1 to 4.5 inches for custom lawn patterns.
Zero-turn lawn mowers are not as intuitive to control as other types of ride-on lawn mowers or lawn tractors as they have levers rather than steering wheels. If you've never operated a machine with levers, it will take a little bit of practice before getting the hang of it, but most people get it in just one session.
To keep the mower straight, the levers need to be pushed forward by applying an even amount of pressure on both levers and keeping them parallel. In order to steer the mower, the levers need to be turned in or pushed in opposite directions.
A few other things you might want to keep in mind when shopping for the best zero-turn mower are features like roll-over protection, padded seating for comfort, and durable wheels. Other perks (but not musts) are things like USB ports for charging your phone and cup holders for keeping a water bottle close at hand.
The best zero-turn mower for you is dependent on the size of your lawn. All mowers on the market are rated for property size. According to Don Quinn, an expert with over 30 years of experience handling riding lawn mowers and working on several farms, you should buy a lawnmower that is made for the size of your property, even though you might be tempted to go for something smaller or perhaps cheaper.
“If you have 5 acres, you don't want a machine rated for 1 to 2 acres,” Quinn says. “This will severely shorten the life of your new zero-turn mower. If it is underpowered and undersized for the job, it will take much longer to get the job done.” He explains that buying a machine made for a smaller acreage will inevitably cause some of the lawnmower’s parts to start wearing out and could lead to increased maintenance costs in the future.
Yes, depending on your needs. Zero-turn lawn mowers can be expensive, but if you have a large property and don’t want to hire professional lawn maintenance services, one of these machines can help you trim your lawn to perfection as quickly as possible with an expert finish. It may end up even saving you money if you would otherwise be hiring a lawn service.
A zero-turn lawn mower provides many benefits, the main one being that it can turn at a zero-degree radius around obstacles and objects in your yard, such as trees, hedges, and flower beds, without having to turn the mower blades off, circle back, then start the mower up again.
You can also zip up and down a large piece of land to mow clean and straight lines or create intricate patterns or zigzags without having to stop. These types of tasks would take much longer with any other type of lawn mower; a zero-turn mower’s lack of downtime means the work gets done much quicker.
However, zero-turn lawn mowers are an investment and are large items of equipment that need adequate storage space in order to be kept safe and in the best condition.
When it’s time to winterize your zero-turn lawn mower, there are a few things that are necessary to make sure the machine is ready to use when spring arrives.
First, give the mower a good cleaning from top to bottom. “Use a mild soap and wash it thoroughly,” Quinn says. “Make sure you get around the mower engine and especially the mower deck, cleaning out all the clumps of grass so that no rust can build up.” Then, fill up the fuel tank completely and add a fuel stabilizer. “Nothing is more detrimental to a carburetor than ethanol fuel during storage,” Quinn says. “The fuel attracts water and can cause damage to your fuel system over time.”
The next step is catering to the tires. Fill them up with air to the recommended pressure since flat tires can cause cracks in the rubber that can be costly later. To keep the battery in good condition, charge it up or use a trickle charger to maintain it while in storage. Finally, Quinn advises that “this is also a good time to have your blades sharpened.” While you could wait to change the oil filter, air filter, and spark plugs just before the spring season, Quinn says that this can be done for the winter also.
This article was written by Kat de Naoum, who has over 10 years of commerce writing experience. Kat is also the commerce editor-at-large at Thomas-Xometry, the leading U.S. online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing. For this best zero-turn mower article, Kat researched and reviewed multiple zero-turn mowers and considered factors such as each zero-turn lawn mower's power, cutting deck width and height, speed, comfort, durability, and value for money. She also consulted Jason Swanson, vice president of global product development and management at Greenworks Tools, and Don Quinn, who has over 30 years of experience handling zero-turn lawn mowers and working on several farms.