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Top 4 Best Zero Turn Mowers of 2018

Best zero turn mower reviews 2018

Best-in-class
Husqvarna MZ61

Husqvarna MZ61 61-Inch 27 HP Zero Turn Mower

A huge cutting deck

A 61-inch cutting deck and powerful 27-horsepower engine ensure performance and productivity on all lawns.

Husqvarna MZ61 Review

The Husqvarna MZ61 is a zero turn mower designed to take comfort and performance to a whole new level, appealing to professional landscapers and gardeners but also to homeowners who want to boost mowing efficiency.

Powered by a reliable Briggs & Stratton Endurance V-Twin engine capable of developing 27 horsepower, this machine cuts through grass with incredible ease at an impressive swath of 61 inches.

Intuitive to use and stable on most terrains, this zero turn mower boasts a heavy-duty steel frame and a commercial-grade hydraulic system.

Homeowners will benefit from both the mulch and clipping collection capability which make your property maintenance a breeze. Another great feature is the wide, ergonomic chair and adjustable steering levers which ensure a comfortable ride.

Ultra-powerful, easy to drive and performing, the Husqvarna MZ61 is the best zero turn mower on the market.

Best value
Poulan Pro P46ZX

Poulan Pro P46ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 22 HP Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower

Great value for money

Powered by a performing Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Pro engine this zero turn mower handles all types of grass.

Poulan Pro P46ZX Review

Ideal for properties of all sizes, the Poulan Pro P46ZX is a zero turn mower that delivers great value to pros and homeowners alike.

Like our best-in-class pick, this machine comes equipped with a Briggs & Stratton engine which develops 22 horsepower.

Combined with the 46-inch stamped reinforced deck and the hydro gear transmission, this zero turn mower can handle all types of grass in a breeze, mowing the lawn at a speed of 2.4 acres per hour.

Six cutting height positions from 1.5 to 4 inches add versatility, while an easy access control panel and 15-inch seat with extra-high backrest ensure driving ease and comfort.

Easy to operate thanks to the dual lever system, robust, and stable on most terrains, the Poulan Pro P46ZX is the best zero turn mower for the money.

Also great
Husqvarna Z254

Husqvarna Z254 26HP 747cc Kohler Engine 54″ Z-Turn Mower

More expensive but more powerful

A 26-horsepower V-Twin engine and wide cutting swath appeal to the professional landscapers.

Husqvarna Z254 Review

The Husqvarna Z254 is another zero turn mower built for performance. This commercial machine withstands high-volume demands and handles all grasses thanks to the powerful 26-horsepower V-Twin Kohler engine.

Cutting through grass in a breeze, this mower comes equipped with a triple reinforced steel blade and boasts a cutting swath of 54 inches.

Ideal for large properties, the unit is easy to operate and boasts a large, ergonomic seat and adjustable levers. Furthermore, two sturdy rear wheels ensure stability even on the most challenging terrains.

Mulching and clipping collection capabilities add further value, while the operation ease and reliability make the Husqvarna Z254 a great alternative if you need professional performance at a good price.

Best budget
Poulan Pro PPX46Z

Poulan Pro PPX46Z 46-inch Zero Turn Riding Mower

Affordable performance

Durable construction, operation ease, and mulching and bagging capabilities are just some of this unit’s features.

Poulan Pro PPX46Z Review

The Poulan Pro PPX46Z is similar in many ways with our best-value pick, and up to an extent, the two zero turn mowers are identical.

Manufactured by the same brand, both machines come with a 22-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, but the PPX46Z lacks the V-Twin cylinder.

Another critical difference is the lack of the air induction feature on the cutting deck which slightly reduces the cutting performance.

Apart from this, the Poulan Pro models share all other features, including the 46-inch cutting deck, the comfortable drive, and ergonomic seat.

Easy to operate just like its P46XZ counterpart, performing, and incredibly stable on all terrains, the Poulan Pro PPX46Z is a great choice for homeowners with a restricted budget.

2. Why invest in a zero turn mower?

Zero turn mowers are similar to the lawn tractors in that both machines are used for mowing, mulching, and sometimes bagging debris, but the zero turn mowers come with further advantages when working on flat terrain.

The unique characteristic of a zero turn mower is its capability of turning within its own radius, a feature that makes it really easy to maneuver around fixed obstacles, like trees and flowerbeds.

The lighter construction and easier handling of a zero turn mower also increase user control and subsequently the efficiency of this machine.

Advantages of a zero turn mower

A zero turn mower can also replace your walk-behind lawn mower if you own a large lot or have to deal with stubborn grass. In broad lines, a zero turn mower:

  • Reduces mowing time;
  • Reduces user fatigue;
  • Has a greater efficiency on flat terrains than a lawn tractor;
  • Is easy to maneuver around obstacles and flowerbeds.

Together with other outdoor equipment such as pole saws and weed eaters, a zero turn mower is essential for the professional landscaper.

3. Zero turn mower horsepower (HP)

Getting a zero turn mower capable of developing sufficient power is essential if you want to achieve consistent results. The most powerful machines are the commercial mowers, but not all homeowners can afford them.

That’s why you should opt for a less or more powerful model depending on the size and type of your property. In broad terms, you will need:

  • From 15 to 20 horsepower: On a smaller property up to 1 acre characterized by a mainly flat terrain. These engines equip the entry-level zero turn mowers built for occasional residential use and will not withstand high-volume demands.
  • From 20 to 25 horsepower: On a plot between 1 and 2 acres with slopes under 15%. You can choose between residential mid-range or semi-pro machines. The former are developed for weekly residential use while the latter can withstand daily use.
  • At least 25 horsepower: On large properties of 2 acres or over. These motors equip the commercial zero turn mowers designed for daily use and high-volume demands. Besides the bigger engine, these machines also boast larger cutting swaths between 30 and 60 inches and can typically mow up to 3 acres per hour.

Grass and terrain type

The lot size is not the only variable to account for. Stubborn grass such as St. Augustine and Bermuda grass will also require a zero turn mower capable of developing at least 20 horsepower.

Using a weaker machine on this type of lawn will result in inconsistent cuts, a slower mowing pace, and faster wear out of the blades.

The type of terrain also matters when assessing the desired horsepower.

Entry-level zero turn mowers will struggle on slopes and uneven terrains, slowing down the process and compromising the stability of the machine.

4. Transmission system

Most zero turn mowers are equipped with hydrostatic transmissions consisting of an internal pump and a motor drive system. There are two types of hydrostatic transmission systems, single and dual.

  • Single hydrostatic transmissions: Are very easy to use and are controlled by either a lever or foot pedal to vary the speed and direction. These systems equip most residential and some mid-range models and are enclosed in sealed units that have to be removed for repairs. This type of transmission withstand hundreds of hours of service.
  • Dual hydrostatic transmissions: Are mounted side-by-side in the zero turn mower and each lever controls a separate wheel. They are more expensive than the single hydrostatic option but give better control of both speed and maneuvering. To go forward or stop the mower you’ll have to either push or pull both levers at the same time.

Besides these popular transmission systems, zero turn mowers can also come with:

  • Manual gear transmission
  • Friction disc transmission
  • Automatic transmission
  • Electric transmission
  • Hybrid transmission

5. Zero turn mower deck size

The size of the deck determines the unit’s performance and also its stability. Some entry-level zero turn mowers come with small decks under 42 inches (107 cm). While they could seem a practical solution for a small property, they are very unstable on slopes and often have traction issues that could leave unflattering marks on your lawn.

You must also know all zero turn mowers, regardless of the deck size, have stability issues on slopes steeper than 15%, but if your terrain is rather flat, there are various deck sizes to choose from.

What is the best zero turn mower deck size?

Since the smaller zero turn mowers can be unstable, it is recommended to invest in a machine with a deck size of at least 42 inches. Depending on the size of your lawn, you will need:

Lawn size

Deck size

Up to 2 acres (0.8 ha)

42+ inches

Over 2 acres (0.8 ha) – residential use

46+ inches

Over 2 acres (0.8 ha) – commercial use

50+ inches

Stamped or welded deck?

There is an endless debate regarding the type of deck the zero turn mower comes with. There are two choices:

  • Stamped decks: Are fabricated from a single piece of steel; they are typically made from a thinner metal and are weaker than their welded They are also cheaper, and this type typically equips residential zero turn mowers.
  • Welded decks: Are made from several pieces of thicker steel and are stronger than the stamped models. They equip the best zero turn mowers built for commercial use but are also expensive. If you only need the machine for light to medium-duty use, a stamped deck could offer a greater value for money.

6. Zero turn mower build

Besides the overall quality of the materials employed in the construction of the machine, there are a few specific features to check before buying. Zero turn mowers are known for their poor stability on slopes, that’s why it is important to invest in a well-balanced, sturdy machine that is comfortable at the same time.

The two most important aspects are the wheels and lever controls.

  • Regarding the wheels, you must pick a zero turn mower with sturdy, all-terrain wheels thick enough to offer stability on uneven and slippery terrains.
  • The controls must be ergonomic and easy to use so that they can enhance the unit’s stability. It is recommended to pick a machine with adjustable levers.

7. Other important features

The best zero turn mowers come with an array of additional features that can improve your user experience.

  • Mulching and bagging: Whether you want to reduce grass to fine clippings or gather debris in a collection bag, this feature offers the flexibility you need.
  • Electric starter: Like any gas-powered lawn mower, choke starter zero turn mowers are harder to ignite when temperatures drop. An electric starter can fix this issue and start the engine effortlessly.
  • Electric clutch: Attached to the engine crankshaft, the electric clutch controls the mower’s blade, enhancing the cutting performance.
  • 3-blade system: The best zero turn mowers come with triple-blade systems which provide cleaner cuts on all types of grass.
  • Adjustable deck height: Various grasses require different cutting heights. Most zero turn mowers come with adjustable deck heights between 1.5 and 4 inches.
  • CARB compliance: If you want to make sure your zero turn mower can be used in all 50 states, choose a CARB-compliant machine.
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