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Best Zero Turn Mowers of 2020

Need a mower that can manoeuvre trees and make quick work of big lawns? Our top choice is the zero turn mower and we’ve round up the best ones here.

Best Zero Turn Mower Reviews of 2020

Best-in-class
Husqvarna Z254

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

Best commercial zero turn mower

Wide cutting swath and 26-horsepower engine deliver performance and productivity on all lawns.

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1 Husqvarna Z254 Review

Appealing to professionals but also to homeowners with very large yards, the Husqvarna Z254 is a zero turn mower built for performance. This commercial machine impresses with a powerful 26HP V-twin engine from Kohler and a cutting swath of 54 inches. All that you need to mow large expanses of grass in a breeze.

Capable of slicing through tough grass, thick weeds, and underbrush, it comes equipped with a triple reinforced steel blade that’s durable and relatively easy to clean and change. Besides the sharp blade, cutting efficiency is enhanced by the machine’s capability to draw in the air under the deck, lifting the grass blades for a sharper, healthier, and more efficient cut.

We also love that this zero turn mower is very easy to operate. The adjustable levers are easy to reach, while the ergonomic seat with backrest enhances comfort so much that you won’t want to get up.

Another highlight is the stability this machine provides. It comes with two heavy-duty rear wheels built for all terrains, so you’ll be able to tackle bumps as well as mild slopes.

Mulching and clipping collection capabilities add further value, while the operation ease and reliability make the Husqvarna Z254 the best zero turn mower for anyone who needs professional performance.

Best value
Craftsman Z560

Craftsman Z560 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum 54-Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower

Best zero turn mower for residential use

Powered by a performing Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Pro engine, this zero turn mower is perfect for residential use.

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2 Craftsman Z560 Review

Slightly less powerful than our best in class but undeniably capable, the Craftsman Z560 is a great zero turn mower for owners of large yards. Boasting a 24HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum engine and 54-inch cutting swath, this machine can easily tackle lawns larger than an acre.

Designed to help you get your chores done in the blink of an eye, it can mow, trim, and clip the grass in one go. It even comes with a built-in deck wash, so you won’t have to lose too much time with the cleaning aftermath.

But these are just some of this mower’s highlights. Its best feature is by far its capability to mow when driving it in reverse mode. Thanks to this feature, you can go forward, reverse, or switch directions as you please, without stopping work.

Another feature that makes it stand out is the incredible stability offered by the rugged 20-inch rear wheels. Easy to operate, robust, and quite affordable for what it is, this zero turn mower is an excellent choice for most homeowners.

Also great
Husqvarna Z248F

Husqvarna Z248F 48 in. 21.5 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

An alternative for smaller lawns

Another reliable zero turn mower from Husqvarna, suitable for both residential and professional applications.

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3 Husqvarna Z248F Review

The Husqvarna Z248F may have a smaller cutting width than our best value but packs a wealth of best-in-class features.

Its greatest strength is the reliable, 21.5HP Kawasaki engine and no-maintenance hydrostatic transmission. At a speed of 6.5mph, it can tackle a variety of cutting conditions, while the 48-inch swath makes it perfect for smaller lawns or terrains with lots of obstacles.

Like our best value, it can mow, trim, and clip in a single pass. Clippings can be either mulched, bagged, or discharged, while the variable cutting heights make it perfect for all kinds of grass.

Not only is this machine easy to maintain, it’s also comfortable and easy to drive. The seat is comfortable, while the ergonomic control panel makes mowing safe and intuitive. No doubt, a perfect choice for homeowners who want Husqvarna’s performance and don’t mind a slightly higher price.

Best budget
Ariens Zoom 42

Ariens Zoom 42″ Zero Turn Lawn Mower

A cheap alternative

Perfect for mowing and trimming jobs on small to mid-size terrains.

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4 Ariens Zoom 42 Review

From the same house that gave us our best value pick, the Zoom 42 addresses the owners of small to moderately large yards.

Everything on this machine is built with user comfort in mind. We truly appreciated the larger-than-average seat with high backrest as well as the padded steering handles that are a treat to hold even when the temperatures drop.

Adjustable deck height and 42-inch cutting swath are other great features that will help you finish your task quickly and effectively. Cheaper than many zero turn mowers and delivering top-end capabilities, this is undoubtedly a wise budget pick.

1. 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.
  • Lets you attach tow-behind garden equipment such as spreaders, plug aerators and lawn sweepers.

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

2. 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.

3. The Best Zero Turn Mowers in 2019 & 2020

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 the best 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.

8. The Best Zero Turn Mower for the Money

Best value
Craftsman Z560

Craftsman Z560 24 HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum 54-Inch Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower

Best zero turn mower for residential use

Powered by a performing Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Pro engine, this zero turn mower is perfect for residential use.

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