Getting the Best Zero Turn Mower – The Handy Gardener’s Way

best zero turn mower

Buying a mower is not that different from buying a car. A sedan won’t do the same job as a racer. Going through the different price categories will unlock you entirely different sets of pros and cons. Suffice to say, there are a lot of things to choose from. So, let’s see how to choose the best zero turn mower.

Last update on 2017-07-24 PST - Details

​Things You Should Know Before Buying

Why zero turn mower you might ask? Well, it is still the best all-around solution for any type of garden. The classic mowers are cheap and neat (you can even go full eco-friendly and buy a reel push mower), but they are also very labor-intensive. Lawn tractors are able to address this issue successfully, but they are not suited for small yards. Due to their turn radius and tight controls, zero-turn mowers feature the same level of convenience as lawn tractors, while retaining the flexibility of the traditional mowers.

However, as we mentioned above, choosing the best one is not always the easiest task. Here are a couple of things you should pay attention to while making a decision.

1

Deck Size

When it comes to zero turn mowers, the deck is probably the most important feature you'll have to take into consideration. Larger the deck, fewer the passes you will need to make to take this chore off your shoulders. However, the size of the deck can take the toll on the device’s overall maneuverability, especially if your yard is small, sloped or laden with obstacles. Also, bigger decks require more storage space. The best thing you can do in this situation is to make a list of priorities and see where deck size eventually falls.

2

Deck Construction

The commercial zero-turn mowers usually feature decks made out of several parts (continuously welded steel). Residential decks, on the other hand, feature decks made out of lighter-gauge steel stamped in press. Although the latter solution suits the most of the typical lawns, if you own a yard that features more rugged terrain (broken or uneven surface), you may consider going for the welded steel.

3

Deck Style

We told you the deck is very important. Basically, there are two major deck styles – mid-deck and front deck. Although they both have their advantages, the front deck mowers are more maneuverable, and maneuverability is the name of the game in the world of zero-turn mowers.

4

Engine

When it comes to engines, there are two major things to consider.

  • DesignZero-turn mowers that sit on the lower end of the price spectrum are usually equipped with a single-cylinder engine. If you can, aim for the two-cylinder design. They run smoother and are, overall, more powerful.
  • Horsepower – Mowers with less horsepower will struggle when facing sloped ground and uneven terrain. However, if your yard is nice and even, you can make a concession here.
5

Speed

If you are not a professional mower and you have a small yard, the speed of your mower won't be of the paramount importance. But, if you are trying to make a living out of landscaping, you have to be aware that time is money and buy the mower that will allow you to finish your job more quickly.

6

Controls

In most of the cases, zero turn mowers are controlled by two levers. Not the most intuitive, but a perfectly satisfying solution. As of recently, though, we've seen another type emerging – zero turn mowers controlled by a joystick. If you are new to the world of gardening, the latter type will help you to tackle the learning curve much easier.

7

Adjustability

Not all gardeners want the same height of the grass in all parts of the yard. Switching between the different height adjustments should be as simple as possible. Usually, this task is performed by foot assist, so avoid the mowers that require that you get off and manually adjust the settings. Same goes for the option to raise the deck quickly.

8

Durability

Zero turn mowers are, essentially, gardening tools. They ought to see a lot of abuse and harsh weather during their lifetime. It is in your best interest to find a durable unit that will be able to overcome these obstacles and continue to offer rock-solid performance even when the warranty period is over.

9

Comfortability

One of the main reasons why zero turn mowers have an advantage over other tools meant for mowing the lawn is their convenience. Well, you have to be aware that there is no convenience without comfortability. Even if you intend to spend a very little time sitting on the mower, you should make sure that these brief moments are not pain-inducing.

Our Pick 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers​

And now, let’s take a look at five best-rated zero turn mowers currently floating the market and see how they fare in regards to the high standers we set above.

Last update on 2017-07-24 PST - Details

1. Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower

Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower review

Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower, 54"

When it comes to gardening and power tools, it is very hard to find a brand that is as well established and renowned as Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna. Characteristic for their top-notch design, solid build quality, and recognizable orange color, Husqvarna products were always setting the industry standards for quality. Husqvarna V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower is a product that does a lot of good things to carry the weight of the brand successfully.

For a start, we have a V-Twin 724 cc Briggs and Stratton-powered engine that features great air filtration and puts on even better performance. Combine that with the high-quality electric clutch and you'll get a very interesting and powerful duo. The blades are made out of pure steel and enable easy cutting even when the mower isn't moving.​

​The placement of the seat isn’t that well-thought out and the device could benefit from the joystick controls (this way you get the traditional levers), but the overall impression is comfortable enough to allow you a smooth sailing. After you defeat the inevitable learning curve, of course. As for the deck, you’ll be glad to hear that this all-important part is reinforced with heavy flat-stock steel that allows superior performance, and mostly maintenance free experience.

What We Like

  • Convenient and hassle-free performance.
  • The engine is very powerful for the price you are asked to pay.
  • Anti-slip foot coating makes driving a much pleasant endeavor.
  • Great build quality. Durability is not an issue with this product.

What We Don’t Like

  • The seat could be better placed and more comfortable.
  • Convoluted lever controls.
  • Some users are reporting that the linkage under their units wasn't connected upon shipping.
Poulan Pro 967331001 P54ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 24 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower, 54-Inch

Poulan Pro 967331001 P54ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 24 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower, 54-Inch

Poulan Pro 967331001 is a very well-designed product. How else would you explain that in spite of having the same-sized deck as the previous mower, it looks and feels more compact. This benefit, though, is paid in two areas. First, the mower looks taller and bulkier. Second, there is a lot less free room under the mower, which makes the maintenance somewhat harder. Take this however you like.

Otherwise, the mower performs great. The 24 HP Briggs v-twin engine is more than powerful to keep the whole thing going, the mentioned deck is huge, reinforced and it features a 10-year warranty. The input-sensitive transition is just what you need to concentrate on steering rather than shifting the gears. And given the fact that you’ll be doing steering with levers you’ll need that freedom. The back placement of the engine adds to the overall compatibility and comfortability, but at the same time takes away from the cutting ability.

​Although not amongst the biggest on the market, the wheels are providing the satisfying cushioning effect, and the seat is not that bad either. Throw into the mix the ability to adjust the cutting height between 0.5 and 4 inches in the increments of 0.5 inches, and you’ll get one very neat and versatile product.

What We Like

  • The powerful engine and ZTR technology allow this mower to reach some pretty satisfying speeds.
  • The tank is pretty spacious. You’ll rarely run into a situation to refuel.
  • The mower can handle even the rougher terrains.
  • The seat is tall, and the levers feature padding on the grips. This ensures very comfortable operation.

What We Don’t Like

  • The steering bars require some adjusting, but that’s something you have to expect in this price category.
  • The vehicle is highly pollutant.
  • It features higher price than the previous product but does very little to justify the gap.
Poulan Pro P46ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 22 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower, 46-Inch

Poulan Pro P46ZX Briggs V-Twin Pro 22 HP Cutting Deck Zero Turn Radius Riding Mower, 46-Inch

Poulan is a brand that has a very long history. Originally an independent company based in Louisiana, Poulan was purchased in 1984 and is now owned by Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna. Because of that, two brands often share technologies and their products often share many of the same visual and functional properties. So, if you feel that Poulan Pro P46ZX doesn’t truly stand out from the competition, this is the main reason why is that so.

Of course, some changes are noticeable. Compared to the previous Poulan mower we mentioned on the list, P46ZX has a somewhat smaller deck (46 inches compared to 54 inches) and less horsepower (22 compared to 24). Of course, the price of the product reflects this downgrade and if you are not intending to spend too much money, and, even more important, don’t require stellar performance, this might just be the product for you.

​Otherwise, this is a very solid product that has no problem carrying the Poulan name on itself. You still get the stamped reinforced deck supplied with a 10-year warranty, hydro gear EZT transmission, electric clutch, and pretty spacious 3.5-gallon fuel tank. The back seat is comfortable and the panel is very easy to reach and navigate. It’s best to think of this mower as the smaller and underpowered version of P54ZX made for shallower pockets.

What We Like

  • The mower is reasonably affordable.
  • The value you get for the money is more than solid.
  • Poulan is a brand that is known for comfortability and ease of use, and P46ZX does its best to justify this reputation.
  • The performance is very snappy. The mower starts quickly, rides smooth and cuts grass very evenly.

What We Don’t Like

  • The tires could’ve been of better quality.
  • This product is not made for slopes. You can try to use it, of course, but it will struggle.
  • The small deck entails longer mowing times. Not for commercial use.
Husqvarna Z246 23HP 724cc Briggs Endurance Engine 46" Z-Turn Mower

Husqvarna Z246 23HP 724cc Briggs Endurance Engine 46" Z-Turn Mower

If the previous product was intended to represent the cheaper alternative to P54ZX, this mower is doing the same thing for Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc. As we already seen, all these products share the same DNA, so the differences are mostly cosmetic. Still, Husqvarna is a brand that has an army of loyal followers and very strong global appeal. With the things as they are, a bit more of the same is not that bad of a thing.

Similar to Poulan Pro P46ZX, this mower also features the deck that measures 46 inches which puts it firmly into the casual, household territory. This time, though, the horsepower is bumped up to 23 which gives it a slight but noticeable edge over Poulan Pro P46ZX. Once again, the vehicle is controlled by levers. However, the SmartSwitch technology at least makes sure that starting goes as smooth as possible. Although rather small-ish the deck is of excellent quality and ensures clean and precise cuts.

​And then, there are small things that made Husqvarna brand great. For instance, this mower has an integrated bumper which protects the vehicle during operation. A LED headlight kit should provide ample illumination even in the dark conditions. Although not too powerful, the engine is more than capable of providing smooth operation, at least on the flat soil.

What We Like

  • This product packs a lot of good things for you to play with.
  • Maintenance free EZT transmission.
  • The bumper features neat headlight.
  • Spring assisted deck height adjustment.
  • 3.5-gallon fuel tank with see-thru window.

What We Don’t Like

  • The mower is very light. You can expect some bumpy rides.
  • The vehicle struggles on slopes.
  • The engine is not that quiet.
  • EZT transmission rules out heavy tow capacity.
Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower

And now, here’s the product that proves that mowing isn’t entirely a Swedish game and that this product category can offer a lot of variety. It is obvious, even at first glance that this product is vastly different from the other entries on the list. What does impact this fact has on Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower’s performance and usability?

Well, let’s get this thing off the table – with the deck that measures only 30 inches there’s no way we can talk about a serious performance. The advanced 420cc engine is capable of generating around 15 horsepower, which is ok and more than enough for a bunch of mundane gardening tasks but also puts this small vehicle way behind the competition.

​So, we are talking about the very casual and underpowered mower. Are there some areas where the product excels? Sure. Controls are very neat, and this time we don’t have to rely on the convoluted lever mechanism. Also, this is by, far, the most affordable product on the list. For a price you are asked to pay for Poulan Pro P54ZX, you can almost buy two of these units. The whole package is very portable, maintenance is very easy, and you can even choose from the five available cutting height settings. Not too shabby for an entry-level machine.

What We Like

  • Convenient and easy to use.
  • For a price you are asked to pay, the machine puts on more than a decent performance.
  • A six-speed shift-on-the-go transmission.
  • A decent range of available height adjustments.

What We Don’t Like

  • The machine was designed only for the casual use.
  • Due to its design, the mower doesn’t offer the same degree of stability as the previous products. You have to be very careful while steering.
  • The tires are not that good at all.

​Verdict

And now, it's time for a roundup – which is the best zero turn mower for you?

​It should be obvious that Troy-Bilt 30-Inch Neighborhood Riding Lawn Mower competes in its own category. We are talking about a very decent product that can do wonders for casual users that are aiming at convenience, but that’s about it. Putting it against other competitors wouldn’t be fair.

​As for the rest, the offered performance is very similar. The first two products have the obvious advantage, but they are also more expensive. You have to ask yourself, though, what kind of difference a couple of hundreds of bucks makes when you are already spending a couple of grands. We say that going an extra mile and bridging this price gap more than pays off. With the things as they are, Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower looks like the most worthwhile investment.

Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower, 54'
26 Reviews
Husqvarna 967324101 V-Twin 724 cc Zero Turn Mower, 54"
  • B&S 24hp v-twin endurance engine
  • 54-Inch reinforced stamped cutting deck
  • Electric clutch for easy blade engagement
  • Dual hydro-gear EZT transmission
  • 4 anti-scalp rollers

Last update on 2017-07-14 PST - Details

About the Author

I’m Emily and after a ten year career as a journalist I have moved on to share my passion for gardening. While getting out in the garden is one of my favourite hobbies, and helps me de-stress after a long day in the office, I often found myself frustrated at not getting the results I wanted from my plants. Through blogging, I have uncovered the answer to lots of common problems and now I want to share my knowledge with other horticulture enthusiasts.

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