Do you really need a zero-turn mower? 17 reasons why you may not want one.

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837 Comments on "Do you really need a zero-turn mower? 17 reasons why you may not want one."

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Ed
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Paul, I have about 5 acres of grass on the east side of my house and another 5 acres on the west side and have been using an old International Harvester 140 tractor with 3 point hookup with a Woods Dixie Cutter M5 60 inch mower behind the tractor to mow the large open areas but have also thought about purchasing a larger riding mower instead of using the tractor. I currently have a Cub Cadet SLT1554 riding mower with 54 inch cut from 2006 but am having trouble with the transmission drive belt and having someone install it correctly.… Read more »
Tristan
Guest

Hi Paul. In Winnipeg, Canada. Love the site – so helpful! Am trying to decide between the Toro Timecutter SW5425 and SWX5050. My yard is 4 acres; 5ish degree slope in the front, ~1.5 acres I only started mowing a yr ago is still a bit rough. From what I can tell the key difference between them is the fabricated deck on the 5050. Would that be worth the extra cost given the roughish area I have or would the 54 inch deck be a better choice? Thanks a lot.

Mike
Guest
Paul,thanks for this site!. I have learned a lot. I have had a Toro rider, which i got rid of when my yard was made more into a garden with grass accents than a yard. you hit the nail on the head about their value and ability. we are purchasing a 2 acre property, abt half flat, half on a 3-5 degree long slope. smooth, well kept.no trees per se, no fencing. (per your comments, the owner stays away from the creek/pond at the bottom – you can see where he stops mowing and goes in with a DR brush… Read more »
Mitch McCullough
Guest
Hi Paul, Your site is very helpful! I have a John Deere 1026R with a lot of attachments (front-end loader/forklift, tiller, snowblower, box blade) and find it very useful, though when using the forklift wish it was more robust. Installing and removing the mower deck is not as easy as portrayed, and I often find myself struggling and spending too much time to make the switch to mow. I have a bagging setup for it, but hooking that up is involved, and it cannot handle heavy grass, which is the very time I want a bagger. I’m thinking a dedicated… Read more »
Pat
Guest

Thanks for all the info in helping me make my decision, Paul! It’s a great service that you’re doing here.
I found what I think is a good deal on a Husqvarna PZ60 at ~$8350, down from it’s roughly $11K MSRP, so I’m going for it. It seems to be a great machine that will do more than I need it to, and will hold a decent resale value.
The only decision remaining is the Kohler EFI 31 HP engine or the Kawasaki FX921V 31HP (not EFI). The dealer has both.

Dewey
Guest

Hi Paul,
I’ve been reading a lot of the Q & A’s but really haven’t gotten a real good feel for what i plan doing.
I am moving to southern Florida soon and have a house with approx. 1/4 acre yard with a few obstacles that have plenty of space to get around. I also want to pick up maybe 10 or so properties with yards similar to mine just for something to do and get some extra beer money. Could you give me your opinion on a ztr that would fit the bill?
I’ve got info overload and could use your help
Thanks

Pat
Guest

Hi Paul,
Scag Tiger Cat STC61V-26CV-EFI
Husqvarna MZT61 (2015 leftover at one place) $5499, 2016 at another for ~$5800
PZT61 ~$7500

I haven’t come across Grasshopper or Country Clipper but will Google for local dealers now

Tim Aberle
Guest
Tim in NE Kansas. I have a Cub Cadet LXT 1046 lawn tractor that was sufficient for my old lawn of about .75 acres. I recently moved and my yard is now about 1.5 acres and I plan to expand it within the next two years to 2.5 to 3 acres. I also mow a 3 acres lawn at my business. Currently I am using my brother’s JD Z655 so that I can get the lawns mowed in a reasonable time. My yard is about 70% slopes, has quite a few trees/obstacles and is a fairly rough. I am looking… Read more »
Pat
Guest

Hi Paul,
Thanks so much for your prior response. I’m following up after speaking with several dealers. You’ve steered me away from 72″. I am now deciding between a 61″ Ferris, Scag, or Husqvarna, the Husqvarna being the lowest priced.
I’m being guided towards the Ferris 2100 with the Vanguard 810cc/28HP EFI engine over the Kohler or Kawasaki, or Briggs & Stratton. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these three mfrs and on the various different engines I can get.
Thanks again!
Mowing ~6.5 ac. mostly open, gentle slope old pasture land

John D
Guest
Hi Paul, Thank you for your advice and expertise. I have learned a lot in two days from your site since my Craftsman 54″ lawn tractor died. I have a 1.4 acre property with approximately 1.2 acres requiring to be mowed. It is fairly flat and not glass like, but relatively smooth. There are a few rough areas around tree lines, however. It usually takes me about 2 hours to cut, trim and clean up. I am a big fan of quality equipment and willing to pay a bit for it. I am searching for a machine that 1) is… Read more »
Sam Ferrara
Guest
Hi Paul, I have decided to purchase a Cub Cadet Z-Force 48 from my local dealer. I writing you to ask whether I should consider purchasing a new 2012 model at a discounted cost rather than a 2016 model. What makes my decision more difficult is that the discount price for the 2012 model is $3,300 is based on a list price of $4,199 which sits between the list prices for the 2016 Z-Force models ($3,599 for the L model and $4,900 for the LX model. My dealer promotes the 2012 model as being superior in quality and performance versus… Read more »
John D
Guest
Paul, Your advice and experience is much appreciated! My Sears Craftsman 24 HP 54″ lawn tractor basically died today and I have been on your site ever since. This, of course, is after I went through a period of discovery, presented the facts, deliberated and finally won the case to purchase a new machine with my wife who happens to be an Attorney. We have a 1.4 acre lot with 1.2 of it needing to be maintained. It is fairly flat and smooth, has multiple mulched beds and a few rough areas around tree lines. It takes me about 1.5… Read more »
Jeff
Guest
Hi Paul I have 2 acres of flat yard to mow, no slopes, and lots of trees (50 pines). I’m looking to cut down on my mowing time! I have been mowing for 8 years with a John Deere LX280 54″ mower. Great mower, just looking to buy something to do the same job quicker. Would like to spend $4000 or less. I take good care of my stuff, but I still like to buy something of good quality. I’ve been considering going to auctions and picking up a used EXMark or Ferris ZTR 54″ or 60″ deck, but am… Read more »
Robert Speer
Guest
Hi Paul, I have gone to Sutton Tractor and learned a great deal about the difference between Hydrostatic transmissions that are sealed and those that are serviceable. The problem is the cost at around 5K I have since been reading in your posts about CVT Transmissions. I found a Poulon Pro PB18VA46 for$1399. I believe this might be the way to go on my 2 acre hilly lawn. What is your opinion of Automatic or CVT transmissions vs serviceable hydrostatics? The PoulonPro is at a farm supply and seems to have been discountinued by Poulon. It sounds like a good… Read more »
Robert Speer
Guest
Hi Paul, I have spent endless hours trying to find my next mower. I posted earlier about my hill. I have been using a John Deere LA500 that I bought 9 years ago. For the last 2 years after warming up for about 20 minutes the transmission makes a horrendous noises when I try to go up the slightest hills. I have been mowing sideways on my hill instead of up and down. Mowing my 2 acres takes me the whole day, as I have to let it cool down for a couple hours before finishing. Hill Gradient tells me… Read more »
Jon Schumacher
Guest

I’ve got a 5 acre flat lot (other than the septic mound). With a budget of $5,000 or less, what do you recommend?

Do you have an opinion on the Bad Boy Mowers?

Stuart
Guest
I am trying to decide between a zero turn and a lawn/garden tractor, I live in Fordoche LA and have a 5 acre yard and about 3 1/2 is mowed lawn the rest rough cut, mostly flat but does have a fair slope towards the front that ends in a bayou and some other small hills and slight slope to the sides of my driveway.. I currently have a Ford 8N that I bush hog with and keep the rough areas cut but want something that finishes cleaner and is easier and safer to operate. My budget is about 3500… Read more »
Tom
Guest
Hi Paul, I just killed my Sears 420cc 42 inch mower and economically need to replace it. I’ve been on my property for 2 years now, 2 acres with 3/4 acres of grass around the house and 1 1/4 acres horse paddock, which is fenced in to 3 paddocks, so a lot of mowing going close to fencing.. The mower was good, but really lacked power in the pastures (estimated, not published at about 13hp). I mow around the edges and in to the center in a circle and the turning radius was not great, but OK except for the… Read more »
Pat
Guest
Hi Paul, I am in central Virginia and have an 8 acre yard where I need to mow about 5.5 acres. I have been mowing using a big old mid-80s Massey Ferguson 40 HP tractor with an 84″ mowing deck. Maintaining the whole package is becoming a challenge for me so I’m considering a (commercial grade) zero turn. My yard is open, gently sloping and borders a pond on one side. I don’t need to mow right down to the pond so am not concerned about sliding in. I mow parallel to the shore line and it is flat. I’m… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Hi Paul. Your site is a great source of information. I have 3 acres in the Texas Hill Country outside of Austin. The site includes irrigated Bermuda grass (0.75 acres) and a buried septic field (0.25 acres) that require mowing. The rest of the property is kept natural. I have several stands of trees in the lawn that are outlined with metal edging, a long, curving limestone retaining wall that borders the front lawn, and a wrought iron fence around the lawn in back of the house. Most of the lawn area is gently sloping, and the septic field (which… Read more »
Rudy
Guest
Hello Paul, I have bookmarked this page and have read it top to bottom numerous times but still remain indecisive of a ZTR or another Lawn Tractor. I am sorry for the following long post but here are the specs of my mowing areas and usage: Front yard: 1/3 acre, open, not overly rough (some sink holes where pine tree stumps rotted down but am filling when possible), mostly flat with exception of a sloped long ditch bank along a major highway. Side lot: 1 1/2 acres, flat (with exception of the long ditch but is not near as high… Read more »
Cassie
Guest

We are in Akron, Ohio. Our lawn is 2.5 acres. It is pretty flat except for septic mounds. The lawn is pretty smooth. There are about 25 trees and a few mulched beds. One side is bordered by forest. Our goal is to spend $3.5k or less and want a nice cut but want it to be as quick as possible. Based on what we’ve read, we’d like a zero-turn front deck so we don’t have to trim much. Could you recommend a mower?

Robert Speer
Guest

Hi Paul,
I have about 2 acres with a portion of it about a 25 degree slope. I had been thinking of a ZT such as a Hustler for around 3,000. I currently have a lemon of a mower. John Deere LA155 with the horrible transmission. After it warms up it will not go up hills. It is basically a throw away. What is your recommendation for my slope?
Thank You,
Bob Speer

Keith
Guest
Hey Paul, I live in the area of Albany, GA (southwest GA) on 1.2 acres. It is basically flat but the front yard slightly slopes down toward the street. There is a drainage ditch with enough of a slope that I can’t mow it with my Honda Harmony 2013 (36″ cut I think). My neighbor (bless his soul) often cuts it for us with his zero-turn and I finish it with my push mower! The Honda is in its eighteenth season and I am ready to replace it. My wife, who likes to cut, thinks she wants a zero-turn. Our… Read more »
Matt Newsome
Guest

Thanks so much for the article!
My goal is to get around 20 residential yards to mow. It’s northeast Alabama, so there are hills and slopes. I want to spend less than $10000. The less the better, but I don’t want to spend $1500 on a mower if it is not going to last long or be breaking down all the time with the above work load.
Thanks in advance,
Matt

mike
Guest
Hey Paul I’m looking to buy my first zero turn mower. I have about 1/4 acre tall (fescue) I think, very flat lawn with few bumps and holes with one tree. Looking for a mower that is the right size and will last a long time and also get the job done fast. I have no width restrictions so I’m thinking bigger is better but I don’t want to make the wrong dicission by buying too big of a mower that I will regret in the future. I have always been partial to husqvarna but I’ve seen alot of terrible… Read more »
Joshua Butler
Guest
Hey Paul, I’m about to purchase my first zero turn. After looking at reviews and talking to folks I’ve narrowed it down to a Husqvarna MZT 61. My yard is right at 5 acres, mostly flat, with only a few trees. Is 61 a decent size? I’ve heard when you get to big, the mower is more prone to scalping. I originally looked at 52, but the dealer has the 61 on hand. What’s your opinion on this Husqvarna zero turn or their zero turns in general? Probably going with the Kawasaki engine. Any opinions on it or the Briggs?… Read more »
Derek
Guest
Hi Paul, Thanks for putting together all this great information and for actually responding to comments and the many, many additional questions this post have created for you! Of course I have a few of my own for you: I just moved my new family to Florida (Merritt Island) and we’re sitting on a 1.5 Acre property…which will be in need of mowing. From what I’ve gathered we’ve got Bahia grass and I’ve heard it can be tricky to cut. I’ve never had acreage, never owned a home, never had to mow a lawn (let alone deciding what type of… Read more »
Bobby O'D
Guest
Hi Paul, I just bought a 3 acre property in southeast PA that probably has 2.5+ of lawn to mow. It’s pretty flat, has about 15+ trees and obstacles, and is pretty soggy in quite a few areas. The lawn has a fair amount of ruts and I expect more because the traffic related to the septic being replaced asap. I’m considering the 54″ fast auto tight turn 24hp craftsman lawn tractor. The top speed, turning radius, high HP for mulching, mildly rough lawn and ability to haul debris/attach a snow removal device is what has me leaning this way.… Read more »
Michael Marrocco
Guest

I am considering getting the hustler raptor 52″ please give me your opinion on this mower. thank you.

Dustin
Guest

Hi Paul,
when you compare dollar to dollar on all the zero turns, in your opinion, what would you consider the best zero for the money.
I have been partial to the scags since they do last long and maintain there value.
On a side note, I have been looking at getting a 48″ scag Freedom Z zero turn that has 200 hours but looks brand new. It has been used lightly when mowing. Is 4k worth the money on this?

Thanks
Dustin

Anita
Guest
We are trying to decide between a Simplicity 44″ “ReadyStart”, a 42″ Toro SS4225, or a 42″ Cub Cadet RZT S 42. Our lawn is just shy of an acre and pretty flat, with very few obstacles. I have a bad habit of trying to force a normal turning mower into a ZTR by cranking on the steering wheel, so we have decided this time to purchase a ZTR. A friend of ours said to stay away from Cub Cudets–he said the ratings are bad. The salesman said that the only two bad things about the Toro are that (1)… Read more »
Brady
Guest

Hello!
I live it east Texas on 30 acres and mow about 5-6. I had a scag 60in deck residential(freedom z I believe). I am looking to upgrade to a commercial at least 60 in deck. Mostly flat with so hills. Lots of fence and trees to mow around. Trying to decide best brand and model. Looking at exmark, kubota, and Dixie chopper. What are you thoughts/recommendations? I would like to stay under the 9-10000 range.

Theresa
Guest

Hi,
I have an acre or so to mow but…it has about 75 pine trees and lots of bushes. The biggest grass area may be about 40 yards squared. To add to this, there are a multitude of roots and uneven patches in the yard. No slopes other than the front ditch but a nightmare none the less. I have always used a Husqvarna lawn tractor but I am considering a zero turn. Would you recommend a zero turn for a yard like this?

Mike
Guest

Hi Paul,
We just bought a property with 3 acres to mow, pretty much open with a slight slope. Been trying to read up and compare different ZTR’s until my head is about to spin. I am somewhat leaning on towards the Scag 52″ Liberty Z with 24HP Kohler 7000 Series Engine for just under $5000 which is the max I want to spend. Reading through the posts I did’t find this mower mentioned. What are your thoughts/experience with the Liberty Z?
Thank you,
Mike
Troy, MO

A F
Guest
Hi Paul, It looks like you’ve already answered a similar question for Malcom dated March 17, but the models I’m looking at are smaller than his. I am considering buying either the John Deere X350 48″ Deck Riding Mower or the Z525E 48″ Deck Zero Turn both with a bagging kit. My yard is approximately 1/2 acre of lawn and fairly flat, I would be using it to mow the lawn, willow leaves and their small branches. We do have a creek that runs next to the property but the terrain isn’t too sloped to go over. There is only… Read more »
Nam Tran
Guest

Paul, thank you for the great information you provided on your site. Yours is one of the most informative sites on lawn mower that I could find. I am trying to decide between Cubcadet RZT-S46 (zero turn with steering wheel – EZT-2200) and ZForce-L48 (lab bar with ZT-2800). My lawn is less than 1/2 acre, but there are some areas pretty sloppy (20-25 degree). Which one would you recommend? Thanks in advance.

Harvey Guilford
Guest
Hello Paul, I don’t have a separate handbrake and I did check all the switches and fuses. When this first started happening the engine would die immediately so like you I thought it had to be an electrical issue. After verifying all the electrical components were functioning properly I continued trying to get the PTO to engage which it would, but only at full power (max RPM). It has never done this before and I was always able to engage the PTO at around 75% power to save wear and tear on the clutch. The PTO is putting an extremely… Read more »
Malcolm
Guest

HI Paul,

Thank you for providing all of this information. It has truly been educational. I have 1 acre most is a moderate slope, fairly smooth with limited obstacles. I have a good John Deere dealer nearby for servicing. I have been looking at two models in particular One is a tractor the X380 either a 48 or 54″ deck. The other is a zero turn Z535 48″ deck. I will use it to pull a cart sometimes but can easily limit how much weight I place in it. I would welcome your opinion. Thank you.

Malcolm
Guest

Thank you again. I was on the fence with the decision. that helped.

Sean
Guest

Thank you very much for the info. I rode my mower around about 2/3 of the property last night just in a big circle basically and it seemed to take awhile even at full speed (not mowing) on my craftsman tractor. It probably took 5-7 minutes just to ride the fence line of 2/3 of the property.. if I were actually mowing I can see that time adding up real quick.

Ruth Moran
Guest
I bought a Hustler Raptor 52″ deck, 23 HP Kawasaki Engine the middle of last summer after my SEARS lawn tractor died. This Hustler is my first experience with the zero turn. It has changed my life. I have a little over one acre of lawn, a couple of trees and an inground pool to go around. The old SEARS tractor, 38 inch deck (maybe it was 42, I honestly cant recall) Anyway, it was a slow, plodding, horrible mower. Took me 3 or 4 hours to really get the lawn cut. The new zero turn? ONE hour. (not including… Read more »
Charles
Guest
Hey Paul I’m looking at the trim cutter mx5000 I have a sloped yard and debating if a zero turn is right for me or that I just really have wanted one. It’s a 3/4 acre with about 30 big trees on it. I read what you had to say and I still don’t know what’s best for me and what is the definition of a small zero turn? I also tow my jetski up the road with my craftsman I have now and didn’t know that zero turns that you aren’t able to tow things but the mx5000 comes… Read more »
Sean
Guest
I’m closing on a new home tomorrow on 5 acres, and don’t think my old craftsman 42″ tractor is going to get the job done quick enough for me. I’ve been looking at a Hustler Raptor SD I’m not even sure on the price I was hoping its around $4,000 since the raptor is $2999, and the only difference is the deck basically. I want a larger deck than 42-46 I was thinking 50-60″ range. Anyway the reason I’m posting my question is because nobody ask you about Hustler mowers, I assume they’re fairly new and this is an older… Read more »
Tad
Guest
Sean I just took delivery of a 60″ Hustler Raptor SD last week and already cut with it (and played around a bunch with it too.) Cost about $4600 with tax and all and Hustler dealers do not seem to barter but they are priced fair compared to others and I have a huge dealer with a big shop about 5 minutes from me. I have a three acre lot and 4 years ago purchased a Husqvarna 54″ riding mower (from Lowes) that just was too slow and not holding up well. The motor was fine (Kohler) and over all… Read more »
Will
Guest
Hi Paul, Thanks for all of the information. You provided valuable information that I haven’t found on other sites. I have 5 acres in Annapolis, MD (used to be an old horse farm) and I’m trying to decide what to buy. Our lot is about 220ft x 1000ft, with a house, barn, stable, several fences, and trees. The property is flat, but can be bumpy in some areas. I mow it about once a week. Currently I have an old IH244 compact tractor with belly mower, but it requires a lot of time/effort to get close to any obstacles. Overall,… Read more »
Amy Lyon
Guest
I’ve been reading the comments about the various mowers available out there and it looks like you have great suggestions for the best type of mower. I need help! I have an 8-acre hobby farm with a fairly good sized yard, a steep ditch and many trees to mow around. In the fall – I like to hook on a sprayer and take care of weeds and mow the pastures down. Sometimes I need to mow around the perimeter, which includes some nice sized weeds and baby trees that have grown up from seeds. I also could use something versatile… Read more »
Randy Reynolds
Guest
Hi Paul, Thank you so much for the great information! I just moved to a 1.2 acre home in Westminster, MD. The yard is relatively flat and most obstacles are easy to mow around. I need to move up from a walk behind mower to a tractor and was considering the Sears Pro Series 20442, until you posted the new 20443. The larger deck is not important and I assume that the quality of cut would be better with the 46″ deck versus the 50″. I plan to add a snow blower attachment and wonder if the 20442 will be… Read more »
herb Gersenson
Guest
Hello Paul, Your site is much appreciated. I have a Yanmar Diesel 48″ deck lawn tractor. I have had it for 35 years but now I am looking at about $1,300.00 in repairs and I am thinking it is time for a new unit. I have 2.5 acres to mow. Mostly flat with one small area of a slope of perhaps 20 degrees. I am 62 years old and would like something to make my mowing a bit more comfortable for the next 20 years. Obviously quality of cut and durability are important. I have some roots to deal with… Read more »
Joe Bilbro
Guest
JoeB in Lubbock Texas – Not sure what you get out of this site but it is a tremendous resource for everyone. Thank you! I’m about to get my first ZTR. I’ve read your posts back to 2014 and didn’t my specific question addressed (sorry of I missed it). I have 1 acre, very flat (can watch your dog run away for 3 days). 50+ trees, a barn, grape arbor, curved brick patio, etc. About 60% of the yard is wide open, about 40% has trees and obstacles to dodge. It currently takes me about 2.5 hours on my 21… Read more »
Mark W
Guest
Paul, Thanks for the great article and for sharing your experience. Our suburban lot is about 2/3rds of an acre with irregular flower beds and borders and some 5:1 slopes (dip/swale along the road, etc). It takes me about 2 hours to mow it with our 21″ push mower and I’d like to reduce that time without spending a ton of money. I was leaning toward an old used (blue!) Dixon ZTR with the mechanical transaxle, but reading your article here it sounds like it might not handle the hills. Would a wide-format (30 – 33″ or so) walk behind… Read more »
Adam
Guest

I am trying to decide between the exmark quest 50″ or the ferris IS600Z. The exmark is $3999 and the ferris is $4999. I mow about 2 acres with some hills. Do you think the extra $1k is worth going with the ferris? I know the ferris is a commercial mower and the quest is not.

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