2022 The Best 42-46 Inch Zero Turn Mowers
Why Is A 42-46 Inch Zero Turn Mower The Best Choice For You?
You’ve decided to get a new mower for your home lawn and everyone has been trying to tell you that a zero-turn mower is what you need.
Here are some points that will help you decide if a 42-46 inch zero turn is the best choice for you:
- Quicker Mowing: Your lawn is somewhere between 1/3 and 1 1/2 acres.
- A 21-inch walk-behind will mow about 1/2 acre an hour.
- A 42-inch lawn tractor will mow about 1 acre an hour.
- A 42-inch zero-turn will mow about 1 1/2 – 2 acres an hour.
- The blade speed on zero-turn mowers is faster than on a lawn tractor so you can travel over the lawn faster and still get a great cut. A zero-turn is more maneuverable so you can zip around obstacles and change direction significantly faster than with a lawn tractor. This helps to shorten your mowing time. Being able to turn around without leaving a spot and mowing in a straight line back and forth you can get the same striping effect as the commercial mowing companies offer.
- Less Trimming and Weed Eating: If you are like me you’ve always hated that you couldn’t just go right around that tree with the lawn tractor. With a zero-turn mower, you can turn on a dime left, right, backward, and go right around that tree. This makes it easy to get around tough obstacles, tight corners, and to turn around to go back down the length of a lawn without missing a spot at the end. Because of their enhanced maneuverability, you’ll be able to mow closer to obstacles. This means you’ll spend a lot less time going back with a weed eater to get the spots a lawn tractor just can’t get to. With a faster mowing speed and less trimming, this is a big time-saver for you. Many homeowners will say a zero-turn will cut your mowing time in half compared to using a lawn tractor. By getting done faster and still have a lawn you can be proud of you will have more time to do the things you enjoy the most.
- Reduced Costs: Reduced mowing times also reduce your costs. You’ll spend less money on fuel, and your engine and mower will last longer. Your wheels, oil, and engine parts will all have longer life spans, adding up to a more efficient long-term investment.
- Beautiful Results: Most zero-turn mowers today have a higher blade tip speed than lawn tractors and older ZTRs. This, combined with the fact that you can move closely around obstacles and efficiently move back and forth, delivers a cleaner, more even cut. After a few mowings your lawn with look better than it did using a lawn tractor.
- Superior Mulching Capability: The higher blade speed, fabricated decks, and bolt-in mulch kits also offer the added benefit of better mulching of leaves and grass clippings. Mulching turns leaves and grass clippings into fine particles that fall back into your lawn and help to fertilize it. For bluegrass, fescue and ryegrasses cut at 3-4 inches weekly and you will see a significant improvement in how your lawn looks.
Note: Zero turns are made to mow grass. They mow quickly and will save you time trimming around obstacles. They are NOT designed to pull heavy loads. Yes, some have a hitch and you can pull a small yard cart or spreader but you will destroy the transmissions in them if you try to pull loads of dirt, firewood, or a leaf vacuum.
42-46 Inch Deck Zero-Turn Mowers – My Recommendations
I will break the list below three different types of residential zero-turn mowers based on the mowing deck.
- Stamped Decks – Inexpensive – Mow well, bag well, and are great for smooth lawns. These decks are similar to the one on your lawn tractor and use a “mulch plug” to convert them to a mulching deck. They mow best at 4-5 MPH so they won’t mow as much per hour as fabricated deck mowers.
- Fabricated Decks – Good value residential mowers – Best for most people that want a mower that cuts well and will last. Fabricated decks are designed specifically for zero-turns so they will mow faster than the stamped decks. Depending on the model they mow well at 5-7 MPH. They are built with thicker steel and have extra material on the edges so they are stronger, will last longer, and take more of a beating from your teenagers. They use bolt-in mulching kits so they will mulch better at faster speeds. Currently, there are only a few good 42-inch fabricated deck zero-turn mowers.
- Heavy-Duty Fabricated Decks – These are the strongest decks available. Built with commercial components so the mower will take a beating and last many, many years – Good for acreages, estates, and farm lawns. Right now there is only one 42-inch zero-turn residential mower that uses this heavy-duty deck.
42-46 inch Stamped Deck – 1/3 to 1 acre
- Best All-Around:
Toro 42 in. 22.5 HP TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 75742. This Toro mows very well, bags very well, and mulches very well. The best feature is the Smart Speed Control. You can move a three-position lever that allows you to run the ground speed of the mower slower for trimming or slower for pulling loads that will tear up the transmissions on other zero-turns. If you pull a lawn cart with bags of mulch or firewood this mower will do the job and last for you years. It’s also a great price for what you get. Available at The Home Depot Also available at Tractor Supply, ACME Tools, and your local Toro Dealer.
- Best Value:
Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 in. 22 HP Kohler V-Twin Zero Turn Mower Model# ULTIMA ZT1-42. This Cub Cadet is in second place only because the Toro 75742 has the Smart Speed Control. This is one of the best 42-inch mowers on the market because it mows well, bags well, and mulches well. It features the strongest frame Cub Cadet has ever used and I like the way it looks. Available at The Home Depot Also available online through cubcadet.com.
- Best Electric: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42E Electric Zero Turn Mower Model 34ABA2CS710. If an electric zero-turn mower is on your radar the ZT1 42E is the best on the market right now. It will easily mow 2 + acres on one charge. This is one of the best-rated mowers and just happens to be electric. If you interested but undecided if an electric mower is best for you please go to this article: Going green – The Best Electric ZTRs Available exclusively at The Home Depot and Cub Cadet
Toro 42″ TimeCutter® 452cc Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed® Model# 75740. Best budget zero-turn on the market. If you have a small lawn and don’t want to walk anymore this is a great choice. This mower uses a fuel-sipping single-cylinder engine that has plenty of power for weekly mowing. If your lawn is thick or you mow bent grasses I suggest you move up to a model with a V-twin. Available at The Home Depot Also available at Tractor Supply, ACME Tools and your local Toro Dealer.
Troy-Bilt 42 in. 679 cc V-Twin Zero Turn Riding Mower Model# Z42. For $200 more than the Toro 75740 you get a V-Twin engine. This is Troy-Bilt’s latest design. It cuts very well and is one of the best low priced ZTR’s on the market. Available at The Home Depot Also available at TroyBilt.com
- Inexpensive: Troy-Bilt 46 in. 679 cc V-Twin Zero Turn Riding Mower Model# Mustang Z46. The same ZTR as the Z42 above but has a 46-inch deck. The advantage of a 46-inch deck is that it hangs out the left side of the mower just a little more. That makes it easier to trim close to landscaping and bushes. You can trim right up against a chain-link fence without the front castor wheels getting caught in the fence. Available at The Home Depot Also available at TroyBilt.com
- Best Steering Wheel:
Cub Cadet 42 in. 679 cc Fuel Injected (EFI) V-Twin ZeroTurn Riding Mower with Steering Wheel Control Model# RZT-SX 42 EFI. A steering wheel zero-turn gives you the best of both worlds. A zero-turn mower that doesn’t scuff your turf and a lawn tractor style steering that holds slopes better than the lap-bar style. For people who want the speed of a zero-turn but just don’t like lap-bar controls, this is the perfect mower. This mower cuts well, bags well, and mulches well. In addition, this ZTR has one of the few riding mower EFI engines available. It starts every time. You don’t have to worry about fuel issues and it will run on E15 fuels. Available at The Home Depot Also available online through cubcadet.com.
- Best Cut By CR:
John Deere Z335M 42 in. 20 HP Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Mower Model# BG21127. If you want green paint on your new zero-turn mower this is a good choice for your one acre or less yard. Consumer Reports* consistently gives this mower the best rating for cut-quality, bagging, and mulching for the mowers they test. Available at The Home Depot Also available at your local John Deere Dealer
- * Consumer Reports has not tested most of the mowers on this list.
42-46 inch Fabricated Deck – 1/2 to 1 1/2 Acres
- Best Value Fabricated Deck:
Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 46 in. Fabricated Deck 679 cc V-Twin Zero Turn Mower Model# ULTIMA ZT1-46. This mower has quietly become one of the most popular mowers sold in the U.S. It not only looks good but also mows, bags and mulches very well. With the fabricated deck and strong frame, this mower will last you years. Available at The Home Depot Also available online through cubcadet.com.
- Best Fabricated:
Ariens IKON XD 42 Kawasaki Model 915268. This mower is arguably the best value mid-mount 42-inch zero-turn on the market. It’s built to last with a strong frame, large wheels, and a great cutting fabricated deck. Find Your Local Dealer: Ariens Dealer Locator
- Most Comfortable Ride Fabricated Deck 42 inch Mower:
Toro 42″ (107 cm) TimeCutter® MyRIDE® Zero Turn Mower (75745). This mower features the exclusive Toro MyRide Suspension platform. The seat and operator are completely isolated from the mower giving you the smoothest ride possible. This mower is the best choice if you have a rough lawn and want to mow fast. The fabricated 42-inch deck also cuts well, bags well, and mulches very well. If cost is no object and you want the best ride possible this is the one for you! Available at The Home Depot Also available at Tractor Supply, ACME Tools, and your local Toro Dealer.
- Inexpensive Fabricated Deck:
Ariens Edge 42 Briggs Model 915253. There are a lot of inexpensive 42-inch zero-turns on the market but this is the only one with a fabricated deck. This zero turn mower is packed with all the premium features Ariens is known to deliver all for only $2799!
- Flip-Up Deck, Joystick Steering:
Country Clipper Avenue 42 inch. You may have never heard of Country Clipper but they have been around since the early ’90s. They have primarily been offered in rural areas and are the mower of choice for many farmers and ranchers. All Country Clipper mowers feature a flip-up deck for easy maintenance and joystick steering so almost anyone can use one. (Lap bar steering is optional on some models) In addition, Country Clipper offers front steps and hand-bars for getting on and off the machine. If you have any physical disabilities and still want to mow your lawn this is the first mower you should consider. Read more and find your local dealer, here: Country Clipper
42-46 inch Heavy-Duty 10 ga Fabricated Decks
- Most Agile Resdiential Mower On The Market:
Walker Model R 42. As far as I know, there is only one 42 inch zero-turn on the market with a heavy-duty 10 ga fabricated deck. It’s also the only 42-inch ZTR with a front-mounted deck. The Model R uses the same heavy-duty deck that Walker uses on their much more expensive commercial models. That said, this is the best cutting, longest lasting workhorse of the 42 ich ZTRs. The front-mounted ground-hugging deck gives you a great cut but it also rides and follows the ground contours giving you the best cut possible. This will give you the closest trimming capabilities of all mowers on the market! This mower will give you a golf-course quality lawn – all your neighbors will be jealous. Set up a Demo at your home here: Get A Demo
By Paul Sikkema. Please Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Please Note: If you click on most of the links in this article and buy any product I will make a small commission from that sale. This is how I make money to keep this website up and running. Read more here: How to Support TodaysMower.com
2022 The Best Residential Zero Turn Mowers
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Have you not heard of Spartan zero turn mowers? Every model features a 7ga steel forged deck at a starting price of only $4,499.
Hi Jack, And that’s the problem. They are a little too cheap for what they advertise. I’m going to give them at least another year before I start recommending them.
I don’t see any mention about a Craftsman zero turn mowers. Specifically the Z5400 46″ Zero Turn mower. What are your thoughts?
Hi Michael, There are no local dealers for Craftsman so the company that owns the name is making you call an 800 number to get any warranty work done. Most of the time you will have to transport your mower to a repair center to get it repaired. The repair center may be miles away from you. Because of that I don’t recommend Craftsman mowers at this time.
We have a 5 acre ranch here in Colorado which is mostly pastures for the horses and goats. We mow approx. 1 acre around the house that has 25 Blue Spruce, with 3-4 foot waster rings around them. I am looking at two John Deere zero-turn models Z335E 42″ and the Z355E 48″, all of my other tractors are John Deere, love the company and service department if needed. My question is, would the 42″ mower fit my needs for mowing around the pine trees with the 3′ water ring or would you suggest the 48″ with the wider deck which sticks out further. I was hoping the 42″ would fit my situation, since the turns around the trees are not real tight.
Thank you for your feedback,
Hi Jeffery, The larger the deck – the farther it sicks out the side which makes trimming easier. That said, A good electric string trimmer from Milwaukee, Toro, EGO or Stihl will quickly finish what the 42 inch can’t get.
I am debating between Toro 42 in. 22.5 HP TimeCutter V-Twin Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed Model# 75742 and the 42 in. TimeCutter Iron Forged Deck 22 HP Kohler V-Twin Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower with MyRIDE. My question is the $700 price increase worth spending for the ladder unit.
Hi Sasha, The 42″ (107 cm) TimeCutter® MyRIDE® Zero Turn Mower (75747) is worth $700 more than the 42″ (107 cm) TimeCutter® Zero Turn Mower (75742) because of the extras you get. There are three differences. The question is: Do you need those extras?
1. The 75742 has the Toro (Chinese) engine, a 42 inch stamped deck, and a regular seat.
2. The 75747 has a Kohler (made in U.S.A) engine, a reinforced, fabricated heavy duty deck, and the MyRide Suspension System.
– The Toro engine has a good reputation so in my view it is about equal to the Kohler. The Kohler also has a great reputation. The Kohler usually has a $100 upcharge because of where it’s made.
– The stamped deck cuts well but the new Iron Forged fabricated deck is the best Toro has ever put on a 42-inch mower. (I have an Exmark with the “same” deck and it’s my reference mower that I compare all the others to.)
– The MyRide is unique and once you mow your lawn with one you’ll never go back to a conventional ZTR. It’s adjustable for your weight and takes all the shocks and jolts out of your mowing experience. If your lawn is even slightly rough it’s worth the extra money.
BobCat CRZ — I don’t see them mentioned often but they have a superb home owner ZTR in my opinion
Hi Ray, Bob-Cat is now owned by Bobcat. They just introduced a whole new line of mowers to replace the CRZ. https://www.bobcat.com/mowers/zero-turn-mowers
Hi Paul, Thank you for all of the information you provide on the site and your channel. I am looking at purchasing a 42″ Ariens Ikon XD, and wondered if you had any thoughts on the deck width. It is really the only concern I have with the model, and haven’t been able to find much info about it. From the product images, the closed end of the deck appears to sit pretty much in line with the rear tires. Do you feel this significantly hinders the ability to hug trees/landscaping/chainlink fence/ etc.? If they offered it in a 46 it would be perfect, but the 52 is a little big for my usage. The Edge appears to have a little more overhang with the 42″, but I feel like you get a large increase in mower for a couple hundred with the Ikon. Thanks!
Hi Justin, I agree with you – the IKON XD is a nice step up from the EDGE for just a few dollars more.
Yes, there is no real overhang for the deck on the XD 42. The larger frame and wider tires account for this.
I have the 52 inch and I really like the fact that Ariens put all the overhang on the left, closed side of the deck. It makes trimming extremely easy and I can trim around right a telephone pole without leaving any grass to trim. I don’t notice the extra 10 inches and it really speeds up my mowing.
Thank you Paul!
I have about 2 acres to keep on weekly basis with 3-4 acres on occasion.
I talked to a dealer about the Gravely ZTX 52 compared to the Ariens Ikon XD 52 at Lowes, dealer said he believes the Arions is more equal to the Gravely HD which is a step up for less money, what are your thoughts between the two?
I aso looked at the Timecutter 50 with and without the myride which is about same cost as John Deere Z525E, what is your opinion of these two?
What is your opinion on Spartan RZ for a $200 more than the John Deere and Toro?
Which would you choose of those mentioned or anything else in the price range? Thank You.
Hi Troy, As far as I know, the Gravely ZT X and the Ariens IKON XD are the same mower. (The Gravely HD and Ariens APEX are the same – both a lot heavier-duty mowers than theses) The Gravely and the Ariens are the best mowers for mowing both the lawn and the pasture. They will cut longer grass better than any of the other mowers you listed.
(Personally, for the amount of land you want to mow and the fact that the field will be fairly rough I suggest you spend the extra money and go with the Gravely HD or Ariens APEX. These machines will last you many years and with the larger tires will ride better)
I’ll always recommend buying from a dealer instead of online or from a big box store – even if it costs a little more. You get faster service and you always have someone willing to help if you have a question.
I have the TimeCutter 50 and I’ve reviewed it on my YouTube Channel (Paul’s YouTube) It’s a nice mower but I don’t recommend it for the amount of grass you have to mow and it won’t cut the higher grass in the field well.
The Deere is not designed at all for mowing fields. You’ll hate it. The Spartan looks cool but it just doesn’t have the build quality of the other brands.
I have a new lot with mostly flat but a few rolling hills on 3/4 acre lot. Trying to decide between Toro 75742 and CC XT1 46”. Plan on adding a mulching kit if that impacts the decision.
Hi Joe, I really don’t have a preference. They both mow well. The Toro does have a dedicated mulching kit so it will mulch a little better than the Cub Cadet. The Cub Cadet just has a mulching cover.
I also like the three-speed lever on the Toro. If you need to tow a cart or pull other attachments on the hills it helps to put the lever in tow.
I’m considering buying a Ryobi 75 electric Zero Turn. I have watched a number of videos on these in the last month, and it seems ‘good enough’, and it’s near the price range for a similar-sized gas ZT.
I recall seeing – someplace, but can’t find it now – a “free bagger kit” for this unit if you buy before the end of April. Have you seen that, do you know where I can find that? I’ve done a google-search today, and I’m coming up blank.
Any comments on deals, pricing, or other suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance!
Hi Tom, the only place to buy the Ryobi Zero Turn is at the Home Depot. So you have to go there to find any deals. So,
1. They have one current deal where the 75AH ZTR is $600 off. Then buy the bagger at $349. That’s the best deal.
2. Or you can buy the bagger and 75 AH mower combo for $349 off (that may be the “free” bagger you read about)
Here is the sales page for all the Ryobi ZTR’s at HD: Ryobi Zero-Turn Mowers. If you click on the 75 AH mower then go to the “frequently bought together” area of the page you will get the best deal.
I’m looking at a Big Dog Alpha 42″ with 18hp Kawasaki engine. Compared to a 2018 Husqvarna Z242f with 21.5 hp Kawasaki engine. Which is the better mower? I have to stick to 42″ due to gates.
Hi Mike, The Big Dog is the same mower as the Hustler Raptor. It cuts very well and gets good reviews. The Big Dog has a few extras like armrests.
The Husqvarna is not as smooth to drive and the deck doesn’t cut as well as most other zero-turns. I would choose the Big Dog.
scott a etheridge
Hey Paul, So 2 quick question for you please:
1. I think one of my choices is a 42 to 48 ZTR. I notice you don’t have any of the Husqvarnas on your recommend list. Any thoughts on them?
2. a local mower dealer has 2 Wright Velky GC 48″. they are new but from 2016 manufacture date. his price is only 2700 which seems like a steal. the only reason holding me back is that i’m not sure i want to walk anymore (have about 1.5 acres of not flat area). Thoughts on if that is too good a deal to pass up?
1. The Z48F still gets good reviews. The Z (residential) and the MZ line have been around for 15 years now and all of the other brands have updated their decks and frames. The stamped deck has not changed since 2006 and it still “average” for cut quality. A lot of owners complain about the cut quality of the 42 and 54-inch fabricated decks. I’ve had too many dealers state getting parts is a pain in the butt. Parts are always out of stock or take forever to get. Husqvarna is telling me they’ve improved their parts network but I would talk to your local dealer and see if he has had issues before I bought a Husqvarna residential model.
The Z400 and Z500 series are a new design and appear to be fine.
2. The Velke GC is a great walk-behind. It will be the last mower you have to buy. My only gripe is the hand controls are overly complicated to me. I STRONGLY suggest you drive it around the parking lot to see if you like the controls. (I always had Toro T-Bar controls. Gravely also has a really easy to use controls on their hydro models) Wright has a stand-on Sulky so you don’t have to walk.
scott a etheridge
Thanks for the quick reply Paul and all the great info. I’m trying to keep my budget at a max of $3000 and there are just so many choices at that price point. I guess I really need to think if I want to quit walking and start riding as my first decision. I’ve been doing our 1.5Acre with a 22″ FWD Craftsman for 15 years and last season I swore that would be my last doing that! Once again, thanks! and stay safe during this craziness. Scott
Hi Scott, My favorite mower this year for 1.5 acres is the 50 inch Toro Timecutter Model# 75750
scott a etheridge
Yes, I agree. The TORO is quickly moving up my list for sure. 3 yr warranty, no hour limit, 23HP Kawa motor, the deck seems very solid. I just got a Tractor Supply ad that shows a Bad Boy 54 MZ Magnum for $3500. So many choices! Luckily I’m in Colorado and we are still getting snow so I have some time.
Hi Scott, I have the Toro here to test but like you I’m still getting snow. I am planning on getting a Youtube Walk around video done this weekend.
Subscribe to the channel and you be the first to see it. https://www.youtube.com/paulsikkema
scott a etheridge
just subscribed. looking forward to seeing how the toro does.
scott a etheridge
Hey again Paul,
Enjoyed the video of the Toro you put up. Just wanted to let you know I ended up getting the 48″ Wright commercial walk behind. He even knocked off another $100 so I felt like I got a screamin’ deal on a mower that should last many, many years. Thanks again for all your advice! Scott
Hi Scott, Congrats! Remember, when you get tired of walking Wright makes the Velke Sulky so you can ride behind it.
Hey Paul thank you for all the information it has made it easier, but I still had a couple questions. I mow a little over an acre on mostly flat land, but some uneven terrain due to it being new construction. I have a few pine trees in the yard and in the front I have a little bit of a ditch line and on one side of the house I have a small slope. So my questions is I am looking at buying an Ariens Ikon XD-52 and the motor is either a Kohler or a Kawasaki and the price is the same for either motor. Which motor would you recommend? Also the other size in that mower is a 42″, but the 52″ is only a hundred or two more. The other thing is They sale the Ariens Edge for 300 less in the 52″ and the Gravely ZTX 52 for 300 more than the IKon XD-52. The only other mower I looked at was the Toro from Home Depot that you talked about and its fall in the same price range as the others. Any advice or recommendations I would appreciate. Thanks
Hi Jeremy, I have no preference between the Kohler and Kawasaki engines. Both are good and the support for both is great if you have any issues.
I’ve always had a 42 inch for my one-acre yard but the mower I just purchased is a 50 inch. I want to get done a little faster and the larger tires on the 50-52 inch mowers will ride better on my rough lawn.
The Gravely ZT X 52 and IKON XD 52 are the same mower as far as I can tell. Are you sure you are looking at a 2020 Ariens XD and not last year’s Ariens IKON XL? Are you looking at the Gravely and the Ariens at the same dealer? If you are at different dealers they set their own price – based on Ariens guidelines.
The Ariens Edge is their “economical” line. I suggest spending the extra $300 on the XD for the stronger frame, deck, armrests, better seat, etc.
Hey Paul thanks for the reply. So the small dealership I am working with use to only sale Gravelys and just started carrying Ariens, but they were told to apparently. The only Ariens they have in the store are the edges, because they did not carry them last year. So the 52″ edge is 2,899 and the Ariens XD Ikon XD 52″ is 3099, but they would have to order it. They have 2, 2019 Gravely ZT X-52 in the store for 3,199 but the seat is not a high back and the tires are smaller. So the 2020 Gravely X-52 has the bigger wheels and a high back seat, but it is 3,399. So I was just curious on your thoughts on those mowers vs home depot. Again I know you said you had no preference on the engines, but if they are the same price which would you get, the Kholer or Kawasaki? Thanks again.
Hi Jeremy, I really have no preference for either the Kohler or Kawasaki. I have a three-year-old Exmark with a Kohler 7000 that my wife drives every day and the engine has given us no issues at all. I just received a new Toro with the Kawasaki 691 and I expect that engine to be just as good.
So you can get the 2020 IKON XD for $200 more than the Edge, $100 less than the old-style Gravely ZT X and $300 Less than the 2020 ZT X.
Since the 2020 XD is the same mower as the 2020 Gravely ZT X, in my opinion, it’s worth ordering the Ariens.