What is zero-turn?
The term 'zero turn' refers to the turning radius of the machine being essentially zero inches, or a zero-degree-turn radius. This means the zero turn mower can turn within its own footprint.
This is the mowing technology typically used by professional landscape contractors. In recent years, the cost of zero-turn technology has come in line with homeowner budgets and many people are converting their mowing equipment to a zero turn machine.
The main difference between a zero turn mower and a steering wheel lawn tractor is in the controls. Each rear wheel has an independent wheel motor (one on the right and one on the left) that is controlled by the two steering handles. Two independent steering controls provide infinite maneuverability which literally cuts your mowing time in half.
How do you steer a zero turn mower without a steering wheel?
Each rear wheel of a zero turn mower has an independent wheel motor (one on the right and one on the left) that is controlled by two steering handles. So if you push the right steering handle forward, your right wheel will move forward; you can also pull it back which will move your wheels in reverse.
Is it difficult learning to drive a zero turn mower?
Steering a zero turn mower is as easy as driving a shopping cart. Push the handles forward to go forward and pull the handles back to go in reverse. The key to driving in a straight line is to assure the same amount of pressure is applied to each lever. To turn right, simply push the left handle forward. To turn left, push the right handle forward. Bringing the handles back to a neutral position will stop the machine. Most people become comfortable with the way it handles after just a few times mowing their lawn.
How exactly does a zero turn mower save you time compared to a lawn tractor?
You can cut your mowing time in half using a zero turn mower instead of a traditional riding lawn tractor. Here are some of the time-saving features of zero turn technology:
Maneuver Around Obstacles:
The maneuverability of zero turn mowers allows you to easily mow around trees, flower beds and other obstacles in your yard more easily than with a steering wheel vehicle such as a riding lawn tractor.
Drive at a Faster Speed
Zero turn mowers are designed to cut grass nearly twice as fast as traditional lawn tractors so your straight line mowing speed is improved. A typical lawn tractor cuts at a speed of 3-4 mph while a typical zero turn mower cuts at a speed of 5-8 mph.
Mow in a Single Pass
When you get to the end of your yard and have to turn around and come back, you literally can spin 180 degrees and come straight back without having to back up and cut the strips of grass you would miss when making the turn with a lawn tractor.
Eliminate Follow-Up Trimming
With an unobstructed view of the cutting deck, zero turn mowers make it easy to cut very close to your trim edges – you can nearly eliminate the need to trim hard-to-reach areas with a push mower or a string trimmer after you've finished mowing.
Is this new technology?
Zero turn mowers have been used by professional landscape contractors for many years to produce a manicured-looking lawn in the most efficient way possible. Now, zero-turn technology is available to homeowners. And their popularity is on the rise – zero turn mowers are one of the fastest-growing segment of riding mowers today.
How do you stop a zero turn mower?
Most zero turn mowers do not have a foot-pedal brake. The steering handles of a zero turn mower control both the direction and the speed of the machine. As you push the handles forward, the speed of the mower will increase. So when you want to slow down or stop, you simply bring the handles back to neutral in their original position. Zero turn mowers are equipped with a parking/emergency brake.
Does a zero turn mower accommodate attachments?
There are a number of different attachments that add to the versatility of zero turn mowers. The most popular attachment is a bagging system that allows you to collect grass clippings. There are many bagger options available for zero turn mowers including two- and three-bucket designs. You can also add a mulching kit to the deck to mulch clippings back into the lawn instead of having the grass discharge from the side chute.
Adding a hitch to the back of your zero turn mower will allow you to use a variety of different attachments, including a dump cart, spreader, plug aerator, lawn dethatcher, roller or sprayer. Some zero turn mowers also accommodate front-mounted attachments such as a snow blade, snow blower or brush for clearing snow or debris.
Why are zero turn mowers priced higher than traditional lawn tractors?
Part of the additional cost is due to the fact that there are two hydrostatic transmissions in a zero turn mower instead of one in a lawn tractor. Zero turn mowers usually have larger engines, larger decks, stronger frames and, overall, more steel in their construction compared to lawn tractors.
On the other hand, there are some long-term cost savings associated with zero turn mowers that are often overlooked. Because zero turn mowers cut your mowing time in half, less gas is required to cut your lawn. Shorter run times also means less wear and tear on belts and pulleys for longer machine life.
Are zero-turn mowers just for large yards?
Zero turn mowers are good for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of time they spend mowing. The bigger your yard and the more turns required to mow, the more time you can save with a zero turn mower!
How do zero turn mowers handle on slopes?
Ariens and Gravely do not recommend operating a zero turn mower on slopes over 10 degrees. (As a reference point, most roads do not have slopes greater than 10 degrees. A 20 degree slope would be difficult even to stand on). Because zero turn mowers steer by traction of the rear wheels, a loss of traction could also reduce your ability to stop. When operating on slopes, a zero turn mower will not steer if you are sliding or skidding. There is no power to the front wheels of a zero-turn mower.
If you operate a zero turn mower on slopes lesser than 10 degrees, keep the following recommendations in mind:
- Keep all movements on the slope slow and gradual
- Mow up and down slopes, not across them
- Avoid starting, stopping or turning on a slope
- Do not mow on wet grass