Zero Turn vs. Riding Mower/Lawn Tractor – Your Best Bet?

If you have been down to one of the big home improvement stores lately, you’ll notice that there is a huge selection of lawn mowers that have seats. It seems that walk-behind mowers have been pushed to the side and are being replaced with a wide range mowers that seem to reduce the amount of work required to maintain traditional lawnmowers. The big question here is whether riding lawnmowers can be better than zero-turn mowers. Which one should I choose? Let’s take a look at how they differ.

Which one should you choose? What should you choose? A zero-turn mower or a riding mower/lawn tramper? (The Short Answer)

The type and size of your yard will affect the type of zero turn mower or riding mower that you choose. Both will not win first prize in every yard. Both types of mowers have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s a case of selecting the correct mower for the yard.

Zero Turns Lawn Tractor/Ride On
You only need to exert little effortYou only need to exert little effort
Optional Medium-Large Cut DecksThere are many options for small- to medium-sized cutting boards
High-Speed CuttingMedium-Speed Cutting
Ideal for medium-large grassesIdeal for small- to medium-sized lawns
Zero Degree TurningTraditional Steering Method
Large SelectionLarge Selection
Attachment OptionsAttachment Options

Pros and cons of riding mowers/lawntractors

In many ways, riding mowers as well as tractor lawn mowers can be compared. They both have two wheels that move in one direction at the same time. Included are a traditional steering, accelerator, brake, and steering wheels. So let’s take a look at how having a riding mower is a benefit.

Riding mowers/tractor mows require little work

It is easy to cut your lawn using a tractor. Depending on the size of your lawn, it may take you a mile to finish. The electric starters make it easier to start mowing. So, if you go for a riding mower, you’ll be letting the mower do the work, not you.

There are many options for small- to medium-sized cutting boards

A riding mower/tractor lawn mower has many wonderful features. These mowers can be fitted with small to medium-sized cutting boards. This means that if you want a mower you can ride, then it doesn’t have to be big. There are many smaller decks that can be used as ride-ons. They range in size from 30 inches up to 60 inches. You will need a riding mower/tractor if you have narrow gates or a narrow yard.

Medium-Speed Cutting

The cutting speed of riding and tractor mowers is slower than that of walk behinds. You have two options if you are looking for something faster than a walk behind but not too slow to be a problem: riding mowers/tractor lawnmowers.

Ideal for small to medium-sized yards

If you have a small or moderate-sized lawn, riding mowers/tractor mowers are a great choice. They are quick and easy-to-use. They are often smaller than zero turns, making them more affordable.

Traditional Steering Method

If they have ever driven an automobile or toy car, most people can jump on a riding/tractor mower quickly. This type lawnmower uses a simple steering system with a pedal. It is very simple to convert to a riding/tractor lawnmower.

Large Selection

A variety of baggers can be included with the ridging mower to eliminate the hassle of carrying a clipping bag to the compost every mow. They can hold a significant amount of grass, meaning it’s faster and takes less effort. This is a great benefit if you find clipping bags cumbersome.

Optional Attachments

Attachments are the best way for your lawn tractor’s full potential. Tractors can pull leaf collectors or trailers. So when it’s time to mulch or bags of compost need moving, the tractor hitch really comes in handy.

The pros and cons about Zero Turn Mowers

While zero turn mowers are similar to riding/tractor lawn mowers in terms ease of use, attachments, collecting systems, and collection systems, there are some differences. Let’s take a look at where zero turns are different.

Optional Medium-Large Cut Decks

Zero turns vs. riding lawnmower or deck size are the winners. Zero turns are the next step up. They are typically between 40 and 120 inches high. So if you don’t have any restrictions around your yard, like narrow gates, then you could take advantage of the larger cutting decks zero turns have to offer.

High-Speed Cutting

Tractor/riding mowers can be more efficient than walk-behinds. However, zero turn mowers are even more efficient. This is a great option for large yards that must be mowed quickly or those who want time savings. Professional maintenance crews prefer zero turn mowers as they can cover a lot more ground in a short time.

Ideal for medium-large grasses

A zero turn mower is the best lawnmower for large properties. A zero turn mower is the best option for lawns larger than an acre. It’s gone are the days when you spent hours mowing your lawn or hired professionals with huge machines.

Zero Degree Turning

One of the first things you’ll notice about a zero turn mower is the lack of a steering wheel. This is because zero turn mowers use a hydrostatic drive which is controlled by two levers–-one lever for the left wheel and one for the right. This allows each wheel to be controlled independently, including speed and direction.

The rear wheels of a zero turning mower control the mower. This design ensures the mower can turn at will. It cannot move forward or backward. The big advantage of this is the mower doesn’t need to cover ground it doesn’t need to cut.

Tractors spend a lot of time in one place after they complete one pass, then move on to the next. This means that a tractor can be always cutting the grass, which makes it extremely efficient.

Factors that will influence your decision

Once you have done your research, the battle between riding lawn mowers vs. zero turns isn’t so hard to work out. Although there is some overlap between these two types of mowers each one suits a specific situation. So if you are in the in-between area where both types of mower would work for your lawn, you’re going to need some additional information. Let me give you some more information that might help you make your decision.

How Much Do They Really Cost? Riding Lawn Mower Vs. Tractor Lawn Mower vs. Zero Turn

The basic riding mower costs the least. A basic riding mower is the best option if you don’t mind walking behind it. For under $500, you’ll get at least a 30” inch deck and the all-important seat. These mowers have no frills, they’re not fast, but they do save walking.

Lawn tractors have been around for many years and are a reliable product. This means there are many options and affordable pricing. A lawn tractor can be bought for as low as $2500 depending on its size and power.

Zero turns are the most costly of all three models. These mowers are still relatively recent and homeowners have fewer options than lawntractors. For years these mowers were strictly a professional type of equipment, and you’d see them being used by city crews and professional landscapers. A name-brand residential model can be purchased starting at $3500. If you require a more powerful model, you might pay $10k or more.

There is enough space to store the new mower

Many people don’t realize the actual size of these lawn mowers. You don’t want your mower to be left out in the elements or stolen. I’d strongly recommend that you grab a tape measure and check the storage space you have available.

A big zero turn can be as large as a small vehicle, and may require its own garage space. In comparison, a simple 30-inch ride-on doesn’t take up much more space than a bicycle or two.

Are You Ready for a Zero Turn?

The only question I really ask people when it comes to wanting a zero turn is if they’re prepared for the new way of driving. It isn’t particularly difficult, but it does take some practice and some time to get used to in order to mow straight lines with a zero turn. Even a small zero turn can still be a significant piece. It should be treated with care. So, if you’re unsure about it, try to test drive one first, whether it be a friend’s mower or at the dealership.

My Recommendations about When to Use A Lawn Tractor/Riding Mower Zero Turn

Before I go, I want you to see some examples of lawn tractors and riding mowers that work best in certain situations. This could help answer the question “Riding mower vs. zero-turn for my yard.”

Small residential lawn with little grass and a small flower bed.Ride-on Mower
Small residential lawn, without gate or flower bedRide-on Mower
Medium-sized lawn with a standard entry gate and a few flowers.Tractor Mower
Medium lawn with no fences or flower beds.Tractor Mower, Zero Turn Mower
Large lawn with flowerbeds, fence and gate.Zero Turn Mower
Large lawn, no flower beds, regular gateTractor Mower

It all comes down to how well the mower can maneuver around the yard, what size it is for the job and if it’s worth the investment. Have fun shopping!

Zero Turn vs. Riding Mower/Lawn Tractor – Your Best Bet?

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