What is a zero-turn mower and how is it different from a lawn tractor?

Cub Cadet RZTHomeowners shopping for a new mower are often torn between a garden tractor and a zero-turn model. Many people simply aren’t aware of the differences between these two, key types of equipment, and therefore aren’t sure how to make the best decision for their lawn and the way they prefer to cut the grass. The key thing to remember about a zero-turn riding mower is that it has been specifically designed to accommodate tighter corners and other obstructions around the lawn. This more efficient method of handling challenging areas outdoors means that homeowners won’t have to spend very much time with a hand trimmer, and can actually minimize their time outdoors maintaining the lawn each week.

A garden tractor, while similar in size and features, is not nearly as easy to use when cutting a lawn dotted by trees, flowerbeds, and recreational equipment. Even so, the convenience of a zero-turn model should be paired with careful shopping to ensure that the mower is durable, comfortable, adjustable, and able to become a long-lasting, long-term part of routine landscaping and lawn care.

Decisions, Decisions: How to Pick the Best Zero-Turn Mower

The first thing most homeowners will notice as they begin looking for a zero-turn model is that the options are almost staggering in number. Various deck sizes, materials, added features, accessory options, and many other considerations, must be made in order to pick the best mower for a lawn’s unique features. These considerations can be broken down as such:

- Durability

Any zero-turn model should be designed for durability, and that means looking into the materials used in the deck and on any engine covers. The deck should be made from steel, and most residential models should be stamped. An engine cover may also be made from a highly durable metal, but most zero-turn models will feature a very hard and durable fiberglass construction instead. Both are acceptable. The key thing to look for is how extensive the engine cover is and how resistant it is to lawn debris and the occasional projectile that might occur.

- Deck Construction

Most homeowners will want to secure a zero-turn model with a stamped deck. This means the deck was created, or stamped, from a single sheet of aluminum. This allows the deck to be sufficiently durable, but also a bit lighter than alternative decks made from welded assembly processes. Those with tougher terrain around the home, however, will probably want to go for a continuously welded steel deck instead, since they tend to be a bit heavier and more durable when confronted with steep grades and uneven parts of the lawn.

- Engine Design

While entry-level mowers will typically feature a single-cylinder design, this is pretty rare among the most popular zero-turn models. Homeowners should look for a zero-turn mower that comes with a twin-cylinder OHV architecture, since this will offer significantly more power and speed while mowing. A more powerful engine can cut down on the time it takes to get the job done, which is a great thing for any avid home landscaper.

- Easily Adjustable Cutting Height

Don’t buy a mower that offers no adjustment to the cutting height. Avoid buying a mower that requires tools or some other complicated procedure to adjust the deck. The goal is to find a mower with a simple lever that raises and lowers the deck on demand. This makes mowing quicker, and it makes the mower far more inviting for those new to zero-turn options.

- Look at the Tires

Wider tires spread the mower’s weight over a larger area and therefore keeps the grass safe from tire tracks and excessive soil compaction while mowing. Always opt for a zero-turn mower with wider, rather than narrower, tires.

- Test the Mower’s Comfort

The operator should be kept safe from bumps and jolts, as well as the ongoing vibrations of the engine. Most zero-turn models come with seats specifically designed to reduce these hazards, and some even come with cup holders and built-in cruise control. Buy the most comfortable mower available and make lawn care less of a hassle.

- Is the Mower User Friendly?

Residential mowers should be easy to use, easy to maintain, and a breeze to repair if something goes wrong. Check into the mower’s user guide and make sure that these processes can be easily completed even without advanced equipment knowledge.

- Set a Budget

Zero-turn models come in a wide range of costs, but they can become particularly expensive at the high-end. Set a budget at the beginning of the shopping process and stick to it. There are plenty of great options at all price points.

Get Zero-Turn Mowers, Parts and More, at RalphHelmInc.com

If the time has come to opt for a zero-turn riding mower instead of push models or garden tractors, Ralph Helm, Inc., has what customers are looking for. Serving those in the areas of Elgin and Crystal Lake, IL, RalphHelmInc.com features a variety of zero-turn mower models from today’s leading manufacturers. The site also features an OEM parts search tool that can narrow down official mower parts by their part number, the mower’s model number, or the engine manufacturer associated with a given piece of zero-turn equipment.

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