Which type of riding mower is best, Zero-turn or lawn tractor? An in depth comparison.

With the start of spring already in the rearview and summer coming up on the horizon, our mind starts to wander. A beautiful, warm, sunny, spring day, flowers in full bloom, and the smell of fresh cut…grass. You remember the 15 year old, broken down push mower that you swear you’ll trade in for a fresh pair of shiny new wheels this time each year. Or the neighbor who has the high-tech tractor or zero-turn mower, who waves as he passes you by, placing his cold brew back in his CUPHOLDER. You decide, this is the year. The year of replacing your old, beat up push mower for the luxury ride of a riding mower, but where do you begin? 

With the world we live in, everyone wants more options which only furthers your need to educate yourself before your new purchase. Purchasing a large item in any category can be overwhelming, especially when choices seem endless. 

Do you need a mower because of large acreage? Do you want to reduce time spent mowing or you looking for something more comfortable and leisurely? How many obstacles are in your yard to cut around or between? What is your budget? 

Both the zero-turn mower and lawn tractor can mow large yards. If you ask Toro, the zero-turn will get the job done faster, up to 45 percent, and more accurately. This is because it can turn a tight 180 degrees on the spot, leaving no small patches of grass uncut which can happen with your typical lawn tractor. Lawn tractors steer like cars with a steering wheel. Which makes it a comfortable pick for consumers. But because they steer like a car, they have a larger turning radius which will lead to extra work because it will leave patches of grass, increasing mowing time.

If speed is important, the zero-turn mower may be the option for you, with an average mowing speed of 6-8mph. If you find mowing therapeutic and are not concerned about time spent mowing, the lawn tractor may be the option for you. An average speed of 3-4mph.

When it comes to maneuverability, the zero-turn rates highest. It allows you to mow around lawn hurdles such as sheds, pools, trees, gardens, the house, fences, with ease. Lawn tractors have low maneuverability. This makes it harder and more tedious to mow around obstacles, again increasing time spent mowing.

Know how far obstacles are apart from each other in your yard. This will effect how large of a deck size your mower can have. A larger deck size will help cut time mowing but may not be the option for you. Zero-turn mowers tend to have larger decks, 60 inches or larger. Tractor decks are typically smaller, measuring 54 inches or less.

Does your yard lay flat, or are there areas it slopes? If it slopes, you may want to consider a smaller deck so the cutting blades don’t dig up the yard. According to SFGATE, it is recommended by “Consumer Reports” website to choose a lawn tractor over a zero-turn mower on hills that have slopes greater than 15 degrees. Although, both can be dangerous and caution should always be taken.

Beware, some mowers are claimed nearly zero turn. This is not the same as zero-turn, as it does not turn the complete 180 degrees causing disappointment when navigating.

Both the zero-turn mower and lawn tractor are built for comfort. The lawn tractor may have more leisurely options such as arm rests or cup holders.

Lastly, budget. What are you wanting to invest in a mower? Lawn tractors are less expensive than zero-turn mowers. This is because there are more options. It’s typically the consumers first choice since it is similar to a car with a steering wheel and consumers find comfort in that. Zero-turn mowers, although more expensive, are more accurate and allow you to finish mowing quicker.

Now with all information in hand, make your thoughts of a new riding mower more than just another daydream this year. Come on over to Ralph Helm

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