I remember being taken out on my grandfather’s zero turn mower when I was little. He loved showing it off, and even let me steer (although that stopped pretty quickly when I drove into the chicken shed).
While I’ve never had the pleasure of a garden big enough to give me an excuse to buy my own, we regularly need them for commercial work.
We’ll be talking about operations and safety tips, but also, explaining some of the myths for those of you who have just discovered the wonderful world of zero turn mowers, before sharing our list of the best zero turn mowers to buy in 2022.
Best Zero Turn Mowers for 2022
Guide to Zero Turn Mowers
Zero Turn Ride On Lawn Mowers are a serious investment, so some of the most important considerations are, sadly, the most boring: buying the best mower brands; warranties; maintenance costs.
Also, they will need regular servicing for safety, and to prolong their life, so consider how easy it is to find a dealership, or local mechanic who knows what they’re doing.
Most Zero Turn Mower buyers will be professional landscapers, but there are some smaller mowers by brands like Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet Zero Turn Mowers are some of the best, and easiest to store too, so are a decent choice for commercial and domestic gardeners alike.
But John Deere and Kubota Zero Turn Mowers have a great range too, so whatever your reason for needing these grass care beasts, there will definitely be something to suit your space, and your budget.
What is a Zero Turn Mower?
Zero Turn Mowers are the best type of ride on mower by a long, long, way. Their name comes from their ability to achieve an almost zero turning radius, meaning no missed corners.
They work with a two-level steering system, giving drivers the ultimate control over their vehicles, and cut in front of the driver rather than beneath the seat.
The front facing blades allow the machines to be driven right up to lawn boundaries, fences and hedges without missing significant portions of lawn. Common zero turn mower manufactures include John Deere, Kubota, Cub Cadet, Toro and Husqvarna.
Of course, there are other brands, but it's important to stick to trusted brands when investing in serious machinery in the same way you wouldn’t buy a combine from just anywhere.
Why Do I Need a Zero Turn Mower?
Space. It really is that simple. If you’ve got large areas to mow, you can be walking up and down for hours for a push mower, and you’ll end up leaving a couple of square metres at every corner with conventional ride on mowers.
Zero turn mowers save time on boundary management too, making like work of scrub land and overgrowth. There are a few models that direct mulch, but with all ride on mowers, it’s best to stick to the models with clipping baskets.
Ride on zero turn mowers are not for regular cutting of small gardens, and are usually seen managing civic spaces or public land, usually every 3-6 weeks depending on the landscape management plan, and occasionally just three times per year when managing wildflower meadows, cutting grass meadows, or maintaining prairie schemes.
How to Use a Zero Turn Mower
You’ll be used to seeing zero turn mowers storming across golf courses and playing fields as they drive much faster than conventional ride on mowers, with more manoeuvrability and usually faster cutting speeds.
Every mower has slightly unique operations to that brand, but for all zero turn mowers, the controls are placed behind the cutting blades, so you’ll need a little bit of practice if moving from a conventional lawn tractor to a zero turn mower. Here is more on how to operate a zero turn mower.
The two steering levers give instinctive turning when you get used to them. To steer, think of it like steering a trolley rather than a car.
To move forward, push the levers forward, and to steer to the right, push forward with your left hand, or right hand forward for left turning. To break, pull back on the steering levers.
There’s not much more to it, but it takes a little getting used to and the steering can be pretty sensitive.
Zero Turn Mower Reviews
There is nothing that lets this mower down, and if I had a lawn big enough to justify it at home, I’d buy one for myself.
This full electric zero turn mower is incredibly energy efficient, cutting up to 2 acres of land on a single charge, and charging from empty to full in under 4 hours.
As well as that, it’s one of the world’s first electric mowers to give almost equal performance to petrol powered engines.
Cub Cadets make really good-looking machines. Obviously, I’m rating this for its abilities, not its visuals, but its classic colour just feels good to sit in.
Cub Cadet’s steering is second to none too, with much more intuitive control with less sensitivity than the Husqvarna models.
Husqvarna makes exceptional tools, but don’t have the domestic brand recognition they should. They’ve got some great domestic mowers available, but this definitely isn’t one of them!
This is a serious machine, designed and built for commercial lawn management, with the most powerful engine of everything we’re reviewing, and the biggest cutting width too.
What’s great about Husqvarna zero turn mowers is that they actually deliver a really neat cut for such a big machine.
Obviously $20,000 is a lot to pay for a mower, so this isn’t really an option for domestic use, but for serious lawn management on a regular basis, the Z572X really can’t be beaten.
Toro Zero Two Mowers fall into two categories: homeowner and commercial. The commercial mowers are built for specific purposes, and there are three models just for various golf course cuts.
The Toto TimeCutter SS is a reasonably compact, speedy mower, that despite its low power and relatively small blade can handle really substantial fields. It’s great for light commercial work, but perfect for domestic use too.
John Deere has been one of the leading agricultural tool manufacturers since cavemen invented tools. They’ve maintained that reputation by continuing to build exceptional machinery.
The Z345 might not fall perfectly into commercial or domestic categories, but it’s decidedly average power, cutting width and usability actually make it a pretty good mower.
It’s more expensive than anything directly comparable, but that’s because it's built better.
The Kubota is specifically designed to blur the boundaries of professional and personal use, with this high powered, wide width zero turn mower that delivers on comfort, speed and genuinely neat cuts.
Zero turn mowers aren’t built for precision, and the only way to get those perfect stripes on your lawn is by taking the time with a push mower, but Kubota’s 400 series are genuinely good lawn mowers, easily getting into the narrowest corners.
Consider everything I’ve just said, and then scale it back a little bit. This compact Husqvarna Z146 is pretty much the perfect lawn mower for large domestic lawns.
It doesn’t come with the substantial safety features of the Z572X, but it's steering is better than Husqvarna models, and it’s small enough to keep in the garage.
I think maybe Husqvarna should have stopped at the Z range. The M models just sit in the middle and are too big for domestic use, and too small for commercial use. They’re incredible mowers, don’t get me wrong, but they just don’t seem to have a purpose.
On the up side, they cut very well, have decent fuel efficiency, and a pretty good cutting width too, so they would make light work of a domestic garden.
For me, I’d rather save the $4000 and spend an extra ten minutes cutting the lawn.
I really like this mower, but considering how close its specs are to the ZTX4 54, it doesn’t quite feel worth that extra few hundred dollars.
It’s a great cutter, with easy steering, and really easy maintenance to like all Cub Cadets, and with headlights too, it's great for commercial or domestic gardeners needing those extra few hours to work.
Best Zero Turn Mower Australia
Aussie Green Thumb Top Pick
Frankly, I’d give this premium choice and Best Value too if I could. The Cub Cadet Zero Turn Mower ZT1 42E is a comfortable, quiet and easy to ride lawn mower, with seriously accurate cutting right into the corners and up to boundaries.
It comes with optional mulch kits and cutting bags too, and thanks to its incredible battery life (cutting up to 2 acres on a single charge) it’s perfect for home gardeners as well as commercial landscapers.
Best Value Zero Turn Mower
If you need something to reliably cut lawns, do a neat job, and don’t want to spend a fortune in the process, the ZTX4 is a safe bet.
Premium Choice Zero Turn Mower
Professional landscapers need professional tools, and the Husqvarna Zero Turn Mower Z572X is just about as high end as zero turn mowers come.
These are the sort of mowers I grew up with, and for enthusiasts or professionals, there’s a definite thrill to sitting on something so powerful, knowing that there’s no job too big.
Zero Turn Mower FAQS
What is a zero turn mower?
Zero turn mowers are ride on lawn mowers with their cutting disc in front of the rider. Their cutting position means they can mow right into corners and all the way up to boundaries with ease.
Thanks to their central driving position they can also turn with almost zero degrees of rotation.
How do you steer a zero turn mower?
Think of a zero turn mower like riding a motorcycle. Push forward of the left and it turns right. Pull back and it stops. Push forward and it goes. Zero turn mowers take a little practice and some have very sensitive steering, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easier than riding a bike.
What’s the difference between professional and domestic zero turn mowers?
The biggest difference between professional zero turn mowers and domestic zero turn mowers is price. You can find some really great domestic zero turn mowers with enough power to do commercial work, but to get the right combination of power and cutting width for maximum efficiency, professional mowers have both.
Get the Best Zero Turn Mower for Your Needs
I feel strangely nostalgic writing that. I’m used to these mowers in professional work, but I don’t often stop to think about them. I know zero turn mowers are more popular with professional landscapers, but for large open spaces, they can’t be beaten for domestic lawn care.
I think I need to start looking for houses with bigger gardens now because I want to go shopping. I hope our guide to the best zero turn mowers has got you thinking as much as it has for me, and pointed you in the direction of the best mower brands.