Zero-Turn Mower vs. Riding Mower

Zero-Turn Mower vs Riding Mower: What’s the Difference?

If you have a lawn of more than one hectare, you have probably already decided on your next lawn mower. It must be a tractor. Using a self-propelled lawn mower no longer cuts it. It is also too long and boring. This is the easy part. Next, you need to decide whether to buy a zero turn lawn mower or a regular lawn mower.

Both normal and zero-turn ride-on mowers have pros and cons. Some of these fall into the puzzle / dealmaker category, which will make your decision easier. Our guide will consider essential features that can help you make an informed choice. This will make lawn mowing less tedious.

Overview of Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Overview of Zero Turn Lawn Mower

The zero turn mower is a misleading name. It implies that it cannot spin at all. The reality is that it applies more to turning radius than to anything else. Literally, you can turn on a penny! Well, almost, but you can make much tighter turns than you can with a normal ride-on mower. These machines use dual hydrostatic transmissions, rather than the pedal or handle types you normally see.

This technology is not new. The first commercial products were launched in 1956. Max Swisher, the inventor of the technology, apparently didn’t enjoy mowing the lawn as much as you did. Although the design has taken a few twists along the way, it brings some interesting advantages to the table, as you’ll see.

How does it work?

The dual hydrostatic transmission means that you are controlling the mower with two levers or a double bar instead of the usual steering wheel as you would see in a car. Everyone controls one of the rear wheels. You can maneuver them separately to make sharp turns or follow curves in the ground.

When to choose it?

The zero turn mower performs best on construction sites with many obstacles, be it trees, raised beds or shrubs. It can go around them and get very close to the object. This leaves less weeds to do after you’re done mowing. This alone is a big advantage over manual lawn mowers.


The zero turn mower performs best on level ground. The mower can easily grab any surface and move freely. This lawn mower is suitable for landscaping with many curves. This type can be used for lawn care and will save you time, as it does not require reversing or maneuvering like regular ride-on mowers. The latter is best for hilly or uneven terrain.


Another advantage of the zero turn mower is its speed. This puppy can cook at speeds of up to 16km / h or more, depending on the model. This will make it easier to get the job done faster and save you time. However, these benefits can come at a cost. The faster you mow, the less likely you are to get a perfectly finished lawn. This rule also applies to normal ride-on mowers, so it’s not necessarily a disadvantage.


The inability of a lawn mower to maneuver out of the gate is one of its biggest flaws. You will immediately realize this the first time you drive one. Suffice it to say that there is a learning curve when using two levers. It may seem counterintuitive to push the left forward to go right. Chances are you’ll go back to instinct and do the opposite after a few tries.

This factor also comes into play with the terrain. When attempting to climb hills, a steering wheel will give you more control than the two levers. We recommend that you hone your forward driving skills before attempting uneven surfaces.


The point could probably be a deciding factor for you, depending on how you plan to use your ride-on mower. Undoubtedly, it goes without saying that you can do more with a ride on a mower than cutting the grass. However, this is the main purpose of these machines. They are not the best choice for carrying items or free driving after a snow storm.

Accessories for other activities will be available on zero turn mowers. These attachments are not as efficient as normal ride-on mowers in these activities. This is due to their maneuverability and center of gravity design.


It is worth noting that a zero-turn lawn mower will cost more due to its design. Even a low-end model will set you back far beyond Popping for a high-end product with all the bells and whistles can cost several thousand dollars and even plunge into five figures for a commercial-grade lawn mower.


  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for rough or uneven terrain
  • Limited functionality

Overview of The Normal Riding Lawn Mower

Riding Lawn Mower

Today’s ride-on mower looks like a luxury vehicle, compared to the first walk-behind lawn mower invented in the 1830s in the UK. It would be nearly 90 years before modern models hit the market. These models are basically smaller versions of agricultural tractors. Many of the same tasks can be done by them. Their most significant advantage is that they make the job of mowing grass on large sites shorter.

How does it work?

A lawn mower is essentially a small vehicle with a small engine that uses manual transmission. These lawn mowers are very similar to trucks and cars, except they share maintenance. Most work using a steering wheel. Many have accelerator and brake pedals. This makes it simple to use, even if you are already well versed in driving. Just turn the key and you are ready to go.

When to Choose It

A lawn mower is almost an essential device if you have a larger lawn. You will find a range of products that vary in engine power. The bigger your garden, the bigger the engine you should get. You will see pilots for both residential and commercial use. They work best if you have a lawn with few obstacles that you need to bypass to get the job done.


A ride-on mower has the power to drive uphill and traverse uneven surfaces without problems. A ride-on mower is easier to use than a zero turn because it has a steering wheel rather than two levers or a double bar.


A ride-on mower may not be as fast as a zero-turn model. The maximum speed is about 11 km / h. If you have a bigger lawn or want to mow as fast as possible, that’s not necessarily a deciding factor. However, this is an increase of 40% or more. The same caution applies with regard to speed and a clean lawn.


Regular ride-on mowers have a distinct advantage over zero-turn models. There is virtually no learning curve. Since it is intuitive for drivers, the operation is very simple. You have a large range within which you can turn. This can make maneuvering around trees and other obstacles in your yard difficult. You will end up driving more and reversing if you don’t judge the situation correctly.


If anything will prompt you to choose a zero turn over a normal ride-on mower, it is the attachments and accessories you can use with the latter. This is a useful consideration when thinking about the initial cost of both. You can get year-round features if you use it more than the 2,535 times you would mow your yard if you live in the Northern Midwest.

You can attach a trailer to haul the plants into your garden or mulch around your shrubs. You can do other landscaping activities, such as aerating or fertilizing the lawn. You can save money by hiring a professional to clean your driveway. This brings us to the final point.


A basic ride-on mower will be slightly less expensive than a zero-ride with advanced technology. Even the higher-end models are even more affordable than a comparable zero turn. It is important to balance the price of the product and its usability. If you can use a lawn mower all year round, that makes it a more practical purchase when you think about the money you’re saving by hiring someone or renting another device.

Minor conditions

  • Functionality
  • Higher ROI
  • Ideal for hilly or uneven terrain
  • Cheaper price
  • Inability to get around obstacles easily
  • Lower speeds

Buying Guide

Buying Guide

There are many things you need to know about buying a zero turn or ride on a mower. There are practical issues related to engine size, number of blades, cutting height and comfort. However, there are some noteworthy points that affect the usability of one type over another that you should know before buying any lawn mower.

Bouquet Size

The bridge is where the ends of the mower activity are located. Determines the width of the swath cut with each pass. Most of them start at 107cm wide and go up from there. A normal ride-on mower can accommodate those up to 137cm while a zero turn model can reach 152cm. However, it’s not so much about the deck width as it is about the maneuverability of the mower.

There is no point in getting a bigger one for both types if the mower can’t cut the entire lawn, tight spaces and everything in between. This defeats the purpose of a zero turn mower. Keep in mind that the plants will change if they are squeezed together tightly. On the other hand, if your lawn is more like an outdoor park, choose the widest deck to take advantage of the time-saving factor.


The maintenance of both gas mowers is almost identical. You will still need to stabilize the fuel every winter. Oil exchange is still on the agenda. Also, the blades will need to be sharp. Regardless of the mower model you choose, routine maintenance is essential to get the most out of your investment. We suggest following the manufacturer’s recommendations and prioritizing proper maintenance.


Most manufacturers will offer at least a money back guarantee for defects. We prefer multi-year warranties, even if it is more expensive to buy a ride-on mower. We recommend that you read all the terms and conditions carefully. Regular maintenance is typically something you will see.


Safety is of paramount importance, regardless of which lawn mower you have. Lawnmowers are responsible for over 90,000 injuries every year. Due to the steeper learning curve, we recommend that only adults use zero turn mowers. Although the normal ride-on mower can handle hills, do not attempt to climb them with an incline of 15 degrees or more. Motorcyclists are more likely to have an accident with a push lawn mower than anyone else.

Which One Is Right For You?

Which One Is Right For You?

The question of which model to ultimately get depends on your landscape and terrain. The zero turn mower is the best choice if your lawn has a lot of obstacles. It will save you time and money in the long run. On the other hand, opt for a regular cyclist if your backyard is open. You can still take advantage of the other benefits it offers with the feature.

When to use a zero turn

  • Flat terrain
  • Meadows with a lot of landscape
  • Speed
  • Hilly terrain
  • Open spaces
  • Speed ​​is not an issue
  • Functionality


When it comes to zero steering versus the ride-on mower, they both have really big benefits and some drops. What you need as a user. Either way, both of these mowers will make cutting the grass and maintaining the garden a lot easier and quicker to do.

This is something you will definitely need whenever you manage a large lawn. The decision of which one to buy will ultimately be determined by your budget and what you will need the machine for most.