ZTR Mower 101: How Does A Zero Turn Mower Work

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Keeping a clean and manicured lawn is ideal for every house but the hours and effort needed to keep it that way is immense. For this reason, the evolution of lawnmowers and cutters was quick seeing electronic mowers to riding mowers. Now, we have the zero-turn riding mower designed to power through your lawn with ease. 

How does a zero-turn mower work?

A zero-turn lawn mower is named after its ability to turn in its own footprint giving it a zero-radius turning point. It means that it turns in place allowing you to mow through your lawn without skipping an inch of grass. Unlike a lawn tractor that functions like a car, a z-turn mower doesn’t have to make a u-turn in order to turn around. This makes movement easier and maneuverability in a tight garden more manageable. See Zero turn vs riding mowers for a detailed comparison.

How is it different compared to other lawnmowers?

Quality zero-turn mowers are the must-haves for landscape artists and massive garden owners in keeping a manicured lawn. Compared to typical electric lawnmowers, the features of a zero-turn are pretty obvious.

  • Wheels

The rear wheels are often larger than the front wheels. That’s because the rear wheels have individual motors. A zero-turn mower is a 2×4 wheel drive powered from the rear allowing you to have a smooth and easy push as you mow the lawn.

  • Steering

Zero-turn wheels do not have a steering wheel, it has two levers controlling the individual motors on both sides of the rear wheels. It may seem quite intimidating but steering is much easier with the two levers. With the levers set at the side, you have a full view of your lawn and complete control over both wheels.

The front wheels steer your lawn mower like a shopping cart. With light wheels that easily shift and turn, mowing is easier and more efficient.

  • Mowing pattern

A zero-turn mower allows you to cut right where left off without having to go over the trimmed grass once more. With a wider turn radius, you have less control over your mower and this leads to a less even grass trim.

With a zero turn radius, your mower leaves a smaller (if none at all) margin of uncut grass. This precision cutting is ideal for large lawns and commercial spaces such as golf courses and public gardens. Learn how to mow with a zero-turn mower in this guide

  • Mowing capacity

With thousands of dollars at stake, you should know that a zero-turn mower is intended for commercial use. It is a machine that’s meant to cut wide gardens and broad properties. However, if you are on a budget, make sure to check out this article if you want to get the best zero-turn mower under $5000.

A zero-turn mower has an average speed of 5-8 miles per hour. This is significantly faster and more efficient than a lawn tractor with a speed of 3-5 miles per hour.

  • Transmission

Compared to a lawn tractor, you have two hydrostatic transmissions. One on each side of the rear wheels, with two transmissions powering up both wheels, it can keep up with the demands of an oversized lawn. A lawn mower only has one transmission centralized to power up the entire tractor making it a little less powerful than the prowess of a zero-turn mower.

Knowing how a zero-turn mower works helps give you an idea of what type of lawn mower suits your needs. Now, zero turns are the most powerful yet efficient mowing machines to cut your grass. Designed to make movement easier in smaller garden spaces but can handle large mowing needs through acres of land, the z-turn is a versatile machine that can do it all. Since it can turn on a dime, you have no worries about cutting your grass no matter what type of space you have.

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EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Lawn Mower. He is a riding mower enthusiast who enjoys spending more time discussing and covering various ride-on mower topics. He has been active in the industry for years comparing models of different ZTR and lawn tractor brands.