Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide

Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide


If you’re serious about mowing lawns, you’ll want to consider investing in a zero turn mower. These grass-cutters lead the pack when it comes to maneuvering in tight spots and moving out across open spaces. A zero turn mower cuts your lawncare time down so you can spend it elsewhere.

If you want to know how to buy a new zero turn mower or are curious about purchasing a secondhand zero turn mower, it's helpful to do some research. Spending a bit of time investigating how to choose a zero turn mower will pay off by ensuring you get the right machine for your work. To help you make the right choice, here are some tips for buying a zero turn mower.

What Is a Zero Turn Mower?

You’ve seen plenty of zero turn mowers, but you might not recognize the name. They’re the specialty lawn mowers or property management and grounds keeping machines that golf courses, sports fields and civic maintenance crews prefer to use. Zero turn mowers are the choice of professionals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t purchase one for your residential property upkeep.

These high performers in the grounds maintenance world are also called “Zero Turn Radius (ZTR)” mowers. Because of their innovative design, ZTR mowers can easily turn a full circle within their own dimensions. They have no extended radius in their turns, whether that’s clockwise or counterclockwise.

Zero turn mowers are rear-wheel drives. The operator steers the mower through hand controls that alter power to both rear tires. By slowing one wheel and adding power to the other, the mower driver can turn left or right. If the operator brakes one tire and accelerates the other, their machine will turn a tight circle with no extended radius. This makes zero turn mowers highly efficient in tight places.

Levels of Zero Turn Mowers


Like automobiles and other vehicles, there are different levels of zero turn mowers. The level of mower you choose helps to determine the power and features you get as well as how much your mower costs. Which type is right for you depends on your application. The first thing you need to assess before buying a new or used zero turn mower is what you intend to use it for. After that, you can decide on the size, power and features you’d like in your lawn machine. Here are the four main zero turn mower types:

  • Entry-level: Entry-level zero turn mowers are built for residential applications. They’re light-duty machines intended to fit into economical budgets. Entry-level mowers are ideal for once-per-week use on smaller properties that have relatively flat grounds.
  • Mid-grade: Mid-grade zero turn mowers are a step up from entry-level grass cutters. They’re built stronger but still have economy in mind. You’re best suited with a mid-grade model if you have a larger property or you do occasional commercial grounds keeping work.
  • Semi-pro: Semi-pro zero turn mowers strike a balance between high residential property performance and lighter commercial applications. These mowers are built with heavier-duty parts and more powerful drive systems. If you have a property with slopes, or you do full-time property management, a semi-pro zero turn mower may be right for your needs.
  • Commercial: Commercial zero turn mowers are the only way to go for industrial use. These are premium pieces of equipment designed for full-time professional work. When you invest in a commercial-grade zero turn mower, you get superior performance.

Levels and types of zero-turn mowers [micrographic]

Types of Zero Turn Mowers

When you’re shopping for zero turn mowers, you’ll find four different types of controls available. The controls on a mower are important factors in operator comfort and safety. Be aware that not all mower categories have these four control types available:

  • Lap bar: Lap bar controls are the most common zero turn mower type. You’ll recognize these by the two levers that sit at the operator’s lap level. You steer a lap bar control machine by pushing back and forth on the left and right levers.
  • Steering wheel: Steering wheel controls are popular with entry-level and mid-grade zero turn mowers. Some people feel more comfortable with a more traditional steering wheel instead of lap-bars, but commercial mower owners tend to stay away from steering wheel controls.
  • Joystick: Joystick controls are a newer innovation. With a joystick control style, you can move the controller in four different directions. You’ll have to dive deep into mower selection to find a joy-stick type that’s suitable for you.
  • Stand-up: Stand-up control types usually belong to the commercial-grade camp. For all-day mowing where seat fatigue can be a problem, commercial property managers often resort to zero turn mower types that let the operator stand up while driving. The stand-up control types are upscale machines and carry the highest zero turn mower costs of all the options.

Zero Turn Mower Features


Once you’ve zeroed in on the level and control type of your ideal zero turn mower, it’s time to nail down the features you want. Your mower's features determine what it can do and where it can go as well as other advantages. Your main concerns are the mower's cutting width, its power, the materials it’s made from and what features it has that will benefit you. Here are four more tips on buying a zero turn mower:

  • Deck size: Deck size refers to the cutting area your zero turn mower has. Selecting the right deck size ensures you save mowing time but can still maneuver as needed.
  • Engine size: Engine size pertains to the power behind your zero turn mower. It’s critical to have a big enough engine size to handle your grass type and mowing work on any slopes you might encounter.
  • Construction materials: Construction materials vary between zero turn mower categories. Light-duty mowers use lighter deck and frame metals like stamped steel, while heavier machines employ welded steel and cast iron parts. If you select a reputable name brand that produces quality machines, your manufacturer will select suitable construction materials for the mower’s designed purpose.
  • Additional features: Additional features on zero turn mowers are there to make your mowing work easier. For instance, you can choose low-noise and low-emission machines as well as mowers with superior suspensions. Other useful features include removable clipping bags and LED headlights for low-light cutting.

Buying Quality-Built Zero Turn Mowers

If you’re in the southeast, turn to the Thompson Tractor Company. Since 1957, we’ve supplied top-quality property management equipment like zero turn mowers to residential lawn owners and commercial groundskeepers. We’re proud to offer you mowers built by Toro and Spartan — leading brands you can trust.

For more information on how Thompson Tractor can help you with buying a zero turn mower, contact us today. Call us at 1-800-547-0760 or contact us online.