7 Tips for Operating a Zero Turn Riding Mower

Red riding lawn mower
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 500-5,000

The rear wheels of a zero turn riding mower are independently driven by hydrostatic transmissions giving the zero turn riding mower its quick-turning ability. The mower’s motor powers a pump that pressurizes both transmissions. As the operator moves the control levers the amounts of fluid flowing to each wheel, and therefore the amount of power, increases or decreases. The mower will spin like a top by pushing one lever full forward and pulling the other full back simultaneously.

1. Only Purchase What You Need

Zero turn mowers have been available to professional landscape companies for some time. Residential models are refined but scaled down versions with prices that can vary by several thousand dollars. If you mow many acres, the largest cutting deck makes sense but if your interest is only the zero turn maneuverability buy the lesser priced version.

2. Ideal for Yards with Lots of Obstacles

Green and black riding mower

If mowing your lawn reminds you of maneuvering around traffic cones in a driving test, the zero turn mower might be for you. Because they are nimble, a zero turn mower will weave in, out and around those tight areas with greater ease than conventional models. You’ll enjoy having less “clean up” work with your push mower and string trimmer.

3. Ideal for Open Fields Too

Landscapers agree that when it comes to open fields a zero turn mower can be faster than even some tractors. If you currently mow with a conventional riding mower the zero turn will definitely speed you along. The fluid driven wheels propel the mower at a quicker pace.

Another benefit the professionals appreciate is the deck is under the operator not in front. This means dirt churned up while field mowing doesn’t blow back onto the operator.

4. Not Good for Inside Corners

Lawn care experts concur that zero turn mowers create more work with fences or other inside corners. The mower deck is under the operator so the space between the front wheels and the front of the cutting deck limits how close the mower can approach the corner. This will leave extra work for the string trimmer at each inside intersection.

Outside corners are a different story. Here a zero turn mower will outperform other choices because it can pivot in place to make the turn.

5. Check Out the Seat

Black and red riding lawn mower

You’ll be spending several hours per week on your mower so you want to be comfortable. Give the seat and its adjustments a try. Shock and vibration absorption are nice features too.

6. Ergonomic Controls

Like the seat, check the control levers: Do they adjust to suit your height? Control valves may supply fluid at differing rates. Does the model you’re considering feature adjustments for fine tuning so both levers operate equally?

7. Fast 180’s will Tear Up the Turf

Zero turn mowers are heavier than their cousins and the hydrostatic transmissions provide power enough for quick spins. Weight combines with speed to damage the turf. Use caution as you turn.