Like most other household chores, mowing the lawn is not normally something you look forward to. It’s tiring, time-consuming, and messy, especially if you use a push mower.
If you’re looking to upgrade and make things easier on yourself, consider a zero turn mower. They are no longer just for commercial landscapers to use at the golf course or alongside the highway.
Zero turn mowers are perfect accessible options for the average homeowner and can take the dread out of lawn mowing for good.
Their zero turn radius and speed have made them extremely popular for the average user. Whether you need small zero turn mowers or larger units, there are too many models with too many features and things to consider.
However, one must be careful when operating these power units. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 90 deaths per year were attributed to riding mowers between 2007-2009 (Source).
We have compiled a list of the best zero turn mowers on the market for under $4,000, taking features, quality, performance, and cost into account to provide you with a helpful breakdown.
Why Buy a Zero Turn Mower?
No matter how far you are into your search for a zero turn mower, it’s important to know the benefits of buying one before making an investment. Consider the following before purchase:
These mowers have smaller wheels in front and larger wheels in back, allowing them a zero turn radius. You can cut your lawn faster by making quicker turns and maneuvering around obstacles more easily.
Easier on your body
Pushing a lawn mower can be tough on your arms, back, and legs. That pain and soreness are only amplified if your property is hilly or bumpy. A zero turn riding mower eliminates that pain by providing padded seating with easily accessible controls, so you don’t have to overexert yourself.
Using a push mower will inevitably leave you covered in grass clippings and stains. Riding on top of a zero turn mower eliminates that mess. Most of these mowers have optional clipping bag accessories to pick up the grass as you go, meaning no more post lawn mowing clean up.
Comparing The 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers Under $4000
|Arien Zoom 34 Zero Turn Lawn Mower|
|Husqvarna Z254 Zero Turn Mower|
|Ariens Icon X 52 Kawasaki Zero Turn Mower|
|Snapper 360z Zero Turn Mower|
|Troy-Bilt 54 Mustang Zero Turn Mower|
Zero Turn Mowers Vs. Tractors
1. Ariens Zoom 34 – Best Zero Turn Mower for Small Lawns
Powered by a 19 horsepower Kohler 6600 V-Twin engine, the Zoom 34 has a 34” cutting width. The mower is responsive and intuitive, allowing users to navigate landscaping and obstacles with ease.
The Zoom’s padded seat is adjustable to fit riders of all sizes. The 4-inch deep deck is operated by a foot lift, so you can avoid obstacles instantly.
The Ariens Zoom has seven cutting positions between 1.5 – 4.5 inches, depending on the need. There is even a deck wash out port, so users can attach a hose to wash the blades after use.
The Ariens Zoom 34 is the perfect choice for someone with a smaller yard that is looking for a quality mower on a budget.
2. Husqvarna Z254 – Longest Lasting Zero Turn Mower
This mower has a 26 horsepower Kohler engine. Its 54” cutting deck is made of stamped reinforced steel, so it covers a lot of ground with a durable design.
The Z254 has a lot of unique features. Its air induction technology keeps the engine from overheating while improving grass lift. This mower also has an automatic park braking system that users can activate by positioning the handles inwards or outwards.
The deck lift is hand-operated as opposed to foot-operated like many of its competitors. This mower also features 6 cutting heights from 1.5 – 4 inches.
The Husqvarna Z254 is a great all-around choice for a zero turn mower. Its unique features, powerful engine, and durability make it well worth the money.
3. Ariens IKON X 52” KAWASAKI – Most Comfortable Mower
The 52” cutting deck is 4.5 inches deep and made of 11-gauge fabricated steel. The IKON has a foot-operated deck, so users can choose between 13 cut heights between 1.5 – 4.5 inches.
The high-back padded seat and armrests mean you can ride in comfort for longer periods of time. The Ariens IKON is a residential mower bordering on commercial quality.
If you have a larger property and are looking for a durable, affordable zero turn mower, the Ariens IKON is for for you.
4. Snapper 360Z Zero Turn Mower – Most Versatile
The 50 lb capacity cargo bay in the back can haul a variety of tools and landscaping with ease. The bay also has rails for after-market ATV accessories and the option to add a tailgate.
This version of the Snapper 360z has a 23 horsepower Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine with a 48-inch cut width.
However, the Snapper 360z does have several models varying in cut width and horsepower, all at a reasonable price, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
More On The Snapper 360Z Zero Turn Mower
This mower is very durable with a fully welded 12-gauge fabricated steel frame. It has a foot-operated deck lift with 13 cut heights ranging from 1.5 – 4.5 inches. The adjustable mid-back seat height offers users plenty of comfort options.
The Snapper 360Z is the most versatile mower on this list due to its accessories, cargo bay, and variety of models. You have the power to choose the cut width, horsepower, and engine type that suits your needs.
5. Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 Zero Turn Riding Mower – Best Commercial ZTR
With a 54” cutting width, this mower can cover the largest properties and is often used by commercial landscape services.
The hand-operated deck lift has 8 cutting positions. The adjustable 18” seat back gives riders comfort for the long haul.
The Troy-Bilt Mustang 54 is a great option for larger properties or commercial users looking for an affordable option. The powerful engine can get the job done quickly, and the 12-gauge stamped steel deck offers riders durability for peace of mind.
Things You Should Know Before Buying A Zero Turn Mower
There are a lot of considerations to take in account before purchasing a zero turn mower, especially if this is your first time buying one. Here are some things you need to know before making the investment.
Residential vs. Prosumer vs. Commercial Grade
Residential or entry-level mowers are perfect for the average homeowner. These mowers are usually smaller in size and much less expensive but still have enough horsepower to get the job done.
Prosumer or mid-grade mowers have more engine power and a wider cut width to cover more space. The mowers outlined above are a combination of entry-level and mid-grade.
Commercial grade mowers are the type you see at golf courses and parks. They have all the bells and whistles, including extremely powerful motors, a large fuel capacity, and a wide deck. With all these features, the price does increase, leaving commercial grade mowers starting at around $10,000.
Size of The Deck
The size of the deck should correlate with the size of the property you’re trying to mow. A larger deck will cover a wide area with each pass, making the job faster.
But if you have a smaller property, especially one with landscaping or a patio, a smaller deck will offer you the compact size and maneuverability you need.
Size of The Motor
There are typically two types of motors that you have to choose between; single cylinder and V-twin. Single-cylinder motors are less expensive, but they are usually less powerful and noisier. V-twin motors are more powerful, quieter, and deliver better gas mileage.
Before you decide solely on the power, consider your lawn cutting needs. If you have a large property, let your grass grow longer between cuts, or need to tow/haul anything, a V-twin engine should be your choice. A mower with this engine will perform better, last longer, and cut down on your mowing time.
However, if you are maintaining a smaller property with shorter grass, a single-cylinder mower could be a smart budget-conscious decision. You don’t need as much horsepower and speed isn’t as much of a concern for you.
You want your zero turn mower to last, obviously. When shopping, pay attention to the material of the deck. Most decks are made of either fabricated or stamped metal.
Fabricated decks are more durable, made from heavier grade steel. They are found on higher level mowers and are usually more expensive.
Stamped decks, although not as durable, are much lighter, provide better airflow, and are great for bagging and mulching. They are less expensive and will be found on entry-level mower models.
Even though riding mowers greatly reduce the strain on your body compared to push mowers, you still want to make sure your ride is comfortable. Consider things like seat back height, armrests, and deck lift operation. The longer you will be on your mower, the more important these factors become.
There are several types of steering styles on zero turn mowers to include lap bars, steering wheel, and joystick. The mowers outlined above all have lap bar steering, but it is important to be aware of the other options if they interest you.
Lap bar steering uses two levers to control the rear wheels of the mower and move it forward and backwards.
Steering wheels are very common among traditional riding mowers, but they do exist on zero turn mowers as well. However, steering wheels on zero turn mowers do not always offer a full 360˚ turning radius, so read the specifications carefully.
Joystick steering has a joystick similar to a video game controller.
There are plenty of available accessories for your zero turn mower that can make the job even easier. The most common are baggers, mulchers, and rollers.
Baggers attach to the rear of the mower to pick up grass clippings as you go.
Mulching kits recycle the lawn clippings you pick up and spread them back onto the grass. This helps keeps your grass lush and nutrient.
Rollers help flatten bumpy lawns as well as pack down new seed or topsoil.
Possible Disadvantages of Zero Turn Mowers
While zero turn mowers have great maneuverability when turning, they are usually much more expensive than traditional mowers. These mowers offer more visibility at the front but can be more complicated to operate.
Additionally, the front casters of small zero turn mowers can often get stuck in the soil. Having hydrostatic transmissions, these mowers are more delicate and possess less pulling abilities.
ZTR’s essentially have no rough-cut capabilities. Unfortunately, the operator will have to mow the grass normally. Some models may be difficult to operate without some learning.
Residential zero turn mowers have serious traction problems, especially the cheap residential models. If you opt for a model under $4000, be sure to buy one from popular brands like Troy-Bilt, Snapper, and Husqvarna.
And, the worst of it all, if you don’t keep both wheels moving during a turn, you may damage your lawn and cause uneven cutting to the grass.
Zero Turn Mower FAQ’s
Why do I need a zero turn mower?
You certainly don’t need a zero turn mower, but this machine will greatly reduce the time and effort it takes to mow your lawn. The speed and zero turn radius of these mowers allow you to move more freely than traditional push or seated mowers. Who wouldn’t want that?
What type of mower should I get for my yard?
This all depends on the type of yard and grass you have. Most consumer-level zero turn mowers are designed for thinner normal grass on a flat surface.
If you have hilly or bumpy terrain or tend to go longer between cuts, you might need to consider a higher quality mower with more blades and more horsepower to get the job done.
How do you operate a zero turn mower?
If you’re switching to a zero turn mower from a push mower or riding mower with a steering wheel, your first question will probably be about steering. You’ll notice most zero turn mowers have two levers in the front.
Each lever independently controls one of the rear wheels. The right lever controls the right wheel, and the left lever controls the left wheel. If you want the right rear wheel to go forward, you move the right lever forward. If you want the left rear wheel to go backwards, you move the left lever backwards, and vice versa. To stop, simply pull the levers back to neutral.
It does take some getting used to, but you get the hang of it. Some zero turn mowers these days even come with steering wheels, although be sure to check the specifications on these models as they may not truly be zero turn.
Is it true that a zero turn mower will save me time?
Yes! Most zero turn mowers have larger decks than traditional mowers, allowing you to cover more ground in less time.
The zero turn feature lets you get as close to or as far away from objects as you need to without having to turn around and come back for another pass.
Lastly, you can simply mow faster with a zero turn mower. The blades cut faster than traditional mowers, meaning you won’t miss blades or get a poor result. These mowers were designed to move quickly.
Get Ready to Cut Your Grass Faster with Zero Turn Mowers
Zero turn mowers can transform your lawn mowing experience, giving you faster and better results than you can get with a push or traditional riding mower.
If you’re looking to take it a step further, check out some of the accessories available such as mulchers, baggers, and rollers. These are great tools to ease cleanup and expand the capabilities of your mower.
Buying a zero turn mower is a big decision. We hope this guide was helpful in learning about these tools and getting you one step closer to choosing the one that’s right for you!