How to choose between Riding lawn mower and zero turn lawn mower?

If you have decided to buy a motorised, riding type lawn mower, then you have to consider between two main types and choices, a Riding lawn mower, and a Zero turn. This is an important choice, and financial commitment, for with proper care and maintenance, your chosen lawnmower will be used for years, if not decades. Due to this,  making a choice might feel like a daunting challenge. In order to help you with this, we have discussed about both types of lawn mowers, discussed their pros and cons, and compared the two.

Table of Contents

Zero turn and riding lawn mowers are a huge financial investment, and before buying any one of them, one must consider a variety of factors, including, but not limited to the terrain, local climate, safety, speed, and versatility. The price is a major factor as well, and varies greatly between the two. So, without further stalling, let’s talk about the riding lawn mowers, and the zero turn lawn mowers

Riding(Tractor type) lawn mowers

Tractor type lawn mowers are the most easy to use type of lawn mowers, being steered by a steering wheel. It also has a large amount of possible attachments, and overall is a more balanced vehicle. The operator is seated on top of this lawn mower, and is preferred over push mowers for large lawns. This lawn mower has a high speed and mows in a straight line at the shortest time. This lawn mower can also be used with several different attachments, for mowing, spraying, shovelling snow etc.

Being strong and sturdy, and lager in size, this lawn mower can take on the load of a more powerful engine, and can also adapt to perform well in a variety of scenarios, from dusty farmland to snow covered lawns. This type is the preferred choice of people who want a long lasting, high performing lawn mower that leaves their neighbour’s one in the dust

Unfortunately, despite all these incredible features, this lawn mower is not very maneuverable. Further, this type of lawn mower might be prohibitively expensive, especially for someone getting their first one.


Zero turn mowers

A zero turn (z-turn)  lawn mower is a kind of riding lawn mower that can pivot through 180 degrees in a smaller area. The mechanism for doing that varies according to the model, but the most common design has two smaller tires (swivelling tires), and two larger, drive tires, which rotate at different speeds to each other, even opposite each other, controlled by the driver.

This is one of the most maneuverable types of riding lawn mower, allowing you to trim around obstacles easily. Further, it’s layout lets you look at the area in front of you. With one of these bad boys, you will be zipping through your lawn, and cleaning up in no time at all.

However, all is not perfect with this machine. For one, operating two lap bars instead of a steering wheel is not intuitive, and there is a learning curve. Also, not keeping both bars steady may cause you to flip over, they are not the most stable on slopes, and turning sharply will rip up your yard.

All that said, if you are careful with your operation, and need to get your yard cleaned up well, and quickly, a z-turn is the way to go.



These two types of lawn mowers are better for different places and tasks, and must be chosen based on that

  1. Cost: Top shelf z-turns generally cost way less than the top shelf tractor type mowers, but tractor type lawn mowers have a larger range of builds and designs, so relatively inexpensive tractor type mowers are also sold
  1. Terrain: Tractor type lawn mowers are steady, and can traverse rugged terrain easily. On the other hand, z-turn lawn mowers have an effective turn radius of almost 180 degrees, and are great for mowing around obstacles like trees and rocks
  1. Speed of mowing: Tractor type lawn mowers are faster in traught lines, and are great for mowing large areas, like golf courses. On the other hand, z-turn lawn mowers can turn rapidly, and are faster in closed, cramped locations
  1. Versatility: Tractor type lawn mowers can use several attachments, for mowing, spraying, raking, or cleaning up snow. Z-turns on the other hand, can only be used for mowing, or some attachments for spraying
  1. Safety: Tractor type lawn mowers are relatively stable, and are well balanced out. Z-turns are relatively front heavy, so they tend to overturn if not steered properly. Further, it is easier to gain a higher traction using a tractor type lawn mower, making it more stable. However, options like liquid filled tires, and higher lugs etc. are available for zero turn lawn mowers to overcome many of these challengess

Final Words:

In this article, we have discussed riding (tractor type) lawn mowers and zero turn lawn mowers, their pros and cons, and have compared between the two along several different factors, like cost, terrain covered, speed of mowing, versatility, and safety. We hope that you find this article helpful. We hope that we were able to use this article to help you realise the type of lawn mower that you need/ prefer, and to inform you for a great experience

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

Was This Post Helpful?

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content