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Mower Showdown: Standard Riding Mowers vs. Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Mower Showdown: Standard Riding Mowers vs. Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Large lawns not only are beautiful and spacious, but they also require more time and effort when it comes to maintenance. The latest riding lawn mowers can help you get a fresh cut with less effort, energy and time. Before choosing between a standard and a zero-turn riding mower, we've come up with some key advantages and limitations to consider, so you can select the best type for your lawn.

Standard Riding Mower Zero-Turn Riding Mower

Mowing Pattern

Straight lines, reverse and go forward to cut missed patchesTurns on a dime for close cuts around landscape obstacles

Machine Control

Steering wheel2 Handles

Typical Speed

Typically slower speed, takes more time to go back over missed patchesFaster speed, no need for 3-point turns or reversing to go over missed grass

Deck Size

Up to 54"Up to 60"

Standard Riding Mowers

Advantages of Standard Riding Mowers

Steering wheels. Most standard riding mowers are controlled by a steering wheel, so operation is more comfortable and familiar when you're cutting the grass.

Plenty of attachments. A standard riding mower can be more readily equipped with a wide variety of gardening attachments, including carts, ground-engaging equipment and heavy-duty sprayers.

Smaller decks. Depending on your lawn size and how many trees and flowerbeds are planted, a smaller deck size may be more beneficial so you can more easily cut the grass around them. While still a large size, a standard riding mower typically has a deck measuring up to 54".

Limitations of Standard Riding Mowers

Less precise cuts. As you reach the end of the lawn and turn to mow in the opposite direction, the wider turn radius can leave behind patches of uncut grass.

More time consuming. Since a standard model has to be put in reverse and back into forward gear when you miss patches of grass, mowing the lawn can take more time.

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Standard Riding Mower

Zero-Turn Riding Mowers


Pros & Cons of Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Advantages of Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Makes precise cuts. This model can turn on a dime, resulting in more detailed cuts around trees, flowerbeds and other landscaping.

Efficiency. With a zero-turn mower, you no longer have to make 3-point turns and you can reverse direction without missing a patch of grass.

Quicker speed. Not having to back up and go forward repeatedly or make multiple circles around a bush saves time. This option also tends to operates at a faster speed than standard riding mowers by a few miles per hour. Some zero-turn models even have higher horsepower ratings.

Get a heads up. A zero-turn mower has a lower front profile, giving you a better view of the ground ahead. This makes it much easier to spot unexpected obstacles or hazards.

Limitations of Zero-Turn Riding Mowers

Two-handle operation. This type of mower uses 2 handles to control the mower, which can be difficult for a new user. Braking is done with a pedal and maneuvering the handles into a neutral position.

Large deck. Depending on your yard size and if you have many landscape obstacles to mow between, a large deck can be inconvenient. A zero-turn option can have bulky decks measuring 60' or more.

Not ideal for slopes. Maintaining control can be tricky on hills and this type isn't the best for using on slopes greater than 15 degrees.

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