Who wouldn’t like to freshen the stagnant and lifeless garden of their home by a manicured lawn well trimmed? Taking care of a yard demands commitment, time, energy, and a sense of responsibility. Therefore, most people abandon this dream, and the garden turns into a swamp. No wonder you’re left with dry, yellow, and dying grass. Lucky are those who own a lawnmower.
Lawnmowers tend to appear quite complicated, but all their components have a specific purpose – to make your lawn always look well-trimmed and neat. These machines are the perfect companion for those who just love gardening, but still, have a full-time job and thus can’t spend all day long manually mowing the lawn. A lot of choices are out there when it comes to lawnmowers. The different systems in gas, electric, and diesel-powered machines are designed to suit the different tastes and needs of every homeowner.
So, the question is, which one should you choose?
Two of the most popular riding lawn mowers (not to mention that they are also the most recommended ones) are the lawn tractor and the zero-turn. While both can make magic happen in your yard, they are quite different in their overall design and appearance and differ in many important aspects but still similar. Let’s analyze the differences between a lawnmower and a lawn tractor, so you could decide which one suits best to your particular needs.
What Is A Zero Turn Mower?
Zero-turn mowers, as the name suggests, like their older counterparts, have a zero-turning radius and can be stand-on, walk-behind, or riding. This means that the operator can turn this machine around completely within a very small area with just a simple handle pull. This astonishing maneuver is made possible with the help of swiveling front wheels. The handlebar accomplishes steering by moving it forward or backward and also by twisting it right or left.
This very basic steering mechanism perfectly combines these machines, making them extremely easy and convenient to maneuver. But maneuverability isn’t the only feature zero-turn mowers have to offer. They are also very practical, cost-effective, and provide excellent performance due to the mowing deck’s placement, which, unlike other mowers, is placed in front of the machine. This allows for easier and efficient mowing across an uneven yard in less time and with fewer passes.
What Is A Lawn Tractor?
Lawn tractors, often are combination units that combine the functionalities of a tractor and a lawnmower. They are fitted with a moderately powerful engine, a mowing deck that can perform some tough mowing tasks, and a superior structural frame for added durability. They also boast transmission meant for heavy work and can be equipped with implements such as snowplows and grass buckets. Due to their size and mechanical design, these special utility vehicles are most commonly used when the area to be mowed is of great sizes, such as golf courses or pasture. These machines are also more suitable for larger areas such as parks and schools.
The Lawn Tractor Vs. Zero Turn
Buying a mower these days is not as straightforward as it used to be. Now you get all types of options that help you save time and be more comfortable while you do an overall better job of keeping the grass in line. But what exactly are you looking for when you compare popular models like Lawn Tractor vs. Zero Turn? For starters, a lot depends on the size and shape of the lawn you need to cut. And after assessing your lawn, you take the following into consideration:
1. Difference in Maneuverability: Lawn Tractor Vs. Zero Turn
The Zero Turn is definitely popular for its maneuverability. Because it gives you no less than 180 degrees of turning mobility, which means no reversing over a patch that has already been mowed and possibly missing certain areas. As you reach the last section of the swath, simply turn around and do the next one. For curved lawns where a lot of landscaping is present, the Zero Turn is a perfect fit. The diminutive turning radius allows for great ease in maneuvering in close quarters.
While a Lawn Tractor requires a much wider turn, it is still maneuverable and it gets the job done. Unfortunately, you will either need to turn and come back to cut the last section of the swath. Or you need to reverse to catch the missed section. But for big areas that can be mowed much like a football or soccer field, the Lawn Tractor will not disappoint. In a nutshell, it is not the most maneuverable but is more functional than the zero-turn.
There is no question that the Zero Turn model has the upper hand in terms of maneuverability. In other words, it can save you a lot of time, especially if landscaping or curves get in the way.
2. Difference in Terrain
Another significant difference, when compared to a Lawn Tractor, is the back-wheel drive. For a smaller lawn or area where you have to twist and turn a lot, there is nothing better than the Zero Turn. But even though it is great for mobility and curved lawns, it takes away from the control you have when moving up slopes and hills. And control is important if you want to do a good job, not to mention power.
The Lawn Tractor provides a front-wheel-drive system that allows the best power and control for sloped terrains. You won’t have any problems when slopes or hills form part of your yard. And this means you will have to spend less time mowing your lawn. After all, the number of passes needed to get the job done makes a huge difference in your workload.
The latter model takes the advantage when it comes to slopes and hills, but both mowers are vulnerable when the slopes become too steep. Hence the reason for only using a drive mower for slopes or hills lower than 15 degrees. Anything higher and you need to revert to a model you can push.
3. Deck Size
You can get a Zero Turn mower with a deck size measuring 42 inches. Or you can choose one with more than 60 inches of deck space. It all depends on the size of your lawn, the level of intensity of mowing, and your budget.
Lawn Tractor models also start at 42 inches. But they usually only range up to 54 inches max.
At face value, the biggest deck size will get the job done quicker. But this is why you need to assess the lawn first. What about the smallest spaces you have to cut, and will the mower be able to fit into these spaces? For properties with big and uncomplicated lawns, the bigger deck size can make a significant difference.
4. Mowing speed
These models are faster, with top speeds reaching over 10mph. This makes them great for cutting multiple acres at a time. However, you get the cleanest cut when mowing at 5mph or less.
Lawn tractors offer an average speed of 4mph for a very clean-cut, and they can typically move at a max speed of 7mph. However, they also offer more stability and consistency on sloped terrains, whereas the Zero Turn can lose speed.
When you are in a hurry, the Zero Turn is definitely the faster choice. But once again, the terrain you have to work with will influence the choice you make. And keep in mind that speed mowing does not get you the best results if you are passionate about gardening.
5. Machine Control
If this is your first time working with a Zero Turn model, prepare for a slightly different way of steering. Instead of a wheel, you have to push and pull two levers. Why this particular approach for controlling the mower? Mainly it is because the steering allows for such great maneuverability. And you will get used to the steering system pretty quickly. Basically, you push both levers in order to move forward. To turn, you release the pressure from the relevant lever and pull back.
For drivers that want to feel comfortable from the start, the Lawn Tractor is based on a typical steering system. You get gas and brake pedals with a steering wheel as you have in the car. All you have to do is drive off and start mowing.
Learning to steer the Zero Turn can be a little intimidating at first. And if you really feel too uncomfortable with the levers, you can try out later models that feature a joystick. Although it can also require some time to get used to.
Making A Final Decision
The difference in design and power/speed (as well as the size and many other factors) clearly sets the two products apart. So, there is no question about it, a Lawn Tractor and a Zero Turn both have their advantages and downsides.
The Lawn Tractor has more power, can maneuver over slopes, hills, and different terrains, and can get deep in close quarters. But if you have no major obstacles in your lawn that could get in the way, and you don’t have to go for more than a 180-degree turn, a Zero Turn offers all the maneuverability you need.
And before you make a final decision, it is a good idea to look at the price tag as well. Make no mistake, both models are known for having high-end prices. But they are worth it when you consider the quality and options you get. For the most part, a Lawn Tractor is a more affordable option. You can also trust it to be a workhorse in terms of tackling huge open areas.
But depending on the terrain, you are dealing with, paying extra for the Zero Turn should be considered too. This is especially true if you are a perfectionist outdoors, and you hate wasting time. Either way, both mowers have a lot to offer. It is just a matter of using them in the right place.
A mower can be the best tool to have in your home if your property is big enough or if you have to go in circles to get the job done. A good mower is an investment, and it can save you a lot of time and energy if you know what to look for. Read our comparison and invest wisely!