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Zero Turn vs Riding Mower: Which One To Choose?

riding mower

If you’re in the market for a mower then you may be wondering whether a zero turn mower or a riding mower will suit you better. If you’re cutting a larger area of lawn then you will probably want to have one of the two choices of mowers in your arsenal. It’s important to consider the type of terrain you’ll be dealing with when operating, so we’ll help you to decide which one will best fit your needs based on the characteristics of each mower type.

The Zero Turn Mower

zero turn mower
Image credit: John Deere Zero-Turn Mowers EZTrak by Charles & Hudson licensed by CC 2.0.

Zero turn mowers are capable of making sharp 180-degree turns which make them ideal for navigating obstacles. This is great if you’re using your mower in a yard that has objects like trees and poles to navigate around.

Zero turn mowers are best suited for use on flat ground and don’t do well in terrain that has a lot of slopes. Zero turn mowers also generally move faster than riding mowers, provided that only flat terrain is being navigated. This means that if you are moving on flat terrain, a zero turn mower will generally be able to cut grass more quickly.

If you choose to go with a zero turn mower, it will do a great job of cutting grass. However, you won’t be able to add attachments or haul things with it.

The cost of a zero turn mower is also quite similar to that of a riding mower. To sum up, this type of mower is suitable for cutting grass on flat terrain with obstacles that need to be maneuvered around.

The Riding Mower

riding mower
Riding Mower, Image credit: wafr, Pixabay

Generally riding mowers have a wider turn radius than zero turn mowers. This means that they are more suitable for wide-open areas that don’t have a lot of obstacles in the way. This larger turning radius may also make cutting an area of grass uniformly more difficult since the operator may have to make multiple passes over an area to make sure that the grass is cut evenly.

Riding mowers are generally better at navigating hilly terrain than zero turn mowers. This is because they usually have larger tires and a lower center of gravity, ensuring that the vehicle maintains grip while travelling uphill.

When operating on flat land, a riding mower typically isn’t as fast as a zero turn mower that means longer cutting times.

The ability to haul things in a cart is one of the biggest assets of a riding mower. Some models can even be fitted with attachments like snow blower attachments and lawn sweepers.

If you need a workhorse that can haul things and blow snow in the winter, then a riding mower will suit you better. If you will be operating in a wide-open area then you will not miss the added maneuverability that a zero turn mower provides.


The type of mower you’ll choose depends mainly on terrain. If you are operating on flat ground, then a zero turn mower will be able to move quickly across this type of terrain. In the case of hilly terrain, a riding mower will maintain better traction on hilly surfaces. Another thing to note is that zero turn mowers are generally easier to maneuver than riding mowers. A zero turn mower is probably your best bet if you have an area with lots of obstacles.

The riding mower’s ability to haul items across a land area in a cart is a tremendous asset. You can also add attachments like snow blowers and lawn sweepers.

The price point of the two types of mowers is basically the same, so really your decision will come down to what type of land you will be operating your mower on, if you have obstacles in the way, and if you want extra perks like the ability to haul stuff. While zero turn mowers are generally faster on flatter ground, this isn’t significant enough to warrant getting a zero turn mower over a riding mower.

Above all, make an informed choice based on your needs.

Featured image credit: RitaE, Pixabay

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