Both are big investments, both claim to be the answer to mowing large areas quickly. But which is really better? Here we’ve laid out the pros and cons of both lawn tractors and zero turn mowers to help you decide.
Lawn Tractor - Pros
Compared to a push mower, a lawn tractor is much faster with almost no labour required, which is why people with large lawns or lifestyle blocks opt for them. Having a steering wheel makes them easier/more familiar to drive, like your car. An affordable option, a decent lawn tractor will only set you back several thousand dollars. Lawn tractors can tow and often have the ability to attach extras that assist with accomplishing a wide range of gardening and landscaping tasks. Some models come with a rear catcher for clippings and/or optional mulch kits for a tidier mow. Generally, the larger more expensive options are pretty rugged, heavy-duty machines.
Lawn Tractor - Cons
Cheaper versions wear quickly and aren’t economical to repair after a few years’ use. Lawn tractors have a higher centre of gravity so they’re not really suited to mowing slopes. Some models have locking differentials for better traction but we’d highly recommend following the owner’s manual for safe operation. They also have foot brakes, and once in a skid are very difficult to control. Optional side catching kits don’t work very well in New Zealand conditions with our damp/lush grass. Lawn tractors are not that manoeuverable and struggle to get in close around objects, in tight spots or turning at the end of a row. If you use a catcher it will need to be emptied often as grass doesn’t pack tightly.
Zero Turn - Pros
Fast! Zero turn mowers drastically reduce your mowing time (speeds reach up to 16km/h with a top model) or can cover big areas in less time. But the real time savings are from the maneuverability… read on! Zero turn mowers are incredible at getting in and around things right up close. They’re highly maneuverable, turning virtually on the spot. This ability to execute tight turns combined with that great speed means you get more area mown in a much shorter time. On large areas like lifestyle properties this is a game changer – Its not uncommon to halve your mow time compared to a tractor style! You get a better precision cut on a zero turn mower because you’re sitting at the front with an unobstructed view.
Zero Turn - Cons
Zero turn mowers are not cheap. That’s not to say they are poor value though, as long as you’re investing in the right model for your needs. Some of the Catcher and mulch kits on offer in New Zealand don’t work (too much moisture) and block easily. It’s important to get the right kit. Zero turn mowers are only useable on the flat, no slope mowing. Zero turns are only really suite on flat to moderate slopes (max 15 degrees depending on model). As the risk is more related to traction than tipping, this can be mitigated to some degree through the use of all terrain turf tyres (talk to us today about this). Learning to drive a zero turn will take a couple of hours on the seat. Cheaper budget options are Not great at mowing long or rough grass so you’ll have to keep on top of it.
Ready to choose?
Before you buy a mower why not ask friends and neighbours (especially those with a similar property to yours) what they use and how they find it, what they wish was better, etc. You can also download our free guide on how to choose the right mower to learn more about what you need for your property.