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The best zero-turn mowers: are they worth the money?

Zero-turn mowers are great for both larger properties as well as yards with lots of obstacles. And they're growing in popularity thanks to their generous cutting width, ergonomic design, and electric options.

Zero-turn mowers are like the high-end sports cars of lawn and garden equipment. They feature a zero-inch turning radius, which allows you to pivot in place and maneuver in tight spaces without ruining your lawn, as well as more powerful engines and wider cutting decks than their regular riding mower counterparts. And their demand will continue to grow in the next five years, as more people and businesses adopt them thanks to their ease of use and expedited cutting times. 

You can choose models with cutting decks as narrow as 42 inches for suburban lawns or as wide as 72 inches for rural properties. And with engines up to 26HP, you'll get plenty of power to haul wagons of dirt, mulch, and tools or equipment without overworking the motor. 

Zero-turn mowers also feature hydrostatic transmissions, which means that the more you push on the lap bars or the harder you step on the pedals, the faster you'll go. This makes it akin to driving a car, so they're easier to learn how to operate. The lap bar steering system does take some getting used to, however, so I recommend driving around your yard with the blades disengaged to practice before you mow your lawn with it for the first time. 

To help you find the best zero-turn mower for your lawn, I've gathered a list of the 5 best ones available to buy. I've broken down their features and price points to help you match them up with your needs and lot size -- as well as your budget. To find the perfect zero-turn mower for your yard, you can keep reading below.

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Pros & Cons
  • Hydrostatic drive
  • Ergonomic seat and lap bars
  • Steel deck and frame
  • Expensive
  • Steep learning curve with lap bar steering
  • No accessories included
More Details

Cutting width: 50 inches | Power source: Gasoline | Transmission: Variable speed hydrostatic | Engine: 23HP 726cc | Mulching and bagger capable: Yes | Max cutting area:  4 acres 

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 was featured as my pick for the best zero-turn mower in our list of the best lawn mowers you can buy, and it's still my number one choice. It features a 50-inch cutting deck that is stamped from 11-Gauge steel as well as a tubular steel frame design for strength, durability, and stability while mowing over different kinds of terrain. The 23HP Kawasaki engine uses a hydrostatic drive for easier forward acceleration of up to 7.5mph and quick reversing to maneuver around obstacles or go back over spots you may have missed. 

A removable floor plate gives you better and faster access to the cutting deck and engine when you need to clean things out or perform maintenance, while the smooth-tread front wheels allow you to drive, turn, and pivot without worrying about damaging your lawn. The ergonomic seat also features a suspension system to keep you comfortable and safely in place while driving over rough patches, while the lap bars have ergonomic grips for more comfortable operation. And with a maximum cutting area of 4 acres, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 will feel at home in both larger suburban corner lots as well as big rural properties.

Pros & Cons
  • Zero emissions
  • 120V outlet charging
  • Mow-in reverse feature
  • USB ports
  • Very expensive
  • Not compatible with bagger attachments
More Details

Cutting width: 54 inches | Power source: 48V integrated battery | Transmission: Variable speed hydrostatic | Engine: Brushless electric motor | Mulching and bagger capable: Mulching only| Max cutting area: 3.5 acres  

The Ryobi 48V zero-turn electric mower was one of my alternative picks on the list of best electric mowers, and after doing more research, I can say that it is the best electric zero-turn on the market. The integrated 48V battery can be charged via a regular wall outlet, which means you won't have to worry about keeping special chargers and cables on hand to top up your mower when not in use. It also makes the Ryobi 48V easier to integrate into your garage or workshop if you don't have any other Ryobi tools or equipment that could share a battery with the mower. The battery gives you enough power on a full charge to mow up to 3.5 acres, which is great news for anyone with a larger yard.

It features a 54-inch cutting deck with 3 sets of blades for a more even cut on each pass, and the deck can be set to 12 different heights for the perfect mow all season long. A control panel lets you monitor battery levels, turn on the LED headlights, mow in reverse, and even charge your phone with the built-in USB port. 

Since the Ryobi 48V zero-turn mower doesn't have a gas engine, that means that you'll save both time and money by not having to do any oil changes, spark plug cleanings, or fuel treatments at the start and end of every season. And no gas engine means no exhaust emissions, making this a more environmentally friendly option for lawn care.

Pros & Cons
  • Under $3,100 price point
  • 22HP V-twin engine
  • Hydrostatic drive
  • Limited 2-year/120 engine hour warranty
  • Mulching and bagger kits sold separately
  • Requires John Deere branded parts for repair/maintenance
More Details

Cutting width: 42 inches | Power source: Gasoline | Transmission: Variable speed hydrostatic | Engine: 22HP 724cc | Mulching and bagger capable: Yes | Max cutting area: 2 acres 

Zero-turn mowers and John Deere equipment both have a reputation for being on the high end of expensive, but whether you're a brand loyalist or just have your eye on that Kelly Green, the Z345R CARB is one of the most affordable zero-turns (and pieces of John Deere equipment) you can buy. 

At just under $3,100, the Z345R CARB is a bit easier on the wallet while still providing premium-grade features like a 22HP V-twin engine, dual hydrostatic transmission, maximum cutting area of 2 acres. The 42-inch cutting deck is stamped from 12-gauge steel for durability and strength, while the twin blade sets give you an even and consistent cut on every pass. 

The steering lap bars feature padded grips, and the seat has durable cushioning, armrests, and a suspension system for better comfort while driving over both flat grass and rough spots. You can even kit out your Z345R CARB with a mulching deck or bagger attachment to re-feed your lawn with ultra-fine clippings between fertilizer applications or collect clippings for your compost bin or lawn waste pick-up. 

The Z345R CARB has color-coded controls for quick and easy identification as well as a low fuel warning light, so you never get left stranded with an empty tank.

Pros & Cons
  • 7-gallon fuel tank
  • 10-Gauge, hardened steel deck and frame (for exceptional durability)
  • 260HP engine
  • 7-acre cutting area
  • Very expensive
  • Steering bars require some practice for novice riders
More Details

Cutting width: 60 inches | Power source: Gasoline | Transmission: Variable speed hydrostatic | Engine: 26HP 747cc | Mulching and bagger capable: Yes | Max cutting area: 7 acres 

The Toro Titan MAX zero-turn mower was tailor-made for larger properties. It features a 60-inch cutting deck, 23-inch rear wheels, and a 26 horsepower Kohler engine for all of the power you need to handle properties up to 7 acres in size. 

The hydrostatic drive provides easier and faster forward acceleration up to 9.0Mph, so you can make short work of pastures and wide-open backyards while the pivoting front wheels give you enhanced maneuverability around garden beds, fruit and ornamental trees, and outbuildings. 

The Titan MAX is equipped with a 7-gallon fuel tank, so you can spend more time getting work done and less time refueling or worrying about getting stranded in the middle of your lot with an empty tank. The frame and deck are made of hardened, 10-Gauge steel for extra strength and durability while driving over uneven ground and around obstacles. The Titan MAX also features a high-back seat with armrests and a cup holder so you can stay comfortable and hydrated while maintaining your property. 

Pros & Cons
  • Mows 2 acres on a single charge
  • Power equal to 22-hp output from has mower
  • Adjustable seating
  • Very expensive
More Details

Cutting width: 42 inches | Power source: Electric | Transmission: Direct | Engine: EGO (rivaling 22-horsepower from a gasoline mower | Mulching and bagger capable: Yes| Max cutting area: 2 acres on a single charge 

If you're searching for an eco-friendly lawn mower with excellent range, this lawn mower is a wise choice to consider. It holds up to six batteries, allowing you to mow up to two acres on a single charge.

Not only does it have range, this zero-turn radius mower packs ample power–mirroring a 22-horsepower output from a gas mower. And this baby can move, with speeds going up to eight miles per hour.

It also features three driving modes: Control, Standard, and Sport. Altogether, this mower offers the speed, power, and range of a gas mower, without the emissions. 

What is the best zero-turn mower?

My pick for the best zero-turn mower is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1. It features an 11-gauge steel, 50-inch cutting deck with twin blade sets for an even, consistent cut on each pass as well as a tubular steel frame for strength and durability. The 23HP Kawasaki engine and hydrostatic drive make operating the mower easy while providing plenty of power to handle lawns up to 4 acres.

Zero-turn mower


Cutting width

Max cutting area

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1


50 inches

4 acres

Ryobi 48V zero-turn


54 inches

3.5 acres

John Deere Z345R CARB


42 inches

2 acres

Toro Titan MAX


60 inches

7 acres

EGO Power+ 22-HP Brushless Motor Direct Drive 42-inch Zero-Turn Lawn Mower


42 inches

2 acres

Which one is the right zero-turn mower for you?

Once you've finalized a budget for your new zero-turn mower, you'll want to look at cutting deck widths, engine sizes, fuel tank capacities, and what attachments each model is compatible with. Smaller 42-inch decks are ideal for suburban lawns with lots of trees and other obstacles, while larger 54- or 60-inch cutting decks are more suited for wide-open rural properties.

Engine size also helps you determine which is right for you, since higher horsepower means you can do things like haul wagons of tools, mulch, or potting soil or use equipment such as lawn rollers and aerators without destroying the motor.

Choose this zero-turn mower...

If you want...

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1

A well-rounded zero turn mower for medium-sized lawns

Ryobi 48V zero turn

An electric zero turn mower for eco-friendly lawn care

John Deere Z345R CARB

A more affordable zero turn mower option

Toro Titan MAX

A zero turn mower for larger properties

EGO Power+ 22-HP Brushless Motor Direct Drive 42-inch Zero-Turn Lawn Mower

A zero-turn mower with the performance and range of a gas

How did we choose these zero-turn mowers?

I chose a variety of cutting deck widths, engine sizes, and fuel tank capacities to curate a list of zero-turn mowers that will suit just about any larger suburban or rural property. 

I also picked models that had quality-of-life features like seat suspension systems and ergonomic steering bars for added comfort while mowing and even USB ports for keeping your phone charged while you work.

What is a zero-turn mower?

A zero-turn mower is a type of riding mower that has a zero-inch turning radius (hence the name). This means that you can use either the left or right rear wheel as a pivot point and turn in place, which gives the mower superior maneuverability around trees, garden beds, and other obstacles.

They also tend to have larger deck sizes than regular riding mowers, making them favorites with homeowners with larger properties.

What size lawn is a zero-turn mower best for?

A zero-turn lawn mower is best suited for any yard that is an acre or larger since they have more powerful engines and larger cutting decks than regular riding mowers. You can choose a deck from as narrow as 42 inches to as wide as 72 inches, letting you almost tailor-fit your mower to your lawn.

Are zero-turn mowers worth the money?

A zero-turn mower can be a very valuable asset in your workshop if you have a yard suitable enough for one. If you have a small suburban lot measuring less than .75 acres, there won't be enough room for your mower to actually do its job, plus it would be very difficult to store such a large mower in a typical backyard garden shed.

But if you have a 1 acre or larger property, a zero-turn mower is a good choice, since they can make short work of just about any lawn and are perfect for steering around orchards, outbuildings, and garden beds.

Do zero-turn lawn mowers have baggers?

Yes, zero-turn lawn mowers feature bagging attachments to collect clippings of grass. Depending on the model you select, you might have to purchase it separately from the mower. 

Are there alternative zero-turn mowers worth considering?

There are lots of options available if you're looking to buy a new zero-turn mower. Here's a short list of alternative choices I thought were worth a look:

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