What Is a Zero Turn Mower?
Zero Turn Riding Mowers, or ZTRs, are able to complete a perfect rotation on the spot- very handy for reaching those difficult spots on your lawn, and very fun to drive around. They take a little getting used to, since they don’t have an acceleration and brake pedal, and are steered using handles on either side to control each individual wheel. This means that they need regular servicing, but it also gives you an unprecedented control over your machine.
How Do You Drive a ZTR Mower?
Essentially, driving a ZTR mower is like pushing a shopping trolley- you push both handles forward, and the further you push them, the faster you will go. To slow down, simply ease off the handles. Steering is simple, too- to turn on way, push the corresponding handle forwards while keeping the other one in neutral. This spins one wheel while keeping the other one still, so that the mower can make a complete, 360-degree rotation on the spot.
Gets the Job Done Faster
With a Zero Turn mower, you could cut your mowing time in half. If you have a large lawn that takes a long time to mow, then a ZTR mower could be just the thing for you.
While tractor mowers can be imprecise and miss patches of grass near trees and other obstacles, Zero Turn mowers allow you to get into all those nooks and crannies, so you can do the whole job in one go.
With just a little practice, you can use your ZTR mower to get that perfect bowling green look on your lawn at home.
Simple To Use
Just like pushing a shopping trolley, driving a ZTR mower is simple and intuitive- as well as being a lot of fun!
A Mower That Lasts A Lifetime
If you properly maintain your Zero Turn mower, and keep to all the safety precautions, then you can be sure that your ZTR mower will still be a trust companion many years in the future.
Zero Turn Mowers- The Downsides
ZTR mowers are a great choice, but there are a few negatives that you should be aware of. Most importantly, ZTR mowers aren’t suitable for going up slopes of more than 15 degrees, as the mower could tip over. If your garden has a few small areas that are sloped more than this, then you can always use a push mower to clear these bits of the lawn. They also don’t perform well on wet grass, as the weight of the mower leaves you prone to slipping and losing control of your machine. It’s therefore best to only use them in dry conditions.
There’s also pollution to consider. Since ZTR mowers can be slow, and use large gasoline engines, they can use up quite a bit of fuel, which obviously isn’t that great for your garden. You’ll also likely find yourself frequently refilling the tank while you’re in the process of mowing. Their hydrostatic transmission requires frequent maintenance, too, or else parts can leak. However, they make up for all this by decreasing your mowing time by up to 70%, so that lack of fuel efficiency is offset.
Different Types of Zero Turn Mowers
Having read through the above, you have probably already made up your mind about whether or not you want a ZTR mower. But what kind do you need? There are actually five different types of ZTR, in all different shapes and sizes. For most owners, anything below a commercial grade ZTR will do the job just fine- we’ll take you through what each option has to offer below.
As with ride-on mowers, ZTRs have a compact version that’s smaller and easier to store. They’re about half the size of your standard model, and their cutting decks usually range between 32 and 42 inches. They’re more environmentally friendly because of their smaller size, and pack plenty of punch for a very affordable price. They’re only a little more than a typical ride-on mower, so it might be worth spending that extra money since you get a lot in return.
These ZTR mowers have cutting decks between 42 and 54 inches. Their larger size means they offer plenty more cutting options, as well as a bigger, more powerful engine. Some even come with nifty extra features, like hour gauges, foot assisted deck lifts, electric clutch, and much much more. If your lawn is between 1.5 and 2 acres, then a residential ZTR mower will get the job done for you.
These ZTR mowers are roughly the same size as a residential model, but they’re better put together, and as such are more durable and feature a larger engine. They’re better suited for tough terrain as a result, and usually have a fabricated deck, rather than the stamped deck that most residential mowers have. With heavy duty transmission, more comfortable seats, and the ability to add larger accessories, the estate class will be more than enough for most homeowners.
Entry Level Commercial
These models are for those with a lot of land to cover, but who don’t want to go the whole hog with a commercial ZTR. They’ve got all the basic features of commercial ZTRs, but lack some of the more advanced features. They’ve got larger decks and engines than smaller models, though, so they’re powerful enough to get the job done. Their deck sizes range from 42 inches to a whopping 61 inches.
These machines are what you would typically see at a large park or golf course, because they’re incredibly powerful. As well as a wide-reaching cutting deck and a massive engine, they’re also the most comfortable to ride, because users will likely be on them for a long period of time. They often come with a premium drive system, too, and can go at a much higher speed. That all comes at a cost, though- they cost over double the average residential ZTR mower. However, you do get a lot for your money- some have cutting decks up to a jaw-dropping 72 inches.
Safety Tips When Using A ZTR Mower
As fun as they are to use, ZTR mowers can be dangerous if you don’t observe all the necessary safety precautions. However, so long as you keep all the following pieces of advice in mind, you’ll be able to use your new ZTR perfectly safely, and your lawn won’t be at risk of any damage.
Before using your ZTR for the first time, ensure you read through the entire instruction manual carefully. There are also often plenty of tips contain within these documents that will help you make sure your mower lasts a lifetime, so take them on board and keep your ZTR mower properly maintained at all times.
The one thing that can let ZTR mowers down is slopes. They usually have a 10 to 13 degree limit when it comes to slopes, because over three quarters of the weight is distributed to the back of the mower. That makes it difficult to get up slopes, and puts too much pressure on the front castor wheels when you come back down. If the slope is uneven or wet, then the front wheels will lose traction- leaving you at risk of the mower rolling over or breaking.
To stop this from happening, you should buy a pitch and angle reader, which will let you check the precise angle of a slope. If it’s more than 10 degrees, then you should use a regular mower for that particular area.
There are lots of things on your lawn that can get in the way of your ZTR mower- from trees and ponds to curbs and hills. While the easy steering of a ZTR mower makes it seem simple to get around these, you should still be careful that you don’t get too close to them, and risk damaging your mower. Keep a whole mower’s width away from these edges- especially from water and concrete curbs. If you go over an obstacle instead of around it, then you could very well wind up doing irreparable damage to your mower. While you will be able to get closer to these obstacles with practice, don’t risk it while you’re just getting started.
Avoiding Lawn Damage
A ZTR mower is highly versatile, but this can actually damage your lawn if you don’t use it properly. You should have a few practice runs in the center of your lawn before you take the ZTR across the whole garden. Also, be careful not to make too sharp a turn, as this can take a large chunk out of the lawn.
Ideally, when you want to make a turn you should slow down as you come to the end of the lawn, and then gently reverse while turning until you are parallel with the strip you have just mowed. This stops you from making large pivot holes all over the lawn, and also allows you to add patterns to your lawn as you mow. Another option is to mow in a forward direction for one pass, and in reverse for the next, alternating until you have completed the whole lawn.
When using your ZTR, you should always wear face and head protection, and make full use of the roll bars. These lock in place above your head, so that the mower does not tip over onto you. You should also be sure to turn the mower off completely when you’re not using it, and make sure you look before you turn.
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