Zero Turn vs Riding Mower – Which One Is Better?

If you have recently been searching for a lawn mower, then chances are you have come across zero turn and riding lawn mowers. In this article, we are going to look at the zero turn vs the riding mower.

These two types of lawn mowers have several differences which make it hard for one to decide which one is better. However, by the end of this article you should be in position to conclude on which lawn mower is best for your needs.

What is a zero turn mower?

As we look at the zero turn vs riding mower, we shall start by looking at them individually so that you get to know them better. So, what is a zero turn mower?

Just as the name suggests, a zero turn is a lawn mower tractor that has a zero turn radius. This type of lawn mower is normally used by professionals and those looking for the best lawn care and landscaping.

Zero turn mowers come at a high price but they provide with the best performance especially on large properties. It comes with several hydraulic controls on its handles used to move the mower. While on this mower, you get to spin around without ever losing your position on the lawn entirely.

Pros and cons of zero turn mower


  • It clears the grass quickly compared to other mowers
  • Ideal for use when you have trees, poles or other obstacles in your yard
  • Offers the best cutting performance than other types of mowers
  • You have perfect visibility in front of you with this mower
  • Cuts grass well in small and large properties


  • They only work best on flat terrains
  • You can’t add attachments to this mower
  • You need to be familiar with it to use it
  • It is expensive

What is a riding lawn mower?

A riding lawn mower also known as a lawn tractor is another type of popular lawn mower that will allow you cut clear your lawn properly. When it comes to a lawn tractor vs zero turn mower, the major difference is seen in the turning radius. A riding lawn mower has a large turning radius which is quite similar with that of a car.

With a lawn mower, you need to circle back so that the entire lawn is cut. This mower is less efficient compared to a zero turn mower when it comes to making precise passes around trees and gardens. However, it is ideal if you are leaving in areas of northern climate and it’s a great choice for those on a budget.

Pros and cons of a riding lawn mower


  • It’s easy to add different attachments
  • Easy to use by beginners
  • You get the best mobility with the four wheel steering
  • Great for hilly terrains
  • Offers comfort while you  work on your lawn
  • Comes at an affordable price


  • It is slow
  • You can’t see clearly in front of you
  • It isn’t ideal for use when you have obstacles in your lawn

Differences between a zero turn mower and a riding lawn mower

By now you know a thing or two on each of the two lawn mowers. Next we are going to compare the two in several categories and see the differences that they have with each other.


One of the benefits of a Zero turn mower is the ability offer great visibility. They also have an improved turn radius which is excellent in offering you with the best precision. The engine of a zero turn mower is located below the seat offering you a clearer view on what you are working on. This however is not the case when it comes to the riding lawn mower.


When it comes to speed, a zero turn mower still stands out. A Zero turn mower has the best maneuverability thanks to the many hydraulic controls on the handle. You get work done quickly whether you have a wide open lawn or one with many obstacles such as trees, poles and rocks among others.

A riding lawn mower will prove useless when it comes to such lawns and its general speed is very slow. However, with a slow speed you will get a cleaner cut.

Performance on hilly terrains

Will it be a zero turn or tractor for hills? Well, hilly terrains are the most difficult obstacles that tend to challenge lots of lawn mowers. Owning a property with hills on it is great but you will have to consider a few factors when you are buying a lawn mower for it.

For example, when you have hills which are not steep on your property, it is advisable to buy the best zero turn mower for hills. In case you have steep hills, then a riding lawn mower would be the best choice. For this case try finding a riding lawn mower with a roll bar. Also, a lawn tractor is safer to use on steep hills.


The price of any product usually determines its performance. Lawn mowers are no exception when it comes to price. We have looked at the capabilities of these machines and how they perform differently under certain circumstances. Therefore, if you are on a budget, the best you can get is a riding lawn mower. You can get to choose from a variety of them that will range within your budget.

However, you will have to consider the size of your lawn and what you have on it to help you select the right machine for you. Preferably, if you have the money, then you can invest in a zero turn mower as it is quick and precise in handling lawns on large properties.


While mowing is the primary job of a lawn mower, how about when you want to accomplish other tasks? If you want to do other things with your lawn mower such as hauling materials, spraying or even gardening, you need a mower that allows accessory attachment.

So will it be a zero turn or riding mower? Here, you will have to consider a riding lawn mower other than the zero turn mower. A zero turn mower only comes with attachment options which are primarily meant for proper mowing. A riding lawn mower on the other hand has attachment options for other purposes other than mowing.

Deck size

With a wider deck, the machine will take few swaths to cover the entire lawn and it will be faster. When selecting the deck size of your mower, you will have to consider the size of your yard as well as the width of those narrow spaces.

Zero turn mowers usually come with decks ranging from 42 to over 60 inches while the riding lawn mowers come with decks from 42 to 54 inches. Now, a zero turn mower would be great when you have a larger yard which is flat while a riding lawn mower is ideal for tight spaces.

Between the zero turn mower and riding mower which one is better?

When choosing between the two, you will have to consider a few things because both machines are great and they also have disadvantages. To know which one is better over the other, we have looked at them in different scenarios.

  • In case you have a property with hillsides which are modest pitch, then any of the two can be a better choice.
  • When you live in areas with northern climate, a lawn tractor will be better because you can always attach a snow blower in the winter to allow you use the machine throughout the year.
  • If you own a large property with plenty of obstacles, then a zero turn mower will be the best choice. It is faster as it will navigate through your property easily giving you the better cuts.
  • When it comes to cost effectiveness, both the machines will cost something close to each other. The only thing you will find is that the zero turn mowers will be slightly at the top when it comes to price.

Overall, the general application of the mower will depend on your terrain and maybe your very own personal preference.

Alternatives to zero turn and riding lawn mowers for steep hill properties

If you live on properties with steep hills, you can consider other mowers or recommendations below instead of a zero turn or riding mower.

  1. A powerful self drive push mower is safer to use than a riding mower on steep hills.
  2. Building a terraced garden on the hillside than having a grassy yard that requires mowing every now and then.
  3. Consider a remote controlled slope mower if you have many steep hills
  4. Use a string trimmer if the steep hill you have isn’t so huge
  5. Lastly, if you have the money, then a robotic lawn mower               can be a great alternative.

Frequently asked questions

Is a zero turn mower better than a lawn tractor?

Deciding on a zero turn or a lawn tractor will depend on some key factors and most importantly your personal preference. If you are going to be dealing with obstacles on your property, then the best machine would be the zero turn mower. On the other hand, if you have hills or slope terrains and require to add some attachments on the mower, then go for a lawn tractor because its better in that area.

What is the difference between zero turn and riding mower?

There are many differences between zero turn and riding mowers. The difference between the two is in the turning radius. Zero turn mowers come with almost turn radius while riding lawn mowers come with a large turning radius.

Also, zero turn mowers offer great visibility, they are fast and cut better around obstacles and flat large properties. The riding lawn mowers on the other hand are slow, feature narrow decks, and cut well on hills and steep slope terrains. They also allow addition of attachments for different purposes.

Is a zero turn worth the money?

Yes, it is. However it will also depend on where you are planning on using it. It may be expensive, but its performance on certain terrains is exceptional. It will cut grass quickly on a large flat property with great precision. It is fast and it will offer you with the best control thanks to the different hydraulic controls on the handles. It is worth the money as it ensures better cuts around different obstacles on your property.

Why is a zero turn mower better?

It is better because it is fast, precise and it can cut around any obstacles on your property. They can also handle some hilly terrains. Zero turn mowers also offer better visibility at the front whereby you can see clearly what you are cutting. This will offer you great precision on your cuts.

Final thoughts

All in all, it isn’t about zero turn vs riding mower. It all comes down to where you are going to mow. Is your terrain flat and large or is it narrow and hilly/sloped. Do you want to get the job done quickly or you can take your time?

All these questions will make the mower you choose ideal or not suitable for you. Both of the mowers we have looked at have their strengths and weaknesses that we have mentioned above.

To decide on which one is better will solely depend on you and the property you are looking to mow. No one can decide for you which machine to buy but with the right guidance we guarantee you will be able to conclude on which one is better for you.

Under the specific conditions, we hope our article has helped you determine the better lawn mower for your needs. Whichever mower you choose we guarantee it will serve you better.

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