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"Zero Turn" Mower
Old 07-19-2015, 03:24 PM   #1
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"Zero Turn" Mower

Have about an acre of land with the house and an old riding mower ( about 15 horsepower) died on me. I also noticed that it really didn't have the power or "strength" to do the job efficiently.

What's the experience of the ER's with regards to mowers for cutting "large lawns" and are the "zero turn" ( ?? proper term) mowers the way to go? What brand(s), horse power and other features should one look for? What are the price ranges and best time of year to purchase.

What are the down sides ? I assume everyone buys new and not used.
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:12 PM   #2
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Definitely the way to go as a mower for large lots. Not much good on hills or for pushing snow if you need that. Consumer Reports recently rated them.
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:20 PM   #3
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Definitely the way to go as a mowers for large lots. Not much good on hills or for pushing snow if you need that. Consumer Reports recently rated them.
Have about 8 acres to mow with lots of obstacles. Pond, creek, hundreds of trees, etc. Zero turn is the only way to go. We had an old JD 500 series mower, and I told my wife we either got a zero turn or move when the kids went off to college (down to mowing "volunteers" at the same time).

Got an old 60" Ztrak with the front mounted deck so it is very bumpy, but it mows like a son of a gun.

It is very bad on hills and have to keep another "regular" riding mover to pull wagons and mow the ditch by the road.
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:29 PM   #4
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Absolutely I would go with the Zero Turn. I have a JD D130 riding tractor, it runs at a snail's pace compared to my neighbor's Zero Turn. I mow a couple of acres as does the neighbor and he absolutely blows me away with that thing
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:33 PM   #5
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I've had two. A 42" Gravley with I think a 20 hp B&S, not a 24 hp as it is currently configured. Nice machine I had to start mowing more yard to take an hour to do. Probably close to an acre. If you're used to an older rider you'll be amazed at the ZTR in turns. That Gravley was a residential mower not a Professional model, nice machine.

We moved 9 years ago the hills are pretty bad here. I bought a 61"Scag Wildcat to mow 3 acres. It's a commercial mower and over kill, I can mow 3 acres in 1.5 hours, take the biggest bank sideways as fast as the machine will go. It's just asking for more to mow. I can't run it full forward except on driveways, it would throw me off in this "yard".

The Scagg was recommended for mowing steep banks. Around here they're used to mow embankments along highways. Great machine but stick with a small residential model.

I did buy both new, the Scagg was a new year old leftover. Saved a bunch on the deal.
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:48 PM   #6
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I've read that the zero turn mowers are not that easy to learn to drive well. The pros get lots of practice. But I never tried, I don't know.

I got the Sears 6" radius turn mower. Not commercial grade, but it does the job for me on 1 acre.

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Old 07-19-2015, 06:53 PM   #7
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I wouldn't say there're difficult to operate, but start in open areas and make sure you understand the operation! It doesn't take long to catch on, or mess up.

Good point as the controls are very important. There's no comparison between the commercial mowers and residential. Make sure you operate the thing and the steering controls feel smooth to you! They should eventually become an extension of your hands.
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Old 07-19-2015, 07:07 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ferco View Post
What's the experience of the ER's with regards to mowers for cutting "large lawns" and are the "zero turn" ( ?? proper term) mowers the way to go? What brand(s), horse power and other features should one look for? What are the price ranges and best time of year to purchase.
This article has a lot of good info in it, and there's some "meat" in the questions/answers, too. What they are good for, 17 "negatives" to ZTRs, etc. Some of the new riding mowers have very tight turn radii (6") and would be a better choice (and less expensive/maintenance prone) than a ZTR. In other yards, a ZTR is definitely the best call.

The ZTRs are good for some things, but not as good as lawn tractors for other things. "Homeowner" models are generally not very good for hills.

I've got a much smaller yard (approx 1/3 acre), and I'm leaning toward either a wide-format walk-behind (30" or 36") or a small riding mower/lawn tractor. The utility of any rider will depend on me making modifications to our landscaping to make possible to do a lot less to-and-fro-ing.

It might be a good investment to call a yard service up and tell them you need your lawn done one time--see what equipment they use where, and what they charge. Be aware that some of the pro equipment can do things the residential models can't. And after you see what they charge, maybe it will make it easier to plunk down more money for a nicer machine.
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Old 07-19-2015, 07:09 PM   #9
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I never mowed grass in my life until my 30s. Started on a cub cadet riding mower. Live on 4 acres. Love my JD zero turn. I have no idea about the horsepower or anything else. SO handles maintenance/ sharpening blade. But I love to mow. Great piece of equipment. Took me two try's to really master it.


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Old 07-19-2015, 07:45 PM   #10
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About 15 years ago I bought a Husquvarna front deck mower. Not a ZTR but would leave a 4" patch. This was one of the Swedish models, not the typical model sold today. Probably only spent a couple hundred on repairs/maintenance over the years cutting my 1.6 acre flat yard. Great mower, gave it to my BIL when we sold the house. He's still using it.
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:03 PM   #11
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Love my zero turn and mine can do hills and embankments. There is a learning curve to operating, after my second or third time operating my husband said I was as good as the lawn guys. If you're thinking of buying, try one first. Mine is a Simplicity, 23 horse.
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:39 PM   #12
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My 48" Toro zero turn mower will mow 2x that of the $1500 generic Home Depot/Lowes lawn tractors. First time I drove it down the hill in my back yard, I went off in the woods and had to tow it out with my old Honda mower.

I've had to develop a technique to mow my hilly back yard--mowing uphill and on diagonals. I avoid pointing the nose of the mower downhill.

But it's still much more fun than lawn tractors despite costing $1K-$1.5K more.

The best value in consumer and industrial models continues to be the Hustlers. They're built like tanks with fully welded mower decks--not stamped.
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Old 07-19-2015, 10:48 PM   #13
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I have the JD X304. While not "zero turn", it is all wheel steering. Fairly simple to operate and can easily turn around a small tree. I noticed when I stepped up from normal, low end tractor, the all wheel steering mower took me from 2.5 hour to ~ 1 hour to do my lot (just under 1 acre. Also, when looking at John Deere, go to a tractor supply house. There's a big difference between what they sell and what the box stores sell.
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Old 07-20-2015, 11:51 AM   #14
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Recommend the Toro 5010. Great mower



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Old 07-20-2015, 06:30 PM   #15
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Subscribed. I have about 3 hilly acres to mow. Bought a cheap used lawn tractor to try. It's ok for the hills but slow going even in top gear. Considering a ZTR mower

What price range are you in for an entry commercial model ? 2k ? 3k ?

I am told Dixie Chopper is an excellent product.
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:57 AM   #16
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Subscribed. I have about 3 hilly acres to mow. Bought a cheap used lawn tractor to try. It's ok for the hills but slow going even in top gear. Considering a ZTR mower

What price range are you in for an entry commercial model ? 2k ? 3k ?

I am told Dixie Chopper is an excellent product.
I have exactly 1 acre of ground (including house footprint). Takes me right around 50 minutes on my lawn tractor. While a ZTR is neat, I couldn't justify spending double what I did on a good Husqvarna model from Lowe's 2 1/2 years ago. It's a 46" (I think) cut, turning radius about 18". I have a few trees, but don't see much time savings compared to a ZTR. With a ZTR I might shave off, what, 5 minutes (if that?) from my cutting time. Not worth it to me to spend double! (I paid roughly $1,700 for mine, plus tax). Plus, it's a pretty wide 46" cut.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_521687-63311...=50119839&Ntt=

I did spend a bit more to go with an automatic transmission, so I can keep the pedal floored most of the time, and quickly slow down/speed up as need be. But that was about as much as I wanted to spend for a lawn tractor, given my yard size.
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:30 PM   #17
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MooreBonds, I cut my older neighbors lawn when I'm doing mine. He keeps telling me to use my zero turn and not get out my push mower for his. It takes more time to mow his with the zero turn because of his small odd shaped lot, 3 long rain down spouts that are nailed down and you have to move and trees, trees, trees. So sometimes a zero turn doesn't pay.
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Old 07-27-2015, 03:40 PM   #18
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I mow 2.2 acres with about 150 trees and some slopes, but nothing major. The zero-turn maneuvers easily around all the trees and greatly reduces the need for trimming afterward. I can mow the whole 2.2 acres in about 1.5 hours. I also use it to grind up leaves in the Fall. No raking here.

I have a Ferris IS 1500Z, which is a commercial machine with a 48" deck, 21HP Kawasaki engine, and independent suspension for a very smooth ride. I've had it for 11 years and do all maintenance and repairs myself. I think I paid $5600 for it in 2004. Back then, there weren't a lot of good choices for consumer-class ZTRs. I'm very happy with the Ferris, but it is probably more machine than I need.

Controlling a ZTR is quite intuitive after a few practice runs. By the time I finished mowing my 2.2 acres for the first time, I wasn't even thinking about it. Eleven years later, the steering levers are like an extension of my hands and brain.
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Old 07-30-2015, 10:49 PM   #19
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Zero turn mowers are definetly the way to go. I had a homeowner grade riding lawnmower that I cut about 2.5 acres with. It was slow, hard to maneuver around trees and other obstacles and I spent a lot of time (and money) repairing it.

Following the old saying "buy quality, buy once" I invested in a commercial quality Walker model C zero turn mower with a 54" deck. Walkers are a bit different than the usual zero turn in several ways. Steering is done with 2 fingers instead of 2 arms and the front mounted deck flips up for easy cleaning (I do it after every use). All belts are easy access and can be changed without tools. It turns faster than I can, cuts pretty steep slopes safely and has been as dependable as a blacksmith's anvil.

It has been a good investment. In 14 years of use I have replaced the original battery (lasted 8 years), 3 starter solenoids (the last one I remounted on the frame instead of the engine to escape the heat, seems to have solved the problem), a safety circuit relay ($3) and a throttle cable after I kinked it. The blades (resharpened about twice per season), spindles, belts, tires and everything else are all original.

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