Apr 20

What Is a Zero Turn Mower?

With the advancement in technology, mowers have become better and better over the years. At present, both professional gardeners and home owners can take advantage of the zero turn mower. This type was actually invented and introduced to the market in the 1960’s but it is still one of the most efficient and versatile.

Let me introduce you to the zero turn lawn mower in greater detail. For the purpose, I will use my knowledge and experience as a professional gardener in California. In general, the more you know about these and other machines for cutting grass the better choice you will be able to make as a buyer.

Zero Turn Mower

The Basics

The zero turn mower is a riding mower with rotary blade operation. The special thing about it is that it has a turning radius of zero inches. Turning radius is the smallest circular turn that a vehicle can make. Put more simply, this type of machine rotates itself about its z-axis (vertical axis).

This particular operation mandates the integration of special features into the zero turn lawn mower. Similarly, the machine gets capabilities which its counterparts do not have. Since the special technology has to do with the movement of the machine, its major components such as cutting system, clippings disposal system and engine are similar to those of its counterparts from other types.

How It Works

There are different systems with which enable the zero turn mower to spin around its vertical axis. However, the most widely used one is the hydraulic speed control system operating each wheel separately. You will certainly understand how this system works when I explain this in greater detail.

The zero turn lawn mower has four wheels just like all of its riding counterparts. The front ones are fairly small and they have a swiveling function. The rear ones have a driving function. While the front wheels provide for setting the direction of the mower the rear ones provide for its turning and for its propelling into the desired direction.

The independent hydraulic speed control system actually controls the rear drive wheels instead of the front swiveling ones. As a result, each one of the wheels rotates independently. They can rotate in opposite directions. It all depends on the input which you provide while operating the lawn mower.

There are different ways in which the zero turn mower can actually turn depending on the movement of the wheels. If the machine pivots around the axis midway between the two drive wheels, this is the classic zero turn which can be in either direction. The machine can also pivot around each one of the wheels if the other remains stationary. This gives you greater versatility when it comes to setting the cutting path. The machine can make circles of any radius without particular effort on the part of the driver. If both rear wheels rotate in reverse, the mower will travel backwards.


The zero turn mower is the most maneuverable of all. I am certain that you have guessed this after reading about how it works. It can pivot around 180 degrees and make circles of any radius. This means that it can cut the grass around any object effectively even if it is a pole stuck into the ground. If you have a lawn with lots of obstacles, you should certainly get such a machine. It will produce perfectly even lawn without the use of additional tools such as a grass trimmer and without any effort on your part.

It is easy to set the mower running on a straight path. You can also have it turned into the opposite direction instantly to go over the same path again, if this is necessary. This saves you massive amount of time and effort.


Due to the specifics of its operation, the zero turn mower has two levers for operation rather than the standard steering wheel found in its riding counterparts. I find it really interesting that operating the levers does not seem strange at all. It is actually quite easy and fun.

The levers are sufficiently large and in most models they are with ergonomic design. They are positioned right above your lap so they are easy to reach and to operate without much effort. If you push both levers forward, the machine will move forward. Similarly, by pulling them backwards it will go in a backward direction. If you push just the left lever, the machine will turn left. If you push just the right one, it will go right.

The other features of the zero turn lawn mower do not vary from those of its riding counterparts. You can drive the machine at different speeds while the rotary blade works to cut the grass evenly. You can expect the cutting swatch of a zero turn model to be quite large. Many models come with 3-in-1 system for clippings disposal which offers mulching, bagging and side discharge. You can select between models with petrol and diesel engines.

A Final Word

Now you know everything about the zero turn lawn mower so you can readily make a buying decision.

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