Many people are often staggered about the amount of grass commercial landscapers can mow in a day. Their secret? The zero turn lawn mower. For the grass cutting professional investing in a zero turn radius mower means that they can massively increase their productivity. For the homeowner with a huge yard to mow such a machine will drastically slash the amount of time they spend cutting their lawn, as well as making the whole process easier.
People switching from traditional lawn tractors are often shocked at what a zero turn mower brings to the table. Their speed, along with their inherent ability to turn on a dime, means many lawns can be cut in half the time.
In terms of speed, residential mowers are typically slower than commercial zero turn lawn mowers. Homeowner oriented models will still cut much faster than lawn tractors though, and are ideal for the average, largish yard. They allow the owner to spend more time enjoying his or her lawn, and less time maintaining it. Commercial versions, on the other hand, deliver much higher speeds and are perfect for tackling major grass cutting work. The increase in productivity from speed alone is a major reason for their widespread adoption by professional landscapers.
There is no hiding the fact that zero turn mowers can be pricey. They should, however be seen as an investment. Like any other investment it’s important to investigate your options before buying.
Most people will have a budget in mind before they contact a dealer or look into buying a used zero turn mower. The size of this budget determines the options available to potential buyers. ZTR mowers aimed at the homeowner generally fall in the $3000-6000 price bracket. These mowers, although perfectly adequate for the average flat, large, residential lawn, lack the features and durability typically found in more expensive mowers aimed at the commercial market.
Some dealers will bring demonstration mowers to your property so you can test them. This is a particularly good idea if your yard features challenging terrain such as a yard with a lot of slopes or obstacles such as trees. Sometimes it’s good to see exactly how well the prospective mower can meet your needs without having to rely on specifications provided by the dealer or manufacturer.
The homeowner can often find a great deal on a used commercial zero turn mower if they are not happy with the features typically found on residential mowers. Like any other piece of used power equipment though, a used mower needs to be thoroughly investigated before purchase to avoid getting a lemon.
Durability is key when choosing a zero turn mower. Commercial mowers are packed with highly durable components designed for hard everyday use. If we take decks as an example, they will usually be made from pieces of heavy gauge steel which has been welded together. Such decks are designed to stand up to years of use on rough terrain. In comparison, residential mowers will typically feature stamped decks made from much thinner gauge steel. Such decks are perfectly fine for the average residential lawn, but won’t stand up to heavy use on rougher terrain.
Engines will also vary a lot in power and reliability. The engines fitted to the less expensive residential mowers won’t last long if called upon to tackle harder work. Such mowers are typically fitted with single cylinder engines. Frequent maintenance would almost be an inevitably if tasking such an engine with hard commercial work. On the other hand those aimed at the commercial landscaper are usually fitted with twin-cylinder engines which are more powerful and able to cope with the demands of a hardworking landscaping crew.
There is also no point buying a zero turn mower if you are not comfortable on it. Homeowners with huge yards to mow will spend several hours a week at least in their mowers, so comfort is key. Comfort is even more important for people who will spend their working day in the seat of such a machine. Luckily, manufacturers have put a lot of effort into improving user comfort in recent years. Some mowers (such as many mid-mount offerings from Ferris) offer full suspension and floating decks. Front-cut models are also renowned for offering extremely smooth rides.
In recent years great strides have also been made in improving the ergonomic design of zero turn radius mowers. Manufacturers, such as John Deere, have made great advances in developing controls that are user-friendly and comfortable to use over prolonged periods of time. Advancements such as these have reduced operator fatigue levels, and led to productivity gains.