John Deere Zero Turn Mowers
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since our spring 2021 update, zero-turn riding lawn mowers are hard to come by. A few of our top choices are sold out or take weeks to ship.
Are you in a rush? We recommend checking the John Deere riding lawn mowers selection at Home Depot and picking an in-stock model. John Deere is a classic American brand, best known for its quality farm equipment, but its mowers are just as well-built and durable. The Z515E is our best value pick for residential use, but these machines are also great for heavy-duty commercial jobs.
If you have a large estate or happen to run a commercial landscaping business, investing in the best zero turn mowers is one of the smartest moves you can make. These cutting-edge lawn mowers can save you time, by being more effective than standard riding lawn mowers, and money, because they are more fuel-efficient than older mowers as well. Zero turn mowers are also more fun to use!
So here they are, our top choices.
Backyard Boss Best 7 Zero Turn Mowers for 2021
|Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1||
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|Ryobi 48V Electric Zero Turn Mower||
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|Ariens Ikon X52||
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|Z-Beast Zero Turn Commercial Mower||
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|John Deere Z515E||
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Why You Can Trust Us
It has been years ago, back in the 1990s, that I first hopped onto a zero turn mower and zipped across my aunt and uncle’s horse field. I must have been 12 or 13 years old at the time, and zero turn mowers were pretty much brand new in the area. Everyone who had a smaller riding mower wanted one, and for good reason. Not only do they cut quicker and lower than many mowers, but they also move as much as 2 or 3 mph faster than the average riding mower. Steering is different as well, which takes a bit of time to adjust to but is a welcome change to standard steering wheels. I will never forget the times I cut the grass in that horse field. Those were the only occasions that I ever used a zero turn machine. I was, however, around them for quite some time while I worked in the landscaping industry.
Best for Residential
Whether you are looking to upgrade to a new mower for cutting your lawn, or for maintaining the property with your professional lawn care service, Cub Cadets Ultima ZT1 should be the first zero turn machine you look at. This mower seems to have it all and do it all. Strapped with an impressive twin-cylinder OHV motor produced by Kawasaki, the engine on this mower is exactly the sort used in professional mowers. Regardless of what sort of terrain you are cutting, this thing has the power to maneuver it with ease. Likewise, the commercial-grade dual hydrostatic rear-wheel transmission makes short work of turns and straight-aways alike, even on rough terrain.
The frame is equally of commercial quality, built with strong 2-inch by 2-inch tubular steel. The lower frame is finished with a full e-coat and corrosion guard. The ride is a comfortable one as well, with high-back seats that include a suspension system built right in. Safety is also figured into this machine design, with a durable seatbelt and strong lap bar. The high lift deck is heavy-duty, constructed from 11-gauge fabricated triple-blade steel. You operate the height of your cutting via a foot control for the deck. Grass cutting settings range from 1-inch to 4.5-inches. That means you get a professional-looking cut, with less work than using a regular riding mower.
What We Like: The Ultima ZT1 really does seem like the ultimate in zero turn mowers, especially for residential mowing. Everything about it is top-notch, from frame to advanced features like the electronic fingertip blade engagement PTO, or dual LED headlights. It also has a Cub Cadet lifetime warranty.
Who Should Buy This: If you have more than an acre to mow, this machine could be a smart investment. Or, if you run a commercial landscaping or lawn care business, it could be a great addition to your fleet of mowers. At any rate, it can save you time, money, and produce a more precise cut.
Best for First-Time Zero Turn Owners
As the name suggests, our second pick could definitely save you some time out there cutting your grass. This easy-to-use zero turn machine allows you superior control over your mowing speed whether mowing, trimming, or backing-up. It has a robust motor, heavy-duty deck, and durable frame as well. The mower also comes with lots of extra features like a cupholder, storage space for phone, keys, and even your lunch.
Built for quickly and easily managing grass cutting jobs of up to four acres, the TimeCutter from Toro doesn’t just save you time on cutting the grass though, it also saves you time on maintaining the mower itself. There are no tools necessary for removing the belt cover, unlike most zero turn mowers. That means clean-up is a breeze. Even more, you are covered by a three-year warranty.
What We Like: The TimeCutter is produced by a manufacturer with over 100 years of experience in producing similar products. That says a lot about how well this thing is made. Additionally, we like the fact that it has a powerful Kawasaki engine for plenty of HP and RPM.
Who Should Buy This: Those looking to reduce the amount of time they spend out in the sun cutting their grass, especially those with more than an acre or two to cut, would do well to consider this time-saving machine for their next lawn care equipment purchase.
Best for Hills and Rough Terrain
Weighing in at 770 pounds, with a deck radius of 61 massive inches, the MZ61 from Husqvarna is a champion grass cutter, especially where hills and rough terrain are concerned. Not only does this machine make short work of uneven grounds, but it allows you to do it in absolute comfort. The machine is commercial-grade in every aspect, including its big 27 HP Briggs and Stratton motor and comfortable armrests and highback seats.
Deck adjustments are quick and painless, lowering or raising the deck and blades right from the driver’s seat. Whether cutting your own lawn, mowing the back-forty, or doing residential lawn care work, the MZ61 has the ability to save you additional time with its nine-bushel triple-bag clippings collection system. Even more, if you want to throw in a few more dollars you can also purchase and install a mulching kit onto this bad boy.
What We Like: This mower is top-of-the-line in almost every way. It has a wide deck, with an ergonomic design, that makes cutting grass on hills, slopes, and uneven ground a breeze. It is also capable of mulching or bagging clippings, which is a nice bonus for both residential and commercial use.
Who Should Buy This: Is your home sitting on a slope? Or, does your commercial lawn care business maintain lots of hilly and uneven properties? If so, few models offer the reliable performance of the MZ61 from Husqvarna.
Best Electric Battery Powered
Hands-down the most impressive electric zero turn mower currently available for residential use, the Ryobi 48 V is no push-over. Rather than a gas-guzzling engine, this unit runs on four high-powered brushless motors. The motors are powered by long-lasting Leoch LPC12-100 Ah batteries. That means you can mow up to three full acres per charge. Even more, there is very little maintenance required to keep this beast running right. Pretty impressive right?
The 42-inch heavy-duty steel-reinforced deck houses a pair of high-quality precision-cut steel blades. Looking for a mower with a wide range of cutting heights and angles? There are twelve positions for manually adjusting this machine’s deck. The mower is designed with a side discharge for clippings, but there is a bagger accessory available for purchase as well. To top it all off, this electric mower comes with advanced features and conveniences. It has LED headlights, has an easy-access panel for charging, is equipped with a USB charger, power per hour reading, and a battery level indicator, just to name a few benefits.
What We Like: This fully electric machine is capable of everything gas-powered mowers can do; minus the gas. But, it does need to be charged regularly. That said, we love that there are no filters, spark plugs, or belts that will ever need changing.
Who Should Buy This: If you’re looking for alternatives to gas-powered mowers, this electric model from RYOBI is worth your attention. It’s the only battery-powered mower we recommend because it gets very close to the power and convenience of a gas-based zero turn mower.
Best With Floating Deck
If it’s a trusty grass cutter with a floating deck and zero turn capabilities that you are after, you need not look further than the Ariens Ikon X52. This big boy is built tough, with an all-welded tubular steel frame (no bolts!) and 11-gauge steel fab deck with a four-point hanging system, which is far more stable and stronger than most. It is easily one of the most heavy-duty residential units available. The motor is made by Kawasaki and is designed with cast iron cylinders, which means it could last for decades if properly cared for.
The deck is wide enough for any residential use and at the same time is big enough for most commercial jobs as well. It is also comfortable, with padded control arms and a highback seat and armrests. That means the pilot deals with fewer vibrations than with other mowers. In addition, the ride is even smoother thanks to the Twin EZT hydrostatic transaxles. And, if you live near an Ariens dealership, you can order white glove service where the professionals come help you get your mower ready for use and even teach you how to operate it.
What We Like: Most residential machines lack the commercial features that this mower comes with, making it a convenient choice for homeowners that want the best. We also love the “white glove” delivery option that is available, rather than choosing to receive a standard unassembled unit.
Who Should Buy This: For uneven lawns, few zero turn mowers would do a better job cutting the grass evenly than the Ariens IKON X52. Likewise, landscapers and lawn care specialists that service hilly terrain should consider this zero turn model.
Best for Commercial or Large Estates
If you run a commercial lawn mowing service or have a large estate to maintain, let us introduce you to our top pick for the best zero turn mower for commercial-sized jobs: the Z-Beast. Equipped with an enormous 62-inch deck, you won’t find many machines with an equivalent cutting radius unless you forget zero turn mowers and turn to tractors or bush hogs. Powered by a powerful Briggs and Stratton professional-series engine, and constructed with heavy gauge steel, the Z-beast is truly built for some serious grass cutting and can take a beating.
One of the most impressive features of this mower is its top speed of 12 mph. Likewise, the quick-adjust floating deck is also nothing to ignore. The deck allows for cutting lengths of 1.5-inches to 5-inches. Big 22-inch by 10-inch rear tires and 15-inch by 6-inch front tires make sure you have more than enough traction to get the job done, regardless of the terrain. And, where maintenance is concerned, even though it does require regular upkeep, the parts on this machine are genuinely high-end and won’t need replacing nearly as fast as the parts on most mowers.
What We Like: This mower is built to be a heavy-duty commercial powerhouse, with speeds of 12 mph, a 25 HP Briggs and Stratton pro-series motor, one of the largest decks available, and massive torque. Yet, it is affordable enough that you don’t need to have a company credit card to buy one.
Who Should Buy This: If you own a vast amount of property or run a business that manages large pieces of land, this machine could be just the investment you need to make to increase overall productivity and reduce the amount of time spent on each job.
Best Value Option / Best for the Money
Built in the USA, John Deere tractors are famous world-wide. In fact, I have seen them in use as far away as the farmland of Eastern Europe! The Z515E may not exactly be a tractor, but it is built with expertise and comes with all the prestige of the manufacturer. When it comes to a classic mower, that is sure to last for a long time and give the fewest issues possible, this could be the one for you. Equipped with a signature John Deere V-Twin ELS engine, it has plenty of power for residential mowing and even works great as a commercial workhorse as well.
It has a larger than average fuel tank for increased mowing time, and wide 22-inch rear tires for better traction out there in the grass. The body is constructed with a welded steel frame and heavy-duty parts, which means it can handle the bumpiest terrain with ease. There are also 13 settings for adjusting the cutting height, which makes it great for cutting grass on just about any sort of terrain. That said, the control levers are easy to operate at any time right from the driver’s seat making quick and precise adjustments possible at any time.
What We Like: What isn’t to like about this machine? It comes with a bigger gas tank, a wider deck, and an impressive 24 HP V-Twin ELS signature John Deere engine. Another thing we like is the two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty with an option for an upgrade to a four-year warranty.
Who Should Buy This: Those who are looking for the most bang for their buck should consider this John Deere mower. Not only is the machine itself top-notch, and produced by one of the most famous equipment manufacturers in the world, but the service that comes with the mower is unmatched. For example, if you order online, John Deere delivers your mower to the location of your choice and even teaches you how to operate it.
About Zero Turn Mowers
If you have a really big yard or a lot of landscaping to cut around, a zero turn mower makes the job quicker and easier. Likewise, they are the preferred commercial-grade tool of professional landscapers and lawn care professionals. Let’s have a closer look at what a zero turn mower is and why they are better than other mowers, below.
Who created the zero turn mower?
Max Swisher created the first zero turn mower way back in 1955. It was called the “Ride King,” and was a front-wheel-drive mower with a single front wheel enabling it the ability to turn 360-degrees. Decades into producing the machine, Swisher discontinued the model due to engineering issues with the motor and pulley systems. However, they have recently reintroduced a new and improved version.
Zero turn mowers have advanced in many ways since their invention almost three-quarters of a century ago. Today, they are not simply riding mowers, now they can be a stand-on or walk-behind mower as well. The signature feature that makes a machine zero turn is its ability to turn on a dime. The turn radius is practically zero, hence the name. This is possible due to how each of the mower’s wheels is individually controlled by handles, rather than a single steering wheel.
When is a zero turn mower a better option than other mowers?
The major advantages of zero turn mowers compared to standard riding mowers and lawn tractors lie in their ability to move faster and generally out-maneuver the latter. The forward mowing deck, rather than having a deck mounted beneath the machine, as most riding mowers have, could also be considered as a significant advantage. This type of deck allows the machine to move around obstacles and easily mow spots regular mowers and tractors have trouble reaching.
Who should get it?
Not everyone needs a zero turn mower. If mowing the lawn takes more than a half-hour, involves more than half an acre, or takes place on more than one property, a zero turn mower will help reduce the time and effort of your lawn care routine. In addition, if you are working on less than half an acre, but have loads of flower beds and other landscaping to cut around, a zero turn machine could be a big help. Just keep in mind that it will not completely do away with the need for some weed eating with a string trimmer. There is also the factor of where/how to store it during the winter. If you don’t have the proper space, you may need to invest in a heavy-duty tarp or cover.
Features to Look for in a Zero Turn Mower
Before you run out to HomeDepot or Lowes and buy the same zero turn mower that your uncle Jim has, there are a few features you should keep in mind while shopping for the right one for you.
How well a mower fires up when you go to turn it on is a huge factor. Of course, any brand new zero turn mower is going to start right up. But, how will it function after several hours of use? What about after a couple of years? Pay attention to the sort of starter that your new mower comes with, preferably it will be an electronic ignition with a push-button.
The top speed a mower is capable of is another important factor. And, even though zero turn mowers already save you time by how precise they can turn and start new paths, you don’t want a model that your kids can outrun you on with their Powerwheels. Sure, you aren’t investing in a new zero turn for racing, but if you have a lot of ground to cover while mowing you will want something that at least moves faster than your pet turtle. The good thing is that most zero turn machines are capable of at least five or six mph, whereas regular riding mowers tend to top out around three or four mph.
Yep, you read that right. Whether or not your new zero turn will include a cupholder is a pretty deal to some folks. Chances are, if you are thinking of buying one of these mowers, you probably have a lot of mowing to do. And, in that case, a cupholder is perfect for keeping that bottle of water or a cup of coffee within reach.
The size of the path that a mower can cut is one of the most significant considerations to think about before picking one. Likewise, how high or low the blades can reach is equally crucial. These factors determine how long it will take you to mow any given area. If you have more than a couple of acres to care for, the wider the path it cuts the better. Further, the more adjustable the height of the blades are the more versatile types of ground you will be able to safely cut.
How well a mower can cut through wet grass may seem like a silly consideration to take into account while shopping, but it is a critical one. Especially if you are working in the lawn care industry or prefer to mow your yard early in the morning before the dew dries. This fact also determines whether or not you will need to stop working and take a break while it rains, or if you will be able to power on through the job.
While mowing wet lawn is never ideal, should you ever have to do, follow the tips from Spartan Mowers.
The deck size goes a long way in dictating how wide and high/low the mower can cut. It also determines how thick the grass can be, as well as if you can cut shrubs, tall weeds, and saplings or not.
The type and size of the engine a mower is equipped with is the single most indicator of how much power it has. That said, the maker of the engine also says a lot in itself. Briggs and Stratton, Kawasaki, and Kohler are the top three engine brands to look for in your new mower if you are looking for a high-quality and long-lasting machine.
How We Picked
Picking the best zero turn mowers to share with our audience was a bit of a challenge, even for the experts over here at BYB. We started by making a list of important features that the best zero turn mowers should come with, including high-quality construction and components, a powerful motor, high-end blades, a versatile range of extras, and of course a wide deck.
The next thing we did was take a look at some of the most well-known and reliable brands in the industry, like Cub Cadet, Toro, Husqvarna, and John Deere. After gathering a list of the best mower manufacturers, in general, we looked at each zero turn model they produce. Our focus was on residential-friendly units, however, we did include a couple of units that are geared towards commercial use.
Which Zero Turn Mower Is Best for You?
A robotic mower is no small investment, but if you have your heart set on one, you had better pick one of the best models available for the amount of money. It should be well suited for your yard size and all your other specific needs. Likewise, for the thousand dollars or more that you will be spending, it should come with all of the advanced features you really want.
Our top pick is the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1. Not only does it have all of the bells and whistles, a powerful motor, a long-lasting battery, and easily adjustable mowing heights, but it comes with a solid warranty and customer service, too. Further, it may be geared towards residential use, but it works as a commercial mower in a pinch as well.