A zero-turn mower is capable of mowing almost twice as fast as a conventional ride-on mower, making it very suitable for mowing large lawns. However, zero-turn mowers achieve their quick efficiency by using a non-traditional steering and propulsion system that can confuse untrained operators. Spending time in the driver’s seat is the most effective way to overcome bewilderment, but knowing a few tips is also helpful.
Professionals who work on large areas of flat lawns often use zero-turn mowers. You will see them on golf courses, schools, and playgrounds. If you have hours of grass to mow, a zero-turn mower will help you get it done faster.
Traditional mowers are built differently from zero-turn mowers. With a traditional lawnmower, the engine is in the front and the steering is similar to driving a car. It has directional and brake pedals and a steering wheel. Zero-turn lawn mowers use levers instead of a wheel, and the motor is in the back, which might sound odd, but it provides better visibility of the ground in front of you.
Why use a zero-turn mower?
If you haven’t purchased the mower yet, you might be curious as to why zero-turn models are such a good choice.
Well, here are a few reasons to consider:
They move with precision to deliver precise cuts and get a level lawn anywhere.
Provide maximum visibility when working so you can mow with maximum precision.
Move quickly and cut efficiently to reduce cutting time over large areas.
The smooth steering allows maximum versatility around trees and other obstacles.
You can attach all kinds of accessories to make mowing much easier and more enjoyable.
While a zero-turn mower is one of the most expensive you can get, it’s worth considering buying one.
How to use a zero turn mower
If you are wondering how to use a zero-turn mower, come on! If you own a ZRT or are looking to buy one, you probably know that cutting bushes, trees, flower beds, etc. on your lawn, will be surprisingly simple.
At first, you may feel a bit of frustration as you learn the basics. But if you commit to practicing, you’ll be easily browsing your property in no time. Probably the hardest part of Operation ZRT is making zero turns without destroying the turf in the process.
How to operate a zero-turn lawn mower?
Now is the time to dive into our main program. So, after checking the above items, you are ready to ride a zero-turn mower. Follow these steps.
Find an area large enough to practice driving before you start mowing. Practice makes perfect and its importance cannot be overstated with this mower. Since most of its components will be a new experience for most lawnmowers, it is advisable to train properly and feel comfortable driving it.
- Sit on the mower seat and get ready to start.
Adjust the control arms and leave them in a comfortable position. Typically, they will lean left and right from the center of the mower.
If your model has the ability to adjust the neutral position, do so appropriately based on your height. This allows you to be in a comfortable position while cutting.
- Grasp the control arms and move them back and forth. This gives you an idea of the movement of the machine. If you release the pressure on your arms, they will return to a neutral position.
Push them forward to move the machine forward.
Push them back to reverse the mower.
Practice a bit before continuing.
- At this point, do the following in order:
Apply the parking brake and slowly release the clutch.
Pull out the choke knob, if it is there.
Move the throttle forward.
Turn the key to start the engine. Once it has turned, follow these steps.
- Push the control arms forward and forward to start the mower to move in a straight line.
If you are turning left, extend your left arm to compensate and vice versa. Ideally, the control arm pushed forward will accelerate the mower on that side.
- For a straight cut, spin the wheels at the same speed.
For left and right turns, advance the opposite control levers or release the control on the side you wish to turn. Be patient with yourself and practice as much as possible to improve your leadership skills.
- Pull the control arms back to reverse the mower. Do this at a lower engine speed. As you will notice, the further you advance the control arms, the faster you will travel.
- Familiarize yourself with the width and path of the mower deck in relation to the drive wheels and the dump angle of the blade. As you will notice, sharp turns can suddenly lock the mower deck against an obstacle. Endeavor to cut the widest paths and allow the mower’s position to line up with the previous cut.
- Enjoy the harvest. In the hope that you are now familiar with these basic zero-turn lawn mower controls, pull out the mower control (button) to activate the blades and start mowing.
The first time you sit down in a zero-turn model, you will find that the riding position is different from that of a lawnmower.
While a riding mower has the engine in the front and a flywheel, the zero-turn mower has the engine in the rear and two steering levers replace the flywheel.
Wheels and steering
On a conventional ride-on mower, the machine can swivel sideways up to 60 degrees. But with a zero-turn mower, you can do a full 180-degree turn without a problem.
This happens because lawnmowers have a rear-drive system with a steering system that controls all four wheels. In contrast, zero-turn mowers have a rear-wheel-drive motor, but the wheels are driven independently with each lever.
Accelerator and brakes
To speed up a lawnmower, you must use the accelerator pedal. If you want to stop, also use the brake pedal.
But for a zero-turn lawn mower, it doesn’t use any pedals at all. Instead, use the steering levers. Pushing both forward will speed up the mower. Pull them back and the mower will reverse. And if you push one forward and the other backward, the machine will turn to the side you pushed.
Size and speed
Most riding mowers reach a deck size of 40 to 50 inches, so their cutting area tends to be limited. Likewise, they can reach speeds as low as 8 MPH, often staying between 3 and 6 MPH on most models.
But a zero-turn mower can be taller, reaching 60 inches of the overall size of the deck. And it can reach speeds of 9 MPH, sometimes a little more. This means you can cut much faster with a zero-turn mower.