Thanks to a zero-turn radius, wide cutting deck, and higher speed capacity, a zero-turn mower can tackle a large yard in less time than a standard riding lawn mower. “Using a zero-turn mower is one of the fastest ways to get a larger lawn cut,” says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Manufacturers today bring to market zero-turn mower models with features to help homeowners stay comfortable, safe, and productive.”
We've tested over a dozen lawn mowers on our own yards across the country, including walk-behind, gas, electric, riding, and zero-turn options. We put each mower through the paces during three different mowing sessions and evaluated them on set up, design, performance, usability, safety, and value. We also took notes on the weather, size of our lawn, length of grass, time spent mowing, any obstacles in our yard that we needed to navigate around, and more. We also researched the top options across several categories to round out this list. Based on our testing and research, here are the best zero-turn mowers to keep your lawn looking its best.
Ryobi 80V HP Brushless 42 in. Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower
Powerful and easy to drive
Navigates easily around trees and other obstacles
Can cut up to 3 acres per charge with an expandable battery system
12 height settings for a great cut
The best zero-turn mower we tested is the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower. We found that it has everything that you would expect in an electric zero-turn mower: excellent maneuverability around obstacles, relatively quiet operation, and very easy to set up and use. And thanks to the joystick operation, we found it to be intuitive and even fun to drive. Although it is one of the most expensive options on this list, if you have a larger yard, we think it’s worth the price for all its features.
Setting up this mower was a relatively simple process (about 45 minutes). We found the instructions to be easy to follow, and the manufacturer included any necessary tools. After taking it out of the packaging, we just had to attach the seat and the joystick to the mower, install the four batteries and put air in the four tires. The mower was charged enough to drive it out of the metal crate, but after that, we did need to charge it for operation (about 70 minutes to charge two 80-volt batteries to 100 percent).
After the mower was fully charged, we were ready to test out the driving and cutting experience. This model comes with a joystick (Ryobi's iDrive Intelligent Joystick Drive System) instead of lap bars or a steering wheel, so you can go forward, reverse, and turn in any direction with just one hand. If fact, we were able to go from stopped to full speed very quickly. Overall, we found that it required little practice to feel comfortable driving using the joystick. Plus, unlike our previous riding mower, with this zero-turn model, we were able to cut around trees effectively in just one pass. In fact, cutting our half-acre yard used to take about an hour with our previous riding mower (the Troy-Built Pony, 17 HP, 42" deck rider), but this mower took only 35 to 40 minutes each time. We also found adjusting the cutting height to be an easy process. The level allows you to select from 12 different setting heights from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. It also comes with a height-stopping key so you can quickly drop the mowing deck to the cutting height you need. During all of this testing, we found the seat to be comfortable, with a suspension adjustment knob for help handling different terrain.
Although this battery-operated model comes with two 80-volt 10Ah lithium-ion batteries and two 40-volt 12Ah lithium-ion batteries, there’s room for a total of three 80-volt and four 40-volt batteries, for an even longer runtime when you need it. We love that all of these batteries can easily be charged onboard: After making sure all of the batteries are installed, just plug the charging cord into the rear of the mower. (batteries are fully charged in less than 2.5 hours) We also like that the 40-volt batteries are compatible with many other cordless Ryobi tools, so you can always make sure you have batteries charged for your lawn care needs. You can monitor battery life and runtime, as well as control the blade and drive speed and the LED lights on the onboard LCD screen. Also, you can use the RYOBI Riding Mower App to check the battery life before you even head out to mow (although we haven't tested this feature yet).
We do want to note that we originally received a defective mower with an electrical issue, but after very friendly and helpful customer service at Techtronic Industries Company Limited (Ryobi's parent company), we were able to receive a new mower with no issues. Despite this inconvenience, we think this is an excellent zero-turn mower for maintaining your yard.
Price at time of publish: $5,999
Power Type: Lithium batteries | Horsepower: Equivalent to 31 hp | Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 700 pounds | Terrain: Flat with obstacles
Toro TimeCutter 50 inch 24.5 HP Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Handles obstacles quickly and efficiently
Large and easily adjustable cutting deck
Easy to start
May take a few mows to get the hang of the power and controls
Bagging feature sold separately
While testing the Toro TimeCutter Zero Turn Riding Mower, we found it to be an excellent choice for keeping larger yards—especially those with many obstacles to mow around—looking their best. Our testing team member normally spends an hour and a half cutting her half-acre lawn with a self-propelled mower, navigating up a hill and around trees, utility boxes, and a patio. And while testing, this mower truly proved to be a time cutter, as it took her as little as 35 minutes. This gas model has a large three-gallon fuel tank, so you can get the job done without having to worry about running out of gas (or stopping to recharge batteries, as you would with some electric models). After all of our testing, we noted that this mower provided an even cut, and never had to struggle through tall, damp, or thicker areas of grass.
We do want to note that if this is the first time you are using a riding mower, it may take a few times to get the hang of it. Luckily, we didn't have to worry about assembling the mower itself. Purchased from Home Depot, this model from Toro comes with White Glove delivery service, so it was set up for us, and the delivery person even gave us a tutorial on how to use it (although we used the manual for information on what type of gas we needed and maintenance). Once delivered, we could use the mower right away, and this is when it got a bit tricky. Braking, speed, and direction are all controlled by hand, and out of habit, we felt ourselves wanting to use a foot brake. And since the mower has a larger, 50-inch deck, that took a little getting used to as well, especially while making turns. Plus, the grass shooter is on the right side, so the left side is much shorter. This is something we found ourselves having to plan ahead for when maneuvering around trees and edges. By the third mow, we got used to the controls and felt more comfortable making turns and going down a slope. We also found that it took a few times to get the seat adjustment just right, but after changing the seat suspension, we felt more comfortable.
Although there was a learning curve with driving the mower, we found adjusting the cutting height to be very easy to do, especially compared to our self-propelled mower. We just had to press the lever with our foot and then adjust the height lever with our hand, moving through the options—between 1.5 and 4.5 inches—quite easily. We also found starting the mower to be as simple as turning a key. While it did take a bit of time to get used to the power of the mower, adjusting the power was simple, with fun but clear speed settings (turtle for slow, tractor for medium, and rabbit for fast). Although we didn’t test the bagging feature (sold separately), we did find the mower shot the grass clippings far away from where we were mowing, which was very welcome. Overall, we think this zero-turn mower is an excellent time-saving option, especially for large yards (up to 4 acres) with a lot of obstacles, and is well worth the time spent getting used to the controls and power.
Price at time of publish: $4,599
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 24.5 hp | Cutting Width: 50 inches | Weight: 694 pounds | Terrain: Mainly flat
Cub Cadet Ultima Series ZT1 42 in. 22HP Zero-Turn Mower
Makes smooth turns
Cuts thick, tall grass well
Reverse mowing feature
Controls take a few times to get used to
The Cub Cadet Ultima Series Kohler V-Twin Zero Mower has many of the same features as other options on our list at a more affordable price, including excellent maneuverability, and a great cut. Like many of the riding mowers we tested, it did take us some time to get comfortable driving and using the controls (in this case, lap bars). But by the second time testing, we found it to be easy to navigate around the many obstacles in the yard (street signs, fire hydrants, utility boxes, and trees) and control the speed. Thanks to the 15 different cutting heights (from 1 to 4.5 inches), we were happy with the results and found that it even tackled thick, tall, overgrown grass in one area of our lawn, with no issues (and without leaving thick clumps).
The setup process took around 30 minutes: We removed the gas mower from the crate (unscrewing 28 screws and cutting the zip ties connecting the mower to the pallets), installed the seat, plugged in a battery, and added gas. It did take us a bit of time to figure out how to find the choke since it was in a different location than our previous mower (John Deere X300 22 HP, 42" Deck Rider). We also found that the instructions didn't provide a clear picture of where it was located. But after we figured out where the choke was and how to start it, it started right away. Similar to the Toro TimeCutter Zero Turn Riding Mower, we found it easy to change the cutting heights, and it even had two of the same fun illustrations to indicate speed: turtle for slow and rabbit for fast (although controlling the speed is different on this model, and you have two options for doing so).
We also noted that the mower made a rattling noise during use, although that didn't affect the performance. And after we refilled the gas, we weren't able to turn it back on. A neighbor helped us discover that although the connection to the positive part of the battery was tight enough to turn the lights on, it didn't provide another power to start the mower. Once we tightened the connection, the mower started with no issues. This Cub Cadet model has a slightly larger gas tank (3.5 gallons versus the Toro's 3-gallon tank) and is also available in an electric version, the ZT1 42E, which we have not tested, but has many of the same features, according to the manufacturer.
Price at time of publish: $3,499
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 22 hp | Cutting Width: 42 inches | Weight: 580 pounds | Terrain: Hilly
Best for Hills
John Deere Z330R ZTrak Mower
Ideal for mowing hills and slopes
Excellent traction and control
Reverse mowing feature
Padded seat and armrests
Requires regular gas refills
This commercial lawn mower from John Deere has air-filled pneumatic tires with deep treads, which provide excellent traction on rough and hilly terrain. It’s available with a 48- or 54-inch cutting deck, with the latter being ideal for yards larger than four acres in size. The triple-blade, flat-top design delivers a clean cut even on uneven ground. Despite its hefty weight of over 600 pounds, the John Deere Z330R is easy to control and maneuver. It has a forward speed of up to 7 MPH and a maximum reverse speed of 3.5 MPH.
Both the seat and armrests are padded for a comfortable riding experience. There are also shock absorbers under the seat to provide a smoother ride on rougher terrain. The fuel tank has a generous three-gallon capacity, and it’s translucent, so you can easily monitor fuel levels. Other convenient features, including LED lights, front bumper, and rear hitch, come standard on this model. As with all gas-powered mowers, the ongoing fuel costs, emissions, and maintenance can be a potential drawback.
Price at time of publish: $3,999
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 23 hp | Cutting Width: 48 or 54 inches | Weight: 611 or 623 pounds | Terrain: Hills and slopes
Best for Large Yards
EGO Power+ 52” Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower
Can mow yards up to 4 acres on a single charge
10 different cutting heights
Although it is not a gas mower, this electric zero-turn mower from Ego can cut up to four acres on a single charge, an acre more than our Best Overall pick by Ryobi. However, with its expandable battery system, you can even add more batteries so that you can mow 7 acres or more at a time (according to the manufacturer). The included batteries can be fully charged in less than four hours, so you can have them ready for the next mow. Delivering the equivalent of 25 horsepower, the Z6 is just as powerful as a mid-range, gas-powered zero-turn mower. It can reach speeds up to 8 MPH, allowing you to cover more ground in less time. Although we haven't tested this model, we think it's especially splurge-worthy if you already have Ego tools at home since you can use the same batteries, and have a very large yard.
The Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower offers three driving modes—control, standard, and sport—for various terrains. To ensure a quality cut, the height of the 52-inch cutting deck is adjustable (10 settings between 1.5 and 4.5 inches). Other noteworthy features include LED lights, USB charging port, a phone holder, and Bluetooth. Another major advantage of this electric mower is that it runs very quietly and is easier to maintain than a gas model. With all of these bells and whistles, it’s no surprise that the Z6 comes with a steep price tag. However, the mower, batteries, and charger are backed by a five-year warranty to protect your investment.
Price at time of publish: $6,999
Power Type: Lithium batteries | Horsepower: Equivalent to 25 hp | Cutting Width: 52 inches | Weight: 655 pounds | Terrain: Uneven
Husqvarna Z254F 23-HP V-twin Dual Hydrostatic 54-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower
Reverse mowing feature
Comfortable and safe to operate
Large cutting deck
Bagging and mulching sold separately
Not recommended for hills
The Husqvarna Z254F 54-in Zero-turn Lawn Mower features a 23 HP twin-cylinder engine, which makes it a great mid-range residential option for yards between two and three acres in size. The mower can go up to 6.5 MPH when moving forward or 3.5 MPH in reverse. This zero-turn mower has a deep, 54-inch cutting deck, which allows for easier bagging and mulching. However, both the bagging and mulching kits are sold separately. To achieve a precise cut, you can use the deck lift to get in a perfect position. The hydrostatic transmission requires no maintenance, which is another plus.
Thanks to a high-backed seat, ergonomic control panel, and anti-slip foot area, this zero turn mower is safe and comfortable to operate. For added safety, it’s also equipped with an automatic parking brake system. Note that the Husqvarna Z254F is intended for flat terrain with a few obstacles; it should not be used on slopes that exceed 15 degrees. Like all gas-powered models, it will require refilling on a regular basis. We read some reports of broken parts, however, this product is backed by a bumper-to-bumper three-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $4,175
Power Type: Gas | Horsepower: 24 hp | Cutting Width: 54 inches | Weight: 610 pounds | Terrain: Flat with obstacles
After testing 14 different types of lawn mowers in our own backyards, our favorite zero-turn lawn mower is the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower, which we found very easy to start, drive and adjust the cutting widths, even from the first mow. It navigated obstacles with ease and saved us time compared to using our old mower. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, we think the Cub Cadet Ultima Series Kohler V-Twin Zero Mower is another great choice. Unlike the Ryobi electric, joystick-operated option, this gas model took a little getting used to while testing. However, by the second mow, we were able to enjoy many of the same features including excellent maneuverability, even while tackling tall, thick grass.
How We Tested the Zero-Turn Mowers
We've tested over a dozen different types of lawn mowers in our own yards across the country, including both walk-behind and riding mowers. For this article, we researched the top zero-turn mowers out today and included several of those options in our testing. To test the zero-turn mowers (as well as all of the six riding mowers we tested), after timing the assembly and noting any difficulties, we timed mowing our lawn on three separate occasions. Each time, we recorded the weather conditions, noting if the mower slipped or struggled to cut damp grass, as well as the surface area cut, and length of grass. We went through each feature, including all of the controls (starting, speed, turning, cutting heights, LED lights, etc.), and noted if they were simple or difficult to use. We noted how the mower handled going around obstacles, up and down slopes, and through thick terrain. We noted how even the grass looked and how it handled the grass clippings. We also compared using this mower to any mowers we've used in the past, in particular, how it compared to a previous riding mower or a walk-behind option. We then evaluated each of the mowers on setup, design, performance, usability, safety, and value.
What to Look for in a Zero-Turn Mower
Residential zero-turn mowers, like our Best Overall pick, the Ryobi Battery Electric Cordless Zero Turn Riding Mower, often have smaller, 42-inch cutting decks, making them an ideal choice for yards less than 3 acres in size. While the smaller width is great for maneuvering around obstacles in your yard, it will take longer to get the job done. Something else to keep in mind: Lightweight zero-turn mowers are not recommended for daily use and will wear out faster than commercial zero-turn mowers if they are used daily.
Commercial zero-turn mowers have wider cutting decks (54 inches or higher), allowing you to get the job done in less time. They also offer superior power and durability, and unlike residential models, they can be used daily without wearing out. Our top choice for navigating hills, the John Deere Z330R ZTrak Mower, offers cutting decks in several sizes to suit your specific needs.
Lightweight zero-turn mowers have the advantage of being more fuel-efficient than heavyweight models. However, they don’t have as much traction as heavier zero-turn mowers, which makes them difficult to maneuver in wet conditions or on rough terrain. For that reason, they’re not suitable for mowing slopes that exceed 15 degrees.
Heavyweight zero-turn mowers are intended for yards larger than 4 acres or mowing multiple large yards regularly. This type of mower is easier to control and better suited for rough terrain and steeper slopes. Not surprisingly, heavier zero-turn mowers are more expensive due to their sheer amount of power. They’re also less gas- and battery-efficient. If you have a gas-powered model, you will face higher fuel costs.
Fuel Source and Horsepower
Gas vs. Electric: Gas-powered zero-turn mowers are more popular, which means you can find a wider selection at various price points. When it comes to power, gas-powered mowers almost always surpass electric-powered mowers. However, you should consider the following: Gas-powered zero-turn mowers weigh more, require regular gas refills, and release emissions into the air.
Electric-powered zero-turn mowers are newer to the market and often have a slightly higher price point. Most electric options are not as powerful as commercial, gas-powered zero-turn mowers. However, their power output is on par with mid-range residential gas zero-turn mowers—a major plus for homeowners. An electric mower has the benefit of emissions-free operation, and you don’t have to worry about fuel costs. We have several electric options on this list, including our Best Overall pick by Ryobi that we tested, as well as our Best for Large Yards pick, the Ego Power+ 52” Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower.
Horsepower: The power output of a zero-turn mower engine is measured in horsepower. If you have a small yard (one acre or less), a zero-turn mower with 10 to 20 HP is a solid bet. For larger yards up to three acres in size, a 20 to 25 HP zero-turn mower is a great mid-range option. Our Best Gas choice, the Toro TimeCutter Zero Turn Riding Mower, offers 24.5 HP and handles yards ranging from two to four acres with ease. Just keep in mind that residential mowers (25 HP or lower) aren’t equipped to negotiate rough terrain and inclines over 15 degrees.
Zero-turn mowers with 25 HP or higher almost exclusively fall under the commercial category. These mowers are extremely powerful and intended for use on large properties, such as golf courses or multiple large yards. A commercial zero-turn mower is also more adept at handling rough terrain and steep inclines.
Cutting Deck Options: The cutting deck is the covered portion of a zero-turn mower where the blades are located. When the mower is powered up, the blades rotate to cut the lawn. Smaller cutting decks range from 32 inches to 48 inches, and they’re an ideal choice for yards less than three acres in size. Our Best for Large Yards pick, the Ego Power+ 52” Z6 Zero Turn Riding Mower has a 52-inch deck and an expandable battery system to help keep it going in larger yards, even more than seven acres in size.
How much does zero-turn lawn mower maintenance cost?
Some routine maintenance is required to keep your zero-turn mower in tip-top shape. Sharpening the blades is relatively inexpensive, but a full engine tune-up could cost a few hundred dollars. Because zero-turn mowers are incredibly heavy machines, you may not want to perform the maintenance yourself. DIY will cut down on costs, of course, but you may need a hydraulic jack to get under the mower safely.
What is a good speed for a zero-turn lawn mower?
While most standard lawn tractors travel at 3-4 miles per hour (MPH), most zero-turn lawnmowers can go between 5-8 MPH. The appropriate speed will vary depending on the task you’re performing. If you’re mowing a flat yard, you should be able to cruise along at top speed. Terrain with slopes and obstacles will require more precise maneuvering at lower speeds and in reverse.
How long does it take to cut one acre of grass with a zero-turn mower?
The exact amount of time will depend on your speed and the width of the cutting deck. Zero-turn mowers with a higher speed capacity and a larger cutting deck are more efficient. To save time while mowing, Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), suggests clearing your lawn beforehand. “Be sure there are no obstacles in the way of the mower, such as rocks, branches, and other debris,” he says.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a writer for The Spruce who specializes in the home and garden sector. To select the best zero-turn mowers for this roundup, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their size, weight, fuel source, horsepower, and cutting deck options. McHugh consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For additional insight, she interviewed Kris Kiser, President and CEO of Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
Jenica Currie, a commerce editor for The Spruce, updated this article using our insights gathered from testing zero-turn mowers across the country.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.