If you are about to move into a house which is on a hillside, and one thing you want to avoid is having to haul a push mower up and down your property repeatedly, then there is a solution.
However, when it comes to a riding mower, then there are some valid safety concerns that might be discouraging you from making this hefty investment.
For example, you do not want to have to be anxious about your mower tipping while you are working through your lawn. But, in this article, we have the two best options which are great for mowing when your lawn is not completely flat.
These are the zero turn, and the lawn tractor. There are pros and cons to both of these choices, and for some people one will be better than the other. In this guide we aim to explain these differences to make them as clear as possible.
We hope that by the end of this guide you will get a strong recommendation on which will be better for you based on factors that we have covered.
So, if you have heard of a zero turn, or a lawn tractor, but you are unsure what one of these might be, or which one will be the best option for you, then keep reading to get our explanation!
What Is A Zero Turn Mower?
So, when you are looking at what kind of ride on a mower might be the best for you, something which you might want to consider is a zero turn mower. Just like the name suggests, a zero turn is a mower that has an almost zero turn radius.
This is one of the best types of ride on mowers and it is often the preference for professionals in the landscaping and the lawn care industry.
One downside is that zero turn mowers are definitely expensive, however, you will get great performance from them, and if you have a bigger property, these are definitely worth the investment.
This mower lets you spin around completely without losing track of your position or your place on the lawn.
What Is A Lawn Tractor?
Now for the alternate choice, there is a lawn tractor. Similarly to a zero turn mower, this is a riding mower which will help cut the time from your hard work.
This type of mower is named after the appearance it has since a lawn tractor usually appears to look like a full size tractor. However, this tractor is the perfect size so it can mow your lawn efficiently while also fitting into your garage or garden shed.
However, unlike a zero turn mower, a lawn tractor has a bigger turning radius which is close to what you might use with a car. This means that you are going to have to circle back on yourself to ensure that all of the lawn is cut.
The lawn tractor is also a lot less efficient when it comes to mowing your property when it is compared to a zero turn mower.
This is because of the extra passes you will need to do, and you will also have more trouble getting around trees and tricky parts of your garden as well.
However, this does not mean that lawn tractors are just worse than a zero turn, for example, if you are living in a more northern climate.
This is because you can easily switch out your mower for a snowblower when it is snowy. On top of this, a lawn tractor tends to be less expensive than a zero turn as well!
Now you have a brief overview of what defines a zero turn and a lawn tractor, let’s directly compare how these two stack up against each other when looking at some important categories. First there is speed.
This one is not too hard to answer, this is because the zero turn is a lot better when it comes to maneuvering as we mentioned, and this means it will be able to work around your lawn a lot more efficiently making for a much quicker mowing time.
This means that if your lawn is wide open, or if there are plenty of obstructions like trees, gardens, or some landscaping features, your zero turn will always be the faster option.
But, how do a zero turn and a lawn tractor compare when it comes to looking at their precision.
A lawn tractor will be better to maneuver when compared to a standard push or a walk behind mower, however, it does not have a good enough turning radius to compare to a zero turn mower, because of this it is much less precise.
The better radius of the zero turn mower is why it is so much better when it comes to precision, but this is not the only reason. This is because with a zero turn you also have a lot more visibility which is a factor that massively contributes to precision.
For most zero turn mowers, the engine will be located underneath the seat, this means that you will have a much better view of the terrain which is right in front of the mower. But, what about the price comparisons?
If you are working with a stricter budget, then if you want the best value for the investment, we would recommend actually going with a lawn tractor.
When you visit a local hardware store, or anywhere that stocks mowers, you should be able to find some more affordable lawn tractors, whereas you can very rarely find an affordable zero turn mower.
You can of course also look online, and since these tend to be expensive you will not have to worry about shipping costs usually.
One thing which you need to consider when it comes to the price of a ride on a mower is how big your lawn is, and how much space you are going to have to store it in.
It is also worth considering how much of an investment you are willing to make, whether it is a zero turn or a lawn tractor.
As well as the performance and the price, you want to know how durable the machine is.
If you are paying less for a cheaper machine, but it will break twice as quickly as the one which is a little more expensive, it is usually worth getting the more expensive option if it lasts longer.
The best way to find out about the longevity of these mowers is to look online for reviews and forum posts about a specific model.
One final factor that is well worth considering and mentioning when it comes to riding on mowers is how well they will perform on a hill.
A hill is an obstacle which can be challenging for a lot of lawn mowers, so if you have hills on your property, then you will want to consider the factors before you choose a lawn tractor or a zero turn mower either.
The grade of the hill is about how steep the hill is. If the hill is steeper, then we would recommend going with a zero turn since they work better on property like this.
These are also more quick and more effective. However, a lot of people will also argue that a lawn tractor might be a little safer, but if you are going with a lawn tractor, we strongly recommend looking for one that comes with a roll bar.
The safety is a little bit of a concern for some zero turn mowers since they have a lab bar, so this is why it is often recommended to go with a lawn tractor if safety is something you need to consider.
There are sometimes considerations you should make when it comes to even getting a ride on mower at all.
For example, if you have hills on your property which have a drop of more than 1 foot every 3 feet of hillside, then you will not want to use a mower since they are dangerous in these conditions.
Tipping your riding lawn mower is something which is very possible when you are riding on a hillside, and even if you think you are careful enough, it could always happen.
These accidents can lead to massive injury, and this is something which is of course worth avoiding. Because of this, ensure that you are always making the safest choice possible.
So, if you have a steeper hill on your property, what can you do if you want to mow this. One of the top options is using a push mower, however, this can be a massive pain depending on the model you are working with.
However, if you have a self drive walk behind a mower, then it will not take as much effort.
Also, if you want a more creative solution, then you could also build a terraced garden. These can easily be built on a hillside and you can grow whatever you want whether it is decorational or practical.
Something which gives you a little more control is using a string trimmer, however, if the space is massive, this can be very time consuming.
If most of your property is larger and steeper hillsides, then you might want to buy a slope mower which is specifically designed for this kind of work.
If you want these hillsides to be maintained like they are a lawn, then these are likely your best options. If you are working with a steep grade, you can even use a remote control option which is of course a lot safer than riding or using it yourself.
On top of these options, there are also more automatic robotic lawn mowers. These have a docking station where they will charge, and then you will program them to mow the lawn and work on the steep hillsides to a schedule.
While this is not the most affordable option, they are more affordable than you would assume.
Summary – Which Is Best For You?
If you have a property with hillsides that are a more modest pitch, and are not dangerously steep, then you can go for whichever of the two options you think is best.
But if they are a little more steep, then a lawn tractor will be the safer option, however, these also have their limits.
If there is not that much hillside to worry about, then a zero turn will usually be the preferable option.
These are more fun and easier to drive, and if you have a larger property, these will save you masses of time, especially if there are spots you need to maneuver around as well.
However, if you are living in a more northern climate, then we would recommend a lawn tractor. This is because these are more multi functional since you can easily add a snow blowing attachment.
This attachment means that you can get a lot more use out of the tractor in months where a zero turn would be collecting dust.
On top of this, for now, lawn tractors are the much more affordable option when compared to a zero turn.
We recommend trying to find a seller where you can demo both of them, while also talking to a professional with pictures of your garden so they can give you a more specific recommendation.