Zero Turn Vs Lawn Tractor Guide 2022


Are you in the market for a new lawn mower but you can’t figure out the difference between zero turns and lawn tractors? 

Well, they can get pretty confusing, but fear not! Because in this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know! 

Keep reading to find out the difference between these two types of riding mowers and their pros and cons.

Introducing The Contenders: Zero Turn & Lawn Tractor

Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Zero turn lawn mower working on a green grass

Zero turn mowers are riding mowers that have a zero turn radius when their two drive wheels rotate in opposite directions. These mowers are also called zero turn tractors, z-turn mowers and z-turn tractors.

Check out this YouTube video in which HowToLou describes the advantages of a zero turn machine:

Zero turn mowers are preferred by those with large lawns, tight turns, fences, flower beds, and lots of trees to maneuver around. Being able to turn a zero turn mower without needing to move it along the ground allows users to easily navigate areas that are sometimes hard to reach with a traditional riding mower. 

These mowers have their mowing decks at the front, as opposed to the back like a traditional lawn tractor. They’re designed to pivot without leaving any patches of uncut grass. They also have hydraulic controls which help them perform well and with ease. It is important to note that they are usually more expensive than traditional riding mowers.

Zero turn mowers have a set of four wheels – two front and two rear wheels. The front wheels swivel while the back wheels are large drive tires. Hydraulic speed control of each drive wheel is one of the most common ways of achieving this zero turn mowers powered by gasoline or diesel engines. The large drive tires rotate independently based on the driver’s output instead of the swiveling tires needing to be controlled to steer the mower. 

Zero turn lawn mower pivots to the right cutting green grass

Zero turn lawn mowers can pivot around a midway point between the two drive wheels or if it’s stationary, around either one of the drive wheels. To change the direction of the mower, all you need to do is make sure both wheels rotate in reverse.

Check out this video by YouTube user Neil Armstrong for a practical demonstration of how to operate a zero turn machine:

The tire speed of zero turn lawn mowers is determined and controlled by two levers, with one lever situated on either side of the driver. The mower will move forward when you push both the levers forward with equal force and it’ll reverse when they’re pushed back in the same manner. 

So basically, these levers replace the traditional steering wheel. Some models do make use of a steering wheel by connecting the back wheels to an axle, but it’s not very common.

If you’re looking for the best riding mower for a curved lawn, a zero turn mower may be just what you need! These models have dual-hydrostatic transmissions that play a key role in the tight turning radius and how responsive the mower is.

They’re one of the fastest types of mowers on the market as they’re known to operate three times as fast as a typical lawnmower. Most of them are able to deliver speeds of around 8MPH, while most traditional riding mowers usually provide around 4MPH. This is why zero turn machines are also a favorite for commercial landscapers and garden services. 

While zero turn mowers have quite a number of advantages, there are also a couple of downsides to them. The one that stands out the most is a matter of safety. They can be a bit more dangerous because while there’s more flexibility and ease in terms of maneuverability, users may find it difficult to control them over bumpy and uneven areas. 


  • Easy to maneuver 
  • Shorter mowing time
  • Easy to reach tight spots
  • Tight turning radius
  • Cleaner cuts
  • Better looking lawn


  • High price tag compared to traditional mowers
  • Highly advanced so it can be confusing to operate
  • Difficulty going uphill
  • Comes with increased safety risks

Lawn Tractors

Lawn tractor driven by a woman wearing a cowboy hat

Lawn tractors, not to be confused with garden tractors, are a bit bigger in size than zero turn mowers but they’re great for small to medium-sized lawns. These riding mowers are best for lawns that don’t have many obstacles to work around – like trees, fences, and flower beds – because they have a wide turning radius, which makes them hard to control. 

These lawn tractors usually have cutting widths of up to 48 inches and can mow at around 4 MPH to a max of 7 MPH. Lawn tractor decks can be as large as 54 inches, which also promotes speed. They also have a maximum fuel tank capacity of 11.5 liters.

These lawn tractors have an engine at the back with the mowing deck placed under the front seated area for convenient grass trimming. You can expect an engine horsepower of between 15-20 HP in these lawn tractors. They are great for cutting large open areas thanks to their cutting blades being positioned in the middle. 

Check out this YouTube video by Western Equipment for a list of key factors to consider when buying a new lawn tractor:

Lawn tractors are smaller and lighter than zero turn lawn mowers. Combined with smaller wheels, lawn tractors can also be described as the more agile of the two. They are operated like normal automatic road vehicles, so all you need to do is press the gas pedal to move and the brakes to slow down and stop. Thanks to this simplicity, there isn’t too much of a learning curve with lawn tractors.

Lawn tractors have front-wheel drive, which makes them easier to control when you are mowing up or down a sloppy lawn. If you intend on using a lawn tractor on uneven terrain, be mindful of the fact that a riding mower can very easily tip over when used on a slope that’s more than 15 degrees. 

One of the biggest advantages of lawn tractors is that they are incredibly versatile and allow you to do much more than just mow the lawn. Most of them allow you to tow lightweight or wheeled implements, such as carts or vacuum attachments. 

These tractors can be fitted with a wider variety and heavier-duty carts, ground engaging equipment, heavy-duty sprayers, spreaders, and other gardening attachments. The models that come with detachable mower decks also allow you to add winter attachments, such as a snow thrower. 

It’s easy for lawn tractors to miss a couple of patches of grass here and there. To go back and fix them, you’ll need to put them in reverse and then into forward gear at each end of the mowing swath.

Check out this YouTube video by Troy-Bilt that does a great job of demonstrating how to operate a lawn tractor:

Lawn tractors have mid-mounted cutting decks and are able to side discharge, mulch, and bag grass clippings if they come with bagging kits. Fair warning, these can be quite expensive if purchased separately, especially considering that they typically come with a steeper price tag than zero turn lawn mowers.  

Unlike zero turn mowers, lawn tractors use traditional steering wheels as a direction control mechanism and a gas pedal for acceleration.

Although smaller than garden tractors, lawn tractors sure do pack a punch as they’re easier to maneuver and make their way through hard-to-reach places, and are designed to be used on larger lawns of at least half an acre or so.


  • Can cut up to 48 inches wide 
  • Great for small jobs around the lawn 
  • Can reach tight places 


  • Can’t carry heavy attachments
  • More cost-effective than zero turn mowers

Check out this YouTube video by AHW LLC for an informative description of these two types of mowers and how to choose between them:

Zero Turn Vs Lawn Tractor: Features Face To Face


Zero turn mowers can operate at a minimum of 8MPH while lawn tractors have an average speed of 4MPH and a maximum speed of 7MPH.

Zero turn mowers are the obvious winners in the speed category, so if you’re looking to cut down how long you take to cut grass, it’s definitely worth checking these out!

Winner: Zero turn mowers


While both zero turn mowers and lawn tractors are easier to maneuver compared to traditional riding mowers, one is definitely better than the other in this category.

Due to their zero degree turning radius, zero turn mowers are the most convenient and easy to handle of the two. These machines reach tight spaces effortlessly!

Winner: Zero turn mowers


Both zero turn mowers and lawn tractors are more expensive than traditional lawn mowers. The best way to determine whether the cost factor is worth it is to see whether you get value for money.

Zero turn vs tractor: Which one to choose?

A lawn tractor is the more versatile of the two machines, so it’ll definitely earn its keep! On the other hand, zero turn mowers have very limited use.

Winner: Lawn tractors

Zero Turn Vs Lawn Tractor: Stand-Out Features

  • Hydraulic wheels: Zero turn mowers have separate hydraulic pumps driving the left and right tires. Each side is controlled separately and can move in opposite directions. For example, one tire can be turned forward, while the other is turning in reverse. 

This means that the zero turn mower can pivot around its own center. This feature shows just how versatile the zero turn mower is.

  • Zero degree turning radius: Zero turn mowers leave behind a cleaner-looking lawn because they’re able to change direction without missing a single blade of grass. There’s no need to change gears on zero turn mowers, which saves a lot of time compared to using a lawn tractor. 


What Is Better A Riding Lawn Mower Or Zero Turn?

The better option between a riding lawn mower or a zero turn is the zero turn mower. These mowers are more efficient than riding mowers and will mow your lawn faster. A zero turn mower gives you a speed of 8MPH while a riding mower gives you 4MPH. 

What Is The Advantage Of A Zero Turn Mower?

The advantage of a zero turn mower is that it has a zero turn radius, which allows you to mow in hard-to-reach places, like fences and trees. These machines are very easy to maneuver and will leave you with much less trimming work when you’re done.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Zero-Turn Lawn Mower?

The disadvantages of a zero-turn lawn mower include its high price tag and the fact that it’s quite advanced, so it’s easy to get confused while operating them. They’re also harder to use going uphill and can be riskier to use compared to other lawn mowers.

Zero Turn Vs Lawn Tractor: Which One’s For You?

Zero turn mowers and lawn tractors are both brilliant pieces of yard equipment that are so much more efficient and convenient to use compared to traditional lawn mowers. These mowers are very much on par with each other, except for a few features that stand out. 

If you’re still unsure of which to buy, here’s a little breakdown to help you:

Buy a zero turn mower if:

  • You have a flat yard.
  • You need to shorten how long you take to cut grass.
  • You have a lot of tight corners in your yard.

Buy a lawn tractor if:

  • You need to mow steep slopes (with caution, of course).
  • You’d like to use it for several purposes by attaching implements.
  • You’re in the market for a more cost effective option.

I hope you found this article helpful in deciding which of these two lawn mowers suits your needs best. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!


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