Outdoor Power Tools

How to Operate a Zero Turn Mower?


Zero-turn riding mowers are known for their excellence in trimming flat areas of grass found in the park and other athletic fields. Zero-turn mowers are different from regular mowers in many terms.

The first major difference is the riding and steering position. A lawn tractor has a similar setup to a car where you sit behind the engine and steering wheel and use pedals for acceleration and brakes.

While in case of zero turn mower, only two steering levers are in front of you, and the engine is located behind you. You may initially get scared with this setup, but eventually, you will realize its importance after using it. A zero-turn mower can mow your lawn at a double rate as compared to a conventional mower.

However, the unusual setup and position of the steering wheel may befuddle the new operators. The only solution to this problem is to spend more time in the driving seat. Here are some steps that help you to understand how to operate a top zero turn mower.

Step 1: Understanding Zero Turn Mower

The term zero turn means that the turning radius of the machine is zero inches or a zero-degree turn radius. This means that a mower can turn within its footprint. This is possible because of the driving wheels of the mower, which can turn independently and are powered by a hydraulic motor on each axle. One side wheel can turn in reverse while the other wheel can turn in forward; this causes the mower to spin in one place.

Step 2: Choose A Lawnmower According to Your Need

Choose A Lawnmower According to Your Need

If you reside in an urban area and own a small lawn, then you will not need this machine. Zero-turn mowers are suitable for medium to large lawns. If you own a medium-sized lawn, then 15 to 18 horsepower with a mowing path of 36 to 42 inches will be sufficient for you. If you own a huge lawn, then you should choose a 22 to 25 horsepower zero turn mower that can mow over 50 inches in each path.

Husqvarna Z248F 48 in. 21.5 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 21.5 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and a max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • Hydrostatic, no-maintenance transmission is worry free, allowing the mower to take on a variety of...
  • ClearCut deck offers a best-in-class 48 in. cut and better bagging thanks to its deep deck design,...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Comfortable seat, ergonomic control panel and anti-slip foot area make mowing intuitive and safe

Step 3: Get Familiar with Controls

Get Familiar with Controls

You should thoroughly read the operator’s manual before you start the machine. The main controls of zero-turn mowers are:

  • The ignition switch, to start your mower.
  • The parking brake needed to be pressed to start the engine.
  • Deck height adjustment to adjust the mower’s blades depending on the length of the grass.
  • The mowing clutch used to engage the blades of the mower.
  • Steering arms act as the steering wheel of the mower

How to Control A ZTR Lawn Mower?

Before you start to operate your zero-turn mower, you should first check the oil, fuel, blades, belts, and tires of the mower. The mower is operated using two levers.

  • Moving both the levers forward will make the mower go in straight-line forward, and moving both the levers backward will make the mower move in the reverse direction.
  • Moving a single handle will make the wheel move adjacent only to that side of the mower. This can be used in case you want to turn your mower.
  • The arms of the mower will return to a neutral position as soon as the pressure is released from them.
  • The acceleration and brakes are also controlled by these levers, unlike conventional lawn tractors.

Starting the Mower

Firstly, you need to engage the parking brake and then disengage the mower clutch and pull the choke knob. Next, you should advance the throttle lever and turn the key to start the engine. When the engine starts, you need to push the choke knob and pull the throttle back. You can proceed by releasing the parking brake. 

Turning the Mower

Zero-turn mowers can easily make a 180-degree turn without moving forward or backward. But, you should always make a three-point turn to avoid any ugly gouge in turf. A three-point turn involves stopping the mower before the turn, move the mower in a reverse direction by pulling levers backward, and then executing the turn in the backward direction. This will prevent the tearing of the turf.

Speed and Brakes

Zero-turn mowers are faster than regular mowers, but this can be a challenge for new operators. Levers control the speed and brakes of zero-turn mowers; brakes are applied when the levers come to a neutral position. But stopping a ZTR mower requires a coordinated operation from the user.

Speed and Brakes

By now, you must be familiar with the controls of your ZTR mower, start the engine to engage the blades, and start mowing!

Paul Sellers
Paul Sellers is a renowned Outdoor Power Tools specialist with over 15 years of landscaping and tool engineering expertise. He has done his BS in Mechanical Engineering, complementing his hands-on experience with a solid academic foundation. His previous role as a product manager for a leading tool manufacturer gives him a unique perspective on tool design and usability. He ran a successful landscaping business and contributed to several industry publications. His articles blend technical expertise with easy-to-understand tips. He is also a passionate environmentalist, dedicating his free time to sustainable gardening practices.

How to adjust the Steering of a Zero-Turn Mower? 

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