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Best Zero Turn Lawn Mowers for 2021

Here are our picks for the top zero turn lawn mowers in six categories.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Buying a Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Zero turn lawn mowers make mowing your lawn faster and far more enjoyable. The first time you slip behind the lap bars of a zero turn radius (ZTR) mower, you’ll be amazed by its ability to turn on a dime and accelerate to a ground speed up to twice that of a traditional lawn tractor.

The first step in selecting the right mower is identifying your needs. If saving time is your priority, look at engine power and the width of the cutting deck. If durability is your concern, look for a deck that’s fabricated rather than stamped.

The good news is that no matter what your needs, there’s a mower out there to match. Here are the mowers that we think are tops in six categories.

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Best Zero Turn Mower for Big Lawns

Big lawns give zero turn radius mowers the room to really shine. If you have a large lawn to mow, maximize your deck size, engine performance and speed.

The new Cub Cadet ZT3 ($5,000) is at the high end for a consumer ZTR. But comes packed with features and the Cub Cadet reputation.

The twin-cylinder 24-horsepower Kawasaki engine gives it the juice to move quickly, and the massive 60-inch cutting deck means fewer passes to complete your task. The 2- x 2-in. tubular steel frame and fabricated deck are built to last. And with the padded seat and floorboard, you’ll experience less vibration fatigue while you keep your lawn looking great.

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Best Zero Turn Mower for Small Yards

When we talk about ZTRs, the definition of “small yard” is relative. Here, we mean a lot that’s a half acre or more, making it too large for a push mower.  Often these yards feature obstructions like a backyard pool, standalone bushes or trees that make a rear-engine rider or lawn tractor too ungainly to use.

A 34-inch Toro TimeCutter ($2,700) has a cutting deck narrow enough to pass through most standard gates (although be sure to measure yours first!), while the 22-hp V-Twin Kohler engine is large enough to make quick work of cutting your grass. It also has excellent line of sight, so you can clearly see the edges of those trees and bushes.

If your gate or yard is a little tighter or your budget is a little lower, Toro also makes a 32-inch TimeCutter. At $1,500, it’s more budget friendly and can maneuver into narrower spaces. But the 16-hp engine is a step down in power.

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Best Value for a Zero Turn Mower

The Husqvarna Z254 ($3,200) isn’t the lowest-priced ZTR on this list, but don’t mistake a lower price for value! When you look at what this machine delivers, you’ll realize it’s an excellent deal.

For a mid-range asking price, it packs in a 26-hp engine, a hydrostatic transmission, a generous 54-inch cutting deck and a top speed of 6-1/2-mph. All in all, the Husqvarna Z254 strikes an excellent balance between price and feature-set.

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Best Zero Turn Mower Splurge for a Smooth Ride

While many ZTR mowers include vibration reducing systems and padded seats, one brand is hyper-focused on user comfort: the Spartan SRT line. With a base price of $9,400, it’s far more expensive than the other ZTRs on our list. But if you want to splurge for a smooth ride, this is the mower for you.

The SRT (Smart Ride Technology) series is built from the ground up with the user’s comfort in mind. From the vibration-control deck and ergonomic cockpit to generous seat cushions, tire design and the neoprene torsion bar suspension, the SRT series delivers on premium-priced luxury.

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Best Eco-Conscious Zero Turn Mower

Ryobi continues to impress with its line of electric mowers. Their newest model, the 75-amp hour ZTR mower ($4,000), tops our list for the best eco-conscious ZTR. With a 42-inch cutting deck, you can mow up to 2-1/2-acres on a single charge. Then simply plug into a standard 120-volt, three-prong outlet to recharge.

Ryobi’s battery-powered mowers aren’t getting the media coverage and ad campaigns of competitors like Ego. But they deliver great performance and are a strong choice for environmentally conscious shoppers.

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Best All Around Zero Turn Mower

Our pick for best all-around ZTR is the newest iteration from the Cub Cadet Ultima series, the Ultima ZT2 ($3,700). Building on the success of the ZT1, this mower comes with a 50-inch fabricated cutting deck, 23-hp Kawasaki engine and a sturdy 2- x 2-in. tubular steel frame.

The Ultima has the same easy-access maintenance items, including a tilt-up deck and a SmartJet power assist washing port to clean grass clippings from the deck and blades. The ZT2 has larger front and rear tires than the previous model, reducing the chance of damaging turf. Armrests make the mowing experience a little more comfortable.

Backed by the same three-year/unlimited-hour warranty as the ZT1, the Ultima ZT2 is a step forward while providing the same outstanding value as its predecessor.

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All prices and links were current as of publication.

Dan Stout
Dan Stout is a freelance writer and author based in Columbus, Ohio. Dan's non-fiction has appeared on numerous sites and in print, while his prize-winning fiction has been featured in publications such as Nature and The Saturday Evening Post. He is the author of The Carter Archives series of noir fantasy thrillers from DAW Books.