Best Zero Turn Mowers for Rough Terrain

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Zero-turn mowers are some of the most versatile mowers out there. But there’s some bad news:

Not all zero-turn lawn mowers are good for rough and uneven terrain. There’s a minimum deck size required to mow on rough terrains, especially ones above 10 degrees. A lot of homeowners learn about this fact a little too late, when they are ready to start mowing with their new machine. 

This doesn’t have to happen to you, we’ve done our research, and we bring you some of the highest-rated zero-turn mowers for rough terrain on the market today.

Best Zero Turn Mowers for Rough Terrain: Top 3 Picks

Editor’s Choice
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • Comes with a Roll-Over Protection System for safer operations.
  • High back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips for greater comfort.
  • 24 HP Kawasaki engine offers a top speed of 8.5 mph.
Best Budget
Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower
Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower
  • Runs on a powerful 24 HP Kohler engine with an easy starting system.
  • Durable and reliable steel frame for improved mower performance.
  • Dual hydrostatic transmission paired with a high-back seat offers comfort.
Highest Rated
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • Air induction mowing technology enhances greater grass lift.
  • 26 HP Kohler engine with a maximum speed of 6.5 mph.
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched and bagged via the 3-in-1 option.

1. Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 24 HP Kawasaki Engine
  • Cutting Width: 61 inches
  • Cutting Height: 12 positions, ranging from 1.5-4.5 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge, Mulching and Bagging (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Warranty: 4 years
  • Weight: 770lbs
  • Number of Deck Positions: 12
  • Deck Thickness: 11 gauge
  • Cutting Blades: 3 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 22 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 13 inches

Pros:

  • The Husqvarna MZ61 runs on a versatile engine that provides a high output for smooth and efficient mowing operation.
  • The gas-powered riding zero-turn mower comes with a high back seat with armrests to enhance comfort while mowing.
  • It is equipped with a 61-inch cutting deck that can cover large areas.
  • The roll-over protection system ensures safer operations in all conditions.
  • The zero-turn technology provides precise maneuverability on lawns.

Cons

  • It can scalp your lawn.
  • It does not come with a fuel gauge.
  • Operators might need to check for loose screws regularly.

The Husqvarna MZ61 combines a powerful 24 HP Kawasaki engine with a cutting deck of 61 inches which makes it one of the top-rated zero-turn mowers for rough terrain. The zero-turn riding mower can cover up to 4.2 acres at a top speed of 8.5 mph.

The gas-powered riding mower comes with a high back seat with armrests to enhance comfortability while riding. The cutting deck has 12 cutting height adjustments to fit your needs and requirements. 

The Husqvarna MZ61 has a large fuel capacity which can take up to five gallons. This is enough to mow over four acres without refueling. The wheels offer stability while mowing on uneven terrain. Its cutting options range from 1.5 and 4.5 inches. The triple blades enhance an efficient and smooth cut on hilly terrain.

The Husqvarna MZ61 mower has a choke-less start. This will allow you to start your mower with ease. It comes with a hydro-gear ZT3100 Hydrostatic transmission which gives it enough power to mow hilly terrains.

Another reason the MZ61 is a favorite among many users are its safety features like a pull parking brake and Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) which help reduce the possibility of accidental injuries. The zero-turn technology enhances easy and improved maneuverability on your lawn. The pedal-assisted cutting deck lift offers a smooth and efficient cut. 

The gasoline powered zero turn riding mower has an air induction mowing system that draws air from both sides of the deck to give your grass a greater grass lift. The hour meter indicates when to service your mower. 

The Husqvarna MZ61 supports a host of accessories such as a 9-bushel triple bag collection system, tarp cover, sunshade, light kit to enhance mower versatility. 

2. Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 26 HP Kohler Engine
  • Cutting Width: 54 inches
  • Cutting Height: 6 positions, ranging from 1.5- 4 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge, Mulching and Bagging (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Weight: 549lbs
  • Number of Deck Positions: 6
  • Deck Thickness: 11 gauge
  • Cutting Blades: 3 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 18 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 11 inches

Pros:

  • It can side discharge, mulch or bag via the 3-in-1 option.
  • The Husqvarna Z254 comes with an automatic brake parking system that acts as a safety feature. 
  • The gas-powered zero-turn riding mower is easy to assemble.
  • It comes with an improved filtration system which enhances the increase of airflow and further extends the mower’s lifespan.
  • The Husqvarna Z254 comes with an automatic choke system which makes it easy to start.

Cons

  • It consumes a lot of gasoline.
  • It is a bit costly.

The Husqvarna Z254 is a strong and versatile zero-turn riding mower capable of carrying out effective and efficient mowing regardless of the terrain. It can mow up to 2.8 acres at a top speed of 6.5 mph. 

The Husqvarna Z254 has  side discharge, mulching and bagging capabilities. It has a bright orange body and a high-grade quality build-up. Its cushioning feature is enough to safeguard your lower body while mowing. 

In addition, it has a high back seat for greater comfort. The Z254 riding mower runs on a 26 HP Kohler engine which provides a high-power output for efficient mowing. 

With a top speed of 6.5 mph, you can mow your medium-sized yard within thirty minutes. The engine is easy to start thanks to its automatic choke system.

The Husqvarna Z254 performs incredibly well on thick grass. It comes with a 54-inch cutting deck that can cover medium and large yards. Its blades can perform well on even and uneven terrains. It supports a host of accessories such as the Husqvarna LED bumper headlight kit and armrest kit, to enhance a top performance for an extended period. 

The gas-powered riding mower is easy to use and assemble. You don’t need to hire a professional to help you with its assembly. The hydrostatic transmission enhances the simple and easy handling of the zero-turn mower. 

It has front and back wheels which are positioned to ensure a safer stand while mowing uphill. The Z254 is equipped with standard switches which protect you from coming in contact with the blades.

The big cooling fans will keep your engine running at a suitable temperature, thereby extending the mower’s lifespan. 

3. Ariens Edge 42 inch 19 HP (Kohler) Zero Turn Mower 915245

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 19 HP Kohler 6000 Series V-Twin Engine
  • Cutting Width: 42 inches
  • Cutting Height: 7 positions, ranging from 1.5-4.5 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge, Mulching and Bagging (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Weight: 685lbs
  • Number of Deck Positions: 7
  • Deck Thickness: 11 gauge
  • Cutting Blades: 2 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 20 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 11 inches

Pros:

  • The Ariens Edge 915245 comes with  large tires that provide traction and a smoother ride
  • It can cut tall and tough grasses regardless of the terrain.
  • It has an adjustable high back seat to enhance comfort and also reduce fatigue while mowing.
  • The Ariens Edge 915245 has a powerful and reliable engine that offers a high-power output to enhance efficient mowing.
  • It comes with EZT hydrostatic transaxles for easy control of the zero-turn mower. 

Cons

  • It has a small gas tank.
  • Not the most suitable for large lawns.

The Ariens Edge 915245 runs on a 19 HP Kohler V-Twin engine which delivers a powerful and high-power output to enhance a superior cut on your lawn. It comes with twin EZT Hydrostatic Transaxles which enhances a smoother ride on lawns. It has a top forward speed of 6 mph and a reverse speed of 3 mph.

The gas-powered zero-turn mower has an adjustable high back seat which provides more comfort while mowing. The foot-operated deck lift enhances fast and easy cutting height adjustment. 

It comes with a sturdy cutting deck of 42 inches which cuts tall and tough grasses regardless of any weather condition or terrain.

The large tires provide more traction and enhance a smoother ride. The cutting deck is made of strong 11-gauge steel which enhances its strength and durability. Its cutting option ranges from 1.5-4.5 inches which can be adjusted to suit your desired grass height. 

The Ariens Edge 915245 supports a host of accessories to enhance mower versatility. The 2-bin bagger keeps your lawn free of grass clippings. The mulch kit helps to recut the grass and convert it into a fine mulch, thereby restoring nutrients to the soil. 

4. Ariens IKON XD-52 (52”) 24 HP Kohler Zero Turn Lawn Mower

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 24 HP Kohler Engine
  • Cutting Width: 52 inches
  • Cutting Height: 13 positions, ranging from 1.5-4.5 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge, Mulching and Bagging (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Weight: 681lbs
  • Number of Deck Positions: 13
  • Deck Thickness: 11 gauge
  • Cutting Blades: 3 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 20 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 11 inches

Pros:

  • The Ariens XD 52 zero-turn lawn mower comes with padded levers to reduce vibrations while mowing.
  • It has a powerful and versatile 24 HP Kohler engine which enhances effective mowing.
  • The Ariens XD 52 is relatively quiet compared to several gas-powered mowers in its category.
  • Its 52-inch cutting deck performs well on thick and tall grass.

Cons

  • Accessories such as mulch and bag kits are sold separately.
  • Not suitable for smaller yards.

The Ariens IKON XD-52 zero-turn lawn mower is a versatile and powerful mowing machine ideal for medium and large-sized yards. It comes with a high back seat with armrests to provide comfort while mowing.

The Ariens XD 52 is equipped with a 4-point hanging deck which enhances a smoother and neater cut on uneven surfaces. It runs on a 24 HP Kohler engine which enables the mower to do an amazing job on tall and thick grass.

The engine is made up of features such as a quick electronic spark ignition and a pressure lubrication system to enhance a top performance on lawns. It holds a fuel tank of 2.8 gallons. This will be enough to mow up to 2 acres of land without refueling.

The gas-powered zero-turn lawn mower comes with a cutting deck that offers superb cutting performance on thick and tall grass. It has a blade-tip speed of 17000 fpm which reduces your mowing time. This will enable you to cover an acre in 30-40 minutes.

Also, the three cutting blades are strong enough to mow shrubs. Its cutting options can be adjusted from 1.5 to 4.5 inches through the use of a dial-operated cut height. It has two hydrostatic EZT gears which enhance easy cutting control. 

The Ariens XD 52 is supported by a host of accessories. The mower’s headlights illuminate light in dark conditions. The mulch and bag kits will convert the deck to mulch and bag grass clippings for easy disposal respectively.

It comes with safety interlock systems which helps to reduce the risk of injury. In addition, it is equipped with a parking brake which also enhances improved safety while mowing on rough ground. 

The zero-turn radius technology enhances an effective cut because of the 180-degree turn at the end of the row. The adjustable wishbones can be adjusted to three different directions for easy mowing. 

5. Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 24 HP Kohler Twin Cylinder Engine
  • Cutting Width: 50 inches
  • Cutting Height: 9 positions, ranging from 1.25-3.75 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge and Mulching (mulching kit sold separately)
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Weight: 656 Pounds
  • Number of Deck Positions: 9
  • Cutting Blades: 2 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 20 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 11 inches

Pros:

  • The Craftsman Z525 comes with a reliable hydrostatic transmission which enables a smooth and easy ride
  • The 50-inch cutting deck is made with steel to enhance the durability of the mower.
  • Its zero turning radius enhances quick and easy directional changes.
  • It has a high back seat which reduces fatigue while mowing.
  • The Craftsman Z525 zero-turn mower allows for quick and precise maneuverability on lawns.

Cons

  • Accessories are sold separately.

The Craftsman Z525 is versatile, and one of the strongest zero-turn mowers suitable for medium and large-sized yards. It has a liberty red color and solid construction. The mower is well-liked for its ergonomic features.

It comes with a 50-inch cutting deck which is large enough to mow any residential yard. The cutting deck drives the blades to operate efficiently on different varieties of grass. You can adjust the cutting height between 1.25-3.75 inches. 

The Craftsman Z525 comes with a dual hydrostatic transmission which enhances a smooth and easy ride. In addition, it has a high back seat which allows you to work for a long time. Furthermore, the cushion on the seat enhances comfortability and also reduces fatigue. 

The frame is strong and rust-resistant. The mower is easy to operate. It has wheels that enable improved maneuverability. Though the mower isn’t the largest, it gives you an optimal value for your money. 

The riding zero turn mower comes with a powerful and efficient 24HP Kohler engine which enhances efficient mowing. It holds a gas tank of 3.5 gallons. It has a top maximum speed of 7mph.

It has an easy starting system. This means that you don’t need a prime or choke to start the engine. Accessories such as a mulch kit, sunshade can be added to improve the efficiency of the zero-turn mower. This will create perfect finishing touches while mowing. 

6. Husqvarna Z248F 48 in. 21.5 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

  • Power Source: Gas
  • Engine: 21.5 HP Kawasaki Engine
  • Cutting Width: 48 inches
  • Cutting Height: 6 positions, ranging from 1.5-4 inches
  • Capabilities: Side Discharge, Mulching and Bagging (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • Warranty: 3 years 
  • Weight: 595lbs
  • Number of Deck Positions: 6
  • Deck Thickness: 10 gauge
  • Cutting Blades: 3 in the deck
  • Rear Wheel Size: 18 inches
  • Front Wheel Size: 11 inches

Pros:

  • The Husqvarna Z248F is user-friendly and easy to maintain.
  • It comes with rubber isolators to reduce fatigue while mowing.
  • The Husqvarna zero-turn riding mower comes with a cutting deck that drives the blade to enhance a nice and smooth cut.
  • The gas-powered riding mower has a high-grade quality build-up.

Cons

  • The steering bars might be difficult for users to operate.
  • The zero-turn transmission might damage lawns.

The Husqvarna Z248F is a durable and versatile zero-turn riding mower ideal for medium to large sized lawn maintenance. It comes with a 48-inch cutting deck that provides sufficient power to the blades for a nice and even cut. It has rubber isolators that help to decrease fatigue while mowing.

It has steering bars that enhance speed and direction. The Z248F zero-turn riding mower is equipped with anti-scalp wheels to decrease the risks of scalping on uneven terrain. In addition, it enhances a streamlined mower performance. It has an adjustable suspension seat to enhance comfort while mowing. 

The Husqvarna Z248F zero-turn riding mower runs on a 21.5 HP Kawasaki engine which offers a smooth and versatile performance. Its gas tank can take up to 3.5 gallons. Learn more about top rated Oils for Kawasaki Lawn Mower Engines.

The zero-turn riding mower has enough capacity to mow over two acres of land. It has a blade tip speed of 1800rpm which allows you to finish mowing on time. 

Its cutting options range from 1.5 to 4 inches and can be adjusted via the cutting height lever. This will allow you to cut the grass to your desired size/height. The handlebars can be adjusted for easy access. 

The Husqvarna Z248F supports a host of accessories. The mulching kit converts the discharge clippings to mulch while the bag kits bag the grass clippings for easy cleanup. The headlights enhance easy and safe operations in dark conditions. Other accessories such as a mower cover, armrest kit enhance an improved mower performance. 

The rear engine guards absorb shocks in case there is a run-in. It comes with an automatic parking brake to reduce the chances of accidental injuries.

The Z248F has a zero-turn radius technology which enhances precise maneuvering on lawns. In addition, it has an hour meter which keeps track of the mower’s maintenance schedule. 

Final Verdict

If you are looking for an efficient, durable and versatile zero-turn mower for your hilly terrain, the Husqvarna MZ61 zero-turn riding mower is our top pick. 

It comes with top-notch safety features like parking brakes and Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) to lessen the possibility of accidental injuries. 

Its ergonomic features such as a high back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners to enhance comfort while mowing are few of the reasons it is widely loved among homeowners.

Editor's choice
Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • Comes with a Roll-Over Protection System for safer operations.
  • High back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips for greater comfort.
  • 24 HP Kawasaki engine offers a top speed of 8.5 mph.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Zero Turn Mower for Rough Terrains

If you are in the market for a suitable zero-turn mower for uneven terrain, there are factors to consider which will help you make the right choice. Here are a few of them:

Engine Design

This is one of the most important factors to consider before purchasing a zero-turn mower for hilly terrain. What engine type are you looking to get? The single-cylinder engine or a dual cylinder engine?

For more power and efficiency, it is recommended to choose one with a dual cylinder engine. Many modern engines have overhead valves which can function in different ways. The overhead valves produce greater torque which enhances an improved power output. 

Comfort

When it comes to zero turn mowers, comfort cannot be underrated. Look out for a product with ergonomic features such as an adjustable high back seat and padded foam armrests. This will reduce fatigue and enable you to mow for a long time.

Area of use

You may need to consider the area of use before purchasing your zero turn mower. These mowers are typically suitable for a bigger expanse of land so that it will be easy to drive around. It makes sense to get a zero-turn mower for your large yard because of its speed and precision cutting. It can also mow around obstacles because of its turning abilities.

Slope

What is the level of slope you are looking to mow? Most manufacturers do recommend that you shouldn’t mow on slopes that are above ten degrees. There are still some zero-turn mowers that can perform well on slopes that are up to 15 degrees. Thus, you need to look out for such zero-turn mowers. 

Price

Always shop for the best price that suits your budget. If you are looking to get more special features, you will have to pay a bit higher.

Construction of the Deck

Before you buy a zero-turn mower, you definitely want to consider the construction of the deck. There are two types of mower decks. Commercial zero-turn mowers have a fabricated deck that is formed by wielding several pieces of heavy-gauge steel together while residential mower decks come with a lighter gauge steel deck. It is important to combine a sturdy deck with small wheels.

The wheels should also be able to rotate completely to aid turns on rough ground.  You can further analyze other dimensions such as cutting width, base length, base height, and weight. 

Ease of use

This is a no-brainer. Ensure that the controls are easy to understand and operate. It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation before driving the mower.

Tips For Using a Zero-Turn Mower on Rough Ground

If you want to achieve optimal results with your zero-turn mower on hilly terrain, here are a few steps to follow:

  • Follow Manufacturer Recommendation

If you read the manual, manufacturers will clearly state the degrees of mowing on rough terrain. This will educate you on the extent to which you can mow on rough and uneven ground.

  • Steer the Wheels Accurately

When mowing on rough ground, ensure that you steer the wheels accurately. If you need to turn to the left, use your right hand to steer it. If you don’t steer well, it might result in accidents. To further avoid a possible rollover, do not enter a steep slope with poor steering control.

  • Control the Speed of the Zero-Turn Mower

A zero-turn mower mows at a fast speed. Ensure that you drive slowly. Maintain a constant velocity when you mow up and down the hill.

  • Follow Safety Precautions

You should fasten your seatbelt before driving on rough terrains. It is also advisable to mow on dry grass because the caster wheels tend to lose traction on wet grass.

What Are the Benefits of Zero-Turn Mowers

Zero-turn mowers are suitable for both residential and commercial lawn care and maintenance. They have a mowing pattern of turning 180 degrees at the end of a mowing row. Below are some of the advantages of cutting grass with zero-turn mowers:

Improved Maneuverability

Zero-turn mowers come with dual-wheel motors which enhance improved maneuverability on lawns. Controlling each wheel enables you to move forward, rearward, right and left with your arms. This will enhance your control when you navigate your way around obstacles such as trees, shrubs, boulders.

Shorter Mowing Time

Zero-turn mowers enhance a shorter mowing time. On average, the mower can reduce your mowing time by half. Zero-turn mowers are fast enough to power through the grass. They can also allow you to change direction with ease. This contributes to a significant drop-in time while mowing. 

Smooth and Neat Mowing Experience

Most zero-turn mowers have a higher blade-tip speed than several other lawnmowers. This feature will allow you to get a nice and even cut on your grass, making your lawn look better and neater. Whenever you maneuver with zero-turn mowers, you can easily alternate in different directions. With this, you can easily achieve stripes on your lawn. 

Comfort

Zero-turn mowers come with ergonomic features such as a high-back seat with armrests, foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners. These features enable you to mow your yard with greater comfort. It will also reduce fatigue while mowing.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a zero-turn mower is worth the investment for my lawn?

A: There are factors to know if a zero-turn mower is worth the investment for your lawn, Factors include the price, quality construction of deck, engine design, comfort.

Is it true that zero-turn mowers save time?

A: Yes, zero-turn mowers are faster than several mowers. They reduce your mowing time by half of it. The blade-tip speed of zero-turn mowers enhances a fast cut. This saves more time.