Zero Turn Vs Walk Behind Mowers

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Zero-turn mowers are fast and versatile mowing machines suitable for large lawns. They can cover a lot of ground in a short period.

On the other hand, walk-behind mowers have always been the preferred choice for commercial and residential landscapers with confined yards. 

Here is a comparison of the two types of mowers:

What are zero-turn mowers?

Zero-turn mowers are lawn machines that can make a complete turn within their footprints. They come with special features such as an incredible speed, and a large cutting deck.  Zero-turn mowers can mow up to twice as fast as a walk-behind mower. 

Zero-turn mowers come with two levers that control the two motors connected to each rear wheel. They support a host of attachments such as baggers, snowblowers, spreaders etc. They are classified into two:

  • Residential zero-turn mowers
    Residential zero-turn mowers are suitable for yards that are within the range of 1/3 to 4 acres. Most of them are gas-powered while few are electric-powered. They are not as costly as commercial zero-turn mowers. Read more about Best 34 inch Zero Turn Mowers.
  • Commercial zero-turn mowers
    Commercial zero turn mowers have enough capacity to handle extensive lawns. With their large cutting decks, you can mow large golf courses within a short time. They are powered by gas and more expensive than residential zero-turn mowers.

Also Read: How Do Zero Turn Mowers Work?

Walk-Behind Mowers

Walk-behind mowers can be referred to as push-behind or walk-along mowers. The user walks behind the mower while controlling it in the desired direction. They are usually lightweight and compact. This allows for easy maneuvering on the lawn. Walk-behind mowers are categorized into five types:

  • Push mowers
    Push mowers have a motor that rotates the blades. You have to push the mower manually. A push mower is suitable for mowing hard-to-reach areas of your yard, such as flowerbeds, obstacles and sharp corners. Its lightweight design makes it easy to push around the lawn. However, the push mower could be exhausting while pushing on a slope
  • Rotary mowers
    Rotary mowers have just a blade that rotates horizontally at a great speed while cutting any grass that it touches. Unlike reel mowers, they can cut tall grasses. However, its trimming is less clean and uneven. 
  • Cylinder or Reel mowers
    Cylinder or Reel mowers come with vertical cylindrical blades that are located at the front side of the mower. The vertical blades differ from one another. They are suitable on flat terrain and can operate efficiently on short grass. 

    Due to the cutting height, you will have to mow frequently than several walk-behind mowers. They are relatively cheap and will give your lawn a well-defined cut.
  • Hover mowers
    Hover mowers are fixed slightly above the ground. This makes them easier to operate. In addition, they perform well on the edges of lawns and around obstacles. They are fairly priced. 
  • Self-propelled mowers
    Self propelled mowers are equipped with a transmission that pushes the mower forward. They are easy to use and it enhances a fast-mowing job. Self-propelled mowers produce a more evenly cut than other walk-behind mowers. They also operate efficiently on slopes. However, they are a bit pricey. 

Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Lawn Mower

  • Size of your lawn
    If your lawn is less than one acre, a push mower might be your best choice. This is because the efficiency of the zero-turn mower is not ideal for small yards. If you have a yard that is more than an acre, it is advisable to use a zero-turn mower.
  • Budget
    Both zero-turn and walk-behind mowers have a diverse range of price tags and cutting options. The cost depends on the model and features you are looking at. Zero-turn mowers are significantly pricier than walk-behind mowers. 

    Zero turn mowers cost $2000 and upwards while basic walk-behind mowers cost as low as $150. Thus, if you are working on a budget, a walk-behind mower might be an easy buy for you.
  • Comfort
    Walk-behind mowers require you to walk while you mow while zero-turn mowers come in the form of riding while you mow. The user steers the mower with the two levers. In addition, it is equipped with a cushioned seat which prevents fatigue while mowing. This makes it easier and more comfortable than walk-behind mowers.
  • The steepness of your lawn
    Zero-turn mowers do not perform well on hilly terrains but they are superb on flat terrains. It is not safe to mow on slopes that are above 10-15 degrees. If your lawn is mostly steep, it is advisable to use a walk-behind mower.

Zero turn Vs Walk behind mowers: Head-to-Head

The main difference between zero-turn and walk-behind mowers is that zero turn mowers have a zero turning radius technology which makes cutting faster and more precise on large yards while walk-behind mowers are lightweight, budget-friendly, and easy to maneuver but only suitable for small-medium lawns.

Below is a quick overview of the pros and cons of both zero-turn and walk-behind mowers:

Pros and cons zero-turn mowers

In this section, we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of a zero turn mower so you can make a balanced comparison.

Pros

  • Zero-turn mowers come with a zero-radius technology which makes cutting faster and more precise.
  • Some zero-turn mowers are equipped with an option to install a rollover protection structure (ROPS) as an extra safety feature.
  • They have durable tires which enhance smooth ride while mowing.
  • They come with large cutting decks that offer efficient cutting of tall grasses.
  • Zero-turn mowers have a solid build-up. This improves the longevity of the mower’s lifespan.
  • It comes with a high back seat that makes mowing comfortable and less tiring.
  • Zero-turn mowers produce beautiful, uniformly cut lawns.

Cons

  • Not suitable for small yards.
  • Zero-turn mowers do not perform well on sloped areas.
  • They can lose traction on wet lawns.
  • They are quite costly.

Pros of walk-behind mowers

  • Walk-behind mowers are budget-friendly and easy to operate.
  • They are lightweight and eco-friendly. 
  • They require minimal maintenance.
  • Walk-behind mowers are easy to maneuver around obstacles and tight edges.

Cons of walk-behind mowers

  • Some users complained that it gives uneven cuts.
  • Not suitable for large yards.
  • Mowing with walk-behind mowers could be tiring.

Bottom Line

Both zero-turn and walk-behind mowers have a unique set of pros and cons. Zero-turn mowers offer stronger cutting power, high power output, and are best for medium to large yards. However, they do not perform well on hilly terrain. Walk-behind mowers on the other hand are cheaper, lightweight, and ideal for small to medium sized yards.

While users might want to make use of zero-turn mowers in large areas, the walk-behind mowers will come in handy in areas where the zero-turn mowers cannot have access.