Last summer, I was amazed by how perfect the lawn was at my friend’s garden tea party. Later that day, my friend introduced me to the zero-turn mower. I often had difficulty turning the lawn mower’s radius to maneuver the grass. But I liked the idea of zero turn mowers since they are easier to turn around, and you can cut a lot of grass short without any hassle.
So, the next thing was obvious; me searching for some of the best small zero-turn mowers for my garden. This post is for you if you’ve tried all the other lawn mowers and still can’t get that clean lawn.
Unlike a traditional push lawn mower and a tractor, a zero lawn mower is light and compact, making it easy to mow the lawn. It can also make sharp turns and fit in tight spaces due to its manoeuvrability. Using a zero-turn lawn mower, I could mow my lawn in the shortest time possible while relaxing on the chair.
From personal experience, I believe the zero-turn mower is ideal for lawns with irregular shapes and large landscapes with tight edges.
In this article, I will review seven of the best small zero-turn mowers and offer some helpful tips to help you make a smart choice. And also, If you are unsure about using zero-turn lawn mowers on hills, then head to my article; is zero-turn lawn mower good on hills?
Table of Contents
- How to Choose the Best Zero Turn Mower
- My Top Picks: 7 Best Small Zero Turn Mowers
- How Did I Test The Zero Turn Lawn Mowers?
How to Choose the Best Zero Turn Mower
When choosing a zero-turn mower, consider these important features before you purchase.
Types of Zero-Turn Mowers
There are two types of zero-turn mowers, residential and commercial. A zero-turn mower’s main difference between the commercial and residential versions is its power and cost. Commercial models are designed to cover large grounds and be used frequently. It’s heavier, has a wider cutting deck, and is more powerful.
Smaller, easier to handle, and better suited for weekly mowing, residential zero-turn lawn mowers are more economical. Due to their lower power, they have difficulty tackling hills. Nevertheless, they provide excellent handling and maneuverability at a much more affordable price.
Zero-turn residential mowers are the easiest, most efficient way to mow yards smaller than three acres. The best option may be a commercial mower if your lawn is large or you plan to use it daily.
Engines for lawnmowers are rated in horsepower. Equipment that has more horsepower will be more efficient and faster. This feature will prove useful for commercial landscaping projects. The lawnmower doesn’t necessarily need to have a high horsepower engine if you only need it for small-scale residential projects. Another question you need to ask is, are zero-turn mowers good on hills?
A lawnmower’s cutting width describes how wide its blades can cut. If your lawn is large or you want to mow it in the shortest time possible, you should use a lawnmower with a cutting width of at least 60 inches. Small lawnmowers have cutting widths below 50 inches, while medium lawnmowers have a cutting width between 50 and 60 inches.
When looking for a machine, look for a sturdy one with a sturdy frame that can endure harsh working conditions. As a result, look for models with strong tubular frames, corrosion-resistant blades, and durable seats.
Adjustable Cutting Height
To ensure a precise cut with any lawnmower, the grass must be of a specific height. Consider lawnmowers that have adjustable blade heights so that you can adjust them according to the length of the grass. These are usually adjustable between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch.
My Top Picks: 7 Best Small Zero Turn Mowers
I have tested and tried a lot of zero-turn mowers available in the marketplace. I will share my experience using the top 7 small zero-turn mowers.
1. RYOBI Battery Electric Riding Zero Turn Mower – Best Battery Powered
Whenever I purchase lawn equipment, I make sure they don’t come with cables or fuel tanks because they are not my cup of tea. Get Ryobi’s small zero-turn mower if you want a battery-powered zero-turn mower, as I did. Don’t mistake its battery operation for a high-end price tag.
Of course, battery-powered mowers come at a staggering price, but the Ryobi’s zero-turn mower is an exception. And even though it doesn’t cost much, the manufacturers still ensure to deliver the best zero-turn mower.
Let me highlight the powerful brushless motors that drive this zero-turn mower at great speeds. It is a 38-inch riding mower and is comfortable enough to eliminate tons of grass in no time.
Ryobi’s zero-turn mower comes with 75 AH batteries. I had the whole garden done in two hours, the battery lasted for me throughout the process. Using this mower, I was able to get rid of up to 2.5 acres of grass on a single charge in a short time.
Many users would oppose that they have to recharge the battery every time they use it. Then again, you are saving on fuel by getting this energy-efficient zero-turn lawn mower. For me, there was nothing to worry about recharging this mower. I used to recharge it after every use, so it was ready for me to use the next time.
Now you must also be curious to know what kind of blades this zero-turn mower comes with. Ryobi’s zero-turn mower has a 42-inch steel deck and two precision-cut steel blades for cutting grass effectively. Honestly, I found the deck very flexible; it does what it is supposed to do.
Now, testing the real part, the zero turns feature. For me, this mower, with aggressive zero-turn technology, made a series of turns to cut even smaller gaps around obstacles. I have some sharp and round edges around my garden, and at times, it is very hectic to take care of them. But Ryobi’s zero-turn mower made the whole procedure very simple for me.
If you look at it, it does seem huge and weighs 700 pounds, but it was swift compared to many of the mowers available.
I loved how this mower has all these amazing onboard features, including; control to engage the cutting blades, LED headlights, and displays the battery level & run-time; a built-in USB charging port that helps you to charge your mobile.
2. Craftsman 17ARFACT091 46-Inch Hydrostatic – Best Beginner Friendly
I usually come across friends and readers complaining about how complex it is to operate lawnmowers or other gardening machinery as a beginner. If you have been searching for a beginner-friendly small zero-turn lawn mower, then your research will end with the Craftsman 17ARFACT091 Zero Turn Mower.
Using this one is a piece of cake, which is why I would recommend this to all beginners.
In terms of operation, it is gas-powered with a 3.5-gallon gas tank. The mower has a powerful Kohler twin-cylinder engine that delivers over 23 horsepower and enough power to drive up to 6.5 MPH!
I used this machine for almost 40 hours this year, and there was not a single issue I would like to report. Everything worked perfectly for me, including; the oil change, cleaning and replacing the blades, and especially the price.
Now let’s talk about the zero-turn radius Craftsman’s 17ARFACT091 has. The directional changes were quick and easy for me, but I couldn’t move from or up slopes exceeding 15 degrees. I don’t know what the problem was, but I tried everything, and nothing worked for me here.
The mower’s seat was comfortable for me, and I liked how it could be adjusted to fit a woman’s and a man’s bodies. The width of this mower’s cutting deck was 46 inches, and the adjustable height was from 1.25 inches to 3.75 inches.
Adjustable height for cutting was why I went for this mower, as it helped me customize my lawn. Overall, I found it the perfect choice for any lawn care beginner looking to get more done with less effort.
3. Husqvarna MZ61 Zero turn Mower – Best High End
I am a huge fan of high-end gardening machinery brands. Not because I have a lot of extra cash, but how high-end brands work is amazing! If you are looking for the best high-end small zero-turn mower, then the Husqvarna MZ61 Mower is a powerful one to consider.
Until now, all of the mowers I reviewed here were somehow best fitted to lawns at home except this one. It works well for home but will work more efficiently for commercial purposes.
What I loved the most about this zero-turn lawn mower was its unique design that allowed me to cut the grass in a single motion. I didn’t have to repeat the motions again and again and had everything done in a single go.
In terms of engine power, this zero-turn mower comes with a 27 Horsepower Briggs Start engine that gave me high performance in the garden. The deck is 61 inches wide and has an ergonomic lift of 11 gauge steel.
As soon as I received this one, I immediately started it and worked on it for 4.5 hours. Since its purchase, it has handled my three-acre yard with incredible skill.
Another thing that I love here is the 5-gallon capacity. As you all know, I have a huge garden, so I often run out of fuel with traditional lawnmowers. With this one, I had enough fuel to complete my whole lawn and still have some fuel left for me for the next use.
Also, because this is one premium small zero-turn mower, you can expect it to have some unique features. Among the features I liked the most were making the deck setting from the operator’s seat and cutting the height adjustment lever located at the right side of the chair.
These controls were all conveniently located in front of the seat, which helped me move smoothly. I could see if it was time to service the mower from the Hour Meter.
This feature ensured I never had to worry about forgetting or making mistakes when it was time to service the mower. I would say it’s perfect for any gardener, with easy-to-use controls and a high-quality deck. The price here is high, but you get what you pay for.
4. Ariens IKON-X Zero Turn Mower – Best Value
How often might we have invested in a product and ended up with little to no outcomes? Now and then, right?! Because of this reason, I have included the best value small zero-turn lawn mower in my list. Ariens IKON-X zero mower is designed to provide the best value for money.
This lawnmower is fantastic; it is simple to assemble and works flawlessly. I have five acres of some of the worst weeds and grass, yet the mower didn’t disappoint me since it is so well-built. My lawn tractor’s cutting time has been reduced by half.
Let me first share some quick specs with you. This zero-turn lawn mower comes with a powerful 23-hp Kawasaki engine. For me, this powerful engine cuts through even the toughest lawns with its excellent build quality.
The fully tubular steel frame ensured the machine lasted longer. I am not bragging, but the build quality of this one was worth the praise. It was rock solid, and I believe it would work longer than expected.
Now let’s look at the deck and blades. This mower has a 12-gauge steel blade for long-lasting durability and a 52-inch cutting deck to give you the most cutting area possible. And because of this reason, I would say this one is more than ideal for huge estates.
Despite all these pros, I have a huge drawback with this zero-turn lawn mower. The cutting decks were not wide enough to give me that right cut. I am hoping the manufacturers will take care of this point next time.
I appreciate how the Ariens IKON-X featured super-efficient air tires and power levers in the front of the driving seat with adjustable bars. This ensured I enjoyed the ride while mowing.
5. Snapper 360Z Zero Turn Mower – Best Zero Turn Mower For Small Gardens
You don’t need heavy machinery to garden if you have a small compact garden. Instead, you can get the work done using small and compact lawn mowers like the Snapper 360Z, one of the best Zero turn mowers for small gardens.
Don’t underestimate this zero-turn lawn mower because it is only 36-inch. Even after being so compact, it cuts grass quickly and effectively. I tried to move the front yard of my house using this mower, and the results were quite satisfactory.
Because it is unsuitable for huge lawns, you can expect this one to have a limited fuel capacity. The Snapper 360Z lawn mower offers a 19hp Briggs and Stratton engine that’s as quiet as it is powerful, and the tank holds 3 gallons of fuel.
As my lawn is way too huge, it wasn’t able to last me for even half of the way. So, this might not be the perfect choice for people having huge gardens. Additionally, a fuel indicator made it easier for me to monitor the fuel level at all times.
I would like to mention one useful thing about this zero-turn lawn mower: the rear cargo bed. This was helpful for me in storing gardening necessities like fertilizer or seeds while mowing.
The blades and decks both over this zero-turn mower were way too efficient. Cutting decks with 61″ width are made from 10-gauge steel, providing excellent protection against obstacles. Also, I noticed that each blade has three sharp pivots for precise cutting, which was helpful in removing extra weeds.
I love it when I have adjustable features on equipment because it gives me a sense of customization and control. Using this mower, it was easy to adjust the mower deck using a foot pedal, and the level of efficiency was just incredible.
This mower is ideal for small commercial spaces and residential yards, but I would not recommend it for people with big spaces. If you still plan on buying this one, then be prepared for the extra fuel costs.
6. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ Zero Turn Mower– Best Small Zero Turn Mower
Flowerbeds look so wonderful when they are taken care of. Many traditional mowers I used would often not turn around flower beds or obstacles. Like with one of the mowers, I destroyed my beautiful flower bed.
I found the Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ easy to use for small and medium-sized yards. I mowed the big lawn in my backyard and the front lawn without the hassle. This zero-turn mower has a 34-inch cutting deck, which I found more suitable for residential yards. I spent less time and effort cutting grass with the twin-blade system.
The best thing for me was its design, which helped me cut through the toughest weeds and grasses. This is a suitable fit for your backyard or any small lot. Troy-Bilt’s Mustang Fit has a powerful 452cc engine with EZT hydrostatic transmission designed to mow large amounts of rough grass with sufficient power.
Plus, I could adjust the seat to match my comfortable driving position. It also has ergonomic handles that are designed for comfort. Overall the wheels on this zero-turn mower were quite comfortable for improved traction on pavement and mud. Also, I found that the rear wheels are designed to handle more aggressive terrain with a wider track.
For your satisfaction, the company offers a 2-year limited residential warranty. One thing I dislike about this zero-turn mower is the lack of attachments like a rear bagger. How will I transport seeds or fertilizers across my garden if I don’t have such attachments?
7. Swisher Z3166CPKA Zero Turn Mower– Overall Best
On number 7, I have the beast; this thing here will win all the games. Swisher Z3166CPKA is the best zero-turn mower for commercial and home use. Gosh, I love the Mowing speeds over this one! Previously I used to mow my lawn in about 2 or 3 hours.
With the Swisher, I cut this time in half and got even better results. It has a powerful and high-torque 31 HP engine with powerful cutting ability. Due to this, I had a very good time mowing. Everything was done so smoothly while I was seated and relaxed in my chair.
This zero-turn mower comes with grade cast iron blade spindles with 3 G6 mulching blades. For my large land area, this mower was an ideal choice as it was able to cut through thick grass and tall weeds.
It has a self-stabilizing axle, ensuring the mower remains stable when driving around. Also, I like how it comes with this deluxe adjustable suspension seat which I had never noticed on other lawnmowers.
Now coming towards the control system, which was again superb here. It had this unique front-drive system, which allowed easy maneuverability. I loved how It featured a cutting width of 61 inches and a Cutting height of 1.25 – 5 inches that I was able to adjust.
It is a commercial lawn mower with 8 gallons and 8 MPH capacity. And with this fuel tank, I could have at least 3 to 4 rounds in my garden. I loved everything on the Swish zero-turn lawn mower except its size. This beast is heavy and bulky at the same time, but it performs the best again, so I don’t mind getting this one.
How Did I Test The Zero Turn Lawn Mowers?
Firstly, before testing these lawnmowers, I let my lawn grow uninterruptedly. Because I wanted to get real results, I made sure the lawn was fully grown so I could know more about which one to go for. Because many of the zero-turn lawnmowers were suitable for small yards and even flowerbed spaces, I tried to utilize my front driveway lawns.
Before I started the trial and testing process, I wanted to clarify what kind of zero-turn mowers I ordered. Like whether they are battery-operated or fuel powered. If they are battery-powered, I fully charge them before using them. And for the gas-powered ones, I ensured to get the fuel.
I started with testing the mowers all around my backyard lawn, of course. Because it is huge and has many stubborn weeds and grass growing out, I thought this was the perfect place to start.
For the time being, I started with blade testing and how wide the decks are. Because I have a thick lawn, I wanted to ensure the blades were sharp enough (which they were) to cut through even the stubborn grass.
Next, I also tried some of the adjustable features of the deck, like adjusting the height. Such features are really helpful in providing a sense of control and customization, so I made sure to look out for them in every zero-turn lawn mower.
To check how long a mower can last on a field, I made sure to use them until they were no longer operating or were empty on gas. I noted the time side by side to estimate how long each zero-turn mower could last. As I aim to get a zero-turn lawn mower, I tried running the mower to some congested corners and edges to check whether it could move swiftly or not.
Lastly, I looked for the comfortability factor in the seats. Because if the seats are not comfortable, you will have sore muscles by the end of the day. I checked every seat to see whether it was comfortable or adjustable
Zero-turn mowers are ideal for maneuvering sharp curves, obstacles, and landscaping beds. But you should educate yourself on zero-turn mowers before you buy one, what features you should look for, and how they work. You might also like to check out my other article detailing how long zero-turn mowers last.
I provided a buying guide for lawnmowers and covered the 7 Best Small Zero Turn Mowers review. Take the tips into consideration and trust your intuition.
Hopefully, you have already decided on which zero-turn lawn mower to go for your garden. If not, let me share some of my favorites:
- If you need a great residential mower, the Snapper 360Z is a great choice.
- For the best performance, go for the Swisher Z3166CPKA Zero Turn Mower.
- And if you need something beginner-friendly, opt for the Craftsman 17ARFACT091 46-Inch Hydrostatic.
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