(ARA) - The hottest trend in home mowing is a fast, fun tool that the professionals have been using for decades: zero-turn-radius mowers. Once considered too costly for home use, zero-turn-radius mowers are now priced to compete with common lawn tractors.
The name says it all when it comes to the advantages of a zero turn. The lever-controlled mowers can turn on a dime, making it possible to cut closer to landscaping beds, trees and other obstacles. The quick turning ability also means you are able to cut more lawn, faster. This flexibility has made them the choice of landscaping professionals. A new generation of lower-cost, smaller mowers is now putting the power in the hands of the homeowner, as well.
"If you don't like spending a lot of time on mowing, a zero-turn-radius mower may be for you, because it can cut your time spent mowing as much as 50 percent," says Adam Mullet, product manager for Excel Hustler, the company that first introduced zero-turn-radius mowers in 1964. "If you enjoy mowing your lawn, a zero-turn-radius mower can make the experience even more fun."
Zero-turn mower owners readily agree that the mowers are faster and more fun to use. "I can cut my lawn in 50 minutes now," says J. McCallum of Macon, Ga. "It was taking 3 1/2 hours to cut my lawn before." N. Murphy of Okefenokee, Fla., says "You will beg your grass to grow just so you can have the fun of cutting it! Grass-cutting is now a sport for me, not a chore."
When shopping for a zero-turn-radius mower, consider the following questions:
1. How much lawn do you need to mow?
If your lawn is less than half an acre, you can likely get by with a walk-behind push mower. A residential quality zero-turn mower will handle a lawn half an acre to five acres in size. For yards more than five acres, consider a commercial quality product.
2. Does your property have a lot of hills and slopes?
Few residential quality mowers will have the power and durability to tackle a very hilly environment, Mullet says. If your property is hilly, consider a professional quality mower. Extreme slopes should only be tackled with a walk-behind.
3. How much trimming will you need to do?
If your lawn has a lot of landscaping beds or other mowing obstacles, a zero-turn mower can cut your mowing time significantly. The mowers' flexibility allows you to cut within inches of tree trunks, phone poles, etc. You can mow right up to the edge of a mulching bed, eliminating the need to do additional trimming with a string trimmer. Evaluating the amount of trimming you'll do will help you decide if you need a smaller mowing deck -- 36 inches -- to get into tight spots, or if you can use a larger 52-inch deck.
4. How is the mowing deck constructed?
Many manufacturers stamp the mowing deck out of one piece of steel. Points where the steel bends or curves can be thin and susceptible to rust. Consider a mower with a welded mowing deck. Welded decks are stronger, and will last longer, than average stamped decks, Mullet notes.
5. What engine types and cutting widths are available?
Consider power and reliability when selecting your mower. A low-cost garden tractor (one costing in the range of $1,500) may last only a few years, Mullet says. However, with a good engine, a zero-turn mower can last 20 years or more with proper care and handling. Also, does the manufacturer offer a range of deck sizes - typically 36, 44 and 52 inches - to meet your needs?
6. Will the dealer/manufacturer permit you to test drive the mower?
The answer should be "yes." The only way to know how a particular zero-turn mower will perform on your lawn is to mow your lawn with it. Most good dealers will let you take the mower home for a test drive. Take the opportunity to evaluate not only the mower's performance, but how well it meets your particular mowing needs.
7. If you will be doing your own routine maintenance, how easy is the mower to service?
Maintenance needs for zero-turn mowers are comparable to those of traditional garden tractors. If you will be doing your own routine maintenance, consider a mower that provides easy access to all maintenance points.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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