Is a Zero-Turn Mower Worth It?

d19475c4-daa1-4b0a-9e83-ec156c9286a2_1000Can a ZTR really cut your mowing time in half? Is it worth the extra cost? Is there anything that a lawn tractor can do better? Here’s everything you need to know to decide if a Cub Cadet ZTR is right for you.

What is a ZTR?

A Zero Turning Radius (ZTR) mower has two drive wheels and two or more wheels mounted on casters. Instead of a direct connection between the wheels and the engine, the motor drives a hydraulic pump, and the pressure from this pump is used to drive two hydraulic motors, one for each drive wheel. Power reaching each wheel can be varied, so the mower can be turned by making one wheel go faster than the other. Set one wheel to go forward and the other in reverse at the same speed, and the mower can spin in place.

What Should I Look at When Considering a ZTR?

There are two major types of ZTR: front deck and mid deck. A front deck mower places the deck ahead of the frame, giving a clear view of the area being mowed and can be pushed into corners, reducing the need to trim. A mid deck mower places the deck beneath the operator like a lawn tractor, making the mower more compact and maneuverable. It’s also easier to build a floating deck on a mid mount, which helps the deck follow the contours of the soil for a better finish. Currently, Cub Cadet only makes mid deck mowers. This design lets them deliver the best finish possible.

Decks can be stamped or constructed. Stamped decks are pressed from a sheet of steel and have a rounded mowing chamber with minimal turbulence. This provides increased vacuum, pulling grass toward the blades for the best mowing finish. Constructed decks are made by welding together several pieces of thick steel, reducing vacuum and finish quality in exchange for increased durability.

ZTR’s can be controlled with lap bars or a steering wheel. Lap bars are levers that let you control each wheel motor independently. These “tank” controls can take a while to learn. Some new mowers like Cub Cadet’s S Series use a steering wheel with a pair of pedals, one to go forward and one for reverse. These are as easy to learn as a lawn tractor, and they’re easier to handle when mowing on slopes.

What Can a ZTR Do that a Lawn Tractor Can’t?

The steering system on a ZTR makes it easy to line up for overlapping passes, mowing the lawn without leaving strips. It’s also possible to get the deck much closer to trees, fences and other obstacles, cutting the amount of trimming that will need to be done after the mow. This can mean major time savings when mowing heavily landscaped lawns.

What Can a Lawn Tractor Do that a ZTR Can’t?

Since they don’t have the complicated drive system of a ZTR, a tractor is far less expensive, especially compared to steering wheel-controlled models. That complexity also means maintenance and repair costs are also higher on a ZTR than a tractor. If you don’t need the added maneuverability to get around trees and other objects, it may not be worth the extra cost.

Lawn and garden tractors can handle much heavier attachments, and they usually don’t need ballast weights. If you need to use heavy equipment like snow plows or tillers, a garden tractor may be the best choice regardless of price.

Where Can I Get Parts for Cub Cadet Mowers? is a certified Cub Cadet dealer, carrying all the parts for their ZTR, riding and walk-behind mowers as well as other equipment ranging from tractors to leaf blowers. Our site can show you factory parts diagrams and descriptions, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. We can ship anything you need to any address in the U.S. and Canada.

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