The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful: The Pros and Cons of Zero Turn Mowers

 The Dixie Chopper Xcalibur has one of the best cuts in the lawn mower world. This is a customer pick from Dixie Chopper

The Dixie Chopper Xcalibur has one of the best cuts in the lawn mower world. This is a customer pick from Dixie Chopper

In the lawn mower world, Zero Turn Lawn mowers are sexy. They’re the sport car, the model, the athlete, the mower that all other mowers want to be. But do you really need a sports car to mow your lawn? Probably. In this post we’re going to explore the pros and cons of the zero turn mower to give you a better idea of what the zero turn lawn mower brings to the table as a lawn-mowing tool.

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to compare a standard zero turn lawn mower to a Kubota BX series tractor with a 60” deck as there are no longer any “Garden tractors” that are heavy duty enough to compare to a zero turn in terms of quality without jumping up to a sub compact tractor.

Cons:

Hills: You’ve heard all the rumors and we’ve talked about it with all of our zero turn customers. Hills can be a problem. That said, with special tires and some good driving, a zero turn can conquer pretty good sized hills. The fact that they’re a little top-heavy means that you should probably not try to tackle anything too steep, and especially anything that is wet. How steep is too steep? Well take a pic and send it to us and we’d be glad to help you figure out the best way to mow it! The Kubota BX series wins this round, four wheel drive and relatively evenly distributed weight means they can climb right up just about any hill.

Fuel Consumption: The bigger the gasoline engine the more fuel consumption you’re going to have. That means that a 33 hp Generac, found on a lot of Dixie Choppers, is going to produce a lot of power, and a great cut, but use a lot of fuel. This is especially so when comparing it to a diesel engine. You might be able to mow your yard a couple more times without filling up with a diesel than with a large gas engine. Kubota does make a 3 cylinder liquid cooled diesel that is the best of both worlds. But for the purpose of this blog, the edge goes to the BX in terms of fuel per hour.

Lack of versatility: Lets just admit it, a BX is a tractor. It has a three point hitch and can come with a loader. This means you can do a lot more with it than a zero turn mower. Zero turns, like Dixie Choppers, are primarily designed to be hot rod lawn mowing machines. You can purchase a snow plow and it comes with a  hitch but you’re still limited by the sleek design that allows you to fly over your turf. There are quit a few things you can do with your Dixie chopper besides mow, but the BX tractors by Kubota still win out in this category.


Pros:

Speed: If the name of the game is getting done quickly and getting on to something else, zero turn lawn mowers win every time. On average, with equal deck size a zero turn will mow your yard in half the time as a riding lawn mower, like a BX. For most people, mowing is a chore, which gives a huge edge to the zero turn mower.

Cut Quality: Zero turns are designed and manufactured to be lawn mowing son of a guns, and that’s what they are. On a zero turn, like a Dixie Chopper, with a high blade tip speed and fabricated deck, you’ll get a better cut than with a riding lawn mower. Now there are exceptions, but as a general rule you’ll get a better cut with a zero turn, especially one with a deck that is clean and blades that are sharp.

Maneuverability: Even though a BX offers great maneuverability in tight places, they have nothing on a zero turn. The zero turning radius that is their namesake allows them to speed around trees and other landscaping obstacles with ease. Again, this allows for a speedier mow job, which has you off your lawn mower and doing whatever you like to do in your spare time as quickly as possible.


When its all said and done. Both machines have their pros and cons. It really comes down to how your lawn is set up, the geography and your personal preferences. One of the components of mowing your lawn is comfort. This is a draw simply because you can make either machine as comfortable as you want. It simply depends on the suspension you choose on your zero turn and the seat. Now obviously if you’re going faster (on a Dixie Chopper, or other zero turn) you’re going to be hitting bumps harder, but that is mostly user controlled. If you need help deciding which mower is best suited for your needs come in or give us a call. We’ve been helping people mow their yards since 1966, and we’d be happy to help you!