When it comes to mowing, the ideal scenario is to take as little time as possible in getting a picture-perfect lawn. Nothing does this better than a mower with better maneuverability, faster mowing times, increased efficiency while keeping you comfortable. This aptly describes what the very best zero turn mowers can do. This article is a review of the best zero turn mowers for rough terrain, it would help you select one that is perfect for your needs.
The guide also contains some useful tips on what to look for when shopping for the absolute best zero turns. These are very handy tips so you don’t end up spending too much money purchasing a product that performs way below your expectations.
Top 10 Best Zero Turn Mower For Rough Terrain
Kicking off this review of the best zero turn mowers for rough terrain is the versatile MZ61 zero-turn mower by Husqvarna. This powerful, entry-level commercial grade mower comes fitted with a 24 HP Kawasaki engine with hydrostatic transmissions. This engine, combined with the 61-inch cutting width, delivers consistently impressive cuts with little time spent no matter the size of the property.
Perfect for medium to large lawns, it offers the ultimate in comfortable, smooth rides on rough and bumpy terrains with its foam-padded hand grips, high back seat, ergonomic armrests, and vibration dampeners. The seat can easily be adjusted with the decking lifting system to accommodate variations in the height of users. And with the roll-over protection system, you are assured of your safety in all conditions.
By all accounts, this Husqvarna zero turn mower is a really impressive machine, and easily passes for the best zero turn mower for rough terrain. But it would set you back quite a few bucks due to the high price. The size and cost make it unsuitable for small residential lawns.
Up next is the Husqvarna MZ61 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Hydrostatic zero turn mower that is so similar to the Husqvarna mower above. However, there are important differences that stand this less expensive model apart. For your investment, you are getting a zero turn mower with a similarly impressive cutting width of 61 inches and a 27 HP engine to power you through rough terrains and hills at impressive speeds.
As well as the comfy rides, adjustable decks, cutting size, fabricated deck for durability, and easy deck adjustment system, it also comes with similar grass handling capabilities. Your cut grass clippings can either be discharged, mulched, or even bagged using the 9-bushel triple bag collection system.
But unlike the first Husqvarna, this 27 HP machine is fitted with a Briggs & Stratton engine instead of the more popular Kawasaki. Also, there is no rollover protection so you might want to ride more carefully on bumpy and hilly lawns.
The Ariens Ikon XD is a fully fabricated mower with strong welded joints for exceptional durability. This versatile mower is perfect for both residential and commercial uses with its 52-inch cutting width and easy maneuverability enhanced by a convenient manual foot lift for convenient handling around tight corners and narrow spaces.
Equipped with a 23 HP Kawasaki engine, it packs more than enough power to tackle any lawn and prevent engine stalls on even hellishly punishing terrains. The 11 gauge fabricated steel design comes with a 4″ deep deck that consistently delivers cuts expected from premium mowers. In quarter-inch adjustments, you can easily choose from an amazing 13 cutting positions starting from about 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches.
The mower ticks all the right boxes when it comes to comfort. It features a soft, thickly padded high-backed seat with height-adjustable padded armrests. While everything seems to be perfect with this residential zero turn mower, it would have been nice if a fuel level indicator was included so users get a heads up when to refuel.
With its 24HP Kohler twin-engine, the sleek, red and black Craftsman zero turn mower is built to last. The cutting width of 50 inches provides just the right cutting size for midrange properties. Make no mistake though, the Kohler engine makes it a great mower for bigger lawns too. And with no primer or choke, you’re assured of consistent and reliable engine starts.
Made from alloy steel, it is equipped with a dual hydrostatic transmission that pairs with the high back seats for the ultimate in lumbar support and comfort during operations. And you get to pick the cutting height that works best. It cuts at a maximum height of just under 4 inches with a minimum of about 1.25 inches.
While the steel frame is robust, the downside is that it’s not fabricated. This might be cause for concern in terms of durability for long-term commercial uses. And with no rollover protection feature, mowing at top speeds is not recommended especially on rough terrains and hills.
The Simplicity Contender XT zero turn mower is the new beast on the block that is getting the kind of reviews that marks it out as one that is here to stay. With a 52-inch cutting width, it is pitched as ‘Designed for larger commercial mowing jobs.” But with a Stratton & Briggs engine, you’d want to think this is more of a residential mower that can easily handle medium to large properties.
The design includes a fabricated, 10 gauge deck for durability. It also features a unique 5-step integrated cyclonic air management system that protects the engine against dust and debris for enhanced engine life. And to give you that buying confidence, a limited lifetime warranty is included in the package
The mower isn’t all about rigged performance and durability though. Riding comfort is taken care of by the combined actions of the pivoting front axles, adjustable rear coil-over suspensions. The overall utility also extends to the ease and convenience of adjusting the cutting deck using the Mower Deck Lift System: simply push a foot pedal to adjust the cutting position to the desired height.
Comfort, convenience, and versatility are all packed into this Ariens Edge zero turn mower powered by a 726 cc Kawasaki twin engine. Its 52-inch fabricated cutting deck syncs perfectly with a 4-point hanging system to deliver a robust, durable, and consistent cutting performance on rough and hilly terrains. It comes equipped with cutting-edge hydrostatic transmissions engineered for smooth and effortless control at different speeds.
Like most premium zero turn mowers, users’ comfort is prioritized in the design. The impression of floating on air while riding is enhanced by the comfortable large rear tires, high back seat, seat bearings, and sealed ball bearings. And the foot-operated deck lift system offers an easy pathway to deck height adjustment to accommodate different adult sizes.
Great for large residential mowing, it is packed with entry level commercial features making it a perfect fit for infrequent commercial uses. It comes with a couple of downsides though. Some might find the seat rather narrow and when riding up slopes, the leg tends to rest uncomfortably on the power buttons.
The third Husqvarna model in this review is a premium rough terrain zero turn mower for residential and entry level commercial uses. The price tag reflects that too. It is designed with a 54-inch steel cutting deck powered by a 26 HP Kohler engine to give you all the necessary power to make lawn maintenance a delightful experience.
It is designed with some really awesome features such as the lubrication system and filter that promotes high-speed mowing, an air induction technology that pulls air topside and underneath the deck for superior grass cutting, a unique brake system that kicks in when the steering levers are moved forward or backward, and three ways of handling grass clippings – discharging, bagging, or mulching. However, you’d have the get the mulching and bagging accessories separately.
Aside from the relatively high cost of the mower, the manufacturers missed a beat using stamped steel cutting deck instead of fabricated steel. This is partially offset by the use of reinforced steel though.
If you are looking for an awesome zero turn mower for hills as well as rough terrains with solid tires for traction, this Ariens zero turn mower is a great choice. With its 52-inch fabricated cutting deck powered by a 726cc Kawasaki V-twin engine generating a maximum speed of up to 7mph, it effortlessly delivers very efficient and fast cutting for large yards.
The sturdy feel and looks of the mower is basically down to the 11 gauge frame supporting all the components. The cutting deck is adjustable to a maximum cutting height of 4.5 inches using the conveniently placed foot pedal from a low of 1.5 inches. In terms of comfortable riding, this hydrostatic transmission mower has it all including adequate suspensions, a cup holder, and an adjustable seat with a padded high backrest.
Though this mower is great for hills, slopes above 30° might pose a problem and you might want to ease up on the speed on bumpy terrains as that puts too much stress on the engine.
Say hello to the Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34, one of the best budget zero turn mowers with a 34-inch cutting deck making it perfect for smaller yards or lawns. Its 452cc Troy-Bilt engine combines perfectly with a unique dual EZT hydrostatic transmissions to deliver more than enough power to cut even the toughest grass while delivering a worry-free performance consistently.
Made of reinforced heavy-duty steel for durability, it features everything you’d expect from the best products despite its compact size. This includes comfortable padded seats, a high back seat with dual suspensions and enough legroom for stress-free rides, and relatively high rear wheels for tackling rough terrains.
While a slim and compact profile makes this mower awesome for those with little storage space, keep in mind that it might be too narrow for huge or above average-sized users.
This Craftsman Z560 riding lawn mower is another amazing choice for large yards or small to medium commercial uses. Under the hood, the 24 HP Stratton & Briggs engine delivers enough power for fast and efficient cuts while the ReadyStart technology ensures consistently quick and reliable starts.
Featuring the popular hydro-gear EZT transmission for the smallest and tightest turning circles, it is designed with a high back seat for ultimate comfort, 20 inch rear tires for greater ground clearance, and a 54-inch cutting deck to cover a lot of ground in one pass. And with the ability to mow reverse, you have little reason to pause mowing needlessly.
However, mowing downhill on steep slopes can be tricky due to the absence of a standard braking system. So the learning curve includes knowing how to mow downhill in reverse to prevent losing control.
Buying Guide: Best Zero Turn Mower For Rough Terrain
This section walks you through the most important factors and features to consider when shopping for the best zero turn mower for rough terrain. You want to keep them in mind so you don’t end up spending too much money or worse, buying a mower with sub par performance.
Know the specs of your current mower
If you are upgrading or replacing your zero turn mower, knowing all the crucial info about your current mower before you go shopping ensures that you purchase a mower that, at least, matches the efficiency and performance of your existing mower.
So make sure you know the following about your current mower:
- The mower model
- Engine size and specs
- Transmission type
- The width of the deck,
- Mower speed
With this information, you are better prepared to compare other mowers to your present model, a prelude to getting one that is just as good or even better.
Your specific needs
Unfortunately, most folks overlook certain critical factors when shopping for zero turn lawnmowers. For instance, how smooth or rough is your terrain? Do you think you might need a mower with suspension because the terrain is pretty rough?
Other unique needs relative to the lawn and mower include:
Deck design – The ideal rough terrain zero turns are models with deck movement not linked to the mower’s body. This allows the deck to sort of float even over rough terrain.
Lawn size – What about the lawn size? If it’s large, then you might opt for a speedier mower with a wide cutting deck. Conversely, cutting grass at high speeds might be extremely uncomfortable if the terrain is rough and bumpy.
For properties larger than three acres, we strongly recommend high end residential zero turn mowers.
On the other hand, if the land size is more than 5 acres or you mow a cumulative land size of more than 5 acres every week, you’re better served with a commercial zero turn mower. Among other features, These models carry a lot more gasoline so you don’t have to stop work to refill the tank.
Hills – Also, the presence of steep hills on your property can be a major issue. Many individuals, to save cost or for lack of guidance, discover they have to use a string trimmer on their rather steep hilly lawns. This is because their mower can’t handle hills due to insufficient engine power and other structural design issues.
Also, it’s important to know your budget before going zero turn mower shopping because you are unlikely to find a mower that delivers everything you want within your budget.
Generally, most residential zero turn mowers retail between $3k and $5k. Don’t expect to find anything worthwhile for less than $3,000.
Know the accessories you need
Perhaps you might require a bagger, mulching blades, headlights, a utility cart, a brush guard/bumper, a canopy, lawn rollers, and lawn sweepers.
In either case, knowing what accessories you’ll need ahead of time allows you to factor them all into your budget.
Stay away from stamped decks
This technical consideration is all about stamped zero turn mower decks vs fabricated zero turn mower decks.
Given a choice, always pick fabricated decks because stamped decks are generally less durable. You can ask the salesperson about this or get the spec sheet from the manufacturer’s website. The information would definitely be found there.
Ask about the warranty
Zero turn mowers are expensive, but knowing that your chosen mower comes with some sort of warranty will give you the peace of mind you need to confidently purchase it.
That said, mowers typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty as well as a transmission and gearbox warranty. The recommendation is that all things being equal, always go for mowers with a complete and longer warranty.
Engine, transmission, built quality
When shopping for zero turn mowers for rough terrain, one way to tell which mower is the best deal is by checking out and comparing components.
For instance, carefully explore your choices to see which product trumps in terms of:
- Built quality
- Engine size or power
- Transmission or transaxles
Built quality – You want a mower that would deliver excellent results for as long as possible with minimal maintenance costs. Features like bigger rear tires with aggressive threads are better for traction and sturdy steel metal parts to ensure durability are factors to keep in mind.
Transmission – There are basically three types of transmissions:
Manual transmission: These are very powerful and give you more control over the speed. But they are more difficult to master.
Automatic transmission: Mowers in this category use pulleys/belt combinations to move the machine. The gear shift is automatic allowing users to focus more on mowing
Hydrostatic transmission: More expensive than other models, they utilize fluid pressure to move the wheels, these are the most powerful mowers with automatic engine functions.
Knowing this would guide you towards the choice that is right for you within your budget range.
When it comes to transmission, you want to look at those in the 2000 series (2000 – 2900) if you want a strictly zero turn residential mower.
Transmissions that fall within the 3000 range series are considered commercial or industrial grade.
Engine power – In terms of engines, there are certain letters used to categorize them. The letters used depend on the manufacturer’s preferences.
For instance, the popular Kawasaki engines use FR, FS, FT, & FS to differentiate various engine powers.
At one end are the FR engines for residential mowers and the opposite spectrum feature FX engines for professional zero turn mowers. The other categories are either a step-down or up from both extremes in terms of engine capabilities.
For other engine types, you could check the manufacturer’s website for the categorization.
FAQ: Zero Turn Mower for Rough Terrain
Is Zero Turn Mower Good For Rough Terrain?
Absolutely! Zero turn mowers are like the apex predators of lawnmowers. They are packed with more engine power, tight turning radius, and superior agility making them considerably more efficient compared to other types of mowers.
Do Zero Turns Do Well on Hills?
This depends on how steep the hill is and the mower design. Generally, at 10° incline or less, you can expect your zero turn to get the job done.
But at more than 15° gradient, loss of traction by the front caster wheels might lead to decreased efficiency and control.
How do You Mow a Steep Hill with a Zero Turn?
It is not advisable to mow a steep hill with a zero turn mower especially if the slope is more than 15° due to safety concerns.
That said, if you have to mow steep hills, the following safety and performance tips are recommended:
- Use the seat belt
- Mow at slower speeds.
- Use a mower with a roll-over bar system to mitigate or prevent injury in case of a tip over.
- Avoid making sharp or sudden turns on hills to prevent skidding and in extreme cases a rollover.
- Detach the bagger or other accessories that might increase the mower’s weight causing drag and inhibiting steering control.
- Mow a hillside only when the grass is dry for better traction
How Can I Get Better Traction in My Zero Turn?
When it comes to improving the traction of your zero turn, there are a few things you could do either single on in combination such as:
- Remove some of the air in the tire to lower the pressure
- If you can afford it, install wider and more aggressive wheels.
- Drive your mower at a slow speed when going up or down a hill
- Never make sharp turns on hills to avoid losing traction
- Make turns only on flat grounds
- When mowing a slope, never do it sideways but up and down
How do I Stop My Zero Turn From Spinning?
Several factors can make the wheels spin and tear up the grass. Some common reasons include:
Wet surface – This could be because the grass is wet in which case never mow until the grass is dry.
Poor traction – You could resolve this problem by either replacing the tires with aggressive thread tires or wider tires. Additionally, you could lower the pressure.
Speeding on hills – Zero turn mower spinning can also be a result of mowing a steep hill too fast. Driving slowly can resolve the issue.
Making sharp turns – On level ground, you might lose traction while making a sharp turn. The best solution is to bring the mower to a complete stop, then move slowly forward while turning in the direction of the uncut grass.
Are Zero Turns Stable on Hills?
This depends on how steep the hill is. Generally, zero turn mowers are stable on gently sloping his no more than 10°.
But on steep hills that slope at angles above 15°, their stability and cutting efficiency are greatly compromised.
What is the Most Comfortable Riding Zero Turn Mower?
This is more about the presence of features that promote comfort while using the mower. For ultimate comfort, you want a riding zero turn mower that comes with adjustable seats, armrests that are comfortably padded, plenty of room for your legs, and suspensions so that getting over bumps are not overly jarring to the body.
That is our exhaustive guide on the best zero turn mower for rough terrain. Although there are several dozens of zero turn mowers out there, the products listed in this article would very much serve your need adequately without worrying about quality and reliability.