How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower

Most beginners are often confused about how to drive a zero turn mower as it seems to be quite difficult, when it comes to controlling, moving, and turning the ride. There are quite a few reasons that make it stand out specifically for mowing the lawn in half the time. This vehicle not only offers controlled change in direction but also makes subtle movement.

Although there are some people who still can’t think of switching to a zero turn mower only because of not knowing how to drive it. In this blog, we’ll be teaching all the basics and safety features of driving a zero turn mower.

Basics of Driving Zero Turn Mower

Zero turn mowers move about with the help of its rear wheel, similar to all the primary level lawn mowers. One of the key aspects that differ it from other mowers is that it can be independently controlled that enables it to take turns within the zero turn radius.

Mainly, the zero turn lawn mowers work on the two basic levels to move around instead of having the steering wheel. Unlike your ordinary transports, when you have to operate through the levels, you have to drive forward, backward and to turn.

Operating the Zero Turn Properly

Zero turn mowers aren’t that hard to operate. You also have to get familiarized with the controls and its mechanism for engaging its only rear wheels properly. It doesn’t operate within a larger turning radius. As when the vehicle turns, one of the wheels turns whereas the other moves forward. This entire scenario causes spinning motion in a shorter radius.

Moving Forward

If you want to move forward with your zero turn mower then initially, you have to move both the levers to a neutral position. After that you can push those levels to the front and away from yourself. The more you’ll push, the more increase in speed you’ll come across.

For moving straight, just apply uniform pressure to both levers.

Moving Backward

Now if you want to move backward then again take the lever back to a neutral position which could be the center. After then you should keep an eye on the back while slowly pulling both the levers back towards you.

Turning Left

For turning left, you have to reduce the pressure on the left lever but keep pushing the right one forward.

Turning Right

For turning to the right, you have to reduce pressure on the right lever and push the left one ahead.

Stopping & Moving to Zero Turn Mower

For those who have observed the zero turn lawn mowers closely, they must have known that there aren’t any brakes or gas pedals in it. As we’ve explained that it uses the given levers to operate. For going straight and moving faster, you just have to keep the lever steady in whatever direction you’re going.

The average speed of the traditional mowers can range upto 5 miles per hour. However, mainly zero turn lawn mowers move around 13 miles per hour.

However, when it comes to stopping the lawn mower, it’s easier than moving ahead. You just need to practice riding it as all you need to do is take your levers from wherever they are to the neutral position that’s the center.

Turning Zero Turn Lawn Mowers

One of the most interesting things about the zero turn mowers is getting close to the unexpected hindrances and taking a turn with zero radius. It’s just like you’re spinning on your feet, it can also move 360 degrees without even moving forward and backward unnecessarily. However, such a quick turn can result in holed ground or damaged grass.

For getting a more precise turn, you’ll be recommended to try out three-point turn. First, slow down before turning, then slightly turn and back up. Finally, you can complete the turn again for the next turn. The major objective behind is to give all the wheels engaged reducing the risk of collapsing the vehicle.

Taking Zero Turn Mowers to Hills

Zero turn mowers are quite fragile to turn due to its reduced turning ratio. As this vehicle has its operational wheels on the back, it should not be taken anywhere having the gradient of more than 15 degrees angle. It means when the inclination is too steep then getting it to the top would be difficult and getting it down would result in collapsing.

Even if you have quite a grip over the controls, you still have to keep it in uniform space for safety measures. Some advanced mowers also have specific features including balance, extra grip, and traction to even get you through steep terrain.

Precautionary Measures When Mowing

Although the radius of turning the zero turn lawn mower is shorter than most lawn mowers, yet it is relatively faster in speed. You have to be extra careful while driving or using it for mowing purposes. Initially, riding it on steeper slopes should be avoided.

For mowing it on the slope, you have to ensure that the grass is dry before usage so the friction would be maintained. It is going to maximise the wheel grip on the ground. Don’t take any sharp turns as it’ll either ruin your fine grass or collapse the vehicle.

Lastly, you have to be careful from any sort of hindrance that may result in mishap including swings or letterboxes. Even if you have full control over the mechanics, you can still trip over or damage them. Regular maintenance of the zero turn mower is necessary for making sure its safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you control the zero turn mower without a steering wheel?

The zero turn mower operates on levers, instead of steering wheels. You have to control the lever to move forward, backward, or take any turns.

Is zero turn difficult to drive?

No, it’s just like riding a bike. You have to be steady and careful while being aware of the necessary controls to keep it going.

How does a zero turn lawn mower save more time than a lawn tractor?

Among all the lawn mowers, only the zero turn mower has the ability to turn around without reversing. Moreover, the speed is relatively more than usual lawn tractors.


Zero turn lawn mowers aren’t that complicated to start with. Once you know all the operating options and precautionary measures then you can easily make the mower up and running. Even if you don’t understand the mechanics at once, practice will make you perfect.

However, for availing of proper functions of the vehicle, it is necessary to undergo regular maintenance.

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