Evidently, zero turn lawn mowers are the latest trend in the mowing technology. Their ability to cut grass in a faster and more enjoyable manner is just heavenly. This is enhanced by their hydro-static transmissions that allow for fast turns and easy control-ability.
Zero turn lawn mowers are popular because they feel very comfortable. However, their lack of the traditional steering wheels intimidates some mowers.
Don’t let their steering sticks make you avoid these effective lawn mowers. If you can push a shopping cart, which I believe is no brainier to you; you can drive a zero turn lawn mower.
Thanks to their unusual driving arrangement, there’s a learning curve that comes with these amazing machines. Luckily, it takes a few minutes in the saddle for their intimidation factor to go away. So, how do you drive a zero turn lawn mower safely? That’s what we’re here to discover in this guide, but first.
Benefits of a zero turn mower
Undoubtedly, a zero turn mower is the best for personal use and also the easiest to maintain. Its notable advantages include:
- It does not only enable you to mow a wider area with efficiency but also let you do so within a very short span of time.
- Increased Maneuverability. Its two handles allow for easier control. You can easily make a 180 degrees turn without any hassle. That gives you optimal confidence while using this machine.
- Higher Efficiency. Most models have horsepower ranging 5 to 30. This range provides highest speed for mowing grass thus letting one mow the lawn with greater efficiency.
- Less Strenuous. Compared to a walking lawn mower, this lawn mower requires less strength to mow since you’ll be riding on it. As such, there will be zero chances of muscle strains after using it. This allows you to cover a larger area.
- Saves Time. With this mower, you can mow near obstacles such as flowerbeds and bushes. Therefore, no time is wasted in trimming them before the mowing sessions.
Disadvantages of a zero-turn mower
Perfection is unattainable and this mower has its share of drawbacks which include.
- Unsafe To Use in Sloppy Areas. If your garden slopes at an angle of 10 to 15 degrees, this mower could roll over in such spots.
- At first, it might feel uncomfortable at the helm of a zero-turn mower. This is because of their unique steering system configuration. However, this fades with time.
Air Pollution. Just like other lawn mower models, the zero turn mower is a contributor to air pollution , especially older models that don’t have catalytic converters.
Things to do before Starting to Drive a Zero Turn Lawn Mower
A starter can deem it hard to drive a zero turn lawn mower but that’s not the case. However, it’s vital to first to do these things before getting on the wheels.
- Read the Operator’s Manual. Some mowers have a quick start guide to kick start the gardener. Unfortunately, it might not cover all the you require. As such, take more time to peruse the owner’s manual step by step for more complete information.
- Understand the meaning of zero turn radius. Unlike other lawn mowers, drive wheels for zero turn mower turn interdependently with the help of hydraulic motors on each axle. One side can do a right turn while the other turn reverse, thus causing it to spin in one place. To avoid this, ensure you get right how the zero turn radius-es works.
3. Choose a mower appropriate for your mowing needs. For small and medium-sized lawns that are less than a few 100 sq. feet, this is to the mower for you.
4. Get familiar with all the controls of the mower. Check all the controls on your zero turn lawn mower and ensure you understand the functions of each one of them. Here are the most common controls on these mowers:
- Ignition Switch . Used for cranking the mower.
- Parking Brake. It’s normally engaged to start the mower’s engine.
- It engages the mowing blades.
- Deck height change. Used to adjust the mower’s blades up and down. This depends on the mowing height.
- Steering Arms. Are there in place of the steering wheel. They facilitate the mower in turning and mowing reverse and forward.
Checklists before starting to drive a zero turn lawn mower. Always check the fuel, status of mower’s blades , oil, belts and tires. The tires are critical in this mower because of their turning dynamics that can stress them.
How to Drive a Zero Turn Lawn Mower?
Now it’s time to dive into our main agenda. So, after right checking the above things, you’re good to drive a zero turn mower. Follow these steps.
- Find a sufficiently big location to practice driving it before starting to mow. Practice makes perfect and its importance cannot be overemphasized with this mower. Considering that most of its components will be a new experience for most mowers, it’s advisable to practice adequately and feel comfortable with driving it.
2. Sit on the mower’s seat and prep to begin.
- Adjust the control arms and let them be in a comfortable position. Normally, they will tilt left and right from the center of the mower.
- If your model has the option to adjust the neutral position, do it appropriately depending on your height. This lets you be in a comfortable position as you mow.
- Grasp the control arms and move them backward and forward. This gives you an idea of the motion of the machine. If you release the pressure on the arms they’ll return to a neutral position.
- Push them forward to propel the machine forward.
- Push them backwards to reverse the mower.
- Practice this a little bit before proceeding.
- At this stage, do the following sequentially:
- Engage the parking brake and slowly disengage the clutch.
- Pull the choke knob, if it’s there.
- Advance the throttle lever.
- Turn the key to crank the engine. After it cranks, proceed as below.
- Push the choke knob in and pull the throttle back to ‘fast idle.’
- Release the parking brakes-when you feel ready to roll.
- Push the control arms forward and advance them to make the mower start to move in a straight path.
- If it turns left, advance the left arm to compensate and vice versa. Ideally, the control arm that you push forward will speed the mower towards that side.
- For a straight mow, make the wheels turn at equal speed.
- For left and right turns, advance the opposite control sticks or ease the control on the side you wish to turn. Be patient with yourself and practice this as much as possible in order to enhance your steering ability.
- Pull the control arms backward to back the mower. Do this at a lower engine speed. As you’ll notice, the farther you advance the control arms, the faster it travels.
- Familiarize with the mower deck’s cutting width and path in respect to the drive wheels and the blade’s discharge angle. As you’ll notice, sharp turns can suddenly jam the mower’s deck against an obstacle. Endeavor to mow the widest paths and let the mower’s position be in line with the previous cut.
- Enjoy Mowing. Hoping you’re now familiar with these basic driving controls of the zero turn lawn mower, pull the mower’s control (knob) to engage its blades and starting mowing.
How to Stop a Zero Turn Mower
If they don’t have the foot-pedal with brake, the only way of controlling their speed and direction is using the steering handles. If you advance them forward, the mower’s speed will increase. So, to stop the mower, push the arm backwards.
Tips To Follow When Mowing With a Zero Turn Lawn Mower
- Be more cautious and if possible, avoid steep hills. If you must, avoid turning more than 15 degrees. Also, mow when the grass is dry for maximized traction.
- Avoid mowing near obstacles.
- Watch for bystanders, vehicles and building to minimize the possibility of them being hit by debris from the mower.
I told you that learning how to drive a zero turn lawn mower is really easy, didn’t I? It’s also fun and similar to rowing a boat, isn’t it?
So, I hope this guide has answered all the related inner queries on zero turn lawn mowers. For now, row, row, row your zero turn mower gently on the lawn and all the best in your next mowing session.