How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower

How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower

How to Mow With a Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Getting a shiny new zero-turn lawn mower is exciting, especially if you've never owned one before. If you're a first timer, though, you might have questions about how to use a zero-turn mower.

To help get you mowing, we'll cover all the basics-from proper starting, to driving, to making clean turns. Soon, you'll be mowing with confidence.

Driving a Zero Turn

Zero-Turn Mower Safety

Before using a zero-turn lawn mower, be sure to put on personal protective equipment, including:
  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Safety boots
  • Gloves
  • Long pants

Avoid wearing loose clothing as it has a higher chance of getting caught in the mower's moving parts and cause injury and/or damage to the machine.You should also double check the lawn that you'll be mowing for any debris or obstacles that could damage the mower or be thrown around.

This includes rocks, toys, wires, etc. When driving the mower, avoid going backwards and make turns slowly.

Learn More About Lawn Mower Safety

How to Start a Zero-Turn Mower

Zero Turn ControlsStarting procedures will vary by brand and model, so be sure to consult your owner's manual. Below are general steps for starting a zero turn.

Some steps may or may not apply to your specific mower. The reason there are so many steps is because of built-in safety procedures that prevent the mower from moving or the blades from spinning until you are ready.
  1. Turn the fuel selector valve to draw fuel from the desired tank.
  2. Raise the mower deck to the highest position.
  3. Press the blade/PTO switch down to disengage the blades for safety.
  4. Engage the parking brake (You won't be able to start the mower if the parking brake is disengaged).
  5. Move the throttle control to the middle position.
  6. If the engine is cold, pull the choke control up.
  7. Turn the ignition key to the start position.
  8. Once started, if you used the choke, slowly push it back down.
  9. Set the mower deck height to the desired position.
  10. Disengage the parking brake. Note that while some models have a separate parking brake, others combine it into the steering levers.
  11. Move the throttle control to the fast position.
  12. Bring the steering levers inward.
  13. Pull the blade/PTO switch up to engage the blades.
  14. Push the steering levers forward to begin moving.

How to Drive a Zero-Turn Mower

Mow LinesDriving a zero-turn mower may be intimidating at first, but you'll quickly get used to it. Instead of a steering wheel, you use two lap bars. The best comparison to steering a zero-turn mower is steering a shopping cart. Pushing both levers forward at the same time will make you go forward in a straight line. Pulling both levers backward at the same time will make you go backward in a straight line.

To turn right, push the left control lever farther forward than the right lever. To turn left, push the right control lever farther forward than the left lever.

Once you have the hang of driving in a straight line, and you've mastered the art of making smooth turns on your zero-turn mower, go to one end of your yard and cut straight lines across the grass. You should continue cutting these straight lines back and forth, turning around in the perimeter that you mowed in until you've reached the other end of your lawn.

Don't Tear Up the Grass

ZTR TurnaboutMany people run into the problem of zero turn tires tearing up grass if they make their turns too sharply. The way to avoid this is with a three-point turn. After finishing a pass, make a slight turn toward the uncut area of grass. Stop and reverse by pulling back on the levers. After completing the turn, pull harder on the lever facing the previously mowed area. Straighten out by pushing forward on both control levers.

The goal is to turn while moving forward or backward rather than spinning in a tight circle. This will keep the tires from tearing up your lawn. Repeat this process again and again until you've finished mowing your entire lawn.

How to Use a Zero-Turn Mower on a Hill

Mowing on hills with a zero-turn mower is not recommended for slopes of more than 10 degrees. There is a danger that the z-turn may tip over with you on it. If the slope is less than 10 degrees, you should proceed very carefully.
  • Never mow across slopes, as you can very easily roll over.
  • Only mow up and down the slope at a slow rate of speed.
  • Avoid turning, starting, or stopping on slopes.
  • When turning, don't allow the mower deck to be on higher ground than you are. Keep the mower deck on the lower ground.
  • Watch out for bumps and obstacles that may cause a rollover.
  • Avoid mowing on slopes near ditches, embankments, or other uneven terrain types.
Grassy Hill

How to Stop a Zero-Turn Mower

Exact procedures for stopping a zero-turn mower again depend on your specific model. Consult your owner's manual for details. The general steps for stopping are as follows:
  1. Move the steering levers to the neutral position, then move the steering levers outward.
  2. Engage the parking brake.
  3. Press the blade/PTO switch down to disengage the blades.
  4. Turn the ignition key to the stop position.

Mow Like Never Before

Once you understand how to safely start, stop, and operate your zero-turn, you'll look forward to mowing the lawn every time. If you need more information, contact our lawn mower experts.


NEXT: How to Pick the Perfect Zero Turn Lawn Mower

Dale, the Power Equipment Expert
Power Equipment Expert
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