Zero Turn Vs. Lawn Tractor: And Which Is Better For Hills?

A push lawn mower is not always a good idea when your house is on a hillside. Because hauling your push mower all the way up and down is less productive and tiresome to get the job done. So, you need a zero turn or lawn tractor for hills.

But which is better: zero turn or lawn tractor? Well, a lot of factors determine that. You need to know all the features between zero turn vs. lawn tractor to understand it fully. And in this article, you will get it all!

Zero Turn Vs. Lawn Tractor

zero turn vs. lawn tractor

Keep in mind that, you will be riding it on a hillside.  So, tipping over is a high probability! Apart from that, there are other issues that need to be taken into your account.

Here are some key differences that you need to be aware of before you make up your mind:

Zero Turn Lawnmower

It is exactly what the name sounds. It’s an expensive mower with a zero turn radius. If you have a large property, it may worth the investment because of its excellent performance.

Lots of lawn care professionals use it and it’s the preferred type for great landscaping. With a series of hydraulic controls on the handles, you have all the controls to pilot it smoothly.

Apart from being more expensive than a lawn tractor, it has all the benefits you want. Without losing your place, you can spin around your lawn and it makes the mowing faster!

Lawn Tractor

It’s another riding mower just like the zero turn and it makes the mowing a lot faster. It’s called a lawn tractor because it looks like a tractor. But the size is a little smaller so that it can fit right in the garage or garden shed.

However, unlike the zero turn kind, it has a larger turning radius. Meaning, you will have to circle back to finish the mowing. That’s the reason it takes extra passes than a zero mower and it can’t zip around garden and trees. That sounds less efficient but it has some advantages too.

First of all, it’s less expensive than a zero turn. More so, it offers extra benefits during the snowy months.

Key Differences Between Lawn Tractor And Zero Turn Mower

self propelled lawn mower under 300

Now that you know the basics of them, it will be easier to compare them hand to hand. When you compare them correctly, you can decide whether zero turn or lawn tractor for hills will be effective for you or not.

You need to consider the incline, landscaping feature, and yard’s size too. Here are the key differentiating points:

  1. Difference in Maneuverability

This is where you will see the clear difference between the two when it comes to easy maneuverability. Due to the wide turn radius, a lawn tractor driver has to back up a little to finish the job.

But a zero turn mower can make a 180 degrees turn that eliminates the need to repeat the process again and again. So yes, it’s a lot faster!

If your lawn/garden has landscaping features and obstructions like trees, zero turn mowers will be a great option. The level of maneuverability it offers is simply unparalleled and it can go around such objects easily. That’s the reason it gets the job down quickly than a lawn tractor.

But if you compare the lawn tractor with a walk-behind or push mower, the lawnmower is way faster to get the job done.

  1. The Speed

A professional-grade zero turn mower has a speed of 8 to 16 mph whereas a typical lawn tractor has a speed of 3 to 7 mph. So, it’s clear that a zero turn is lot faster than its counterpart.

In comparison with a lawn tractor, a zero turn can cut the mowing time in half.

It’s not all about just saving time, less time requirement also means less fuel requirement too. But there is a catch…

Greater speed does not always mean mowing the grass actually. The more speed you use, there will be less mowing quality. Highly speed can’t cut the grass always well. But the speed is great to go to the other side of the yard faster.

  1. Level of Precision

In terms of precision, a lawnmower is better than any push or walk-behind mowers, but it’s less precise than a zero turn because it makes an inferior turn.

In addition to that, a zero turn offers you more visibility of your terrain in front of you than a lawn tractor. Why? Well, the engine of a zero turn is located right below the seat but that’s not the case for a lawn tractor.

  1. Deck Size

Though it totally depends on your yard, it’s better to have a wider deck.  The wider the deck, the fewer swaths it will take cover your entire lawn. And a wider deck will take less time to mow the lawn.

Whereas the deck size of zero turn mowers can range between 40 to 60 inches, the deck of a lawn tractor may range between 42 to 54 inches. You need to think about the shape and size of your lawn before you determine the deck size.

  1. Lawn Features

If you have a lawn with curves here and there, a zero turn mower still will perform better. For a tight turning radius and greater responsiveness, a zero turn will do great on a lawn with bushes, flower beds, trees, etc.

More so, because of the zero turn feature, there will be less missed patches of grass whereas the wide turn radius of a lawn tractor leaves a patch of grass at the end of every swath.

As you can see, you need to think about the location of your lawn too. In short, for flat surfaces, a zero turn will be great. If the yard has slopes and other obstacles, choose the lawn tractor. For steep slopes, go for the push mower.

  1. Ease of Operation

You will find the riding lawn tractor a lot easier to steer than its counterpart. If you can drive a car, you can operate it too without any difficulty. It has the same steering wheel, accelerator, and brake.

On the other hand, there is a lever system to control the brake, accelerator, and steering. It will take some time to get used to it.

For straightforward steering and operation, a riding lawn tractor is second to none. You have never tried a big mower before, you may think about starting with this one.

  1. Performance on Hillside

Dethatch a Lawn With a Mower Attachment

Mowing on a hillside is always challenging and not all the lawnmowers are up for it. Before you rush to buy a zero turn or lawn tractor for your hillside lawn, you need to understand your lawn first.

If it’s not a steep hill, you can go for the zero turn. It will perform better and you can drive it like a pro on there. However, if the slope is more than 15 degrees, you should avoid the zero turn.


Well, for slopes more than 15 degrees, the zero turn mower will get imbalanced and you may lose control of it.

On the other hand, a lawn tractor is always recommended for a steep hill that has a roll bar. This is just for safety reasons. And it’s no joke. There are plenty of incidents where both the zero turn and lawn tractors did flip!

It’s simply don’t worth the risk!

You know your lawn on the hillside better than anyone. If it’s too steep, avoid the two and go for a push or walk-behind mower for better safety. There is even a robotic lawn mower to mow on the hillside.

If you are wondering what I use to keep my hillside neat and tidy, I use a string trimmer. Pretty effective so far!

  1. Price: Lawn Tractor Vs. Zero Turn

Unfortunately, both types will cost you more than a push or walk-behind mower. Among the zero turn and lawn tractor, the first one will cost you more than the later.

If you have a really large yard, investing on the zero turn will pay off in the future by saving you a lot of time.

  1. Maintenance Cost

The regular maintenance of blade replacement, oil, and filter changes, etc. cost a lot higher for zero turn mower than it’s riding lawn tractor counterpart. More so, the engine itself requires more maintenance and time for the zero turn.

You should think it twice before you get a zero turn if you have a tight budget.

  1. Need For Attachments

If you need something just to mow from time to time, you can get any type of mower you deem fit. However, if you need additional attachments for your mower for multipurpose tasks, you should think about a lawn tractor. Because a zero turn does not come with attachment options.


As you can see, there is no clear cut answer if you are wondering which is better zero turn or lawn tractor.

You need to assess your need and requirement first. Then you have to look for the features you need from your mower. I have talked about every key point of zero turn vs. lawn tractor. If you love it, don’t forget to share it!

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