Zero-turn vs. Riding Mower

Zero Turn vs. Riding Mower

Written by: Greenworks Blog Team


If you’re in the market for an electric lawn mower upgrade, you likely have your eye on the two workhorses of the lawn mower category: the riding mower, also referred to as a lawn tractor, and the zero-turn mower. But which one should you choose? Both are great options if you’re looking to upgrade from a traditional gas mower. Let’s take a deep dive to determine which lawn vehicle best fits your yard – and your life.

What is a Zero-Turn Mower?

Zero-turn mowers are the king of the proverbial hill. With maximum speed, turn versatility and maneuverability, zero-turn mowers can make quick work of mowing the lawn. The most significant difference with zero-turn mowers is the steering mechanism – instead of turning a standard wheel, zero-turns utilize levers to move forward, backward and side to side. Zero-turn mowers are available in both battery-powered and gas models.  

Greenworks Zero-Turn Mower in yard

What is a Riding Mower?

If you’re looking for standard steering and a more classic approach to mowing, a riding mower (or tractor) is a great option. The familiar steering and body style make riding mowers a seamless and comfortable upgrade from a walk-behind mower. Additionally, riding mowers have a towing capacity, making them easy to use to haul fertilizer, mulch, dirt and more around the yard. They’re also available in both battery-powered and gas models.  Pro tip – check out the gas versus electric lawn mowers overview to learn more about the difference between the two mower types.

Greenworks Riding Mower in yard

Is a Zero-Turn Mower or Riding Mower Better?

If you’re early in the decision process, you might be wondering if a zero-turn or riding tractor is better. The short answer: it depends! Both offer quicker mowing speeds than a walk-behind mower or push mower – and can handle mowing larger yards. 


What else do you need to know about electric riding mowers? Maneuverability is a key feature for both zero turns and riding mowers. Zero-turn riding mowers offer horizontal and vertical maneuverability on hills, while riding lawn mowers can tackle hills vertically. Some zero-turn mowers – like the Greenworks ZTR – have brushless motors in each wheel to provide maximum steering control, efficiency and turning ability.

Man riding Greenworks CrossoverZ Zero-Turn Mower

Lawn Vehicle Features

Here’s a quick side-by-side features snapshot:

Steering: Control levers Steering wheel
Maneuverability (general): Turns on a dime Traditional cut
Maneuverability (hills): Horizontal and vertical Vertical
Speed: Faster Fast
Yard Size: 2+ acres 2+ acres
Rear-wheel drive: Yes Yes
Wheels: Larger rear wheels; rotating front wheels Large rear wheels for maximum traction
Forward and Reverse: Yes Yes
Raise/lower Cutting Deck: Yes Yes
Switching Direction of Blades: Yes Yes
Towing Capacity: Yes Yes
Cargo Capacity: Yes Yes
Parking Brake: Yes Yes

What Should I Choose: A Zero-Turn Mower or a Riding Lawn Mower?

So, where do we land on the great zero-turn mower versus riding lawn tractor debate? In short, both are winners – it depends on your personal preference and lifestyle.

Greenworks Zero-Turn Mower under a tree

Reasons to Choose a Zero-Turn Riding Mower

If your yard is at least a half-acre, a zero-turn mower might be a great fit – especially for yard obstacles like trees and flower beds that require maneuverability. Zero-turn highlights include:

Maximum control even at fastest mowing speeds.

Easily customizable lawn-cutting experience. 

Easily handles mowing horizontally on hills or steep grades.

Greenworks Riding Mower in a yard

Reasons to Choose a Riding Mower/Tractor

If a traditional tractor-style driving experience is more what you’re looking for, a riding mower will suit your needs more comfortably. Yards larger than one-third of an acre will make quick work of mowing – giving you more time to enjoy activities other than yard work. Riding mower highlights include:

Lower cost than zero-turn mowers.

Minimal learning curve – if you've driven a car or a go-kart, you can drive a riding mower.

Fast mowing speeds with customizable lawn-mowing experience. 

Greenworks riding mower and zero-turn mower in a field

Greenworks Zero-Turn and Tractor Mowers for Every Yard

Interested in learning more? Browse the Greenworks Lawn Vehicles or check out our Mower Buying Guide to help you further narrow down the best option for your yard. To get you started, check out a few Greenworks-specific zero-turn and riding mower features:

PLENTY OF POWER: Mow up to 2.5 acres on a single charge powered by our 24HP-equivalent intelligent motor.

CUTS FASTER AND CLEANER: The Greenworks Zero-Turn Mowers cuts 14% faster than gas with constant blade speeds of 17,000 ft/min – even in thick or wet grass.

SIX BATTERIES: Did we mention our Greenworks Zero-Turn Mowers and riding mowers come with six fast-charge 8.0 Ah batteries? Plenty of power to get the job done.

DUAL-PORT TURBO-CHARGERSSpeaking of batteries, both the Greenworks Zero-Turn Mower and Tractor Riding Mower come with three dual-port turbochargers – that’s some heavy-duty charging! In under 90 minutes, you can have all six batteries powered up and ready to roll.

SWITCH IT UP: You can switch out Greenworks batteries and use them in other tools in your Greenworks 60V or 80V arsenal – convenient and smart.

ZERO EMISSIONS: Greenworks riding mowers are sustainable – meaning zero oil, gas or emissions. While your neighbor has to stop mowing to gas up their mower (again), you’ll be in the home stretch of finishing up your yard -- fume-free!

CUT-HEIGHT RANGE: Flex your landscaping skills with a cut-height range of 1.5 - 4.5 inches. Our riding mowers can handle any type of cut, whether it’s a short trim or a full cut.

GET IT DONE FASTER: Durable large tires and a 42-inch deck help you cover a lot of ground quickly – leaving more time for other high-speed fun.

COMFORT: Our high-back padded seat with back support and armrests ensures maximum comfort during mow time.

DURABILITY: If you’re looking for quality you can count on season after season, our reinforced 12-gauge steel deck has proven durability – and long-lasting good looks.

HILLS? NO PROBLEM. The Greenworks Zero-Turn Mower can handle slope inclines up to 15 degrees and easily navigate around rocks, trees and swingsets. Consider it agility training for your high-speed mower! Hills and inclines are no problem for the Greenworks Tractor Riding Mower either – just make sure to mow vertically instead of horizontally to keep it safe.

If you're looking for a small electric riding mower, check out our new Greenworks 60V 30" Tractor Riding Mower. And if you're looking for maximum cutting power, our new Greenworks 60V 54" MaximusZ Zero-Turn Riding Mower is the best in class!

Check out the entire Greenworks Lawn Vehicle line to find the best fit for your yard.

Greenworks Blog Team

Written by The Green Team, a creative arm within Greenworks Tools.

Our team of writers, designers and content creators bring a breadth of experience and a touch of fun to all things tools. With an assist from the Greenworks product teams and technology experts, we’re here to provide helpful and engaging content to make your yard (and life!) beautiful.

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