Not only are Zero Turn Mowers a lot of fun to use, they also happen to be the fastest way to cut grass – with the kind of efficiency, consistency, and control you just won’t get out of a traditional lawnmowers set up.
At the same time, learning how to safely control a ZTM is a bit of a new experience (to say the least).
For starters, there’s no traditional steering wheel, no traditional pedal system, and the wheels that actually dictate the direction of your lawnmower are going to be located in the rear of the vehicle instead of upfront!
To help you better navigate these controls, and to give you a head start on learning how to pilot a Zero Turn Mower safely and effectively, we’ve put together this quick guide.
Read Your Zero Turn Mower Owner’s Manual
Before you ever climb on top of a brand-new Zero Turn Mower (ZTM) you need to go through every single page of your owner’s manual.
It’s important to familiarize yourself with this equipment, how it operates, how it is to be used and maintained, and standard safety practices before you fire it up and started zipping across your lawn.
You’d be amazed at just how many people skip this step altogether, only to find themselves in tight situations – sometimes dangerous situations – with their new ZTM just because they didn’t take 30 minutes to read the manual first.
Get Comfortable with the Steering System
The levers that you will be able to move independently of one another are not only going to dictate and control the direction of your Zero Turn Mower, but they are also going to dictate and control the speed of your mower as well.
Some zero turn options include a dual lever configuration, others use a lap bar set up, and others still might have a different control scheme altogether. You won’t find a steering wheel on these systems, though, so it’s important to get used to the control scheme your mower has ASAP.
Start off by applying even directional pressure to the forward area of your ZTM. Try to maintain the same amount of pressure on both independent controls, moving your mower forward at a decent pace. Accelerate things with more pressure as you get comfortable and then slowly bring things back to a complete stop before trying the same exercise in the reverse.
After you get the hang of steering in a straight line forward and a straight line in reverse it’s time to begin moving with the zero turn pivot mechanisms. Always practice these movements at low speeds to get a feel for how your ZTM performs, getting a feel for the way that the weight of the mower moves into and out of each zero turn pivot.
You’ll be able to slowly build up a comfort level with your ZTM that allows you to zip across your lawn faster than you would have been able to previously, cutting your lawn much quicker (and much more consistently) thanks to the underlying technology in the mower deck that makes these machines so special.