Ariens, a manufacturer of lawn and gardening equipment since the 1930s, marketed its Zero-Turn Mower in the early 2000s. Designed to maneuver and cut grass more efficiently, this next generation riding mower, while highly rated by Popular Mechanics, didn't rate in the top three because of inherent flaws pertaining to rider safety, ease of use and comfort. Additionally, unless you have more than an acre of lawn, the costs to purchase and maintain Ariens Zero-Turn Mower can be steep.
Comfort and Safety
On Arien's zero-turn mowers, the rider generally sits or stands at a high center of gravity. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the mower tipping over is an inherent hazard of riding mowers, the zero-turn inclusive. Though Ariens has moved the seat for the riding zero-turn mower to a position located over the rear wheels, riders still must be aware and cautious of changing terrain. Additionally, on stand-behind models, such as the Ariens 52-inch, 24-hp Kawasaki, a commercial model, the rider stands on the back of the machine. Balance and leg fatigue are common problems on this model.
Ease of Use
Most of Ariens zero-turn riding mowers have an "ergonomically-designed" high-back seat with armrests that help with back support and rider comfort. However, reviews suggest that Arien's zero-turn mowers, because of placement of controls, including the parking brake and desk lift, are not particularly easy to use.
According to Mother Earth News, the Ariens quick turning feature and responsiveness on the zero-turn mowers, while a benefit, is also jarring for inexperienced riders. Because of the hydrostatic technology in the wheels, any light touch to the controls causes the mower to react immediately. Add this responsiveness to speed, and the mower can be difficult to control for an experienced user. Additionally, on the stand-behind models, the rider stands on a deck a foot above the ground. Trimming grass under low-lying tree branches can be difficult.
Cost of Parts and Repairs
According to Mother Earth News, zero-turn mowers can range in cost from $3,000 up to $10,000 as of January 2011. That price tag doesn't cover the cost for fuel or repairs. On average, gas-powered mowers can consume 3 gallons of gasoline per mow and contribute to hydrocarbons released into the environment. In the first week of 2011, the average price of regular gasoline was $3.08 per gallon. Conversely, if you prefer Ariens electric-powered zero-turn mower, which doesn't produce emissions, be aware that the lead-acid battery, designed for 200 charges, must be replaced at an average price of $750 (as reported in 2009 article). Additionally, reviewers reported that the mower's deck needs to be replaced several times over the life of the mower. While Arien's Zero-Turn Mower makes mowing the lawn quick, the cost is a serious consideration.