Riding lawn mowers prove useful for mowing large sections of grass, but typically do not fare well through ditches or areas with a sharp incline. Their design makes them prone to tipping, and the wrong angle can spell disaster. Zero-turn riding mowers are considered to be much safer for mowing ditches when a regular push mower is not enough to get the job done. While there is still some risk of overturning, the design of these zero turn mowers and their lower center of gravity, make them safer to use on inclines.
Cub Cadet Zero-Turn Mower 365L
This zero-turn riding lawn mower from Cub is one of the most expensive options currently on the market, retailing at just under $7,000. It offers an 18-horsepower engine. The cutting deck on this model measures at 54 inches and has a top speed of 7 mph. This Cub Cadet also comes with a unique safety mechanism that disengages the PTO shaft in reverse. This does require you to re-engage the mower to continue cutting if you need to in the reverse gear.
Sears Craftsman EZT Lawn Tractor
With a suggested retail price of less than $4,000, this model from Sears is a popular choice for the cost conscious, according to Popular Mechanics. It features a more traditional zero-turn steering mechanism that does not require you to lean forward to steer the mower. The cutting deck on this model is smaller at 40 inches, and its top speed is 5.7 mph. This smaller model is suitable for smaller ditches and lawns.
Snapper Yard Cruiser
Priced at $4,000 as of 2011, this cost-effective zero-turn riding lawn mower offers a larger 48-inch cutting deck and an engine capable of producing up to 18 horsepower. The steering on this model consists of a single joystick, while a lever is available for raising and lowering the cutting deck. It also features a padded seat for comfort. One downside, according to Popular Mechanics, was the muffler design and the noise level that this mower produces.
Ariens EZ Rider 915 Series
This model received high marks from Popular Mechanics, due to its steering mechanism, the size of the cutting deck (48 inches) and the overall performance of the mower. While it features less horsepower than the other models listed above, clocking in at just 16, it still can reach comparable speeds and offers better maneuverability. This model is also priced in the $4,000 range, making it a competitive entry into the marketplace.