Should you get a walk behind lawn mower or ZTR?

There are a lot of mowers out there with many different styles. Some mowers allow you to sit, while others have you stand. Even others need you to walk behind them. But which one is better for you? That is the question asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum by one member who is considering a new mower purchase with hopes of taking pressure off of his bad knee.

One lawn care business owner wrote “last year I started in lawn care part time with good results. I landed 7 lawns to maintain each week. I already had a truck, a 48′ walk behind lawn mower, and a trailer etc. Now I am looking to buy a good used zero turn rider. It’s going to be either a 52″ or a 48″. I am unsure which to get.

I know the they are both well made but I am not sure what all to check for on a used zero turn such as hydros etc. The 48″ is a commercial grade mower that has a 27 h.p. motor and a 1/4″ inch steel deck. Supposedly that’s big down south. The other has an 18h.p. motor. I am not sure what kind of difference those motors would make in performance. To me, the big difference that stands out most is one has a bigger deck.

I’ve never owned anything but a walk behind and never even have been on a zero turn but due to a knee injury it’s real hard to be on a sulky. I was thinking a zero turn would help out my knee plus may be faster to do the work. The largest lawn I have currently is just under 2 acres. I’m a full time union carpenter for now but my hearts in lawn care.”

A second lawn care business owner said “if you already have a 48″ walk behind you are not gaining anything by going to a 48″ ztr.

More deck = faster cut time = more profit.

It’s one thing to run a cheaper machine for your back up unit or a small machine for fenced areas, but your main machine should be a quality piece. Either way you go, make sure you can get parts and service locally and quickly.”

A third said “there is a place for both a walk behind mower and a ztr in your equipment arsenal.

The walk behinds are usually lighter and cause less damage on a sandy yard like we have a lot of here in Florida. Plus you generally need a smaller machine for fenced back yards. I have 2 lawn accounts that only a 21″ push mower will fit in the back.

With a 48″ deck and under I’ve always run walk behinds, but I do want to get a 32″ stander once my 52″ stander is paid off.  A 52″ deck and up on a ZTR or stander makes sense to me because you have a bit more control.

I personally don’t think you gain much speed with a ZTR over a walk behind if the deck size is the same or larger on the WB. Width = speed. The less passes you have to make, the faster you can do the job. However a ZTR makes sense if you are looking to take some pressure off your knees and allow yourself a longer career in this industry.”

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