This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which zero-turn mower under $3,000 is best?

If you have a large property with a lot of obstacles that require making a great deal of sharp turns to cut your grass, a tractor might not be your best option. You might be better served by a zero-turn mower. Unfortunately, the high price of some of these mowers can be prohibitive.

However, there are affordable models available for under $3,000. When shopping for the best zero-turn mower, you’ll want to get more than a low price. The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower is a customer-satisfying machine packed with features you would expect to find on a $5,000 mower.

What to know before you buy a zero-turn mower under $3,000


A zero-turn lawn mower is a riding mower that can rotate in place like a tank. This not only saves time but produces a better cut because you won’t miss areas due to a larger turning radius. These machines can be very expensive; some commercial models may cost as much as $10,000.

If you’d like to learn about higher-priced options, check out BestReviews buying guide for zero-turn mowers.

Pros and cons

If you have obstacles in your lawn that you need to mow around, no other lawn mower offers the maneuverability of a zero-turn mower. The machine cuts at roughly twice the speed of a riding mower and since the engine is in the back, you have greater visibility while operating a zero-turn mower.

On the downside, a zero-turn lawn mower costs more than a riding mower. Also, the powerful engine tends to burn through gas a little more quickly, and a zero-turn mower is not good on slopes.

What to look for in a quality zero-turn mower under $3,000

Deck size

While the most common deck size for a zero-turn mower can range from 42 to 60 inches, for a model under $3,000, you likely are restricted to the lower end of that scale. However, a 42-inch deck is suitable for mowing up to two acres.

Adjustable cutting height

While some zero-turn mowers have an adjustable deck height that may go up to 6 inches, the maximum cutting height in a zero-turn mower that costs less than $3,000 is closer to 4 inches.

Rugged build

Even a low-end zero-turn lawn mower should feature a rugged build with a heavy-duty formed and welded steel frame.

Safety features

The best zero-turn lawn mower is packed with safety features. The most common is requiring certain conditions be met before you can start the engine. Typically, this involves the emergency brake being on and locking handles. A blade that disengages whenever the machine moves backward and a failsafe trigger that shuts off the engine whenever the driver leaves the seat are two other safety features worth having.


Ryobi 42-inch 75 AH Zero Turn Electric Riding Mower

If you want to cut down on emissions, you’ll have to spend more than $3,000 to get a zero-turn electric mower.

How much you can expect to spend on a zero-turn mower under $3,000

A zero-turn mower is a costly machine. Models under $3,000 are just under that price, costing around $2,899 or $2,999.

Zero-turn mower FAQ

Is a zero-turn mower hard to operate?

A. Instead of a steering wheel, you control a zero-turn mower via two handles. The position of these handles determines how the mower moves. If you push both handles forward, the mower moves forward, but if you push both handles back, the mower moves backward. To turn right, push the left handle forward while pulling the right one back. To turn left, push the right handle forward while pulling the left one back. If you have never operated a zero-turn mower before, practice for a bit to become comfortable with the controls.

What size lawn is best for a zero-turn mower?

A. A residential zero-turn mower is best for a lawn up to two acres. A commercial zero-turn lawn mower is best for properties larger than two acres.

What’s the best zero-turn mower under $3,000 to buy?

Top zero-turn mower under $3,000

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

What you need to know: This award-winning zero-turn mower is a feature-packed, top option that delivers a great deal of value.

What you’ll love: This durable model features a 2-by-2-inch tubular steel frame. It has an Aeroforce cutting system, which has been independently tested to receive the honor of best-in-class labeling. The smooth-tread front wheels are designed to rotate 180 degrees without causing turf damage.

What you should consider: While this is an excellent machine, it can have a little trouble on slopes. It is best for level yards or yards that only have slight inclines.

Where to buy: Sold by The Home Depot.

Top zero-turn mower under $3,000 for the money

John Deere Z345R 42-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Mower

John Deere Z345R 42-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Mower

What you need to know: This is a high-quality machine from a trusted manufacturer.

What you’ll love: This mower has a 42-inch deck with 13 cutting height options ranging from 1 to 4 inches. The unit is designed to cut well at speeds up to 7 mph. The heavy-duty formed and welded steel frame offers an impressive combination of strength and reliability while the 18-inch seatback provides comfort and lower back support.

What you should consider: While the MowerPlus app gives the user a lot of information, some individuals preferred this information to be available on the mower.

Where to buy: Sold by The Home Depot.

Worth checking out

Troy-Bilt Mustang 46-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower


Troy-Bilt Mustang 46-Inch Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower

What you need to know: If you are looking for a larger mower, this zero-turn mower has a 46-inch deck.

What you’ll love: The cutting deck has a nine-position lever and you can engage the blade at the touch of a button. There is a built-in deck-wash adapter for ease of cleaning–just attach a garden hose and rinse away the clippings. The extra-large tank holds 3.5 gallons of fuel for extended cutting times. For safety, the lap bar controls have an integrated parking brake to quickly stop the mower.

What you should consider: Getting the mower off the crate and fully assembled can be difficult for individuals who are not mechanically inclined.

Where to buy: Sold by The Home Depot.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.