How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower

In Brief: How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower

Engage the hand break and push the control handles out. Turn on the mower. Go forward by pushing both handles forward. Reverse by pulling both handles back. Turn the mower left my pushing the right handle forward and pulling the left handle back. Do the opposite to turn right. Return the handles to the neutral spot to stop.

Zero turn mowers make it quick and easy to mow the lawn. If you have a large area to mow, a zero turn mower helps you mow it quickly, easily avoiding obstacles and driving quickly across open spaces.

If you’ve recently bought a new mower or you’re considering getting one, you need to learn how to drive a zero turn mower. It’s not the same as a regular riding mower with a steering wheel. While the mechanism is different, it’s easy to understand and perfect.

How to Drive a Zero Turn Mower: Detailed Answer

There are a few basic things you need to learn how to do if you want to drive a zero turn mower. By learning the basic controls, you’ll be able to begin mowing quickly and practice as you go. Here are the basic steps to controlling a zero turn lawn mower. Driving a zero turn lawn mower is just like pushing a shopping cart. Here’s a short driving tutorial to get you started:

Starting the Mower

Sit in the driver’s seat of the mower. Make sure the mower deck is up, the hand brake is engaged, and the handles are spread out to the sides.

The hand brake is usually located on the right or left side of your seat beside the driving handles. When it is engaged, it will be standing up. When disengaged, it will be laying down.

Mower deck controls vary in position, but are generally located close to the deck itself. Some are controlled by your feet and others by your hands.

Once the handles, brake, and mower deck are in the right position. Put the throttle control up to around half and the choke control up to full. Turn to key to start the mower.

Pull the handles back together above your lap to put the mower into its neutral position. Release the hand brake to allow movement and lower the mower deck before you begin mowing the lawn.

Moving Forward

To move forward in a zero turn mower, push the control handles forward together. It’s important to keep the handles level as you push them. If the handles are pushed forward at different speeds, the mower will turn slightly as it moves.

The handles control the speed as well. If you want to move forward slowly, push the handles forward slightly. To go faster, push the handles forward further.


Turning a zero turn mower is just like turning a bicycle or shopping cart. To turn left, pull back on the left handle and push the right handle forward. To turn right, pull back on the right handle and push the left handle forward.

Depending on how far you push or pull a certain handle, you will turn differently. The turn quickly, pull and push the handles further apart. For slower turns, the handles should be closer to the neutral position.

The handles do not have to be the same distance from the center. You can push one handle further forward or pull a handle further back to change up the angle of the turn you’re taking.


Reversing in a zero turn mower is the opposite of going forward. From the neutral position, pull the handles back towards your body.

Pulling the handles a little will make the mower reverse slowly. To reverse more quickly, pull the handles back further. Make sure you pull the handles at equal pressure to reverse in a straight line.


In a zero turn mower, there are multiple ways to come to a stop. The simplest way to stop is by returning the control handles to the neutral position. When the handles are in the neutral position, the mower will not move.

Releasing the handles while moving will return them to the neutral position as well. The handles will not stay in place if you stop applying pressure. They will always return back to neutral if pressure is released.

Another way of stopping the mower is to pull the hand brake. This will stop the mower immediately by locking the wheels. Try to avoid doing this unless the normal method of stopping is not appropriate for the situation.

Finally, you can stop the mower by turning the key to the off position. Turning off the mower while it’s driving is not recommended, but it is a way to stop in an emergency.

Zero Turn Mower Driving Tips

Always apply steady pressure on the handles when turning. Zero turn mowers react quickly to your movements. If you push or pull the handles with a jerking motion, the mower will also jerk rather than turning smoothly.

Avoid driving a zero turn mower on a hill with a slope greater than around 15 degrees. These mowers can easily lose traction on hills, creating potentially dangerous situations.


Learning how to drive a zero turn mower will help you cut your lawn more efficiently. The more you practice the basic movements, the easier it will become over time. If you have any questions about driving a zero turn lawn mower, leave a comment below!

About Ryan Henderson

Ryan has more than ten years of experience of writing on power tools - use, reviews, and more. During his free time, he loves cooking and spending time with his dog.

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