Time management. It's the key to productivity and, in business, to profit. The principle is common sense: If you can do more work in an hour, you can make more money. Enter riding rotary mowers. These mowers are all about time management. They are designed to cut your large mowing jobs down to size. If you pair them with the right jobs, they save you time and effort. With a riding rotary, you'll see a big difference in the time it takes you to get jobs done, resulting in an increase in overall productivity. But you have to match the right mower to your needs.


There are a lot of engine configurations from which to choose for your riding rotary, including air-cooled or liquid-cooled, gas or diesel. But before selecting an engine, evaluate your needs. The engine you choose should match the size of the jobs you expect the mower to complete, and under what conditions you expect the mower to complete those jobs. Liquid-cooled engines offer more consistent running temperatures and improved fuel efficiency. The most economical engine to operate, and one that is becoming more and more popular with manufacturers, is the liquid-cooled diesel engine, because it's the longest lasting and well-suited to handle heavy, everyday use. But many manufacturers also offer air- and liquid-cooled gas engines, which cost less than their diesel counterparts. For many users, an important consideration is how long they expect to keep a mower. If you intend to keep a unit in service for many years, a diesel may make more sense than if you plan to trade the machine in two or three years from now.

If you choose an air-cooled engine, be sure to evaluate the cooling system, and check to make sure that the air-intake for the radiator is positioned to avoid as much debris as possible.

The engine you choose should also be large enough to be able to handle your most demanding jobs. Remember, it's better to have more power than not enough. As a rule, you should increase engine size by 5 hp for every additional foot of cutting width. Manufacturers typically offer options with plenty of horsepower on their units, so don't skimp.


Deck selection is another important consideration when selecting a riding rotary mower. It is important that you, again, think about the areas you will mow. If you will use the mower on large, flat areas with few obstacles, you should select a larger deck (say, 72 inches or more). If, however, the area you will be mowing is smaller and includes mowing obstacles, such as trees, flowerbeds and curbs, you need a smaller deck that offers more maneuverability.

In addition to width, you will also need to determine which style of deck best suits your needs. Deep-draft decks work well in dense turf or in wet conditions; rear-discharge or mulching decks are well-suited for high-traffic areas; mulching decks will chop clippings into tiny pieces, eliminating the need for cleanup.

Also look for anti-scalping features. Larger rotary mowers with their wide decks can be prone to scalping turf, particularly on uneven or undulating terrain. Most manufacturers incorporate anti-scalping features into their decks, such as independently floating heads, articulating decks or anti-scalp rollers, all of which are designed to reduce scalping.

If the properties that you care for have a lot of obstacles that require your crew to continually raise and lower the mower deck, make sure that the deck-lift mechanism is durable. Also, check to see if both the front and rear of the deck are capable of clearing the same size obstacle. The deck, itself, may be welded or stamped. Quality mowers may use either type of construction,

Also look at serviceability. Field servicing may or may not be important in your operation, but if it is, make sure it's fast and easy to replace a belt, blade or bearing. Blades may be driven by belts, hydraulic motors or gears (or a combinations). Balancing price, performance, and ease and cost of maintenance is an issue you should talk to your dealer about.


Many mowers are designed to accommodate attachments. This can be a great way to expand your arsenal of equipment. Some manufacturers offer a variety of optional attachments that fit their mowers, including snow blowers, sweepers, dethatchers and many others. If you're thinking about adding attachments, check with your local dealer to make sure that the mower you select has enough horsepower to operate them. Also see if performance of the attachment you want is up to par, and how difficult it is to mount and detach the implement.


Don't forget about operator comfort when you're selecting a new mower — especially a rider. You'll want to use a riding rotary mower for most larger jobs, which means that the operator will be on the mower for longer periods of time. Be sure to choose a seat with a high back for good lumbar support, and make sure that the seat can be adjusted easily for all users. Standing riders are available, too. Though the operator must stand rather than sit, the easy-on/easy-off access has advantages. These units also tend to be very compact.

Make sure that all foot and hand controls are easy to reach. A tilt steering wheel can reduce operator fatigue by positioning the wheel optimally. Of course, not all riders use steering wheels, but the principle is the same: controls should be easy to operate for long periods.

Who: Cub Cadet Commercial

What: M60 Tank

Description: The M60 Tank Mid-Mount Zero-Turn mower has a 23-hp Kawasaki V-twin OHV engine and a 60-inch deck. It offers a Command Cut System with a floating, fabricated cutting deck that allows a quality cut; marbane blades with 1.7-inch overlap for a cleaner cut, especially in tight turns; and a fully welded steel frame. It also features increased weight distribution with 75 percent of its weight in the rear and wider tires that reduce soil compaction and turfing.
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Who: DewEze Manufacturing

What: ATM-72LC

Description: The ATM-72LC all-terrain mower features a new 30-hp liquid-cooled diesel engine, a hydraulic deck-lift system and comfortable seating. It's low-maintenance hydraulic systems control the blade drives, power steering, propulsion and automatic leveling, all without belts. Hydrostatic propulsion and power steering adds to the machine's maneuverability and ease of operation.
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Who: Dixon Industries, Inc.

What: 8000-Series ZTR

Description: The 8000-Series commercial mower is powered by a 25-hp Kohler Command or 26.5-hp Daihatsu diesel engine. Choose from 60- or 72-inch cutting widths. The mower features white wheel motors and Hydro-Gear BDU pumps, 1-inch front caster wheel bearings and an automotive-type receiver hitch. The “big rig” seat suspension and fully adjustable seat reduces operator fatigue. Attachments available include a snow blade and roll-over protection system (ROPs).
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Who: Encore Manufacturing Co.

What: Mid-Cut Prowler

Description: The Prowler Mid Cuts have a dual path hydrostatic drive and full-floating deck suspension. It is the only commercial mid-cut deck that articulates side to side, following terrain with the front wheels but independent of the mower. Choose from 52-, 61- and 72-inch cutting decks and a 22- to 31-hp gas or diesel engine. The mower features a PTO-driven shaft and a heavy, welded steel frame with reinforced deck.
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Who: Ferris Industries

What: 4000Z

Description: This zero-turn mower features four-wheel independent suspension. Instead of a pivoting axle, the front wheels on the IS 4000Z move independently due to two suspension arms attached on each wheel. The arms are pivotally attached to the frame. Movement is controlled by a spring/shock combination. Choose from a 27-hp liquid-cooled Kawasaki engine or 31-hp liquid-cooled Daihatsu engine, and a ten-gauge 61- or 72-inch mower deck with double top deck, double-reinforced side skirts and lap-welded corners.
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Who: Grasshopper

What: Mid-mount mower

Description: Grasshopper's True ZeroTurn mid-mount mowers feature straightaway ground speeds of up to 10.5 mph and 5.5-inch deep DuraMax decks. Available in 52-, 61- or 72-inch widths, DuraMax decks provide enough airflow for even dispersal of high volume clippings at higher mowing speeds. Air- and liquid-cooled gas or diesel models have 20- to 32-hp OHV horizontal crankshaft engines. The mower has a 10-gallon fuel tank and offers an optional Power-Vac collection system.
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Who: Gravely

What: PM-310

Description: The PM-310 outfront mower features an adjustable high-back seat with arm rests for operator comfort, a hydraulic deck tilt for quick clearance, six anti-scalp wheels and 10-gauge welded deck construction with 7-gauge top plate. The PM-310 is available with a Kohler 25-hp Command Pro engine and 7.5 fuel tank. Deck options include 50-, 60- or 72-inch widths. Ground speeds are 0 to 9.5 mph forward and 0 to 4.5 mph in reverse.
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Who: Grazer

What: Zero-turning radius mower

Description: Grazer's front-cut, zero-turning radius mowers are available in 18- to 25-hp models that feature 52-, 62- and 72-inch side-discharge decks. The decks are fully floating with a tilt-back feature for easy service and an be quickly converted to mulching decks with the addition of a kit. Additional attachments include a grass collector, snow blower, cab and ROPs.
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Who: Husqvarna

What: ZTH7226

Description: This large-frame, zero-turn mower offers a 72-inch cutting deck and a 26-hp Kohler electronic fuel-injected engine. The longer wheelbase provides a smoother ride, while the solid welded frame design provides greater strength to extend the life of the frame. With ground speeds of up to 11 mph and a fuel capacity of 11.4 gallons, the mower can tackle up to 12 hours of mowing between refills and cut up to 7.5 acres per hour.
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Who: Hustler Turf Equipment

What: Super Z

Description: Excel Industries introduces the fastest Z-rider on the market: the Super Z. A 25-hp Kawasaki engine, Hydro-Gear BDP21 hydraulic pumps and White CE 18-wheel motors give the Super Z a top speed of 15 mph. A hydraulic oil cooler is standard for extended system life when operating at high speeds. Choose from a 60- or 72-inch side discharge deck. A 12.2-gallon fuel capacity keeps it mowing for more than a day with no need to refuel.
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Who: Ingersoll

What: 4000-Series mower

Description: This hydraulic-drive riding mower is powered by a 14- or 20-hp engine. It is available with power steering and features a hydraulic lift. Optional attachments give the mower versatility, and include tillers, chipper-shredders, snow blowers, snow cab, vacuum systems, log splitters, lawn sweepers, rear PTOs and mulching kits.
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Who: Jacobsen (Textron Golf, Turf & Specialty Products)

What: HR-5111

Description: The Jacobsen HR-5111, capable of cutting up to 65 acres per day, is designed for golf courses, parks and other large, green spaces. Four-wheel drive and Three adjustable-height, floating decks produce consistent results on uneven terrain. The mower cuts a swath 11.33 feet wide and features hydraulic drive. Power steering, a tilt wheel and differential lock for hill traction are all standard features. Available options include a two-post ROPs, full cab and add-on mulching deck conversion kit.
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Who: John Deere

What: 1400 Series Front Mowers

Description: Powered by liquid-cooled Yanmar engines, the 1400 Series includes three models: the 28-hp, gas 1420; the 24-hp, diesel 1435; and the 31-hp, diesel 1445. The high-torque engines provide better fuel economy, quieter operation, low exhaust-emission levels and quick starting. The mowers have rear-mounted radiators, dual-element air cleaners, full-pressure lubrication and 55-amp alternators. The 14.5-gallon fuel tanks allow for all-day mowing.
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Who: Kubota

What: ZD-Series

Description: Kubota introduces its first zero-turn radius mowers, the ZD-Series. The 54-inch ZD18 and 60-inch ZD21 are built around a unitized chassis assembly that incorporates and transmission as an integral part of the sub-frame, creating a strong, durable and lightweight substructure, stronger than the individual components. The ZD's front suspension system utilizes a pivoting front axle that smoothly follows the ground contours, especially over uneven terrain. Both are powered by Kubota's liquid-cooled, 3-cylindar diesel engine.
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Who: Scag Power Equipment

What: Turf Tiger

Description: This zero-turn radius mower features ground speed of 10 mph paired with 10-gallon fuel capacity. Its shaft-drive cutter deck system features a 90-degree gear box and a 1- to 6-inch cutting-height range. Rear panel gives easy pulley and belt access for quick cleanup and service. Spring-loaded idler arms ensure that the belts stay in constant adjustment, for longer belt life. Choose from 52-, 61- or 72-inch cutter decks.
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Who: Simplicity Manufacturing

What: Conquest

Description: Featuring 16-, 18- and 20-hp Briggs & Stratton V-twin Vanguard engines, heavy-duty hydrostatic drive and a tight, 18-inch turning radius, the Conquest provides quality of cut and durability. Automatic Controlled Traction minimizes wheel slippage. Differential lock and large, 23-inch, 4-ply drive tires provide added traction. Free Floating mower decks are offered in 44-, 50- and 54-inch widths with full-width rollers.
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Who: Snapper

What: Pro Cruiser

Description: The Pro Cruiser line of mid-mount models offer commercial cutters Snapper's patented joy-stick steering or twin-stick controls and a choice of a Kohler 23- or 25-hp, OHV engines. Cutting decks are 52 or 61 inches and come with electric clutch blade engagement. A clamshell or bucket bagger, ROPs and Ninja mulching system are optional accessories.
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Who: The Toro Co.

What: Z-Master Z286E

Description: This mid-mount electronic fuel injected ZRT mower is designed for landscape professionals and powered by the Kohler Command PRO 26-hp engine. It has a 10-mph forward ground speed and boasts 15 percent more engine torque as well as an onboard diagnostic system that monitors engine performance to maintain peak performance. Choose from a 62- or 72-inch Super Flow System cutting deck featuring 12-gauge welded steel construction.
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Who: Walker Manufacturing Co.

What: MT mower

Description: The Walker Mower Model MT is available with a Kohler 26-hp electronic fuel injection engine option. Operators will experience a fuel savings of approximately 30 to 40 percent over the 25-hp model with the carburetored engine. The engine package also offers easy starting over a wide temperature range and improved throttle response. Troubleshooting is made easy with built-in, automotive-type diagnostics.
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