Compact Tractor Vs Zero Turn: Which One Should I Buy?

Larger yards tend to require larger equipment to keep up with maintenance and landscaping projects. If you’re trying to decide between purchasing a compact tractor or a zero turn mower, it will come down to what you need to use it for. In either case, both machines are designed to deliver high quality cuts to keep your lawn trim.

A zero turn mower is best if you only need it to mow the lawn, and a compact tractor is a multipurpose machine that can help with many kinds of garden or yard projects in addition to mowing the lawn. If you need a versatile piece of equipment, the tractor may be for you.

Is A Compact Tractor Good For Mowing?

Compact Tractor

A compact or subcompact tractor is a great option for a mower since they come with mowing decks in comparable sizes to zero turn and other riding mowers. The biggest difference is that the compact tractor is designed to serve several different purposes, one of those being to cut grass. It’s of a good enough size to manage a property of 2 to 10 acres, including projects that may require a loader, or the ability to attach a backhoe or other equipment. 

The versatility of a compact tractor is reflected in its price: they are usually more expensive than mowers (about twice the amount). If you need the machine for projects in addition to mowing, it will be able to handle them equally well.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Compact Tractors and Zero Turn Mowers?

Pros and cons of a compact tractor:


  • Versatility with attachments
  • Sturdy, stable design


  • Wide turning radius
  • More Expensive

Pros and cons of a zero turn mower:


  • Maneuverable and quick
  • Good front visibility


  • Dedicated mower
  • Low-power for pulling attachments

What Are The Advantages Of A Compact Tractor Mower?

The main attraction of the compact tractor is its ability to take on attachments for a variety of hauling and earth moving projects, in addition to medium-sized equipment like aerators, sprayers, snow plows, pull carts, as well as a belly mower if you need an extra wide mowing deck from time to time. 

As a lawn and garden tractor, it can take on most attachments. Models usually are made with diesel engines for extra power, and their heavy designs make subcompact tractors very stable. They can be used on hills due to the tractor’s centered gravity, good transmission, and four-wheel drive. A compact tractor is also intuitive to drive since it has pedals and a steering wheel like a car.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Compact Tractor Mower?

Lawn Tractors for Sale

Beyond its higher price tag, the compact nature of the tractor design sacrifices some mobility for versatility and sturdiness. A tractor can have a lot of back and forth when turning at the end of a length of the yard, and it takes a wide turn that can make it difficult to get around trees and shrubs. It might require a little overlapping when edging against mowed portions of the yard. It can also take more time to mow with a heavy tractor, as it needs a little time to slow down and adjust for turns. 

A compact tractor mower is still a tractor and rides like one. It can get bumpy on uneven ground, and if you have a large acreage, the land isn’t as flat as in a smaller yard. The heavy design of a compact tractor usually weighs well over 1,500 lbs.

What Are The Advantages Of A Zero Turn Mower?

Zero-turn mowers are popular choices due to their ability to turn around in place, allowing riders to mow the lengths of the lawn along the last cut edge. These mowers have a smooth ride despite their low ground clearance, designed with a suspension system makes the ride less bumpy than a tractor. This will make a difference for larger property owners, who may spend hours at a time on their riding mower.

A zero turn mower is lighter-weight than a tractor, coming in at about 1,000 lbs. This gives them a little more speed, and their agility is their draw. Zero turns are good for getting around trees, flowerbeds, and other obstacles in the yard, and their unobstructed front view allows you to see what’s right in front of the machine as you drive. 

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Zero Turn Lawn Mower?

Zero Turn Mower

Where the draw of a compact tractor is its attachment capabilities, the design of a zero turn mower makes it less ideal for pulling attachments (although, of course, it can handle certain ones). A zero turn mower usually has a gasoline-powered mower, so it has less torque than a tractor that has a diesel engine. 

The driving method of a zero turn mower can be a challenge for new users, and it takes some getting used to. They operate with levers, one on each side of the driver, that control the speed and the direction of the mower. This helps with more precise movements, but the directional system adds a drawback to the design: the small front wheels have to pivot, so they have no traction, which is located in the back tires only.

The rear-tire drive might also contribute to creating divots if spun too abruptly, as it grips and pivots. The distributed weight, which allows for speed and mobility, can lead to a shifting center of gravity on hills, making them more vulnerable than tractors to tip over. Many models do come with safety bars for just that problem.