How to Choose the BEST Commercial Lawn Mowers

Published on May 6, 2020

This guide was created to help lawn professionals (like yourself) choose THE BEST commercial lawn mower for your lawn care business.

Most advice about the best commercial lawn mowers is focused on two things:

  • Paid placement by a manufacturer or brand rep
  • Based on a decision someone else made years ago because they liked the color of the mower

That’s NOT what this guide is about. We have no relationship with the brands we discuss. What we do have is a commitment to helping lawn care businesses provide their clients with the best possible service AND to help you grow your business!

It’s easy to get taken in by “BRAND WARS” - Toro vs SCAG vs Ferris. They’re all the best, so say their faithful.

But which brand is *actually* the best commercial lawn mower? 

None of them. All of them. 

Here’s the thing: any of the mainstream commercial lawn mower brands can provide you with a quality product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do - cut grass.

There are a ton of factors that go into choosing the best commercial lawn mowers for your lawn care business and by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what’s right for you.

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Why Choosing a Side in the Commercial Lawn Mower Brand Wars Can Actually HURT Your Business

You did it. You took a side in the brand wars because someone in a Facebook group told you one more horror story about another brand and it pushed you over the edge.

BUT… there’s just one problem. You have to order from a dealer an hour and a half away from your shop. I mean, it’s not that big of a problem. 

You’ll just drive out and pick it up. 

It’s a one-time inconvenience, right?

WRONG. When you need warranty work on this mower, where are you going? To a shop 1.5 hours away. You’ll end up wasting 6 hours if anything goes wrong with your equipment.

On top of that, what if you get to the dealership and you don’t like it? 

They don’t seem particularly helpful and you watch the phone ring endlessly and go to voicemail while they talk to you. You can’t go to the next dealership because it’s even further away.

So you settle - and when something goes wrong (and it will go wrong), you’re wasting 6 hours of your time, removing a truck from working jobs, and dealing with people you maybe didn’t want to do business with in the first place. 

And for what? So you could look at just the right shade of paint and a logo when your crews load up in the morning? Was it worth it?

If you’re going to have brand loyalty in the commercial lawn mower arena - choose a nearby dealer you like, who provides quality service at a fair price. Don’t narrow down your brand choices until you’ve figured WHO you want to work with.

You wouldn’t hire an employee based on the color of their shirt during an interview - don’t choose your commercial lawn mowers that way either.

Low Budget (but not Low Quality) Options for the Best Commercial Lawn Mowers

You have a couple options if you’re working with a tight budget:

  1. Buy used, in cash
  2. Or - buy new, on credit

Examples of brands that you can shop used or new for less than $4,000 are Toro and Gravely. 

When you’re shopping in this price bracket, be sure to avoid homeowner grade ride-on equipment that may not hold up to daily, demanding use.

Normally, we don’t advise our readers to go into debt in their business. Many times, lawn care business owners are trying to use credit to buy luxury features they can't afford. 

BUT with something as central to your business as a commercial lawn mower, it can be worth it to go into debt. 

This is especially true when you're frequently having to repair old equipment (wasting labor and money) or riding homeowner-grade equipment into the sunset.

Will your dream commercial lawn mower work with your budget?

You have to look at the time and effort that’s being spent on broken-down equipment or the inefficiency of using equipment that can’t keep up with your demands.

If you're a gear head who feels comfortable diving into used commercial lawn mowers, repairing issues, and dealing with some cosmetic issues, used is a great option for keeping things low budget. You might even find a great deal on upgrade options.

Why You May Want to Spend a Little More for Your Commercial Lawn Mowers

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can:

  • Buy new, in cash
  • Or - buy new, on credit to stay liquid and invest that cash elsewhere in the business

We consider most mowers north of $5,000 to be upgrade options. Brands in this price range are Kubota, Ferris, and any of the more niche commercial lawn mower manufacturers you see on the floor at GIE.

Commercial lawn mowers in this range generally have:

  • Comfortable seats
  • More metal parts (body panels, etc.)
  • Larger deck size for quicker coverage

Spending more now can mean you spend less on repairs, especially if you buy  new. 

Spending extra can also increase your crews’ efficiency by leaps and bounds if you’re able to go from a 42” deck to a 50”+ deck.

The ONLY Reason to Be Brand-Loyal in Commercial Lawn Mowers

You might want all your trucks to look exactly the same, all your equipment to look the same, and employees dressed in identical uniforms. 

There are a ton of good reasons to have a unified brand identity:

  • Professionalism
  • Familiarity and ease of swapping equipment between crews
  • Parts management (fewer sources to procure from)
  • It makes your business seem like it’s everywhere

If you’re trying to create this unified brand image - the same mowers, the same trucks, the same uniforms - we’re absolutely on board with being loyal to a particular brand of commercial lawn mower.

Choosing the Right Size Commercial Lawn Mower for Your Services

Alright, you pulled the trigger on the biggest, baddest mower you could afford. Time to hit your customers’ lawns in record time.

You blow through the front yard - man, you’ve never finished a front lawn so quickly. You pull around to the side gate and gasp. 

Your shiny, big, bad mower WON’T FIT through the gate. The backyard is bigger than their front yard and you’re mowing it with a push mower. There went all your time savings.

It’s super important to consider access restrictions you might have when buying a commercial lawn mower - do most of your customers have gate access to their back or side yards? Are the backyards so tiny that a push mower is fine?

Can your dream mower fit through that back gate?

If you work mostly in commercial properties, the only restriction may be what will fit in your trailer. 

If that’s the case for your business, get as much mower as you can afford, but if you’re mostly working in residential areas, consider your access restrictions. Will you  sacrifice efficiency gains by having to use a push mower or line trimmer in places a bigger mower doesn’t fit?

The Best Commercial Lawn Mowers

Exmark Laser Z X-Series

With a comfortable seat, a variety of powerful engine options, and tool-less installation of the deck and hydro belts, there is a lot to like in this zero turn commercial mower from Exmark.

Hustler Super Z

Known for its heavy-duty hydraulics and torque, the Super Z is a great choice for a commercial zero turn mower. It has a very smooth ride, and a fast speed of up to 14 mph!

SCAG Turf Tiger II

This is one of the best commercial zero-turn lawn mowers. It has a sleek look, a comfortable seat, and deck sizes ranging from 52” to 72” - it’s a great option for wide-open spaces. It’s available for propane or diesel fuel sources.

SCAG V-Ride II

Available from 32” to 61” - this stand-on mower can be tiny enough to fit through almost any back gate and make quick work of your client’s back and side yards. This smaller option is handy for people with little space to spare in their trailer or truck bed.

Toro 2000 Series

These are great introductory commercial lawn mowers - well-made and available from 48” to 60”. 

Wright ZK-1 Stand-On Mower

Naylor Taliaferro  recommends this stand-on mower from Wright. 

Ferris ISX 3300 Zero Turn Mower

This is the top-of-the-line Ferris commercial  zero-turn mower - it’s got an incredibly comfortable seat, front suspension to ease the jolts of driving over uneven terrain, but only two deck size options: 61” and 72”. 

This list is intended as a jumping off point for your research. Only you can decide what the best commercial lawn mower is for your business.

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Buy Right the First Time and Scale With the Perfect Commercial Lawn Mower - for Your Business

There you go - the answer to buying a commercial lawn mower is to buy what your lawn care business needs AND can afford.

The right commercial lawn mower for your business is determined by several important factors including:

  • Access restrictions (will it fit?)
  • Cost (should you buy used or new, and with cash or credit?)
  • Brand identity and image
  • Having a great relationship with a dealer you trust

Remember, one of the most important aspects (aside from what your lawn care business can afford) is having access to a reputable dealer, who’s nearby and who you want to do business with. 

Originally published May 6, 2020 12:26PM, updated March 30, 2022

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.
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