My experience with zero turn mowers and lawn equipment in general began more than 15 years ago when I was the head of the lawn and garden service division at Ag Pro, a local Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) dealer. Around 2003, while working for a local nonprofit, I started my own professional lawn business. I hired ex-cons and gave them much-needed jobs. While I have a lot of experience with zero turn lawn mowers, it was when I actually purchased and maintained them that I really started to get interested in them. If you want to see tools in heavy use, take people who just got out of jail and can't find work and give them a break. They'll work hard…but at the expense of mowers, trimmers, and blowers. It doesn't take long to learn which tools work and which don't. The Husqvarna M-ZT 52 zero-turn mower looks promising.
Fast forward to today, and I have the honor of being the Executive Director of Park Street Ministries. The organization owns and/or maintains over 20 parcels in the neighborhood where I also live. We cut these fields twice a week during the growing season. Most cuts involve homes that we want to keep looking good. We also trim departmental properties featuring alcoves, trees and intricate landscaping. Even though I have a great group of people working with me, I still find it relaxing to do a lot of mowing.
Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero Turn Mower Features
When Husqvarna sent me one of their brand new M-ZT 52 zero-steer tractors to try out, I was excited to see what it could do. This is the company's entry-level commercial zero-turn mower, and at around $5,500, it's a fairly inexpensive commercial-quality zero-turn mower. We picked it up at the loading dock and towed it back on a trailer to begin our testing.
The first thing I notice about the M-ZT 52 is the size. It looks like a real commercial product, and it sits high enough to give you a better view of where you're cutting. There is also a ton of steel on this mower. In particular, I noticed that the wheels are attached to the chassis that runs along the entire side of the mower. This gives the impression of a more durable structure – like you can hit something heavy without damaging the frame.
In contrast, the Hustler Mini Z I've had for years (and I think it's a well-made machine) has the wheels attached to the steel crossbar on the front of the mower. On another mower I've seen, the wheels are actually attached to arms that are bolted to the frame. The M-ZT 52 uses a much smarter design than either of these mowers. I'm not going to play bumper cars, but I don't want a product that I have to own, and the Husqvarna seems designed and built to take some serious abuse.
Jammed and jelly tight
Having used the zero turn several times over the course of the years, one issue I've run into is items that tend to stick and get in the way during the cutting process. On one lawn mower we owned, the air filter was raised – knocked, damaged and replaced several times as a result. On the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 the filter is seamlessly integrated into the back of the Briggs & Stratton motor. It's out of the way, and there really isn't any way to damage it. The muffler is also inside the chassis frame, so it's almost impossible to hit it or burn yourself.
If this sounds trivial to you, note that I live in Florida and it's not uncommon to be in shorts for more than three quarters of the year. Even the gas cap fits nicely into the plastic shroud on the left, which contains the gas tank. They won't be damaged or broken by hanging or going out. Basically, if you dragged a branch all the way across this mower, you wouldn't do much damage to it – that's good engineering and design. The only notable exception is the oil return line, which tends to pop off the top of the plastic tank if it gets a bump.
The Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero-Turn Mower is what I would call a truly "accurate" zero-turn mower, especially with features like a foot pedal that allows you to easily lift high spots. When it says "2 inches," it really means it – which is important for consistent cutting. We can't cut the grass too short here or we'll burn it out quickly in the heat of summer. There are some real options for cutting table height. You can adjust from 1.5" to 4.5" in 1/4" increments. The pin adjustment system is a bit more difficult to use as you have to push it through two holes instead of one, but it's something you gain skill with as you get used to it. Better to have a thicker piece of steel and a hole for the pin.
I really like the turning radius of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52. It's compact, and the added height gives you a bird's-eye view of what you're cutting or about to cut. I found it easy to get around the myriad of crepe myrtle in our neighborhood, and even cut along the curved bed. The mower also feels well balanced, so you don't feel like you're slipping or losing traction when inclines and descents (I actually managed to find a few, even in Florida). The front tires are also surprisingly large at 13 inches high by 6-1/2 inches wide. They won't dig holes or leave ruts, even on wet grass. The weight is definitely better distributed than a mower with a smaller and thinner front wheel.
Where I think I did have some difficulty is with the higher seats. You do get a better idea of what you're cutting, but it also gets you closer to any shrubs or branches you might be cutting underneath or around. For example, if you're trying to get below the tree line, you could bump your head against a branch if you're not used to the height and aren't especially careful.
This mower has a parking brake, a feature that some older zero turn models that I use or have used in the past don't have. This can be an advantage for those who need better safety when temporarily stopping the mower on a slope, but it also means that, as a safety device, it is required when the mower is started Another item up.
To access the top of the deck, where you can blow off the straps and pulleys, you have to unscrew the locking bolt (it has a plastic top by the way, which I'm sure I'll kick with my boots, one of these days). Whenever I see a loseable widget like this, I know it's bound to be misplaced. In either case, once the bolts are out, you can lift the deck and access the components below.
From the inside, I feel the belt and pulleys protect the grass much better than some other mowers I've used. They're just enclosed more and you end up with less debris in the mechanism which will reduce wear and tear on those parts. Husqvarna also used a cast iron spindle housing for the blades, a nice feature you expect to see on a commercial quality mower.
details, details, details
I really like the many little details of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 zero-turn mower. While there's only one 5 gallon spare tank (you don't usually get dual tanks at this price point at any zero turn I've seen.), they make good use of the opposite plastic shroud to give you a large compartment. The easily adjustable seat is also very comfortable, and I could sit on it for hours without getting sore or feeling too much vibration from the cutting board or motor. There is also a safety strap, but I don't need to use that as I mostly cut on flat surfaces.
Husqvarna also included a steel cable to keep it from tipping all the way forward when you flip the seat up to access the battery and other components. It's just a small feature, but it's something I've found over and over again with this mower: They pay attention to the little details.
Grease points and hooks
The front and rear greasing points are very accessible, which is a great feature – especially for those of us who maintain our own equipment. Both tension and height of the drive arms are easily adjustable, so you can move them up and down for the perfect feel. Husqvarna has plenty of non-slip tape for your feet in all the right places when you step into the mower.
On the back of the mower, I couldn't help but notice a basic hitch point. Given the torque available, I'd expect it to pull a small cart with little effort. When I first got my Husqvarna mower the anti-roll bar that came with it rattled, but I tightened it up with a 15/16 inch socket where it folds and it never bothered me again. If you plan on folding it back and forth a lot, I can see rattling being a problem. Once we stuck it up, it was actually clear that the M-ZT 52 is a pretty compact product. I've had other lawn mowers that I like to describe as "rattles" and this one didn't vibrate much when I used it.
If you want something the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero Steer can't offer, consider upgrading to a commercial model. Husqvarna offers a lot of features and performance at an incredible price. While each individual feature may not be remarkable, the sum of the entire M-ZT 52 is impressive. This well-thought-out mower was clearly designed by someone who knows zero-turn operations very well.
In terms of performance, I really have no complaints about the product. It cuts fast, and even when I encountered areas full of new oak growth, the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 Zero-Turn Mower took it easy. When approaching on the right side, it is easy to lift the exhaust cover and tighten. The acceleration of this mower is also quite good. With a top speed of 10 mph, it's not the fastest zero-turn I've ever used, but it's quicker than anything else I've found at this price point, and it definitely feels snappy. The mower will also not outpace the blades. It seems to be able to cut quickly and keep up with itself.
prices and expectations
The biggest "problem" with the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 mower is that it looks, rides and operates like a commercial zero turn. In fact, you'll forget it's only $5,500. You might even start thinking it should have features like dual fuel tanks or a top speed of 13 mph. No. Because it already has a larger fuel tank and a higher top speed than most mowers in this price range. It also has a build quality that far exceeds many other similar products on the market. My takeaway is that this is an incredible value. It offers business quality and features at a price that appeals to small business users. For that, I have to recommend the M-ZT series of mowers.