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Riding Mowers

Discussion in 'Country Living Questions' started by Okie Papa, Apr 26, 2019.

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  1. Apr 26, 2019 #1

    Okie Papa

    Okie Papa

    Okie Papa

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    In the process of moving to our new (soon to be) homestead. We're buying a house on 5 acres and will be in need of a riding mower. Don't plan to mow the whole 5, just the general area around the house. Never had a rider. Looking for recommendations on reliable mowers that have useful attachments that we can purchase over time.
     
  2. Apr 26, 2019 #2

    zoomzoom

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    Welcome to the forum.
    We'll need a lot more info before making any recommendations.
    Besides mowing, what other tasks do you expect this tractor to do around the rest of the property? Land clearing, grading, landscaping, pulling trailer, gardening/rototilling...?
    What's your budget?

    From smallest to larger, here's the general categories:
    Lawn tractor - Small tractor like what you see at box stores. Generally made for mowing but some offer a couple small attachments for other chores.
    Garden tractor - A little larger and more robust. Most come with mower but are ready for other implements/attachments. May have a 3-point hitch, PTO or hydraulics for using the implements.
    Utility tractor (or Compact Utility tractor). These are a lot more robust (but also more expensive). Almost all have a 3-point hitch, PTO and hydraulics. They can accept most implements and a front-end loader is as common an option as a mower (and very, very useful).

    To give you an idea, do a google image search for "Lawn tractor attachments", "Garden tractor attachments" and "Compact Utility tractor attachments". Look through the images at the tasks they're doing and compare that to what you need done.
     
  3. Apr 26, 2019 #3

    Sewingcreations15

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    Hi @Okie Papa and welcome to the forum :) .

    We have a Toro rideon lawnmower and found them really good and DH uses them commercially too for gardening work. Ours is a 4200 or 42" cutting deck, zero point turn pivot steer and can be used for self mulching and you can get a grass catcher attachment to go on them too. We use the grass once dried we catch in the catcher from mowing our property on our garden beds for mulch. It's a light commercial one so really robust.
     
  4. Apr 26, 2019 #4

    backlash

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    I have had a Craftsman riding mower for years. I have several attachments for is like a thatcher, spray tank, trailer, and a spreader. It currently has been sitting for several years because I bought a John Deere zero turn mower. All of the attachments can be pulled behind the zero turn. I am in the process of resurrecting the old Craftsman so I can use it for mowing the pasture. It will take a long time but it will get the job done.
    My zero turn mower cut my mowing time down from about 45 minutes to around 15 minutes.
    My place is flat so a zero turn works well but if you have a hills they can be unstable.
    I bought a Yanmar subcompact, grey market tractor just because I wanted one. No real need it's just nice to have. It has a front end loader and a tiller so it makes gardening easier. I may buy a brush hog mower for my tractor but they are pretty expensive so I'm still undecided.
    This site has some useful information on mowers.
    https://todaysmower.com/riding-mower-brands/
    One thing to add. Be sure to check the oil every time before you start any engine. My wife used to mow but after she destroyed 3 mower engines because of no oil she doesn't mow anymore. If I was the suspicious type I might think she did that deliberately. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Apr 26, 2019 #5

    Terri9630

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    Kubota. I love ours. Its been a big help on our old 2 acres and even more useful on our new 10 acres.
     
  6. Apr 26, 2019 #6

    Caribou

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    Welcome from Alaska. I have a Craftsman riding mower that does well. I'm thinking about a mower attachment for my UTV which will be faster. There is a benefit to having a piece of equipment do multiple tasks.
     
  7. Apr 26, 2019 #7

    viking

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    We got a Craftsman riding mower with a 50" deck years ago when my wife felt sorry for me using a cheap high wheel push mower. The riding mower has been a real work horse, even the seat covering is holding up amazingly well considering I sit on its edge for counter balance while mowing on a side hill. It works great for taking firewood up to the storage shed towing a small trailer. I've repaired the deck many times and from the sound of it, I may be replacing some of the spindles soon.
     
  8. Apr 26, 2019 #8

    Bacpacker

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    I went thru 2 riders, one a Scotts, the other a Troybilt. Neither lasted more than 5 years. Having said that I mow between 2 and 4 acres every week or two until the rains let up in late summer. So they got a ton of use. I have small trailer I pulled behind it to take stuff to the garden, pick up crap out of the yard, move stuff around, etc. I also got a grass bagger mainly to get leaves up with. But when the rider wore out beyond being worth fixing I decided to spend a little more and get a compact tractor. I went with a Kubota BX1860. I've had it nearly 10 years and have had no problems with it. I do wish I had went with a larger engine and gotten a front end loader with it. It's diesel powered, has a three point hitch, rear and bottom PTO, 60" mower deck. I can use it to pull a tater plow using turf tires. I can run a 4' bushhog, 4' tiller, etc.
    I have a larger tractor for heavier work, but the Kubota does a good job over all. I have no regrets with the purchase.
     
  9. Apr 26, 2019 #9

    Terri9630

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    We bought the Kubota L3800. Its been wonderful. We had a John Deere garden tractor and about wore it out after 10 years. We gave it to a friend who rebuilt it and is still using it on a small yard (by country standards).
     
  10. Apr 26, 2019 #10

    Okie Papa

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    Our budget is around $3000 - $4000. Probably garden tractor-ish. I'd like to be able to do all the things you mentioned. I found a 5 year old Husqvarna 24 hp 54" deck with snow plow, sun shade, new battery, and some extra wheels and tires. It's got 22 total hours on it and the seller is asking $1500. Sounds like a pretty good deal. I know most products made by Husky are pretty robust. Husky also offers many other attachments. I'm being cautious because you usually get what you pay for (or less). Anyone know whether or not Husky mowers are good quality?
     
  11. Apr 26, 2019 #11

    Bacpacker

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    I can tell you about their older chain saws and weed whackers (which are freaking awesome). But nothing on their mowers.
     
  12. Apr 26, 2019 #12

    LadyLocust

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    One more for the list - we have a cub cadet and it's been great. I tote a little trailer behind it etc. When we were looking, we had it down to it or the husqvarna. We were after longevity as we were tired of dying lawn mowers in the middle of summer. (Our previous were purchased used so we went with new this go round.)
    And - Welcome!
     
  13. Apr 26, 2019 #13

    Peanut

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    If you want to think outside the box... think restored... This is a fully restored John Deere 40 series my nephew had for sale a few weeks ago. He only wanted $3K. It had a 3 point hitch and PTO. Fully restored International or Farmall Cubs usually go for around $2500. You can get mower attachments, a bush hog for large brush and be able to plow your garden with one row attachments...

    JD 1954 (3)_v1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  14. Apr 27, 2019 #14

    AdmiralD7S

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    I've been following this thread closely but have stayed quiet because I wanted to hear others' thoughts without me biasing the discussion, but since the discussion seems to be focusing on garden tractors, perhaps it's time to give my 2 cents. As always, take to heart or disregard completely, as you see fit.

    In terms of garden tractors, my understanding is that a high percentage of them are made at the same factory regardless of brand. I would pay attention to brand only with regard to price, warranty, serviceabilty, etc. After that, ignore what color paint it has...and look at the features!

    Does it have a reliable engine? Honda and Koeler engines are generally accepted as great quality for gas; Yanmar for diesel. If you want long life, they are probably the engines you want in your mower (although other engines may be just fine).

    Do you have a lot of open area or is it a lot of twists and turns? A conventional mower with a steering wheel is less expensive, but will take longer if you are doing a bunch of 180s or mowing around trees. A zero turn mower (ZTR) is what everyone seems to be moving to, but they only help your agility. if you're going straight, then have no advantage. To be clear, there is no difference on a mower deck for a conventional mower vs a ZTR in terms of quality. If you have open areas where you're going to slowly spiral in, a ZTR isn't going to get you anything a conventional mower can't.

    Take the published mower speed with a grain of salt. Some of these mowers can mow 5-6 miles an hour...and they leave a ragged mess in their wake at that speed. If you're okay with a rough cut, then you're okay with an old, beat-up bushhog. Otherwise, plan to take your time.

    On the mower deck, look for ones where the anti-scalping wheels have 2 pieces of steel that are perpendicular to each other (like a corner). Otherwise, a few good dings and your wheels will go from rolling forwards to plowing a furough behind you; good if your wife is behind you with a sack of potatoes, but bad if you weren't planning on starting a garden.

    Make sure the spindles on the deck are large and are either cast iron or thick steel...not thin steel or cheap aluminum. Most folks that rebuild decks every couple years run their deck (that has aluminum spindles) through ungodly heavy stuff (like a wet hay field) and can't understand why they're putting new bearing and new spindle housings on every 40'.

    For all mowers, how structurally sound are the front tires? Lot of conventional mowers like to be competitively priced, which often means cutting quality...but they ty to do it where they think customers wont notice (sorry for the cynical view).

    You will (generally) get what you pay for. A $5K-$10K mower will probably last 25+ years. A $2K mower is going to last 5-10. If all you can afford is $3K, then stick with something that you can afford...there's absolutely no shame in that! If you think your needs might change in the near future, then get the minimum that works for you today. But, if you have the money and foresee long term needs, buy quality.

    If I had to recommend a brand name, let me say that I've owned Husky, Craftsmen, John Deere, Toro, Snapper, Dixon, and several no-names. Some good (especially the Dixon), some bad (Craftsman)...most were okay...but none are in the class of Country Clipper. 8 years later, and our XLT still cuts far better than anything else we've ever owned on their best days.

    Always keep in mind that everyone treats their machines differently. The guy who is obnoxiously critical of a particular mower probably changes the oil when the engine starts smoking, never sharpens the blades, and stuffs their half-smoked cigarettes in the air filter intake (MIL's catch of a man did that). Conversely, the guy who praises his mower into sainthood probably hasn't cut grass higher than 2", had the mower out in the rain, or driven it against the wind. The point here is that the life of whatever mower you get is directly related to both how hard you push it as well as how well you maintain it.

    Hopefully some of these comments are helpful (or at least humorous). If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  15. Apr 27, 2019 #15

    Meerkat

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    I was thinking the same thing, sometimes a used one had most of the kinks out of it. Craigslist is good place to buy and sell locally, IMO.
    Then sometimes you can get a lemon but so far we got some great deals. Always try it out before you buy.

    And welcome to the site.:welcome:
     
  16. Apr 27, 2019 #16

    zoomzoom

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    I don't know the details but do know that Husqvarna had/has several different lines in the same size tractor. Some are cheap, throw-away tractors, others of the same size are very robust. I'd check reviews on the particular model you're looking at. As mentioned, check the brand of the engine. As I recall, Husky's better tractor line had a Kohler and their best line had a Kawasaki.
     
  17. Apr 27, 2019 #17

    The Innkeeper

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    Husky mowers have aerials reputation here in Canada. Poor quality, lousy service and high prices. Now their chains saws are as good as they get
     
  18. May 4, 2019 #18

    Patchouli

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    We've had a Husqvarna for 10 years, bought it new but forget how much we paid, used it on almost 2 acres and later 1 acre. Never had any problems with it. I will check it tomorrow, I don't remember what model or anything. It's been sitting cuz it was not used in our tiny yard, needs tires fixed. I enjoyed using it, sort of. Teens loved it.
     
  19. May 29, 2019 #19

    Spikedriver

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    My 2 cents worth -

    For $4k you can get a good used John Deere. Forget about the ones you find at Lowe's - those are no better than the ones you get at a farm & ranch store. Go to a JD dealer and find one with a Kawasaki engine. Kawasakis can be rebuilt if they eventually fail, which could save you a little money down the road. You'll want one with a welded deck. You'll also need to check out the pulleys. I don't know what the model numbers are on new JD mowers, but what you're probably looking for is the current equivalent to the old 425 model. In fact, if you can find a 425 in good shape, I might last you for years, although by now they're often well worn.

    As for all the others, Troy Bilt and Husqvarna do make some decent mowers but not as heavy duty as the JD. The decks are thin stamped metal and don't hold up as well. The better ones have Kohler motors but you'll pay around $500 more for that than you would for a Briggs & Stratton equipped mower. To me it's probably worth it.

    I'd stay away from anything that has "MTD" in the name, like "Yard Machines by MTD". These are fine for city yards that only take 20 minutes a week. On an acreage they don't hold up.
     
  20. May 29, 2019 #20

    backlash

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    I bought a Zero Turn that I bought at the John Deere dealer. Best mower I have ever used. It's fast and cuts evenly, if I keep the tires properly inflated.
    I have had a Craftsman for years and it was also a good mower except for one thing. My wife never checked the oil and destroyed 3 motors.
    I'm retired now so she does not mow.
    The new mowers are like most everything made today, they are not built to last a lifetime.
     
  21. Jul 5, 2019 #21

    Jake229

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    We will need to look into this as well as soon as we take possession of our place. I have the “immediate” needs taken care of. I got my father in laws zero turn to use for now and got a tracked Honda snowblower for the long driveway this winter. From my research, it appears that you can buy the right unit from the start or buy it again in a few years if you didn’t. Being a “green horn” in regards to homesteading, I must admit I am a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. JD makes a great compact utility tractor with all the potential attachments one would need, but they are indeed very proud of them! Massey makes what appears to be a nice unit, at a significant reduction in price. Is it a classic case you get what you pay for? Hard to know for sure. PTO’s seem to be a good thing over belt drive.....But I went on too many people over the years that got literally “caught up” in their PTO’s. That definitely leaves a mark. Don’t have an answer as of yet, but am anxious to see what everyone here’s experience has taught them. Surprising how as you get older, you tend to rely upon the experience of others. When we were kids, ya just had to try it, even though the elders said “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”. Enjoying the thread, much appreciated!
     
  22. Jul 5, 2019 #22

    zoomzoom

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    How much land do you need to mow?
    Does your yard get pretty dry or is it relatively wet during mowing season? (helps determine tractor weight)
    How many obstacles do you have in your yard? (trees and such that'll need mowed around)
    How long/wide is your driveway & how often do you expect to have to plow it?
    Besides mowing & snow removal, what other projects do you expect to happen? (do you need a loader or other attachments?)
     
  23. Jul 5, 2019 #23

    Jake229

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    Thanks for your reply........ It is very much appreciated! The land.......should be fairly dry for the most part. It is situated high compared to the creek that runs on the NW border of the property. Quite a few trees along the way to mow around. The lawn itself is nearly an acre in size. Thinking my Honda self propelled will work well around them. Driveway is 190 feet or so, and about 11 feet wide. Mostly gravel, with a concrete landing by the house. A loader would be nice, that is for sure. Their needs to be some dirt work done around the house (could I rent something for that?). The garden (which has been overgrown for many years) is 300 sq feet (but greatly expandable) and the hayfield (which the existing homeowner’s family agreed to keep cutting the hay for now) is 32,000 sq feet (according to google maps). A tiller would be useful, as well as a trailer to haul water to the garden. (With a tank of course). Haven’t really figured out what we will do with the hayfield yet. Trees? An orchard? More garden? All things to think about in the coming months, especially once we are physically the owners of it. I tend to research the heck out of things......Drives my bride crazy, but like I said earlier, seems like you can buy the right tractor the first time or be making a second purchase down the road. Thanks again for your time, it is greatly appreciated!
     
  24. Jul 5, 2019 #24

    The Innkeeper

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    As someone who for years just bought them had to replace... it is worth while to make sure you buy right to begin with.
     
  25. Jul 5, 2019 #25

    Bacpacker

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    I agree, get the right one to start with.
    As far as the field goes, if the ground is suitable, fruit trees, blueberries, any berries for that matter, grapes, nut trees all would be a good addition. Just choose the right types for your l
    Climate
     
  26. Jul 8, 2019 #26

    Spikedriver

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    Just curious - do you already have an ATV or a Gator? You could get a 60" tow behind mower and pull it if you do. Drawback being, you're running two motors instead of one. It is an option, though...
     
  27. Jul 8, 2019 #27

    Jake229

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    Greetings! We don’t own a gator or an ATV. I did look at that, adding a stand alone lawn mower, but think it would be better suited to get a dedicated mower, tractor, tiller and any other attachments we find use for.

    I did just see a brand of tractor I haven’t seen or heard of before. They are Branson Tractors. https://www.bransontractors.com/ Haven’t seen them in person yet, but my father in law and I are going to kick some tires later this week. They have a dealer about 30 miles away. From online reviews that I have seen, they appear to be decent quality at an affordable price.

    I also want to stop by a rental place right down the road from the new place. It maybe economical enough to rent items that we may not use all the time versus buying and needing to store them. It is an exciting time for sure! So much to prepare for!
     
  28. Sep 4, 2019 #28

    Jake229

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    Hello from Sunny Iowa! We moved in about a month ago. Excellent choice to buy our homestead! My bride mowed with her dad’s Cub Cadet zero turn a couple of weeks ago. She said the front end kept coming off the ground while going up hills. Today, I went to see a neighbor who sells Country Clipper. He let me demo it in our property. Excellent zero turn, ran well and with the joy stick control, was pretty fun to drive. 60” deck, and 90 hours in it. To be honest, it is the first zero turn I have ever used. Mowed well, and after an hour or so, the lawn was done. Still wondering if I should go for a compact utility tractor vs a zero turn. Much more expensive, but also not a one trick pony. Think I will sleep on it and maybe visit Kabota before buying. Deere has nice stuff, but quite proud of them too. Will report what we end up purchasing.
     
  29. Sep 4, 2019 #29

    phideaux

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    Zero turns are fast, most, are built well.
    If the grass is a little wet , dew, sprinkle, they have a tendency to slide around a lot on hills.
    They really are not good to handle on hills. Gentle slopes ok
    Flat ground...awesome fast

    My 2 pennies.

    Jim
     
  30. Sep 4, 2019 #30

    Spikedriver

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    With a zero turn it works best to mow downhill. But it takes a pretty good hill to roll one regardless.
     

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