need advice - buying mower (zero-turn?)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by little pink, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. little pink

    little pink Member

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    Hello, i was wondering if anyone out there could help us with some mower advice. I have read a good bit in the archives of related threads , but I still have a few questions.

    We have about 3 or 3.5 sloping acres to mow. That includes an interior road/path which is a little bumpy, and a very small orchard (dozen small trees). The previous owner of our place used an older utility vehicle (not sure what brand) with a tow-behind mower. A friend has advised us to go with a riding mower instead, specifically recommended a JD (L-130?) at Home Depot, with a 48" deck and a kohler motor, sells for $2599. I don't want to spend that much without doin some serious research.

    We also looked at a zero-turn Cub Cadet with a 50" deck and wide tires for closer to $3000. Anyone have any thoughts on or experience with these z-turns? We would like to get our mowing done in as short a time as we can.

    I have just read that some of you say the new JD's and Cubs are no good.
    I think we also have New Holland, and Kubota dealers around here, haven't gone there yet.


    Any thoughts?
    thanks,
    little pink
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    You could purchase a used unit at about 1/10th of that price, add a couple hundred to replace worn parts and be happly mowing for a few years, with money in your pocket. Gravley brands cost about $1,000.00 (used) and they have many attachments available, you could creat a garden, chop heavy weeds, and what not with them.

    They also have snow plows available for them.
     

  3. outsideman1

    outsideman1 Well-Known Member

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    i bought a toro 44 inch zero turn mower about 2 years ago . used to take 4 hours to mow my yard , now it takes about an hour and a half . dont think i need to tell you how pleased i am with that
     
  4. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    If you have lots of trees, a ZTR is the ONLY way to go, esp. if you want a manicured look. You will never want to mow any other way. I've been told that the ones under about $4000 won't last, but don't know. Snapper makes one for around $3000 that I would seriously consider though. At our place in the country (with a lot of trees), I just use an MTD that I bought for $825 4 years ago. It has a 42" cut, 17.5 hp. motor, and hydro transmission. I got it as a "repaired return" from Lowe's. The new ones were selling for $1300 at that time. Now they are around $1500. Lots of people hate MTD's but mine has given me very good service with no problems. I mow about 2 acres every other week from April through October with it. In very dusty conditions (sugar sand).
     
  5. caroline00

    caroline00 Well-Known Member

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    depending on your slope 0 turn and pull behinds are not the best way to go. If you are mowing a slope you need at least 20hp. If you get less than 20 hp, hmmmm..... something about the oil... spills into the engine on the slopes. The larger one has a different type of filter or is capped or something.

    Kohler and B&S are about the same quality

    you can get a poulin riding mower 20 hp for about 1,000, depending on where you live.

    My husband mows cemetaries for a living so picture slopes and rocks :)
    He uses a poulin mows and 14 hour days from April thru Sept and a $1200 mower lasts about 2 years.

    The previous person who mowed the largest one used a 0 turn, hit gravestones, dug ruts got fired...
     
  6. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    My thought is to forget the mower and get some goats.
     
  7. Phantomfyre

    Phantomfyre Black Cat Farm Supporter

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    When I was in high school, I mowed a guy's lawn for a part-time job. He had a Dixon ZTR, and I LOVED that thing!!! We had a regular lawn tractor at home, and the difference was unbelievable. Soooo much neater and faster. I do remember it needing repairs, but I don't remember what they were - the man was a dealer, so he just took care of it.

    When we bought our place last summer, DH and I looked at ZTRs, but then decided that if we had so much to mow that we needed one, we needed to fence in more pasture or increase the garden space. :D

    Diana
     
  8. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ................I was told that Briggs-Stratton has bought Snapper ! Hope they don't lower the quality of the mower(s) to the lower quality of their engines . I've got a 96 model Snapper 1433 that is still running great and has needed almost no repairs . We'll see !..fordy.. :eek: :)
     
  9. little pink

    little pink Member

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    Thanks for all the info, I'm still not sure what to buy, but we'll keep our eyes open. I'm a bit unsure if we should start out with a used mower, since my DH is not into engine repair. Hopefully we'll have a little time to get accustomed to things before getting into all that.

    The goats are a definite must! However we have to get the former pasture re-fenced before we can get those little munchers out there to reclaim it. The 3.5 acres I was talking about are the remaining area, outside the pasture, i.e. around the house and the interior road. Eventually a good portion of that will be turned into garden, poultry run, etc, but it's spring now and it's gonna need to be mowed long before we will get all that accomplished!

    thanks again! any other opinions are most welcome.
     
  10. Bluecreekrog

    Bluecreekrog Well-Known Member

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    Take my word for it, if your hubby isn't into small engine repair, don't buy a used mower. Nothing ****es me off like going to cut the grass and having to fiddle wirh the mower. Also a zero turn isn't of use for anything else except grass. I would get a GARDEN tractor in the 20hp range. You can do a lot more with it.
     
  11. Christine in OK

    Christine in OK Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Dang it - I typed a whole good long paragraph yesterday and just as I posted something went wrong w/ the forum and it didn't go through. I'm going to shorten my opinion, I don't want to go through all that again!

    We used to have a full-blown lawn service, whew, got rid of that thing - talk about a pain trying to find reliable help! :no: Now, my husband does just one or two yards (he's a firefighter, this is part-time), and mostly uses our ZTR mower for them. They are absolutely wonderful, I would suggest even one of the least expensive ZTRs over a regular lawn tractor. Just be sure and get plenty of horsepower in that engine - the best mower in the world is useless without enough HP to pull you up that slope. Ours is 27 horse, it'll do anything you want and then some. Kohler is wonderful, Briggs is - um - well, junk. I'm sure they aren't ALL junk, but we've never had luck with them at all. Gravely is great, but not having looked at them in awhile, I don't know - the only ones we ever had were walk-behinds. I don't know if they have a ZTR. If I did go with Gravely, I'd be sure to at least get one with a sulky rather than walk-behind 3.5 acres.
     
  12. porboy298

    porboy298 Well-Known Member

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    Christine,
    What brand do you have?? I am in the market for one and your info would be helpful.
    Bill
     
  13. Christine in OK

    Christine in OK Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bill, we have a grasshopper. Hope you're sitting down when you look at them, you'll faint if you aren't. When we bought our place (2.5 acres), our in-laws bought the place across the street (also 2.5) just two months later, and my husband and his dad decided to go in halves, and after exhaustive research ( ;) as with all purchases), decided Grasshopper was the way to go.

    After sharing for awhile, Dad decided he wanted his own, and so we bought out his half and he bought a ZTR "belly mower" (like most lawn tractors, where the deck in underneath you rather than out front). He said it was okay, but after having the out-front type he couldn't handle the belly mower. One of the biggest problems was the inability to get right up under low-growing trees and into corners next to fences. We all really swear by the out-front type. The only problem I have with ours is that I don't drive it often enough. Since it has levers to operate rather than a steering wheel, I have to think too hard when I get on it, especially to back it up!

    After 5 years of use both at home and commercially, we just sold our first Grasshopper and bought a brand-spanking-new one last winter. It has a 52" deck and a 27 HP Kohler engine. Since we have cut the lawn care back over the last year or two, I expect this one to last indefinitely. I have heard people say that Grasshopper will "nickel and dime you to death" with repairs, but I believe that must be the commercial guys who don't maintain their own equipment, but hire everything out, even changing oil and filters, and who have employees running them all day who may not be as careful as an owner might be. Our mower gets washed down frequently, the air filters cleaned regularly and Lance often uses the air compressor to clean both the filters and the engine before putting it away. I really believe this is the key to having nice things - if you take care of them, they are worth spending the extra money on because they will last you forever.

    Of course, I'm not prejudiced because Grasshopper is headquartered right up the interstate in Kansas! ;)
     
  14. little pink

    little pink Member

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    Christine, I was just told by a local guy that a ZTR won't be good on the slopes. We do have some areas which get a bit steep, such as on the side of the house with the walkout basement. I'm thinking any lawn tractor would have trouble with some spots, and we will obviously use a pushmower as well, but are the ZTR's really more prone to pulling downhill since the front wheels are not steering? That's how it was explained to me. Is that your experience?

    I was thinking the ZTR's sounded great, but I'm being advised that a lawn tractor would work better for us. Is that possible?

    :confused:
     
  15. jwulf

    jwulf Member

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    You might want to consider a walk behind as well. Used to work on a lawn service when I was in school and you can cut quite a bit of grass with one of those puppies. A lot of them have the large engines and you can attach a sulky which is a small two whell cart that you can either sit or stand on. The deck sticks out front so you can get under a lot of stuff, and they are a bit safer on the hills (lower center of gravity, and if it would overturn you just let go).

    -jwulf
     
  16. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    The "hot" mower down here right now is Exmark. See a lot of them with the guys who cut yards for a living. About $4600 for the smaller model.

    Personally, I'd opt for about $1500-1600 worth of lawn tractor with a hydrostat. Spray RoundUp around the base of the trees out to about 8 inches from the base.

    If you really want versatility, get a grey market Japanese diesel tractor - about 22 HP PTO, and hang a 5 foot finish mower behind it. I think you'll come in close to the price of the first mower I mentioned, and it'll still be there in 15-20 years.....
     
  17. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I mow entirely too much area. If it wasn't for the big shade trees I would put part of the maintained area in crop land. I have had the following mowing devices, a G allis chalmers with a belly mower, a cub with a belly mower, Lowe's 20 hp riding tractor mower, a 6 ft flail on a 50 hp diesel tractor, a 7 ft bush hog on the 50 hp, a 10 1/2 foot bush hog on a bigger tractor. Now I have a commercial 27 hp Kohler engine Toro zero turn. The zero turn is the only true high quality, efficient machine that I have used that provides a manicured lawn. I like the fact that I am always cutting grass. There are no wasted turns or gear changing and little or infrequent backing ! I can mow the above referenced area in 40 percent of the time it was taking using any of the earlier mentioned methods which gave a finished look that was haggled. I plan on properly maintaining the Toro and feel that I will get a lot of use from the mower even though it cost more than the trucks I drive!
     
  18. Christine in OK

    Christine in OK Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Little Pink, I decided to call the hubby to weigh in on this one. He said if you're willing to go the money, Grasshopper is the best way to go. (no surprise there)
    We've known a lot of people who run them and even if they were mowing commercial and quit, they run them at home just because they're so good. But they are very expensive, and if you're looking to stay under $5,000, may not be for you.

    The only thing he could think of that would make a ZTR a drawback is that the "belly mower" type are short and could have the potential for turning over on a slope if you aren't careful, but really they wouldn't be any different than a lawn tractor in that respect. The mowers with the decks further out front will be more stable because they will be a longer mower. If you're on a pretty good slope, look for more knobby tires as opposed to the slick tires; that will make a big difference in the "pulling" or sliding aspect - same for ZTRs or lawn tractors, it really sounds like the guy was blowing smoke, maybe trying to sell you what he had? (shrug) He does mow one lot that's about 2.5 - 3 acres and sloping and has never had a drop of trouble with it. It just boils down to how steep is your slope.

    We have known several people who owned Snapper, one disliked it completely, the others said they were "okay". So far in my husband's polling, no one has liked Briggs, they all said stick to Kohler or Kawasaki.

    One thing with the ZTRs, just like agmantoo said, they will drastically cut your mowing time. He's not joking when he said 40%. We figured it cut our time by half at least. If you ever use one and then try to switch to a tractor, you will be seriously unhappy!

    He wasn't sure about trying to mow a slope with a walk-behind, again it just boils down to how steep the slope is.

    One thing he said might make a difference for you, aside from the prices, was what else you might want to do with it. I told him that I assumed you would have some small animals, a garden, etc.. The advantage that a lawn tractor mght give you there is that you can pull small trailers, sprayers, aerators, etc. Because of the setup of most ZTRs, with one wheel in the back, it is difficult to attach a trailer, you can have a hitch welded on, but a lot of lawn tractors come with a hitch and available trailers, etc. Also, the engine differences, gears on lawn tractors as opposed to the hydraulics on ZTRs might make a difference in pulling.

    Well, I've probably just confused you more than ever - it's a hard decision to make, but I guess the main issues come down to 1) How much money do I want to spend; 2) What else might I want it to be able to do; and 3) How steep IS my slope?
     
  19. little pink

    little pink Member

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    Christine, *thanks*! -- and tell hubby thanks too, you've given us a lot of good advice and stuff to consider.
     
  20. little pink

    little pink Member

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    And thanks again to everyone else who gave advice, I really appreciate it! :D