I have a Simplicity I bought in 1995 and it's been great. Pretty pricey, though. It is a garden tractor. That is, it is larger than a lawn tractor and lots of attachments can be put on it. It has a PTO (power take-off).
Now that I have two small children (8 weeks and 2 1/2 years) time is quite precious. I've been spending about four hours doing the lawn care around our property, but that's no longer going to fly with the Mrs (nor do I want to spend that much time mowing when I could be swimming with the kiddies!).
I don't want to spend over $2k if possible. I have about one acre cleared right now, but may expand to two acres down the road. Tasks will be mostly cutting grass, but will also use it to haul a trailer for wood stacking, moving landscape materials, etc.
I've used JD and Husqvarna in the past... just not sure if those are the only decent choices. I have my friends 48" Husqie right now... and it sort of seems like overkill.
EDIT: I should add that while my land is fairly level, it does have a few dips and hills.
Last edited by Varrr6; 05-22-2012 at 01:34 PM.
Probably just need a lawn. Garden might be over-kill.
I only bought a garden tractor because we had three acres in NJ. I was looking for what was the largest mower width that was within my budget and still preferably was gears transmission. It was a 50" mower on a Simplicity Landlord in 1995.
I priced out large mowers on John Deere tractors, and they were more than I wanted to spend for the amount of use it will get.
We're on to an acre here in MA, and I only have to mow about 7,000 square feet. I looked pretty stupid on the Simplicity mowing my lawn.
Bought a push mower for the lawn here to get some exercise outdoors.
Last edited by Cooper; 05-22-2012 at 02:35 PM.
I've got a Toro LX425 that I bought back in 2007 (think it was actually a brand-labelled MTD?). Unfortunately, they don't make it anymore, or a later version, it seems. Mine's a 42" deck, which is plenty for my 1.5 acres of grass, has the 20HP Kohler engine (plenty), and most importantly an auto/hydrostatic transmission. As much as I love manual transmission cars, you do NOT want one on a riding mower. One other feature I wish I'd paid a bit extra for was a better "anti-scalping" deck. If I am on a slight hill, the deck doesn't "re-level" itself quite as well as I'd like, and I get a shorter cut on the high side and longer cut on the low side. But overall, its pretty good. I'd think you can get what you're looking for easily for under $2k. I have an Ariens snowblower I am quite happy with, maybe check out the Ariens mowers at HD?
Funny, I was just at the Toro site looking at the LX423. 42" with a 20hp Kohler. All my other equipment is Toro (snow blower, push power, etc).
Regarding scalping... I think that would only happen on the hills around my walk-out basement. But that's not enough area to be a real concern.
Just a suggestion, but you could get a walk-behind deck which would cut your time by 1/2 or 2/3 of what you're doing now.
My neighbor is in his late 20s and cuts the hilly 2 acres next door with one.
I have a water-cooled Lazer Z. It's a 54" cut zero turn. That cuts my acre in 40 minutes.
Garmin Is My Pilot.
That kind of mower has an attachment that you can stand on and have it pull you along, too.
My advice is to buy something new, even if it is over your budget. Commercial grade equipment is pretty thrashed by the time it gets to the used market. Just like my daily drivers, I buy new, maintain and drive the wheels off of it. Simply take into account how many years you're going to cut grass and divide the expenditure by that. It has always been my take that only the very wealthy can afford to buy crappy products.
My mower is a 2000 model with 250 hours on it. If you need to buy used there are many homeowners like myself that have commercial equipment with low hours. Look for stuff at estate sales in the higher-end neighborhoods.
Last edited by barry2952; 05-22-2012 at 04:41 PM.
Garmin Is My Pilot.
I've owned my Husqvarna YTH2348 for about three years now and no complaints. The current Husqvarna models are sold at Sears and Lowes. I believe that both Craftsman and Husqvarna are made by the same company--or at least they used to be. You can definitely spend less, or a lot more, but mine serves its purpose. This one replaced my Craftsman sub-$1,000 lawn tractor, which I hated.
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Garmin Is My Pilot.
I had 4 acres to cut and looked at Husqvarna and Toro.
I went with a 42" 0-radius toro that worked very well. It used to take me 3 hours for the 4 acres so for your smaller property it should go quickly. It had a lot of power.
I have 1.5 acres to mow and had a 1990's 38" yardman that took forever. It was a cheap home depot type POS. Upgraded to a used late 1960's 42" Elec-Trac (better but still too slow), then to a 1990-ish 60" Gravely Pro 18-G for $1200. It is fast, and built like a tank. I'm replacing the PTO clutch (major PITA) but after that it should be good to go for another 20-30 years. Engine has 1280 hours on synthetic, burns no oil and starts right up.
If you are handy I would recommend an older high quality mower, they tend to be well built compared to the newer ones I see in HD and Lowes.
I have to agree w/ barry, a commercial walk-behind or zero-turn will give you a vastly superior cut to any garden tractor on the market. I miss my 48" bobcat. Bought it used for $500. It was an older model, and the shift lever for the transmission was broken (only had 3rd gear), but it ran like a tank, and cut like a dream. I had it for over 6 seasons, before I finally got rid of it. It needed some work, and I had the chance to buy a new Troy-Bilt (MTD) 42" lawn tractor w/ a 17.5 hp B&S motor for $350. Stupid move. I wcould cut my 3/4 acre lot in 20-25 minutes. Even if you figure 25 cuts as season (once a week for ~6 months), that was maybe 10 hours a year. Figure I had 60-70 hours on the thing after 6 years. Those things are designed to go all day, every day. Figure a normal landscaper cuts for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. After 6 years, I put less time on it, that it probably saw in 2-3 weeks of commercial service. As an example, in the entire time I had it, I never changed the oil. The guy I bought it from had just changed the oil before I bought it. I checked the oil all the time, and it always looked new. Even when I finally got rid of it, you could pull the dipstick out, and the oil was still clear.
So, even if you get a used one from a landscaper, you can probably run the thing for several years w/o an issue. Check the local pro dealers and see what kind of used / trade-in stock they have. Guys get new stuff, or upgrade all the time. I'm thinking you can get a pretty decent one for under your $2k budget.
On a side note, my g/f has a 48" John Deere commercial walk behind that her late husband bought ~8 years ago (used). That thing runs like a champ!
While this might not be for you I thought I’d throw it out there since you have a couple of acres. I love my Gravely Walk Behind. Yes they are old but if you get a good rebuilt one and take care of it they last forever. Mine was originally my Grandfathers 1938 L that he bought from a buddy in 1947 but over the years various parts have been swapped.
The best part is having multiple attachments so instead of having 5 different machines to upkeep its one machine with various attachments. Here’s mine with some of the various attachments.
Set up for summer cutting with a steering sulky attached.
my Rotary Plow for the garden. You can also use this as a post hole digger
Like I said this might not be for you but you gotta admit they're pretty damn cool. there are better decks then the one on mine like this one
*not my picture, just googled it*
Finding one with all the attachments would be cool.
I still use my 1985 water cooled Honda HT3813 to take care of the strips of grass at the office. I've had it for 20 years and have only replaced an anti-scalp wheel.
You don't have to buy new to buy good stuff.
Garmin Is My Pilot.
Talked to my buddy who owns a grass cutting business. He said that he can't see ever using a non-commerical mower again, even if he gets out of the business. He said to look for a good, used piece of equipment, and go for it. You should be able to find plenty w/ a $2k budget. However, the end of the season or the beginning of the season is the best time to buy. Either guys are getting out, or guys are upgrading. Right now you're in the height of the season.