View Full Version : Help me make a good mower decision

03-20-2002, 10:50 AM
I am a homeowner with a 2.5 acre lot in Upstate South Carolina. My lot is fairly flat (except for the drainage culvert at the road), but has many bumpy spots from installation of the irrigation system, and just the lay of the land. I had a fairly new Craftsman Lawn Tractor (25HP Kohler, 48 inch) that would cut it all, even the culvert, but was slow, rough riding, and gave a poor quality of cut if the grass was even slightly higher than normal. I have a wood fence and leyland cypress along half the property (back yard) and a grove of hardwoods in the front (about a 60x200 section, that is not landscaped or seeded, just leaves). I want advice on a long lasting mower that is comfortable to ride on, not too loud, and most of all FAST. I know a ZTR is probably my best bet and I am considering the following:

Kubota ZD-21 w/ 60" - I know the diesel has a great rep, and people seem to love Kubota's other products. I can get one for around $8900-9000 from what I have been told.

Exmark- Not sure which model I would go with, but I know the dealer about 30 minutes from me is a nice guy, and seems to have a good reputation. I hear great things about their mowers, but I am not sure about ride quality without spending extra for the deluxe seat, and a 10 mph mower is no good if I can't hadle the jarring at anything above 6 mph. I also don't know about the
price I should expect to pay, maybe you can give me a idea of a good price to pay on a particular model.

Toro Z355- I know this mower is not discussed much here, and I wonder if there is a reason for that. In concept it seems to be simlar to a Walker (that will probably start a fight!) with the rear bagging and 48 inch deck. I would have probably bought this already as I have found a demo with 10 hours for $7000, but the small deck size, and possible bad ride quality have me on the fence. I like the idea of bagging, esp. in leaf and sweetgum ball season, but I don't know if trading away the bigger deck is worth it when I could pull a sweeper in leaf season instead.

Walker- Not sure again, about the model, and they seem too slow for me, since my lot is pretty open, and the price seems hard to justify. Again the deck size is small and I wonder about the ride quality vs. a suspension seat like Kubota's or Exmark's optional one.

I know this is a very long post, but I hope those of you who have not fallen asleep at this point will have some insight and advice. Remember, I am a homeowner, so fuel economy, ease of trailering, sidehilling, etc. are not my concerns. My wants are FAST cut, with a ride that will allow me to use the speed the mower can do (even with my bumpy yard). Thanks in advance for those who have taken the time to read this and respond!


03-20-2002, 12:11 PM

Out of the mowers that you have mentioned i only have experience with exmark. As far as my experiences with exmark i will probably never have any other mowers. We have a shop about 15 min away from me and they are great. There service is second to none and everyone is very customer friendly. I know that they are in it for the money but its nice to walk in and they remember the last big idea that you had and ask how it went.

I would talk to as many places as you can and tell them what you are in the market for. More times than not they will let you demo their mowers. Ask them about the pro's and con's for purchasing their mower. If they are concerned about customers they should be honest with you. Then you can take it from there. Get the mower you feel most comfortable with.

As far as prices, I was just quoted $6800.00 for a 52 lazer with a 23hp kaw engine. I know that prices vary from town to town so check around.

03-20-2002, 01:10 PM
I own a Toro Z255 and also have an acreage that is rough in some places - I think you are right on track with your comments and concerns about rough ride. I would strongly suggest test driving potential purchases - some of the guys here claim their machines ride better with the "tractor style" tires, such as Dixie Chopper uses.

kerr lawn
03-20-2002, 01:47 PM
i have the toro ztr 72" 26 hp efi i love it
I looked at the exmark, and looked at the toro seeing that the toro has bigger gas tank openings for less spillage, and the z stand so then you poop it up where ever needed is awesome for new blades, clean-up, or if you run something over.
But look at your options and who is in your area.
tell us what happens?

03-20-2002, 04:04 PM
walker mowers are great machines they are comfortable for the operator too. Walkers top speed is 5 miles per hour with a speed up kit you can go 6.5 You can also get a air ride seat wich are pretty pricy but very comfortable. You can go with the bagging unit (GHS) or you could get aa side dicharge unit with your choice of deck from 52" to 74". (all depending on engine size) Everyone has there own opinions of mowers I sugest as said before try them all and make your decision.

03-21-2002, 02:38 AM
Be careful with Walkers. Their blades are shaft driven, which sounds good untill you hit a rock and shear a pin or gear. I'd get something with belt-driven blades. The Kubota you mentioned I have looked at and it is one sweet mower. However if you are only mowing your own place the price could be a little steep. For example I paid only $5200.00 for my 23hp 52" Snapper Pro Cruiser. If all I mowed was a place the size of yours it would last forever. Don't think you have to get a high-end ZTR to get something that will last. Any commercial ZTR is a class above what you were mowing with. Of course it all comes down to what you want to spend.

03-21-2002, 08:53 AM
I have a 3 acre lot my self,mostly flat with a hill on one side.
i use a deere 240 with 14 kawi and 46in cut works good and fast even faster when the old lady drives it.

03-21-2002, 09:04 AM
Only one comment:

No matter who makes it, buy one with a 'front' mounted deck vs. the 'mid' mounts.

Trust me.

03-21-2002, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by Catcher
Only one comment:

No matter who makes it, buy one with a 'front' mounted deck vs. the 'mid' mounts.

Trust me.

Why only front mount? Most ZTR's are mid mount and it seems to be the most popular for a reason. What is your logic on this statement?

03-22-2002, 08:44 AM
Commercial guys trailoring their stuff around save space on the trailor with the mid-mounts.
I am a homeowner who bought a unit last winter and I love it. The front mounted deck allows you real easy access under fences, bushes, pines, etc.
Plus, the newer models generally feature a 'flip up' deck, when I'm done mowing it takes me 1 minute have the mowing deck standing upright to allow me to clean and inspect it.
Also, when cutting around small ocstacles, the front mount will make for easier trimming.
I believe that the quality of cut is also better, imaging a large pushmower - instead of pushing it yourself you're sitting behind it versus the mid-mounted deck hanging from the tractor.
The flexibility of the deck (up/ down movement) allows for a good cut when going up embankments or mowing across bumps, it usually offers more movement in this direction than a midmount without any restrictions by chains or frame.
I hope this helps.

03-22-2002, 10:41 PM
The Kubota I am considering has a built in jack for the deck. As far as trimming and going under fences, I really don't have a problem with a normal riding mower, so I doubt a mid mount would be any more difficult. I can see where it would be an advantage in certain situations, but my priorities are ride quality and speed of getting the job done. I even have considered 72" decks, but I worry about scalping with anything over 60" or 61". I am leaning hard towards the Kubota, because of the diesel, the shaft drive deck, the suspension seat and pivoting axle, and good experience I and others I know have had with Kubota products in general. My local dealer seems to be a good person (he is offering to put a hitch on for free, and sell me the ROPS at cost, now or in the future, should I decide to want one.) I have found one for cheaper (about $400-450 less when you look at the delivery charge) but I am a fan of buy local, so if I go Orange it will be with the local dealer. I also found a demo at a great price, but I wonder what it would have been put through.

03-25-2002, 01:27 PM
Shumdit, See my earlier post titled "Bobcat ZTR - Need Advice". I'm also upstate SC and was looking for something to cut 3 acres or so at my house. I purchased this machine in Greer at Cycle Scene for $5000 (they had two more at this price a week ago) and so far have been extremely happy with it. The quality of cut is excellent. I did like the Exmark LazerHP a little better overall, but didn't think the difference was worth $2000. The 18hp briggs engine has had plenty of power so far and should last many years considering the hours homeowner use will put on it. They sell the same machine with a 19hp Kawasaki for about $900 more.

John Gamba
03-25-2002, 01:52 PM
Hello Shumdit
If You are Looking for ride try ferris But the Best cut at least around her is exmark's ultracut deck. If you go Lazer Z With EPS You Will Get The suspention seat and alot more. No Mower that i Know Will cut as fast as the Ultracut deck And that's around 4 To 5MPH. Oh I'm In connecticut.
Hope this help's Johnny G. :cool: :cool:

03-26-2002, 05:30 AM
I had the same worries as you when I bought my mower, Shumdit. Decksize, mid/ front mount, horsepower etc.
I used to spend 5 hours riding that tractor, pushing a handmower and going around weekwacking the rest. I have a 3 acre lot, LOTS of trees, Boulders and other obstacles in the way - no straight line mowing here (well, maybe this year, last Octobers storm took my nicest trees).
Anyways, I was very concerned with making the wrong choice and 'wasting' a slew of money.
I finally settled on a 52" deck, which fits nicely between some of the boulders and trees that happen to be close together. This may not be a concern for you, but in my case it defenitely worked out to be benefit. I was also worrie about the 18hp Kohler OHC this unit has, I felt I needed a larger motor since the garden tractor had more hp and did such a crappy job. However, I have no regrets about my decision. I have sold my push-mower since, my weedwacker broke a year ago, and it takes me about 1 hour to 1.25 hours to do the entire area (and it never looked that good before).
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing bad to say about Kubota and I agree that their equipment is top-notch; but I am not sure if a Diesel isn't a bit of a overkill for a few acres. By the time you get done cutting it'll just be barely warmed up (especially with a larger deck on it).
It sounds like you have your heart set on this machine, so - good luck and enjoy the summer with it.

03-26-2002, 10:13 AM
Well, Thanks to all of you for all of your input. I did decide on the Kubota after visiting the dealers and demoing about 7 different mowers. Catcher, you are probably right, it is overkill, but I was very happy with the dealer (which means a lot, after the Craftsman service nightmares) and with normal servicing, the Kubota may last 20 years in homeowner use. Because of the dealers in my area, I had pretty much narrowed it to Exmark or Kubota. The main reason I went with Kubota over the Exmark is ride quality in my yard. The Exmark did not ride as well as I expected, even though I tried the optional ($400) suspension seat on the LC model I tried. Thanks again for all of the input into the subject.

kerr lawn
03-26-2002, 08:05 PM
well good luck
i don't know what your model looks like, but i have only heard awesome things about kubota.
Have fun flying pass your neighbors on their crapmans tractor. They will still be mowing while your chillin on the couch sipping on the sauce (beer).

03-26-2002, 09:14 PM
I love this mower. It used to take me anywhere from a little more than 2 to almost 3 hours to cut my lawn before with the Craftsman(depending on how many times I had to stop and clean the discharge chute out), and with the Kubota I knocked it out in just UNDER an hour!! I had enough time to use the built in jack (love that feature) and clean the deck completely. So far, So Great! I may buy the bagging unit once Kubota re-releases it (the first one was too heavy, and they went back to the drawing board). I am really looking forward to the grass growing, just so I can pull it out of the garage again (never said that about the Craftsman!):blob3: