Homeowner Zero Turn vs riding mower

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by camster39, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    My total property is about an acre with estimated lawn coverage of 20,000 sq ft. Several trees and a few obstacles but nothing outrageous. I'm brand new to lawn maintenance and have been starting off slowly (landscaper did everything 2 years ago, last year I took over fertilizer & grass repair/renovation & next year I'd like to take over everything). I've got a blower and an edger/trimmer and now I'm in the market for a mower.

    I didn't even know what a zero turn machine meant until a few days ago so please forgive my ignorance. Anyway - where should I be focusing my attention? Is a zero turn homeowner model worth looking at? I'm starting to read that any zero turn under $4k is not even worth considering. I really want to keep it around $2k if possibile (maybe 2,500 max). My main objectives are

    1 - An even cut
    2 - Easy to maneuver (around trees and mulch beds)
    3 - Reliability

    I don't think I'll ever be bagging my grass -- side discharge or mulching will work fine.

    Consumer Reports loves the John Deere 100 series riding mowers but I've seen some posts knocking the Deere. Does Deere make a zero turn - is it worth looking at? Ariens & Toro seem to have zero turns for under $3k -- how are those? Should I just forget the zero turn and focus on the residential lawn tractors --- as you can tell I'm confused.

    Any feedback/advice would be appreciated.

  2. BladeRunner1967

    BladeRunner1967 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 202

    Go for the tractor dude. Toro's homeowner is a piece of junk and with a tractor you can use alot more attachments. Good luck.
  3. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    In the homeowner version Toro makes one that is around 2500 that Ive heard both good and bad. Hustler makes one also but it is around the 4k range (high to me when for a little more could get a commercial z). Stay away from the home depot homeowner ztr,s. A good commercial one would cost you around 5k or so for a small (48 inch) but decent one. I have been pleased with my deere ztr but stay away from that 100 series that is sold at hardware stores!! My dealer says they will not even sale one because they are junk. Their entry level riding mower is in the 2.5k price range last time I checked. I read somewhere on here to stay away from certain hydros (cant remember if they were called izt or ezt hydros) but one was ok and one was bad! Do a quick search and you can find a bunch of info here on different mowers. Have you considered a good used commercial z for around 3 grand or a commercial walk behind with a velke or sulky (in your price range) in the 3 grand range? You will get a LOT of different opinions on this subject. Most important is to demo different models and see which one you like and last but not least dealer support!!
  4. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 852

    The only ZTR in the $2K range would be the Dixon. It has a mechanical transmission and actually works very well and is reliable.

    The problem is that the transmission has to be rebuilt at a cost of about $500 about every 500 hours. Do some math and see how many years before you would reach 500 hours. For your lot you could surely mow it in less than an hour on a Dixon Zeeter. If you mowed once a week 8 months of the year that would be about 35 hours per year. That means you could probably go 15 years before needing the trans rebuild.

    Your other alternative is to find a good used commercial ZTR. These are available at the lawn supply houses, but you will need to find one that you can trust to sell you something that is not totally ragged out.

    Most DEFINITELY stay away from residential units with Hydrogear EZT model integrated drives. They are very problematic. Units with the more expensive IZT integrated drives are in the $4K area and individual pumps/wheelmotors start around $5K.

    Hope this helps,
  5. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 57

    Spend a little more and opt for the Hustler Fastrack or the Mini Fastrack . You won't be sorry.

    Big Hoss
  6. zgman

    zgman LawnSite Member
    from va
    Posts: 55

    my neighbor owns a deere riding mower and I guess he decided to get a zero turn after watching me on mine over the past 2 years. He got the Ariens mini zoom which runs in the 2K range. His yard doesn't look nearly as good after he mows with it compared to his Deere. I seem him switch between the 2 every week.

    In my opinion, either pay $4K and up for a decent ztr or stick with the rider. You may want to see if your local dealer will let you demo a zero turn. good luck.
  7. Smalltimer1

    Smalltimer1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,223

    Go with the JD lawn tractor--hands down. No questions about reliability or durability--JD is an expert in making them hold up.

    The only variable is the engine. Make sure you get one with the Kohler or the Kawasaki, whether you decide to go with the 100 series or the dealer LT/LX series.

    My personal preference is the dealer LT series in the $2500 price range. It is worth the extra $$$ to get a real lawn tractor instead of a boxed up one.
  8. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    If I were going to use it for my home only, I would get the lawn tractor. A good Z will cut a bit of time off of the mowing but since you are only mowing 1 lawn per week and it is not very large, the difference will not be too great.

    The reason that I would go with the tractor is becase of the attachments that you can get. You can often get tillers, pull wagons, snow blower, and other such things that might be handy.
  9. camster39

    camster39 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Thanks to everyone for their replies. Based on this info, and other stuff I've been reading, it sounds like the John Deere riding mower is the way to go. I really don't care about saving time cutting the lawn with a residential ZTR and it sounds like the quality is just not there in the under $4k range.

    Can someone tell me the main differences between the JD 100 and LT series mowers? I would love to stay under $2k but not if I'm going to regret it in the long run.

    The Deere website was not very helpful with describing the differences in the 100 vs the LT-- I plan on visiting a local dealer but would appreciate any additional feedback from this site.
  10. Smalltimer1

    Smalltimer1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,223

    The LT's have a heavier transmission as well as a better Kawasaki engine than the 100 series do, which run Briggs and lower end Kohlers.

    The LT's also have heavier duty decks as well. The LT's may cost a few $$$ more but it will be well worth it in the end.

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