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Making Purchase This Weekend...Need Help

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Scott_Abel, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. Scott_Abel

    Scott_Abel LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 15

    Hello Everyone,
    I joined this site a while back, and have been reading ever since, but have not done much posting. I appreciate all the info I have gained from this site so far.

    A little background...I bought 5 acres of land last summer. It was thick woods at the time. I had all the small brush and some large dead trees removed during the winter, leaving the good trees and basically no grass. Also, we live in a very rocky area, so all the stuff that was pulled out of the ground by the dozer, pulled up A LOT of rock.

    This spring, we had a lot of rain, and it grew up pretty thick again. Over this last weekend, I rented a walk behind Outback Brush Cutter and spent about 15 hours total mowing it all down. Now that I have it mowed to a managable level, I am planning to buy a mower and keep it looking nice.

    This is where I need help...I am left with about 3.5 acres to mow(the rest is still woods). It is rough ground - rocks, hills, saplings, etc. I need advice on the type and model of mower you guys would recommend.

    Should I get a commercial grade ZTR? A normal riding mower? A small tractor with PTO shredder? I was orginally thinking a commercial grade ZTR, but I'm not sure the front wheels would handle the rocks/hazards like a normal rider would. What will it take to get the job done? I will be watching for rocks and other hazards as much as possible, but with what I've got, it will be hard to miss it all.

    Locally, I have dealers for Kubota, Scag, Hustler, Exmark, and John Deere. I would like to stay around $5,000 if possible.

    THANKS FOR ANY HELP! :waving:
  2. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,578

    I've had a few properties where the terrain is about as uneven as you could imagine with all kinds of rocks, stumps, branches, etc buried deep in the tall grass. I've found that the common homeowner "normal riding mower" can't take this kind of abuse for very long, especially large properties. (2 + acres) Something is usually always going wrong with them, slowly falling apart piece by piece. I use a commercial ZTR for these types of properties, and just drive slow without blades engaged at first to get a "feel" of the yard. Then when I do mow, I set the blades higher then normal 4-5'' to avoid anything that might cause damage that is buried down in the grass. In your case, just schedule your first 3 cuttings a few days apart from each other, taking off a little more height each time until you get it down to 3'' or so. Main be a pain, but at least you will avoid damage and potential costly repairs to your mower. You never know whats in the property. I did this method and avoided running over a street sign that was that was sticking up about 4 inches high in the grass that I could not see initially. If I had hit it, it would have ruined my gator blades, and caused all kinds of damage.. Hope this helps.
  3. Scott_Abel

    Scott_Abel LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 15

    Thanks for the response. I am still leaning toward a commercial type ZTR.

    How long do you think it should take to mow the 3-4 acres? Assuming that it will be slow going given the rocks/hills.

    If I am hitting rocks occasionally that are golf ball to softball size, what concerns do I need to look for on my mower other than sharpening/replacing the blade? BTW, I know better than to just run over a softball size rock, but I'm sure the first couple times, I'm bound to "find" them with my new mower. Yuck.

    I have kind of been looking at the Hustlers - either the FasTrak 48" or the Mini Z 42". What do you think of these mowers?

    Also, I have to find some compromise between a wider deck to cover the area faster and a narrower deck to manuver around trees eaiser. What would you recommend?

    Sorry for all the questions, but a $5,000 mower is a big purchase for me and I want to make sure I am getting the right tool for the job. Thanks again!
  4. Kid With A Mower

    Kid With A Mower LawnSite Member
    Posts: 145

    Don't hit rocks!! It can brake windows or hurt people. So like said above just ride around (maybe get one of those picker uper things) and check for rocks. Sorry I can't be of much help, I don't own a Z. Have you looked at scags or exmarks? Good luck!
  5. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,578

    $5,000 will get you a decent entry level commercial mower. As far as which brands to go with, don't get too wrapped around the axel trying to note the likes and differences from one brand to the next. If it classified as commercial, it will be dependable for you many years down the road. One thing I would recommend if you decide to go with the Hustler is getting the option ROPS. Preferable one that folds so that you can get closer to trees without ripping the branches off. Since you mentioned there are many hills, the ROPS can be a lifesaver if you happen to tip and roll over your machine. Assuming you have the seat belt on. Some of the commercial brands offer them standard, however Hustler offers it as an upgrade option. As far as upkeep, keep it well greased and if you do strike a stationary object, check the spindles and housing for any damage, cracks, bends, things of that nature. As far as deck size, I would go with the largest available for the price range. The time it will take will greatly vary from your 1st to your 5th cuts because you will be more use to the terrain. A lot of it depends on the size of the engine (#hp, and if can handle the thicker stuff) The time it will take you to cut it will vary greatly the first few mowings until you get used to the terrain.
  6. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 342

    In deciding on the machine keep in mind the larger the machine the better the ride. I have a 52" Super Mini and have also used the 60" Full size machine on my property. The larger machine does give a smoother ride on rougher ground. With Hustler you do have the added options of Flex forks and Flex seat. The Flex forks give a very smooth ride But I am not sure if the will work on your property. I thought the same thing as you, that the smaller machine was easier around trees but I found the 60" Hustler was just as easy and with the larger deck you could reach further under trees before getting hit by the branches.

    Another thing that I probably should not mention because it always brings a lot of negative comments but here it goes. If you think you are going to be hitting rocks and such the Meg-Mo's may be something that would work for you. With the sling blade design that folds back it may offer a level of protection for your spindles. I have not used them but this is the situation that I would think the would be good for.
  7. cybervision

    cybervision LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 342


    Have you tried to get a Demo out to your house yet? This is the best way to be sure if you are making the correct decision. Demo both units if possible. If you are this serious the dealer should be able to get you the demo units to your house. If he can't maybe his Rep can help or another dealer.

    Good Luck,
  8. Scott_Abel

    Scott_Abel LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 15

    Thanks for all the help. With the info in this thread and all the other knowledge on this board, it sure helps to make a good decision.

    Thanks again!

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