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Help! New land owner needs advice

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Mow Howard, Jul 19, 2003.

  1. Mow Howard

    Mow Howard LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I have about 5 acres of of fairly flat land. It is not quite "residential smooth" but pretty smooth overall with a fair amount of trees near the borders.

    I understand the how a ZTR can save me time with the trees, but I also like the added utility of a tractor. How does a 60" cut ZTR compare with a 60" cut tractor, speed wise if you DON'T factor in the trees? Say 4.5 acres of clear mowing?

    I am looking for something to last 10 years or so with minimal fuss. I take exceptional care of anything I buy. The dealers in my area are JDeere, Scag, ExMark, Kubota, and Gravely. As I previously stated, the utility of a Kubota or JD tractor would be a plus, but if the ZTR is significantly faster then I would consider the ZTR's from from all the brands mentioned. Looking to spend 7-10K.

    Any speed observations (trees not included) between the ZTR's and the tractors would be appreciated as well as any brand advantages. Thanks!
  2. BigDave

    BigDave LawnSite Member
    Messages: 148

    When I was looking for a mower for my new house at the beginning of this year, I was looking at the Deere GT245 garden tractor (54" deck, 23 hp Kawasaki) vs. the Exmark Lazer HP ZTR (52" deck, same engine). Both are great units, with their pros and cons. As you mention, a garden tractor is more versatile, but a ZTR truly *is* faster. Actually, a ZTR can also take a surprising number of attachments, but the attachments cost more for a ZTR than for a garden tractor.

    I went with the Exmark. I should have requested a demo of each unit at my house. That would probably have caused me to also consider a 4wd garden tractor (because of my hill as you'll read below) - though I very well might have opted not to spend the extra money and made the same decision I made anyway. But for you, I would definitely recommend a demo at your home of every unit you're serious about.

    The reason that ZTRs cut down your mowing time so much is that not only are they significantly more maneuverable, but also their floating decks allow you to mow faster. For example, the top speed of the Deere I spoke of is 7 mph. But if the terrain gets rough, you know you can't mow anywhere near that speed, because the deck will bounce along with the tractor and will give you a bad cut. The Exmark's top speed is 9.5 mph. On smooth terrain, you can actually mow at that speed. On rough terrain, you have to slow down, but generally only a couple of mph, as the deck is hanging from chains, and does not bounce with the unit. However, on *really* rough terrain, you will still need to slow down a lot.

    My one dissapointment with my ZTR is that it doesn't handle hills as well as I thought it would. This applies to most ZTRs. You can't do a zero-radius-turn on a hill. More importantly, when weight is on the front wheels, they are (and this is obvious in hindsight) powerless to slow you down a hill or stabilize you across a hill. I have a steep hill, and I actually now go down it in reverse - which works well! - but is a bit hard on your neck, and I get strange looks from neighbors. :)

    As far what brand to buy, in my opinion, all the brands represented by the dealers you mentioned make good equipment, and even Deere and Kubota make good (albeit more expensive) ZTRs. If per chance you also have a Hustler dealer in your area, I would add that to your list. I chose Exmark because so many people on this site said it has an excellent cut, and I got a decent deal ($6600). I use the mulch kit, and couldn't be happier with my results. My Dad recently bought a Gravely PM 152Z, and he is very happy.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  3. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 166

    I guess it really all depends on which you will use more.
    If you were independently wealthy, you could have both :)
    I bought a ZTR because I spend more time mowing than rototilling, snowplowing etc. etc.
    If you feel you'll have frequent use for the attachments like a rototiller or a bucket to haul things across your lot than I would defenetly go with a big garden tractor, or - better yet, a small tractor which will actually work a lot better for these jobs. In conjunction I'd have a 60" belly mower or, and probably more likely due the ability to change them faster, a 72" or so mower for the rear of the tractor.
    Now, if you only need to till a garden once a year and spend the bulk of the time mowing, I'd say buy a mower. Your yard will look nicer, it will take less time, etc. etc.
    Look for a cheap tractor to do your occasional tilling & plowing, something you can use twice a year and it doesn't break the bank.
    Good luck.
  4. Mow Howard

    Mow Howard LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Thanks for the replies! I'll probably start out with a new ZTR, then I'll look into a used tractor next year for utility (tilling and front blade). Looking to get a mowing deck also, so I will have a backup as well as something to get the rest of the family to mow! Thanks again.

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