Homeowner seeking a sanity check -- need a new mower for three acres

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Corn-Picker, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Corn-Picker

    Corn-Picker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Hello all, I'm seeking a new piece of equipment for the three acres that I mow. Here is some information about me and my yard.

    I use zero chemicals and do not water my yard. I do not really care what it looks like, I just like to keep a few acres short to give my kids and dogs lots of room to run while minimizing the likelihood of ticks and snakes.

    I want to minimize my time commitment; if I thought that raising sheep took less time than mowing grass I would do that. I've investigated alternative ground covers, but all the articles I found on the subject were targeted at people with 500 square foot yards and seemed higher maintenance that what I want.

    I'm in WV (aka "The Mountain State"), so I have to deal with slopes. I mow a quarter acre that's flat, two acres that's at 15 degrees, half an acre that's at 20-25 degrees, and a quarter acre that's at 30+ (which I will continue to push mow). All these angles have been verified with an inclinometer resting on a 2x4, so this isn't the normal eyeball method that results in people calling a 15 degree slope a 45 degree slope :)

    My property is extremely rough and rutted. If I try to go cross slope on my Craftsman LT (42" deck) at anything other than a snail's pace it gets a little sketchy (yes I do have wheel weights).

    My property slope faces north and is a mix of sun and shade.

    My property is tough to mow, or at least I think so. It takes me seven hours currently; five riding, one pushing, and one string trimming. I have about 120 trees/obstacles to cut around, a dozen or so bushes/trees to mow under, a few dozen inside corners, and generally it's a big PITA.

    At first I was considering a SCUT, like a Yanmar or Kubota BX, but I don't think that gives me any new capability, just a bigger deck (and bigger turning circle). My heart was set on a tractor, but my brain said that 90% of my equipment seat time will be spent mowing, so I should buy a mower, and I can use the $8,000 I save to pay someone else to dig ditches or move rocks.

    So, what would you buy?

    My current favorite is a Grasshopper 623t with 52" deck, performance package, and powerfold deck. But, man do I feel like a chump spending 9.9k(cash price) for a mower for just my three acres... I'm willing to part with the money though if it's the option that will allow me to keep three acres mowed with the minimum time commitment (obviously hiring someone is the least time intensive but I'm not willing to spend that much).

    So, what do you all think? Is there some other equipment or alternative method (e.g. ground cover) that will allow me to keep three acres short for less money or less time commitment?

    Thank you all for your time and attention.
  2. shiplemw

    shiplemw LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    I mow about 3 acres, in comparison to you, my yard is flat. Ha. I have a Kubota B7500 with a 60" belly mower and I recently bought a Husqvarna MZ6128 ZTR. My mowing time went from ~4 hrs + 1hr of string trimming to ~2.2hrs + 35 min of string trimming. So a ZTR would probably help out to reduce your time on the less than 15* parts of your yard. Two questions:

    - Do you really have to mow the 20+ degree slopes that makeup 3/4 of an acre? You might plant something there, like a wild grass and let it grow?
    - Do you have a four wheeler? You could buy a pull behind 4' or 5' self power bushhog and use it IF it would allow you to mow the 20+ degree slopes more quickly.
  3. jasonhc73

    jasonhc73 LawnSite Member
    Male, from WICHITA KS
    Messages: 43

    3 goats would probably get er done. Seriously. But then you have to contend with fencing them in...
  4. Grady1

    Grady1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 28

    Not to be a smartarse but if you don't care what it looks like, why would you go and spend that much cash for a Grasshopper? Buy the goats, the kids and dogs would have something to play with. :laugh:
  5. ztman

    ztman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,115

    If you don't care about the finish cut, get a swisher 60" tow behind at tractor supply, hook it to an atv. Ride quality will be good, and slopes wont be and issue
  6. Corn-Picker

    Corn-Picker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Corn-Picker

    Corn-Picker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Posted via Mobile Device

    A tow behind is an interesting idea, but I've heard that they are a PITA around obstacles, of which I have many. Is that true? Also, I do not (nor do I want to) own an ATV.

    Assuming the Grasshopper can handle 20 degree slopes, I would have very little to push mow or weed eat. Unfortunately I can't let the really steep slopes go wild as they are the first thing you see when you pull into our driveway. I've been talking to the grasshopper dealer; I want to be sure it's my best option before I demo it, because I don't want to waste the dealer's time (or my time) unless I'm willing to part with the money. I should also mention that ROPS are a requirement for everything but a walk behind. The last property owner died while mowing this property when his lawn tractor rolled over on him. Now, I gotta say I think he was a bit crazy to mow a 30 degree slope on a standard LT. I will always push mow that section, but I'm a big believer in ROPS and my next piece of equipment should have them (again, excepting a walk behind).

    BTW, goats do not prefer to eat grass, sheep do. Goats are like deer, they'd rather browse on bushes, small trees, and my garden. I mentioned sheep jokingly, because I know that to fence them, worm them, supplement them, and generally take care of them would take significantly more time than just mowing the grass.

    And to answer one person's specific question, I'm considering the Grasshopper because I don't want to spend seven hours mowing the yard. The Craftsman has been good considering how tough the property is, but it's becoming obvious that it's not up to the job.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    If you got the money go with a ventrac with duals. I bet you won't have to break out the pushmower with it.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,398

    A Wright Stander will handle those slopes. Scags are also reported to be quite stable. The Grasshopper may be fine but you should be able to demo it before committing. Any of the above mowers should cut your time in half or more.

    Find a dealer you like, demo a few mowers, and go from there. That will make your decision significantly easier.
  10. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    My kubota has done a 45 slope (10ft rise over 20 ft) I actually have a pic of it. I don't recommend it. Its hard on the turf.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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