New Mower Recomendations

Turfmaster JD

LawnSite Member
I'm planning to purchase a new mower next spring and would like some imput on what might be best for my situation. Hoping to have a chance to demo a few units this fall.
First of all, I'm 19 years old and have been mowing part time for two years. This spring I planned to start mowing full time, but in february i was diagnosed with bone cancer in my left leg. So this summer has been spent on strong chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery. Everything has gone very well, and next spring i should be able to continue into full time lawn care, but i will have to make some changes from my original plans.
Consideration #1 is that my left knee has been replaced with a prosthetic joint. It is barely distinguishable from my original knee, but it does need to be treated with care to avoid breakage. So no high impact activities. Also the bushings in the joint have a lifespan of approximately 10-15 years, and reducing any vibration and jostling of the leg will help to keep that from being shortened.
That will likely affect the type of mowing I'll be doing, and possibly what mower i buy. This year i have been able to keep some of my acconts and have someone else take care of them for me. What I've kept is mostly commercial, specifically entrances and drainage ponds in housing developments, along with the unsold lots remaining in the developments. At this point i have enough that it would keep me busy 2 days a week, and potential to get as much of that type of work as i want, but much of it is very rough ground. So not good for the knee at all.
The second consideration is my current equipment. I have been very fortunate to get some amazing deals on used equipment. I own a '97 F350 with a powerstroke diesel and duals, an 18' PJ landscape trailer with a dovetail, a 2012 Toro zmaster commercial 3000 60" repowered with a brand new briggs vangaurd 26 hp this spring, a 2013 Husquvarna pz60 with a kawi 29 hp, and an old (1998?...) Walker 48" ghs with a 25 hp kohler. Also a new last year husqvarna 580 blower and two 525 string trimmers. It's a wonderfull setup for the commercial accounts i currently have, but next year i need to make some changes.
While i expect I'll have to keep some of the commercial accounts to fill my schedule, I would realy like to pick up a good number of modest sized residential accounts. I'm thinking mostly 20k sq.ft. and smaller, hopefully more towards the high end lawns so they would be well graded and I wouldn't be mowing too fast. In that case i would use the walker for most of my mowing. I plan on keeping the husquvarna for the commercial accounts. But i think it would be best to sell the toro and get something with a 52" deck for residential lawns. I haven't run a stand on since getting the knee replaced, so i'm not sure how easy or hard that would be on the joint. If I find that i can use a stand on, that would be ideal.
As far as what dealers i have nearby. The closest is a large John Deere dealer, and also sells Toro. I do all my own repairs, so I'm much more concerned with parts stock than repair service, and they do have a very good amount of stock. At about the same distance are a small Husquvarna dealer and a small Scag dealer. The Scag dealer has a decent parts stock, and the Husquvarna dealer has none. Going about 20 minutes from home there is a Bad Boy dealer that i know very little about, and a small Gravely, Ariens, Bobcat dealer with no parts stock and not the greatest reputation. About 30 minutes gets me to a large Kubota, Toro, Walker dealer with good parts stock. 45 minutes gets me to a very large Exmark and Hustler dealer, and a Ferris dealer that i don't know much about. Also a very good Wright and Husqvarna dealer.
I've eliminated serveral brands from person preferance and am assuming I'll need to get a midmount for now. Exmark is eliminated because of its bad performance in dewy grass and an overall dislike for the way tighly baffled decks cut. Bobcat and Ariens are eliminated for the same reason and because of the dealer. I believe Bad Boy and Kubota also have tightly baffled decks so that would eliminate them as well.
The mowers I'm considering and my experience with each of them: I realy like how the Toro machines are built, and mine has always cut extremely well and been amazing in wet grass. Overall the most consistently impressive mower I've used. I should note though that it has a custom front baffle so I'm realy curious as to how other Toros would compare.
I've never run a John Deere, but have heard great things about them on this forum, and have liked what I've seen of them. At this point i would expect the best cut quality in most conditions from a John Deere.
I realy like the new line of mowers from Husqvarna, and i got to run one at GIE last fall. And in theory they should cut very similar to JD. But the new deck is basicaly identical to the one on my PZ, and I haven't been able to get that deck to cut nearly as i have come to expect a JD would. In fact without any modifications it wasn't even "good enough", as it would always clump very badly and leave and awful straggly cut on anything but perfect weed-free grass.
I have been strongly considering Ferris for the possible benefit to my knee. I ran one at GIE and was absolutely blown away by the ride quality. They do have a tightly baffled deck so i would realy like to know how they cut compared to somthing like an Exmark.
I've also heard a lot of good things about Scag but just have no personal experience with them.
I also have basically no experience with Hustler. I know they have an open deck, but I've also heard that they don't do well in wet grass, so i would love to have some opinions from guys that have actualy run them extensively.
So i would appreciate any input as to which of these mowers might be best for my situation. Keep in mind that I am i DE so i'm working with cool season grasses, and I'd like to have a mower that does realy well in wet conditions. And i would love to see some pictures of what kind of quality work these mowers are capable of. Thanks in advance.
 

Ridin' Green

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Michigan
Very good post, and I wish you well in your leg recovery and use. Sounds like you have some good equipment and have given this a lot of thought. One thing you mentioned caught my attention though-

I am wondering if using your Walker would be that wise since you have to have your feet resting on the deck. Vibrations no matter how small will have a cumulative affect on your leg. Add in the constant twisting and moving of the deck and any roughness of the ground transmitted to your legs via the deck wheels, and that would seem to make that a non starter for you.

Ferris will ride the best for sure, but there are things you can do to a lot of the others to make them ride decently, like adding pneumatic front tires and setting the pressure correctly for whatever machine they go on. Maybe get a set of the Z glides for a JD or any other mower they will fit that you may happen to buy. A good suspension seat and different tires for the rear. I mention that last one because I just put some AT101's on my JD for traction purposes mainly, but they also ride better than the Turf Masters that most of these machines come with.

The new Kubota deck is not a tightly baffled deck IMO, and neither is the BB deck, at least nothing like the Exmark deck, and no more so, if as much as the Ferris ICD.

Good luck with whatever you decide to go with. Most companies now days make very good machines with the main difference being the deck. You will not be going wrong with the 7 Iron should you choose to go that route. Any deck can clump in wet conditions if the conditions are just right, but some are worse than others, and the JD deck seems to excel in the wet. That I can tell you first hand. Mine seems to cut at its very best in heavy dew. There are others that do well too like the Husky deck, but you say you have not had much luck getting it to cut like you want, so that will be up to you to decide regarding a new mower.
 

Anthony T.

LawnSite Member
I'm planning to purchase a new mower next spring and would like some imput on what might be best for my situation. Hoping to have a chance to demo a few units this fall.
First of all, I'm 19 years old and have been mowing part time for two years. This spring I planned to start mowing full time, but in february i was diagnosed with bone cancer in my left leg. So this summer has been spent on strong chemotherapy and limb salvage surgery. Everything has gone very well, and next spring i should be able to continue into full time lawn care, but i will have to make some changes from my original plans.
Consideration #1 is that my left knee has been replaced with a prosthetic joint. It is barely distinguishable from my original knee, but it does need to be treated with care to avoid breakage. So no high impact activities. Also the bushings in the joint have a lifespan of approximately 10-15 years, and reducing any vibration and jostling of the leg will help to keep that from being shortened.
That will likely affect the type of mowing I'll be doing, and possibly what mower i buy. This year i have been able to keep some of my acconts and have someone else take care of them for me. What I've kept is mostly commercial, specifically entrances and drainage ponds in housing developments, along with the unsold lots remaining in the developments. At this point i have enough that it would keep me busy 2 days a week, and potential to get as much of that type of work as i want, but much of it is very rough ground. So not good for the knee at all.
The second consideration is my current equipment. I have been very fortunate to get some amazing deals on used equipment. I own a '97 F350 with a powerstroke diesel and duals, an 18' PJ landscape trailer with a dovetail, a 2012 Toro zmaster commercial 3000 60" repowered with a brand new briggs vangaurd 26 hp this spring, a 2013 Husquvarna pz60 with a kawi 29 hp, and an old (1998?...) Walker 48" ghs with a 25 hp kohler. Also a new last year husqvarna 580 blower and two 525 string trimmers. It's a wonderfull setup for the commercial accounts i currently have, but next year i need to make some changes.
While i expect I'll have to keep some of the commercial accounts to fill my schedule, I would realy like to pick up a good number of modest sized residential accounts. I'm thinking mostly 20k sq.ft. and smaller, hopefully more towards the high end lawns so they would be well graded and I wouldn't be mowing too fast. In that case i would use the walker for most of my mowing. I plan on keeping the husquvarna for the commercial accounts. But i think it would be best to sell the toro and get something with a 52" deck for residential lawns. I haven't run a stand on since getting the knee replaced, so i'm not sure how easy or hard that would be on the joint. If I find that i can use a stand on, that would be ideal.
As far as what dealers i have nearby. The closest is a large John Deere dealer, and also sells Toro. I do all my own repairs, so I'm much more concerned with parts stock than repair service, and they do have a very good amount of stock. At about the same distance are a small Husquvarna dealer and a small Scag dealer. The Scag dealer has a decent parts stock, and the Husquvarna dealer has none. Going about 20 minutes from home there is a Bad Boy dealer that i know very little about, and a small Gravely, Ariens, Bobcat dealer with no parts stock and not the greatest reputation. About 30 minutes gets me to a large Kubota, Toro, Walker dealer with good parts stock. 45 minutes gets me to a very large Exmark and Hustler dealer, and a Ferris dealer that i don't know much about. Also a very good Wright and Husqvarna dealer.
I've eliminated serveral brands from person preferance and am assuming I'll need to get a midmount for now. Exmark is eliminated because of its bad performance in dewy grass and an overall dislike for the way tighly baffled decks cut. Bobcat and Ariens are eliminated for the same reason and because of the dealer. I believe Bad Boy and Kubota also have tightly baffled decks so that would eliminate them as well.
The mowers I'm considering and my experience with each of them: I realy like how the Toro machines are built, and mine has always cut extremely well and been amazing in wet grass. Overall the most consistently impressive mower I've used. I should note though that it has a custom front baffle so I'm realy curious as to how other Toros would compare.
I've never run a John Deere, but have heard great things about them on this forum, and have liked what I've seen of them. At this point i would expect the best cut quality in most conditions from a John Deere.
I realy like the new line of mowers from Husqvarna, and i got to run one at GIE last fall. And in theory they should cut very similar to JD. But the new deck is basicaly identical to the one on my PZ, and I haven't been able to get that deck to cut nearly as i have come to expect a JD would. In fact without any modifications it wasn't even "good enough", as it would always clump very badly and leave and awful straggly cut on anything but perfect weed-free grass.
I have been strongly considering Ferris for the possible benefit to my knee. I ran one at GIE and was absolutely blown away by the ride quality. They do have a tightly baffled deck so i would realy like to know how they cut compared to somthing like an Exmark.
I've also heard a lot of good things about Scag but just have no personal experience with them.
I also have basically no experience with Hustler. I know they have an open deck, but I've also heard that they don't do well in wet grass, so i would love to have some opinions from guys that have actualy run them extensively.
So i would appreciate any input as to which of these mowers might be best for my situation. Keep in mind that I am i DE so i'm working with cool season grasses, and I'd like to have a mower that does realy well in wet conditions. And i would love to see some pictures of what kind of quality work these mowers are capable of. Thanks in advance.
How about a Scag cheetah ? The velocity deck cuts really well in wet grass. The ride with the platform suspension and then also add the suspension seat as well you have the best of both worlds.
 

T Total Lawncare

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
The deep south
You sound like a very tough young man! Very inspiring to hear how you have overcome your battle with cancer. I wish you the best in your recovery and a future clean bill of health. I have went through that battle with my mother and she is currently in remission.

Was wanting to ask you about your PZ as that is the machine I run and the only time I have had issues remotely close to what you are experiencing is with wet crab grass. Everything else I am very happy with as it cuts very similar to the Scags I use to operate when I worked for another operator. Wondered what kind of blades you were using on your machines as that deck loves the Scag style blades. The stock lower lift OEM’s not so much as it liked to clump with those a little more if the grass wasn’t dry. The OEM’s don’t have the lift or move the air enough to disperse the clippings. My PZ can actually cut southern grasses at 3.5 inches and not just St. Augustine, and makes it look really good. All my yards stay green way after the other guys lawns around here who mostly cut at 2-2.5 inches.
 
OP
T

Turfmaster JD

LawnSite Member
Thanks for your replies. I did think of the same thing with the walker. And simply looking at some of the areas i would like to pick up work i don't see much of any realy nice lawns, so using that machine might be minimized anyway. My original thinking was that because of generaly slower speeds and good control, even being able to manuever the front casters around bumps easily, it doesn't often jostle my legs. But it does also have a good bit of vibration in the deck. Mostly gets used because it's just fun lol.
I realy like the idea of pnuematic front tires etc. I've also used the at101's on a grasshopper and was realy impressed with them. So long as you do good three point turns they seem less likely to turf than regular turf tires. Not sure why they aren't more common. And i would realy like to avoid Ferris if i can. I like the suspension but am just not impressed with the rest of the machines. I realy am mostly leaning towards JD or Toro, because of dealer support and both seeming to be great machines. It realy seems like Toro doesn't have nearly the coverage on this site that many other brands do, and have a pretty negative reputation. Mine isn't quite the standard design so that might be making a big difference. It is the original shape, just set closer to the blades. It does sometimes make a little trouble with getting tall grass cut clean, but it does vacuum realy well and i think it might also help with discharging wet grass. Hopefully i can get a side by side demo of JD and Toro since it's one dealer.
If the new Kubota decks do cut well i would realy love to own one of their new series of diesel mowers. I realy disliked the last gen Kubota i ran, it seemed like you sat way too far front of the rear tires, and it felt like the mower was swinging you on ever turn. But i will say the I drove one of the new ones at GIE and it was the smoothest drive system and nicest overall seutp I've ever operated.
I do realy like the cheetah, would definitely consider one. The biggest question i have at this point is how easy it would be to finance through our local small dealer.
The PZ with the way i currently have it set up does realy well. I'm using the standard high lift solid airfoil blade, and have the front baffle indent between the center and left side blade in place. I also added a large blowout tab between the ceter and discharge blades and extended it at about an inch wide all the way to the discharge. That idea was borrowed from Gravely's new deck design. I also added a kicker baffle at the back of the discharge. It works well with Husquvarna's super high lift blades as well. The standard blades cut better and use less power generaly, but when using it as a bushog they sometimes simply don't move enough air to keep the deck from plugging up. (It is a tank, I used it last fall to cut down about 5000 sq.ft. of brush and head high sapplings with no problem at all.) Without the modifications i did it just had terribly much blowout, and seemed to have a lot of turbulence. Even with the super highs it just didn't direct the airflow well enough. It would cut pretyy well on good grass but on my usual lawns it would leave streaky stripes and stragglers, and the discharge was almost sputtering like the Exmarks I've run did. Seemed like it simply didn't move the clippings to the discharge efficiently, sort of piled them up and blew out little chunks of grass. It realy puzzled me since the deck seems to be so nearly identical to the 7iron.The other complaint I had was realy just preference. It threw a lot of clippings up and back, spread them pretty well, but i just like to have a mower throw the clippings nicely out the front of the discharge so i can see where they're going more easily in my peripheral vision. The kicker baffle helped a lot with that, but it arguably doesn't spread quite as well now, so that is as i said just preference. I think I did hear of one case on here of someone having similar problems, but most people never seem to have any trouble with them. If i get a chance I'll post a few pics of the modifications I've done.
 

Ridin' Green

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Michigan
I added a turbo baffle to my 7 Iron to help spread heavy wet clippings evenly and it works great. If you like the discharge stream to be at the front of the chute, run G5 or G6 blades as that's how they throw everything due to the twist in their teeth.
 

T Total Lawncare

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
The deep south
Thanks for your replies. I did think of the same thing with the walker. And simply looking at some of the areas i would like to pick up work i don't see much of any realy nice lawns, so using that machine might be minimized anyway. My original thinking was that because of generaly slower speeds and good control, even being able to manuever the front casters around bumps easily, it doesn't often jostle my legs. But it does also have a good bit of vibration in the deck. Mostly gets used because it's just fun lol.
I realy like the idea of pnuematic front tires etc. I've also used the at101's on a grasshopper and was realy impressed with them. So long as you do good three point turns they seem less likely to turf than regular turf tires. Not sure why they aren't more common. And i would realy like to avoid Ferris if i can. I like the suspension but am just not impressed with the rest of the machines. I realy am mostly leaning towards JD or Toro, because of dealer support and both seeming to be great machines. It realy seems like Toro doesn't have nearly the coverage on this site that many other brands do, and have a pretty negative reputation. Mine isn't quite the standard design so that might be making a big difference. It is the original shape, just set closer to the blades. It does sometimes make a little trouble with getting tall grass cut clean, but it does vacuum realy well and i think it might also help with discharging wet grass. Hopefully i can get a side by side demo of JD and Toro since it's one dealer.
If the new Kubota decks do cut well i would realy love to own one of their new series of diesel mowers. I realy disliked the last gen Kubota i ran, it seemed like you sat way too far front of the rear tires, and it felt like the mower was swinging you on ever turn. But i will say the I drove one of the new ones at GIE and it was the smoothest drive system and nicest overall seutp I've ever operated.
I do realy like the cheetah, would definitely consider one. The biggest question i have at this point is how easy it would be to finance through our local small dealer.
The PZ with the way i currently have it set up does realy well. I'm using the standard high lift solid airfoil blade, and have the front baffle indent between the center and left side blade in place. I also added a large blowout tab between the ceter and discharge blades and extended it at about an inch wide all the way to the discharge. That idea was borrowed from Gravely's new deck design. I also added a kicker baffle at the back of the discharge. It works well with Husquvarna's super high lift blades as well. The standard blades cut better and use less power generaly, but when using it as a bushog they sometimes simply don't move enough air to keep the deck from plugging up. (It is a tank, I used it last fall to cut down about 5000 sq.ft. of brush and head high sapplings with no problem at all.) Without the modifications i did it just had terribly much blowout, and seemed to have a lot of turbulence. Even with the super highs it just didn't direct the airflow well enough. It would cut pretyy well on good grass but on my usual lawns it would leave streaky stripes and stragglers, and the discharge was almost sputtering like the Exmarks I've run did. Seemed like it simply didn't move the clippings to the discharge efficiently, sort of piled them up and blew out little chunks of grass. It realy puzzled me since the deck seems to be so nearly identical to the 7iron.The other complaint I had was realy just preference. It threw a lot of clippings up and back, spread them pretty well, but i just like to have a mower throw the clippings nicely out the front of the discharge so i can see where they're going more easily in my peripheral vision. The kicker baffle helped a lot with that, but it arguably doesn't spread quite as well now, so that is as i said just preference. I think I did hear of one case on here of someone having similar problems, but most people never seem to have any trouble with them. If i get a chance I'll post a few pics of the modifications I've done.


What or where did you find for the “Husqvarna Super Hi lift blade”. Is that a OEM part? Do you have the part number? I think I’ve read about those being mentioned somewhere before by Jim Q (an old Husqvarna Lawn site contributor) but in my research I have never found no such animal. Is it a solid or a notched foil. Please put me on the track where to find that part. I’ve used XHT’s solid and notched blades and the Oregon 638 and 628’s. The OEM blades that came on my machine were a very mild medium lift blade. They were heavy duty thick blades but not too much in the lift and air move category. Also I’m definitely interested in looking at your modifications.

I tossed the baffle reroute what you’re calling the indent 2 days after I bought the machine. The deck was designed after the 7 iron and it don’t have that re-route so I figured get rid of it. Definitely a difference on airflow and clippings dispersion and getting them out faster. The streaks you are getting are from airflow issues. That re-route is possibly pushing air against your stripes leaving a dark line looking “streaky”.
 
Last edited:
OP
T

Turfmaster JD

LawnSite Member
What or where did you find for the “Husqvarna Super Hi lift blade”. Is that a OEM part? Do you have the part number? I think I’ve read about those being mentioned somewhere before by Jim Q (an old Husqvarna Lawn site contributor) but in my research I have never found no such animal. Is it a solid or a notched foil. Please put me on the track where to find that part. I’ve used XHT’s solid and notched blades and the Oregon 638 and 628’s. The OEM blades that came on my machine were a very mild medium lift blade. They were heavy duty thick blades but not too much in the lift and air move category. Also I’m definitely interested in looking at your modifications.

I tossed the baffle reroute what you’re calling the indent 2 days after I bought the machine. The deck was designed after the 7 iron and it don’t have that re-route so I figured get rid of it. Definitely a difference on airflow and clippings dispersion and getting them out faster. The streaks you are getting are from airflow issues. That re-route is possibly pushing air against your stripes leaving a dark line looking “streaky”.

The only place I was able to find the super high lifts online was on a site called brand new mowers.com. I looked for a long time and finally found them there through when I searched for “pz60 super high lift” on google. But I didn’t want to order them online so I took the manufacturer part number from that site to my dealer and he was able to order them with no problem. And the part number is 522829301x3. I would like to try a notched blade sometime, I’ve found they cut much better on my Toro than a solid airfoil.
Interesting theory on the streaks. When I took the reroute out of mine it had a lot of blowout on the front of the deck and didn’t vacuum very well between the center and off-side blades. It would actualy clump grass on the front baffle in about the same shape as the reroute, and several different anti-blowout tabs I tried didn’t help, so I finally gave up and put it back in. I just wish everyone would use k31 tall fescue, I don’t think I’ve ever had any trouble with that.
As far as using gators, I do have a set, but i’ve never been very impressed with them. I suspect their effectiveness varies a lot by turf type and different mowers. It always seemed to me if I was taking a small enough amount off that they would do a nice cut, it just wasn’t long enough clippings that they needed to be chopped any finer. But I know most people that try them absolutely love them so maybe it’s just me.
 

T Total Lawncare

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
The deep south
The only place I was able to find the super high lifts online was on a site called brand new mowers.com. I looked for a long time and finally found them there through when I searched for “pz60 super high lift” on google. But I didn’t want to order them online so I took the manufacturer part number from that site to my dealer and he was able to order them with no problem. And the part number is 522829301x3. I would like to try a notched blade sometime, I’ve found they cut much better on my Toro than a solid airfoil.
Interesting theory on the streaks. When I took the reroute out of mine it had a lot of blowout on the front of the deck and didn’t vacuum very well between the center and off-side blades. It would actualy clump grass on the front baffle in about the same shape as the reroute, and several different anti-blowout tabs I tried didn’t help, so I finally gave up and put it back in. I just wish everyone would use k31 tall fescue, I don’t think I’ve ever had any trouble with that.
As far as using gators, I do have a set, but i’ve never been very impressed with them. I suspect their effectiveness varies a lot by turf type and different mowers. It always seemed to me if I was taking a small enough amount off that they would do a nice cut, it just wasn’t long enough clippings that they needed to be chopped any finer. But I know most people that try them absolutely love them so maybe it’s just me.

Outstanding! I used that part number and found those blades on the site you mentioned.

Depending on how dry it is and the height I cut at usually determines if I get blowout. Thin dusty I have experienced that to some degree. And yea I get a little build up where the reroute goes if the grass is really moist but usually as the day progresses and grass dries it is eroded off the baffle by dry grass. So it’s really been a non issue for the 3 years I’ve been mowing with the machine. Anyway I’m still interested in seeing what you did as a baffle and how that works. What height are you mowing at? I figure you’re north of me if your cutting K31.
 

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