Three Acres, Rough Meadow, Trees, Hills

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by skipslade, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. skipslade

    skipslade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I hesitated about starting a new thread; however, I felt it was unfair to try and usurp another user's topic.

    My wife and I are in our mid sixties. This will be our third growing season maintaining our Southwestern Virginia property. During the past two years, we have used a very old Simplicity Sunstar (recently sold due to multiple mechanical and wear issues), a 2001 Snapper Cruiser Pro (currently down with a bad hydro and a troublesome Kohler engine), and a 1996 Gravely Professional 16 horse walk behind.

    Only the Gravely has been able to deal with the steep hills (probably between thirty and forty degrees) that are very much a part of our landscape. Only the erstwhile Sunstar was able to mow the rough meadow that we call our lawn comfortably. The Snapper nearly threw me off the seat when operated at anything near its top mowing speed, and it was truly dangerous on the slopes.

    Our six hundred foot driveway is lined with closely spaced evergreens. The back yard (about half an acre) has numerous trees with shallow roots that often protrude two or more inches from the ground. We also have another three acres that we would like to eventually tame and incorporate into our lawn.

    All three mowers that I've used required five to six hours to effectively mow the current three acre lawn. The Gravely can do it all by itself, albeit very slowly. The Sunstar was a bit quicker and a whole lot more comfortable. It did require some follow-up trimming with our old Deere two stroke twenty-one inch push mower (its tiny wheels really struggle on the rough terrain). Because it was was so ineffective on most hills,the Snapper couldn't cut anywhere near as much as the Gravely and Simplicity. Due to its lack of suspension, it was no faster than the others.

    We also need to do quite a bit of landscaping, hauling dirt, mulch, etc. We now have a small garden, but hope to greatly expand it. With such a long drive, snow maintenance is critical.

    The Gravely has ground breaking equipment and a snowblower. Obviously, it doesn't have loader capability.

    In an ideal world, I'd be able to purchase one piece of equipment that could effectively mow the entire tract as well as plow, haul, load, etc. I then could sell both the Gravely and repaired Snapper and conserve on storage space. Don't believe that's possible.

    Does anyone here know of a garden or compact tractor that is category three hitch compatible and able to negotiate steep slopes with some effectiveness? While such a tractor might not markedly decrease the amount of time necessary to mow our lawn, it would at least approximate a one tractor solution. I've been considering possibilities such as the Kubota BX series, the Simplicity Legacy, and certain Deere products in the X series. I do not know how useful they would be on hills or just how reliable they would prove working in this environment.

    I'm also considering several of the newer zero turns. This is almost laughable since the Snapper proved such a woeful failure. If I could find a zero turn that could mow my rough lawn at near top mowing speed, then the weekly six hour cutting chore could be dramatically reduced. If I were to make such a purchase, then I'd keep the Gravely and resign myself to landscaping by hand.

    I've been looking at Ferris mowers with independent suspension and the newer Exmarks and Toros with the gas tank under the seat and with suspension seats. Dealers enthusiastically assure me that some of today's zero turns can mow many hills safely. However, I strongly question whether any zero turn could truly handle my mowing job.

    My wife and I have agreed on an absolute maximum budget of nine thousand dollars. We'd obviously prefer to spend much less as we are effectively retired. While we are willing to consider slightly used, we are leaning towards demos and new. Over the years, we've purchased a number of used garden tractors. All required at least some work; many necessitated considerable time, effort, and dollars to keep operational. It's been our observation that few people really maintain lawn and garden equipment properly. Unless someone has died or a family is moving to a much smaller yard, there is little reason to sell expensive equipment unless it is proving highly troublesome.

    Any useful comments and/or suggestions would be appreciated, and thanks in advance.
  2. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I don't know flip about garden tractors, so can't help you there, but agree that zero turns can handle pretty good slopes, in the hands of an experienced operator and under ideal operating conditions. One advantage of doing just your own property is that you can mow when it is convenient, rather than necessary, as with our commercial cutters.

    Without seeing your property, or actually mowing it, I, or probably, none of us can tell you exactly what will do the total job, but I do have a suggestion. Keep the Gravely for the rouighest areas, then get a Zero turn for the rest. You might, or might not, be comfortable on the whole property on the Z, and if you are, you could phase out the WB. If not, you'll be covered with both.

    If I were you, I'd take a serious look at the new Gravely Pro-Turn. I run Gravely Pro-Masters, and have been extremely well satisfied with them. The Pro-Turn series features some design changes which include a lower center of gravity, and rubber isolation for the operator from the rest of the mower. They are offered in 60 and 52 inch, but I believe the 60 is built with heavier components, so that would be my choice. Also, this mower should be well within your budget limits, and would, literally, last you a lifetime mowing only your own property. Good luck.
  3. skipslade

    skipslade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    Here are a few images of our parcel:





  4. hamiltonlawncare

    hamiltonlawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    AM here in VA as well the slopes don't look too bad My Hustler Super Z handles slopes quite well As for a multi-purpose tactor no suggestions but a good Z will cut your time in half based on your pics I wouldn't go less than 60" I'm in Lynchburg maybe if you close I can mow for you ...........
  5. Lawn Pawn

    Lawn Pawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from zone 3
    Messages: 568

    ONE MACHINE is my qualifier hear....

    Mow... and bagger.... tiller... broom... plows... snow blower.... 3 point... I think good on hills.... very tough and agile..... good prices for used... LOTS of them around. John Deere 445AWS.... or 455AWS.

    You can get a Johnny Loader I think it is called as well, for the front quick hitch. Would NOT get a factory loader for this guy. For mowing you could also get a pull-behind.

    For your budget I think you could get a very clean used unit and several attachments.

    That's my opinion... I have had several and love them if you require a one size fits all machine.

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