Using hydro system on ZTRs for other things


LawnSite Senior Member
For engineering types, I'm curious why we don't see some attempt by manufacturers to make ZTRs more versatile to gain a competitive advantage in the market?

Walker has attachments, but is it possible for someone to design mowers with hydro systems and ptos that could power other tools?

Tractors are an example of other machines that are versatile. I see the same engines used on mowers powering other machines that just sit around most of the time. What are the technical barriers involved?
Even if it required beefing up the engine size and hydro systems and making a mower more expensive, the versatility might make it worth it.

Examples of tools you might be able to engineer a ZTR to power via either pto or hydraulic power might be:

An auger for plantings and post holes by one man instead of two. The mower itself would act to counteract the torque as well as powering the head. A 5hp engine can power up to about a 10" head, so surely a mower could.

Ability to power a portable generator for emergency home and remote jobsite use

A small dozer blade for snow or other light duty work. Hydro operated ram to raise/lower blade.

A small simple front end loader system for mulch and light stuff only

More effective attempts by the big companies at turning a ZTR into an aerator

A hydro system output valve like on tractors could power a ram for a cart dump activator or a lift system for an aerator, or just the lift for a rear mounted blade/rock screener, etc.

a small log splitter, towed or mounted.

It could power a small towable soil cultivator/tiller, or aerator, or dethatcher,
eliminating the need for an engine and hydro pumps on them, which makes them too expensive for most

A water pump

A chipper/shredder for limbs you can hang off the rear or even a towable system that also collects chips in a cart with a top on it.

A blower housing run from a pto off the back so you can use your ztr as a huge push blower w/o the mass, expense, and bulk of a 2nd engine. w/o the engine on the back you can reverse the air flow from right to left by rotating it and opening/closing vents in the housing.

Stump grinders (this is really pushing it probably)

Power a pressure washer

Basically make everthing modular. I think a big enough company could do enough volume to make this a good selling point.

What are the engineering roadblocks?

The ability to isolate the optional hydraulic flow with a switch from the mower's main so an exposed coupling getting damaged would be less of an issue.


LawnSite Fanatic
john deere and some others have this type of thing on their front mount mowers. they aren't ztr mowers but they are kindof half tractor/half mower. they have snow blower attachments, sweepers, plows, etc.

Ridin' Green

LawnSite Fanatic
You raise some good questions here.

Maybe I can answer a couple, since I own both a ZTR and a CUT. The issue of using the hydraulic system is more complicated than just having the fitting(s) to plug into to operate attachments. For instance, I'm not up on what all ZTR hydro systems run at pressure-wise, but I know they don't produce enough hydraulic flow in gal p/m to operate many of the things you've listed. A dedicated dual hydraulic pump would need to be integrated somewhere/how to operate most of that stuff, and a much larger reservoir for the fluid. That adds mass and bulk to the machine's size, which would not be beneficial for their main, and regular mowing use.

The frames may be strong on ZTR's for what they're designed for, but they'd need to be beefed up considerably for any type of front loader use (even a light duty one), or any rear ground engaging implements. Tires would be another consideration. Can they take the added weight? Hydro's would need to be much stouter for any of that type of work too. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that the cost would skyrocket, not just go up some. On top of that, the manu's would have to take into consideration that no matter what they advertised the equipment as being suitable for, they know there will always be nimrods who push it waaay beyond that point, and the manu's would have too much liability/warranty work to make it profitable.

As Jason said, Deere has several units that are mainly WAM's, but that also power front 2 stage blowers, brooms and 60" dozer blades.
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LawnSite Member
To be honest I think it comes down to money. There is not enough of a market for add on's. Also it would raise the price of the Zero turn to make it capable of doing such things. Currently most all the Z's uses a Variable displacement pump and that is not like a constant pressure pump that you will find in Skidsteers ect.

There is currently companies out there that make snowblades (personally I have made my own snow blades) for zero turns. At best though a niche market.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Beatrice, NE
Technically, this is all doable. No problem. As a matter of fact, they already exist.

What you have described is commonly refered to as a Garden Tractor. :)

The ZTR is a relatively refined, purpose built machine. It's engineered to cut grass fast, reliably at the lowest price point possible. It is engineered to perform a specific task and do it efficiently.

It's kind of the same thing as why doesn't a mechanic use his multi-tool to work on a mower? It has a pair of pliers and a few different screwdrivers. The problem is, because of the presence of the other tools, the primary functionality of the tool is reduced.