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Do I get a riding mower?

  • Nope it's too much power for what you need.

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Do I really need a lawn tractor? Not really. But is it overkill for what I want to do?

7489 Views 60 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  RT3360
Hey Folks! I'm new to this forum :)

I'm in an analysis paralysis - I'll explain my situation and hope I can get some advice from you all.

I just bought a new house on a hill in a semi-dense suburban area, where the front yard is pretty small (would take 15-20 mins mowing with a self propelled mower) but the back yard is (1) relatively larger, (2) down a hill and uneven, and (3) needs a lot of work.

The backyard is divided into two spaces - an actual lawn, probably 5000-7000 sqft and slightly hilly, and a green space with large trees and English Ivy ground cover (which I want to get rid of because it's killing the trees). The actual land I own is 0.75 acres; out of which maybe half is green space.

There's a lot of work which makes me want to get a tractor - hauling wood/branches out of the green space as I try to clear it up (and take it up the hill to dispose), dethatching my lawn since it's covered in moss and dead branches, and obviously mowing. I also kind of want a tractor because I think it'll be more fun + a lot quicker than regular mowing - I don't want to spend all my weekends in the garden/lawn, but it's really expensive to get someone to come and mow every other week here ($70 a mow in Seattle).

Just wondering.... does it make sense to buy an entry-level lawn tractor like the JD S120? It's got a 42" deck but 22HP which I think would be useful for all the stuff I want to haul. I do have the space to store it. Or is it overkill, and I should just buy a ~$500 mower and call it a day?
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Everyone needs a garden tractor... sounds to me like you'll have plenty of jobs for it to do.

My advice is to buy just a little more than you think you need, because you'll find more things to do with it the longer you have it. Also, bigger models tend to be built to a bit sturdier standard and hold up better.

Welcome to MTF.
You can use it for other things besides mowing. Cleaning up leaves, dethatching, aerating.

What you want is a machine that can take attachments because that is what gets the work done.
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Invest in a Cub Cadet XT3GS/GSX or John Deere X570/X590 and call it a day; you'll be glad you did in the long run.(y)
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You have hills and work to do. Do not buy a light duty lawn tractor.
I can't believe we are having this conversation.... tractor logic CLEARLY dictates that you get a GT. The discussion should be: do you get a hydraulic 4wd for the hills out back, or will 2wd with diff-lock sufficient.

Kubota makes a small/light GT with hydraulic 4wd - smaller/more compact than the smallest 4wd deere.
GR series.
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While the JD S120 has 22 hp, it will not tow much at all. Only about 2 hp make it to the ground through its small hydro transmission. Likely a T40 or similar. I have a 20 hp JD La125 and it might move a 400 lb rolling load, but forget about backing it up. And I would not do this regularly as it will heat the hydro up very quickly. It is a decent cutter, but that is all that it is.

Steepish hills are fine for some Garden Tractors, but if it is steep steep your going to be into 4wd territory pretty quick.

($70 a mow.. I need to bump my rates :)
We just bought a new house, 3 acres, about half of it cleared - figure maybe 2/3-3/4 of an acre of lawn. I started my search debating between an S240 and X350, eventually talked myself all the way up to an X738. I could probably be fine with an x500-series machine, but it’s hard to argue with Deere‘s 0% financing on the x700s vs 4.49% on the x500s.

From the sounds of it, I think you would want an x370 or better, just for the serviceable transaxle.
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Of course you need a rider.
The factor that dictates what one you will need is the slope of your yard. Post a couple of pictures here so we can see what you have to work with.
If I were you, I would look for a used true garden tractor, not a lawn tractor. The GT will be of heavier construction, and more durable. That S120 isn't going to pull stuff on any kind of slope for very long.
Check out used machines at a local dealer.
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Logic and financial analysis are probably lost on this crowd.

The only thing I caution is safety. Small cheap mowers/GTs get real dangerous in a hurry on slopes. (This is from a guy who tipped one over twice and another over once before going to large 4WD machines) It is not worth it if you hurt yourself. Most worry if a GT will get up the hill, the real problem is going down.
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Well as Others Have said Don't go with a entry Level Lawn tractor i.e one that You Can Buy at a Box store Like Home depot or Lowe's All But the Top two Models S170 & S180 Have a TL-200 Transmission same as the Previous T40J Those are really designed for a Rear engine Rider and There Usually fine if Your Yard is Flat as a Pancake and You Have a 1/2 acre or Under The S170 & S180 Have a K46 Transmission the same You will find in the S240, X330, X350, X350R & X354AWS There fine for Flat Yards & rolling Hills for Mowing and some snow removal again as long as it not a really steep hill the X300 listed Can be Just fine for Under a acre The X370 Had a K57 which is basically a K46 with a Bigger charge Pump( But the Transmission is serviceable Meaning You Can change the Transmission fluid while the Transmission is on the Tractor) then the X380 thru X394 Have a K58 Transmission The X390 & X394 Models Have a serviceable transmission like I stated earlier.

The Next Deere series is the X500 series which is 2WD with a K72 which is Basically the top of the Line Belt driven Transmission all transmission our serviceable all But the X570 Have replaceable internal filters The X570 is your Basic Deere Garden tractor with Manual spring assist footed Pedal lift for Mid and front and rear Implements Cant get a electric Lift Kit for a Front Blade or snow Blower The X570 also Had manual steer

The X580, X584 & X590 Besides the serviceable K72 with Internal filter They Have Hydraulic lift for Mid and front and rear Implements and Hydraulic Power steering the X584 also has All Wheel Steer(great if You Have a Lot of Obstacles to Mow around But are Limited In rear Implements such as it Can Use a OEM rear Mounted PTO or Hydraulic driven tiller.

Based On Your Use I am Not Going to Talk about the X700 series I own a X748 older Version of a X758 But think either would be overkill for your Intended uses

The Cub Cadet XT3 series as Mentioned above Very Capable Tractor
XT3 GS is You No thrills Garden tractor It Is Manual lift for Mowing decks and Front Blades and Manual steer It Can support up to a 54inch Fabricated deck I would try the OEM 60inch deck. Though it's listed as fitting even with the onboard Spring assist it is a Bare to lift

XT3 GSX Has electric lift for Mowing decks and front Blade It has a choice of 6 Mowing decks a Stamped 42, 50 & 54inch deck or a Fabricated 48, 54 or 60inch deck. This Model also Had Electronic Power steering. On Hand Operated Diff/lock Many of the PTO Mounted Implements for it our aftermarket PTO Tillers, Rotary Brooms ect

I own a Cub Cadet XT3 GSX Myself Been a Great tractor for the 2 & 1/2 years I have owned it Just used it for snow removal as well this past winter which it think might be over in North East Illinois
My Plans for the XT3 GSX is to add a Bercomac 30inch PTO tiller and a front Mounted Rotary Broom finally this year

What I Like about the XT3 series is the Fact you have so Many Mowing decks sizes.

The Other Cub Cadet I would recommend Looking at is a Cub Cadet XT2 GX54 D Has a Kawasaki engine as of 2021, Rear Pedal Operated Diff/lock with a K62 transmission

Somebody Mention the Kubota GR series That is a issue Prone series for Kubota it's Basically a dressed Up Lawn Tractor with AWD and something Like All wheel steer a lot of Issue with there steering system

Kubota that I would recommend for Your Intended use is a Kubota T2290KWT48 It has a Proven Garden tractor Transmission in it a Hydro Gear G730 Thought it is sold as a Lawn Tractor comes with a 48inch deck a Kawasaki engine Great all around Lawn tractor But it's Price In in the Cub Cadet XT3 series Price range

I would even recommend Simplicity a Boardmoor( K58 or K62) , Conquest(K66) or Prestige(K72) That a K58 to a K72 Transmission all have a Automatic Traction control The Conquest and Prestige Have diff/lock as well some Conquest Models have Hydraulic Lift and electronic Power steering The Prestige has Hydraulic Lift , Hydraulic Power steering some of the Boardmoor Model Have Both Hydraulic Lift and electronic Power steering

Cub Cadet

John Deere

Kubota

Simplicity

Just some Brands and Model for thought to support a Hilly 3/4 acre Lot
(y)
As many will will say, Steep hills - 4wd. However, from seeing what my son can do with his X730 on his very steep lawn and driveway, I’m inclined to say weight of the machine comes first in the decision. Heavier tractors tend to improve traction.

The questions are:
  • how steep is steep? The steeper the hill, the more you need a better tractor to avoid danger. Remember, it only takes one mistake to figure out should I have spent more.
  • is the grass wet or damp? Tires, especially turf, slip easier under these conditions.
  • are you moving heavy loads up or down the slope? Going down is likely to be more dangerous, since you slow automatically going up hill.
  • what tires do you have? HDAP’s have better traction.
No question that 4wd, Deere’s HAWD is automatic full time,; Deere X738 or X758 are premium tractors at a high $$$price, but you have to weigh all the issues. You could carry all the waste removed up the hill by hand. You might have to cut things up smaller. All these other options mean more work and more time. That’s the trade off, $$$ -vs- work and time. If you want to save money, but get a better machine, buy “lightly” used.

You could buy a smaller tractor and run more risk of damage to it or yourself. It’s kind of like buying insurance.

Tough questions that only you can answer. We’ve all been there.
While the JD S120 has 22 hp, it will not tow much at all. Only about 2 hp make it to the ground through its small hydro transmission. Likely a T40 or similar. I have a 20 hp JD La125 and it might move a 400 lb rolling load, but forget about backing it up. And I would not do this regularly as it will heat the hydro up very quickly. It is a decent cutter, but that is all that it is.

Steepish hills are fine for some Garden Tractors, but if it is steep steep your going to be into 4wd territory pretty quick.

($70 a mow.. I need to bump my rates :)
Hills, ground work, eventual cutting lawn up and down those hills, and snow removal. The real limiting factor in all this is the tractor's transmission, a notoriously weak link in the chain. Also, when comparing brands or models, look at the frame's thickness and the front axle. Is the axle a forged piece or just stamped sheet metal welded up? Are bushings used in pivot points? Are there provisions for greasing the chassis? Is the transmission serviceable? Have a drain plug and filter for regular maintenance? Turf tires are probably not the best choice. Opt for HDAPs.

If looking at JD, the MININUM should be the X500 line. Similar build level if looking at other brands. Your hills, ground engagement, and hauling anything up or down hills, will make a short life for anything less. Some have luck with lesser build models, but I prefer not to rely on luck.
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This video does a good job explaining the differences between a LT, YT, and GT:

Tractor differences

It's a long video, but it's worth watching to the very end when he shows the implements in his barn.

For reference, I bought a Husqvarna YTH2348 (23 hp, 48" deck) at Lowe's 13 years ago. I use it for mowing 1.5 acres , dethatching, sweeping, and pulling a light cart. It works fine. But I also have a sub-compact diesel utility tractor (SCUT) that I use for any ground engaging work. Cal
We probably lost the original poster after the third post when it was relized no one was doing the servay.
haha fail
We probably lost the original poster after the third post when it was relized no one was doing the servay.
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Makes you wonder about some people..
Then he needs this...
Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Tractor


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I could use it for a day at least. A ripper and box blade would be nice attachments for what I have in mind.
Then he needs this... View attachment 2492803

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Welcome to MTF Zaidhaque! Lots of info here and great members to help and share with, enjoy the site! You seem prettey adept with the site software already but here is some navigation assistance in case you need it:

2492868


IMO anytime you are dealing with grades you may want to get a machine that has at least a serviceable transmission (hydro oil change). Follow the break in procedures and service intervals and they should give you years of trouble-free service.
Hey Folks! I'm new to this forum :)

I'm in an analysis paralysis - I'll explain my situation and hope I can get some advice from you all.

I just bought a new house on a hill in a semi-dense suburban area, where the front yard is pretty small (would take 15-20 mins mowing with a self propelled mower) but the back yard is (1) relatively larger, (2) down a hill and uneven, and (3) needs a lot of work.

The backyard is divided into two spaces - an actual lawn, probably 5000-7000 sqft and slightly hilly, and a green space with large trees and English Ivy ground cover (which I want to get rid of because it's killing the trees). The actual land I own is 0.75 acres; out of which maybe half is green space.

There's a lot of work which makes me want to get a tractor - hauling wood/branches out of the green space as I try to clear it up (and take it up the hill to dispose), dethatching my lawn since it's covered in moss and dead branches, and obviously mowing. I also kind of want a tractor because I think it'll be more fun + a lot quicker than regular mowing - I don't want to spend all my weekends in the garden/lawn, but it's really expensive to get someone to come and mow every other week here ($70 a mow in Seattle).

Just wondering.... does it make sense to buy an entry-level lawn tractor like the JD S120? It's got a 42" deck but 22HP which I think would be useful for all the stuff I want to haul. I do have the space to store it. Or is it overkill, and I should just buy a ~$500 mower and call it a day?
  • Like
Reactions: zaidhaque
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