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Good afternoon! I'm starting the process of building a home (horrible time for this BTW) on a flat two acre plot in the central gulf coast region (220' x 425' dimensions) - and I'll be moving from River North in Chicago, where I can't even see a blade of grass from any of my windows. We are super-excited to be moving back to a more rural area to be closer to family, and I'm actually a little bit enthusiastic about having my own workshop and lawn equipment.

The lot we are building on currently has no trees on it, but I plan on landscaping it to some degree and installing a Bermuda lawn.

Since there are currently no obstacles, I've been leaning towards buying a small, new garden tractor with as wide of a cutting deck as I can possibly get. I'd also like it to be able to handle a few ground engagements that could help facilitate a smaller vegetable garden and occasionally pull around a cart with mulch and other items (seasonal use, not regular). The primary use will be lawn maintenance though, with seed spreading and fertilizing happening pretty regularly especially for the first few years.

When I was about 15-16 years old, I ran a small lawn service with a heavily used John Deere STX38 with a single cylinder Kohler motor. I ended up getting pretty good at repairing it and servicing it on my own - so I can handle a fairly simple tractor design. I'm a little more uncomfortable with the more complicated hydraulics that are on some models unless they are low maintenance.

Given my experience with JD, I've been looking at an X500 series, X300 series, and the S180. There's also a John Deere dealership not far from where we are building.

So some questions that I have:
  • Are these the right size/horsepower tractors to be considering given the size of the lawn, climate, and potential uses?
  • Assuming I keep up with the manufacturer's suggested maintenance and store the tractor in a workshop (and out of the elements), about how many hours would each last given my use case?
  • The S180 costs about $3,000 - about half what a similarly sized X300 and X500 costs. Are the X series worth that much more than the entry level model? Do they last much longer?
  • The S180 has an "EZ Oil Change System". Looking at how this works....wouldn't it leave about half of the engine oil in the crankcase after an oil change? Wouldn't this require more frequent service to keep the engine running?

I definitely appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance for your advice!
 

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Hi there Frequent Flyer and welcome to the forum! Glad you found us and joined up. You'll get a lot of answers to your questions here, I assure you. Personally, I'd lean towards the X500 series since you are looking at garden work as well as mowing. If you were going to save a few $$'s and still go new, maybe lean towards an X300 series and get a small rear tined tiller for the garden. The X300 should pull a mulch/yard cart around just fine. But, I'm sure, other folks will be able to come on here and give you more info speaking from their own experiences. Don't rule out a low hour used, either! Might be able to go up 1 or 2 sizes and get a 4-5 year old machine with 200 or less hours for about the same price.
 

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Yes on the oil change system, I would not use it. I would just do a conventional change if it was still available. For Ground engagement work, you will want the X500 series with the differential lock. I would not worry about the life of these machines, I would expect an east 1000 hours with few if any issues. I have 1070 hours on my 1994 vintage 445. I am the original owner and keep my anti-freeze and oils changed per the hour meter. I have had only one major problem and that was a differential spider gear failure. The early 4x5 series used a two gear spider assembly and the replacement was a four gear assembly. If you could swing the X7xx series with the water cooled engines, they would last even longer. Keeping the engines cool and clean are the keys to keeping them running for a long time. Annual Oil Changes are not so mandatory once out of the warranty with a filtered pressurized oil system. I change my oil, Engine and transmission based on the engine hours and the anti-freeze by the calendar. I just had my engine apart this spring to replace all my plastic gears, Oil Pump, Governor and Water Pump as a preventive measure as my engine series is known to have these gears on the oil pump brake in the 1500 hour range and I don't want to lose my engine for something I can prevent.
 
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Welcome. I'm not going to point you in a direction for tractor models since you are leaning towards a Deere, and my knowledge is limited in the brand. But whatever you get, make sure it has the correct transmission to handle ground engaging equipment. And I congratulate you on leaving the city. I am in the process of doing the exact same thing. It sure is nice when you don't have to hear police/ambulance sirens all night, isn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Welcome. I'm not going to point you in a direction for tractor models since you are leaning towards a Deere, and my knowledge is limited in the brand. But whatever you get, make sure it has the correct transmission to handle ground engaging equipment. And I congratulate you on leaving the city. I am in the process of doing the exact same thing. It sure is nice when you don't have to hear police/ambulance sirens all night, isn't it?
We are very excited. I'm looking forward to actually buying my lawn mower, as nerdy as that sounds.

Riding out the pandemic in a massive city was no fun. Can't wait for some more space for my expanding family.
 

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We are very excited. I'm looking forward to actually buying my lawn mower, as nerdy as that sounds.

Riding out the pandemic in a massive city was no fun. Can't wait for some more space for my expanding family.
My house is just North of the city. We're selling it as soon as we can get our stuff moved to the new house in the U.P. I'm sure you'll enjoy stretching your legs at your new place as well! There's no shame in shopping for a new (or new to you) GT.
 

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Hi from MD. I've had JD's since 1983. My first two were a 110-8HP, and a 110-10 HP. One was a 1968 the other a 1972. My Brother in law still has them. One has the mower on it, the other a snow plow. That's how long they can last. I bought a new 318 in 89, but due to buying a new house, I had to sell it. I had 214's and 216's after that. To my knowledge, they are still running. Then around 2004 I bought an L120, in 3 1/2 years I killed it. I don't have any faith in entry level tractors now. Some last a long time, some don't. Somewhere around 2000 I bought a 1990 265 with 8-900 hours on it that I used on another property, I still have it and it runs well with over 3000 hours on it. I used it to mow 11 yards for several years after I retired. Until I got the X540. Four years ago I bought an X540 with 7-800 hours on it. It now has 1060+ hours, and I love it. But, my old 265 is almost as big, mows just as well, just as fast. Just no power steering or hydro deck lift. I live in the foothills of the Appalachian's so I'm all hills. I liked my X540 so much, I bought my daughter and SIL an X500 for a house warming present. For anything but mowing, I just don't have faith in any new offerings under the X500 series. My neighbor bought a new X350 two years ago and it seems to be a nice little tractor. But I wouldn't do with it, what I did with the old 265. If I had time to shop, I'd find an old 200 or 300 series, maybe even a 400. They will do the ground engagement stuff. Nice flat low land and the X300's will probably be great, but tilling a garden, landscaping, top soil and rocks in a cart, I'd want more. The other thing, my last 4 JD's and Snapper pro have Kawasaki twin V's in them. they all have 900-1000 hours on them and I have complete faith I'll get another 1000 out of them. So many of the new entry level tractors get over 3-400 hours and you get warnings, that's about as long as they last. I live in border line farm country. 2-10 acre properties. I still see lots of the old 314, 317, 318 tractors doing yard duty. I have never seen a running STX38. All this rambling, I'd get the biggest pro series tractor that I could afford. I would have no problems with an X500 series pushing 1000 hours if it had service documentation. Clean, nice tires, no leaks, maybe a little puff of smoke on start up, 500-750 hours in a heart beat.
 

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  • Are these the right size/horsepower tractors to be considering given the size of the lawn, climate, and potential uses?
  • The S180 costs about $3,000 - about half what a similarly sized X300 and X500 costs. Are the X series worth that much more than the entry level model? Do they last much longer?
The main difference in the tractors as you move up the line is the transmission. Horsepower is sort of a meaningless statistic. The key component in the overall capability of the machine is the transmission. As the price goes up, you're paying for better build quality and a more capable transmission.

The trans in the S100, S200, and some of the X300 models is the Tuff Torq K46, which is intended to be used only for mowing a flat area. It sounds simple enough to mow uphill, but subjecting a K46 to a lot of hill climbing will shorten its service life. It's definitely not intended for anything ground-engaging.

The upper level of the X300 line offers some small upgrades to the trans. The models with power steering (a really nice thing!) have a trans that's designed for a little more work and for changing the oil (with a drain plug and fill reservoir). The X500 line is where you'll see tractors with a transmission that really qualify as "garden tractors" as opposed to just mowers. That's what you want to start looking for the ground engaging tasks.
 
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x700 series would be a 'lifetime' tractor. A clean 210, 212, or 214 from the 80s would be a good match for what you're looking for, with some home depot chepo mower for backup... keep in mind the 200 series Deere Garden Tractors are 35 years old or older now... old machines in general are bound to have some issues from previous owners neglect (including oddball lube points even well intentioned owners never think about... such as the variator control lever pivot point on the old 110s had a grease zerk way up inside there, best accessed with mower deck removed and getting under the machine).
 

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There is no right answer to this question. There are MANY choices and most of them have been discussed, at least, hundreds of times. A LOT of it is going to depend on what kind of budget you are willing to dedicate to this. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few tens of thousands of dollars. You will get VERY different results and machines with those different budgets. You used some words that get people to suggest you need WAY more tractor than you are probably willing to afford. Those words are ground engagement. When people on here hear that, they pretty quickly go to the X500 series --> X700 series --> SCUT --> CUT --> Utility Tractor --> Farm Tractor. It all depends on exactly how much ground you want to engage in what way and how often.

For just mowing, any of your choices are probably fine, though if you mow when it is hot and are mowing for several hours that might be too much for some of the transaxles. I would suggest going to a dealer and at least sitting on some of the examples to see what feels right, riding them is even better. Since you area is very open (right now) you can decide how much agility you need and not put in landscaping that requires great agility. As you get higher in price/model they weigh more, this is good for traction which is good for most tractor tasks, but worse for compaction and a nice looking lawn. If you are going to have a large lawn that needs to be mowed frequently a large deck is good, as long as your property is smooth enough for it and your gates and doors can handle it.

So, think about what you really need to do and how often. That will help you get a machine that can do most of what you need to do most of the time. Getting one machine that can do everything you need to do ever, is likely to get you a machine that does none of them well.
 

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Good afternoon! I'm starting the process of building a home (horrible time for this BTW) on a flat two acre plot in the central gulf coast region (220' x 425' dimensions) -

The lot we are building on currently has no trees on it, but I plan on landscaping it to some degree and installing a Bermuda lawn.

Since there are currently no obstacles, I've been leaning towards buying a small, new garden tractor with as wide of a cutting deck as I can possibly get. I'd also like it to be able to handle a few ground engagements that could help facilitate a smaller vegetable garden and occasionally pull around a cart with mulch and other items (seasonal use, not regular).

I definitely appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance for your advice!

What exactly do you mean by ground engagements? If you mean rakes or fertilizer spreaders or sprtayers, that's one thing. If you mean plows or tillers, scratch the models you mentioned. They're lawn cutters and you'll probably void your warranty. You would need at least an X7 series if not a 10XX series SCUT.

Also, get past the notion that green is best. Highest priced does not mean best. There are a lot better values out there, but they may not be available in all areas.
 

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WELCOME! (y)

You really asked a loaded question. ;)

NO, on anything under an X500 if you plan on a tiller. I agree with Jav74, X700 is a hand me down "right before I leave this world" tractor.
The problem is you didn't give a "spendable limit" for this excursion.
While I would LOVE to have something new I can't afford it so I stick with the older classics that have stood the test of time.
You won't have snow to deal with so it's just a tiller and mowing deck.
140 H1 or H3, 300, 314, 318, 322, or a 332. Tillers are under $400 with everything and a good used deck is under $300 if it doesn't come with the tractor you buy.
318, 322, 332 have power steering and MAN that's great (as I have a 318 and a 332) but I have mowed, plowed, and snow blown without it for 49 years until last year with out power steering.
For under $3K you can find a great tractor used with low hrs in nice shape and find the tiller to go with for a few more $$$.
Just an FYI the 120, 140, 300, 312, 314, 316K, 316O, 318, 322, and 332 ALL can use the same front attachments and decks with the correct lift arms.
BUT the 316O, 318, 322, 332 are different in the rear. So you will need a model # specific rear attachment.

My honest thoughts are a 318, 322 or 332 because they have lasted forever. PLUS if you ever want to get a front end loader they will work great.

Just my .02$ and well I'm just a little knutts so.................. 🤪
 

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You won't have snow to deal with so it's just a tiller and mowing deck.
Did I miss reading something? He did say he's from the Chicago area, but I didn't see anything about where he's moving too. So, to me, that doesn't rule out snow duties. If he is relocating anywhere near the city, he'll be dealing with 36" of snow a year.
 

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Did I miss reading something? He did say he's from the Chicago area, but I didn't see anything about where he's moving too. So, to me, that doesn't rule out snow duties. If he is relocating anywhere near the city, he'll be dealing with 36" of snow a year.
He said he is moving to the central gulf coast. I would say snow removal will be the least of his worries.
 

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Did I miss reading something? He did say he's from the Chicago area, but I didn't see anything about where he's moving too. So, to me, that doesn't rule out snow duties. If he is relocating anywhere near the city, he'll be dealing with 36" of snow a year.
Yes---he did say he was moving to the central gulf coast region. and would like to put in a small veg.garden.----So he is needing ground engaging tractor. His 2nd opening line told where he was moving to.
 

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Used can be cheaper, but it usually requires significant patience, time, effort, and kissing, or at least looking, at a lot of frogs. When you do find one, it probably will surprise you with something that requires even more time, money, and patience than you are expecting.

I suspect moving into a new place money is probably tight, so your budget will not be as big as your desires require. That means you need to get clarity on what you really need, want, and desire. Many people desire a SCUT with a backhoe, most people don't need one. Don't buy one unless you are really sure that is what you want and need.

Many people have been well served by the 100 series. We get some of the ones who haven't here, but not so much of the ones who have. That gives those models a bad rap on this site. If you understand me that you are NOT going to get a garden tractor for a lawn tractor price AND you really don't need a garden tractor or more, you can do well by buying one.

I have an X300, X534, X749 and a CUT. They all feel very different and each one is better at certain tasks than the others. But, there is a large overlap in the tasks that they can do, especially for the X300 and X534. While there is no one "right" answer, there are a lot of not so good answer. For instance, some people mow with a CUT. That might be okay for their properties, it would be a really bad idea for mine. Others use an X300 series with an LGM as their tractor (and mower). That too would be a really bad idea for my property, since some of my needs far exceed that combination's capabilities.

If I was in your position I would look at something used in the X500 series category. Used (and new) inventory seems very low right now. I don't think I have ever seen it this low, at least not for a decade or so. My guess is you are going to want to get something after you move, so you don't have to move it.

Many people think they can save money and get a "free" tractor by doing some job themselves instead of paying a professional with proper tools to do some job. Sometimes that works, but do you really want a worker learning how to do some task on your job? You also should value your time at a reasonable rate, or you will be working for free. If you are putting new grass in, especially seed you need to be careful what you mow it with until it is settled in, so you might have some time before you need a mower. It took me 8-10 months after moving in before getting the X300, but I had a 21" walk-behind and push mower.
 

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@Just Jeff and @frequent flyer , I envy you guys leaving the great state of IL. I'm down here by La Salle/Peru and staying put for the time being. Leave the lights on when you leave and I'll shoveling coal into the furnace!

If you could be just a bit more specific of the area you are moving to by the Gulf, folks on here could take a look at Craigslist just to give you an idea of what may be available in your vicinity. I know it will likely turn over before you are moved in but at least an idea of what is popular and going prices for used.
 

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Good afternoon! I'm starting the process of building a home (horrible time for this BTW) on a flat two acre plot in the central gulf coast region (220' x 425' dimensions) - and I'll be moving from River North in Chicago, where I can't even see a blade of grass from any of my windows. We are super-excited to be moving back to a more rural area to be closer to family, and I'm actually a little bit enthusiastic about having my own workshop and lawn equipment.

The lot we are building on currently has no trees on it, but I plan on landscaping it to some degree and installing a Bermuda lawn.

Since there are currently no obstacles, I've been leaning towards buying a small, new garden tractor with as wide of a cutting deck as I can possibly get. I'd also like it to be able to handle a few ground engagements that could help facilitate a smaller vegetable garden and occasionally pull around a cart with mulch and other items (seasonal use, not regular). The primary use will be lawn maintenance though, with seed spreading and fertilizing happening pretty regularly especially for the first few years.

When I was about 15-16 years old, I ran a small lawn service with a heavily used John Deere STX38 with a single cylinder Kohler motor. I ended up getting pretty good at repairing it and servicing it on my own - so I can handle a fairly simple tractor design. I'm a little more uncomfortable with the more complicated hydraulics that are on some models unless they are low maintenance.

Given my experience with JD, I've been looking at an X500 series, X300 series, and the S180. There's also a John Deere dealership not far from where we are building.

So some questions that I have:
  • Are these the right size/horsepower tractors to be considering given the size of the lawn, climate, and potential uses?
  • Assuming I keep up with the manufacturer's suggested maintenance and store the tractor in a workshop (and out of the elements), about how many hours would each last given my use case?
  • The S180 costs about $3,000 - about half what a similarly sized X300 and X500 costs. Are the X series worth that much more than the entry level model? Do they last much longer?
  • The S180 has an "EZ Oil Change System". Looking at how this works....wouldn't it leave about half of the engine oil in the crankcase after an oil change? Wouldn't this require more frequent service to keep the engine running?

I definitely appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance for your advice!
Frequent Flyer, Welcome to the forum. I can address one of your questions. My J-D E170 has the EZ oil change system (or whatever they call it). The large filter holds quite a lot of oil, but the crankcase retains almost 2 quarts of old oil. I added a drain pipe that reaches the edge of the deck to facilitate draining the sump, and changed all the oil in mine. I am considering removing the EZ oil filter adapter and converting to a standard filter, but have not yet done this as I have only done one oil change so far. The conversion is easy, just unscrew the banjo bolt and remove the filter base, and replace the banjo bolt with a threaded nipple for standard filter. The block is machined the same as for standard filter so it fits. The EZ filter is much larger and the extra oil and added surface area must surely keep the oil cooler, but the cost of that huge filter is ridiculous. I may ditch it.
 

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So some questions that I have:
  • Are these the right size/horsepower tractors to be considering given the size of the lawn, climate, and potential uses?
  • Assuming I keep up with the manufacturer's suggested maintenance and store the tractor in a workshop (and out of the elements), about how many hours would each last given my use case?
  • The S180 costs about $3,000 - about half what a similarly sized X300 and X500 costs. Are the X series worth that much more than the entry level model? Do they last much longer?
  • The S180 has an "EZ Oil Change System". Looking at how this works....wouldn't it leave about half of the engine oil in the crankcase after an oil change? Wouldn't this require more frequent service to keep the engine running?

I definitely appreciate any suggestions. Thanks in advance for your advice!
As some others have asked, the main question is your definition of ground engaging. A 100 series tractor will pull a cart (not overloaded), and aerator, dethatcher, and a sprayer just fine. Others on here can tell you I am a quiet defender (maybe not so quiet? lol) of 100 series tractors, because I don't think they deserve some of the negative reviews they receive. HOWEVER, if ground engaging means a tiller, a plow, discs, etc. then you are going to want at least the upper end of the X300 series, or X500 series, or maybe even X700 series. It depends on your intentions and how big a garden/small farm you intend to keep.

For any of your tractor selections, I would not be concerned about engine horsepower. All of them provide more than enough.

I wouldn't venture to guess how many hours any of them will last, but I would think with proper maintenance and an understanding and adherence to each tractor's limitations, even a 100 series tractor will likely last 700-1000 fairly trouble free hours. The others in your list more than that.

I personally do not have any experience with the EZ Oil Change system, but if I were in the market for one of those tractors, I would remove it and utilize a regular oil filter and drain at the first oil change. I don't use my tractor because it is easy to maintain, I maintain it properly and regularly so it will continue to make the work it does for me easier and more enjoyable. In my opinion, the EZ Oil Change system is just marketing toward people who are sold on easy, no/low maintenance solutions. I would prefer to have ALL of the oil changed. It's usually only once a year anyway, so a couple extra minutes are really no skin off my teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Thanks for the input! And to answer the question earlier, I'm moving to deep south near the gulf coast..where it's hot, humid, and almost always raining. And gulf storms pass through every few years.

Based on the feedback in this thread, I read up on the X300, X500 series and the X700 series. I like the idea of a transaxle that can be serviced, so I'm going to eliminate the S180 from consideration although it does look like an excellent value for what you get. I think I'd like to narrow it down to the models with power steering at at least a 54" deck. The X580 looks REALLY compelling to me. It does have an EFI engine, which I'm not sure about though. The X570 has a regular carb engine.

There's also a Kubota dealer that's about 30 minutes from where our new house is going up. They primarily sell earth moving equipment, but they have a few compact tractors on their website. Maybe they'll have a GT I can look at somewhere too. I might take a look at a Kubota GR2120. It seems to be priced and marketed as a "tweener" model that's a little less expensive than an X700s, but a little more expensive than the higher end X500s. Although it actually weights more than both. It has a similar diesel engine as what's in some of the X700 series tractors. They also have a 2020G model that employs a liquid cooled V twin gas motor that's priced very close to the higher end X500 series tractors.

When I passed by the JD dealer down there a few weeks ago, their inventory was extremely thin. I suspect this could be due to the parts shortage that's hitting some of their suppliers. Next time I'm down there in a couple of weeks I'll stop by and see if they have any that I can look at more closely.

I don't really have a specific budget, but I want the best value for the money. I know it would cost about $100 per week for a lawn service, and I'd probably need them at least 35 times per year down there. So a decent GT with a mower deck would rapidly justify its cost.
 
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