My Tractor Forum banner

U have $5000 need to upgrade...Live in Western PA have 30+ lawns with slopes...Do i buy zero turn or tractor and what one? Need min 25HP and hour mete

1183 Views 27 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  RT3360
Need to upgrade $5000 budget what do I buy zero or tractor...
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Sounds like a used commercial grade zero turn should be in your future. Considering slopes, I’d personally go with a stand on model like the Stander, Vantage, or Grandstand because you can shift your weight for better traction and tip resistance, and has shorter wheelbase for better steering response when side hilling. If conditions get really dicey, you can fold up the platform and walk behind the machine.
Just my .02, but worth exploring the option.

Edited to add:
Another nice advantage of a stand on zero turn is easy on easy off. For larger lawns that have really remote obstacles way out there, you can carry the trimmer with you. Simply step off the platform, grab your trimmer from the rack (available to mount on the side of the machine), do your trimming, put trimmer back on rack, step back on the platform and continue. Can save A LOT of time on some lawns.

Random example of a decent deal on a Toro Grandstand (I know, nowhere near you… just a random example).
Good luck!

Attachments

Welcome to MTF! Lots of info here and great members to help and share with, enjoy the site. Here is some site navigation assistance in case you need it:

Font Parallel Technology Slope Screenshot
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
welcome from nc
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
Well 30+ yards would be a ton of walking/standing. I'd look around for a used commercial in good shape.

This is a listing of equipment in PA for less than $5000 from tractorhouse.com:

Lawn Mowers Outdoor Power For Sale in PENNSYLVANIA - 119 Listings | TractorHouse.com
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
Hi CatMan7475
Wheel Tire Vehicle Automotive tire Motor vehicle
..If they were flat land I would agree with a ZT....they seem kind of ill suited for hilly terrain
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
You need both. ZT for speed and tractor type for slopes. I have slopes that sends the zero turn skidding to the bottom but mows good on the straight away.
Need to upgrade $5000 budget what do I buy zero or tractor...
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
30 lawns means you are running that mower many many hours per week. You need to buy commercial equipment, new or used, but consider some extra bucks in the budget to get something you won't need to be working on, or under, every night, and on rain days while your 30 client's grass grows longer and longer.

With 30 clients, some extra budget dollars will soon disappear in the rear view mirror while you and your machine show up like clockwork and leave a good job behind.

Think about this advice...."Better to have more machine than you need, than to need more machine than you have"
Welcome from east central Illinois, Stand for that period of time, not me and it takes a pretty steep slope to bother a commercial ZTR. Our son and I both have mowed some pretty good slopes with residential cone drive Dixons. Not acres though. You are the one who has to make the choice.
Walt Conner
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
I see lawn companies using large 48 inch walk behind mowers on the hills. Some have a sulky that they use to stand on where the property is flat but jump off when they have a hill. A walk-behinds provide a user with a great level of control, especially when it comes to the steepest of hills.



Wheel Tire Mower Automotive tire Vehicle


Wheel Plant Vehicle Tire Motor vehicle
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
Thank you guys so far advice fantastic...
I have Cub GT3204 Heavy Duty, Cub 1054GT and 33in walk behind Cub 760 and HRC216...
There are definitely hills on my list but I use 21in to cut as wondering if Zero turn is better option and have heard of hill issues and you guys confirmed especially skidding on hill ...
What you didn’t say was:
  • How many hours does it take you now?
  • How many hours do you want it to take?
  • Are there width restrictions?
  • How steep are the slopes?
  • How many of the 30 lawns have slopes?
  • How big are the lawns? Max __ Min __
  • Do you plan to do anything other than mowing?
  • How long (hrs, years) do you expect to use it before replacing it?
  • Do you do your own repair?
  • Are you keeping all the equipment you currently have?
  • What trailer restrictions do you have? Width? Length, Ramp?
Kind of too many things for me to rap my head around to make any recommendations.
Watch at about 3:40 for a good shot of turning around on a hill that at least my sit down zero turn wouldn’t have a chance at operating on let alone turn around uphill. Note the machine in this video is using stock turf tires. Traction and maneuverability gets much better with better tires. Stand on zero turns are a game changer. The vast majority of people that say they don’t want to stand for that long and would rather sit to mow have never tried a stand on zero turn. Most stand on models have a nice cushy pad in front of your hips/knees so you’re more leaning than standing. Unlike a sit down model that bounces the operator all over the place, on a stand on model you can lean back a little and use your legs as shock absorbers, along with the shock dampening cushy platform you’re standing on. Incredibly stable body positioning.


But yeah, as was said, you didn’t mention a lot of information about the lawn conditions or mowing time/frequency. Still, try the stand on for fun if nothing else ;)
There are definitely hills on my list but I use 21in to cut as wondering if Zero turn is better option and have heard of hill issues and you guys confirmed especially skidding on hill ...
30% yards sloped...
Half yards slopes of some type.
Yes plan on haul mulch and snow removal...
That's why I will keep the Cub GT 3204...
I want to use it for 3-4yrs and upgrade so resale value is strong...
Yes do most of my repair and have friends Master Mechanic to help
Keep 33in and one Cub always need back up..
I have 8x5 trailer and have deal for 6x10..
I love your attention to detail and this is type of recommendations I need thank you for your help much appreciated
It's hard to estimate hours since I upgraded equipment but when I use new equipment avg time 20-30min saved...
I am small Landscaping business started 4yrs ago with small accounts because couldn't find help now I have added semi commercial equipment with Cubs and have added several larger accounts...I can get the business but I am careful not to over extend and be able to cover and will not dirty my reputation or person hiring me...so I had friend join permanently this year and unfortunately he got diagnosed with C word so I looking for help...fortunately my customers understand and don't want any one else but me so I hope that gives you more info...
What you didn’t say was:
  • How many hours does it take you now?
  • How many hours do you want it to take?
  • Are there width restrictions?
  • How steep are the slopes?
  • How many of the 30 lawns have slopes?
  • How big are the lawns? Max __ Min __
  • Do you plan to do anything other than mowing?
  • How long (hrs, years) do you expect to use it before replacing it?
  • Do you do your own repair?
  • Are you keeping all the equipment you currently have?
  • What trailer restrictions do you have? Width? Length, Ramp?
Kind of too many things for me to rap my head around to make any recommendations.
Consider what your time is worth, and the time of your workers if you employ any, it has to be part of the calculation.

ZTs have taken over every lawn care business for good and economic reasons. They are simply the most efficient mowers available.

If a ZT will fit into your trailer, and considering gates etc., can access the larger of your mowing sites, from a business perspective, you will be much better off mowing with the ZT than a GT and deck.

Save the GT from the wear and tear of the bulk mowing, and use it for the other tasks you mentioned.

A little story:
In my old suburban neighborhood, the lawn guys would show up, park, and send the trimmers out on foot to do the 5 or 6 yards in the neighborhood (each an acre or so). Two ZT mower guys were unloading, checking and servicing the ZTs and back pack blowers. Then, after about 5 or 10 minutes, the 2 ZTs would go at each yard in turn, followed by the returning trimmer guys who took over the back pack blowers. They would have a short water break before the ZTs got back and had to be loaded up on the trailer. This guy and his brother ran the ZTs and had 2 or 3 helpers who rotated between a) trimmer duty, and b)blower clean up duty. It was quite an impressive show of effective job planning.
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
I totally agree sir...Use GT3204 for hauling only and back up sell GT1054 to get ZT...
Yes I have seen that setup and quite effective they avg around 15min for yard that takes me 30min...
So now what ZT ? Do I get stand on or sit down model like Steedy said above...my friend in biz for 30yr has lean and sit model around $6000 very happy after 10yrs...
Thank you again for your sound advice really appreciated thank you all again
Consider what your time is worth, and the time of your workers if you employ any, it has to be part of the calculation.

ZTs have taken over every lawn care business for good and economic reasons. They are simply the most efficient mowers available.

If a ZT will fit into your trailer, and considering gates etc., can access the larger of your mowing sites, from a business perspective, you will be much better off mowing with the ZT than a GT and deck.

Save the GT from the wear and tear of the bulk mowing, and use it for the other tasks you mentioned.

A little story:
In my old suburban neighborhood, the lawn guys would show up, park, and send the trimmers out on foot to do the 5 or 6 yards in the neighborhood (each an acre or so). Two ZT mower guys were unloading, checking and servicing the ZTs and back pack blowers. Then, after about 5 or 10 minutes, the 2 ZTs would go at each yard in turn, followed by the returning trimmer guys who took over the back pack blowers. They would have a short water break before the ZTs got back and had to be loaded up on the trailer. This guy and his brother ran the ZTs and had 2 or 3 helpers who rotated between a) trimmer duty, and b)blower clean up duty. It was quite an impressive show of effective job planning.
  1. 30% yards sloped... I’m assuming you meant a 30% slope which is a little over 15 degrees which is not steep, but is a concern on equipment without pressurized oil lubrication.
  2. Half yards slopes of some type…. Not a problem if using commercial type equipment.
  3. Yes plan on haul mulch and snow removal... That's why I will keep the Cub GT 3204... The Cub GT is low end GT. If you clear many driveways, you should look for something heavier duty.
  4. I want to use it for 3-4yrs and upgrade so resale value is strong... Depending on the number of hours you put on the machine in those 3-4 years will determine whether the resale value is strong. Lower end equipment will decrease in value faster than commercial grade equipment.
  5. Yes do most of my repair and have friends Master Mechanic to help
  6. Keep 33in and one Cub always need back up… I’m not sure, but think the Cub is the 3204 which would be okay for pulling around a small cart with wood chips.
  7. I have 8x5 trailer and have deal for 6x10… The 5’ trailer will limit you to a 48” deck or less. A 6’ trailer will limit you to a 54” or 60” deck. If you use the mower for picking up leaves, the power vac attachment will add about 12” to the width, reducing the allowable deck width.
  8. It's hard to estimate hours since I upgraded equipment but when I use new equipment avg time 20-30min saved... If you mean you only saved 20-30 minutes total for all 30 lawns, then I don’t know how much time you are spending. For me going from my 42” Scotts to my X738 54”, I reduced my time by at least 30 minutes mainly due to mowing the ditch bank.
I am small Landscaping business started 4yrs ago with small accounts because couldn't find help now I have added semi commercial equipment with Cubs and have added several larger accounts...I can get the business but I am careful not to over extend and be able to cover and will not dirty my reputation or person hiring me...so I had friend join permanently this year and unfortunately he got diagnosed with C word so I looking for help...fortunately my customers understand and don't want any one else but me so I hope that gives you more info...

Just for instance, with my JD X738 54”, I can mow a 1/2 acre lot in maybe 15-20 minutes (no trimming). On larger areas like a soccer field, I can mow about 1.5 acres per hour.

A lot depends on how far apart the lots are. You can save time if you can drive between lawns or driveways rather than having to load and unload. I have cleared snow from 9 driveways of 8-12” in about 2 hrs. I never have an issue with slopes. Please understand, the X738 is not a $5000 investment, even without a snowblower. You may not need AWD either, but can help with snow removal. An X730 is also a good option. Snowblowers are more expensive than a blade, but are much faster for snow removal in my area without having to worry about the space to deposit the snow and how much lawns get damaged by a plow (at least on a pickup truck).
Thank you very much RT...You are very detailed beautiful...
So ZT is my option...JD or Cub 2022 with new wheel options?
  1. 30% yards sloped... I’m assuming you meant a 30% slope which is a little over 15 degrees which is not steep, but is a concern on equipment without pressurized oil lubrication.
  2. Half yards slopes of some type…. Not a problem if using commercial type equipment.
  3. Yes plan on haul mulch and snow removal... That's why I will keep the Cub GT 3204... The Cub GT is low end GT. If you clear many driveways, you should look for something heavier duty.
  4. I want to use it for 3-4yrs and upgrade so resale value is strong... Depending on the number of hours you put on the machine in those 3-4 years will determine whether the resale value is strong. Lower end equipment will decrease in value faster than commercial grade equipment.
  5. Yes do most of my repair and have friends Master Mechanic to help
  6. Keep 33in and one Cub always need back up… I’m not sure, but think the Cub is the 3204 which would be okay for pulling around a small cart with wood chips.
  7. I have 8x5 trailer and have deal for 6x10… The 5’ trailer will limit you to a 48” deck or less. A 6’ trailer will limit you to a 54” or 60” deck. If you use the mower for picking up leaves, the power vac attachment will add about 12” to the width, reducing the allowable deck width.
  8. It's hard to estimate hours since I upgraded equipment but when I use new equipment avg time 20-30min saved... If you mean you only saved 20-30 minutes total for all 30 lawns, then I don’t know how much time you are spending. For me going from my 42” Scotts to my X738 54”, I reduced my time by at least 30 minutes mainly due to mowing the ditch bank.
I am small Landscaping business started 4yrs ago with small accounts because couldn't find help now I have added semi commercial equipment with Cubs and have added several larger accounts...I can get the business but I am careful not to over extend and be able to cover and will not dirty my reputation or person hiring me...so I had friend join permanently this year and unfortunately he got diagnosed with C word so I looking for help...fortunately my customers understand and don't want any one else but me so I hope that gives you more info...

Just for instance, with my JD X738 54”, I can mow a 1/2 acre lot in maybe 15-20 minutes (no trimming). On larger areas like a soccer field, I can mow about 1.5 acres per hour.

A lot depends on how far apart the lots are. You can save time if you can drive between lawns or driveways rather than having to load and unload. I have cleared snow from 9 driveways of 8-12” in about 2 hrs. I never have an issue with slopes. Please understand, the X738 is not a $5000 investment, even without a snowblower. You may not need AWD either, but can help with snow removal. An X730 is also a good option. Snowblowers are more expensive than a blade, but are much faster for snow removal in my area without having to worry about the space to deposit the snow and how much lawns get damaged by a plow (at least on a pickup truck).
If you want new, to stay closest to your $5000 budget, I’d buy a John Deere X580 (48” or 54”) or X590 (48” or 54”).These are not commercial, but should hold up for what you intend. If you don’t mind a little work to start, I’d buy used and perhaps buy an X7xx series tractor. I personally like the EFI (Electronic Fuel Injected) because of their starting in cold weather. These are all gasoline, diesels cost more, but are more fuel efficient.

There are other manufacturers, but I like the Deere features.

To get commercial ZT’s, I’d buy Scag, Exmark, Ferris, Hustler, Cub Cadet (with the steering wheel), Kubota, or Deere. A high end Residential might be okay, but with some risk. Again, buying used will get you more for your $$$. I’d buy a machine with under 400 hrs. Diesel engines will last much longer, but decks will still wear out in the lower hour range. I’ve been very pleased with all the used tractors I’ve bought, but have stayed under 100 hrs for most (not on the Deere 757 ZT). Comparable ZTs today would be the Z930M. My brother found a Kubota ZD21 60” that had been used commercially with about 1400 hrs that served him very well and now is at his son-in-las’s. A nice feature they have is the built in lift that allows you to clean the deck or change blades without a separate lift.

You mentioned people are very happy with you. Is that because you are charging much less than others, because you are meticulous at your work, or because you are reliable? Lots of things keep people happy. Most come with a cost to you. Better equipment usually forces you to charge more, but if you can get more done allowing for you to mow more lawns, then you have more money to pay for your expense.

Here’s an example of one I would consider with expecting to use it four 3-5 yrs.
Thank you very much RT...You are very detailed beautiful...
So ZT is my option...JD or Cub 2022 with new wheel options?
  • Like
Reactions: CatMan7475
Thank you again sir for your advice..
Ok I will keep the GT3204 and I think I want to get ZT commercial used...
U prefer JD and I will look...agreed 48 to 50 in deck is good...U don't think financing 2yr new ZT and using for 300hrs and flipping to keep maintaining a low?
I usually buy everything used and I just want to make sure I get what I want and not have to search and drive all over the place to get something
If you want new, to stay closest to your $5000 budget, I’d buy a John Deere X580 (48” or 54”) or X590 (48” or 54”).These are not commercial, but should hold up for what you intend. If you don’t mind a little work to start, I’d buy used and perhaps buy an X7xx series tractor. I personally like the EFI (Electronic Fuel Injected) because of their starting in cold weather. These are all gasoline, diesels cost more, but are more fuel efficient.

There are other manufacturers, but I like the Deere features.

To get commercial ZT’s, I’d buy Scag, Exmark, Ferris, Hustler, Cub Cadet (with the steering wheel), Kubota, or Deere. A high end Residential might be okay, but with some risk. Again, buying used will get you more for your $$$. I’d buy a machine with under 400 hrs. Diesel engines will last much longer, but decks will still wear out in the lower hour range. I’ve been very pleased with all the used tractors I’ve bought, but have stayed under 100 hrs for most (not on the Deere 757 ZT). Comparable ZTs today would be the Z930M. My brother found a Kubota ZD21 60” that had been used commercially with about 1400 hrs that served him very well and now is at his son-in-las’s. A nice feature they have is the built in lift that allows you to clean the deck or change blades without a separate lift.

Here’s an example of one I would consider with expecting to use it four 3-5 yrs.
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top