Best Garden Tractors For 2015 – Is a Garden Tractor right for you!

What is the best garden tractor?  What makes a Garden Tractor?

Update: March 3, 2015

Although it is a term used quite often to describe a riding lawn mower, a garden tractor is actually designed to do more than just mow your lawn. Garden tractors are designed to mow your lawn and pull ground engaging equipment like a moldboard plow, box scraper, disk and tiller. They usually have 22 inch or larger rear tires that give the tractor the clearance needed to work in tilled soil. They also have heavy-duty transmissions designed to deliver horsepower to the rear wheels. The transmissions in these tractors can handle years of mowing steep slopes and some even have traction control or 4 wheel drive that help you go up and down slopes.

Garden tractors are easy to recognize from regular lawn tractors. The rear of the tractor frame slopes up. (Except Cub Cadet GT Models).

sleeve hitch

Sleeve Hitch for Ground Engaging Equipment

This allows you to install a sleeve hitch for those ground engaging tasks. The estate model garden tractors have extra features like power steering, and hydraulics. Garden tractor prices start around $2900 for a 2014 Craftsman G5500 and well over $7000 for some of the estate models like the Simplicity Prestige series.

by: Paul Sikkema

What makes Garden Tractors different from lawn tractors? Hint: It’s all about the transmission and wheels.

Is a Garden Tractor right for you?

If you primarily mow a large 2 to 5 acre lawn and once in a while grade your driveway, disk up a garden and haul 1000 lb loads of dirt or firewood a garden tractor is a good choice for you. The garden tractors you are most familiar with are a little more expensive than a lawn tractor with the same deck size but they also have larger tires and a heavier transmission. They will handle hills and rough lawns better than a residential zero-turn. The new Craftsman G5500 will turn almost as tight as a zero-turn and there is no learning curve to using it.

If your slopes are greater than 15% consider a tractor with traction control or differential lock. Snapper, Simplicity, Husqvarna and John Deere all have models with differential lock but they are higher priced.

If you want to do a lot of ground engaging work, have steep slopes, mow lawn and snow removal the John Deere X500 series is a really good choice.

Not Covered In This Review – LGT and Compact Tractors:  In the last few years some manufactures like Husqvarna, Craftsman and Cub Cadet have started using the LGT designation.  This is just a marketing term they are using to make you think you are getting a garden tractor without spending the extra money.  LGT (light garden tractors) are designed to mow large areas of lawn comfortably but not designed to dig up your garden. The Husqvarna LGT26K54/LGT2654 sold at Lowes is a typical example.  The lawn tractor uses a garden tractor frame but a lawn tractor transmission, Tuff Torq K46. This tractor has 22 inch tires. The transmission is too light for ground engaging tasks even though the rear frame will accept a sleeve hitch designed for ground engaging tasks. If the retailer is asking less than $2600 for a “Garden Tractor” you can be sure it does not have the heavy-duty garden tractor transmission. The Cub Cadet LGT 1054 and Craftsman G5100 Model 20401 are more examples of a lawn tractor with large wheels. The John Deere D170 is similar but Deere has wisely chosen to call it what it really is…a lawn tractor.

Many of the garden tractors 30 years ago were also capable of using a bucket loader and powering tillers.  With the introduction of the compact tractor by Kubota, today’s garden tractors have changed and are no longer capable of that task. If you are interested in moving dirt, manure or digging in the ground compact tractors are the way to go.  Contact your local rural lifestyle dealer for a free quote on a compact tractor.

I Heard a Shaft Drive Is What I Want.

Garden Tractor Deck Garden Tractors  Back in the 70’s most of the garden tractors used horizontal shaft engines connected to a transmission and an automotive style rear end. While these were bullet proof tractors they were horrible to drive. They turned about as sharp as your extended bed pickup and the engines alone weighed more than your current lawn tractor. They could pull a disk, plow or drag and a few of them had rudimentary mowing decks at best.  The first lawn tractor that featured a drive shaft was the 1963 International Cub Cadet.  International Harvestor (IH) did such a great job promoting the “drive shaft is better” that even today many customers come into lawn and garden dealer insisting they must have a shaft drive lawn tractor. The only lawn or garden tractor still made with a drive shaft is the Cub Cadet XT3 Enduro series  – now manufactured by MTD. Today the Cub Cadet XT3 series is not better, it is just different from the rest of the group.

Today’s garden tractors use vertical shaft engines and high horsepower v-belts to drive the transmission.

“There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.”

40 years ago there were more than 100 different manufactures of garden tractors. Today there are very few tractors and only 4 manufactures. Everyone else has left this market segment and either makes a lawn tractor primarily for mowing lawns or compact tractor capable of doing much more than a garden tractor ever could.

Here is a list of the current garden tractors: I will update this as new ones arrive for 2015

Brand: Craftsman
Year: 2015
Model: G8400
Item Number: 20445
Manufacture: MTD 20445 left
Engine Brand: Kohler Elite
HP: 24
Deck: 54
Transmission: Heavy Duty Hydrostatic
Speed: 5.5
Street Price2999 or so
MSRP: 3499
Where To Buy: Sears 
Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor

My Review: Craftsman Pro Series Garden Tractor
My Opinion: This is the garden tractor that everyone else tries to compete against in the $3000 price range. It has been slowly evolving since the 1970’s and continues to be one of the best values for anyone that wants a heavy-duty mowing machine that will also pull stuff. It is the fastest garden tractor and was flying around your yard long before Jimmy Johnson put his name on the “Fast Tractor.” No it does not have traction control or power steering or hydraulics. But for the average backyard food plot, 300 foot driveway or 2-4 acre lawn this is one tractor that can do the job for a cost that is half of the other “better” garden tractors. With the addition of the 6 inch Turn Tight steering this tractor is a great alternative to a residential zero-turn.  It will maneuver almost as well and does not have the learning curve associated with using a zero-turn for the first time. If you need traction control and a fabricated deck the Husqvarna GT52XLS is the alternate choice for this model.

Brand: Poulan Pro

Poulan PRO PBGT2654

Poulan PRO PBGT2654

 Year: 2015
Model: Poulan PRO PBGT2654
Item Number: 936069
Manufacture: Husqvarna
Engine Brand: Kohler 7000 Elite
HP: 26
Deck: 54 in Pro reinforced
Transmission: G730 Hydro Fast
Speed: 7.5 mph
Street Price: 2899
MSRP: 2899 through Amazon
Where To Buy: Poulan Pro 960420173 PBGT2654 Kohler V-Twin 26 HP Pedal Control Hydro Transmission Cutting Deck Riding Mower, 54-Inch

My Review: This is the least expensive garden tractor available for 2015 with a hydrostatic transmission. It is one of the best for dependability and is just a good, basic garden tractor. (The Craftsman GT5500 is only around $200 more and has more features.) It has the best reinforced 54 inch cutting deck, the new Kohler 7000 motor and 16 inch turning radius.
My Opinion: This Husqvarna built tractor has been around with various names on it since 2005. If you have big, open areas to mow. If your lawn is typically full of gopher mounds, mole runs and other “features” that keep it from being picture perfect this is a great rugged tractor. If you just want a tough, “old” garden tractor to mow your lawn, drag a DR box blade down your driveway, haul firewood, feed or dirt in your dump cart this is one of the best choices for you.

Brand: Craftsman
Year: 2014-2015
Model: G5500 20403
Item Number: 20403
Manufacture: Husqvarna
Engine Brand: Briggs & Stratton
HP: 24
Deck: 54
Transmission: Heavy Duty Hydrostatic
Speed: 7.5
Street Price2999 or less
MSRP: 3499
Where To Buy: Sears Craftsman 24HP 54″ Complete Start Turn Tight Garden Tractor – Non CA 16″ X 6.5″ – 8″
My Review:Craftsman 24HP 54″ Complete Start Turn Tight Garden Tractor
My Opinion: This is the garden tractor that everyone else tries to compete against in the $3000 price range. It has been slowly evolving since the 1970’s and continues to be one of the best values for anyone that wants a heavy-duty mowing machine that will also pull stuff. It is the fastest garden tractor and was flying around your yard long before Jimmy Johnson put his name on the “Fast Tractor.” No it does not have traction control or power steering or hydraulics. But for the average backyard food plot, 300 foot driveway or 2-4 acre lawn this is one tractor that can do the job for a cost that is half of the other “better” garden tractors. With the addition of the 6 inch Turn Tight steering this tractor is a great alternative to a residential zero-turn.  It will maneuver almost as well and does not have the learning curve associated with using a zero-turn for the first time. If you need traction control and a fabricated deck the Husqvarna GT52XLS is the alternate choice for this model.

Brand: Craftsman
Year: 2014
Model: G7400 98645
Item Number: 98645
Manufacture: Husqvarna
Engine Brand: Kohler
HP: 26
Deck: 54
Transmission: Heavy Duty Hydrostatic
Speed: 7.5
Street Price2999
MSRP: 3499
Where To Buy: Sears Sears Online Exclusive
My Review: To Come
My Opinion: This is same Garden Tractor as the red Craftsman G5500 with three differences.  A Kohler motor, a piece of pipe around the front of the deck (reinforced deck) and the new Craftsman and EZ Blade change

Brand: Husqvarna

GT48XLS

GT48XLS

Year: 2011-2014
Model: GT48XLS(i)/GT54LS(i)
Item Number: GT48XLS/GT54LS
Manufacture: Husqvarna
Engine Brand: B&S
HP: 27
Deck: 48 fabricated/54 stamped
Transmission: K66
Speed: 5.5
Street Price:
MSRP:
3199
Where To Buy: Dealer Locator

My Review:
 I have not written a stand alone review of this tractor yet.
My Opinion: If you don’t want a 54 inch deck this is one of the best value GT’s available. The John Deere X500 series is better and the Briggs/Simplicity Prestige is more expensive but the only real advantage they have is the ability to mount the tractor mounted Berco rear tiller.All things considered the GT48XLS is the great choice if you have hills. With the larger tires the tractor is only 2 inches longer and 1 inch higher than a lawn tractor so getting a “bigger” tractor is not an issue. The real advantage is the transmission. The differential lock trans on the GT48XLS compares to machines costing twice as much from Deere and Simplicity. If the wheels start to slip on your hill just press on the foot switch and it locks both rear wheels to give you twice the traction. (Always try to mow up and down slopes) I like the deck on this tractor. It is heavier than a stamped deck and is reinforced around the bottom edge so you can bang into things and not wreck the deck. It also has a good mulching kit available.

Brand: Husqvarna

GT52XLS

GT52XLS

Year: 2011-2013
Model: GT52XLS
Item Number: GT52XLS
Manufacture: Husqvarna
Engine Brand: Kawasaki
HP: 24
Deck: 52
Transmission: Tuff Torq
Speed: 7.8
Street Price: 3299
MSRP: 3299
Where To Buy: Dealer Locator
My Review: I have not written a stand alone review of this tractor yet.
My Opinion: This is an interesting tractor. It has an 8 mph “fast tractor” transmission and a welded deck all for 1 to 4 thousand less than other garden tractors with those features.  Husqvarna states it has a heavy-duty frame and a well reviewed Kawasaki motor. It does not have a diff lock. Note: it is only sold at dealer stores.

Note: Husqvarna has the GTH24K54 but for 2014 they are listing it as a Yard Tractor.

Brand: Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet XT1 GT50

Cub Cadet XT1 GT50

Year: 2015
Model: XT1 GT50
Item Number: 205617449
Manufacture: MTD
Engine Brand: Kohler
HP: 25
Deck: 50 inch
Transmission: K58
Speed: 5.5
Street Price: 3499-4099
MSRP: 2699
Where To Buy: Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series GT 50 in. 25 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Garden Tractor with Cub Connect Bluetooth GT50
My Review: 
My Opinion: This is a completely new lawn tractor for 2015. It has a lot of promise.

Brand: Simplicity Conquest

Simplicity B&S Prestige

Simplicity Conquest

Year: 2011-2013
Model: Conquest
Item Number: 2691128
Manufacture: B&S
Engine Brand: B&S
HP: 27 Pro
Deck: 52
Transmission: 2WD K66
Speed: 7.2
Street Price: 6499
MSRP: 8099
Where To Buy:  See you local dealer
My Review: I have not written a stand alone review of this tractor yet.
My Opinion: The Conquest is a really nice mower. Heavy frame, automotive grade steering and little features like rubber cushions to keep the hood from rattling.  Like the Craftsman GT-series this garden tractor has been a work in progress for many years. Craftsman made improvements to the tractor but kept the cost the same. Simplicity on the other hand not only made improvements but kept adding features that increased the functionality. Today it sports features like dedicated cruise control, automatic traction control, differential lock, single hand deck removal and even power steering on some models. 4WD is even an option. If you want a high-end tractor that will probably last as long as your roof check this mower out.

The biggest difference between this garden tractor and all the rest though is the deck.  This deck is a ground hugging deck with a full-length rear roller. With the other garden tractors the cutting height is controlled by a lever on the tractor and the tractor tires set the height. If one tire is low the deck will cut low on that side. With the Simplicity the height is controlled by the gauge wheels on the deck and the height is independent of what the tractor is doing. This method gives you a very even cut that is always consistent. The full length rear roller gives you the striping that you see at a major league ball park.

Brand: John Deere

X534

John Deere X534

Year: 2011-2013
Model: X500 X530 X534 X540
Item Number: Multi-Terrain Tractor
Manufacture: John Deere
Engine Brand: John Deere iTorque
HP: 23-24
Deck: 48-54
Transmission: Automatic with differential lock
Speed: 7.2
Street Price:
MSRP: 5899 – 7799
Where To Buy: Dealer Locator
My Review: I have not written a stand alone review of this tractor yet.
My Opinion: Many of you will want to compare the X310/X324/X360 series to the rest of this group because the price is comparable to the Simplicity Conquest but they are not designated by John Deere for heavy-duty ground engaging work.

courtesy mytractorforum

courtesy mytractorforum

The X500 is the best Garden Tractor on the market. Yes, it is the most expensive and costs more than twice as much as the best value Craftsman G5500. But if you want the most versitile, the best hill climbing, best ground engaging garden tractor it is worth spending the extra money. There are 4 models in this series. Starting with the basic X500, the 2 wheel steer X534 to the high-end X540 with power steering. I’m not going to go into all the features that make this the best mower. Just Google X500 John Deere review and you can read many honest reviews of this John Deere Garden Tractor.

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313 Comments on "Best Garden Tractors For 2015 – Is a Garden Tractor right for you!"

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Janice Lazar
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Janice Lazar
Hi Paul, I am impressed with your knowledge of lawn tractors. My husband bought a Craftsman Model #944.607200 in Canada. I am wanting to get an English version of the user manual. I have a French one that I cannot read. I have searched the web and even went to Sears in Canada to see if I could get a copy of the manual. They said they would have to order from the manufacturer but it was on back order. It would take minimum of 6-8 weeks. Ugh! I tried Searsdirect.com but no luck. I guess they only have access… Read more »
Mark
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Mark

Paul
Looking for a 54″ mostly flat with a few steep grades. Was looking at the cub54 xt1 or jd170 was concerned about transmissions what’s your opinion?

Gary
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Gary
Hi Paul, great article. I just sold my 20+ year old cub cadet. I’m looking to replace it before snow flies. I’m stuck between a cub cadet xt3 and the John Deere x580. I can’t seem to find any information about rear implements or sleeve hitch for the xt3. The electric deck raise and lowering and electric power steering also makes me iffy. But it does have a kohler engine and shaft drive. The x580 on the other hand has hydraulic power steering and hydraulic lift and lowering. There’s also a sleeve hitch readily available for it. My concern is… Read more »
Paul Leventhal
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Hi Paul , As most observers have said, thanks for putting int the time for this. Here’s my question…… I own a 2010 John Deere L135 with 130 hours on it. I have a plow and weights and chains. I worked fine on the flat terrain of my old house but we moved to a slightly hilly driveway and a 1/2 acre hilly lawn. So my concern is plowing the hilly driveway might destroy the transmission shortly. Which 2WD models with chains would do nicely in the snow and not tear up the trains too quickly. Also… What do you… Read more »
Nick Fratto
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Nick Fratto
Hi Paul. First I really appreciate what you do. I am looking through the recommendations above and trying to narrow down what tractor is right for me. My dad swore by Gravely and I currently have a 2004 Professional 16G which runs like a tank. However, I am starting to have some issues which make me nervous (leaking fluids, rusting in places, starting issues, etc.) I rarely come across a site that recommends Gravely so I am wary of purchasing another one. However, many of the older farmers around the area swear by them (and Kubotas – which are way… Read more »
Kathy
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Kathy

Paul … Great article! I have a challenge for you. I’m looking for an easy to operate, dependable, first-time user friendly, light garden tractor for an elderly lady living alone, not very mechanically inclined, and mowing a fairly level 2.5 acres. Something that could do some light hauling would be ideal also. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

Jim
Guest

Great info – thanks

Considering buying my third mower in 13 years – not happy! First was a Sears GT ran great but many problems with the front axel(s) breaking. Second is a Husqvarna Yt48 – engine oil seal leak and continued difficult with hills. Unable to tow much of what the Sears GT pulled.

Suggestions? I have 4 acres; one 40′ hill to climb and I like to maintain a 400′ sloped gravel driveway

Thanks

jennifer leon
Guest
Hi – well i feel like a deer in the headlights. Just bought a home on 3 acres, flat with trees. i also own 3 acres of flat (slightly sloping) that i just had a field mower mow down. It was only $300 for him to mow it all down for me and i wasn’t ready to commit to a lawn tractor, tractor, riding mower, garden tractor (you see where i’m going here?!) so here is my question. I think hiring the field mower in the long run makes more sense than spending 15k on a huge tractor, nor do… Read more »
Eric
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Eric

Hi, first off thanks for taking the time to answer everyone else’s questions. I am torn on what to buy. I live in Indiana 2 acre lot flat little bumpy but mostly flat. Plan on during gardening and snow removal.

Have researched the craftsman red and pro along with the Husqvarna but im not sure what to go with.

Thanks for your help

scott
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scott

looking into new mower,current one is a ariens gt17 with 48 inch deck mowing 4 acres with swisher pull behind finish mower.looking to replace ariens due to engine issues-worn out-and parts harder to find.trying to find something that will last with proper service and solid reliability that came with the ariens.I would like to still use the swisher,but would the transmission in newer tractors allow.very open to any newer style with at least 54 inch cut.yard has flat surface and small rolling hill.thanks scott camden,ohio

Clint
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Clint
Hi Paul! Thanks for this great informative website. I’ve have read all the comments, but I still wanted to post my question to ensure I make the right informed decision. I am in the middle of purchasing some land that will have around 3 acres to mow. 2.5 acres or so are flat, with the remaining sloped. The land is “unimproved”, meaning it would have a fair amount of dips, holes, etc. I have spent most of my time researching the Husqvarna and Cub Cadet models, but now I’m looking at the Craftsman as well after reading this site. I… Read more »
Pablo
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Pablo

Hi Paul,
I’m in Missouri, very large ‘yard’, yes slopes, yes rough. What is the toughest/sturdiest/most durable of the stronger ‘garden tractors’ that I’m likely to find at this time in decent working order for under $1,000 on eBay or craiglist (or wherever you recommend).
thank you.

Debbie
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Debbie

We live on a farm with horses on 25 acres. Only about 4 acres is in grass to cut!! LOL.. It’s mainly flat with some slight inclines (nothing steep) Rest of the grass the horses are on and some are in hay fields.. So I think the Big Red will be the way to go. I really appreciate your help and advice.

Debbie
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Debbie

Thanks for the info on the Jonsered GTHI 245, the dealer here has it for $2295.00 There is also a new Husqvarna YTA24V48, 24hp, 48 deck for $1600.00. Which do you think is the better buy??

Debbie
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Debbie

Do you have any info on a new, Jonsered, GThi 54 inch deck, 27hp lawn tractor?? I was told they are made by Husqvarna. Our loca dealer has 3 on a special price.. I can’t seem to find much info on them. Thanks

Robert
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Robert

Paul, great information! I just recently bought a new home with about 1.5 acres. I plan on doing a lot of hauling (mulch, river rock, soil, etc.), possibly some snow removal, and of course lawn maintenance. I also have a few hunting areas where I plan to disk or till about 1 acres total of food plot. I have looked at the Craftsman, Husqvarna, JD, Club Cadet,and Troy built garden tractors in local stores. Any suggestions on the model I should go with? I have about a $3000 budget. Thanks in advance, Robert.

Bobby Comer
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Bobby Comer
Paul, Oh my goodness! Your article and response to comments have provided me with more/better information than all of my other research! Well done Sir! I noticed someone else had asked for your opinion on the Husqvarna GTH52XLS and you stated that you were unable to obtain the transmission information. Well, I have found out that it is a Tuff Torq K58. Given that bit of information, what are your thoughts on this GT? I have a very steep hill in my backyard (not sure of the grade, but, its steep). I have been using an old John Deere LT155… Read more »
Richard
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@Paul, Thanks for your great tractor comparison. Can you please tell me which one is better for 1-3 Acre lawn Craftsman G8400 or Poulan PRO PBGT2654? Thanks in advance.

Ricardo Gutierrez
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Thanks again Paul!

Sebastien
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Sebastien

Hi Paul. I live in Ontario Canada and mow about 2 acres, some small hills and obviously I have to do some snow removal. I was hoping for help in choosing between the Cub Cadet XT3 GSX or the John Deere X390. I was also looking at the X500 but I can’t get myself to spend that money.

Thanks!

Wes Stevens
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Wes Stevens
Hi Paul. I wrote a few months back about the blade setup on the Craftsman Pro Series 54″ GT (98645). I had decided to change out the snap-on blade system with mandrels, etc that would permit me to use aftermarket blades with the traditional Craftsman star pattern blades. I received the replacement parts, but waited until it warmed up to put them on the mower deck. Well, a couple of weeks ago, I took the blades off the deck and discovered that there was one bolt holding the snap-on blade unit to the spindles. Once I removed the snap-on unit,… Read more »
Ralph
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Ralph

I was looking at Tractor supply selling a Jonsered 27/54 & notice it’s made in Sweden , are they any good & what about parts if needed. 12 inch rims on rear with 23 inches of height. Are the trans any good , seems like a good machine , what do know about them , waste of money, $ 2000.00

Ricardo Gutierrez
Guest
Hi Paul, My name is Ricardo, I have 1.5 acres and hopefully will buy another lot next to my property with another 3 acres in Hillsdale Illinois . I would like to find the right gt for my property. I have some wooded area where I would be hauling fire wood on occasion, but my machine would be more for cutting, snow removal, and plot tilling for a large garden. I would also use it to haul materials on some projects that I have planned for the upcoming summer. I want something strong, sturdy, and built to last with all… Read more »
Jessica
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Jessica
Paul, My dad and husband are obsessed with wheel horse tractors. Yes, they are good tractors, great engines, amazing transmissions. However c’mon, they are old, uncomfortable and in need of constant repair. We have two of them because we hope that one of them will work when it’s time to mow! We mow 1.25 acres, it’s pretty rough lawn and there is a pretty decent slope on one side of the lawn however the entire lawn isn’t sloped more than 15 degrees. We’ve got some work to do around the house – removing a hedgerow, grading the driveway, pulling a… Read more »
Grant McLaughlin
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Grant McLaughlin
After much research and guidance from Paul, I decided to buy a 2014 Husky GT48XLSi in Jan. 2015. I’m very happy with this tractor – it is one tough machine. The fabricated mower deck cuts fine on my yard; I made sure I adjusted the side-to-side and front-to-back heights per the instructions and would recommend anyone do the same. The deck shell is extremely well built and sturdy. I also use my tractor for snow clearing duty on a long, hilly driveway, and the engine power and locking differential (along with weights and chains) make this baby near-unstoppable in the… Read more »
David Pfeffer
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David Pfeffer

Does Lowes or Home Depot sell _anything_ that will handle ground contacting equipment? I have a friend that works at both and I get about a 22% discount on my purchases there. So it would be great if I could buy from one of them rather than a local dealer or Sears.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Much appreciated Paul. You have a great site and your help was really invaluable to us.
I’ll report back after we have some hours logged on our new X590.
Thanks again.
Paul

Robert
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Robert
Paul, Looking at graduating from a push to a rider…leaning toward a ‘garden tractor.’ (basically for future needs, and better tranny) Am seriously looking at the CC, but am torn between the models. There are a few models, each with what I would like, but no model with all. I would like the better K58 tranny, and am steered toward the XT2 models, due to the ball-bearing front wheels, as opposed to the nylon bushings, albeit, both the CC nylon bushing and bearing front hubs all have grease zerks, but I think for durability, and longevity, the BB front hubs… Read more »
Paul Cooper
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Paul Cooper
Paul, I have a very hilly, sloping yard about 1-acer in size. I live in Vermont on top of a mountain and I’m looking for a machine that can also push around some snow with a plow blade (I have a separate snow blower). My previous machine was a Club Cadet from Home Depot and the only way I could get up and down the slopes of my yard was to shift all of my weight on to one wheel to stop the tire from spinning. Needless to say it was a nightmare to cut my lawn. I’m looking to… Read more »
J.R.S.
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J.R.S.

I mow 3-4 acres and have already gone and done with a Husqvarna YTH24V48 in 1.5 years. I changed 4 drive belts and 1 pulley and 2 mower belts in that span of time for a total of nearly $800 in parts not to mention the downtime~! I’m looking at moving up to a driveshaft tractor, the CC XT3. Any info on this tractor that would be helpful? I don’t see it mentioned here at all?

Paul
Guest
Paul
Hi Paul, my loving children gave me a nice b-day card this year with a gift card for “argh” Lowes. for the purchase of a riding mower. While I am eternally grateful for it I wish it was for Sears. So I am on a hunt for a riding mower that will last, but my choices are limited to what Lowes carries, JD, Husqvarna,Troy Bilt ( all thought JD at lowes makes me shudder). I have read a LOT of reviews online and a lot of your reviews and comments and I think I have narrowed it down to the… Read more »
Harry Bagwanedee
Guest
I lives in Lehigh Acres Florida, I have a 1 1/2 acres to cut with a little hill and slope and I would like your recommendation on which machine to buy. I looked at a few: (1) Hasquavana YTA 24hp with 48″ deck, steel hood, 3 years warranty -$1,995; (2) Troy Built XP 25hp with 50″ deck Super Bronco XP, 2 years warranty -$1,899; (3) John Deere D140 22 hp with 48″ deck, free cart, don’t know the warranty -$1,999; (4) Cub Cadet XTI Endro 2015, how about the 2016 is it any better? 24hp with 50″ deck, don’t know… Read more »
Chris
Guest

Paul,
I need a machine which will only mow, handle a large lawn of about 5-6 acres, a bit of slope and a few obstacles (but not many). My max price is $7,000. I have a range of dealers within 20 miles. I am not mechanically inclined. What machine do you suggest?
Thanks again,
Chris

Val Methe
Guest
Val Methe
Dear Paul, Would you rather sit on the seat or, see the underside of the mower! From a Girl! (Pearl River, LA., 2.5 acres – no slopes, few bumps from taken out trees-should be a breeze) BUT… I had an old Murray which sadly (after 22 years ) on this property got rid of. It basically had to be ripped from my grips – started always, a gem. My husband talked me into a shiny Craftsman 24hp, 42″ cut (manufactured I now know by AYP), it has a Briggs and Stratton Engine. Model 917.288563. It is JUNK! After 68 hours… Read more »
Wes Stevens
Guest
Wes Stevens
Hi, Paul. I’m sure you have answered this question many times, but my searches have not produced the answer. Any way, I have a Craftsman 917.986450 with the 54″ mower deck. The plastic coverings of the blades/mandrels fell off in a few hours, but I kept mowing with it and the absence of the protectors did not seem to make a difference. However, the blades on this mower are weak and deteriorated quickly. I welded a bead across the high lift wings and that gave me a few more mows, but eventually they became unuseable, except for mulching Fall leaves.… Read more »
Kirk
Guest

Paul,

My 1.25 acres is mostly hilly with some steep slopes. In the market for a 4wd tractor and I am considering the Simplicity Prestige, Simplicity Legacy XL or the John Deere X500 or X700 series. Your thoughts

Curt Wisely
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Curt Wisely

I mow 8 acres – relatively flat with some rough areas. I’m looking at a Cub Cadet GX 54-inch cut. I would also be using it with a drag, light hauling with a wagon, lawn sweep, etc. I am looking for comfort due to back issues. Would the GX meet my needs or would you recommend a different tractor?

Johnrb
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Johnrb

What a Resource! I really want traction control for my hilly rough ~3 acres. Outside of mowing, some plowing, and a little hauling I don’t do much else. For under $5K it looks like it’s down to the CC XT2 LX or the Husqvarna GTs. Am I missing anything? Which way should I go? Thanks for all of this great info! Denver, CO BTW

John Traeger
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John Traeger
JT-Round Rock, Texas Hi Paul. Thanks again for providing such a great site and service. I like coming here to read what’s going on in the world of riding mowers and garden tractors. Here is an update for you. Using all the great info you provided I purchased a Craftsman GT5500/#20403 last summer. I am mowing about 2.5 acres, semi-rough terrain, no hills, and lots of live oak trees. The machine has performed wonderfully. It cuts well and even better hauls very heavy loads (rocks, boulders, dirt, firewood) w/out any trouble. The 24hp Briggs Platinum V-Twin is a strong motor… Read more »
Rob
Guest
Paul, I cant believe the information you have put together here, thanks a ton. It has been very helpful. I have 2 acres, partially wooded, with some hilly terrain and often pull a large DR leaf vacuum. I am about to purchase a garden tractor and have narrowed it down to a few. My question is this: Would you recommend the Craftsman G5500 for $2,800 from Sears or one of the Husqvarna models which includes the GT52XLS (Kawasaki engine or Koehler?), or the GT54LS with the B&S motor for prices ranging from $3,200 – $3,300 depending on the model. I… Read more »
Mike
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Mike
This web site has an amazing amount of quality information. After reading and learning much I am still not sure what to do. When I bought my Cub Cadet LTX1050 KW I was mowing about 2 acres and could do it in 1.5 hrs. We purchased additional property (11 acres total) and now mow about 4.5 acres. To speed up cut time I got a Swisher 60″ finish cut trail mower. I trim the tight areas around the fence, barn, and house with just the tractor (30 mins) and then hook up the trail cut mower off set to the… Read more »
Todd
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Todd

Hi Paul, thanks so much for the most informative garden tractor site.

I live in southern Vermont on 16 acres, uphill steep 11 degree grade driveway going about 600 feet up to our house.

Have about 3 acre area total to mow, half rather hilly.

Would love to be able to plow downhill or snow throw downhill and then make it back up.

Would also like to drag a box grade to smooth out driveway.

Biggest dream would be being able to spread salt and sand on slippy days.

Wondering if the JD x500 series is for me or if I need more.

Thanks!

A.J.
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A.J.

Hi Paul,
Been looking at all your reviews and was trying to digest your information about all the different transmissions. Can you help me understand the differences in transmissions for the garden tractors you have listed (or any other suggestions) you may have for me. My yard is between half and an acre but I think I will need to have a plow because of winters we have been having in NJ.
Thank you for your advice.

Gord
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Gord
Hi Paul, Just wanted to give you an update and say thanks again for the analysis and informed opinion. I went back and forth on the SCUT’s (really like the Kubotas), but have decided a something more specialized to mowing will be a better solution for my property (lower weight, less compaction). I picked up my new Craftsman Pro Series this weekend! It’s also identified as the G7400 here in Canada as well, but it appears to be mostly identical to the G5500 (the red one) that your guys get, except a few things. Definitely different than the Pro Series… Read more »
Andy
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Andy
Hi Paul, I’m in Central Massachusetts, and I’ve got about 1 1/2 acres to mow. It has some moderate ups and downs but isn’t too steep, except for a small section where it drops off a bit at the edge. (Small enough that I can mow it with my reel mower if I need to.) It’s a bit bumpy in places though, so I don’t know how well a big deck would do. I also have about a 250′ driveway with about a 10% grade, a bit steeper right at the road. The way it’s set up, I can’t use… Read more »
Greg
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Greg
Paul, First I want to thank you for all of the information you have provided to me thru reading all of the questions and answers on this page. Truly enlightening. I recently purchased 2.5 acres that we will be building on in a couple of years. In the meantime I do want to mow it a few times a year and handle my current lawn (1/2 acre). Currently I have a JD L111 which I know will not handle the new plot (it hardly handles my current yard) so I am looking at getting a new garden tractor. I am… Read more »
Dave
Guest
Dave

Hello,

I live in CT and have ~ 1 acre with some moderate hills. I’m considering Deere D160 but confused about which non-Deere manufacturers compete head to head with the D160. Dealer suggested the D160 because of hills and the better motor. Which Husky model should I consider?

My main use will be cutting the lawn BUT I also need a snow blower. So…my 4th grade math skills tell me the blower attachment is like buying a high end snow blower. Should I use this tractor to snow blow or stick to grass cutting.

Bob L
Guest
Paul, Thanks for all the great info. I am getting conflicting advice which model would be the best replacement for my 1978 (yes, that’s right) Cub 1000 Series. We moved 2 years ago and the old Cub is finally at end of life. I love the Cub Cadet XT Series and am stuck between the XT2 Lawn Tractor (w/ locking rear differential, 46″ deck) vs the XT3 Garden Tractor. I have 1-2 acres of hilly terrain and a 200 foot sloped driveway. I haul a yard cart with mulch/firewood etc but do not have a need for ground tilling equipment.… Read more »
Dan
Guest
Hi Paul, Great site thanks putting your research out there. I will need to replace an older Craftsman tractor that was lost due to fatigue cracking in the chassis and front axle. It was a hand me down tractor, and its time was up. I have 2 acres to mow, half of which has some good bumps and ditchs. I also want to consider being able to buy attachments as a later date for garden tilling, hauling, and possibly snow blower / plow. I think I want a tractor with a 54″ deck for time savings. Reviewing your site you… Read more »
Jenny
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Jenny
Hi Paul — I live in a rural area south of Houston. I typically mow about 5 acres multiple times a week. While not terribly hilly, I have some moderate slopes, sometimes swampy conditions, a ton of periodically surging roots, huge crawdad mounds, lots of trees, and a typical 5 rail ranch/game-wire fence. I think I’ve zeroed in on a Craftsman and I have always wanted a ZTR — but after reading a few of your articles, I think I might be better off with the G5500. I’m stumped, though, on whether the G8400 might be better for me. Price… Read more »