Lawn Mowing Calculator | Acreage Chart | Mower Productivity Chart
By Paul Sikkema. Like or FaceBook Page: News From TodaysMower and MovingSnow Find Paul on Google+
Here is a mower productivity chart to help you determine what is the best deck width for your yard.
Keep in mind a 17 hp 42 inch mower will not be able to mow as fast as a 24 hp 42 inch mower.
A good guess for mowing speeds is:
3 mph for a cheap, low hp lawn tractor (like the Yard Machines 38 inch or Troy Bilt Pony)
4 mph for most other residential yard and garden tractors (like the Craftsman T2200 or T3000)
5 mph for the 2014 Craftsman 46 inch zero-turn
6 mph for the Cub Cadet Z-Force and most prosumer zero turns (like the Craftsman 20417 or John Deere 400 series)
8 mph for most commercial zero turns (like the Toro Grandstand)
11 to 13 mph for the high end commercial mowers (Like the Wright Stander ZK or Ferris IS 5100Z))
The numbers are acres per hour. For example if you have a 42 inch deck and it will mow at 4 mph you can get about 1.4 acres an hour mowed.
80% Efficiency, (Mower Width in Inches)
I’m on a hill and I’d estimate the slope to be 25 – 30° in the middle. Would an Ariens 936046 or JD L130 be able to handle that?
Hi Brian, neither lawn tractor has a transmission strong enough to go up your hills for more than a few months. The JD 130 also has an engine that will not handle that type of slope because the engine oil system is designed for much flatter lawns. That said,
There are no lawn tractors or residential zero-turns that are designed to mow slopes over 15 degrees. They don’t have enough traction, the transmissions are not strong enough and many don’t have the proper pressurized oil systems in the engine.
I fell into a used JD L120 for $200. Runs great and still looks good to boot. I couldn’t pass it up even though I only maintain a 1/3 acre lot. My thinking was I would eventually invest in a self-propelled, doing the push thing currently. Am I nuts going this big for a 1/3 acre lot or should I just sit back and enjoy the ride?
Hi Justin, I’m the wrong person to ask. I just bought a 72-inch mower and I only have about 1/3 acre to mow with it. My excuse is I wanted something to restore 🙂
Hi I take care of some country property in mid Missouri. Some Slight hills and rocky ground. Most of the ground is level. Sometimes I like to get into the fields and tackle tall grass to make paths for kids to walk through. I cut prob 4 to 7 acres depending on how much time I have. I only cut grass 2 times a month. I’m looking into husqvarna. I don’t know if there is much difference between mzt 61 and MZ61. And if not those one of the lawn tractors ts354. Not sure which would be better. Would the zero turn be that much faster to cost twice as much? Which would Handel being used roughly
Hi John, If you purchase the TS 354D with the locking differential it will be the safest to use on hills. The locking differential will give you the traction you need. The clear cut fabricated deck is also strong enough to handle the mowing you want to do. Unfortunately, it is slower than the MZT61.
The MZT 61 is a good zero-turn with a good deck. Is it a good choice? It really depends how steep your slopes and hills are. It may not have enough traction to turn on hills or go up them. You will have to demo it on your property to find out. BEWARE! Zero-turns do not like to mow down a slope and turn at the bottom. If you have drop-offs or ponds at the bottom of the slope using a zero-turn is very dangerous.
I don’t Recommend the MZ61 at all for your property. It’s too light to have traction and it really is not built heavy/strong enough to handle rough mowing.
Hi Paul, I’m looking for advice on what to buy. I’m currently mowing 5 acres in central Pennsylvania that has a lot of different types of terrain. Everything from smooth flat nice yard around the house to bumpy former fields. And my biggest concern is I have a good amount of area that is on pretty steep slopes. I’m currently mowing all this with a Cub Cadet 1018 42” hydro that I installed bar tread agriculture style tires on just so I could make it up MOST of the hills. And this setup is definitely not ideal. Between mowing hills that feel unsafe to climb and then sliding down. And the whole yard taking close to 8 hours to complete, I’m at a loss. I’ve been recommended different things from every dealer I go to. Some say compact tractor some say zero turn and others still say garden tractor. I want something that is going to be safe on hills yet not turtle slow on the flats. I have most major dealers within a reasonable driving distance and I’m not really set on any price point. Please, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Hi Eric, 1. A garden tractor with a locking differential rear end is the most economical choice. Cub Cadet and Husqvarna both make one with a 54-inch fabricated deck.
2. Simplicity also makes a tractor with a locking diff but that’s close to $7000 and there are better choices in that price range.
3. Zero-turn mowers under $7000 are not a good choice. They generally don’t have the traction to go up or stay on the hill. Over $7000 they are heavy enough and if you go that route make sure it is equipped with a roll bar.
4. Cub Cadet does have one model that I could recommend. it the Cub Cadet PRO Z 160 S EFI. It is unique in that the front wheels steer and both rear wheels drive all the time. It’s also heavy enough to hang on the hills. I believe there is a dual wheel option on the 60-inch model for even better stability and traction.
5. The best choice and definitely overkill is the Dual wheel Wright Stander ZK. This mower will handle the hills, it safe because you just step off the mower if you get in trouble and it will mow your “flatlands” at 12 MPH! You could always pay for it by mowing other yards 🙂
Gordon E Agnew
Nobody has given the size needed for 12 acres. My John Deere 445 with 60″ deck does a wonderful job quickly. I never mow it all in one day. I break my property down into ten areas and generally mow a little every day or three. I don’t have to worry about the engine running hot because it’s water cooled. It’s a 1998 model making it 20 years old.
Hi Gordon, a midsized ($5000-$7000) 60-inch zero-turn will mow 12 acres in about 2 1/2 hours.
Gordon E Agnew
I can’t mow that fast due to obstacles (mostly trees). The reasons I didn’t buy a zero turn are many fold. I like a free hand going under limbs. I looked at several models and found most to be difficult to change oil and other basic maintenance issues (two hydrostats to maintain). My JD 445 sold new for $10,000 and will travel at 8.5mph. It has power steering for one hand driving, diff lock, and is shaft driven both to the wheels and to the deck. I’ve pictured myself on the Zturns and came to the conclusion that I’d look ugly on one (Main reason to not purchase!).
Hugely helpful information and feedback to everyone above. Many thanks for your insights. Now my turn: 1.05 acres in Texas, with sandy soil. Flat lot with minimal trees. What’s your recommended Zero-Turn mower (I have back issues and that’s the most comfortable type of mower I’ve tried to date). I’m concerned about the deck being sand-blasted and wearing out.
Hi Tom, Fabricated decks use thicker metal than the stamped decks. So Ariens Ikon 42 or 52, Hustler 42, 50 and Cub Cadet 46 Fab decks are good choices.
Hi Kathy, No, it’s not crazy. I’m getting old enough and stiff enough that I’d have problems walking 1/8 acre myself without being incapacitated the next day.
But – if you have mobility issues the Troy-Bilt is not the right choice. Why? because to shift it from forward to reverse you have to reach down between your legs to about calf-height to move a forward-neutral-reverse lever. At least for me it’s too hard to reach. In addition, the Troy-Bilt will not mow backing up.
So – there is another mower that will work. It actually looks like the Troy-Bilt but uses a hydrostatic transmission so you don’t have that forward-reverse lever to deal with. It will mow in reverse. It’s only $300 more.
Here is a link to it at Home Depot: Cub Cadet CC30H 30 in. 382cc Cub Cadet Engine Gas Hydrostatic Rear Engine Riding Mower
We have a very small lawn probably less than 1/8 acre, however, both my husband and I have leg and health issues. We would like to get a 30″ Troy Bilt riding mower to do the yard. We are not sick enough to have to hire someone. Is this a crazy thought? Or would it be a reasonable choice?
Hello, I have 4 acres to mow. I currently have a Husqvarna 54 inch deck rider. It has about 750 hours on it over about 8 years. I would like to get a zero radius. People are telling me I need a commercial grade. But the rider lasted 8 years. The zero radius would take less time so it would be less hours over that time period as well. Would I be okay to get something between 3-4 thousand instead of a 9k mower? PRecmmendations?
Hi Shawn, You don’t need a commercial rider for 4 acres. 4000ish gets you a solid mower with a good cutting deck, good engine, and good transmissions. The models I’ll list all mow well about 6-7 MPH so combined with the maneuverability they will cut your mowing time 30-50%.
I’ll give you links to The Home Depot. The Toro, Ariens, and John Deere are all assembled and delivered to your home by a local dealer. The Cub Cadet is shipped to your local Home Depot in a crate.
Ariens IKON XL 52 in. 24 HP KOHLER 7000 Series Twin Gas Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Toro TimeCutter MX5050 50 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Gas Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Speed
John Deere Z525E 54 in. 24 HP Gas Dual Hydrostatic Zero-Turn Riding Mower
Cub Cadet Z-Force L 54 in. 25 HP Fabricated Deck KOHLER Pro V-Twin Dual-Hydro Zero-Turn Mower with Lap Bar Control
Hi i am about to move to a place where i will have 17 acres that will need to be mowed. What type of mower should i get? Mostly flat land. Not trying to buy the best but don’t want something that is just going to break after a year or two
Hi William, I need more information from you. Is this a 17 acre lawn? Do you need to mow it every week or do you just want to keep the weeds and brush knocked down? Will you have livestock on this area? Is it in grass now? If it’s just a field of grass a local farmer may come in and harvest the grasses every 6 weeks or so and may even pay you for the hay.
In other words, I don’t know if a small ZTR for the house lawn and a compact tractor is the best choice.
No it’s all grass and yes will need to be mowed every week or 10 days depending on the rain. Have been looking at bad boy mowers the but i don’t know if that’s enough. A 60 in cut for 6200$ or a 72in diesel for 15k. There’s trees all around so a farmer wouldn’t want the hassle of coming and doing that i have already looked into that. And no cattle just a lot of land lol
Hi William, before you look at a mid-mount ZTR take a look at Grasshopper mowers. They use an out-front deck and are easier to trim with and use than the mid-mount’s. They generally ride better because you sit right above the large tires. They do have good seat options. Grasshopper offers all the options like diesel engines and they have steel driveshafts throughout the mowers. They are designed for your type of mowing.
First time homeowner in NJ, previously owned by a landscaper so the lawn was/is fantastic. Been having a landscape company manage my 1 acre or so of lawn for a couple years, but looking to take it on myself after some disappointing results (constant tire spin outs and tearing up grass from rushing and mowing too much, bad mulching blade maintenance with very ratty looking cut grass, various forms of fungus killing off sections, etc). The property is very flat ground, good drainage, with just a handful of trees with mulchbeds to go around. Looking for a riding mower that is durable, comfortable, and fast/clean cutting. Price is pretty open, I’m more concerned with reliability and quality versus dealing with a broken machine just to save a couple bucks.
I see a lot of CCs for sale but read a lot of mixed reviews on them. I do have a local CC dealer, but they have a mediocre reputation (at least online and my only experience with them was being charged $40 for a chainsaw sharpening [could have bought two brand new chains for that]). Have a Husqvarna, JD, and Kubota dealers not far away as well (within 20-30 min).
Any recommendations for the 2018 year or 2017 leftovers?
We have recently purchased a 6 acre property that is mainly flat and open. I was wondering if you could tell me how much quicker a “pro-Sumer” or low end commercial ZTR could cut the grass vs. a beefed up Deere (like an X590 or X730) with a 54” and 60” deck respectively.
I really like the thought of having a machine that can do most everything except FEL and Backhoe but don’t want to spend way more time cutting grass.
Hi Joseph, Most of the $4500-7000 ZTRs mow well about 7 MPH. Their biggest advantages though is how much faster they can mow around small obstacles like tree trunks and the fact you can fit more of them on a landscape trailer. A few now, like the Toro MyRide have a full operator suspension platform so you can mow at 7-8 MPH and not ruin your spine.
The X700 can mow about the same speed. With the larger tires it has a better ride than a ZTR. It has an uncut circle of about 36 inches meaning it will trim around most landscaping OK but won’t trim around a utility pole or tree trunk well. The Sub-compacts like the Deere 1023E, Kubota, Mahindra and Massey Fergusen are about the same.
The X500 series has a slightly smaller turning radius than the X700 but is a lighter tractor so it won’t pull as much, will ride rougher and will mow well about 5 mph.
Good afternoon Paul. I have been using your site for quite some time and thought it was time to ask for advice or at least help me move in the right direction. First off, your site and knowledge is top shelf!
I live in rural Southeast KS and mow an area that is approx 2 acres. This area includes a small house, grain bin, trailers, chicken coop, gardens and numerous trees. The land is primarily flat with some open areas, a small slop here and there but of course there is a terrace/ditch by the road that might be best to use a weed eater. I am currently using a very old Craftsman LT1000 18hp 42″ rider that I am tired of replacing parts on and am afraid the old Intek engine will give in soon. When grass gets tall that little single cylinder bogs something crazy. My biggest issue is with the amount of time it takes to cut the area of about 3 hours due to poor cut, small engine and having to go over the area multiple times to knock it all down.
I thought about sticking with a rider and going for the Craftsman Pro 46″ but am wondering if I should go for a 42″ zero turn to help speed up mowing? Due to all the obstacles I think a 42-46 would be my max. This is rural land so it has moles and a large dog that digs them up, could have tractor ruts so it isn’t the run of the mill suburban smooth property. My budget would be somewhere between 2500-3500 but I want something that will last so that range can shift a bit. I have been looking at the cub cadet z-force, some of the Toros and the today saw the Ariens Ikon XL. I guess at this point I think I am looking for a nudge, should I stick with a rider or get with the times for a zero turn but if so, what will be something that will stand up to rural property and not brake the bank? Thanks for any information you can provide.
Hi CJ, A 42 ZTR won’t speed up the mowing in the open areas but it will help trimming around obstacles. I actually suggest a 48-50 inch Cub Cadet fabricated deck on a ZTR or the Toro 50 inch deck. The extra width will make it a lot easier to trim with and you will go from hours of mowing to an hour or so.
Thanks for the information Paul. I just read something that matches your comment about the larger deck and being able to trim so thanks very much for that info. I have stepped up my game a bit and the initial budget has been thrown out the door. I am currently looking at a few mowers that were not originally on my list. I would like to ask your opinion about them if you don’t mind, they are: Gravely HD 48, Gravely XL 52, Ferris Z600 48 even though my wife loves the Z600 44 due to size. Are there any standouts on this list? Pros and Cons? We are siding more on the Ferris but again, wife likes the 44 and I prefer the 48 but I think she likes the 44 due to our budget creeping way over than what we initially set. Thanks again!
Hi CJ, I really like the Gravely HD. One caution about the Ferris/Simplicity ZTRs. If you have a rough lawn You will have a smooth ride but the entire ZTR is suspended just like the body of you car. That means if the ZTR is bouncing up and down – so is the deck. All other mowers just suspend the operator – the deck follows the contours of the lawn with the wheels resulting in a more even cut.
So if you have narrowed it down to the Ferris I highly suggest you test drive it on your lawn or get a money back guarantee so you can return it if you don’t like the way it cuts.
I’ve been using a push mower (190cc B&S) mower to weekly cut about 3 acres of grass
The lawnmower is about 5yrs old and the engine finally died, should it have lasted this long cutting this much weekly? Or did it die early??
Hi James, Most homeowners cut 1/8 to 1/3 acre with a push mower. A few will mow a 1/2 acre or so. Typically, these mower engines will last 10 years or so with proper oil and filter changes.
If you do the math you are mowing 6 to 10 times as much every week as those typical homeowners. So, yes, I feel you engine lasted about the right amount of time.
If you do like to mow that much and walk Honda, Ariens, Toro, ExMark and many specialty brands make commercial mowers with commercial engines that will last.
Sallie Jerry Larsen
We have 3 acres of grass and Need of a Good riding lawn mower. Now we have a walk behind one, Take all day to just mow the grass>!
Hi Sallie, A good place to start is with this article: The Best Lawn, Yard & Garden Tractor Buying Guide 2017 – How To Pick The Best For You!
Woods mowers for consideration, didn’t see them listed.
They are famous for the undermount “belly mows” for vintage ag tractors they introduced in the 1940’s & still produce. Modern options include zero turn options.
Hi David, I’ve limited the top price of residential ZTR’s we discuss to about $7000. Like the other “Rural Lifestyle” mowers such as GrassHopper, Land Pride and Bush Hog, the starting price of a Woods is way above that. I do have the brand listed on this page The Complete Lawn Mower, Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Garden Tractor, Zero Turn Name Brands List | Who Makes What, Who Are The Major Mower Manufactures
Seeking help with wide cut walk behind options. I have 3/4acre, currently have a Honda 21″ 190cc versamow that is a great mower, and easily gets up a steep hill I have on 1 side, but just takes too long in 100 degree Texas heat. I can’t afford an ex mark commercial, haven’t read great things about the smaller Exmark 30 (underpowered), the cub cadet 33″ walk behind everyone says has serious issues with belts and timing repairs, and I’m not particularly mechanic inclined. All other variants in my price range under $1500 seem to be the cub cadet in different badging. Am I overlooking something? The Toro Timemaster is priced well, but with the same engine size as my 21″ Honda I fear it would be way underpowered to climb up my side slopes.
Hi Gary, The only real choice under $2500 is the Toro TimeMaster. The ExMark is similar and they state it’s under powered for commercial use. I think the Briggs on the Toro has a little more power than the Kaw on the ExMark.
The Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt and Craftsman 33 inch have front casters but a regular rear diff so they are impossible to hold on a side hill.
I don’t know anything about the new Craftsman Pro series. The DR is too expensive.
There is one other company that makes a very affordable walk behind. You don’t know them because they have chosen to stay small and will work directly with you. I’ve know them since they first started 20 years ago and their mowers just work. They are built very strong and built to last.
The biggest thing is the price for a 36 inch is only $300 less than a 48 and $500 less than a 52. You can order them here: Bradley Mowers
Here is their website Bradley Mowers. I love their stand on models.
Hi – question from Ireland here, have 5 acres half of which is very hilly (maybe 20-35 degrees in places) only a small portion will be level smooth lawn..most of it agricultural field..bumpy stoney etc…was thinking a compact tractor but price is an issue there and my second choice was an ATV with rotary mower behind it…as I say for most part don’t need ‘lawn’ finish…what you think? Want to just keep the place tidy top grass and spray and odd time…
Hi Barry, you have some really cool equipment that we can’t get here in the U.S. For example, I’m a big, big fan of flail mowers. For your property a flail pulled by an ATV would be the perfect answer. Even a older used Countax or other 4 wheel drive garden tractor could pull it for you. Here is an example of the mower I am thinking of: Quad X Flail Mower
Hi Paul, I realize that you don’t do used mowers here, so I rephrased my original question. I have 5 uneven acres (dang gophers) with a lot of pine trees and the occasional branch (I’m in Colorado). Half is a bit of an incline. I need something rugged and can handle a lot of bouncing around, as well as do well up the incline, but was hoping to have it under $2,000. I was looking at a Poulan Pro 46 in. 20 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton at Home Depot for $1,400. Or should I be looking at a model with a hydrostat? Any other suggestions?
Hi Tom, these mowers – and it doesn’t matter if they are $1000 or $5000 – are not designed in any way, shape, or form to mow anything other than a nice smooth lawn. If you don’t go through your property everytime and pick up stick, branches, stones, rocks, gopher mounds or anything that is not part of a weekly mowing of grass these riding mowers, lawn tractors, garden tractor and zero-turns are not designed to take that kind of abuse. By-the-way dragging around a 5-10 foot piece of chain link fence does a great job of leveling out gopher mounds.
For $2000 and your type of terrain I suggest a Swisher Rough Cut Mower. Pull it about 3-4 mph with an old used lawn tractor, ATV or even a golf cart.
I have the opportunity to purchase a 2013 cub cadet Ltd 1042 KW for 1000.00. It only has 37 hours on it. I have .4 acre yard in IL that is mostly flat with one slope to cut. The yard is fairly smooth with a fair amount of trimming.
Is this a good deal and is the mower a decent unit?
HI Todd, I don’t do used mowers here but the 2013 Cub Cadet 1042 is one of the reasons why Consumer Reports states that Cub Cadet is one of the more “repair prone” brands. The 2015 and newer Cub Cadets are completely different and don’t have those issues.
Thanks, is there a decent rider with hydrostat in the 1000.00 to 1200.00 range?
I have .6 acres of flat lawn in Orlando, FL that I mow weekly unless wet. Current tractor is 06 Cub SLT 1550 but need something tad smaller to gain valuable inches in garage. Been reading your posts but need help with size, HP, tranny and brand! Been leaning toward CC XT1 42 or 46 or Craftsman comp. Please reply at your convenience.
Hi Dan, I feel the 46 inch mulches slightly better than the 42. The 46 inch deck also sticks out the side of the tractor a little more so it is easier to trim with. So either the CC XT1 or the Craftsman Pro 46 inch as great choices.
Wonderful! Thanks so much for all your help! I am looking forward to the “country life” 🙂
We are renting on 2 acres, in the S CA desert, with lots of sandy, bumpy ground, weeds, etc., and wondering if the Troy-Bilt Riding Lawn Tractor, 420cc Rear Engine, 6-Speed Transmission, 30-In. Deck, would work, if we do an acre one day, and the rest later? We’re on a low budget and this seems to be one of the cheaper ones. Also, never did learn how to drive a 3 speed transmission, so will it be difficult to learn the 6 speed? 🙂 Thanks for your help and look forward to your knowledgeable advice!
@Mama J, No I don’t think it will work but…For $100 more you can get the Craftsman 42” Automatic 420cc Riding Mower. It’s a tougher built tractor and you will be able to get the job done quicker.
Hi Paul I live in Haslet Tx and I bought 5 acres of flat land no trees that is smooth . When it rains it stays damp no drainage. I would like to know what tractor would be good to buy.
HI Yomaira, One of the best tractors for that type of work is the Craftsman 54″ Fast Auto 24 HP Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Turn Tight® Garden Tractor. It’s a good value, heavy duty tractor. It will put up with anything you need it to do.
Hi Paul. Great site. I am thinking about upgrading to a zero turn mower for our 2 acres in Middletown, MD. I have been mowing 6 years with a Cub Cadet LTX1050 tractor (360 hrs now) and have been experiencing problems the past 3.5 years. I keep the mower clean and do the annual maintenance on the engine, changing/sharpening blades, etc, but the deck components keep failing. It runs great, but I am tired of wondering when the next component will break. From what I read, this is almost to be expected from an entry level lawn tractor. If I buy a zero turn, I want something that will last with proper maintenance and one that I can replace parts easily. For example, on the cub cadet, to replace a spindle, I have to remove the deck, take off the belt, which requires removing 2 back spindles and then the broken one, then doing the repair. I have gotten used to the belt layout, but it is quite complicated on the tractor. Our yard has a small hill/slope at the bottom but the rest is pretty flat. I would not call it smooth, but it’s not a field either. I mow at least once a week. I have access to most of the big brands (Toro, Hustler, Exmark, John Deere, Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Big Dog, and some others) nearby. A local Toro dealer recommended the Titan series to me based on the details I gave him. I’d be willing to pay the money for that mower or something comparable if it is worth the extra cost over something like the Toro TImeCutter MX or Hustler Raptor SD. My question is if I should focus on these models (Titan, Hustler Fastrak, Exmark Pioneer, Big Dog Stout, etc.) or if the lower models (Toro MX, Hustler Raptor SD, Big Dog Alpha MP, etc.) will be enough of an upgrade over my current tractor to last.
Hi Derek, If you got 6 years out of the Cub Cadet tractor expect 10 years out of the lower models and 15 years or longer out of the Titan, Hustler Fastrak, Exmark Pioneer, Big Dog Stout, etc. The higher end ZTR’s wll also handle the slope better. You do get what you pay for in this price range. FYI: ExMark has some really good deals on the Pioneer series right now (About $700 off)
Thanks! Would you give an edge to any mower between the Pioneer S-series (52″), Fastrak (54″ or 60″), or the Titan ZX/MX (54″ or 60″)? With the current offers these are all within a few hundred dollars of each other and the dealers are all within 15 miles. The Fastrak is coming in a little less than the others, followed by the Titan ZX, then MX, then the Pioneer S. The Pioneer at 52″ is a little bit more expensive than the others at 54″ and 60″ decks, but maybe this is the best mower. I’m having a hard time telling the difference between it and the Titan and I understand they are made by the same company. I haven’t received a price on the Stout yet, although it looks the same as the Fastrak and I’ve read they are made in the same plant. One other question, do you think it is worth $500 to upgrade from a Titan ZX to MX if I would go with the Titan?
Hi Derek, Hustler and Big Dog, same company – Toro and ExMark same company. There are minor differences for example ExMark has their own decks. ExMark has the best deals I’ve seen by $200 but…. I would go with the dealer I like the best. In the long run between those four mowers the dealer is going to be the main reason you like it over the other ZTR’s
Thanks again Paul. A local dealer recommended the Gravely ZT HD to me. Would you consider this a comparable model to the Hustler Fastrak, Toro Titan, or Grasshopper 126V (newly added to my list as well)? I know the Gravely has the same transmission as the others (ZT3100), but it runs the Kohler 7000 Pro engine compared to Kohler Confidant or Kawasaki FR series (although I think the FR series is an option in the ZT HD for $200 more). From the specs, it looks like the frame may be a little lighter and it has a 5″ front tire compared to 6.5″ and 20″ back tires compared to 22″ on the other models. It comes in only about 30 lbs lighter than the others though. It is about $1000 less than the others, and seems to be pretty close in most areas, I’m just not sure if this mower is in the same class as the others.
Hi Derek, It’s hard to beat a Gravely. On the spec sheet it’s actually a little better than the Fastrak and it compares to the Fastrak HD and Titan. If money is not as important as getting the best also take a look at the Gravely Pro-Turn.
Grasshopper has a reputation of being more expensive and needing a lot more “nickel and dime” maintenance than the other brands. Grasshopper tries to sell to municipalities and once in a while they will talk an accountant into buying. Most of the time the city goes back to the Toro, Gravely and Exmarks the next bid cycle because of the extra maintenance the Grasshoppers need.
A few pointers. If you are just mowing for yourself and mowing less than 10 hours a week ANY of the engines you mentioned are good choices. In particular the new Kohler 7000 Series Pro is quickly turning into the engine of choice for homeowner and small commercial operators. I fell it is a better choice than a Kawasaki FR.
The Kawasaki FR is a residential engine just like the Koher 7000 Elite and Briggs & Stratton Intek Plus/ Pro. It does not deserve a premium price tag.
The Kohler Confidant is a true commercial grade engine. If you are mowing 15 to 25 lawns a week then I suggest that engine.
Thanks for the fast reply Paul. It is just me mowing my own yard (2 acres, 1 tree, 1 small hill, the rest is fairly flat but a little bumpy). From what I’ve read, I’m only looking at mowers with the 3100 transmissions, trying not to overspend on something I don’t need, but want something that will last. One final question (I think). Do you have any concerns about traction with the smaller tires that are on the Gravely ZT HD over the other models (Fastrak, Titan)?
@Derek, The smaller tires won’t go through mud as well but otherwise they will have the same traction on slopes and for turning.
I want the property, but the size has me unsure. I’m considering buying a 450 acre estate in Gainesville, GA. I’ve never owned anything like it size wise and am curious how long its going to take to keep it looking top notch. Also just how many people I’d need to employ to keep it up. The largest estate I’ve ever owned was 6 acres and maintained it myself. The estate is known as the Tanners Mill estate and there are lots of info and pics online if it would help give me an accurate guess on time and employee needs. Also mower and tractor suggestions would be appreciated. Cost isn’t a real issue, I’m just concerned mowing would be going on all day everyday. Doesn’t make life very enjoyable. Thanks
@Sam, I would find a property manager in that area. They will know the best way to take care of your property.
Do you get into recommending Weed Eaters? I need something I can handle (I’m 5′ tall, senior lady, but like to do my own work when possible.) We have lots of perimeter lilacs with lilies in between, which all need to be weed whacked.
You were a great help to me when I bought the Craftsman 54″, 26 HP 5″ turn Garden Tractor, with power steering. I’m using it and take about 3-3/4 hrs to mow 4 acres, lots of trees, slope, and it’s an enjoyable way to get the job done.
Hi Myrna, I trust Consumer Reports for the residential grade string trimmers. Myself, I’ve learned that if I spend $250 or more I will get a string trimmer that will last 10 years or longer. Stihl, Husqvarna, Echo are all good brands.
I am ready to buy a cordless machine and right now the DEWALT DCST990H1 40V MAX 6.0 Ah. This one has the power of a gas trimmer and the battery will last over 3 hours of actual use. It uses the heavy .080 line. It’s not expensive considering you can use the battery in other DeWalt llawn tools.
Hi Paul, I have a country property in Ontario Canada. I mow aprox. 2 acres with many spruce trees that drop cones often. The clay ground is fairly rough, but flat. My last mower ( which just got stolen) was a 2006 poulan pro 54″ with 26 hp b&s. It did the job fine, but now I’m forced to replace it. The local dealer does not handle poulan anymore, due to the big box store affect. He is a husqvarna dealer also though and did check his models out with the b&s engines. Also very close to me is cub cadet dealer. His x2 54″ units are powered by the Kawasaki engines. No sign of the Koehler 7000’s in his tractors. Also I notice your respect for the craftsman tractors, but the models ( tight turn) are not available in Canada. So they do not appear to be an option for me. All said, I guess I would like to upgrade from the poulan pro I had and was looking for your opinion. Also will mention that a zero turn is not out of scenario if you believe it will be money well spent in my $4500 budget. Thanks for your time…..Matt
HI Matt, If you liked your Poulan Pro I’d go with a Husqvarna. Do Not buy and LGT2654. The LGT stands for “Light garden tractor” and the transmission is not heavy enough. Any of the GT series will be a good choice. Husqvarna is putting a 48 and 52 inch fabricated decks on the garden tractors now. It’s a heavy duty deck and will last longer than the deck on your Poulan.
The CRAFTSMAN®/MD 24HP 54″ Tractor With Turn Tight has the turn-tight.
The CRAFTSMAN®/MD Pro 26HP 54″ Tractor With Turn Tight states it has turn tight but the picture and description shows it does not. That tractor is pretty close to your Poulan if your old tractor was a GT. About the only difference is the hood and the color.
It sounds like the Cub Cadet dealer has 2015’s yet. I only suggest 54 inch garden tractors. Don’t buy the LX in the big deck. The tranny is not strong enough.
Paul, thank you for the reply. I feel im interested in the craftsman me pro 26hp. Is this a model you are familiar with? Can you tell me the pros and cons of it? I ask these questions because there is no where here to go and look at the tractor. I have to pay and order it before I will ever see it. Sears does not put any of the pro models on the floor here for viewing 🙁 . I love to check things out before leaving money but I can not in this case. Is there a better tractor for the price in your opinion? Again im hoping to stay under 4500. I have a Honda atv for “other” tasks
HI Matt, Take a look at this article for starters. https://todaysmower.com/2015-craftsman-pro-series-tractors-the-future-is-here/
Is the pro model from the pictures a older model or some sort of hybrid? Again just trying to sort this stuff out before I “pull the trigger” on a sight unseen purchase. Or do you feel the non pro model maybe a better unit? ( sale ends June 15)
Thanks for your time
@Matt, I’m sorry, it’s very hard for me too see old conversations on this website so I answered your question from last night based on the U.S. Pro models. I went back this morning and saw that you are from Canada. I don’t know a lot about the Canadian Craftsman’s but I’ll answer your question based on what I see on the site.
That tractor is made for them by Husqvarna. It’s basically a Husqvarna Garden Tractor with a different hood and paint color. Based on the description and the picture it has the heavy-duty front axle with a 16 inch turning radius. That is the front axle that has been around for years and never breaks. That is also Husqvarna/Craftsman’s strongest frame.
Yes, I would take the chance. Even if that is a 2015 model it’s one of the toughest garden tractors on the market. (In U.S. dollars it sold for $3100 in 2014-2015)
After reading some of the posts and your responses, I thought I’d better ask for your suggestion. I have approximately 18 acres, some of the grass is around a pond with an approximate 15% slope, some of it is lawn type grass, and the tree orchard is a thicker taller grass. Our Simplicity zero turn has just about reached the end of its life and we’ve stared researching other zero turns. After reading some of the posts, I’m not sure what to get now. What do you suggest for the SW Ohio area.
Hi Ken, I assume you are staying at least 2 mower widths away from that pond.
With 18 acres I’m sure you will want to get done as quickly as possible. A 60 inch deck is a very good choice because a good unit like an ExMark Lazer Z can mow close to 5 acres an hour.
Simplicity/Ferris are basically the same mower nowdays. If you feel you’ve had good luck with it don’t be afraid to put them on your short list. The higher priced units will last.
What dealers do you have in your area. I’d hate to suggest a brand that you have to drive 50 miles to get parts for.
About to purchase a place with a little less than 2.5 acres. Mostly flat with few trees to mow around. What are my best options. Was thinking about a lawn tractor over a ZTR because it would be more beneficial to do other things with besides mow.
Hi Brandon, Yes, a Garden Tractor will let you do more things. Take a look at the Craftsman and Cub Cadet Garden Tractors first.
My wife and I just bought home on 3.4 acres. There is a 1/2 acre pond and large 40×30 shop on the property so, I’m probably looking at about 2.75 acres worth of yard to mow. What suggestions do you have for a zero turn of a budget of around $3,500. I have been deeply considering the Bad MZ magnum 54. I test drove one from a local dealer and really enjoyed it. the dealer recommended that I step up to the ZT Elite 54 since it has replaceable filters for the hydro-statics, but that mower is just out of my price range. The MZ has the manual deck lift which I like and it has sealed dual hydro-statics. Do you see the sealed hydro statics as a possible issue for the longevity of the mower. I have a 1999 John Deere lt 155 that has sealed hydro statics that actually just started leaking after 17 years of strenuous use. I have also looked at the Torro time cutters and the hustler raptor sd. I just want to get the best bang for my buck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thanks
I live in West Tennessee with mostly flat ground and some moderate hills. The grass looks like Bermuda that was left untreated, around here we call it “country grass” with some weeds and the little white flowers that love to pop up in the spring but usually die off as it gets hotter.
HI Brandon, On your mostly flat lawn the Bad Boy MZ will be just fine. For your lawn I also like the Toro TimeCutter® SS5425 and the Hustler SD (though the Raptor will do just fine)
The only time you really need serviceable hydros is if you are running your ZTR more than 200 hours a year or using it commercially 20-40 hours a week. Even then, you should easily get 1000-1500 hours of use before you have to start worrying about the transmissions. With today’s hi-tech synthetic oils it’s not that important to change the oil as it was 25 years ago.
I’m buying a house with a 1/2 acre lot. A flat lot. A few trees, but not too many.
I’m trying to decide on getting either a tractor, or a zero turn mower. which size, and which type would you recommend getting for this size lot? I’d like to do it quickly as possible. Thanks.
Hi Ed, 1/2 acre lot – a 42 inch would be fine, a 46 inch will also work. If you don’t have a lot of experience using ZTR’s I suggest a tractor with Turn-Tight Steering like the Craftsman Pro 20440 or 20442.
Link 20440: Craftsman Pro Series 42″ 22 HP V-Twin Kohler Riding Mower with Turn Tight® Extreme
Link 20442: Craftsman Pro Series 46″ 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Riding Mower with Turn Tight® Extreme
I just bought 15 acres to build our new home on. Pretty much all of the acreage is going to be flat mainly smooth surface. I know I probably want a commercial grade ZTR mower, but which one do you recommend? I would like to have one that I don’t have to stop & fill up the gas tank during the run, or is that possible? Thanks
Jimmy, Where do you live? What type of grass?
I suggest a 60 inch ZTR. Don’t get a 72 inch. They are too wide and dig into the turf. The brand is not as important as the service when it comes to the name brand machines.
You need to look around locally and find a few commercial mower dealers. I’m not going to tell you a specific brand and then you can’t find it in your area. When you find that out write back and I’ll help you with a brand.
Would you recommend any riding mower for a 1/3+-acre lot? New home in a development, PA. We have some hills/slants on side & fronts for stormwater drainage along the outer edge of the property, otherwise it’s flat. Also, how important is a bagger &/or mulching kit (I’ve heard conflicting advise on both uses). I’m 6’5″ & 220+lbs., so I would like something that I can fit on. Thanks for your help!
Hi David, Mulching is a pain in the butt. Don’t bother with it unless you are willing to mow your grass at 3-4 inches and mow when you are going to cut 1/3 third of the grass stalk or less. That sometimes means more than once a week.
If you have a lot of trees then having a bagger around is nice. You can pick up your leaves quickly. The rest of the year it’s a pain also. Wet grass doesn’t like to bag well and it just makes a mess. Plus you have to have a big compost pile or someplace to go with the clippings. Baggers are designed to quickly come off the tractor when you don’t need them.
You want a yard tractor. These are mid-priced tractor that have a little longer and stronger frame than the $1000-$1500 lawn tractors. I also like a 46 inch deck because it trims around stuff easier.
I like the Craftsman Pro Series 46″ 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Riding Mower with Turn Tight® Extreme for us big guys. You can get the seat back, the foot speed control pedal is not to high and it’s really maneuverable. It’s also one of the best cutting decks on the market so you new home will look the best.
Do you like the Craftsman ProSeries 46″ more than a Simplicity Regent 22/38″? If so, why? Thank you!
Hi David, I strongly feel the Regent is over-priced. In my opinion it is a $1200 mower. The deck is flimsy and it wears out faster than anything else in the $1500 price range. “A leading consumer magazine” rates the cut as one of the worse out of all the mowers they test.
Just bought a 3.7 acre farm Hendersonville, N.C. half the area has hardly been mowed at all and is hilly. Lots of moles in the yard so the ground is soft except a few areas. definitely some tough spots to mow and a couple of steep inclines, hidden rocks, roots and branches etc. About 1/2 acre is pretty smooth going.
Property came with no self propelled mower or sit down mower. Budget is pretty lean and am a bit of the do it yourself type. what are your recommendations?
@Brian, Put up a fence and buy sheep. I just had to say that because I’m jealous. I like that area of the country a lot.
Tractors and zero-turns are designed for 15 degree slopes and less. So anything steeper than that you will have to let go or use a walk-behind brush mower like this one: Swisher WBRC11524 Predator Walk Behind Rough Cut Mower, 24-Inch or if you have an ATV this: Swisher RC17552BS 17.5 HP 52-Inch Rough Cut Trail Cutter
The rest really depends on how much of the property you actually want to mow. If you can mow 2 acres or more than a Garden Tractor. If you are going to mow less than 2 acres a 46 inch tractor works well. Don’t be afraid to spend $1800-$2400 for a quality unit that will take a little beating.
I have a flat and rough 1.2 acre property in sandy Spring Hill, FL. The yard consists of St. Augustine, Bahia, Bermuda and some bare spots with live oak leaves. I want to pull a cart (loaded with dirt/sand), manure spreader, leaf sweeper, seed spreader. I have looked at Sears, Lowes and Home Depot. A dealership is difficult – bad hours for my work schedule. I’m looking for a durable transmission, a tall cut (for horse), comfortable foot pedals, and a steering wheel I don’t have to lean forward to reach comfortably (long legs). I have driven my neighbor’s Husqvarna 46-48″, 23HP, Briggs & Straton-not a big fan, but the pedal was too high and I couldn’t mow in reverse. I’m not sure if a missed the reverse button somewhere. It didn’t cut the Bahia very well.
I plan on changing the oil, filters, and blade myself so I need a place to pick-up parts.
It would be nice if they made adjustable pedals or an extendable steering wheel.
Hi Christy, I’m sorry, I’ve had a very hard time keeping up this last week. I didn’t even know adjustable foot pedals existed until we bought this last Caravan. The pedals, steering column adjusts and the steering wheel extends. You can set the adjustments for 2 people. Just push a button when you get in and the car adjusts for you.
If the Husqvarna did not cut the Bahia well it may just have been dull mower blades but let’s stay away from those decks.
The best cutting decks right now are the Craftsman Pro 46 inc and Craftsman Pro 50 inch.
Because of the work you want to do I am going to suggest the Craftsman Pro Series 50″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme. Why?
It has a heavy-duty transmission for pulling the cart,spreader, etc.
It has more leg room than most of the other tractors. (They do make a tilt steering wheel but it’s on a $15000 tractor)
It has larger tires so it will handle your sandy soil better.
The larger tires also let it mow at the full 4 inch cutting height. Many of the other tractors like your neighbors won’t quite mow at 4 inches.
Oil, oil filter and air filter are normal stock at any Sears store. They may have to order the 3 blades. You can get them here also: 3 Pack Stens 335-859 Blades for 50″ Deck
You can buy it online here: Craftsman Pro Series 50″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme.
My yard is about 2 acres, most of them are flat, with a few trees.
How good is Cub Cadet XT1 GT50. I know it is garden tractor with better transmission K58, but it does not have fabricated deck. Is it a good idea to trade better transmission with fab deck? (compared to XT1 ST54 Fab in about the same price).
Also, I would assume the larger the deck, the more difficult to use bagger, right? as it collect more clips and be more prone to clog.
Further more, in term of mulching, do you suggest a wider deck or narrower deck? and for the same question, in term of discharging? I have found when grass is wet, it is very difficult to throw it uniformly. does wider deck make it worse?
Thanks in advance, Wen
Hi Wen, In general stamped decks cut better, fabricated decks will take more abuse. I will always buy a stamped deck over a fabricated one because I want the best cut. My sister would choose a fabricated deck because she just wants the lawn mowed and has her teenagers do it.
Commercial cutters use fabricated decks because most of the time they have hired help on the machines. It’s easier to buy strong machines than it is to train everyone on how to use a zero-turn quickly without banging into stuff. Besides, gremlins plant and hide stuff in the grass at commercial properties that destroys lawn mowers.
Brands that are focused on giving you the best cut have more stamped decks for homeowners.
I am about to move to 12 acres in Middle Tennessee. There are about 6-7 grassy acres that will need to be mowed until I can get a fence and livestock on 4 of the acres. A large portion of the lot is one long slope (think giant sledding hill). The land has been very well maintained and isn’t rough terrain, just sloped. The current owner uses a New Holland tractor and a bush hog, but I’m not sure we are going to be able to afford a tractor and a riding mower upfront. So is there a reliable riding mower that would be able to handle the hills? And preferably one that is fast enough to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time? Thanks!
Hi Audra, I’m sorry, I am way behind this week.
If the previous owner was using a tractor and bush hog the area will be too rough for a lawn tractor. In addition, lawn tractors, garden tractors and Zero-turns are not designed to mow fields. That said, to get a zero-turn mower heavy enough to mow all that you really need to be in the $8000 range. So:
I suggest hiring someone to mow that hill and the rest of the area you want to put into pasture 2-3 times a year. Have them come in when the grass is about knee high. (the weeds will be taller)
The lawn portion you can mow with a garden tractor or mid-priced zero-turn. A Craftsman Pro 54 inch model 20445, Husqvarna GT52 or Cub Cadet XT2 GT for tractors.
A zero-turn of your choice over $4500 will also work well. (The ZTR’s less than 4500 won’t last for you)
Kohler vs. Honda?? (on riding mowers)
Thanks for this informative site. I live in Gilbert, Arizona. I live on 1.5 acres. I have many trees I have to mow around. I am deciding between two Zero Turns–both are Cub Cadets RZT-L 46 inch decks–they are identical except one has a Kohler engine and the other has a Honda engine. The one has the Kohler 23 hp twin cylinder engine. The other has the Honda 688 cc GXV630 Twin Cylinder engine. The Honda is $500 more expensive. I was leaning towards the Honda because my small push mower has a Honda and that thing has run like a champ for 10 years or so. The dealer in my area (who also services lawn equipment) highly suggested the Kohler. (He sells both Honda and Kohler). He said Honda makes the better engine for small engines (i.e., push mowers), but, for larger engines in a riding mower, he said the Kohler is a much better engine. Thoughts?
Hi Stephen, The dealer is right about the Kohler. The new Kohler 7000 engine introduced last year is one of the best residential engines made.
We actually don’t know about the Honda. It has been quite a while since Honda has sold a vertical shaft engine that size here in the U.S. People love their Honda push mower engines and the engines on their Honda snow blowers. The commercial engine Honda puts on construction equipment outlasts the item in most cases.
Cub Cadet listens to their owners and I’m sure a lot of people have suggested they put a Honda on their mowers. So, this looks like a test.
At this point in time I don’t feel the Honda is worth the extra $500.
What mower would you suggest for 4-5 acres. We have about 1.5 acres of flat mowing but the rest is on an incline with 1 acre being completely on a hill. There are some mature trees and large landscaping rocks to navigate but no flower beds etc. We have been thru a John Deer lawn tractor with a 48″ deck. (We previously had a much smaller yard) Now we have a Craftsman 54″ garden tractor, but it is on its last leg. We have a lot to mow and would like to purchase a new mower that will get the job done and hang around for a while. Just to add to the jumble, we also have a 600 foot paved drive way on a hill…so we have entertained the thought of having something we could use to remove snow in the winter. Appreciate your insight.
Hello! We live on about 2.5 mostly flat acres with several trees and other things to mow around. My wife and I are trying to find the best mower for our money (would like to stay between $2k and $3K). We would like to get a lawn type tractor and not a zero-turn. We’ve been looking at John Deere tractors…the gentleman I talked to a local dealership suggested the x350 with a 48″ deck. It is above our price range ($3599), but I would like to get something that will last and have good service/support behind it. I wanted to seek some advice as I don’t want to have John Deere “blinders” on and potentially miss something better. Any advice anyone could give would be appreciated! Thanks in advance!
Hi Paul, can you help me please? I’m so overwhelmed with the research ( so many to choose from) I live in north Florida on approx. 2.5 acres. I’m a single woman and have never operated a riding mower/tractor. The property is inclined where the septic is located also slopes and incline around the pond; Quite a few trees on front half, some areas are MOIST in side yard and the very back as they tend to dip downward somewhat. I would like mower/tractor that’s not to complicated, powersteering, tight turn, low maintenance, (as it’s just me) and could handle a few rough areas. Sincerely,Shelley
OK. I think I’ll change to the power steering, which you suggested last time for the ultimate mower. Thanks again for all of the help. Like I said, I owe you dinner.
I did look at the Craftsman Model you recommended, but had to eliminate it from the running due to delivery issues in my remote area of the world. According to Sears website, they do not offer delivery to my area, and since I do not own a truck, I cannot pick it up from the closest Sears store in my area. With that said, I am now considering the Husqvarna GT54CS, 54″ deck with the 26 horse Kohler. It’s only $200 more and offers the additional 4 inches of cut.
What do you think about this model?
Hi Gary, If I remember correctly you first looked at a Cub Cadet. I showed you a Craftsman Pro that is also made by MTD – like the Cub Cadet.
Craftsman also has a model made by Husqvarna that is the same as the GT54CS. It’s the model 20408. That said, the GT54CS has been around for quite a while In various trim. It’s a good mower but you need to be aware that the front end may require a rebuild every 5 years or so. It not quite as strong as the front axle on the Craftsman Pro. For the price, it’s a good value.
We have just purchased a house on 1.4 hilly acres with around .21 of an acre of grass to cut. Currently I have an 18 year old craftsman 42″ deck with the Kohler 15.5 hp that i am looking to upgrade. I was thinking of switching to one of the rear drive self propelled mowers from either Honda or Ariens because of the hills and the rider might be overkill on a yard that size. Any input would be appreciated, Curt
Hi Curt, I also like the Toro rear wheel drive mowers. Of course Craftsman always has the best price. I’ve used the Craftsman 7.25 Engine Torque Just Check & Add Rear Wheel Drive Mower and like it a lot.
Thanks Paul…I’ll take a serious look at the Craftsman…I’ve always been a fan of Sears products anyway…
I’ve been doing a lot of research before I pull the trigger on a high dollar mower order. I like Mowers Direct website and the fact they offer no tax and free shipping. I have a one acre tract that my house sits on and an additional 21 acres in front and to the side of the houses acre. To mow the immediate acre surrounding the house I am leaning toward the Cub Cadet SC500HW with 21″ cut and 159 cc engine. For the remainder of the 21 acres (and I will not be mowing all of it, basically just the perimeter…hay haulers will take care of the rest) I am leaning toward the Cub Cadet GT 50 with the 25 horse Kohler engine. Are these logical choices or am I on the wrong tract?
Hi Gary, Well Mowers Direct is a competitor of mine so you should ask them… Just kidding.
The SC500hw is a good choice for a walk-behind. The rear wheel drive with the variable speed drive make a very easy and comfortable mower to use. I like rear wheel drive because the mower is balanced better for turns and has very good traction for ditches and hills.
The GT 50 is a good choice for fence lines. The larger wheels will let you get through the ruts better than a lawn tractor with the 20 inch tires. If you don’t mind please take a look at the Craftsman Model 20443 Pro Series 50″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme. It’s the same price as the GT 50. It has the same transmission, wheels, frame, etc. Plus it has a larger engine the heavy-duty turn-tight front axle, a nice front bumper and arm rests. It comes with free delivery (and assembly) to your home. In addition, you can get parts right at your local sears store.
I’m at Sears right now. They have the 54 inch 26 horse, Craftsman Kohler twin, same mower. What you think?
Hi Myrna, Craftsman has three 54 inch, 26 HP.
The Model 20444 for $2499 which I don’t recommend. The transmission is too light for the size of mower deck.
The 20445 for $3199. That is the one I was talking about and is a great choice for a mower.
Last, but not lease. The 20447 for $3999. That model has power steering!
Sorry to be such a pest. I have compared the last two, and wondered if you think power steering is worth it in case I do the mowing, (female 4’11”, and over 70), and also if the fact that the #20447 says it mows hilly, obstacles, etc., is worth the extra $1000. Our 2+ acres used to be a pasture, even though it’s not hilly. we do have slopes, gradual and short in height. I’m ready to commit to either the 20445 or the 20447, and of course, have no brain of my own. I had earlier misunderstood the mower you recommended, and put an order in for the #20443, then called them back after I got your message this am, and they will happily change to the model I want. So if you can answer ASAP, that would be great.
Hi Myrna, If you have problems with strength in your arms then get the 20447 with the power steering but, the 20445 will be easier to turn than your old John Deere. It actually steers really well.
The rest of the tractor is the same. The power steering is the only difference.
I owe you dinner. I just called back and changed to 20445. Thanks!
So now, son-in-law says I should have the power steering and hydraulic lift for the deck. Here are the specs of the 20447, and even though I ordered the 20445, it hasn’t been delivered yet, so think I could change it. My question: do you know if or which model might have the hydraulic lift, and does the “Spring-assisted lift system which provides 12 cutting positions – 1″ to 4″” compare to the hydraulic lift mobility?
Description Item # 07120447000P Model # 20447
The New Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP* V-Twin Kohler 54” Garden Tractor is built to perform and built to last with Turn Tight® Extreme. With the addition of electronic power steering, the rider is as easy to turn as your power steering equipped car. Turn Tight® Extreme technology provides the tightest turning radius in the industry on non-zero turn riding mowers with the ability to achieve a 5″ turning radius. A powerful V-twin Kohler 7000 Elite Series engine runs smooth for a comfortable operation, while the electric power steering allows you to maneuver with ease. Kohler Consistent-Cut™ technology excels in tall grass, and hilly terrain, for the perfect cut. The Kohler Elite Series engines feature a pro-grade oil and fuel filter for longer engine life, and a platinum spark plug for more reliable starting.
The Craftsman Pro Series 54″ Garden Tractor is equipped with a reinforced cutting system. Featuring a deep-domed and curved design that produces optimal airflow for excellent cutting performance. The spring-loaded lift system provides low-effort height adjustments and the heavy-duty brackets add stability needed for an even cut. Engineered to prolong belt life and a simple deck removal makes maintenance quick and easy.
Electric Power Steering – 40% easier steering compared to Craftsman riding mowers without power steering*
Turn Tight® Extreme – 5″ turning radius is the tightest turning radius on non-zero turn riding mowers in the industry
Spring-assisted lift system provides 12 cutting positions – 1″ to 4″
26* HP Kohler 7000 Elite Engine
54″ Reinforced Cutting System
Foot Pedal Hydrostatic Transmission is optimized for smooth and quiet operation and is equipped with Cruise Control feature to reduce fatigue over long jobs
Craftsman Exclusive Cast-Iron Front Axle with Lifetime Warranty
Speed up to 5.5 MPH
Additional Attachments Sold Separately – Mulch Kit (30216), Bagger (24080), Sleeve Hitch (24586), Sweeper (24644), Scraper/Leveling Blade (24241), Aerator (24326), 17 Cu Ft Dump Cart (24249), Snow Blade (24441), Snow Thrower (24837+11904 kit)
Hi Myrna, You son-in-law wants you to spend lots of money! There are no lawn tractors that cost less than $6000 with hydraulic lift. That said,
The spring assisted lift is very easy. I would say it’s about the same as lifting a 3 pound sack of sugar off the floor.
I was looking at the Craftsman 50 inch 26 hp with zero turn, on sale at Sears for about 2800. I think that was one you mentioned. It’s in Stock in our little town, and they deliver free. The Poulan is at Home Depot almost $1000 cheaper, popped up, unrequested. I don’t know the wheel size. So I was comparing, and want to get a good one, not just cheaper. I respect and appreciate your input.
Hi Myrna, The Poulan at Home Depot has the smaller 20 inch rear wheels. It also has the CVT transmission. So, it your lawn is flat, smooth and doesn;t have any wet spots the Poulan will work. But there is also one other thing. The Poulan has a very reliable transmission but some people complain the pedal is too high. If you have a shoes size 9 or smaller you won’t be comfortable using the pedal. The Craftsman Pro Series 50″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme is $800 more but has the 5 inch Radius Turn, a better engine, larger tires, better cutting deck, and cruise control.
The Poulan has the good CVT automatic but the Craftsman has a heavy duty garden tractor transmission.
I just saw this on our local Home Depot Ad. Is this comparable?
Poulan PRO Model # 960460080 Internet # 206463204 Store SKU # 1001576427 54 in. 24 HP Intek V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower Lawn Tractor – $1999.
Hi Myrna, Yes and no, They want the same price but there are three things that make it less quality than the Amazon model. It has an automatic transmission, the Amazon model has a hydro. The Home Depot one does not have the 6 inch turning radius or the Ready Start – no choke starting system.
I do want to caution you on this tractor and the one at Amazon. These have large decks but small tires. So they work well on flat lawns but don’t work well at all on rough lawns, soft, wet turf, or hills. Because of the small 20 inch tires they also will not mow higher than about 3 1/2 inches.
If your lawn is rough or has wet spots I suggest this one instead: Poulan Pro 960420189 Kohler 26 hp Heavy Duty Hydrostatic Transmission Riding Mower, 54″. It worth the extra $300.
Very fast and tactful reply. 🙂
Thx again. Now to find the $$, think I’ll go for one of the 4 you mentioned. Do you mind saying which one you would pick?
@Myrna, this is the one everyone likes: Craftsman Pro Series 50″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme. Even Consumer Reports likes it.
We’ve just purchased a home with about 3 acres of lawn to mow. The lawn is hilly, but not especially steep. We’ve looked at some of the Craftsman riding lawnmowers, but wonder if they’re right for such a big lawn. Would a Craftsman mower work, or do we need something hardier?
Hi Peter, For three acres I would suggest the Craftsman Pro Series 54″ 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Garden Tractor with Turn Tight® Extreme.
It’s a rugged garden tractor that mows well. It turns very easily and it will last.
We have 1-1/2 acres around the house and some buildings; flowers and trees to mow around, some front yard, some side and back. Add to that, 2-1/2 acres of a back lot, grass is more like field grass, but we like to keep it mowed, terrain is not smooth, but looks good short and green. We have a person who knows how to run and maintain a machine. We are older, don’t know how to fix much, wondering whether new is better than used, and what size seems good to do it all? We do have self-propelled “push” mowers and weed eaters for trimming our flowers and bushes. Suggestions what would be a good idea, please and thank you.
Thx so much, Paul. This is good info. I’ll go over it with hubby and guy who’ll mow. I’m in pretty good health but heading toward 80. Do you think I could work one of these?
Hi Myrna, These really do drive like a car. They are very easy to use.
I am looking for a new lawn tractor and most my yard is steep in the front so tractor is really my only option.
I have been looking at the TROY BILT SUPER BRONCO XP 50 inch cut. I have around an acre to mow. It’s
turning radius is 16″ which is not as good as the Sears Craftsman 20442 looks like a good tractor, but
you mention the tires may give you a rough ride, where it looks like the bolted Troy Bilt tires look much
better built? Can you give me some advice?
Hi Mark, The K46 lawn tractor transmission in the 20442 is sized for the tractor and will mow hills ok. The same K46 transmission in the Bronco XP is too small for the size of the wheels in combination with your hill. If you want 22 or 23 inch wheels you have to buy a tractor with the K58 transmission. Basically that means spending at least $2500 for a tractor with a transmission strong enough to last on your hill. So with a 50 inch deck you will want the Craftsman 20443, Cub Cadet XT1 GT50 or Troy-Bilt
Super Bronco 54 XP™ GT Garden Tractor
If you stay with a 42 or 46 inch then any of the tractors with the K46 or CVT transmissions will work.
Paul, I found this package deal on line and would love your opinion on it. Even though it lists the mower as consumer grade instead of mid-grade, it appears to meet all the other criteria you suggested for maintaining the 22 acre ranch I am in the process of buying in Texas. Your thoughts? See link…https://sleequipment.com/husqvarna-gt52xls-echo-package.html#product_tabs_additional_tabbed
Hi Gary, That tractor is a 2015 and has been discontinued. That’s most likely why it is such a good deal.
It’s a good tractor but most owners hate the deck. If you are looking for a mower that cuts well this 52 inch fabricated deck is not the one. If you need a mower to cut off weeds, etc and you don’t care if the finish cut looks like a golf course than you will do fine with it.
I have no idea if that is a reputable dealer. Myself, I would need to know how the tractor will get fixed if something does go wrong. I also couldn’t quite figure out the shipping. It states $250 but that sometimes changes when you go to buy it.
Finally, the price is $3200 plus $250 shipping. In addition you will probably have to pay sales tax. So your cost is $3450 plus tax. Of that the Trimmer and Blower make up $450. So in reality the tractor will cost you $3000.
Thanks Paul, I’ll keep that in mind. I will probably have to get two separate mowers like you suggested. The grass around the house is not St. Augustine like I am used to in the Houston area. It appears to be Rye or something similar. It also appears to be the type of grass that would benefit from a reel mower to enhance appearance. I remember the old reel mowers from when I was a kid. Are self-propelled reel mowers still available and if so what brand would you recommend?
Hi Gary, No, the manufactures all switched to rotary mowers in the 70’s. You will want to mow your grass around the house at 3-3.5 inches or so. That will help it to stay greener longer and also shade out weeds. If you would like a walk-behind here is a selection of decent mowers. Husqvarna, Honda, Troy-Bilt Lawn Mowers
Hi Paul –
My wife and I have purchased 10.03 acres in western Loudoun County VA. We are moving from a townhouse with a tiny back yard that I used to cut with one of those old school push mowers with the circulating blades. Needless to say I am clueless of where to start here. I would say about 7 acres will need mowing and its fairly flat. It is a little wet out the back (spring fed) but I am going to have our builder dig out a pond before we move in so that should fix that by the time it comes to mowing. My father-in-law is suggesting a tractor with a bush hog but I really would like the area I am mowing to look like a nice finished lawn (maybe I am dreaming). Anyway, someone else is suggesting a riding mower and small tractor for doing all the things I will need to do on 10 acres. At the end of the day this 10 acre lot that is still in a neighborhood with a HOA so we are not talking middle of nowhere, I am not envisioning really needing a tractor (short drive way so not worried about snow removal). Cost is obviously going to be a factor and thats why i am shying away from a mower AND tractor. My weekend time is limited as it is so speed is going to be important as is durability. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Hi Chris, Also ask your builder if you need to install some drain tile along with the pond so the area you want for lawn doesn’t get wet spots.
Once you get the area cleared of brush, leveled and then seeded with a grass seed mix for lawns then a zero-turn mower would be a good choice for you. I suggest starting here: The Best Zero Turn Mower Buyer’s Guide.
If your contractor is going to backfill and grade around your house and dig the pond you may want them to also go over the area you want to mow and get it ready for seeding.
I also suggest reading Mother Earth News (subscription) and Living The Country Life. (free)
Hi Paul –
After checking out the guide you sent me and asking a few customers of mine with large yards, I think I have settled on the Dixie Chopper Zee 2 with the 54 inch deck. I was going to ask you what engine you thought I should pull for as it come with the Kohler 7000 the B&S and Kawasaki but I read your response to Derek and I think you answered that for me! The Kohler 7000 happens to be the cheapest of the 3 options on the Zee 2. I guess before I pull the trigger do you think at the $4,300 price point there is a better option I should be leaning towards?
Thanks so much
Hi Chris, No, I think the Dixie Chopper is a good choice. I also feel you will be quite satisfied with the Kohler.
I’m buying 22 acres of property in Mount Vernon, TX … the property rolls slightly, with the low end being the end near the access road, getting higher as you drive up to the house, which is located on the very back side of the acreage. There are two stock ponds on the property that is fenced and cross-fenced. There is a 50 acre lake behind the house. Obstacles consist of fencing, pens, ponds etc. The house itself sits on one acre with the remainder of the acreage as your front yard. Will I need a combination of riding and walk behind mowers or will one suffice? If I can make due with a riding mower what would you suggest…standard mower or zero turn and what makes, models, deck widths do you recommend for that type of mowing. The previous owner said he just cut the one acre the house sits on and let the horses do their thing on the remaining 21 acres. All help appreciated.
Hi Gary, There are a few things you should decide.
1. Do you want the area around the house to look as good as possible? If you do then you should buy a mower just for that area and something else for the rest of the property. The grass in your area can be pretty tough and rough to mow so heavy-duty zero-turn is a good choice.
2. Are you going to water the lawn? If not most of the summer you will only be mowing it every other week or less.
3. Are you going to have livestock? If you are then the rest of the property won’t have to be mowed but you may want a rough cut mower to mow it once or twice a year to keep the tall weeds and brush knocked down. (Horses, stock cows and even goats can be picky about what they eat) If you have livestock a sub-compact tractor with a belly mower, a rear brush mower and a hydraulic bucket loader many be your best choice. There are a lot of good sub-compacts out on the market like Kubota, Mahindra, Kiota, Cabela and Massey Ferguson. The best ones, for example Mahindra, are names you may not be familiar with. You can use the belly mower to mow around your house, use the brush cutter to clear out in the acreage and use the tractor for just about anything you need to do around the 22 acres. They also ride a lot better than a zero-turn.
Keep asking – I’ll keep answering.
Clueless when it comes to picking out a mower. We are moving into a home with about .5 acre. My boyfriend is a city guy and since we are moving out to the burbs he really wants a tractor. Don’t think it’s necessary but is there one that you could recommend that might not kill our pockets but do the job well? If not, then even a suggestion for another type. Any guidance is greatly appreciated!! 🙂
Hi Krystal, Well, at least he asked. My wife came home with a 78 carat purple amethyst last week. Just the rock – no setting. Lucky for me she didn’t ask if I thought if it was necessary 🙂
If you want a good machine that will last. If you want a machine that will “grow” with your property over the years – meaning a mower that you can add accessories to and use it for many different tasks I suggest the Craftsman model 25081. It’s a great value machine that will last and do the job well for you. The cost is very reasonable for what you get.
There are cheaper lawn tractors but this one is really the best deal all around. If he takes care of it – it can easily last 15 years or longer.
Here is my review: Craftsman 25081 Review
Paul I live in michigan and just purchased a home setting on 11 acres which include a pond flat land, slopes etc. I have a john deere x300 with a 42 inch deck and a 20 year old JD 425 with a 60 inch deck which has had its issues. I’m looking at either a zero turn exmark lazer 60 inch or a JD 700 series with 60 inch deck to replace what I currently own. I could use some help in my decision, with the 425 it takes a good 5-6 hour to mow.
Hi Doug, It’s really hard not to suggest the Laser Z. It is a very durable mower and on 11 acres – it is the last one you will have to buy. To get the durability of the ExMark you would have to go up to the 900 series Deere.
If your ground will let you run 8 mph you can cut your mowing time to 2 1/2-3 hours.
I recently purchased my first home ever and have no clue on what kind of mower I will need (I was in an apartment previously). I have looked through your guides but still remain clueless. The property is 2.25 acres with some hills and slopes (about 50%), one BIG slope in the front that I’m so afraid to mow I’m thinking of just taking out the lawn there and adding a ground cover (the big slope ends at the street). After the house purchase, money is tight but I’m hoping I can still afford a quality, well built machine. What would you recommend I look at getting?
Hi Mike, I do suggest a good rear wheel drive walk-behind for the slope. The rear wheel drive will give you good traction on the slope and most of these mowers will bag, mulch or side discharge well.
There are 4-wheel drive walk behinds but I feel they are harder to use. A rear wheel drive like the Craftsman 190cc* Briggs & Stratton Platinum Engine, 22″ Rear Drive Self-Propelled EZ Lawn Mower, Ariens Lawn Mowers Razor 21 in. Variable Speed Self-Propelled Gas Walk-Behind Lawn Mower 911175 or Toro Lawn Mowers Personal Pace Recycler 22 in. Variable Speed Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower with Briggs & Stratton Engine 20332 will do the job well.
For the rest of the lawn a good 46 to 48 inch lawn tractor is your best choice. They are easier to use than a zero-turn and you can do more with them like pull a yard cart.
The Craftsman model 20391 is a good tractor over all. Here is my review: Craftsman 20391 Review
Have 4.85 acres in Amity, OR of which maybe 1/4-1/3 acre of it is flatish lawn area and about 1.5-2 acres of chopped up rough hillside that I attempt to mow a handfull of times a year. The rest is a mix of fir and maple trees other brush. My almost 20-year-old craftsman has taken a beating including numerous weld repairs needed over the last few years, A new engine (21hp Intek upgrade from the original 18.5) Transmission third gear is missing a tooth or two as it’s unusable. Been through multiple blades and spindles from hitting rocks and sticks. Traction on the hillside is a real issue I frequently have to put my behind over the seat and then floating and whelieing the front end for traction. I realize what I’m doing doesn’t really fit the lawn tractor arena but can’t afford to buy a 4wd tractor like I really need. Anything in the sub or $2000 ish range that is built tough and has a any kind of locking/limited slip differential?
Hi Corey, There is nothing stronger than your old Craftsman in the $2000 range. There just “ain’t.” Now you can get into an engine that will handle extended use on hills and a fabricated deck in the Cub Cadet XT2 line for about $2500. You can get an XT2 with an engine, deck and transmission that is stronger than the Craftsman for around $3300. Husqvarna’s LS and GTLS tractors with the same capabilities are priced about the same.
Looking for your opinion on the direction I’m considering going…. I have 2/3 of an acre near Edmonton, Canada, and a monster driveway. Not much for slope, and we haven’t landscaped yet….so it will be a season of weed cutting before next year’s sod/seed. My wife likes the snow removed to bare pavement, and grass cut quality is important too (we’ll mulch). Finally, I hate weed whacking, so I want something agile.
So I’m looking for an agile unit with good cut quality that could snowblow and brush (broom).
My thought was a husqvarna r322t….. Wide open to better ideas!
Thanks in advance!
Hi Derek, Yes, I like the RT322T a lot. It cuts really well with either the combi or 48 inch side discharge decks. I also like the brush option. The only thing you should be aware of is with the snow blower attached the unit is long! The snow blower adds about 3 feet to the unit. Depending on the slope of your driveway you may need chains when using the snow blower.
You can use a local dealer or I believe Mowersdirect.com ships to Canada.
Hi Paul, I was hoping you can suggest a lawn tractor. I have a 3 acre lot ,flat with a few mature trees. I plan on pulling a leaf vac in the fall and a aerator. I read your blog but still not sure what I need. Thanks for your time. Frank Kernan
Hi Frank, Since you want to pull a yard vac and mow 3 acres I strongly suggest a Garden Tractor. The new 2015 Craftsman Pro is my first choice and the Craftsman 20403 is my second choice for you.
Go here for the Craftsman Pro Garden Review:
Here for the Craftsman 20403 Garden Tractor:
@Paul, thanks so much for the fast and informative response! You are exactly right on the location of the property. I’m surprised; a lot of people don’t even know where Monee is! We definitely appreciate your input, and all of the information on your website!
@Renee, You are welcome. I know that area well because I lived in the Coal City, IL area and for 9 years went to Purdue’s Hammond campus two nights a week. When the Borman was backed up (which was most of the time back then) I always went down the Manhatten-Monee road. You are right, that is a very nice area not too many people know about.
We’re buying a 10 acre plot in Monee, IL. 5 acres are planted with corn which I’d like to ultimately turn into pasture, about 2 acres are brush, and 3 acres lawn. The land is flat, though I’m sure the field will be left very uneven when the farmer is done, and there is a very long drive, so snow removal would be a great option to have. Any advice on a model? I’d rather not break the bank on an expensive compact tractor with a bunch of attachments if we don’t need to, but I don’t want to spend money on a small machine that won’t get the job done either. We’re having a hard time weighing all the options out there! Thanks for any help you can give!
@Renee, Let me guess, the plot is east of town? (It’s along story on why I know that area so well)
I know some of the plots out there are not on the road but behind a property on the road. That makes for a very long drive. You don’t get a lot of snow but when you do it can drift pretty deep so a snow blade on a garden tractor is out. If your drive is more than 300 feet a walk-behind snow blower is also out.
The minimum I suggest is a Garden Tractor. The Cub Cadet GX2 with a fabricated deck is a good option. There will be a 3 stage snow thrower available for it. $3500 for the tractor, $2000 for snow blower, weight and chains.
A 700 series John Deere is also another option. John Deere 700 series. About $14,000 for tractor, mower and snow blower.
The last option is a less expensive compact tractor. The area you live in has a lot of “rural lifestyle” dealers (Peotone, Manhatten and that place out by the Green Garden County club) and you may be able to find a Kioti or Mahindra brand with a belly mower and bucket loader for a lot less than Deere and Kubota want for their compact tractors.
See if you can get the farmer to disk the field this spring. That will level the field pretty well and give you a jump on turning it into pasture later on.
@Rob, I had to think about this one for a while. I wanted to find a tractor that was heavy enough to handle bouncing around yet wasn’t too big that it wouldn’t mow your paths well.
So my best choice is a 48 inch 22 Hp tractor. The one I have in mind has 10 inch wide tires to give you traction and flotation. It uses a CVT style transmission that will handle your hill for years. The engine is also a “full pressure” engine so it will mow your ditch without failing over time.
Here it is: Craftsman 22 HP V-Twin 48″ Turn Tight Fast Tractor – Non CA 1 Acre and Above