I’m just getting started with the new reviews for 2017 so I thought I’d ask you what’s highest on your priority list for lawn equipment this year.
Yes, this site has focused on Lawn Tractors and Zero-turns in the past but I’m open to helping you decide on any type of equipment.
Everyone is welcome to let me know in the comment section below. I’ll leave the comments open until April 1st.
I’ll list a few items below to help jog your memory. It’s not required, but your city/state, lawn size, lawn type – rough, hilly, old, new. If you are looking at specific brand. That is always helpful to help you find just the right product.
Just some ideas:
Lawn Tractors – Riding mowers under $1500
Zero-Turns under $3000
Yard/Lawn Tractors $1500 to $2500
Repair parts and maintenance
Cub Cadet verses Troy-Bilt or Craftsman or Husqvarna
Attachments like carts, dethatchers, lawn sweepers, baggers.
Compact and Sub-Compact Tractors
Push/self propelled gas mowers
Cordless electric mowers for trimming or mowing your entire yard.
Cordless Hand-held – Trimmers, blowers, chainsaws, pruners, etc.
Zero-turn mowers for 3-5 acres. $300o-$5000
Yard tools – spades, shovels, rakes, pruners.
Heavy-duty zero-turn mowers. $4000-$8000.
Field mowers for pastures or nature areas.
Mowers for large area mowing – 5-10 acres of lawn.
Cordless electric riding mowers.
How to maintain my lawn tractor, lawn mower…..
Yes, You need a new Gas Can!
With today’s fuels you need a gas can that seals tight. It helps the fuel last longer and the escaping vapors won’t wreck the environment. But the biggest problem is find one that works. The cheap ones ($20 or more now) don’t have vents so it takes forever to fill the tank on your lawn tractor. The cheap ones are also flimsy and the spouts break after the first year.
Well, I’ve found one brand that works great! It’s vented inside the spout so it pours fuel quickly yet seals tightly when not in use. I’ll give you links at Amazon for two sizes. I suggest buying the size so that you don’t keep more than a month of fuel around the house.
No-Spill 1405 2-1/2-Gallon Poly Gas Can. A good size for snow blowers and push mowers.
No-Spill 1450 5-Gallon Poly Gas Can (CARB Compliant) This one has a second handle in the back so it is very easy to use and hang onto when pouring into your fuel tank. A good size for lawn tractors and zero-turns.
If you have a problem holding a gas can the SureCan is a great can. It’s very comfortable to use to use and built well.
SureCan – Gas Can with Rotating Spout.
Fuel Stabilizer: When I go to the gas station and buy fuel I always put fuel stabilizer in the storage tank. It helps keep the fuel fresh and some also clean your carb and fuel system without messing it up. There a man good brands but I’ve used
SeaFoam for years and it’s always worked well. I use 2 tablespoons per gallon of fuel.
Other fuels stabilizers to check out: Fuel Stabilizers
Have I helped you? If would you like to buy from your local dealer or store but still want to support TodaysMower just click on this link and buy anything you need. I’ll make a small commission from the sale. Buy at Amazon. TodaysMower.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and we get a commission on purchases made through our links.
Hi again Paul,
With the advice your site provides, the search for a mid-level Craftsman rider started and I’m the guy who picked up a T3300 (917. 273900) for $1000 with only 50 minutes on it. Previous owner ate a chainlink fence so it needed a spindle and I hammered a small tear in the cutting deck closed and it’s good to go. I’m loving how much time I save now that I’ve developed efficient patterns for cutting the property.
I’m soon to be in need of a Leaf Bagger. There are some good used ones for sale within 200 miles of me (North-East Illinois) but I can’t determine if they’re compatible with my mower. Seems there’s no Compatibility/Fit-Up Chart that handles the details and specifics I need to know what will work.
One person says it’ll fit with an adapter part for $XX.00 … another says it’s a direct match no additional parts required … and none of the Fit Up Charts from the Sears site are clear or concise (let alone informationally correct) for me to know what fits and what doesn’t.
Is there a resource you can share as to what older baggers (3 bin baggers) and Snow-Throwers will mate/match/fit-up to my 2017 Craftsman T3300 Model # 273900 ?
Hi Gregory, The current fit-up chart is accurate. It matches the current baggers listed on Sears.com to most of the tractors they have sold from 1997ish until today. Unfortunately there is no resource that matches the old baggers (or any old attachment) to the current models. That said, I don’t suggest trying to fix up a used bagger. Why? 1. Particularly with the 3-bin there are parts that permanently attach to the original tractor and most people forget to remove those parts when the tractor/bagger is sold. 2. The model number falls off or was never attached to the bagger frame so you really don’t know which model you are getting – to order parts. 3. A bagger for a 46 inch 2 blade will not fit on a 46 inch 3 blade or 42 inch 2 blade or 48 inch or vise-versa. The discharge chute fitting is different. There are certain tractors with a 10 inch rear tire and there is no clearance for the shoulder bolt. I don’t remember if the 27390 is one of them.
Finally, I really don’t suggest a 3 bin bagger on a 42 inch. The bagger is a lot wider than the tractor and many people wreck the bagger hitting stuff with it. Sorry……
Paul, I have a sears 20442 mower, can I pull a 48″ plug aerator with it? What fertilizer spreader will you recommend for a mostly flat 1/2 acre lot? I have been using my push spreader but I think it is time to upgrade to a pull behind one. Thank you.
Hi Fidel, If you have not purchased an aerator yet I suggest sticking with a 40 inch and no more than 3 cinder blocks of weight. If you have a 48 try to keep the total weight to less than 300 lbs.
I spent some time researching spreaders last year and ended up buying the Agri-Fab 45-0463 130-Pound Tow Behind Broadcast Spreader through Amazon. It’s strong, spreads well, has good tires and is very stable on slopes. It will hold 3 bags of Milorganite in the hopper.
I do suggest that you spend over $100 on a tow behind. You get better tires for traction and a wider stance so it won’t tip over on a ditch or slope. Precision, earthway, Agri-Fab, Brinley, Fimco and Spyker are all trusted brands. Here is a list: $100 to 200 spreaders at Amazon
One last item. If you spread Scott’s brand fertilizer be sure to rinse the entire spreader with your garden hose when you are done. The Scott’s brand in particular is very caustic to metal parts and the fine dust gets into every crack.
I am looking for a dethacher/scarifier that could possibly do double duty as a power broom to clean up the edges of the gravel driveway after winter plowing. Is there such a machine? Or reasonably priced separate machines? These jobs are just once a year each, but really need doing.
I have looked at the small electric dethachers but they really do seem too small—or have I just gotten so used to a rider that walking a lawn seems daunting? A reasonable size for handling is a concern as well. (So many string trimmers and blowers are just too heavy to use!)
HI Susie, The only “cheap” power broom on the market that could double as a dethatcher is the YARDMAX YP7065 Power Sweeper, 28″ Clearing Path,. Everything else is $2000 or more. YardMax sent me this one to test last fall and it will do a great job of putting the rocks back and a average job of dethatching.
A gas powered dethatcher is over $800-1500 and it won’t move your rocks. The $69 pull-behind spring tine dethatchers don’t work at all. They just loosen the grass but don’t actually detach like a powered unit. If you actually want to dethatch rent one from the local rental store and hire a kid to walk you lawn with it.
Trying to decide between a Cub Cadet RZT S 46” with fab deck or the 48” Z force S 48”. We have about an acre with lots of hills fence lines and other obstacles. We would also like to try a mulcher kit. In your opinion is the Z force worth the extra $$? Does the Z force allow for faster cutting speeds? We would like to keep the equipment for a long time, our current lawn tractor is still running, over the years I’ve had to replace the whole front axle and a magneto, but it’s 18 years old and seems that its time for an upgrade.
Hi Paul-I mow 22 lawns/week-1/2 acre and 1 2acre lawn-that do you think of the Husqvarna W436 and W448 commercial walkbehinds-Thanks
Hi Dan, The Husqvarna decks are fixed so changing the cutting height is a pain. If you are mowing residential many homeowners want their lawns cut at a different height than optimum – usually shorter. A floating deck walk-behind may be a better option. Also, the Husqvarna’s are still using the old style controls. Many of the other brands have gone to the more ergonomic controls that are a lot less tiring to use. Finally, the retail price for their simple, belt drive models feels high. I’m sure the cut quality if fine, but there are very few sold.
I suggest taking a look at the Toro T-bar, ExMark Turf-tracer and Gravely Pro-Walk for the latest technology. The Scag SW series is the mower everything else is measured by. If you put a Scag next to the Husqvarna you will see a big difference in the overall quality.
I’m not sure if I’m posting this in the right place/section. Next Monday, I will be the proud owner of a Cub Cadet XT2 LX42 lawn tractor. I bought it from a local dealer and I am happy with my interaction/purchase with them so far. I am interested in a double bagging system and am somewhat overwhelmed by the many different types. Some of the Troy Built baggers seem to reference fitting my tractor. I also saw a new clear tube model bagger with quick disconnect. But it didn’t get great reviews. Do you have any buying advice for a double bagger for my tractor and, as long as we’re at it, other important accessories I should consider?
Hi Scott, There are only two for that tractor the 19A30031100 which has the clear flexible tube. The 19A30003100 is the standard 2-bin. As far as I know there is nothing else that is guaranteed to fit.
The clear tube model is new but I’m wondering if the owners are not assembling the unit correctly. Cub Cadet very seldom messes up on this stuff. If you really want the clear tube buy it from your dealer so if you have issues you can get it fixed easily.
I am looking for a 42″ or 46″ riding mower and am wondering if the new cub cadet EFI engine is worth the extra money and is it too new to gamble on. I have a small 1 acre or so yard. Not being an engine expert i am having a hard time deciding between the options like EFi and even the single versus twin cylinder difference. What should the average consumer purchase to have the mower last 10+ years? Should i make sure i get a certain HP or above for my 1 acre yard? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Michael, EFI is the wave of the future and it has been used in the commercial mower engines for some time. The Cub Cadet residential engine was introduced last year and I have heard no negatives on it at all. One big advantage if you live in an area that is using E15 fuel is this engine will handle up to E20 ethanol. All the other residential engines can only run on E10 or less.
A single is more fuel efficient but a V-twin has less vibration. 17 HP (540cc) is all you really need for bluegrass/fescue lawns but a 19-24 HP allows you to mow really thick southern grass or run a snow blower attachment efficiently.
My personal opinion to have a good machine that will last a Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Craftsman, John Deere, Husqvarna in the $1500-$2500 range is a good choice.
Paul, I have a Toro Super Recycler self-propelled push mower. I bought it in 2009. It has around 250 hours on it. I have a 1/2 acre yard which takes an hour to mow. It is starting to feel less solid, handle is wobbly, etc.. Also I’m having the problem where if I stop the engine for 2 or 3 minutes, then I have to wait 30 minutes for it to start again. I do put sta-bil in my gas can when I purchase gas and I also run Sea Foam through it at least 3 times a season. Debating on whether to buy a new mower this Spring or wait a year. When do you think self-propelled mowers will get EFI engines? I think I can get another year out of this mower. Would you wait another year to get a mower or buy a new one this year? Money is not a factor as we are only talking about $700. Also I have some Bermuda grass in my yard and need a mower powerful enough to cut through it. Thanks for your great website.
Hi Mark, 250 hours is good run on a walk-behind! You deserve a new one for making that one last that long.
New innovations like EFI on push mowers are introduced in October each year. That way the retailers and dealers can get their orders in for the next year. By now about 85% of this years mowers are already made and on their way to the stores so I don’t expect anything this year.
Briggs has given no hints on when they will introduce an EFI vertical shaft engine. They make about 90% of the push mower engines so I would expect them to be the first when they do. They are also going to have to deal with the E15 and E20 fuel that some states are now selling. The current engines only work on E10 or less. Walbro is the largest carb manufacturer and now has EFI for chainsaws and lawn tractor engines but no word from them on a version for push mowers.
Thank you for the detailed response! My main concern with the Spartan is that they wouldn’t be around in a few years for warranty or parts. My plan is to buy this mower and run it until it doesn’t make sense to repair it anymore. I’m not one to trade machines in every few years for a shinier model. If the dealer with what I think to be the better service level sold the Gravely’s, I think it would be a much easier decision for me.
On the Gravely HD – what is different on the new model? I would think I could get the dealer to order a new model for me as there is no rush to get one this minute. The newer model certainly looks like it is a heavier duty mower than the older one and also seems more ergonomic. The new XL looks pretty heavy duty as well and the dealer did have those in stock. Is the only real difference between the XL and HD the 2800 vs 3100 trans-axle? What is the advantage of a larger trans-axle? Is the Kawasaki motor worth the extra ~$250 even with less HP?
@Ben, Here are the specs on the Gravely 991084 and the new Gravely ZT HD. There is a considerable difference between the old and new. The new model is a “ground-up” redesign.
If your lawn is really rough you’ll like the larger tires on the HD. The HD is also a notch up in deck thickness, frame size, etc. But you won’t be dissapointed to the XL for quality of cut and dependability of the machine.
It really amounts to what you want to spend. Mowing 6 acres both machines will last and last.
No, A Kawasaki FR (residential grade) is not better than the Kohler 7000 Pro with Smart Choke. I have the Kohler 7000 Pro on an ExMark and I really like the fact I just turn the key and it starts.
The dealer has new model Gravely HD with the Kawasaki motor in stock for $5,200 – The Kohler model would have to be ordered from the factory and could take up to three months. I didn’t get a price on the Kohler but he said it would be more expensive than the Kawasaki. Is the Kohler worth waiting it out? I could probably borrow a mower from a friend in the meantime if I had to.
Hi Ben, I hope I’m not too confusing. I don’t feel the Kawasaki is worth a premium price over the Kohler but it is still a great motor for you. In other words don’t pay more for the Kawasaki than a Kohler but if you can get it for the same price it’s a good choice.
I purchased a 6 acre property after mowing season was already over last year. This is my first large property and I am in the market for a ZTR. There is a dealer within three miles of me that offers some great at home maintenance services that sells both Spartan and Hustler mowers. The dealer is really pushing the Spartan brand for my application. They seem to have a lot of heavy duty features found in much more expensive setups. I saw in one of your past responses that you cannot recommend a mower from and “unknown” manufacturer but I was curious if you had any further thoughts on this brand of mowers. I really like the reasonably priced plug and play accessories and the idea of getting a lot mower at their price point. I understand there is a lawsuit on them already from Bad Boy due to an alleged patent infringement as the designer/owner of the Spartan brand supposedly came up with part of the design while he was an owner of Bad Boy. Apparently Spartan and Bad Boy are literally right next door to each other and had an ugly split. The model I was looking at the RT Pro 61″ with either the Kohler or the Briggs motors. Have you tested any of the Spartans yourself?
There is also another dealer in my area that deals SCAG, Toro and Gravely. I looked at a Gravely 991084 60″ with a Kawasaki motor in the same price range. It seems like a solid mower but it doesn’t have near the amount of standard features and the accessories are much more expensive. I think this mower is last year’s model and apparently they do not have the newer ZT HD model. Their customer service and maintenance does not seem to be nearly as good as the other dealer.
Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks!
Hi Ben, This is the second season for Spartan mowers. It’s made by a company that has disrupted the ATV industry and yes there is some interesting history with Bad Boy.
Spartan is an interesting marketing application. Let’s take a conventional zero-turn and make it look beefy, manly and Transformer looking – let’s add features that no one else has like triple jointed arm rests. He built three prototypes in his garage last summer and then kept them secret until the big L&G dealer show in Oct. He then sprung them on the world at one-third the price of the current market. This guy has the money to make this company last 5 years or more. Will his equipment be worth the cheap cost? It’s still too early to tell.
In my experience buying a machine like the Spartan that has not had at least 2 full years of prove-design before it was sold to you is just asking for problems. One of the greatest innovators in the industry was that way. Dane Scag would design a machine on paper, build it, and then sell it at a lower price than anyone else. As problems arose with the design he would then fix it with recalls and updates. Starting out in the mowing business I owned a few of them because of the price. But, they were down for repairs about 20% of the time. My dealer, finally convinced me to buy and ExMark and guess what? My on-lawn mowing time increased, my labor costs dropped dramatically because my crews weren’t waiting for repairs and my repair costs dropped 50%.
I do understand that I was using these mowers 30-50 hours a week and with your 6 acres you will only use your’s an hour and half a week. If you buy the Spartan stay in close contact with the dealer so that you get updates before your warranty expires.
Ben, I’ve been around this business for over 30 years and I’ve seen at least 50 companies like this one try to break into the zero-turn market. There are only 3 or 4 that gained enough market share to stay in business.
The Gravely 991084 60″ with a Kawasaki motor is and older model. The new HD model is a big, big change and much improved! But the new ZT XL will be all you’ll ever need https://www.gravely.com/en-us/zero-turn-mowers/gravely-zt-xl
ExMark/Toro has over 1/2 the market. ExMark decks cut the best. Then comes Scag. The smaller, commercial operator’s like them. Gravely has really upped the game and now have a complete line of ZTR’s that are among the best. You can’t go wrong with a Hustler Fastrak.
I have a 1/2 acre on the crest of a hill. I have tress and landscaping, and paths that are 48″ wide. I also haul compost, gravel, rocks up the hill to my garden, which varies 10-25% grade.
My new Craftsman yard tractor doesn’t quite cut it. I had to fill the tires and put rubber chains on it. The belts have had to be replaced twice on the CVT transmission. And my lawn gets torn up by the chains. The tractor is really overpowered; I run at 1/2 to 3/4 power most of the time.
The 42″ deck is about perfect for what I have; 48″ would be the max size I could possible use, and I would scrape the walls occasionally at that width.
Anything heavier duty comes with a much too wide deck.
So I’m interested in a heavier duty tractor with a narrow deck, if they exist.
Hi Rick, Thanks for responding to this post. It’s very hard to find a tractor that will climb the hills you want with a smaller deck because all of the heavy duty transmissions, specifically the Tuff Torq K58/K66/K72 and Hydro-Gear models have a wide wheel base. The best model I’ve found this year is the new Craftsman Pro Model 27048 Garden Tractor. It features the heavy-duty Garden Tractor Trans, the K66 with differential lock! Unfortunately the deck is 50 inches. You may read the entire review here: Best Craftsman, Craftsman Pro Garden Tractors 2017.
Husqvarna also has two dealer only Garden Tractors with differential lock but they have 52 inch decks.
Have you thought about an ATV for hauling the heavy loads?