What’s The Best Deck Size For Me and My Yard?
I know my grammer is a little off but I wanted you to understand that finding the right deck size for your lawn is both a practical choice and a personal choice. There are many factors that go into deciding what is the best deck size and I’ll go through those factors before we discuss the decks sizes themselves.
by: Paul Sikkema
How big is your lawn? I like to keep my mowing and trimming under 2 hours a week.
- A typical lawn tractor will mow well about 3 mph.
- Yard Tractor/Garden Tractor about 4-5 mph.
- Residential Zero-Turn 4-5 mph.
- Landowner Zero-Turn 6-7 mph.
- Commercial Zero-Turn 6-10 mph.
Using this productivity chart I can determine how much a lawn tractor will mow. So for my one acre lawn a deck around 42 inches is the best size. Go Here For The Chart: Acreage Chart
Is your lawn flat and level? If you lawn is flat and level you can use larger decks. If your lawn has slopes, ruts, swales, ditches and mounds a smaller deck will give you a more even cut. Lawn tractors (except Simplicity) with decks 48 inches and larger use floating decks and they tend to give you an uneven cut going across slopes and over mounds.
Do you have slopes? How many? How Steep? If your lawn has slopes less than 10 degrees just about any lawn tractor will mow your lawn. The quality of the cut is based on the cost of the mower and how well the deck is designed. If your lawn is steeper a smaller 42-46 inch deck is easier to control and will mow evenly without tilting and gouging on the downhill side as you cut. There are a few lawn tractors over $2300 that have traction control or locking differentials that help you get up and down these steeper hills easier. (Always mow up and down slopes with a lawn tractor. This is different than mowing with a walk-behind mower)
How many landscape beds, trees and driveways do you have? How wide is the space between the areas you trim around? Figure the width of the deck and the discharge chute when determining if a deck will fit. A Craftsman Yard Tractor with the 6 inch turn tight steering and a 46 inch deck is 52 inches (width of deck and discharge chute)
Do you circle each tree and bush when you mow? I have a group of 40 pine trees that I mow. I go through once or twice a season and use a garden rake to clean an 18 inch circle around each tree. That way I don’t have to circle each tree when I mow. I can pretty much mow in straight lines that way. If you do circle each tree or bush consider a 46 inch or larger deck. The deck sticks out the side of the mower far enough so you may be able to just circle the tree once. Lawn tractors with turning radius less than 14 inches really help here.
Do you have fenced in areas? How big are the gates? Do you have small areas tucked in behind patios, bushes, or buildings? I have one area that has 34 inch gate and one area with an 8 foot gate. I need a 30 inch mower to get through the 34 inch gate. If you have a side gate from the front to back yard, a dog yard, grass inside your garden fence consider how large a deck you can get through those areas. If you have an area of grass between two landscape features and you want to mow it with your riding mower be sure the deck is small enough.
Do you want to use a string trimmer and/or walk-behind to trim areas where your mower can’t go? I built my landscape beds so there is enough room to go between them with a 46 inch deck. I have changed my yard to the point where I only need about 10 minutes of trimming with a Cordless Line Trimmer. I can mow and trim everything else with the lawn tractor. Plastic, Metal, Wood, Mulch, Rock and Chemical Edging all can be used to separate your lawn to reduce trimming around your landscape beds and other obstructions in your yard. I use a growth retarder along the chain link fence around the dog yard so I only have to trim there once a month.
What type of grass do you have? Do you want to mulch? Southern bent grasses that are cut short need smaller decks. Smaller decks are easier to keep level and give a better cut. Midwestern bluegrass/fescue lawns can use any size deck for mowing but all of the 3 blade decks have issues for mulching. If you want to mulch a 2 bladed deck works the best.
Common Deck Sizes:
Deck sizes and why you may want that size deck. I am only going to discuss residential/homeowner mower decks. Commercial decks are designed for higher ground speeds. For example a 36 inch commercial deck can mow as much in one hour as a 54 inch homeowner deck. Note: Use this data to give yourself an accurate estimation of how long it will take. These times are figured on 80% productivity which takes into account overlapping each pass you mow, turns and trimming. If a retailer lists how much their mower can mow it is usually based on 100% width, no turns and no overlap.
Mowing at 3 mph. If your deck will mow at 4 mph you can add 10% to the amount you can cut per hour.
28-30 inch single bladed decks: 3/4 acre and hour. My one acre acre home takes about 1 1/2 hours to mow with a 30 inch deck because I have 40 trees, 14 landscape beds and a dog yard for obstructions. These decks cut, bag and mulch well but none of the riding mowers are very agile compared to the Craftsman YT3000. If you have a really small lawn consider them, but if you have a lot of trees to go around look at a 42 inch because none of the 30 inch riders have a small turning radius.
38 inch, 2 bladed decks: Less than 1 acre per hour. The main issue with these decks is the overall quality of the current lawn tractors. Lawn tractors like the Yard Man and Bolens are just cheap machines and the quality of cut is average to poor.
42 inch, 2 bladed decks: About 1 acre per hour. This is the most common size deck. It works well for lawns up to 2 acres and all the manufactures make both quality machines and economy lawn tractors in this size.
46 inch, 2 bladed decks: About 1.2 acres per hour. 46 inch, 2 bladed decks generally give you the best cut. They mulch well and bag well. If you have hills and want to put chains on your rear tires there is not enough clearance between the deck and rear tires. The chains will hit the deck. You will have to go to a 42 inch or 48 inch, 3 bladed deck.
46, inch 3 bladed decks: About 1.1 acres per hour. This deck is obsolete, but you will find this size on older, used lawn tractors. They side discharge well but do not bag well. Most were never designed to mulch and you will have problems finding specialty blades.
48, inch 3 bladed decks: About 1.2 acres per hour. A quite a few of these decks are still sold. Consumer Reports lists these with the larger decks because they generally don’t mow as evenly as the 42 and 46 inch decks. Only decks that have internal baffles mulch well. (Usually a $100 option)
54, inch 3 bladed decks: About 1.4 acres per hour. 54 inch decks are very common. They are floating decks so the edge between each swath is not always even because they tilt and bounce around, but if you are mowing large areas this shouldn’t be a reason not to buy one. Don’t buy one if you intend to mulch unless the deck has a special mulching kit available that includes internal baffles. (These kits cost over $100) The reason these are not good mulching decks is they are designed to side discharge well. They have large air intakes in the top of the decks that allow the decks to lift the grass and cut it. They then discharge the clippings and all that air out the side discharge. When you plug the discharge with a mulch plug all that air still has to go somewhere and it usually comes out the right front of the deck. On a nice day these clippings get thrown up and over you and the tractor. These decks disperse the clippings well and bag well.
What else would you like to know? Ask away in the comments below.
Once you have figured out what is the best size and type of mower then determine how much you want to spend. There is a wide price range of mowers in every size. Here are 4 lists to help you get started
2015 Lawn Tractors under $1500
2015 Lawn Tractors over $1500
2015 Residential Zero Turn Mowers (R-ZTR)
2015 Landowner Zero Turn Mowers (L-ZTR)
Are there any mowers that have a higher cutting height of more then 4 inches deck height max
Hi James, Yes. Let me quickly go through the list.
Rough Cut Pull-Behind: The Acrease Rough Cut is one of the few homeowner mowers that will mow up to 8 inches. If you have large areas to mow monthly or want to knock down pasture growth it is the most rugged rough cut on the market. It’s well worth the money.
Bush-Hog Style: If you have a compact or farm tractor there are dozens of rough cut mowers that you can purchase for these tractors. Most are 3-point mount and a few PTO driven pull-behind
Commercial ZTR: Most commercial ZTR’s (over $7000) will finish cut at 4 to 5.5 inches. A few will mow up to 6 inches.
Residential ZTRs: The are NO ZTRs under $5000 that will mow over 4 inches.
Lawn and Garden Tractors: There are NO lawn tractors or garden tractors with mounted decks that will mow over 4 inches. In fact, most won’t mow 4 inches and top out about 3 3/4 even though the specs say 4 inches. Of course, you could pull the Acrease Rough Cut with one……
Great site. I’m starting a small residential (to start) mowing/landscaping business. I’m looking for a few good options as to make/model/deck size (recommendations) in the Houston area for my first commercial mower. Did this 20 yrs ago to pay my way thru university, but am unfamiliar with new technology. Flat, trees, fences, beds only obstacles likely dealing with. Currently have two standard 24in Snapper walk behinds. Looking for something that will get me thru the first year or two and then I’ll have a better idea of my needs. Cheers for the input. — Chip
Hi Chip, I really don’t want to get into recommending commercial mowers. I don’t have enough time to help all the commercial guys and the residential owners. I suggest going to a few local dealers in your area. If you want to see it all and play with them attend the GIE-EXPO in Louisville next month.
Paul. I have option to buy toro zero sw. Either 42 or 50. Close to same price. What would give me better cut. Feel for same price should get bigger mower. Storage and gates etc not issue. What would u do. Mike.
Hi Mike, I’d buy the 50. I like the cut and I like the weight distribution. It almost never will skid the rear and scuff your lawn.
Paul thanks getting back quick going am to order. Was worried about bigger deck some people saying not as nice cut. Floats etc also thought tough around trees but viewing your site I see bigger better around trees. Ur site has been great thanks. is the 50 going to be an issue w mulching most of the summer and bagging come fall. I was leaning that way Paul.
have option to buy toro zero sw. Either 42 or 50. Close to same price. What would give me better cut. Feel for same price should get bigger mower. Storage and gates etc not issue. What would u do. Mike.
@Mike, as long as you are mulching properly and mowing at the proper height for mulching both decks mulch well. They both bag well.
You won’t notice much of a difference between a 42 and 50 for mowing quality. You would between a 42 and 54.
Paul thanks bought the 50 today. Getting sat. I’ll let u know great site. Thanks again. Mike.
Howdy. I live north of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country. I have about 2.5 acres that I mow when we get rain and sometimes when we don’t. The area is mostly flat with some areas of rock (that I try to avoid).
I currently have a Grasshopper Model 721 with a 52″ mowing deck but it seems that every year I am spending $$$ to get it operable. Thinking about buying something new. What do you suggest? Thank you in advance.
Hi Gary, If you like the front deck design there are very few choices other than the Grasshopper and Walker Mowers. I prefer the Walker’s and I think over 15 years they have less maintenance costs than the front deck grasshopper. Check them out and then get back to me if you want a mid-mount. walkermowers.com
Paul, I am getting ready to order a 2016 John Deere X739. What is your opinion on the new Accel mower decks? I am trying to decide between the 48″ Accel and the 54″ regular deck. I have lots of hills and trees and fence and I am getting ready to turn about a half acre of my side yard into a lavender patch with over 1000 plants. I like the idea of a rear discharge mulching mower that is not too wide. Thank you.
Hi Mary, John Deere is constantly tweeking their decks for the best cut and the Accel is the latest. If you have a lot of fences and trees the 54 or 60 inch will be the best choice. The decks stick out the side of the tractor farther which let’s you get closer to the tree and under fences without hitting the object with the rear tire. On the other hand if you have a lot of tight, narrow areas then the 48 is a better choice.
The decks are not true rear discharge. The mulch plate just blocks off the side discharge. The only true rear discharge decks available right now are the ExMark Lazer Z 60 inch zero-turn and John Deere 997 zero turn.
Howdy Paul! I have 3 acres flat with no obstacles. But its a bumpy ride. My old Murry has bit the dust. What’s out there for a smooth ride and good cutting?
Hi Paul, The best is the new ExMark RIDE-ON MOWER WITH SUSPENSION PLATFORM though you may not want to spend $12,000 or more. At least with the 60 inch you’ll be done in less that 45 minutes!
I would suggest a garden tractor. They have larger wheels and larger decks to get the job done faster. Please start here: https://todaysmower.com/the-best-lawn-yard-garden-tractor-buyers-guide/
Hi Paul, purchased a entry level tight-turn Craftsman YT 3000 (paid around $1,000) about 6 years ago after reviews on this site. It worked great, but after moving to a new home, with a slightly larger irregular shaped yard (close to 1 acre), mostly flat with a gradual slope (but bumpy) lawn, I’m looking for something that provides a even/smooth cut and handles the lawn better (preferably would like to mulch). I have a mulch kit on my mower, but the mower doesn’t seem to mulch well (must go slow and still clumps), so I mostly use side discharge. I live in central Illinois. I do have a ditch that creates a decent slope, but I’m considering putting in a culvert/tile to eliminate the ditch. Neighbors have similar lawns, once has a mid level 42″ D series Deere mower and is happy (and can finish mowing quicker than I can) and other neighbor has a zero turn (toro or troy-built) and is able to mow very quickly with mulching. Both of their lawns appear to have a much even/smooth cut appearance and the distribution of the clippings is very even. Do you have a recommendation that will allow me to complete my mowing a little faster, allow me to mulch and to have a smooth finish and clipping distribution? Do I just need a heavier, more powerful tractor or do I need to go with a zero-turn? With a bumpy lawn, I’m willing to put up with a bumpy ride to get a good mow/finish, but if I get the same results from tractor or a zero-turn, would prefer a smoother ride. I can get you exact details of current mower and engine if needed – I believe the model is 917.28851. If a tractor is the recommendation – I’ve always wanted a Deere – but would a D series work or would I need to go with the S240? If going with Zero-turn, my budget puts me at the entry level – low to mid $2K. Sorry for the long question!
Thanks Paul, good point on the Deere S240 – although it does have a different transmission. I’m a little leary of the TL200 transmission on the 125/130 – not in that it’s a bad transmission – but there are several reviews indicating the oil should be changed to synthetic – which while isn’t difficult, isn’t necessarily quick and easy . Since you recommend staying away from the entry level zero turns (i.e. Toro Timecutter SS4225/SS4200), I’m not sure what to do. Were you going to finish the comment with a recommendation – it looks like it may have got cut off? Appreciate all your expertise!
Hi Alan, Everyone has an opinion about trannys especially over on the tractor forums. My opinion is getting into a sealed transmission is asking for trouble. The small increase in longevity by changing the oil is far outweighed by the introduction of dirt into the system . You have to change the oil under clean-room conditions. You can’t do it out in your garage.
There are two entry level zero-turns that will work. The Toro SW4200 and the Cub Cadet 46 inch Steering Wheel version. These mowers use the trannys in a different way so they do have the load a joy-stick ZTR has on each tranny.
Not sure if site is still active. But, was wondering how a Toro Timemaster 30 inch would do going over moderate roots on a tree. Most of yard is flat. The roots are my only concern.
Hello Paul, I’m so glad I found your site! I have been mowing my yard in Arkansas with a very old, dilapidated, not-real-reliable White riding mower that I bought used (I thought it was going to be very temporary, but it turned out to be eight years!) My poor mower has finally exhausted itself to death. Now I have to buy another mower, and I want something (new) and as sturdy and reliable as I can on a limited budget. My yard is pretty uneven, tree roots and some slight hills in the back. I have around 1.5 acres, give or take. I have quite a few trees and it’s necessary for me to bag my leaves or the rain water will not drain properly in my large, low-lying back yard. I had kinda thought about purchasing the Troy-Bilt XP Horse riding lawn mower from Lowes because it seemed to be everything I needed (just straining my budget, but I think, doable)…but the reviews leave me concerned.
I have also considered the Craftsman 19HP Briggs & Stratton Gold Plus Series from Sears (and it’s on sale!).
After spending hours looking at mowers in town and scouring the internet for information, I’m more frustrated than excited at this point :/. Of the two I mentioned, which do you believe may be the best option for me (or do you have another suggestion)? Thank you for any advice, from the bottom of my bone-weary heart! Leah~ Paragould, AR
Hi Leah, The Craftsman you listed is the best of the low-priced lawn tractors but like all these low priced lawn tractors it is not the best bagger. I strongly suggest the Craftsman 42 inch Model 25081 and 46 inch Model 25083.
These tractors are identical except for the deck and have proven to be some of the most reliable lawn tractors around. The mow well and bag well. The baggers will handle thick, wet leaves.
The only thing you need to be aware of is the speed control is a lever on the fender instead of a foot control. It is easy to get used to and gives you built in cruise control.
These tractors cost only $250 more than the cheap lawn tractors you are looking at and are well worth the extra money.
You can see a buy the 42 inch here: Craftsman 25081
42 inch bagger: 6 Bushel 2-Bin Soft Bagger for 42″ Lawn Tractors
You can see and buy the 46 inch here: Craftsman 25083
2 bin bagger for the 46 inch deck: 6 bushel 2 – bin Soft Bagger for 46″ Deck Lawn Tractors
3 bin 46 inch bagger: 9 bushel 3 – Bin Soft Bagger for 46″ Deck Lawn Tractors
Finally, here is my review of the 25081/25083. Craftsman 25081 review. Please read it. It will answer the questions why it’s worth spending just a little more.
Hi Leah, without going into a lot of detail the mower at WalMart is a cheap mower and should be priced around $1100. Everything you have discussed so far is better than that one. In addition, I have never heard of anyone who bought a gas powered item at WalMart and had a problem has had a good experience with the repair.
Thank you! I figured as much, but I thought I’d try to have an open mind. Going to purchase the Craftsman tonight online. Have a great night!!
Paul, I have a flat 1.5 acre lawn with some trees and landscaping. Since 1990 I have been using a Sears 18 Hp-44″ model 917.2559101 tractor. It has a dual range 3 speed transmission and has been very reliable. I also use it to move a small 14′ boat and trailer from the backyard storage area to the driveway and to haul mulch and firewood with a small trailer. The yard is flat, but has a lot of mature trees with exposed roots causing a bumpy ride! I have never babied it and also use it to chip up any branches less than 1″ diameter that fall in the yard. The deck has been patched with fiberglass and the seat consists mainly of duct tape, but the tractor keeps going. Both it and I are getting old. While I don’t expect my next purchase to last as long as this one, I want to make sure a new purchase last for more than just a few years. I have been looking at the Sears 20445 Pro Series, but also looked at the 20444 and 20442. There is quite a price difference and I suspect that transmission of the 20445 is stronger. Do you think I can get by with the less expensive models. I also considered a zero-turn, but would have to rig up a trailer ball, plus with 2 transmissions, I’m concerned it wouldn’t be a good decision. Your recommendations would be appreciated.
Hi Jim, Did you have the Briggs or Onan engine?
For 1.5 acres the 20442 will actually do the job quite well. You will find with the 5 inch Turn-Tight Extreme steering you will be able to trim around stuff faster and the deck will cut a little faster that your 25591. Both of these features will save you time. I am not concerned about the transmission in this model for the tasks you do.
On the negative side the smaller 20 inch tires will ride just as rough as your old tractor.
The 20445 does have larger tires and a stronger transmission but it also has a 54 inch deck. You may find the 54 inch deck digs and scalps too much on your rough lawn. So, unless you really want the large deck I suggest you go with the 20442. Here is the link to purchase it on sears.com. They are offering a free delivery online ($79 value) : Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower
Thanks Paul, my 1990 tractor has the Briggs engine. Last year I decided to drain the re-fill the transmission. It was almost completely empty. That made me even more of a believer. I think I’ll go with the 20442, but might wait a few months and see if the old beast keeps going. Jim
Always had a push mower. My new lot is 1 acre. Steep Slope!!! Maybe 30 degrees from front of house to the road. Need some riding mower advice. Tractor will be only for mowing and pulling a garden cart. no attachments. Do not plan on mulching the fescue either. Open to a 46-54 inch deck.
Paul R in Spring Hill, TN
Hi Paul I can’t recommend a lawn tractor for any slope over 15 degrees. They are not designed for anything steeper.
if I could send you a couple of pics would that help? my calculations on the slope could be wrong.
Hi Paul R, Here are a few picts,
Thanks for the pics. I think I fall in the 15 deg or less category. The whole acre slopes down except for the house at the top of the hill. It appears steeper than it really is. Tractor for mowing only probably not going to mulch. Maybe pull a garden cart.
Hopefully I will not need locking diff. Would a field trax type tire help? Open to any advice?
Hi Paul, Sorry, I got a little behind this weekend.
I would try regular tires first. If they spin out a lot then we can discuss a tire or TerraGrips for more traction. If you are 15 degrees or less you won’t need the locking diff.
Since you are new to tractors you will most likely want one that drives a lot like your car. The Craftsman 20390 is a good choice. Foot controlled speed, tight turning radius and a great engine that will last on your hills. Go here to read my review: 20390 Review. The page I am sending you to also has an article on a single cylinder version with a fender speed control.
i will go look at the 20390 & 20391
Was also considering the JD 140 ($1900) and the Craftsman g5100 ($2000) from the outlet store.
@Paul, yes, if you want a 48 inch deck stay with the 20391.
Thanks for all the advice
Howdy Paul, I’m about to move into our new home on 5 acres in the foothills of east TN. Minus the house and a fairly level surrounding lawn, there’s a good 4 acres of open pasture that we plan to use for our horses. Some of it has slopes and a couple of them are moderately steep somewhat greater than 20 degrees. A lot of that pasture also has ruts which need to be mitigated. I’ll also need to pull light to moderate cargo, i.e mature spreader, cargo wagon for some bails of hay, aerator, etc. I’m torn between a ZTR or a garden tractor? I’d like to keep my budget around 5K or so. Which would you recommend and what model would be my best bet. I have been looking at John Deere, Sears and Husqvarna which all have local dealerships near me.
Hi Augie, I’m actually going to steer you in a completely different direction. Running around a pasture, hauling manure, and hay will quickly wear out a garden tractor. A lawn tractor is not heavy enough at all and may not even pulls the loads you will need it for. ZTR’s – even the commercial versions – really are not meant to pull wagons a stuff.
For about $3999 to $4500 you can get a mower that doubles as a multi-purpose yard vehicle. The deck comes off quickly and then gives you 8 inches of clearance to run through the rough areas of your property. It has a heavy duty cast iron rear transmission/axle and a front suspension to smooth out the bumps in the pasture. It will handle the steeper slopes (lawn/garden/ZTR’s are only rated to 15 degree slopes.) This multi-purpose vehicle was designed with you in mind.
It will pull the manure spreader, and the wagon for hay all over your property without getting stuck all the time.
This mower has two speeds. In first gear it will mow at 6 mph and has the power to pull your stuff. In high gear it will buzz around your property at 17 mph!
The deck is a heavy duty fabricated deck and I have found that it mows down the taller weeds that you will have in your pasture a lot better than a lawn tractor deck.
Living in Texas I’ll bet you have a Lowes near you. You can get the standard version and the Camo/deluxe version there. I’ve had one of these now for a year and it is the most versatile multi-purpose vehicle I’ve ever owned.
Feel free to ask any more questions you may have.
Lowes: Raven MPV-7100
Raven Website: Raven America
I recently purchased a home with about 3/4 of an acre of ground, flat and level with just a bit of minor slope to the front yard and not many obstacles or landscaping issues. I own a snow blower so I don’t plan to plow with the mower. I may pull a small yard cart infrequently. I have been torn between a basic riding mower like a Craftsman/Ariens/Poulan Pro/Troy Bilt 19-20 HP 46″ deck or something a bit beefier like a Husqvarna YTH24V48 or V46. I don’t know whether to go with a B&S V Twin or Kohler. Most of the transmissions and features seem exactly the same. Your site has a lot of information but I am still a bit unsure overall even though I’m sure even the $999 basic models would probably suffice. I’d like something that will last reasonably well and won’t be a chore to maintain and use. $1700-1800 is about the top I want to pay, with $1300-1400 being ideal.
@Dominic, A good mower that has a better engine, a good cutting deck, a strong transmission – in other words one that will give you the most life for your dollar is what you are looking for.
The Craftsman 25083 is my first choice. 19HP 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower This mower is about $1499 and has the same strong frame as the Husqvarna YTH24V48.
The engine in the 25083 is a single cylinder but it actually a better quality engine than the Intek in the Husqvarna YTH. The 46 inch deck cuts well and the two blades cost less to replace than the three in the 48.
Paul great site! From Cincinnati,OH I have just under an acre with lots of trees,beds, 1 small incline. Will do some light hauling and maybe the 14″ snow blade for a 100′ driveway.I was looking at the 20381. now I see they have a new model out for 2015. Is one better than the other? Should I go to the next size motor? When does sears traditionally have the best deals on yard tractors?
@Dietz, The difference between the new 2015 Craftsman 25081 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower and the old 20381 19HP 42” Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower – Non CA is the transmission.
The new 25081 has a fender controlled CVT automatic. The 20381 has a fender mounted hydrostatic. Craftsman is changing to the CVT because it is more reliable over the years.
That said, the only problem the older trans in the 20381 had was every once in a while you would get one that was assembled wrong from the factory and the cooling fan would disintegrate when you started it up for the first time. Otherwise it’s been a very reliable trans.
That engine is fine for what you want to do. I like it because it uses about a quart of fuel per hour less than the 22HP V-Twin.
The price right now is about as good as you will find all season. 5% off or no interest for 12 months with a Sears card (if you don’t have one you can apply during checkout) Also sign up for Shop Your Way Rewards (sign up is in the very top row of the tractor page).
Understand Sears moves the price around a lot. Right now it’s $1499 next week it may be $1569 with free shipping. The week after that there will be a different deal – but in reality they will all be within $50 of the $1499 when you add it all up. (Sears does have a 14 day price match if they sneak in a better deal)
Looking at a John Deere X540. What size deck 48 or 54. I have two acres with some hillside and plan on using a mulching kit.
Leaning toward the 48 based on what I have read.
Appreciate your thoughts.
Hi Jack, You are on the right track.
The 48 inch will mulch better. The large 54 inch decks tend to have a lot of blow-by when you install a mulch kit in them. (the grass blows out the right front.)
The 54 inch decks will scalp dips and bumps more than a 48. They also tend to dig in when you go around a corner leave marks in your lawn. If you want the best all around cut get the 48. If you want to just get the lawn done as fast as possible get the 54.
Contracting you from Penryn, CA.
Thank you so much for the work you do on this site. I went from not even thinking about a riding mower in the ‘burbs to five acres of land, an acre of which is lawn. To say I became very focused on your opinions is an understatement…
To my question, and I don’t know if this is the best place for it or not, so please forgive me: I acquired a Craftsman DGS6500/917.28746 used with about 300 hours for a good price. I had to remove the 54″ deck to transport it in the small trailer I have access to and decided to service the deck since it was off anyway.
What I found was a little disappointing, there is a crack in the top of the deck, (something I was warned about with all 54″ deck mowers), and two of the three mandrels appear to be bent/wobbling.
I am pretty sure that I can find the correct mandrels and install new ones, and I can probably handle the crack in the deck, but I remember reading here on the site that 46″ dual blade decks provide the best cut. Since my tractor is an AYP product, do you know if I can just get a 46″ AYP deck and bolt it on in place of the 54″? I don’t believe the extra width is helping me that much in the amount of lawn I have, and the better performance and greater durability of a smaller deck certainly appeal to me.
@Stewart, Changing the deck to a 46 is a great idea but it is a poor solution. Why? A 46 inch deck is longer than a 54 or 48 inch deck. When you mount it under the tractor the right rear side of the deck sticks farther back than the 54 inch deck and it will rub the rear tire on a Garden Tractor. The way the mounts are located on the Craftsman/Husqvarna chassis the largest rear tires that you can use are 20X8X8.
You can find all the parts for that tractor here: Sears PartsDirect.
A new deck shell is $329 through SearsParts. Each mandrel complete is about $64.
It sounds like this deck has seen quite a bit of abuse so before you assume you need mandrels check to make sure the top of the deck where the mandrels bolt in is not bent. Most residential decks will bend up in this area if you hit enough stuff. I just warped a deck because a rug got wrapped up in the blades. (it wasn’t a Craftsman)
To check. Flip the deck upside down and bring two blades together. The tips of the blades should be even with each other when the meet. Do that with the remaining blade. If the deck shell is worth saving (not rusted or major cracks) You can strip all the parts off of it and then use a flat surface (like an anvil) and a sledge hammer to straighten it out.
I have about 5 acres in Southern warm season grasses–Bahia and Bermuda. They grow very fast if there is rain. There are also some tough weeds here and there and small trees trying to sprout in some areas. There is a slope to some areas and lot of trees and fences to mow around. I have a garden cart and a DR dirt mover (sort of like a drag behind box blade) that I would like to use on an uneven hilly driveway. It requires at least 20hp and a 400lb Mower.
I never want to mow more than 1-2 acres at a time. I usually break it up into an hour or 2 a day, 5 days a week, and rotate around the property. I am not “handy” and its hard for me to remove the deck and change blades or do oil changes and regular maintenance, so everything I do gets done my a Dealer shop.
I have had a John Deere 100 series for years and had many problems with it. I learned a lot about taking better care of it and I think I would do better in the future–no ethanol gas, never let it get rained on, not getting stuff wrapped up in the blades. It has spent as much time in the shop as it has at home over the years. I don’t know if I bought too small a mower (I only had an acre of grass when I bought it) or if it was just not a good mower? Its 11 years old, but was not used for most of the first 3 years and warranty period. It has over 550 hours on it and needs to be replaced, but I have no idea what to buy or even what I need?
The JD dealer says I need a 300 series or above since I have 5 acres. The Husqverna Dealer says I do not since I do not mow 5 acres at the same time. One place says I need a large deck, the other says I do not. JD is trying to upsell to a bigger mower, while Husqverna keeps trying to down sell me to a smaller mower. All the mowers have both very good and very bad user reviews. I can’t find a single make or model that is solid in the buyer reviews.
I am looking at a Husqverna with a rapid replace blade changing system since that means I do not have to haul around the deck, but they keep trying to sell me YT models when every guide says I should be looking at larger models like a G series.
I really just want reliability the most. The grass does not have to look perfect, but I would love to buy something that will run, keep running and is backed up by great service. I’m tired of pushing the mower back into the shed and watching it go back to the shop all summer every year 3 times.
Can you clear all this up for me? Do I need a big mower or a mid-sized one and where should I look for a reliable model? Sorry this is so long but everybody else is trying to sell me something and they tell me what they want me to hear! 🙂
Thanks and looking forward to your advice! 🙂
@Sara, I’m not a big fan of the John Deere 300 series. To me they are just prettied up 100 series tractors. They basically have the same engines and transmission as the 100 series. They do cost a lot more (which gives the Dealer better profits) The 500 series is better but you are looking at 5-6 thousand dollars for a tractor the size you need.
I’m not sure why the Husqvarna Dealer is down sizing. The YT series is OK but for pulling your DR but it really would like a bigger tractor.
Instead of telling you what you need…I’m going to give you a couple of options and let you decide.
A 42 inch mower will mow about 1.5 acres an hour. A 54 inch will mow about 2 acres an hour.
A typical 22 hp 42 inch tractor will weigh about 450 lbs. A typical 22-26 hp 54 inch tractor will weigh about 550 lbs.
There is another tractor besides the Husqvarna’s that use the quick change blade system – the Craftsman Pro Series.
The Craftsman Pro series and Husqvarna’s are very similar. They come out of the same factory and have many similar parts. What really is different is the service. Sears always comes to you. You never have to take you mower anywhere. In addition the Craftsman has an optional plan that warranties the tractor and takes care of most of the wear and tear on your machine for 5 years. Belts, battery, tires etc. are all covered. Basically all you are responsible for is oil, filters and blades. The optional plan even gives you a 25% discount on tune-ups and non-covered parts.
You didn’t tell me what size deck you had so I’ll give you 2 options. Both have the ez-blade system and 22 hp engines or larger.
The Pro Series 42″ 22hp Automatic Kohler Elite Yard Tractor weighs in about 450 lbs. The only issue you may have with this mower is the Forward pedal is about 3/4 of an inch higher than what you are used to. Some new owners don’t like this higher pedal.
The other tractor I am going to suggest has a large deck. But it also has a large motor and the heaviest transmission around. This is a good, strong tractor that will give you years of use. It does have the quick-change blades, large tires for a good ride and it will mow higher than most tractors if you like to keep you grass longer. I like the Pro Series GT 54″ 26hp Hydrostatic Kohler Elite Garden Tractor. I know this tractor and all the parts have been around for many years.
The optional plan that I am talking about is $661 for 5 years.
You can order both of these tractors using these links. Sears is offering free delivery.
Feel free to ask more questions and we can start over figuring this out if I am way off base.
Thank you for a quick reply! I did look at the Sears mowers after poking around your website more. I like the service contract option, but there are still horrible reviews. The similar G series by Huskvarna has 35 positive reviews and no negatives. About the same price. But no service contract and I have to take it to them or pay for it. The warranty does not cover the engine or transmission. That sounds like potential drama. However, I have waited 4 days for the owner of the Husqvarna store to call me and tell me if he can get the make and model I need and nothing. If its hard to get them to take the money how easy will it be to get them to fix the thing?
The nearest Sears store is about as far as the plant in Orangeburg SC where I think you said they make them 🙂 I am interested in the Sears mower now, but I am finding it very hard to use the website to get information before I throw $4K at it. I used the customer service chat and they really didn’t know anything. Its going to be 5 years of 1-800 HELL, but if they stand behind what they say they are selling it might be worth it. Do they? That is all I really care about if my intended use is in line with the product they are selling and wont void the warranty or anything. Is this Sears mower made in SC? If I buy it online where am I buying it from? Taxes and all will matter.
Can I use that link to buy a mower that is delivered and set up ready to use? I can’t pick it up at a store and do not want to accept delivery or assemble a box of mower that I cannot see is in working order when I get it. I do not even know if they can get a box up my driveway.
If I use that link and buy the mower and the 5 year service contract, will I have 5 years of no drama mowing? 🙂 I don’t care if it breaks. I care if they come and fix it like they say they will.
So lets say we agree that a Sears mower is a good idea. Customer service is already shown to be kind of useless. Its OK for you to sell me this mower and get your commission. I just need to know a few more details like how it gets here and in what condition and what kind of maintenance schedule I am signing up for. JD wants an oil change at 8 hours. Husqvarna says 30-40 hours. What kind of maintenance will this mower need in its first year and how does the service contract work into that? Its a little unclear on what they do in a yearly maintenance visit and when they consider it a year and all. The service contract was drafted to cover all Sears products so it is so confusing to figure out what applies to mowers and what doesn’t google offered to translate it for me.
People seem either very pleased or very angry with these mowers. I don’t want to drive to the store and ask the salesperson a bunch of questions since you deserve the commission. But I don’t want to clog up your blog either! 🙂
You own a Husqvarna. Should I do as you say or do as you do? I think we have eliminated the JD.
@Sara, Yes, I make a commission if you buy through these links but in reality I am not concerned at all about that. I have no problems sending you to a dealer, or a store if that is the best place for you to buy. I want you to feel comfortable about your purchase. I make enough. It’s not about me, it’s really about what you want and what works best for you. You are also welcome to drive to a Sears Store and verify what I’m telling you. But please go to a full-line store for the correct information. The Full-line store personnel have all been trained on these mowers. The Sears Hometown stores (the little store that only sells appliances, tractors and tools) don’t always get the same training.
There is free delivery through the website until Nov 5. The tractor comes assembled but not started. I suggest you have a can of fresh/new gas, start it, and run the deck before the delivery team leaves. The delivery team is supposed to go through the basic operation of the tractor with you. If they don’t I’ll be glad to get on the phone with you and go through it.
The only thing you need to do with the new tractor is let some air out of the tires. If you don’t have a tire gauge get one and set the tire pressure to about 12-14 lbs. If anything is not working correctly call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a tech will come out.
Maintenance – Please read your manual. The initial oil change is 50 hours or once a year. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
I pay attention to Sears Repair and in your area it averages 7 days before the tech gets to you. He troubleshoots the problem and fixes it if he has the part on the truck. If he doesn’t he orders it right from his computer and it arrives at your home in about a week. The tech then comes out and finishes the repair.
Although all Sears Techs are trained on your tractor if you do get one who doesn’t know what he is doing you can call and ask for a “seasoned tech” You can also escalate a repair if the machine is having the same repair. If the tech tells you “It’s not covered” you can also call and ask for the seasoned tech. They will always give you a second opinion. One thing I like about the Protection Plan is if there is a re-occurring problem or there is a problem that they can’t get fixed because of parts the Protection Plan will replace the tractor with a new one. I have one example where an owner had a cracked seat. The tractor was 4 years old and he had the 5 year protection plan. The tech came out and said he would order another. It ended up that he could not get the same color seat so Sears gave the owner a new tractor.
I hear of very few issues if you have the Protection Plan. On the phone troubleshooting and having the techs come out to your home is all included. There is never a trip charge with the protection plan. The Sears Techs are very good at just fixing the mower. Of course hitting stumps and rocks that bend blades or the deck, garage fires and natural disasters like hurricanes are not covered under the protection plan.
Yearly Maintenance: I don’t know the exact fee for a service but with the protection plan you get a 25% discount. I have a feeling it is very close to what you Deere or Husqvarna dealer will charge. The tech inspects the tractor, lubricates it (front axle and deck bearing) changes the oil, oil filter, air filter, and spark plugs. You also get a 25% discount on the parts. If your mower needs new blades he will sell you those and install them for the same discount. Any other parts that is bad he will tell you about. If the parts is covered under the protection plan, he orders it and then comes out later and installs the part.
The one thing I am not sure of and I’ll find out. If you call the tech out for a repair (that’s always free with the protection plan) I think he will do the service visit and only charge for the parts.
Reviews: The Pro Series that I recommend has only positive reviews. Since the Craftsman 20403 Garden tractor and the Husqvarna Garden tractor are similar let’s discuss them also. First, 3 of the 1 and 2 star reviews on sears.com for the 20403 is for the wrong tractor. Second, I would guess that there are about 5000 Craftsman and Husqvarna garden tractors out mowing lawns. To have only 6 bad reviews for these tractors is very good in my mind. Third, bad gas is an issue with all tractors. Please use a fuel stabilizer. The new Kohler 7000 Elite is the latest version from Kohler so I have great confidence that it will run well on today’s fuel. Fourth, The reason owners have problems with the front axle is they think it’s an ATV and that you can run it as fast as the tractor will go through anything. To put it frankly some people have no common sense.
Thank you again! That really answers most of the questions I have. Yes, some people have complained about the wait, but that is no more waiting then having it serviced at a shop.
Of the two mowers you suggested:
“The Pro Series 42″ 22hp Automatic Kohler Elite Yard Tractor weighs in about 450 lbs. The only issue you may have with this mower is the Forward pedal is about 3/4 of an inch higher than what you are used to. Some new owners don’t like this higher pedal.
The other tractor I am going to suggest has a large deck. But it also has a large motor and the heaviest transmission around. This is a good, strong tractor that will give you years of use. It does have the quick-change blades, large tires for a good ride and it will mow higher than most tractors if you like to keep you grass longer. I like the Pro Series GT 54″ 26hp Hydrostatic Kohler Elite Garden Tractor. I know this tractor and all the parts have been around for many years.”
The price on the 42″ is very good right now between sales price+free shipping. I do keep my grass long–try for 4″, but when the mower is out for repairs it can be pretty high by the time I can mow again. It can get to be 12 inches and very dense and course (but wouldn’t if the mower ran!) My 100 series JD didn’t really have a problem with it as long as I was careful and just mowed half a strip when it got over grown.
Sears does not offer the financing that Husqvarna does, but Husqvarna just told me that they only have a few models in stock and they can’t even get any of the models I was looking at, so now price is an issue. They only have the YT 48 XLS at $3K.
What you have described as the features of the Pro Series 54″ sound like what I am looking for, but with the service contract (which is a must), its a lot of cash.
Its seems Sears has many many makes and models. With the service contract I do not need quick change blades, I wont be doing any service myself. Th einternet now knows I am looking and I have ads for dozens of Sears mowers popping up on every page I see.
Can you suggest anything tough and reliable with a deck larger than 42″ but a price smaller than the Pro Series 54″? Is the 42″ model just as good on high grass?
I don’t beat my mowers up. There are no rocks here. There is some uneven ground, but I think my back would limit how stupid I am about speeding over bumpy areas 🙂
If Sears delivers and sets up and does all that it sounds perfect. Do they have anything that sounds like this (which sounds like what I do and what I need) in the lower price ranges but with a bigger deck? No quick change blades needed and I can manage a key start and using stabilizer.
“This is a good, strong tractor that will give you years of use. It does have the quick-change blades, large tires for a good ride and it will mow higher than most tractors if you like to keep you grass longer. I like the Pro Series GT 54″ 26hp Hydrostatic Kohler Elite Garden Tractor. I know this tractor and all the parts have been around for many years.”
I am so tired of shopping already I can’t even understand why they make so many different models! 🙂
I need to keep in mind that the bottom 100 series JD was enough mower for all my needs. The problems I had were not related to the mowing or work load—fuel systems, electric problems, valve stuck shut when the dealer shop said it was OK to leave it out in the rain until they could pick it up weeks later, faulty rim that took 10 years to get an inner tube instead of having it flat all the time, holes in the fuel lines that took years to discover, and now they say it needs an oil pan gasket yet no oil has leaked since I secured the dip stick that might have been left loose in my last servicing. It even handled the DR just fine back in the days when it had full power. Its been so long since I could use the DR I do not even know if it still works, so I can let that requirement go and anything over 20 HP and 400 lbs will work.
I feel like I am jumping from one extreme to the other simply because I do not know what issues were overworking a small mower and what issues were part of a learning curve including nobody really understanding the no ethanol without stabilizer until the mower was already at 300 hours.
There is nothing about the 42″ I do not like and if the service contract is by years and not hours the extra hours spent mowing will not run the warranty down faster. But there are still many Craftsman options. Can it handle the tall tough grasses and give me years of good use? Or is there something in between that I might be better off with?
I am ready to buy. I just need some links to best suggestions with a new budget of less than $3,000 including service contract for 5 years.
Thank you so much again!!!
@Sara, They make a model for every budget and taste. Yes, there are a lot of different models.
Thanks for the response this helps a lot to narrow down what will work for you. I am going to switch you to the regular Craftsman. These red tractors have all the features you need except the quick change blades. They pricing is better and there is a bigger selection of blades for the different conditions of your lawn.
– Sears does offer financing through the Sears Card. In fact with the red tractors there are 4 different offers. The Black Pro Models don’t have as many offers.
1. Online Only! EXTRA 5% off Tractors Sold by Sears – Expires on 10/04/2014
2. 5% Instant Savings or 3. 12 months no interest Special financing on Lawn & Garden items over $299 with Sears card
4. FREE DELIVERY on riding mowers and tractors over $1299 sold by Sears. Expires on 11/08/2014
– Yes, the protection plan is by years. So no matter how often you use it or how many hours are on it, Sears will keep it running or give you a replacement.
Now, There are 2 mowers I am going to suggest. The first one is basically the same tractor as the 42 inch except it has a good Briggs & Stratton engine and has conventional mower blades (not the quick change) Again it has the higher pedal but I have a way to quickly fix that if you find it is a problem after you bought it. The reviews are good except for the pedal and the fact about 1000 of the early year transmissions didn’t get grease in them. (This was an assembly issue, not a problem with the mower. If for some reason you get a tractor with a noisy transmission Sears will fix it or get you a new one right away) The protection plan is less money also for this tractor.
The second tractor is identical except it has a 48 inch deck, wider tires and an electric clutch like the Pro Series. Personally, I strongly suggest you go with the 48 inch. You’ll like the extra width and the wider rear tires. Again, ignore the reviews of the bad transmission. The problem has been fixed and there won’t be issues.
42 inch: 22HP 42” Turn Tight® Fast Riding Mower – 49 States
48 inch: 22 HP V-Twin 48″ Turn Tight Fast Riding Mower – Non CA
OK. Thanks again! I like the 48 inch model. People are using it for what I will use it for and happy. But. . . .
After you said the John Deere 300 series was just a John Deere 100 series dressed up, I looked at the 100 series again since my smallest 100 series did last 10 years and all problems would have been avoided had I known then what I know now. I hate to waste 10 years of heard earned lessons.
Side by side there is the red mower and the green mower:
John Deere does have an extended warranty that includes pick and and delivery. Its half the cost of the service plan, but I understand it does not cover regular service or have the 25% off. But the John Deere dealer is right down the road with real people who have a few stores and every customer matters. Plus I can frown at them in person. Sears will not see me frown. The plan extends the bumper to bumper coverage for 4 years and 400 hours. I do not know Regular servicing is still done at my door as they have a mobile truck. JD dealer knows exactly what my intended use is and recommends a bigger mower, but will honor a warranty even using it on 5 acres.
All in (taxes, warranty, setup and delivery) its about $500 less expensive. And Sears offers free shipping, but if the mower needs to be replaced I have to pay for shipping since it excluded that if you got free shipping. So if the mower fails I am in for over $300 to send it back. Fine print. JD has 0% financing and Sears is 22% if not paid off in a year. Not knocking Sears. They gave me my first credit card and everything in the house is Kenmore and going strong after many many years. . . .
Same horsepower, same features, same sized deck, both have B&S (who make Snapper which got top ratings on Consumer Reports??) both have many happy buyers. . . .Red or Green if the Green is less 25% less $$$$?
Sorry to be such a pain. I have done nothing but mower research for 36 hours. The more you know, the harder it is! A little knowledge is a dangerous thing 🙂
@Sara, The John Deere warranty is ONLY a defects warranty. Because of that it is worth a lot less than the Sears Protection Plan. Plus the covered period is 20% less. I don’t see the savings…..Other than that fact The D140’s specs are about the same. If you have been happy with your dealer it sounds like the way to go.
where is the gas tank on the 20381? Someone told me it’s better to have it in the rear of the tractor for better stability.
@Michael, Under the hood. Single cylinder lawn tractors all have the fuel tank under the hood – battery under the seat, twins have the tank under the seat – battery under the hood. (Except MTD who puts all of the tanks under the hood.)
It’s actually a mute point, An under the seat fuel tank holds about 3 gallons which weighs about the same as a battery. When you use up your fuel, you use your weight so having the battery under the seat actually gives you better traction all the time.
Would the twin allow me to pull mulch and other items easier?
@Michael. yes but you really would not notice the difference for that type of tasks. The twin is smother and where it really is better is when you use it for really heavy tasks like blowing snow. The rest of the time you won’t go wrong buying the single.
Would the walk behind be faster than a tractor? My 4 year old son just asked “Dad but what about hay rides”?
@Michael, A good tractor like the Craftsman 20381 will mow your 3/4 acre in about half the tiem (or less) than the 30 inch walk behind. Even with a little extra trimming from the tractor not getting as close it will still be a lot faster with a tractor.
Does the electric require a trickle charger when not in use? Never had an electric start before.
@Michael K, No, the charging system on a riding mower works like the one in your car. The battery runs the starter which starts the engine and then an alternator (built inside the motor) charges the battery back up.
@Michael, It’s hard to follow multiple comments with the system I’m using here so I answered your question wrong about the trickle charger. A walk-behind like the Toro uses a battery that is good for 60-80 starts before it needs to be charged. So 2 or 3 times a year you wil hve to plug it in overnight.
My new house is on just over 3/4 acre. Front and back lawn have no obstacles. Would a 30 inch push work. If so what would you recommend. I have a Toro and Exmark dealer close by.
@Michael, I like the Toro Lawn Mower. 30 in. TimeMaster Variable Speed Self-propelled Walk-Behind Gas Lawn Mower with Electric Start. It’s $1099 at Home Depot.
The Toro and Exmark dealers should have it also. They also make this mower in a commercial version that the dealers may try to sell you. For you the Timemaster is a great mower, you don’t need to spend the extra money on a commercial version.
I was needing to know what other mower deck will interchange with a john deere deck
@Lisa, One manufacture’s deck usually won’t interchange with another’s. Sometimes you can switch out a larger or smaller deck in a series. i.e., A D125 deck may fit on a D130 or D140 deck. The problem becomes finding parts later on. You may not know exactly what tractor the deck came off of so you won’t easily be able to get parts for the deck.
Looking at the Husqvarna – YT42LS or the YT46LS – The price difference here is $100. Does the bigger engine make less noise? Why go with one or the other? 2 acres or so. One is a soccer field the other on a slope with some dips.
@Bob, do you like Kawasaki or Kohler? Other than that the 46 will get your lawn mowed about 12 minutes faster than the 42 inch. That said, I feel the 42 cuts better but the 46 inch bags better (longer blades, more throw)
Thank you for taking the time to develop this website as the info is quite useful. I am new to lawn tractors and have been reviewing for a while. Some things I understand and others I just don’t. I live in FL on a 3/4 acre lot without rocks and with a few fruit trees to navigate around but I don’t mind having to cut then go back with my trimmer/edger/weed eater. I am unable to spend big bucks on a new lawn tractor and simply looking for a good used one. I have a slight slope…..doubt it is greater than 15 degrees but then again, I am not technically or mechanically inclined. So far I am looking at mostly used Craftmans LT1000 or LT2000 and the LTX. I guess the Yard Machine 601 is no good based on your review regarding their lack of quality. I have seen some Yard Mans and Bolens and even a Poulan 15.5HP that cuts in reverse. Can you please help figure which would be the best buy? As a female I do not want to be taken for a ride (pun intended) and would like to know what are some good questions to ask these sellers coupled which brand is reliable especially with having to service and finding replacement parts. So far my research has shown parts for Craftsman are readily available.
Thank you for any light you can shed.
@Nicole, All Craftsman mower made in the last 15 years are easy to get parts for. You can get then through searspartsdirect.com.
Most parts for other brands like Cub Cadet, John Deere, Ariens and Toro are also easy to get through a dealer.
The problem I have is the riders you have mentioned all sold for $600 to $1200 new so why buy a used one when for a few hundred more you can buy a new Craftsman at Sears or an Ariens at Home Depot for around $1099.
17.5 HP 42” Auto Transmission Riding Mower – non CA
Ariens Riding Lawn Mower. A19A42 42 in. 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine 960460061
Sears also has layaway. Put 20% down and then pay it off over 8 weeks.
What’s your thoughts on the 2014 Craftsman 54 Inch Model 20414 Zero Turn Riding Mower as far as is it good for mulching or using a bagger, where as reading about deck sizes, it says 54 decks are better for bagging, but wanted to see about this one ztr mower.
@Steven, It’s a great bagger but it’s only a so-so mulcher. Why, the reason why it’s a great bagger and a great side dis-charge deck is what makes it not the perfect mulcher – air flow.
Decks like the 54 inch have vents in the spindles that let air into the deck. This increased airflow allows the deck to lift the grass and cut it very well. The increased airflow also allows it to quickly get rid of the grass, either out the discharge or up into the bagger.
So when you block the deck with a mulch plug the air still has to go somewhere and it usually comes out the right front of the deck. For mulching like everyone tells you (only cut one third of the grass stalk at a time or no more than 3/4 of an inch) it works just fine. But for those of us who only mow once a week or let the grass grow 2 inches before we mow, the grass tends to blow out the front.
Now, the real problem is you will get dirty. Really dirty if the ground and grass are dry. Mowing at 5-6 MPH will cause the grass to blow out the front and up – right into your lap. I’ve mowed 5 acres under conditions like this and have had 2 bushels of grass piled up around my legs and feet.
Now, don’t blame just the Craftsman. All zero-turns with large decks tend to have this issue, especially if you block the discharge with a mulch plug. You don’t have as big of an issue with the same deck on a lawn tractor because you sit higher and the tractor doesn’t mow as fast (3-4 MPH)
Wear old clothes and plan on taking a shower before you track the grass all over the house.
PRO Series 54" 26 hp V-Twin Pro Z7400 Series Zero-Turn Riding Mower Non CAuses 2 separate transmissions, one for each wheel. So it doesn’t need a locking differential because there is power to each wheel all the time.
If you need more traction to the left wheel you just push the lap bar a little more. The same goes for the right wheel. That zero-turn is heavy enough enough so you can mow slopes.
By the way you can use the link above, order it online and pick it up at your local Sears store.
I currently mow with a Simplicity that has a 38″ deck. It is very old, and I will most likely be purchasing a new one this year. However, I cannot afford another Simplicity at this time.
I am cutting an acre of grass with a lot of edged flower beds and mature trees to cut around. The current mower deck size is difficult getting around the beds.
Can you recommend a good mower for me and a deck size?
Thanks for your help
@Karen, You have 3 choices for deck size. Every tractor out there has a 42 inch deck or larger except the Husqvarna LYH18538. It has the same 38 inch deck you now have.
The only other option is a 28-30 inch deck. Snapper, Craftsman and Troy-Bilt has these smaller decks. Here is my review of the Craftsman: Craftsman 29000 review
Thank you so much for your quick reply. I really think I need the 42″ deck because it’s very difficult to get close to the edges of garden beds without hitting the edging material.
My choices at my local center seem to be Husqvarna, John Deere, Troybilt and Craftsman. Needless to say, I am very confused and I don’t think the salesmen know much either. Lol
There seems to be a lot of differences in the engines also.
Any recommendations for me?
I can spend about $2,000 to $2,400
@Karen, I suggest you start by reading these two articles.
Single cylinder 42 in Craftsman and Twin Cyclinder 42 inch Craftsman.
These article go through all the features of lawn tractors. The 2 tractors also have great engines, cut great and are a good value. When you are done I’ll be glad to compare some of the other tractors to them if you want.
It has the rocker pedal.
@CC, there is really nothing on the market right now that has the rocker pedal. They hydro floor controls on the Deere, Craftsman, Husqvarna and Cub Cadet are about as close as you can get.
Clayton NC. I have used a Murray Select 42 inch from Lowes since 2002. It looks like it has seen its last season. I really loved the fact that I had one foot pedal for forward and reverse and it would mow in reverse and it did a decent job mulching once I started using Gator blades. What is a comparable machine on today’s market? The Murray site lists the 42 inch select but WalMart sez it is out of stock…..
@CCinjoCo, The new Murray’s are using the F-N-R selector on the left fender and the single pedal on the right floor board. I don’t know if your old on was like this or had the rocker pedal.
I’m not sure if the new Murray’s at Walmart will mow in reverse. But I do know the comparable Craftsman does.
17.5 HP 42” Auto Transmission Riding Mower – non CA
Thank you for this site. It has a wealth of information. 20 years ago, I moved to AR and maintain 2 acres that sits on top of a hill. 1 acre is fairly flat but the remaining acre is on a slope that ranges from 15 degrees up to 40 degrees. Rocks and tree roots are a problem. I recently sold the Hustler and was not happy with it’s performance on the slopes. I am surrounded by woods and would love to be able to mulch and pick up the leaves as well for the compost. I appreciate any advise that you could offer.
@Diana, I’m nervous about recommending any type of rider for you. Why? Because there are only a couple of $12,000 plus riders that can mow 30 degree and steeper slopes. Most people can’t walk up a 45 degree slope let alone mow it.
Hi Paul, Thanks a lot for your answer, the yard does have some areas with more than the 15 degrees slope, Ideally I would not want to spent more than 2K on a riding lawn mower but I do want to buy one that is for the task and that will last. Can you help me with the options?… even if I need to stretch out the budget…. Also what is the advantage of a zero turn?
@Eugenia, Since you have slopes greater than 10 degrees a residential zero-turn in out for you. (Commercial ZTRs start at $7000)
At this point I am going to suggest a Husqvarna YT48XLS or YT54LS. These tractors are around $2500 to $2800 and have a locking rear differential. They will go up your hills because both rear wheels will “lock up” and provide traction if one start to slip. All the tractors less than these do not offer this feature and will have problems mowing your hills.
These tractors are only available from your local Husqvarna dealer. When you go to visit them, Tell them you have 3.5 acres and you want a tractor with a locking diff.
Thanks a lot Paul! Now I have a starting point, before I was totally clueless. I’ll keep you posted!
Hi, I have 3.7 acres a little hilly. What would be good options for me & my lawn?
@Eugenia, If your hills are less than 15 degrees just about any 48 to 54 inch lawn tractor will work well. There are also some heavier zero-turns like the
PRO Series 54" 26 hp V-Twin Pro Z7400 Series Zero-Turn Riding Mower Non CA, Hustler Raptor HD or a commercial mower like a ExMark Lazer Z work very well.
If your hills are steeper than 15 Degrees then you are limited to a mower like the 500 Series John Deere 4 wheel drive. Feel free to give me a little more info on your lawn and budget and then we can narrow your choices down.
I want a new Zero Turn mower and just sold my 2005 Jazee One 42 inch. Which Zero Turn will last me as long as the one I just sold?
@Steve, The new Hustler Raptor, ExMark Quest S series, Toro Timecutter MX, Bad Boy ZT Elite all come to mind as great machines that are as rugged as your Jazee. If you are mowing less than 2 acres the Craftsman 25001, Cub Cadet and Husqvarna 46 inch will all give you 8 years of service.
Hi. My lifestyle block is quite rough. Bumps will put a stain on the transmission and steering. There are also occasional rocks and roots that I cannot seem to avoid. It would probably suit a tow behind mower with swing blades but I cannot afford to buy the mower and a quad bike to pull it. I have been using a John Deere LA110 and it has managed but has taken a battering and is getting to the end of its life. What would you recommend I look for? Cheers
@Nick, I feel the Acrease Rough Cut mower is one of the best solutions for rough terrain. Here is the link; Acrease. Gary and his son make a large range of sizes and you can find one that you can pull with your Deere. In other words take the deck off you tractor and use that instead of an ATV to pull a rough cut mower.