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View Full Version : Riding Mower - The answer?



JaxRed
01-14-2007, 02:42 PM
So I have your standard sized suburban yard. Front is maybe 20' x 30', back is bigger, maybe 75X35.

So being incredibly busy, and more incredibly lazy, I pay some lawn mowing service $140 a month to mow the lawn. This is Florida, so it's 12 months a year. In addition I pay Truegreen Chemlawn about $650 a year for fertilizing, etc.

This is house I plan to retire in and that is only about 7 years away. Looking at controlling costs. Let's eliminate one thing right off the bat...... doing it myself with walking mower is just never going to happen.

Considering 2 alternatives

1. Trying to eliminate so much grass that it could be done with a weed-eater or electric mower. In front I could widen the driveway with pavers, put a big palm tree in with large island around it, stuff like that.

Might be a little harder in back, but we're putting in sunroom, and we could expand the patio areas.

Advantages to this would be No Mowing, no Chemlawn, and reduced watering costs. Disadvantages would be the costs asscoiated with it, and the possibility the lawn would look weird if not done well.

2. Or get a riding lawnmower. Would still have the Chemlawn costs, and the water costs. What I wonder is whether the riding mower is so fast and easy that it's not a major pain in the butt come mowing time. I've never used one.

LoganBuck
01-14-2007, 03:25 PM
Jax, there are many small mowers, that may work for you if you don't want a push mower. My number one suggestion would be a self propelled walk behind, given the size of your yard. However, since you don't want that, you should probably look into a small zero turn mower, given the size of your yard a conventional mower would take too long to manuever. Plus you would be able to cut down on your trimmer time, because a zero turn gets alot closer to obstacles like trees and flower beds. Look for something under 16 Hp and at most a 42" deck. Manueverability should be your key target. I am assuming you have a slight mechanical inclination as well, to keep a lawn mower you should know some basics about small engines, like oil change, spark plugs, belt maintenance, and how to change a battery. Any place that services mowers, really likes to stick people that can't do the basics for service fees. Try to buy from someone local, that can be available should you have a more advanced issues.

I own two lawn mowers, a Craftsman for my house, my yard is about an acre in size, and a Grasshopper for around my farm (4 acres of mowing). I have researched many brands of mowers over the years, so fire away if you have any questions.

Ltlabner
01-14-2007, 03:26 PM
So I have your standard sized suburban yard. Front is maybe 20' x 30', back is bigger, maybe 75X35.

So being incredibly busy, and more incredibly lazy, I pay some lawn mowing service $140 a month to mow the lawn. This is Florida, so it's 12 months a year. In addition I pay Truegreen Chemlawn about $650 a year for fertilizing, etc.

This is house I plan to retire in and that is only about 7 years away. Looking at controlling costs. Let's eliminate one thing right off the bat...... doing it myself with walking mower is just never going to happen.

Considering 2 alternatives

1. Trying to eliminate so much grass that it could be done with a weed-eater or electric mower. In front I could widen the driveway with pavers, put a big palm tree in with large island around it, stuff like that.

Might be a little harder in back, but we're putting in sunroom, and we could expand the patio areas.

Advantages to this would be No Mowing, no Chemlawn, and reduced watering costs. Disadvantages would be the costs asscoiated with it, and the possibility the lawn would look weird if not done well.

2. Or get a riding lawnmower. Would still have the Chemlawn costs, and the water costs. What I wonder is whether the riding mower is so fast and easy that it's not a major pain in the butt come mowing time. I've never used one.


All depends on your preferences. I've found that most people with riding mowers still need to do some triming either with a push mower or a weed wacker.

My yard is more like 125 x 225 and I push the entire thing. Because of the number of trees and other obstructions it's just as easy to push it. And it's good exercise.

Riding mowers aren't cheep either. I think the cheepo units still run $800 or so. But I'm certinally no expert on their prices. That's new, if you can find someone with a decent used one it might be perfect for what you are trying to do.

paintmered
01-14-2007, 03:31 PM
Whatever you do, go to a dealer and not to Lowe's, Home Depot or Sears. The riding mowers they sell there will last you at most 5 years. The name on the mower might be the same, but the mower itself is not the same quality.

Go to a dealer (John Deere, Toro, whatever) and you will find something that will run without problem for 25 years.

Red in Chicago
01-14-2007, 06:53 PM
trugreen is the devil...two years ago, they killed off almost my entire front yard due to over-fertilizing during our draught...

GAC
01-14-2007, 08:24 PM
Whatever you do, go to a dealer and not to Lowe's, Home Depot or Sears. The riding mowers they sell there will last you at most 5 years. The name on the mower might be the same, but the mower itself is not the same quality.

Go to a dealer (John Deere, Toro, whatever) and you will find something that will run without problem for 25 years.

Fully agree Craig. Invest in something that is durable and will last. I like Dixons, but buy one with a Honda motor. You can get a 42" cut for around $3500. Well worth it.

My neighbor bought a Toro (which bought out Workhorse) for around $2600. Nice mower too.

Virginia Beach Reds
01-14-2007, 09:13 PM
Whatever you do, go to a dealer and not to Lowe's, Home Depot or Sears. The riding mowers they sell there will last you at most 5 years. The name on the mower might be the same, but the mower itself is not the same quality.

Go to a dealer (John Deere, Toro, whatever) and you will find something that will run without problem for 25 years.


I don't necessarily agree with you on this. While going to the dealer may have a few advantages, if you take care of your ride it will last you just as long as a dealer bought model.

LoganBuck
01-14-2007, 10:44 PM
I don't necessarily agree with you on this. While going to the dealer may have a few advantages, if you take care of your ride it will last you just as long as a dealer bought model.

Virginia is right, the dealers also sell that HomeDepot, Sears, stuff with different paint. My Grandfather always put it this way. You can have a new Craftsman for half the price of a John Deere, but in 15 years your Craftsman is trash and the John Deere is 15 years old, with alot of quirky problems, you buy a new Craftsman, and you don't worry about the quirky 15 year old John Deere. I got a 26 HP Craftsman with a Kohler engine and a 54" deck for mowing around home. Paid $2000, a comperable John Deere would have run me $4700, and I was getting an employee discount through a family member. If you change the oil and maintain the mower properly, you really only have to worry about the motor wearing out. If you do go with a cheaper mower, go with a manual transmission. The hydrostatic units have more mechanical parts that are harder to fix. I would not by a used lawn mower, unless it is a Deere, Grasshopper, or similar quality, and only if it has documented hours. A lawn mower will only run about 2000 hours before croaking. There are alot of nice options in zeroturn mowers that we have not mentioned. Dixon makes a nice consumer model that has sizes that fit Jax's needs.

Reds Nd2
01-14-2007, 10:58 PM
http://www.dixiechopper.com/

George Foster
01-14-2007, 11:26 PM
For such a small yard get a walk behind push mower. It propels itself, all you have to do is keep it on line. It will really frustrate you with the amount of your yard that you cannot get to with rider mower. the corners, landscaing, etc.

With a walk behind mower, you will have to do very little if any trimming with a weed eater. With a rider mower...a ton of weed eating.

A top of the line walk behind mower will run 700 to 1 K tops. A decent rider will run 4-7 K.

What happens if the mower needs work? With a rider, you need a trailer to get it to the repairman...with a walk behind, put it in the back of a truck or SUV.

Trust me a walk behind, with such a small yard, is the way to go and save 4-5 K!!! If your time is the main factor, by the time you frustrate yourself with a rider and trimming, you can mow it with a walk behind...:thumbup:

http://www.toro.com/home/mowers/index.html

JaxRed
01-15-2007, 12:20 AM
I saw a John Deere at Lowes today for roughly $1800. That's what got me thinking. At $1,680 a year for mowing, a $1,800 mower pays for itself pretty quickly.
John Deere at Home Depot (http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0565293786.1168837541@ @@@&BV_EngineID=ccekaddjlkjjkgecgelceffdfgidgio.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=misc/searchResults.jsp&MID=9876&N=2984+5234&pos=n20)

Link won't go direct;y to last page of riding mowers

20 HP, 42 inch. George Foster is wrong if he thinks I'm going to do regular mower, did that before I went to mowing service. But he might be right that riding mower might have enough drawbacks, that my vision of a quick 20 minute trip around the yard is a pipe dream.

My yard is level and fairly rectangular. I know I'd have to weed-eat. Thought it was interesting that no one mentioned the "eliminate most of the grass" option. We are empty nesters, so we don't need yard to play in.

LoganBuck
01-15-2007, 07:41 AM
I know exactly the mower you are describing and have been told, it is of lower quality than a Craftsman. John Deere is pretty much slapping their name on a crappy mower, they don't make it. If you look at that mower closely it gives you a delicate feeling, even if you compare it to the other house brands at Home Depot. I can't stress how negative the perception is of that mower.

Dom Heffner
01-15-2007, 08:22 AM
I pay some lawn mowing service $140 a month to mow

Wow- I just got a quote here in Tampa for $40....

SunDeck
01-15-2007, 08:24 AM
Eliminating as much grass as you can is a great option. I reduced my mowing time by about 1/2 by doing this. In my case, the actual time spent on yard care probably has not gone down (I like the work), but instead has shifted to the kinds of things I personally like to do, working with perennials, beds, etc.

In your case, I would recommend doing the same, except with the advice to choose your plants carefully. Luckily, in your region there are gazillions of evergreen shrubs that you won't have to constantly care for, so the option of reducing the size of the mowable turf is definitely feasible.

An additional recommendation would be to sculpt your beds to accomodate the mower. This will help to reduce trimmer work.

If you do this right, you won't have enough time on the rider to even finish the drink in your cupholder!

GAC
01-15-2007, 08:41 AM
I saw a John Deere at Lowes today for roughly $1800. That's what got me thinking. At $1,680 a year for mowing, a $1,800 mower pays for itself pretty quickly.
John Deere at Home Depot (http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0565293786.1168837541@ @@@&BV_EngineID=ccekaddjlkjjkgecgelceffdfgidgio.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=misc/searchResults.jsp&MID=9876&N=2984+5234&pos=n20)

Link won't go direct;y to last page of riding mowers

My neighbor has that exact same model. I've driven it. Nice mower for what he (and probably you) have to do.

http://www.homedepot.com/cmc_upload/HDUS/EN_US/asset/images/eplus/759936683916_3.jpg

paintmered
01-15-2007, 08:41 AM
I know exactly the mower you are describing and have been told, it is of lower quality than a Craftsman. John Deere is pretty much slapping their name on a crappy mower, they don't make it. If you look at that mower closely it gives you a delicate feeling, even if you compare it to the other house brands at Home Depot. I can't stress how negative the perception is of that mower.

Yes, that is exactly the case. The mower says John Deere because Home Depot and Lowe's want to sell inexpensive mowers with name recognition. Those mowers really should be an embarrassment to the brand.

In the end, you get what you pay for.

Jpup
01-15-2007, 08:48 AM
field turf.

JaxRed
01-15-2007, 09:17 AM
I assume you're kidding jpup, but that is expensive stuff. But if one followed the "less grass" route...... (it's crossed my mind)

dabvu2498
01-15-2007, 10:50 AM
There are a couple "lawns" near here that are 100% rock gardens.

TeamCasey
01-15-2007, 10:52 AM
Weeding and grooming gardens is harder than mowing. Riding mowers are fun. Grab a cold drink and some tunes and go flake out on the rider for an hour.

LoganBuck
01-15-2007, 01:19 PM
Jax, take a trip to a dealer of some sort in your area that sells lawnmowers. Check your yellow pages, then go try to drive some of them before you purchase anything. I think that given the size of your yard if you had a zero turn mower you could accomplish the whole thing in less than 20 minutes very easily. Plus zero turn mowers are actually fun to drive. It is like the difference between Barry Sanders and Mike Alstott.

GAC
01-15-2007, 05:06 PM
Yes, that is exactly the case. The mower says John Deere because Home Depot and Lowe's want to sell inexpensive mowers with name recognition. Those mowers really should be an embarrassment to the brand.

In the end, you get what you pay for.

I agree with what you're saying to a degree because I'm the guy who needed a riding mower (I have an acre) and went out and bought a Sears "This is piece of Crap Man". :mooner:

But I have two neighbors that have John Deere's, and they are far superior mowers to the Craftsman, Murray, and other "generic" mowers found at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

My next one will be a zero radius. I got friends that do lawn car, and really drive the heck out of them, and they brag on their Dixons. But they say get one with a Honda motor. You can get a 52" cut for under 4 grand. That may seem a little expensive to some; but from what I've researched, they really last and are very durable.

Now another nieghbor has a Toro zero radius (42" cut), and paid around $2400 for it. Toro bought out Workhorse several years ago (which made one heck of a mower). I like his Toro because everything is very accessible if/when you need to service it.

Spring~Fields
01-15-2007, 05:18 PM
14 years and Loews rider still cutting fine and I use it as if it was an all terrain vehicle on banks, up and down hills, rough uneven ground etc. A real mad man on a rider.

Grew up using Deer though, nothing like a good Deer.

LoganBuck
01-15-2007, 10:38 PM
I agree with what you're saying to a degree because I'm the guy who needed a riding mower (I have an acre) and went out and bought a Sears "This is piece of Crap Man". :mooner:

But I have two neighbors that have John Deere's, and they are far superior mowers to the Craftsman, Murray, and other "generic" mowers found at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

My next one will be a zero radius. I got friends that do lawn car, and really drive the heck out of them, and they brag on their Dixons. But they say get one with a Honda motor. You can get a 52" cut for under 4 grand. That may seem a little expensive to some; but from what I've researched, they really last and are very durable.

Now another nieghbor has a Toro zero radius (42" cut), and paid around $2400 for it. Toro bought out Workhorse several years ago (which made one heck of a mower). I like his Toro because everything is very accessible if/when you need to service it.

Dixon would be a good choice Jax.

http://www.dixon-ztr.com/view_category.php?category=119