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View Full Version : Zero Turn vs Garden Tractor


mcleargrounds
03-27-2011, 02:40 PM
Hello. I am looking at purchasing my first mower. I have limited funds and see that I can get a garden tractor for much cheaper - however, I hear that the benefits of a zero turn are much grater.. Any advice?

bjccrew
03-27-2011, 03:38 PM
zero turn hands down. We started off with a Toro residential 50in. Never any issues what so ever. Had it for 4 years and used it on about 15 of our customers weekly. I have used a garden tractor and they are not easy to maneuver. It takes twice as long with a garden tractor.

Look on craigslist and find good deals or go to home depot or lowes and spend $3000 for a 50in.

My 2 cents. Lata

mcleargrounds
03-27-2011, 04:16 PM
Thank you, I was looking at the Toro Timesaver SS at Home Depot 50' for 2999. I think that is what I will go with.

picframer
03-28-2011, 06:15 AM
If you only want to mow, then a ZTR will be the cheapest route, you will find residential tractor mowers for your budget however you won't find a garden tractor in that range.

I have run GT's and ZTR's in the business, I opted for the John Deere X749's as they will mow and turn almost as tight as a ZTR and go places a ZTR will not think of as they are all wheel drive and all wheel steer. Mowing is a small percentage of what we do, I opted almost two years ago to focus services on consumer demand that offered the greatest return on my investment.

mcleargrounds
03-28-2011, 07:12 PM
Well I am looking at providing a variety of services. Dethatching / Mulch / Areation etc... Can a ZTR do that type of work?

Steve
03-29-2011, 01:05 PM
You can get a dethatcher and aerator unit for your ztr.

wandfsmall
03-29-2011, 07:58 PM
You can get a dethatcher and aerator unit for your ztr.

I would not hook any of that up to a timesaver, it will likely bend the frame. Those are residential units not designed for that kind of weight on the front. You might get by with a Badboy MZ or a Hustler sport for a while though.

picframer
03-30-2011, 07:36 AM
For Aeration we use Natres Lawn Care (Aerify) it's a spray that works very, very well, it is a solution to clay and compacted soils whereas I see core aeration as a patch.

For dethatch I also have a spray to brake down dead grass or sometimes we we use the Agrifab smart sweet which works great for this.

As for using the ZTR for other functions, many will. I had the John Deere 997's however they were only used for mowing. We use garden tractors for just about everything in the book, tilling, pulling large wood chippers to locations on the clients property, spraying using the 3pt hitch, in landscaping they will pull a box blade, rear blade and 6 foot landscape rake, rollers etc.

JMADEWELL09
03-31-2011, 09:30 AM
well for me I like the garden tractors, we can tow a trailer with them and have assories and all our clients likes there lawns baged. I used to own a old ramoes zero turn it looked like the walker mower, the engie through a rod so i went to a garden tractor. The advantage for me using garden tractors i can get them at sears which a store is about 30 mins from my house. Sears also sells a nice zero turn which i like. but i live in the desert and and most people dont have much grass i do have a few customers that have 1-2 acres but for me buying a zero trun for 3-5 thousand dosent make sence cause mowing the ten yards that require a big mower i wouldnt break even till like 5-7 years. But if i spend 1,500 and used it to haul stuff and use the spreader and other attachments then i can make a profit with it.

Steve
03-31-2011, 12:27 PM
I would not hook any of that up to a timesaver, it will likely bend the frame. Those are residential units not designed for that kind of weight on the front. You might get by with a Badboy MZ or a Hustler sport for a while though.

Would it be better to not go with any front mounted devices like that? Is it better to pull them behind a mower or just not use them with a ztr at all?

mcleargrounds
04-03-2011, 12:55 PM
Thanks for all the advice. Sounds like there are benefits to owning both types of units. Since I am just stating out and will be trying to offer as many services as possible the obtain new customers - it sounds like I should go with a garden tractor... I do not have that many customers yet so getting a property done in 30 min vs 45 min (adding 3 or 4 hours additional a week) does'nt seem too bad considering I can save almost $1000 on the mower purchase and add additional services extras.

mark123
04-03-2011, 01:29 PM
... I can save almost $1000 on the mower purchase and add additional services extras.

You never save the money you think you're saving. You'll be much less efficient in mowing with the tractor. Of course the residential ztr doesn't go as fast as a commercial and isn't going to handle the lawns as well so you'll have to slow down but it's still going to be more efficient than a garden tractor. Efficiency is the key. Inefficiency costs money and keeps you from expanding.

Offering extra services isn't selling extra services. Starting out buying equipment you don't yet have a need for can put you out of business before the year is out.

My advice is to buy a used commercial mower to start out. Get two if you can because you need a backup. You'll void the warranty on a residential mower by using it in a business context and they won't fix it for you if you break something. You will break something.

jklawncare
04-03-2011, 05:57 PM
I personally won't touch a garden tractor. Maybe if its a large lawn but I would honestly rather push mow then use a garden tractor, they dont turn smoothly and you need lots of clearance to turn..In the end the lawn looks bad and Im extremely frustrated.

Im buying a commercial walkbehind.. I LOVE what ferris makes..
I would say push mow whatever you can..save up for a walkbehind, stand on, or ztr..dont waste time or money on a garden mower

mark123
04-03-2011, 06:05 PM
I personally won't touch a garden tractor. Maybe if its a large lawn but I would honestly rather push mow then use a garden tractor, they dont turn smoothly and you need lots of clearance to turn..In the end the lawn looks bad and Im extremely frustrated.

Im buying a commercial walkbehind.. I LOVE what ferris makes..
I would say push mow whatever you can..save up for a walkbehind, stand on, or ztr..dont waste time or money on a garden mower
I'm going to have to completely agree. I'd get laughed out of business around here using a lawn tractor. :D

The possibility of adding other services isn't a good reason unless you've already sold many of those services. I'd rather say "I am not set up for that yet" one time per year than to have a piece of equipment languish, unused in the back of the garage. Even if you do sell services you need a real farm tractor rather than a garden mower. In the case of a residential mower they really aren't designed to carry more than an average American fat guy so towing a top-dresser full of compost is not going to happen.

Ferris does make a great mower. I'm not convinced they offer the best quality of cut but the suspension makes for a really smooth ride that doesn't beat you up.

jklawncare
04-03-2011, 06:18 PM
Ferris does make a great mower. I'm not convinced they offer the best quality of cut but the suspension makes for a really smooth ride that doesn't beat you up.

You may be right but for the price and the quality i think it would be the best in my situation. I want a 36" or so walkbehind mower and they offer a hyrdodrive one for a little under 4k

And i have rode almost every mower that they have and they are unbelieveably comfortable..

I didnt have much to compare cuts too..but i would say ferris cuts better than toro..

I dont have much experience around other machines though..what would you reccomend to me?

i know this is off topic but i suppose this would help him decide on a brand of mower as well..sorry i dont mean to take over this post..haha

picframer
04-03-2011, 06:21 PM
I'm going to have to completely agree. I'd get laughed out of business around here using a lawn tractor. :D

The possibility of adding other services isn't a good reason unless you've already sold many of those services. I'd rather say "I am not set up for that yet" one time per year than to have a piece of equipment languish, unused in the back of the garage. Even if you do sell services you need a real farm tractor rather than a garden mower. In the case of a residential mower they really aren't designed to carry more than an average American fat guy so towing a top-dresser full of compost is not going to happen.

Ferris does make a great mower. I'm not convinced they offer the best quality of cut but the suspension makes for a really smooth ride that doesn't beat you up.

As with everything we need to keep up to date on what is on the market, my X749's will mow circles around your ZTR's meet or beat the quality and generate multiples of income, for fuel economy these are 3 cyl diesels, there isn't a gas engine that will touch it's life, torque and the list goes on.

I agree the box store lawn tractors are not worth the effort on the business but there are many high end garden tractors that will assist the business owner in growing their business far beyond lawn mowing.

I have a 48" deck mower for this we use on lawns that are not flat which is the majority, we have a few very large areas we mow so they put the 7 foot finish mower on, for clearing areas over grown we have a 60" bush hog and a 6 foot sickle bar mower, a ZTR will not run any of these.

As for tight turning, this model will go arould a telephone pole with the deck tight against the pole, start to finish, in my area we have some pretty tough grades, being all wheel drive we can mow any lawn I have seen which brought us a lot of business two years ago when even our 997 ZTR's would not go up the grades.

mark123
04-03-2011, 06:24 PM
... I didnt have much to compare cuts too..but i would say ferris cuts better than toro..
:eek: Oh, no you didn't! :p

...I dont have much experience around other machines though..what would you reccomend to me?

In my experience on mostly KBG/Rye mix Toro gives the best quality of cut except for their 40" anything. The 40" is a lemon. No matter what they tell you stay away from the 40". It does not stripe the lawn and it makes a mess of the lawn. I had the displeasure of buying a new one last year only to return it a few days later for a 36". Check my site for pics of what the Toro 36" can do (there are only 2 lawn pics on the site, maybe I should add a few more this year).

After Toro, I'd say go Exmark.

jklawncare
04-03-2011, 06:32 PM
Andy I cant argue with you those are some truly great mowers. How much do those run you a piece?

I dont have alot of grades so personally i want a walkbehind or stand on.

And thanks mark..the one i tested the cut on actually was a 40" grandstand so thats probably why i didnt like it..I wonder why that is..Id be going for a 36" grand stand if I went the Toro route. or the 36" hyrdrodrive if i went with Ferris..
maybe a wright stander even..Oh well..thats a subject for another thread..

mark123
04-03-2011, 06:34 PM
As with everything we need to keep up to date on what is on the market, my X749's will mow circles around your ZTR's meet or beat the quality and generate multiples of income, for fuel economy these are 3 cyl diesels, there isn't a gas engine that will touch it's life, torque and the list goes on. ...

You're talking a $14,000 mower though. This cat's talking about saving a few bucks compared to a $2,000 ztr.

jklawncare
04-03-2011, 06:36 PM
You're talking a $14,000 mower though. This cat's talking about saving a few bucks compared to a $2,000 ztr.

Thats why i asked him how much they ran him :D
It would be great to have a machine like that but in most situations it would not be very practical cost wise..

mark123
04-03-2011, 06:40 PM
... And thanks mark..the one i tested the cut on actually was a 40" grandstand so thats probably why i didnt like it..I wonder why that is..Id be going for a 36" grand stand if I went the Toro route. or the 36" hyrdrodrive if i went with Ferris..
maybe a wright stander even..Oh well..thats a subject for another thread..I think the 36" grandstand has the smaller deck (it's not as tall) and you are going to want the taller deck (I think it's 5" versus 5.5" in depth"). I'd suggest a 48" or a 52" if you can swing it. If you're going with a 36" I'd suggest a Walkbehind with a sulky (jungle wheels).

Try the 36" GS out though, it may surprise you! :)

I do agree with picframer. ZTR is for mowing only. I am looking for something that can handle hauling a top dresser but probably won't go for it until next year. I'll probably look into something like a Steiner (http://www.steinerturf.com/).

jklawncare
04-03-2011, 06:49 PM
I think the 36" grandstand has the smaller deck (it's not as tall) and you are going to want the taller deck (I think it's 5" versus 5.5" in depth"). I'd suggest a 48" or a 52" if you can swing it. If you're going with a 36" I'd suggest a Walkbehind with a sulky (jungle wheels).

Try the 36" GS out though, it may surprise you! :)

I do agree with picframer. ZTR is for mowing only. I am looking for something that can handle hauling a top dresser but probably won't go for it until next year. I'll probably look into something like a Steiner (http://www.steinertractor.com/).

eh..you can attach alot of attachments onto a ztr but your limited as to where if you had a commercial tractor it has a broader range..

and as far as deck size..i really want to stay away from larger decks for two reasons, lawns around here (even the bigger ones) look weird with the huge stripes and lots of people like seeing smaller machinery..i push mow and alot of my customers love that..because theres no ruts and it dosnt tear it up..

also because i want to fit between gates..

mark123
04-03-2011, 08:16 PM
eh..you can attach alot of attachments onto a ztr but your limited as to where if you had a commercial tractor it has a broader range..

and as far as deck size..i really want to stay away from larger decks for two reasons, lawns around here (even the bigger ones) look weird with the huge stripes and lots of people like seeing smaller machinery..i push mow and alot of my customers love that..because theres no ruts and it dosnt tear it up..

also because i want to fit between gates..Yes, definitely equip to fit the locality. I also don't like the huge stripes but there's not much difference between a 36" and a 48". As you say though, you're not going to get a 48" through a gate.

picframer
04-04-2011, 06:40 AM
You're talking a $14,000 mower though. This cat's talking about saving a few bucks compared to a $2,000 ztr.

I was addressing your feedback and opinions on Garden tractors, not the cost difference between a ZTR and Garden tractor. Cost is a factor when buying equipment, in my case thr return on investment is the deciding factor, a ZTR would take me two years, as with other locations lawn mowing is very, very competitive which is why I focus on services other than mowing, thus a X749, based on the two I own, payed for themselves in a few months, the first one only 4.

mcleargrounds
04-04-2011, 07:06 PM
Yes, definitely equip to fit the locality. I also don't like the huge stripes but there's not much difference between a 36" and a 48". As you say though, you're not going to get a 48" through a gate.

I have been tossing around what size deck to get. I sounds like I should have more than one mower. I have limited funds - and have about 12 contracts so far for mowing (none have gates) estate size lots 100 x 200, trees and uneven terrain. I was looking at a 54" commercial mower and possible a cheaper non-commercial craftsman 36" till I get more $$. Do you think I should just go with a good 36" walk behind - and save the cash for emergencies?

Steve
04-05-2011, 12:01 PM
Do you think I should just go with a good 36" walk behind - and save the cash for emergencies?

I would think that was a prudent plan. Sounds good.

mark123
04-05-2011, 12:39 PM
Yes, for someone starting out a 36" walk behind, a weed whacker and a backpack blower is a perfect setup. I use this setup with no trailer, just two curved ramps (better than straight). You must get a set of ramps that have safety straps or else they'll kick out and you'll turn your mower over on it's head. (How do I know this you may ask ... :p)

When you grow enough to need a bigger mower and a trailer, the 36" can be moved to backup and small lawn/gated lawn duties.

For the 36" get a sulky. I prefer Jungle Wheels. I ran my entire first year without. I walked everything. Longest year of my life. I did lose some weight though. ;)