Good tractor for 10 acres + landscaping?

Klippenwald(5a)September 23, 2011

What's a good tractor for 10 acres of unimproved land? What accessories are a must? What should I look for when I buy a used one? Used in the Hudson Valley area, NY. This is what it will be needed for:


Snow removal

Driveway maintenance

Possible tree removal (might just rent a heavy dozer when necessary for that)

Rock moving

Lots of moving dirt from here to there

Ideas? Thoughts?

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    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Really? I figured for the amount of work that I need to do that a Deere 310 or a CAT 416 would be the minimum folks would suggest...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 5:34PM
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dunno. we talk lawn and garden tractors here, for the most part. Neither - IMHO - would be capable of meeting your interests.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 6:33PM
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Ah, I see. Well, maybe I'll get lucky and someone who knows bigger tractors might stop by.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 7:05PM
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larso1(So. CO Zone 5)

I would say nothing less than a JD 2520 Compact Utility, 25 HP size, or equivalent. Or bigger. Don't waste your time on a Sub-CUT, you have a lot of work to do there on that 10-acres.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 7:19PM
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I don't see mowing listed? For some of the work listed you're going to need a good sized machine with attachments (Big $$) which after you get your initial landscaping done will sit... I'd hire someone or rent a machine to do the big stuff. Then evaluate what you're going to do from there. Some of the items you list are well within the realm of a Garden tractor, snow removal, grading, dirt hauling, they'll do the job, but the old equation of "What do you have more of time or money?" does enter into it.

I've attached a link which should be of help. Scroll down and you'll find "Big tractors," "Cut tractors," "Lawn and Garden tractors," etc. wander around there, the search engine may also be of help.

Hmmm, the link is blocked my garden web? Search my tractor forum and you'll get there.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 8:22AM
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Good info so far.

@ Larsol, that JD 2520 looks like a perfect size for long-term maintenance of the land. I never even considered all that could be had in one solid compact package. But, that size isn't quite what I'd need to get the land quite the lay I'd like.

@ ExMar, I don't quite get what you'd like me to search for... Your name? Can the link be pasted here? At any rate, the plan is to buy everything used and put it to work for a year or two, just enough to get the big stuff done, sell it, and then switch to a smaller multi-use tractor. I couldn't afford buying new, and there are several tractors of varying sizes for sale in the area the land is in. Mowing - I'd planned on only an acre or less of mow-able area, so a little rider mower would have worked, but that 2520 or similar would be fine, too.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Hmmm, if you go to google and input my tractor forum without the spaces it'll take you there. Can't put it together as GW rejects it as spam? dunno what that's about, I spend more time there than any other forum. Or click "exmar" and send me an email and I'll send the link.

If you're not experienced with tractors buying used would probably get you someone else's headache. Also, parts for tractors and attachments is very expensive. I still recomend having the work done or rent a machine. e.g. Just replaced one set of "U joints" in a small bush hog (7 foot) and it was $80. ALso, are you "handy" at repairing these things?

Also confused, you're going to clear or do something with 10 acres and then mow one? The rest will grow back really fast unless you're going to pasture something-goats? You'll be amazed what only a year of not being mowed reveals.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 2:50PM
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If you are still confused about "My Tractor Forum" it has nothing to do with exmar or anyone.
That is the name of another forum on the web that you might want to visit.
"my tractor forum" but without any spaces between the words.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 8:02PM
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Gotcha regarding "my tractor forum", I'll have a look. Repairing is not a problem save where specialized tools might be required. But no experience buying used. Perhaps a minor consultation fee to a local dealer's repairman after hours might get someone experienced along to have a look.

Regarding the clearing; Only about an acre will be almost completely cleared, light thinning in some of the rest. Only the acre will require mowing, the rest is to remain wild.

The heavy work is needed because the topography slopes on the land and it will need leveling, that's a lot of earth that needs to be relocated and retaining walls that need building. There are a lot of large and small rocks in the soil, plus some stone walls that need rebuilding. Also there are some seasonal creeks that will be redirected into a yet-to-be-built pond to keep them away from the house and create some more wetland for the local wildlife.

Quite a bit to be done, and IMO it would probably cost a lot to have someone come out and do everything. I feel that if I were to encounter a large problem like an un-moveable boulder, I'd be able to figure out on the fly how to incorporate it in the landscaping rather than paying someone by the hour to come find me, if I'm even home.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 8:31PM
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I think I have the picture. The "heavy work" you mention would be a dozer. Even a 50+HP tractor with front end loader would take slightly longer than forever and destroy the machine in the process. ONe thing to be aware of with most front end loaders is the blade doesn't tilt from side to side like a dozer. Also, depending on how far you're going to want the dirt moved, it can be walked there with a dozer, but a front end loader and dump truck may be the way to go. Building and backfilling retaining walls would obviously be a time consuming manual process. Final grading would be best done with a dozer with a 6 way blade, then smoothed out with a drag harrow (or equivalent) prior to seeding.

Around here, just a simple 30X90 "stock pond" costs around $12,000 to have someone do it. During the process you'd probably see a backhoe, dozer, and big trachoe. Will your soil quality support a pond? e.g. Is there enough clay in the soil or would you have to go with a pond liner? Go to the USDA (link attached) website and request their free booklet on pond building. The creeks you're redirecting into the pond, how much "fall" do they have and what kind of watershed are they draining? I've seen well intentioned folks build ponds only to see them disappear in heavy spring rains.

I think I'd plan this out like a long term construction project and identify what you'd do, and what you'd want to have someone do for you. Use something like CPA (Critical Path Analysis) to identify the steps and what has to be done prior to the next step. e.g. Foundation must be completed prior to starting house construction...:-)

Everything you've mentioned could be done with a GT, dump trailer, front dozer blade, pick and shovel, and several years... Wasn't there someone in Florida who built a really big castle with nothing more than a wheelbarrow, chain fall, and hand tools (nice blog, BTW, :-) )?

Another aspect of buying or renting large items, are you an experienced dozer/equipment operator? If you know what you're doing you can move a lot of dirt and shape it fairly fast. If you don't you can have a lot of fun, take 6 times as long and not have as good an end result. Also to be considered with the larger items is fuel consumption, diesel ain't cheap. Maintenance...we have a relatively small dozer, JD450 which has two 12 Volt batteries replacing them is a back breaking and financial ouch! Buying used equipment, plan on replacing batteries, air, fuel, and hydraulic filters at a minimum.

I'd also investigate the local USDA extension office and see if the County Agent would visit and advise you, it's free. Also, depending on where you are in the Hudson Valley, you may find out that the EPA wants Environmental Impact Statements on the watershed you're changing. Best find that out before some overpaid and underworked Fed starts crawling around in your "underdrawers."

I'm in no way trying to rain on your parade. We had an expression in the Marines, "been shot at and missed and s**t at and hit enough times..." Just trying to share some of my scar tissue with you.

Good luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Pond Building

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 10:00AM
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All good info. I agree with you regarding the multiple types of equipment needed, save the dump truck - the earth moved from the high side will be pushed to level the low side rather than leaving a large and exposed face that would need a retaining wall if one leveled to the lowest grade of undisturbed earth. I've already checked into the dozer rental costs, $1400/wk with 6 way blade. My experience has all been with smaller tractors, only briefly with a dozer, but I certainly understand that time is $$$ and would make every effort to not muck around.

I'll definitely check with the EPA again, I already checked once and know I can't touch the mapped stream. The seasonal runoffs have already been redirected once by the engineers who inspected the property for drainage in reference to leach field installation. Lots of clay thanks to it being part of glacial till, so the pond will be fine and it will have an outlet, but I'll have someone check the soil in reference to the need for a liner. No reason not to and then have it wash away and my downstream neighbors unhappy with the sediment I just dumped in their waterway.

Will definitely check with the county as well.

Glad you liked the blog, and the castle you are referring to is Coral Castle. Quite a tourist attraction and has lots of "mystery" associated with it.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Sounds like you're on track. Keep us informed as to how it develops and decision points along the way.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 1:41PM
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