Riding mower / garden tractor needed

thombertOctober 9, 2012

We just moved onto 6 acres containing .5 acres lush lawn and 3.5 acres of medow or pasture. The lawn was installed on a deep bed of topsoil so is soft -- feels wonderful to walk on. The pasture or meadow area is rough with small ruts and some hills -- maybe 20 feet total elevation gain. Previous owner used a John Deere L100 with bagger. Medow areas were mowed once every 4 to 6 weeks to keep fire danger down. He used several options for that; hired someone with a tow-behind brush hog or hired a kid to spend 2 or 3 days with a walk-behind brush hog. We want to plant some gardens on some of the pasture area and would rather do our own mowing. Looking for one tractor that can mow and drop the deck to pull a brush hog and a small tiller or plow. May need to attach a blade for snow or leveling beds. Problem would be weight. Too large a tractor might leave ruts in the lawn. Am I looking for two machines or is there something that would do the jobs I foresee?

Thanks for your consideration. I am new to this forum so if this has been covered just let me know and I will do some searching. Key words or phrases would help.

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Probably going to need at least a small CUT to have a PTO and 3pt hitch for the meadow and gardening work and to be sturdy enough to hold up. May be too large to maneuver around the lush lawn and too heavy not to leave tire depressions.
An option would be to go with the larger, well built "garden" tractor that will work for the lawn (like a JD 500 or 700 or Simplicity Conquest) and pull rough cut and tiller powered attachments for the other work.
Some dealers will bring their machines to your property for a demo--I'd suggest that before making a substantial investment.
To keep the cost down, you may be better off buying a used CUT (or better) tractor and attachments for the field and gardens and a new "lawn" tractor for the lawn.
If price is no object, the only all purpose machine that comes to mind and might work for both the lawn and field and has all the attachments for mowing, tilling and snow is the Steiner or the Ventrac. The availability of dual wheels (although purpose is stability) may resolve any rutting of the tires in the lawn due to weight.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Thank you grass1950 -- you pointed me in a direction and I found the world of sub-compact utility tractors. Maybe one of those with turf tires would do the trick. I like the idea of a dealer demo -- that would answer the question on ruts in the lawn. I think a lawn tractor plus a CUT might be cheaper but would require another outlay in the form of a shed -- something we know we will need eventually but were hoping to put off for another year. Decisions, decisions...
PS: sorry for my miss-spelling of "meadow" in my original post -- did it from my iPhone late in a dark room and just didn't notice those typos.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:10PM
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I do more than my share of typos so I don't get in a bunch about them.
You are kinda between a rock and a hard place. Depending on how soft your lawn is and the number of trees and flower beds, a sub CUT may be too much, but anything less is not likely to perform and hold up for your other needs. Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:27PM
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We don't worry two much abot typos hear. We all all human.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 1:31PM
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OP - the finished lawn will need finished cutting once/week. the pasture can go go 2-4 weeks but then will need a bush hog or similar tool to chop down the growth. Trying to find one power unit that can do both tasks will be dicey.
If you get both a CUT and a lawn tractor, figure on shelter for the two of them - neither will do well left out in the weather - they like it dry.

Anyhow, take your time and "feel" your way into this project - most of what you need done you can rent out until you have adequate time to determine your best investments.
And pay attention to what works well for your neighbors with similar property/actiivities... good luck !

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Well, I did a lot of looking and reading. The neighbor, through frequent mowing, turned most of his property into a "rough" lawn -- meaning, it is still meadow grass and assorted other stuff, but he lets nature do the watering and keeps it cut fairly short. Looks good. He uses a finish mower on a 3-point hitch on his Kabota CUT. I decided I would try a JD 318 and found one that was traded in to a dealer who, it appears, decided to cut me a great deal. This was a machine he sold to the original owner new, has serviced it every year, and took it back in trade when the original owner decided to buy a new one. The dealer sharpened the blades, installed a power flow bagger unit, changed the oil, tightened the steering, replaced some missing trim pieces, fixed a leaking tire, installed a snow blade he had laying around (2-axis hydraulics on the blade!), and delivered it to me for $2400 plus tax.

It's still raining like mad here, so I will wait for a few days of dry before I try mowing the lawn. If it gets much colder I may use the snow blade first!

So hopefully this beast will do both jobs -- the lawn and the meadow areas, and be useful for other chores as well. We will be looking for a garden trailer and perhaps a tiller attachment, maybe even a 3-point hitch to expand what we can do.

My profile says I'm a newbie hobby farmer, and to that end we are tentatively planning on raising a few calves for beef, or maybe start with a few lambs, (either would cut down on the pasture mowing!), a few chickens, a vegetable plot, a few herbs in raised beds, and will be planting a few fruit trees. That ought to keep us plenty busy this coming year.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:19PM
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