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Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Posted by sleeplessinftwayne z4-5 IND (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 18, 11 at 17:31

I am in my sixties and I have a broken back, nerve damage and fibromyalgia which means that I am in pain most of the time but I need to keep moving. I am five feet tall. The yard is not huge but is more than I can handle with a mower, even if I could start one by pulling a starter cord. The distance is too much for what endurance I have left. We have lots of trees and I would like to use the leaves as mulch on my gardens even if I have to go over them twice. I also need some way to get materials from the front yard to the back and trash and debris from the back to the front. A cane doesn't allow you to handle bulky or heavy objects. Even a bag of dry potting soil is too much to get from here to there without painful effort.

I checked out the Best Buy rated Sears Craftsman LT2000 model 28885 since all of their tractors are on sale, 20% off through 11/26. Much as I like it, the deck is simply too large. Their catalog shows two much smaller ones, the Smart Rider 28001 and the Rear Engine Rider 28034. Ratings say the Smart Rider transmission is a flop but the Rear Engine Rider seems to be OK especially for my flat yard.

Can anyone give me any advice?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

The size of the mower should be governed by the size of your lot and the number of obstructions. However, given your physical limitations I think you should consider spending the price of a riding mower on a lawn swervice. Or is there a local teenager looking for work?


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

The Sears Rear Engine Rider appears to be a Snapper RER in black. I have a Snapper that appears to match it -- that I purchased several years ago. I cut weekly but a little less in the cooler months (Florida). Except for a battery I have not had to replace parts or repair it other than for the routine maintenance procedures. I hose off the lower portion of the mower including beneath the cutting deck, let it dry, and store it in my garage. Another suggestion if you purchase a riding mower -- get a lawn tractor trailer, dump wagon, garden trailer or other similar named item to hitch to any riding mower. That will help get stuff from one place to another. I saw examples that are produced by John Deere and Gravely and you may find other brands at your local big box store.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

As usual, I forgot to add something. If you are thinking of gettin a Sears Snapper-like mower I suggest you visit a local Snapper dealer for information. You may find it cheaper to buy from a dealer and you will have better access for any repairs. I think that most Sears do not do repairs.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

I might hire a service for some things but they aren't available when I need them, they don't do what I need them to do, they do what my husband wants even though he doesn't know anything about the yard or gardening and even though I have been a gardener for 40 years and have taught many classes and run a greenhouse while they are working from a business model, they insist they know what is best. They have blown leaves and debris into my pond on more than one occasion, stripped inches of mulch and soil out of my gardens down to hardpan clay and destroyed plants that I have been raising for years by dumping rotting cut grass on them. It was so hot it steamed. It takes hours to clean up after them. They don't know a weed from a cultivated plant. It isn't worth it. City teens don't understand what to do or how to do it even when they are willing. Most of the time their idea of yardwork is mowing the grass. I wouldn't mind teaching them but they really aren't interested.

Actually, the local Sears carries Snapper and some other big brands. They also have a large repair and service dept. I know Sears is not the company it once was but I have not had unreasonable reactions from them.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

OK..... Sounds like you have a lot of concerns beyond your immediate physical limitations to deal with.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Sorry if I came off sounding irritated. I know there are people who do a good job, I don't mind paying and working with them. In other communities I have not had the problem and even the teenagers were reliable, interested and good workers. I paid them well and was glad to do it. Sadly there are too many here who don't have an understanding of basic yard and gardening principles who claim the title "landscaper". I don't have the time or money to hire someone who can't understand why I want to use the chopped or composted leaves as a mulch rather than paying to have it all hauled back from the city recycling center, as an example.

This city has even discussed cutting back on leaf collection and has a serious problem with flooding due to leaves clogging the sewers. My way is responsible & environmentally sound. Stripping the ground and dumping the leaves in the street is not. Since I am paying for it, I see no reason why collecting the leaves with a mower and using them is such a problem for these companies. They even refuse to bag the leaves and have tried to dismantle my compost bins, which, by the way are encouraged and sold by the city.

I want to keep as much of my physical ability as possible but I can no longer haul heavy loads or work as long and efficiently as I could before I was injured. I can't do the work the same way I did before but that doesn't mean I should give up something I have been doing for 40 years and that has given me much pleasure. A lawn tractor would take care of many of my issues, but thanks for the suggestion.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Sleepless, If the #28034 rear-engine rider is, in fact, manufactured by Snapper, then it is a well-built machine of a longtime, tried-and-true design. My mother had one (a Snapper, that is) for over 25 years, and it was relatively trouble-free and reliable.

HOWEVER, her old Snapper was not constructed to pull a dump cart or trailer. If you're considering the Sears, AND if you need to haul stuff, then make sure that it has a hitch on the back to hook up to.

If you have an independent Snapper dealer nearby, I suggest that you visit them. I think you'll find the actual Snapper brand at or below the Sears price, and you're likely to get good, timely service when required. Just make sure that you get a price on the electric (battery) start model, as Snapper's least expensive machines are pull start. Ask the dealer about pulling a cart.

If a Snapper-built machine will meet your needs, then I would say it is one of your best options.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Thank you all for the information. I purchased the Craftsman Rear Engine Rider and think it will do what I need. It is surprisingly quiet. It will take a while to get used to the controls. I am too used to using my right foot to control the speed and brake. I suppose if I can drive a sports car and an SUV, I will get used to this as well. After all, it didn't take long to learn to use a clutch and floor shift in the first place when I was fourteen.

Even with 20% off I didn't have enough saved for all the extras I will want right away. A Sears clerk showed me it will accommodate a small trailer and I will get that in the spring. The "Best Buy" was much less expensive but was really too large for our tree crowded lot so I am glad they had something small enough that will cover the jobs I really need it to do.

Once again, thank you. I won't hesitate to keep checking in on this forum.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

It sounds as you have done your research well. One other purchase that you should make if you haven't already is fuel stabilizer.( Marine Stabil, Seafoam, Starbrite etc) I see that you are in the Indiana, which means after fall clean up it will be a while before you use it again. You simply add a small amount to the fuel in the machine and run it up for 5 minutes or so to get it distributed where it needs to go. Next spring when you buy fresh fuel, it is a good thing to treat the fuel when you buy it and keep the container tightly sealed. These new machines will thank you for it. Plus don't forget that break in oil change! :)


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Read the operators manual cover to cover, especially regarding engine break in , check oil before starting. I am a reasonably fit 60, and Ive been mowing my 3/4 acre with sit down mower for about 8 yrs. If the rig has a fuel shut off, I suggest running the carb dry after every use.


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RE: Is a small lawn tractor worthwhile?

Reading your physical problems I think you'd be wise to stay away from a riding lawnmower--unless your lawn is like a highway, with no bumps, hills or dales to cause you misery from a shock system that is not like the family car.
You need to walk you say.....so the use of a self moving type lawnmower is what you need. As far as starting, no need for cord pulling, the electric starts are with us and generally are in every dealer that sells mowers.
You have to provide a place where you can charge up the battery after every 2nd or 3rd use--depending on the size of the lawn.
Like myself, I'm an age now that I appreciate the need to get out and mow the lawn--its medicine that keeps me active. In winter I am not afraid of a major storm, my snowblower does it all rather easily. Its also electric start. I do take a particular pill an hour before I admit, but for my twice, sometimes thrice per week mowing, I get the best satisfaction from the workout. Sometimes I spend more time than required just to keep moving and I'll often go over the lawn a second time. Its my excuse to cut the clippings down to smaller size so I don't have to remove them should the spring and summer rains cause the grass to grow faster than I can keep up with it.
It may sound odd, but right after a workout that causes my legs to feel it, I get on my bike and do a 5-minute cruise of the neighborhood. Afterwards, I feel much better than sitting down and having a problem of getting up and moving.


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