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Veteran Contributor

Zero-turn radius mowers

Do any of you own zero-turn radius lawn mowers? I’m debating a buyers’ guide on the topic and I’m wondering if this is something you would be interested in. And if you do own one, do you have any tips for others looking to buy?

 

And on that note, I wanted to let you know about our Farm Beautiful Contest. We’re looking for well-kept, well-maintained, and well-loved farmsteads. AND the prize is a zero-turn radius Exmark mower (worth almost $12,000). You can read more about the contest and entry requirements here: agriculture.com/farmbeautiful.

 

Here's the prize:

small image.jpg

 

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16 Replies
Senior Advisor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

I have a 60" ZTR Bad Boy with 30 hp Kohler engine. I know a few other farmers with ZTR that they use for the farm. For farm use, I'd think a 60" would be about the smallest and a 72" about the biggest. On my farm, I have some uneven surfaces to mow so the narrower deck fits well. Those with flat farms would likely prefer a wider deck to cover more with one pass. I've been looking this spring thinking of trading or repairing mine. There seem to be three levels; residential, commercial and professional. I doubt if any farmer would want less than a commercial grade. These are going to run $8,000 on up and the bigger professional with diesel engine can come pretty close to $20,000. I use mine for mowing around bins, lots, and buildings where the tractor mowers are a little too clumsy. I don't take it out in the fields. It will handle heavy grass pretty well and even heavy weeds to some extent. The things I'd like to know better are what hydraulic pumps and motors are used. I think there are cheaper and better grades and I'm not sure which is which. I get the feeling that many mowers may use the same components, just like many trucks use Eaton or Rockwell components. Many also use similar engines. It would seem then that it is not just a question of Mower A versus Mower B, but also a question of which components are in Mower A and which in Mower B. Ease of cleaning the underneath, sharpening the blades, replacing the belts and so forth is a consideration for some. Some ZTR can take extra attachments, such as snow blowers or blades. I don't have any experience with them. There are a number of ZTR makers, but I think one could narrow the list down to a dozen or fewer without too much trouble. I'd like to read what others have to say, as I'm thinking of either trading or repairing.
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Veteran Contributor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

We are on our 2nd Kubota, first was one of the first ZD 21s and a year ago we updated to a ZD 331 both are excellent mowers and have never done anything to them other than fluids and filters.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

We've owned about 10 ZTR's throughout the years, we prefer the one's that place the mower deck in front of you.  Makes cleaning and servicing the under side much easier.

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Advisor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

My only tip for others would be to be sure to demo them at your lawn. My experience is zero turns work great for doing large areas fast, but lots of trees and a jd all wheel steer is nicer. 

 

My parents have had 3 zer turns(an M&W, a grasshopper and now a new jd) and i have a jd now. Just my opinion, but they have all been ok with the jd's more reliable. As shaggy says the front decks are handy, but definitely "dirtier" to run, as the discharge is ahead of the operator. Front mounts will follow ground contours better than mid mounts. The jd's will cut alot fast, but not the most sweetheart job of mowing as the front axle is "fixed" on them. The ones we have now are midmounts.

 

I've always thought the commercial gravely's looked like good ones, but have jd dealer close by.

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Veteran Contributor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

Appreciate the feedback guys, especially the pros and cons of different mount positions.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

I have a Bad Boy 60" with 30 hp Kohler engine that I am thinking of trading or fixing. What I found seems to show there are three categories of ZTR; residential, commercial and professional. I doubt any farmer would want less than a commercial. The differences are in the size, frame and deck material and strength, engine type and size and hydraulic components.
My guess is most farmers will want a 60" that will be agile and get around obstacles or a 72" that will have a wider swath. If I need a bigger mower I'll hook on to something on my tractor.
Commercial seem to start in the vicinity of $8,000 and Professional a couple of thousand more, with diesel models adding another $3 or so. I've seen professional diesel models in the range I was lookint at for $18,000.
Some of the criteria I'd look at are thickeness and construction of the deck. 1/4" or 7 gauge and welded are better than light, stamped decks. The method of raising and lowering the deck might be worth a look. Many are foot powered and some are electric. Not sure I trust the electric, as I have problemsm with mine.
Injected gas engines use less fuel but do they use enough less to pay for a farmer to buy one? They might need more hours to get the fuel economy to pay for the upgrade. There are only a few engine manurfacturers.
Likewise, there seem to be only a few hydraulic motor and pump makers. It would be interesting in a review to see who uses what pumps - it would help me compare machines if I knewe the AAA and the BBB both used the same hydraulic motors.
One of the issues important to me is traction. Does the machine need weights to keep from skidding the wheels when it is slippery or one is on a slope?
Safety is another issue - most models now will have ROPS and seat belts. I don't care at all about drink holders and such stuff - I'm too busy driving to drink pop on the mower.
There are steering differences.
I think a main criteria should be the use we put these machines to. My machine's main use is around grain bins and buildings to keep the rodents down and make it easier to work. I do some road ditch mowing see one can see oncoming traffic. I don't need the type of little machine to go around lawn ornaments and handle an uneven house yard, but I do want it flexible enough for grounds work. The 60" suits me. I think a 72" would be doable but larger than I need.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

My patents need one. They mow about five acres with lots of obstacles. They also have a couple very steep banks. But there is no way my dad can hold the controls I've seen on most models. He has two artificial shoulders and a dad back. I know one manufacturer makes a joystick controlled model. I'd like to know how they work and if anyone else uses these type of controls. I guess weight limit of operator would also be good to know.
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Contributor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

We are on our third Grasshopper, good local dealer, this one has rear discharge which we really like. You can edge around things from either side and with the rear discharge it seems to be less dirty to operate.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Zero-turn radius mowers

Good point on the discharge.  On my mower, I have an extra discharge deflector to prevent the mower blades from throwing out gravel.  I put this deflector down when mowing near buildings or other things that could be damaged by throwing gravel.

I also got knobby tires on mine, but sometimes I wish I had wheel weights, too.  Traction is an issue, especially on some freshly cut grass on a slope.

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