Need a good new riding lawn mower

stromborg

Junior Member
Oct 19, 2015
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My yard is 1 acre and rather flat. I have been using a lawn maintenance company in the past, but I would like to start cutting my own grass. Therefore I need to get a riding lawn mower. I've narrowed down my choices to Husqvarna LTH18438 (http://www.husqvarna.com/us/products/garden-tractors/lth18538/) at about $1500 or (http://www.homereviewed.com/best-riding-lawn-mower/) at $1000. Which would you recommend as the best one for 1 acre? Is perhaps the Husqvarna overkill? I'm also concerned with maintenance. How often do riding mowers tend to break and what's their average lifespan in general? I prefer one that will last as long as possible with minimum maintenance.
 

SearchMaster

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2002
7,792
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My recommendation is don't go cheap.

I had a cheapo Craftsman riding mower. I had problems with pretty much every system on it except the engine (B&S Industrial, it's great). I had to jerry rig something in the steering early on because the gears were slipping...I replaced the ignition switch and the solenoid twice on the ignition...the tires kept going flat until I put tubes in them...I replaced three mandrels because they would warp so easily...it finally died when the transmission developed an unfixable leak. This was all over the course of about six years. Junk.

I replaced it with a Husqvarna RZ4824 zero turn. For the most part I like it, but the traction is abysmal. If there is any moisture on the lawn at all, and often if it is quite dry, it will slip and slide creating marks on the lawn. I would consider replacing the rear tires but I don't want to spend a couple hundred bucks on them and find they don't help. It's been pretty reliable in the 4 years I've had it, but I did have to replace the solenoid this year (easy fix, less than $10 IIRC). The other annoyance is that the "CHANGE OIL NOW!!!!" idiot message came on at 50 hours and refused to go away. The owner's manual stated it would come on at 49 hours then go away on its own but it wouldn't. I stumbled across a tiny button on the meter that actually reset the counter.
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
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1 acre of grass? Exmark or scag zero turn... They aren't cheap but will be the last mower you will buy
 

boomerang

Lifer
Jun 19, 2000
18,890
642
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I replaced it with a Husqvarna RZ4824 zero turn. For the most part I like it, but the traction is abysmal. If there is any moisture on the lawn at all, and often if it is quite dry, it will slip and slide creating marks on the lawn.
I had this same problem with my Exmark zero turn. I finally realized that what I needed was more weight on the rear tires. I moved the seat back as far as it would go and the problem was solved. I had to re-position the drive levers back so that I didn't have to lean forward when I had them fully forward for moving at max speed.

Initially, I had set the seat to suit the position of the levers where they were when it was delivered.
 
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twinrider1

Diamond Member
Sep 28, 2003
4,096
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Will it need to fit through a gate? If that's not a problem, I'd go bigger than a 38".

Keep in mind, all the consumer mower companies source major components from a handful of third party manufacturers.
Engine. Kawasaki, Kohler, and B&S. Probably in that order.
Kawasaki is very well respected. I think you'll have to go to a real mower store and not a Lowes/Home Depot.
Kohler and B&S are good too. But they've had the occasional stinker model.
Transmission. Almost certain to be a hydrostatic made by Tuff Torq. Most will have a K46. The K57 is beefier.

I went with a Cub Cadet. Their warranty is 3 years and it appears you deal directly with them. Where the wording in the Husqvarna warranty seemed anxious to hand you off to their suppliers. And it just had some little features I liked better. The seat has a higher back. I like the location of the gas filler and oil drain.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cub-Cadet-XT1-Enduro-Series-LT-46-in-22-HP-V-Twin-Kohler-Hydrostatic-Gas-Front-Engine-Riding-Mower-LT46/205617433
$1700 list, but I was able to get them to take a Lowes 10% off coupon (had to call and order through their 800 number).
It's my first season so I can't speak to it's durability, but so far so good.
 
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DanStp

Senior member
Oct 9, 1999
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John Deere.

You can get a D series from a local big box store, and still get service from a local John Deere dealer. Although maintenance is easy, and you can look up on the net how to do
most things.
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
38
91
John Deere.

You can get a D series from a local big box store, and still get service from a local John Deere dealer. Although maintenance is easy, and you can look up on the net how to do
most things.

Let me put some things into perspective here. I had a big box store JD. my grass is nice... really nice. it is also thick. my JD rider couldn't handle the thick grass and I had to double cut my entire yard. I have 2/3-3/4 acre of grass. I would spend well over an hour, upwards of two cutting my yard.

I literally gave that mower to a neighbor and I bought a scag 52" tiger cub. sure it was 4-5x the price of the JD, but I can now cut my yard in 20 minutes. My yard looks nicer while it saves me serious time.

I would never recommend a big box store mower. JD does make good mowers/riders, but you need to buy them from an implement dealer and be prepared to spend 5-12k.

if you are serious about getting a good cut fast, don't be cheap
 

SearchMaster

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2002
7,792
114
106
I had this same problem with my Exmark zero turn. I finally realized that what I needed was more weight on the rear tires. I moved the seat back as far as it would go and the problem was solved. I had to re-position the drive levers back so that I didn't have to lean forward when I had them fully forward for moving at max speed.

Initially, I had set the seat to suit the position of the levers where they were when it was delivered.

Unfortunately the seat doesn't adjust.

Not gonna lie - I've considered having a bar welded onto the back of the frame so I can put some dumbbell weights on it. It wouldn't put weight directly over the wheels though, and it already has a pretty big engine directly over them. Having heard it worked for you I might just put a threaded rod in and try the dumbbell weight thing.
 

jaha2000

Senior member
Jul 28, 2008
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Let me put some things into perspective here. I had a big box store JD. my grass is nice... really nice. it is also thick. my JD rider couldn't handle the thick grass and I had to double cut my entire yard. I have 2/3-3/4 acre of grass. I would spend well over an hour, upwards of two cutting my yard.

I literally gave that mower to a neighbor and I bought a scag 52" tiger cub. sure it was 4-5x the price of the JD, but I can now cut my yard in 20 minutes. My yard looks nicer while it saves me serious time.

I would never recommend a big box store mower. JD does make good mowers/riders, but you need to buy them from an implement dealer and be prepared to spend 5-12k.

if you are serious about getting a good cut fast, don't be cheap

your asking him to go from 1K to 6k?
A zero turn for an acre is super overkill. Will it do your lawn in 20 min? yeah. Is saving 40 min, once a week for 9 months a year worth 5K? Ill leave that up to you.

The best advice is to not buy from a big box store, goto a shop that sells outdoor power equipment. Not only do they have better versions of the same stuff, they can actually help you when the stuff breaks.
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
38
91
your asking him to go from 1K to 6k?
A zero turn for an acre is super overkill. Will it do your lawn in 20 min? yeah. Is saving 40 min, once a week for 9 months a year worth 5K? Ill leave that up to you.

The best advice is to not buy from a big box store, goto a shop that sells outdoor power equipment. Not only do they have better versions of the same stuff, they can actually help you when the stuff breaks.

actually, 1700 to about 8k (over 10k if he gets a bagging system) is what I would say...

my time is valuable; especially over the summer months... and I cut my grass 3-4 times in two weeks. I was saving at least an hour per cut. I'll call it 1.75 hr a week saving. over 9 months that's more than 68 hrs. I say that is significant in itself. the biggest benefit is how my grass looks.
414090_3526398571881_198637383_o.jpg


I can honestly say, my entire neighborhood took better care of their lawns because of how mine looked.
 

jaha2000

Senior member
Jul 28, 2008
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actually, 1700 to about 8k (over 10k if he gets a bagging system) is what I would say...

my time is valuable; especially over the summer months... and I cut my grass 3-4 times in two weeks. I was saving at least an hour per cut. I'll call it 1.75 hr a week saving. over 9 months that's more than 68 hrs. I say that is significant in itself. the biggest benefit is how my grass looks.
414090_3526398571881_198637383_o.jpg


I can honestly say, my entire neighborhood took better care of their lawns because of how mine looked.

Dont get me wrong, i have a zero turn as well. A HUGE commerical exmark with the liquid cooled engine that i bought off Craigslist for 500 buck because the guy thought the entire motor was shot. I fixed it for 400 bucks and have been mowing ever since with it.
Now that i have one i could never go back, but i would have a seriously hard time justifying to myself that a 10K lawnmower was worth it because of the time savings. I would rather have a boat and a jetskit to go with my slow mower, but to each his own. I fotget that everybody on AT is making 250K a year but me.
 

boomerang

Lifer
Jun 19, 2000
18,890
642
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Dont get me wrong, i have a zero turn as well. A HUGE commerical exmark with the liquid cooled engine that i bought off Craigslist for 500 buck because the guy thought the entire motor was shot. I fixed it for 400 bucks and have been mowing ever since with it.
What was wrong with it? What engine is on that model?

That's a hell of a deal. I spend $3200 for the homeowners model with the stamped steel version of the 50" deck. I guess I assumed the commercial models were pretty ragged out by the time the lawn guys were through with them.
 

SearchMaster

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2002
7,792
114
106
my time is valuable; especially over the summer months... and I cut my grass 3-4 times in two weeks. I was saving at least an hour per cut.

We had a lot of rain this year so I had to mow at least twice a week (except when it would rain for 7-10 days straight - ugh). My yard isn't HUGE, probably just over an acre of grass, but I also cut my elderly neighbor's (small) yard and my weekender-only neighbor's (small) yard.

When I was push-mowing with a bag, it would take me 2-2.5 hours each time for just my yard. When I had the normal riding mower, I could do just my yard in about an hour. When I got the ZTR, I can do all three yards in under an hour. I don't mind cutting the grass but I don't love it either, so saving 30% on time is worth it.

I wish I could justify spending that damn much money on a nice mower and I know it would save a lot of frustration but I'll keep my cheap Husky until it dies. It seems to be well-built and well-designed, except for the traction issue, so hopefully it will hold out for at least another decade.
 

jaha2000

Senior member
Jul 28, 2008
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What was wrong with it? What engine is on that model?

That's a hell of a deal. I spend $3200 for the homeowners model with the stamped steel version of the 50" deck. I guess I assumed the commercial models were pretty ragged out by the time the lawn guys were through with them.

Kawasaki. Its a Lazer LC, 27 HP, 60". Somehow, the guy had run the thing out of coolant and got the motor hot.
I ended up swaping a ton of parts our related to that. Head gaskets, water pump, ect ect. I took a bit of a risk not knowing if the motor had been hurt, but it was free when i bumped it. I figured worst case, i could throw the motor away and sell the rest of the deal for parts. The mower deck was worth more than 500 bucks on the open market. They guy had it sitting in the back corner of his shop and had not used it in over a year, i did have to buy some stuff he had scavanged off it it.
It burns a bit of oil as i am sure is related to him getting the thing hot, but overall works like a champ.
Only had about 1500 hours on the clock, the seats in bad shape and it does not look good, but the pumps are still strong and frankly, the ZTR is WAY easier to work on than any lawn tractor i have ever owned. But yeah, its been ragged on in its previous life, i figure i use it less in a year than it used to be used in a week, its got plenty of life still in it.
 
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Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
38
91
Dont get me wrong, i have a zero turn as well. A HUGE commerical exmark with the liquid cooled engine that i bought off Craigslist for 500 buck because the guy thought the entire motor was shot. I fixed it for 400 bucks and have been mowing ever since with it.
Now that i have one i could never go back, but i would have a seriously hard time justifying to myself that a 10K lawnmower was worth it because of the time savings. I would rather have a boat and a jetskit to go with my slow mower, but to each his own. I fotget that everybody on AT is making 250K a year but me.

my lifestyle isn't like anyone elses here and I don't make 250k. I farm and that means working 15-20 hrs a day for a good portion of the summer months. No days off till about now (mid oct). I don't have time to cut my grass for 1.5-2 hrs a time. I might have a 20-30 minute window when a truck doesn't show up on time.

I wouldn't have time for a boat or a jetski.

The value you get from how the lawn looks is subjective. My time saving is a real objective thing, and when I have little to no time, I guess I can't afford not having this mower. I was ditching the POS big box store rider I had... either for the scag I ended up buying or paying for a lawn service. the lawn service proved to be too expensive so I bought the mower.


you have to figure out what your time is worth. mine was worth the price of the mower, but not quite the price of a lawn service.



We had a lot of rain this year so I had to mow at least twice a week (except when it would rain for 7-10 days straight - ugh). My yard isn't HUGE, probably just over an acre of grass, but I also cut my elderly neighbor's (small) yard and my weekender-only neighbor's (small) yard.

When I was push-mowing with a bag, it would take me 2-2.5 hours each time for just my yard. When I had the normal riding mower, I could do just my yard in about an hour. When I got the ZTR, I can do all three yards in under an hour. I don't mind cutting the grass but I don't love it either, so saving 30% on time is worth it.

I wish I could justify spending that damn much money on a nice mower and I know it would save a lot of frustration but I'll keep my cheap Husky until it dies. It seems to be well-built and well-designed, except for the traction issue, so hopefully it will hold out for at least another decade.

They have turf tires on them that aren't made to grab. they aren't really made for traction. if they were you'd be f-ing up your grass all the time. You just need more seat time and learn what it can and cannot do and changing your angles and mowing style so traction isn't an issue
 
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slag

Lifer
Dec 14, 2000
10,473
81
101
actually, 1700 to about 8k (over 10k if he gets a bagging system) is what I would say...

my time is valuable; especially over the summer months... and I cut my grass 3-4 times in two weeks. I was saving at least an hour per cut. I'll call it 1.75 hr a week saving. over 9 months that's more than 68 hrs. I say that is significant in itself. the biggest benefit is how my grass looks.
414090_3526398571881_198637383_o.jpg


I can honestly say, my entire neighborhood took better care of their lawns because of how mine looked.

I've been told that if you are cutting your grass more than once a week, you are overwatering it. Could be too much rain, but if its growing because of the sprinklers, cut them back a bit.

Thoughts?
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
24,512
21
81
John Deere.

You can get a D series from a local big box store, and still get service from a local John Deere dealer. Although maintenance is easy, and you can look up on the net how to do
most things.

My father has a Deere, an X-series even, not the built-down-to-a-price versions sold at big box stores, and it has been a huge disappointment for him. He's had it checked out several times and it still cuts like crap. The deck just plain doesn't follow yard contours and he has issues with is scalping over hills or leaving staggered cuts. The dealer has assured him multiple times that everything's perfect, but the mower still cuts like crap.

Our old Simplicity, with its different deck suspension design, cut the same terrain perfectly.

Granted, I've always preferred orange tractors to green ones, but I do honestly believe that Simplicity simply makes a better lawn/garden tractor than John Deere. Especially if you're looking at the cheaply-built D-series.

ZV
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
38
91
I've been told that if you are cutting your grass more than once a week, you are overwatering it. Could be too much rain, but if its growing because of the sprinklers, cut them back a bit.

Thoughts?

I keep my grass long 4-5". I cut it every 3-5 days depending on conditions. yes, we get a lot of rain at times and that plays in, but I also try to keep the cuts as minimal as I can. I don't like to cut off too much at a time as that stresses the lawn.
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,505
38
91
My father has a Deere, an X-series even, not the built-down-to-a-price versions sold at big box stores, and it has been a huge disappointment for him. He's had it checked out several times and it still cuts like crap. The deck just plain doesn't follow yard contours and he has issues with is scalping over hills or leaving staggered cuts. The dealer has assured him multiple times that everything's perfect, but the mower still cuts like crap.

Our old Simplicity, with its different deck suspension design, cut the same terrain perfectly.

Granted, I've always preferred orange tractors to green ones, but I do honestly believe that Simplicity simply makes a better lawn/garden tractor than John Deere. Especially if you're looking at the cheaply-built D-series.

ZV

riders aren't necessarily designed specifically for cutting grass. They are first and foremost a tractor... that they put a mowing deck on. some are better than others, but they are really a jack of all trades and master of none.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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I still love having a used, beat up Exmark Turf Tracer walk behind with a 52" deck. There isn't much on there to break. It cuts all kinds of grass without effort. And I ride around behind it on the velke. Great mower.
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
24,512
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81
riders aren't necessarily designed specifically for cutting grass. They are first and foremost a tractor... that they put a mowing deck on. some are better than others, but they are really a jack of all trades and master of none.

A good rider does probably 95% as well at mowing as a very good dedicated mower. And for most folks the extra capabilities are more helpful than that last 5% in mowing, which is less to do with quality of cut and more to do with maneuverability around trees.

Growing up we had an acre and a half. A ZTR or other dedicated mower wouldn't have been half so useful around the place.

If you've got the resources to spend on a single-use machine, that's great. But I think that for the majority of people a garden tractor makes more sense than something that can't do anything except mow.

ZV
 

SearchMaster

Diamond Member
Jun 6, 2002
7,792
114
106
They have turf tires on them that aren't made to grab. they aren't really made for traction. if they were you'd be f-ing up your grass all the time. You just need more seat time and learn what it can and cannot do and changing your angles and mowing style so traction isn't an issue

I wish it were that easy. I have just over 100 hours of seat time on it so I'm well aware of its limitations - unfortunately there are places where there is just no angle, speed, or approach that will solve the traction issue. I never had this issue with the Craftsman mower...while it was a POS in almost every area, it got very good traction. I could even do the ditches with it.

I had the kids in FL for a baseball tournament over the summer and my wife was home helping my neighbor after her hip surgery. My wife decided to mow the neighbor's lawn and called for a quick lesson on getting going. I warned her that the traction was horrible and to be extremely careful with it. She called me a couple of hours later to tell me she had gotten stuck and was going to have to call some neighbors to help get it moving. This was on my neighbor's fairly mildly sloped yard, but it had slid into the bushes. I've never had a problem in that area because I know which angle to take.