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  1. #1
    New Member
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    May 2013
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    Asheville, NC
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    shopping for one

    Default to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    Hello,
    Thanks in advance for considering my request for advice!
    I recently bought 35 acres in the mountains of North Carolina. We plan to keep about 7 acres for now (and maybe as many as 13 in the future) as pasture instead of forest.

    We are entirely new to tractors, and not mechanically inclined, so intimidated by them. But mowing is the only reasonable way, so we gotta get one. We'd prefer something small so its more manageable since we have very little barn space. Of the 7 acres, about 5 are gently rolling and the other two have approx. the slope in the picture I posted. Sorry, I am not sure what percent slope that is. We just want to keep the weeds down and have it be walkable in normal clothing. I have no interest in it looking like a golf course.

    My partner wants to get a "garden tractor" because they seem easier to use, smaller to store, more comfortable, with better turning radius, and won't require fussing with attachments. My feeling is that in the long run, a garden tractor won't cut it. It will take forever to mow with a small mowing deck and may burn itself out sooner. I am thinking a used (can't afford a new one) compact 4wd tractor such as a kubota b6100, with a bush hog or a belly mower.

    But if folks think we could get away with something smaller, I would sure prefer that. Of course a real tractor would come in handy in other ways -- but only if we could afford to get other attachments and find a place to store them. Which we may not But it would be nice to know that if we neglect the mowing for a little bit, we can still do it instead of hiring a neighbor to bush hog again.

    Thanks so much!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor-img_0355.jpg  

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Ted Summey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    684
    Location
    Germanton, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota MX5100F IH McCormick Farmall 140, Massey Ferguson 135

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    A garden tractor/mower won't stand up to the type mowing you are describing. A small tractor isn't all that difficult to maintain and operate. Surely if the people here can manage the operation of a small tractor you guys can master it. The best thing will be to prevail upon your friends, neighbors and acquaintances to allow you to test drive their tractors. You are bound to know somebody who could give you some beginner lessons. That's how most of us learned - fathers, grandfathers, uncles or neighbors wanted us to drive the tractor for some job, so they gave a brief lesson - here's the clutch, there is the PTO lever, use this gear etc. Then we were turned loose.

    With a little study and common sense you will be fine. Something 30 hp or less will do what you want.

  3. #3
    Elite Member whistlepig's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
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    3,906
    Location
    Preble County, Ohio
    Tractor
    Kubota B7800 with FEL

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    The slope in the photo looks pretty steep. If you were to buy a tractor I would recommend learning and operating it on fairly level ground before taking on the real steep stuff. When they start sliding down a steep hill they usually slide all the way to the bottom. Sometimes front first. Sometimes not.
    ........Shoot this thang! Have mercy this thang is killin' me. Just shoot up here amongst us. One of us has got to have some relief..............
    jerry clowers-a coon huntin story.

  4. #4
    Super Member 94BULLITT's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    6,522
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    Frederick County, VA
    Tractor
    Kubota BX2360 & L4240 HSTC

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    It sounds like to me with that much land you need a sub compact or a compact tractor. I also recommend 4WD and a tractor with a ROPS since you have hills to deal with. A subcompact tractor is a little larger than a garden tractor. You did not mention how rough the mowing was but I am guessing that with 7 acres to mow it would be to rough to mow all of it with a garden tractor or a finishing mower. You are probably going to need a rotary cutter/ bush hog also. The pastures that don't matter as much much could be mowed 1 or 2 times a month with a rotary cutter. If you expand to 13 acres you are going to want something lager. You can get a new tractor with 0% APR. Something like a kubota BX2370 with a mid mount mower would be around $200 month.
    Roger

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  5. #5
    Gold Member cletus99's Avatar
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    May 2012
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    252
    Location
    Doerun, GA
    Tractor
    1965 Ford 3000

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    Most definitely make sure the tractor you get has ROPS and always wear your seat belt. Especially with that kind of slope. I would say you definitely need a sub compact or compact as well. I have 16 acres with probably 6 to 8 acres cleared and I have an old beat up Ford 4000 and a lawn tractor. I use the 4000 to mow the pasture and the lawn tractor around the house. I'm not sure how many more seasons my lawn tractor is going to make it. I'm counting the days until I can afford to get me a new compact tractor.

  6. #6
    Silver Member
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    Jul 2009
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    120

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    A garden tractor isnt what you need ... find you a used tractor in the 30-40 hp range... Should be easy to find on craigslist or similar places for $3-7k ......... do not buy a old gas burner, diesel only.
    Or if you can make payments a new 41hp Mahindra zero down and 0% @ $200 a month...... then find you a 5 ft used rotary cutter for about $4-500 and your set

  7. #7
    Veteran Member
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    Jan 2010
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    1,553
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    Piedmont, NC
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    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    My neighbor has a "garden tractor" that works well most of the time on his 2 acres of grass. His place is almost entirely flat. Your place is a) larger and b) far more uneven. Your situation is simply going to overwhelm a "garden tractor", so each mowing will consume many hours of your time, the machine will wear out quickly and dealing with your slopes will be far more dangerous than it should be. The others have provided good advice. Reality check: You need a serious piece of equipment to do your mowing and you need to acquire the skill to operate it safely on your place.

    A "subcompact" is built low to the ground so it is more stable than a conventional tractor, it has a heavy-duty drivetrain and 4 wheel drive to handle your hills without strain, you can equip it with farm-type tires that have more traction than the turf tires on a garden tractor, it has seat belts and a roll-bar to protect you if the worst happens, it has automatic drive (hydrostatic), power steering, cruise control, and other amenities and it has a diesel engine that will last about forever with a little TLC. There are some other ways to go, but a subcompact would get my vote.

    Don't know if all this is what you wanted to hear, but this is an important decision for you. We all want you to make a thoughtful, knowledgeable choice.

    By the way, when my neighbor's garden tractor won't climb out of his one small ravine because the grass is unexpectedly a bit wet, I go over and pull it out with my subcompact.

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
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    Sep 2007
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    Doniphan, Mo.
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    Kubota L4240, B7800 & BX2660

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    By your picture I would go with a compact. I'm saying kubota B's because I know what size they are. I would put wheel spacers on, load the rear tires and maybe you might need front weights. At the top of that hill you well need a good spot to be able to turn back down hill. A mower on the back is going to want to pull you side ways when you make your turn. I wouldn't even try to go side ways of that hill.

  9. #9
    Elite Member Gittyup's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    Location
    Mid Atlantic
    Tractor
    Kioti CK25 Shuttle Shift, loaded tires, JD X739

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    There are GTs that could do your mowing, and may not be all that much slower either. The JD400 series or newer x700 series with 60" deck could work.

    However, you have a lot of land and you will sooner or later (probably sooner) need a real tractor. I think a b6100 isn't much more than a big GT. I'd look to go bigger with enough HP to run a 6' bush hog. That would be in 35 HP and up class. Lots and lots to choose from. They are all good. Yes your land looks steep. So, be careful. Go at it slowly/ straight up and straight down. Have a roll bar and wear your seat belt all the time. Avoid turning a the slope and watch out for groundhog holes or other depressions.

  10. #10
    New Member
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    May 2013
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    Sneedville, TN
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    case ih 3230 John Deere 6110 New Holland 3930

    Default Re: to buy a garden tractor or a compact tractor

    I had a little New Holland TC18 4wd and fel and it was neat. Had a 42in. Bushhog squealer and a 72in. bushhog finish mower. used both fine and handled hills well even sideways at just 4 feet wide. but I would recommend a little more hp.

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