Are ZTR's worth the $$$

   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #1  

Anonymous Poster

New member
Sep 27, 2005
Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Right now I mow with an 18 horsepower, 46 inch cut MTD brand garden tractor. For a $1,500 machine it sure does a fine job, and in its third year it has needed nothing so far but oil and filters. I mow 5 acres of grass at least once a week, and another 4 acres or so of horse pasture 2-4 times a summer. Takes a long time, but not so long that it kills me. I would, once it comes time to replace the garden tractor, like to cut my mowing time if possible though. My question is, when the time comes that the MTD dies (most people I talk to estimate a lifespan of 5 years or so, I guess the deck wears out first), am I best off with a really good garden tractor like a Kubota or 300 series Deere, or a ZTR? Most of the ZTR's I have looked at are true commercial units, like Ferris and ExMark, and run around $7,500. Ouch. I did look at the Dixon brand, and their residential model runs around $4,000. Still not cheap, but if it is twice as good as the MTD it is worth it to me to spend twice the money. Does anyone know how this lower priced (Dixon) ZTR compares to the commercial units, and if it would be adequate for my needs? What I do not want to do is get a lousy $4,000 machine and in 5 years have to spend the big bucks on a better machine. I would rather drive the MTD into the ground, and get a commercial unit right off the bat when the Kubota is paid for. On the other hand, I am not a commercial lawn care service, and I may not need a commercial quality machine. any thoughts?
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #2  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Paul, I've never used one of the ZTRs, but isn't the only real reason for buying one the maneuverability around obstacles such as trees, flower beds, etc.? You didn't say whether you have that problem or not. My Kubota dealer is also a dealer for Dixon, and I'm sure they're fine machines, but it just seems to me that a good garden tractor might be more versatile and at a lower price. And maybe now someone who knows more about this topic will chime in to say whether my uneducated opinion is right or wrong./w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif

   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #3  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Paul I too have a MTD. Mine is on its eighth season, and yes the decks are the first thing that you will have problems with. The mower spindles have no grease fittings so the bearings will go out prematurly. I'm on my second set. I've replaced all of the tires, but other than the usual maint. thats been it. The thoughts of replacing it with a ZTR ExMark has been weighing on my mind, They're fast and hold up well. All of the commercial guys around here have replaced the Grasshoppers that they were using with the ExMarks. But after giving it some thought I have decided to find another B-2150 with turf tires and a mower deck. I feel that I could use another tractor in my business more often than I could a machine that is pretty much limited to mowing.
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #4  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Bird - that is exactly my point - the added maneuverability of a ZTR is exactly what I think I need to cut my mowing time in half. I do not have a lot of trees and obstacles - mostly straight open land, but if I start to mow an area of, say, an acre in a square, pretty soon the garden tractor won't make the turns, and I end up overshooting and backtracking (thereby going over ground that has already been mowed). I figure that, as the square gets smaller, I spend 50% of my time going over mowed ground to get back to the unmowed area. If I try to go row by row, I have the same problem with large turnarounds at the end of each row. A ZTR will cut 90 degree corners, or turn around 180 degrees at the end of a row. As you know from all my previous posts (I am the regular PaulB, the manure spreader guy, the original post I did by mistake without loging in and I did not want to type it all over again!) I can not just get a deck for my 1700 as my land is too hilly. Although MAYBE with the loader off and an additional 300 or so pounds of mid-mount mower on it down low it would be more stable?? If I used my Kubota, the HST would allow quick 3 point turns at the end of rows, which would be quicker than what I am doing now, but certainly not as quick as a ZTR.
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #5  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

OK PaulB, a ZTR might be worth the high cost for your application. And you don't need a garden tractor, since you already have a real tractor./w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif You just need something to mow fast so you can get back to playing (or working?) on the Kubota. I had been mowing my yard (you'll notice I say "yard" not lawn since it's a bit rough) with a Cub Cadet 38" before I bought the B2710 and a 60" rear finish mower. I might not be able to turn as short now, and I have 24 trees, 4 power poles, a house, a barn, and a shop to mow around, but with the power steering and larger width, it still cut my mowing time almost in half, and it's so much more comfortable riding the bigger machine.

   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #6  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

I mow 1/2 across the middle and never have to turn very sharp. I mow 10 acres split up into 4 fields in 4th gear and seldom need to cut fast or back up. I use a 6 ft Bush Hog on a M6800. I then go back and cut on the diagonal to finish it up.
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #7  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Good to know Wen, because at least for now the ZTR is a dead issue (wife).I am thinking about the bushhog idea - the back 5 or 6 acres can not be seen from the road so it doesn't have to look like a golf course, just not a jungle, so a rough cut mower should do the job. Will have to either use the garden tractor on the real hilly parts (short but steep) or maybe back up them with the bushhog. I don't get what you mean by going back to cut on the diagonal - do you mow the whole area twice?
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #8  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

I assume you will be buying a 5 ft Bush Hog similar to the squeeler series. It is classified as a light duty, although that is pretty heavy duty compared to most other mowers.

I always start and just mow in circles from the outside in except I set the first 4 circle's (rectangle's) 1/2 way across the shortest dimension until I get the middle cut out, then just continue around the edge at full speed and don't worry if you leave a little grass on the corners where you turn. After you are through, you may see a little grass sticking up that is on the diagonals.

Make two or three passes on the diagonals and that will clean up any grass missed on the corners and look really nice.

Get a mower with a high tip speed and uplift cutters like the bush hog squeeler and they do a really nice job. Set the deck level or just a little higher in front and it does a nice mulch job of the grass. I couldn't imagine a finish mower doing any better and this will cut high grass where the finish mower will not.
   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #9  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$


PaulB has a B1700, 17 hp and even on Amsoil I think a 5' rotary is too big.

   / Are ZTR's worth the $$$ #10  
Re: Are ZTR\'s worth the $$$

Keep in mind that Kubota uses real horses. The manual gives the recommended brush hog size. My Kubota recommends a 7 ft 1200# rotary cutter or a 10 ft 1760# Flail type.