Mower Wisdom & Tractor Tales: Readers Write In

We invited readers to contribute their lawn mower stories, and you responded with enthusiasm! Here are a few horror stories, a few success stories and some general advice for anyone considering a new piece of lawn equipment.

| April/May 2007

  • Garden Tractor
    This John Deere X534 garden tractor is the updated version of the GT235, which pulled reader Dean Adams’ Truck out of the mud and hauled hayracks to the barn.
    Photo courtesy IMRE COMMUNICATIONS

  • Garden Tractor


For the last several years, I’ve mowed the two acres around my home, orchard and barn and kept trails open in my five-acre meadow using a sturdy Snapper walk-behind mower with a 20-inch deck. I appreciated the exercise I was getting, but keeping the weeds down on that much ground with such a small mower is a challenge, especially during rainy spells. Every once in a while the grass would get ahead of me, and then it would take twice as long for the Snapper to chew its way through. But a bigger riding mower costing a few thousand dollars just didn’t fit into my budget.

Then last summer I had a chance to try out a Cub Cadet zero-turn riding mower while we were doing the research for this article. Wow, these mowers are nimble, fun and fast ! And they let me cut quickly and neatly around the many trees on my property.

Now that I’ve discovered just how much time and effort a zero-turn mower can save, I’m thinking I will contact some of my neighbors and see if they would like to share a “neighborhood mower.” If we split the cost, we’ll all win. If you think this plan might work for you and your neighbors, I suggest you explain the idea to a local mower dealer and ask if they would bring one out for a demonstration day so you can invite the neighbors (including any teenagers) over for a test drive.

 — Cheryl Long, Editor in Chief, MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Better is ... Better

I have had lawns of one to three acres, and the biggest problem has been getting the grass cut. The Sears and Cub Cadet mowers I’ve owned seemed to be designed to need parts or service as soon as their warranties expired. The last Sears model I purchased lasted six months before the transmission went out, so I got a refund and decided to try another brand. I bought an Exmark, a high-dollar commercial zero-turn mower with a 44-inch deck. I have found it to be well worth the cost. It mows my three acres in less than half the time it took a conventional riding mower, and uses about a quarter of the gas.

As for repairs, I’ve had the Exmark for four years and have had to do nothing but general maintenance. And my wife loves it! The only downside is the up-front cost ($5,500). The Sears model was only $1,880, but the additional time, gas, parts and service (not to mention the shorter life span) easily offset that difference. The Exmark quickly broke even with the Sears mower and is now pulling ahead. It doesn’t bog down in high grass, and it doesn’t leave streaks. My lawn looks great!

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