Well, spring is here. Although it may be more evident in some areas than it is in others, it has technically arrived. With many northern states still getting snow close to the end of April this year, some folks may not have begun preparing for spring yet. One thing that many of us will be looking at this year is a lawn and garden tractor to ease the work load in the yard and around the home.
Types of Tractors
First of all, let’s consider the word “tractor”. The word tractor hints that a lawn and garden tractor has a motor located in the front. Mowers with engines in the rear are considered riding mowers and those with engines in the front are considered lawn tractors. In order of descending power, there are garden tractors, yard tractors and finally lawn tractors.
Garden tractors are the most powerful of the three with 22 to 28 horse power and can be used for more tasks. Lawn tractors have from 17 to 21 horse power and are used for mostly mowing, moving leaves and moving snow. Yard tractors are in between garden tractors and lawn tractors. They can have less power than a garden tractor but perform more tasks than a lawn tractor.
Past and Present Use
In the late 1990s push mower companies did better business than the lawn and garden tractor industry because most families still choose to do the manual labor of using the push mowers and hand tools. Now as we approach the end of a decade in the 2000’s, baby boomers are a bit less likely to use the push mowers and hand tools of their parent’s generation.
Call it lazy or call it saving time, whatever you call it, lawn and garden tractor dealers are not complaining as their sales climb up towards 10 billion dollars annually as an industry.
What are your Lawn and Garden Needs?
Many lawn care experts will concur that unless you have over a half acre to mow, you don’t really need a lawn tractor unless maybe you have a sloped lawn that makes it difficult to push a mower by hand. Industry experts say that lawn tractors are meant for lawns that are one and a half to three acres in size. That would suggest that the gap between a half acre and one and half acres should be filled by riding mowers (the ones with the engines in the rear), but we will let you decide what is best for your needs.
Of course, there are several things you should be aware of when selecting a lawn and garden tractor for your home. Lawn tractors generally discharge the cut grass out the side of the mower, so you need to decide if you want to let it fly, catch it in a bag or mulch it as you will need different options for each. Then you need to ask yourself, is there anything else you want to be able to do with your tractor?
There are additional accessories for plowing, hauling and gardening that need to be considered. If you only want to mow and move leaves & snow, chances are you would be happy with a standard 18 inch mower deck, a utility trailer and a dozer blade. On the other hand if you have a medium size garden that you want to tend with your tractor then you will have several more options and attachments to consider including a PTO drive, tiller, back hoe, etc.
What the Pros are Using
One thing you can always count on to judge a product’s strengths is to see what equipment the professionals use. If you read the brand names of lawn and garden tractors used by landscapers and farmers, you will likely see such big brand names as Toro and John Deere quite a bit. It can only be wise to follow their trends as they have likely tested the equipment more than anyone and they learn to know what brands last and work best.
You will often see motors in the industry with common names such as Briggs and Stratton. It is always safe to go with the time tested brands that are most likely to carry the best warrantees. Generally, lawn and garden tractors should carry a two year warrantee for home owners and a bit less for commercial buyers.