One of the fundamental aims of this site is to make it easier to compare lawn tractors, so that you, the buyer or potential buyer, can make a well informed decision about the kind of machine that you need to suit your requirements.
What do you need to know to get a cut like this?
One of the difficulties for the buyer is that it is hard to pick out the important details from the avalanche of information that the manufacturers publish about their lawn tractors. You’ll see lots of exclusive features and detailed specifications and you’ll be invited to marvel at various proprietary trade-marked systems that will apparently change the face of lawn mowing as we know it.
What you might not see, however, as you try to compare lawn tractors, is the same degree of emphasis on a particular feature given by one manufacturer as is given by another. You may not even see the same words used to describe what is basically the same thing.
Therefore, what we bring you here is a short guide on how to compare lawn tractors. In making lawn tractor comparisons, these are the main features you need to pay attentions to:
The power that the engine delivers is measured in horse power (HP) or (Hp). The greater the horse power, the more powerful the engine. In broad terms lawn tractor engines may range from 10hp to 30Hp.
The more powerful the engine, the more the lawn tractor can:
- Work on larger areas
- Cope with slopes, hills, uneven and unsound terrain
- Drive bigger cutting decks
- Use more attachments and, in particular, attachments that are ‘ground engaging’ e.g. diggers, plows etc.
Cutting decks are the part of tractor that houses the cutting blades. In most lawn and garden tractors they can be detached. With cutting decks, the points to look out for are:
- The type and quality of the material they are made from (e.g. steel, thickness of steel)
- The number of cutting blades (more blades means potentially more efficient cutting)
- Size, i.e. width of deck. Width of deck determines how wide a swathe of lawn can be cut in one pass of the tractor. The wider the deck, the less times the tractor has to go up and down the land and therefore the quicker the job can be done.
Most lawn tractors discharge the grass to the side of the cutting deck. This means that the grass clippings are left on the lawn which can look untidy. If the clippings are to be directed to a collection bag, which may comes as standard or as an optional extra, there may be a pipe or chute through which the clippings travel. With wet grass especially, this can some times get clogged up.
As an alternative to side discharge, there are some rear discharge tractors. These discharge clippings behind the lawn tractor and, if linked to a collection system, may have less mechanism to get clogged up than the side discharge tractors.
You will read that many lawn tractors have a mulching capacity. But what is mulch and what does mulching mean?
Mulch is basically any material laid on cultivated ground to help prevent weeds, to aid fertility, to help soil structure and/or to encourage moisture retention. There are therefore many different types of mulch, but grass clippings or shredded garden prunings are often used.
The mulching mower deck has blades that finely chop grass clippings into mulch, so that they can be deposited back on the ground that has been mown. This accomplishes several things. Firstly, the decomposed clippings can return nutrients to the soil and aid moisture retention. Secondly, there is no need to collect the clippings, which on large areas is impractical given the amount of clippings produced. Thirdly, the finely chopped mulch does not look untidy in the same way that un-mulched grass clippings can do.
Some lawn tractors may have a dedicated mulching deck that has to be fitted to enable mulching to take place. Other decks can be converted to a mulching deck by the addition of a plate to blank off the side or rear discharge outlet, thus retaining the clippings within the deck until they are finely chopped and deposited as the tractor moves on.
Like cars, lawn tractors can have manual transmissions requiring the operator to change gear or automatic transmissions where no gear changing is required. Many lawn tractors have hydrostatic transmissions which, in the simplest terms, are a kind of automatic transmission in which all the power is transmitted hydraulically. Most have simple forward and reverse modes.
Lawn tractors may have two wheel drive or 4 wheel drive, i.e. power is delivered from the engine via the transmission mechanism to turn two wheels or four wheels. As with cars and other vehicles, greater stability and traction can be achieved with 4 wheel drive systems
Most lawn tractors have front wheel steering, again like the typical car arrangement. Some have powersteering which mean that the engine indirectly powers the steering, making it much lighter to operate.
Some lawn tractors, like the John Deere x304 have 4 wheel steering. This means all 4 wheels turn in response to a turn of the steering wheel. This enables the lawn tractor to turn more tightly than a standard two wheel steer model.
These, then, are the principal features to have regard to when you are looking to compare lawn tractors or make lawn tractor comparisons. We focus on these in the ‘features at a glance’ section on most of our review pages. In that way we aim to make it easier and quicker for you to do your research and compare lawn tractors across and within the ranges offered by the different manufactures.
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