Which John Deere Would You Buy?

Here's my problem: I've got a home on 3 acres. About 3/4s of an acre is zoysia grass. Nothing's level; it slopes and undulates. So much so that I can't see mowing it with one the larger decks (bigger than 42") or one without anti scalp wheels. There's about another acre that's flat but with surface tree roots and lots of little rocks. It's never been seeded and it's mostly weeds and such. I mainly just mow it to keep it cleared. The rest is wooded and I occasionally swing through there with a mower to keep the underbrush beat back. I'm also needing a mower with a bagger because there's a lot of leaves that fall on the zoysia grass. (I don't really care about bagging them on the rest of the property.) My thinking is that by not going above a 42" deck then I also won't have to buy one of those more expensive power assisted baggers.
I've mowed the lot with a neighbor's LX255 (5 year's old, single cylinder, 15 horsepower) It did an OK job but it lugged a little going uphill through thick zoysia so I'm thinking more horsepower and 2 cylinders would be a nice improvement.
So, in looking for a 2 cylinder John Deere with a 42" deck, I'm looking at an L120, LT180 and an LX 280 models. Home Depot is currently discounting the L series tractors by $200 - 300. When I talked to the JD dealer about discounts for the LX he said that they really didn't have a slow sales period and offer discounts but he could drop it $50 to 100.
Here's my question: Would you buy the cheaper L tractor, (about $2,000). Or, invest in the LX version? ($4,000). Is the LX twice as good? Last twice as long under similar care and conditions?
TIA
John
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Get the best one you can afford.
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I have a John Deere Sabre model 1438 HS with a 14.5 B&S engine on a 38-inch deck used on 1.5 acres. Now with the bigger 42" decks and hills in your case I would go with no less than a 20hp plus motor.
Now if you get a bag unit you *MUST* make sure to get high lift bagger blades as well. My bag unit works just fine as long as the grass is not to wet or thick. Now this is what I do to really get good results with my bagger.
I try to get my lawn cut before noon without using the bagger, and I just let the clippings set out in the sun all afternoon or even overnight which both dries and shrinks the clippings. Then I go over it with my bagger and WOW!! Does it ever clean up good.
Now this little trick also works pretty well when the grass is too wet or to high to use the bagger. Now with really heavy and thick grass I first will mow it nice and slow, and with the chute tired open if there are no kids, pets, windows or any other concerns. Then I go over it again in about 2 hours, but at high speed to stir the clippings for bettery drying. Then when I am ready to use the bagger I raise my cutting deck usually 1/2 to allow maximum suction and air flow, and then I just go over it really slow.
Good Luck!!!
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Thanks for the feedback. The problem with getting to 20 hp with a 42" deck is that I was told that John Deere doesn't provide this configuration. The 42" deck isn't available on models above the LX280. They jump up to 48". I wanted to get a GT or a GX with the smaller deck to save from having to buy one with power assist mulching. That plus I could use the tiller attachment for my garden and an LX won't handle a tiller.

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Go with the GT 235 with the 48 deck and you won't ever need another mower. Great combination and the GT model will handle the tiller attachment.

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I agree that the GT is impressive but what about mulching? I mean isn't the power assist bagging feature cost about $400 more for the 48" and larger decks than the non powered bagging? And, is this prone to breakdowns?
JB

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Go with the GT 235 with the 48 deck and you won't ever need another mower. Great combination and the GT model will handle the tiller attachment. "JB"
Good Advice: I bought a used JD 212...(Kohler 12hp) 5yrs ago...its about 20 yrs old now (early 80's model) looks great after reconditioning. Very Solid Weighs almost 800#. I suspect I'll never need another mower. Just repair replace belts/bearings as needed. If I was buying another one it would be a older used one they are made a lot better. I don't see how you could go wrong with a GT235 its very similiar in size & accept many of the same garden tractor attachments.
Good Luck!!
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I am also looking at Deere tractors. I am buying a house with 1.4 acres and was thinking of the LT180. However, the dealer is telling me to buy the lower cost LT160. The LT160 and the LT180 appear very similar except the 160 has the Kohler, single cylinder engine and the 180 has the Kawasaki twin cylinder engine. he also told me the bagger for the 180 is almost twice the amount of money that the one for the 160.....any idea why? What do you think about the engines?
Bill

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My grandfather after he retired from Cat as a mechanic, opened his own small engine repair shop in 1980, and at the time B&S seemed to be the best. Since then, the small engine market has gone through a revolution, and has become dog eat dog competitive and each manufacturer now makes outstanding engines. Honda engines have been considered until recently as the best, and I've used them, and love them. Quiet, smooth, powerful, durable, but EXPEN$IVE, but they were put in everything till Kawasaki engines began to prove that they were every bit as good, if not better, and cheaper. Just think Intel -vs- AMD. And well when John Deere selected a Kawasaki engine over all the others to power its top of the line Flag Ship riding mower in 2004, many others have started to make the jump as well especially in the back up generator market. They are really starting to make a huge show in the market. Kohler engines are top of the line as well. I see a lot of them in water pumps and so forth. Tecumseh the arch rival to B&S makes a damned good engine now. The 8hp Tecumseh engine In my John Deere TRS-26 has now survived 8 North Dakota winters proving itself worthy by starting and running in -30'F and below temps, usually starting on the first or second pull. Yes I said "PULL", might one day slap a starter on it, but haven't needed one. Now that's also with fresh gas, new plug, Mobile-1oil, and starting it for a 5 minute test run twice a week between snow storms to keep everything lube, primed, and ready. My only complaint is that it has got to be about the loudest damned 8hp engine ever made. Tecumseh pretty much rules the snow blower market, just take a look at any brand of snow blower you find, chances are it has a Tecumseh engine.
The B&S Vanguard series engines are very very durable and tough. There is a lot of them running in propane powered floor polishers in the janitorial industry, and they can survive horrible abuse.
Of worthy note, the 3.5 B&S that is in my 1987 20" Murray is still running flawlessly over all these years, and I've yet to overhaul it, and man have I cut some grass with that engine.
Onan is another brand that you will find in riding mowers and other equipment.
Kubota engines by Linamar are pretty good as well.
In making your choice, you won't go wrong with the Kohler powered LT160. I've seen Kohler engines running non-stop except for daily oil checks & service for weeks outside pumping water. As for Kawasaki engines, many in the industry now considered them to be the very best, but I still think that title belongs to Honda.

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You'll regret it when it takes you 3 hours to mow.
I had an LT166 for the first 3 years I lived here (1.75 acres). Traded it in last year for a mid-level Dixon ZTR and the difference is huge. Way faster, much better cut.
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