I'd like some opinions on this whole 'garden tractor' versus 'lawn tractor' business. My old riding lawn mower just went down for good and I'm looking to buy a replacement. I live on small farm and need something to do some general mowing (1/2 acre or so, not many hills) around the house and outbuildings. I also need something that I could run some small ground-engaging attachments on like a sleeve hitch cultivator, small plow or harrow for a garden and for breaking up some weedy ground around my outbuildings to plant some grass into. My soil is very fine loamy sand-pretty easy to break up.
I'm looking at one of the lower-end John Deere "lawn tractors" like the 115 or 125. When I asked the local JD dealer about sleeve-hitch kits for one of these to do this sort of ground-breaking stuff, I was told that these models "aren't made for that" and that I needed to get a real "garden tractor" for this sort of thing. Of course their "garden" and "utility" tractors are several thousand dollars more than their "lawn tractors." I've heard/read similar comments in other places.
What's the real story here? I guess I'm wondering whether this is more of a sales pitch than good advice. I'm sure that a true "garden tractor" or "utility tractor" would likely do a BETTER job-as it should since it costs several times more. But can I do an OK job with the lower-priced "lawn tractors" (without harming the tractor of course)? So long as I can find a decent sleeve-hitch kit for the 115 won't this work? The other thing I like about the "lawn tractors" is their smaller size...with some of those "garden" and "utility" tractors it makes it tougher to operate in 'tight spots' around trees, next to buildings, etc.
I guess I'm a little skeptical about this whole "you need a garden tractor" idea because I know people who have been doing this sort of thing for years with old Sears 13HP riders with no apparent problems. And weren't the "garden tractors" of 10 years ago often less-powerful than the "lawn tractors" of today? I suppose the larger tire size for traction on the "garden" and "utility" tractors might also be an issue though...
'Any thoughts appreciated-thanks!