SWMBO and I just bought a Husqvarna 46" ZTR. Our house is on a 2-acre lot with
trees. Compared to the tractor-style riding mower we had been using, the ZTR cut
mowing time from 4-1/2 hours to about an hour and a half -- and I think it will
get even shorter,
once I get used to driving the ZTR. If you've never driven one before, there's a
When you actually get one and start mowing with it, practice in the middle of
the yard, well
away from any trees, ditches, or landscape plants that you want to keep, until
mastered the controls.
Test-drive everything you're considering buying. When we asked to test-drive a
Lowe's, the salesman was surprised -- said he'd been selling mowers there for
and we were the first customers to ever ask that of him -- but didn't argue with
us. Pushed it
out of the store, gassed it up, let us drive it around in the parking lot, just
what we wanted.
The main reason we bought the Husqvarna instead of something else is that our
yard is not
at all smooth. It's pretty bumpy. And the Husqvarna has a much more robust frame
most of the residential mowers we looked at: the frame is a rectangular steel
most others are U-channels or angle iron; some aren't even that sturdy.
Another thing to look at is the stops for the control arms (you push them
outward to park the
unit): Husqvarna, Dixon, Aries, and Gravely have actual steel stops. Every other
the plastic fender skirts as stops, and they move noticeably when you park --
is that likely to be? IMHO, not very.
A helpful (but not vital) safety feature is control levers that automatically
return to the neutral
position when you let go of them. I think every mower we looked at would return
from *forward* motion, but only Ariens and Gravely would return to neutral from
If it will be used by more than one person, and one is much taller than the
other, you want a
unit with a seat that easily adjusts fore and aft.
Other brands we considered, along with the reason(s) we didn't buy them:
- Ariens: this was our second choice. Controls have a better feel than the
Husqvarna, but the
frame, although sturdy, is less robust than the Husqvarna's. Deck height
adjustment is a foot
pedal (everything else we looked at uses a hand lever assisted by a spring), and
SWMBO is easily strong enough to push it down, she's short, and it's just a
stretch for her to
reach it. Pricing is comparable to Husqvarna.
- Dixon: identical to the Husqvarna except for the color -- and the price ($200+
a bit hard to swallow just to have it blue instead of hunter orange.
- Troy-Bilt: similar quality to Ariens, but one significant drawback: if you're
over 6' tall (my
son) or have long legs (me), you have to be careful how you position your legs
so that the
control levers don't hit your knees. Priced a bit higher than Husqvarna.
- Toro: frame noticeably less robust than the Husqvarna, and the controls are
touchy; the slightest movement of a lever produces a major motion of the mower.
seconds into the test drive, SWMBO and I both said "Not this one".
- Gravely: probably the best residential unit around. Very sturdy, nice easy
would have bought this instead of the Husqvarna, hands down, *if* they had been
the same price -- but it was waaaay out of our price range.
- Cub Cadet: it's really sad to see what's being marketed under that brand name
duty unit with a heavy-duty price tag. Frame is lightweight angle iron.
- Snapper: doesn't even have a frame, it's just a stamped pan. If you're over 6'
tall, or have
long legs, you won't even be able to drive this at all: the control levers will
hit you in the
middle of your thighs. Way overpriced, too.
- Simplicity residential mowers: don't even bother looking at one of these.
They're s**t, even
less sturdy than the Snappers, and even more badly overpriced.
- Simplicity commercial mowers: solid, hefty mower with a solid, hefty price
tag. If you like
the idea of spending seven grand on a mower, go for it.
Hope this helps...
the exmark product is practically indestructible. The place i used to
work had 7 of them in full time use. They were 5 seasons old when I
left, and none had had any major work. Only deck bearings and belts.
The one I've owned since 2005 still has the original belts and deck
bearings only once. No hydraulic failures on any i've been associated with.
remove the "not" from my address to email
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