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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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Hunky01
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 2 Ramey,PA
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2014-04-04          189923


I think I've narrowed it down to the John Deere X304,X320 or Snapper NXT with the welded deck. I mow/maintain 2 acres,mostly sloped with lots of trees and landscaping.

Question 1. Will the 4 wheel steering give me better traction when cutting uphill around trees. My past problem has always been wheel spin when mowing around trees,etc. I'm thinking the 4 wheel steering will keep both of the tires planted instead of unloading one,causing wheel spin. Right? or am I just fulla' crap

Question 2 The JD X304 is only 18hp. Is this enough if I also want to bag leaves?

Thanks

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2014-04-05          189928


4WS will not improve traction under any conditions. In actuality, you have a 1 wheel drive mower. Two ways to improve traction; 4wd, or 2WD w/differential lock. Cheapest JD with diff lock is the X500. And standard on the X500 is a 25hp V-twin.

//greg// ....

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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2646 NorthWest NJ
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2014-04-05          189929


Hi Hunky,

Welcome to TP.

I had a Garden Tractor with differential lock before I got a 4WD drive tractor. Differential lock is much better than none at all, but what I found was that you can only use it going straight, cannot be turning at all, you generally only engage it after you start to slip. If there is much of a slope you would need chains to get some bite, and even then it may not do the trick if the grade is to much.

Around here we have many properties that have too much grade to even use my 4WD tractor. The landscapers use front mower deck ride ons that go up and own the grades at high speeds that get the job much faster than I do with the 4WD. ....

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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2014-04-06          189940


Dennis is right.

You have two options really, 4WD or 2WD front deck commercial-style mowers

This latter type puts both the operator and the engine over the drive wheels, but also it means that each wheel has its own drive motor so it really is 2WD, not 1WD. This allows both back wheels to assist while at the same time preventing wheel slip.

IMHO this setup gives as much if not more traction than a 4WD unit.


Best of luck. ....

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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2014-04-06          189941


Don't want to rain on your parade, but I returned a $5200 Ferris ZTR because is was worse than useless in my hillside pastures. Cut fine on level ground, or when I was zooming along at speed. But when I wanted it to trim up close to my cross fencing, I found the traction to be somewhere between extremely lacking and non-existent. Slow maneuvering around objects on a downhill slope and reversing uphill were the weakest attributes. The turf tires would spin to the point where they were nothing but expensive balloons. With the tires spinning in reverse, gravity still caused the machine to continue to slowly slide downhill. Twice I had to take the fence apart to untangle the machine. The third time that happened, I returned it to the dealer for a refund.

Those guys you saw racing on the hillsides likely got by with speed alone. If they had to perform slow or reversing maneuvers on those slopes, my guess is that you would have seen a different story.

//greg// ....

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7147 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2014-04-06          189943


I don't know what machine you had Greg, you weren't happy is all that matters.

Our Ferris 5100Z's and Kubota ZD323's and ZG332's are monsters. I'd have to work to make them spin in anything less than a mud puddle or a monsoon.

In fact we have a snow plow on one of them and a snow blower on another to clear our office areas that are too tight for a truck. No issues.



Best of luck. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2646 NorthWest NJ
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2014-04-06          189946


Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_g | view 189941
... If they had to perform slow or reversing maneuvers on those slopes, my guess is that you would have seen a different story.//greg//


I am probably one of the only people around here that cuts his own lawn. My comments were about commercial crews that cut lawns day in and day out on flats, grades, you name it. They cut in the early morning and in the rain. My neighbors lawn is so steep I have trouble walking up it when it is dry.

I do not know the brands that they use but they all look like the Scag front mower I attached. They handle it so well that they can take the grade from any possible angle. So on the these steep grades they cut across the grade this week, up the grade next week, 45 degrees the next two weeks. Just to make nice patterns for the home owner.

The property grades that they work on are so steep I would never ever take my 4WD Kubota on them dry let alone wet and never in any of the angles they do effortlessly.

Probably some brands are better than others, sorry you had a bad experience Greg. Sure would be frustrating to spend $5k and still get no traction :(

For me a front mower unit was out of the question because I wanted a loader, snow blower with 4WD just one all in one machine. ....

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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2014-04-06          189947


Gregg;
I've never owned a front deck two wheel drive, but was advised by the Deere dealer to avoid them, even theirs.
We attended a Deere mower demo day a few years ago, the dealer was aware of our hilly lawn, they had a side hill for a demo lawn, I drove one, he was right. Even if you could successfully fight it to keep going straight making a 180 turn toward the uphill direction was a struggle. I have no idea the model number, probably 12 - 14 years ago.

Frank. ....

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Best Lawn Tractors for Mowing Slopes

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2014-04-07          189959


I ran a Bushog ztr mowere for a few years and late last fall bought a big Ferris. It has much larger motor but for hills the big thing is how big the tires are. Must have twice the ground contact the Bushog has.

We don't have much in real hills here, but my mother in law's side yard very sloped to a branch. A lot of rain runs from a field to that area and even this past Saturday there was water on it where some shrubs were removed last year.

No idea with the heavier weight and bigger wheels how the Ferris ZTR will handle that slope wet but my Bushog was about helpless other than going down the slope. Could take my B27?? Kubota with rear finish mower and loader tires and run up it with no issue when the Bushog ZTR was hopeless on that slope. If the mower had better tires it probably would have handled it as loader tires on the tractor are not the best traction there is.

As to the Bushog we had would not recommend it for cutting on a wet slope for it does pull with both wheels but when you are turning sharp one wheel maybe pulling uphill and the other down hill and it would just slide at times.

I think Dixie Chopper offers tires about like tractor now I assume for that reason. As far as mower on slope I do trust the ZTR over tractor due to how low it's center of gravity is. Never had my ZTR (either) show any tipping action regardless of the slope even when I ended with it in ditch with one side of it.

One good thing about using ZTR near a ditch over tractor with rear finishing mower is if mower slides into ditch the deck is under it limiting how far it can drop compare to a tractor higher ground clearance. kt

....

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2014-04-07          189960


A completely different approach would be to use a pull behind mower deck and pull it with an ATV that has 2 and 4WD with a turf mode. My Polaris 550 has a turf mode that doesn't tear up the yard. It is push buttom operated so you turn it on and off as often as needed. You can also do steep inclines and has hill descent mode. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2646 NorthWest NJ
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2014-04-07          189961


Just to append some thoughts to my observations of commercial crew use of front deck mowers. I have only personally used 2WD and 4WD tractors and walk behind Scag front deck zero radius commercial mowers. Some thoughts that discount commercial use of front deck riding mowers:

1) Time is money, using these front deck machines means they will get done fast.

2) The mower operators have little choice in the matter, and cannot really complain to the business owner if they even speak the same language.

....

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treeman
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 251 Wisconsin
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2014-04-09          190010


I know a guy that just had a hillside cleared of trees and planted in grass because of new roadwork. I'm real gutsy when it comes to driving on hills but this looks scary, like about 45 deg with a long ways down before you stop (100ft+ while going through a hillside flower garden area). He had dealers bring out tractors and ztr's and most would not even unload the mower to try it. What he ended up with is a Cub Cadet Z Force that looks like a longer ztr, front wheels are steering controlled and the rears are like a ztr. It uses a steering wheel too. He NEVER mows it when it is wet. ....

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AbbasChild
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 72 Western Pennsylvania
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2014-04-10          190012


Dennis,

I am looking at adding to my fleet, I have pretty significant slopes in my horse pastures; I cut them now with a NH T2210 with rear brush cutter. The tractor has no issues going up and down, but I was looking for something that may be a little more manuveurable around fences and tighter spots. Does the mid-mount mower help enough to provide more stability and manuveurablity? Part of the reason I am also looking at a 4WD tractor is I would want a loader and probably a back hoe. (And a "smaller" tractor my wife would feel more comfortable using). I have no time frame to buy--just window shopping now.

AC ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2646 NorthWest NJ
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2014-04-10          190014


Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbasChild | view 190012
... significant slopes in my horse pastures ..cut now with a NH T2210 with rear brush cutter...something more maneuverable around fences and tighter spots...Does the mid-mount mower help enough to provide more stability and maneuverability? I want a loader and probably a back hoe....


A mid mount mower is as far as I know is only a finish mower not meant for pastures like a brush cutter. Not to say if you want to mow the perimeter more often it could work for that. But you don't want to switch from mid mower to brush cutter do you?

Mid mowers can either be suspended or ground engaging. On my Kubota the deck is ground engaging which means the weight has no stability benefit until the tractor takes up the play in the attachment bars :(

With a 4WD and a hydro transmission you can get much closer to things.

While I have been guilty of leaving the front loader on all mowing season it is not a good idea, it shifts the weight off the rear tires and if you are in 2wd at the time it will slip so be careful. Same deal if you left the brushhog on the rear with the mid mower IMHO. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2014-04-11          190029


Did anyone address his question on "bagging"?

Hunky01, have we helped? kt ....

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