If you're in the process of choosing a lawn tractor, you must make sure that you actually have a need for one. Lawn tractors are not only expensive, but they're bulky as well; storing one could create a problem for some of you. Also, if your yard is less than half an acre, you may not want to consider buying a tractor because the costs can often outweigh the benefits.
Each lawn tractor has different engine size, deck size (size of the cutting area), transmission types, possible accessory attachments and brand name.
- Determine the size of the area that you will need to mow. This is the most important step. If you have a large area and small tractor, you'll likely spend all day mowing and vice versa. For areas that are half an acre to an acre in size, don't buy anything more than a tractor with a 42 inch deck. For areas of one to two acres, you'll need a tractor in the 42-46 inch deck range. Areas over two acres are best suited to a tractor with a deck that's 46-54 inches wide.
- Once you determine which size deck you'll need, the size of the engine is likely determined for you. For example, 42 inch deck tractors have engines from 14-17 ½ horsepower (hp). Decks that are 42-46 inches tend to have 18-21 hp engines, while lawn tractors with decks over 46 inches will have an engine that is upwards of 27 hp.
This isn't an exact science; some tractors may have a larger engine on a small deck, primarily to compensate for difficult terrain. If the mowing area has a lot of ups and downs, a smaller engine sometimes can't handle it. You ought to take this into consideration as well when buying a tractor. Does your land have lots of dips and steep hills?
- There are two types of transmissions that are available to you: gear-driven or automatic. Gear-driven tractors are better for those that have few or no obstacles to avoid. Automatic tractors are tractors with pedals like an automobile; you have an easier time determining the speed you need with these tractors.
- Accessories vary by brand and size of tractor. Some of the smaller lawn tractors won't have a wide variety of accessories because it's assumed that they won't be needed. Accessories include baggers, tillers, trailers, snow blowers, lawn rollers, aerators, sprayers and spreaders.
- Some people buy solely by brand name. The most recognized name is John Deere -- most of us have heard of "John Deere green." There are plenty of names to choose from, and large home improvement chains only supply certain brands, so make sure to shop around to see the full selection. Remember that popular brand names will usually cost you more.
I hope this helps. Enjoy your new tractor and remember that the key to a long tractor life is maintenance, so treat it like you would your car to ensure that you get the most out of your investment.