How do I Choose a Garden Tractor? (Solved & Explained!)

What you plan to accomplish with your garden tractor will determine what kind it would be most appropriate for you to purchase. You should consider your needs, your space, and your budget when you’re considering your options. Here are some more things to consider:

  • What kind of attachments are available
    • There are lots of different attachments available for garden tractors, but the garden tractor you choose may be determined by the tasks you have planned for your tractor and what attachments are available to help you with those tasks.
  • Power Take-Off (PTO)
    • PTO allows you to use attachments that require power. It’s not an electrical power transfer, but rather it’s a shaft that’s turned by the motor, which turns parts in your attachment that make them work. 
  • What tasks you’ll need to perform
    • Gardening and tilling
    • Hauling large loads
    • Mowing large amounts of acreage
  • Storage space
  • Lawn/garden layout and accessibility
  • Budget
    • Depending on the features and specs of the garden tractor you decide on, your budget will likely play a part in your purchase. Consider your price range before you’re ready to buy so you don’t cause undue financial hardship.

What is a garden tractor?

A garden tractor is a versatile machine that can do a wide range of tasks including heavy-duty tasks like hauling heavy loads. Some garden tractors have a power take-off that allows you to attach other power tools (like tillers) to the tractor.

Garden tractors feature a higher horsepower than riding lawn mowers or lawn tractors. They have a transmission rather than a belt-driven engine.

What does a garden tractor do?

Garden tractors are known for being very versatile pieces of equipment. Not only will you be able to mow the lawn, but you’ll be also able to handle other tough tasks including but not limited to:

  • Snow removal including snow plowing or snow blowing (with PTO)
  • Cultivating, Plowing, and/or tilling the earth (with appropriate attachments)
  • Hauling and/or pulling heavy loads and/or objects (more than just potting soil and tools)

What’s the difference between a lawnmower and a garden tractor?

Lawn tractors are used just to mow grass, they’re small and light, and the cutting deck is mid-mounted. They’ll have less horsepower, and they’ll cost less than a garden tractor because it’s less functional and it’s smaller. Because they’re smaller, they’re more maneuverable and easier to store.

A garden tractor is multi-functional, heavy-duty, and larger. Garden tractors are used for a variety of tasks, including mowing the grass. Since the garden tractor is heavy-duty, it’s going to have the higher horsepower.

The garden tractor is usually equipped with a locking differential, which helps it keep its traction when on rough, muddy, soft, or rocky terrain. When mowing, they cover more ground and faster.  

Who needs a garden tractor?

If you have 2 or more acres that need regular mowing, you want to till a garden, you want to plow snow in the winter, and/or pull heavy loads around your land, a garden tractor can handle all of that and more.

If you have less than 2 acres to mow regularly, a lawn tractor or a riding lawn mower is probably enough to get the job done. If you’re not doing any heavy tasks or pulling, a regular lawnmower is capable of hauling a small trailer to carry tools, dirt, or other light objects. 

What kind of maintenance does a garden tractor need?

Just like other vehicles, ATVs, and motorized machines, a garden tractor will need regular maintenance. Oil changes, engine repair, and other maintenance will be part of the responsibilities that come with a garden tractor.

You can take your garden tractor to a shop and get it serviced, or you can order parts and do it yourself. Either way, you’ll need to consult the owner’s manual of your specific make and model you purchase to understand the maintenance schedule it requires.

Does a garden tractor need gasoline or diesel?

Depending on the size and quality of the garden tractor you choose, different tractors may vary on their fuel intake. Some tractors will take gasoline, but the more durable and reliable tractors will likely take diesel.

Smaller engines will typically require gasoline while bigger, heavier machinery will use diesel fuel. 

What kind of transmission is best for garden tractors?

There are a few different kinds of transmissions, and each transmission will have its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the details:

  • Hydrostatic shift
    • You can shift between forward & reverse without using the clutch.
    • Still uses the clutch to switch low, medium, and high.
    • These will usually have less horsepower than some of their counterparts.
    • This transmission may last as long or longer than gear transmission.
    • With the HST, you can change speeds and maintain the same engine RPM.
    • Changing speed is almost instantaneous.
    • Less maintenance.
    • Very little need for brakes.
    • Less clutch work, so wear and tear is less common.
  • Shuttle shift
    • You don’t have to use the clutch if the vehicle is completely stopped.
    • The clutch is only necessary if you’re already in motion.
    • Applying the brake would kill the motor.
    • 8-24 forward and reverse gears.
    • A lever can make the vehicle stop and go backward at the same speed with no need to use the clutch.
  • Glide shift
    • 12 forward and 8 reverse gears.
    • When switching gears on rough terrain such as hills, the vehicle may freewheel or roll back while 
    • Semi-automatic.
    • You can adjust some of the shift speeds to your needs, this may fix the freewheel problem.
  • DT gear drive
    • When you put it in gear, it goes without holding a pedal down.
    • You have to use the clutch every time you change the gear or change from forward to reverse or reverse to forward. 
    • They’re great for pulling loads, but not for lots of back-and-forth movement.
    • 8 forward & 8 reverse gears.

Which is better: Garden or Lawn Tractor?

If you need to cut less than 2 acres of grass, a lawn tractor is easier to store, it’s cheaper, and it does the job. It has less horsepower and less functionality, but it’s simple and does what it’s intended for. 

If you need to do more tasks and you have the storage space, a garden tractor may be well worth the investment. If you’re interested in landscaping, hauling loads, or keeping your driveway free of snow, a garden tractor can handle the job.