Garden Tractor: 13 Things to Know

What are the pros and cons of a garden tractor? Do they have any downsides to owning one? What about maintenance and upkeep costs? Read on for answers.

Why Use a Garden Tractor?

Since they’re heavier than lawn tractors, garden tractors can take on many of the same chores that you’d normally need a full-sized tractor for. Compared to traditional riding mowers, they can fit many more types of attachments and therefore be used for much more than simply cutting grass.

What Is a Garden Tractor Vs. a Lawn Tractor?

Garden tractors are essentially the bigger sibling of lawn tractors. Whereas lawn tractors are relatively light, garden tractors are much more heavy-duty and they’re designed to be extremely stable even when moving them over hills or working with larger attachments.

Considering that they’re larger, garden tractors normally offer more horsepower than smaller lawn tractors will.

What Attachments Can You Use on a Garden Tractor?

Tillers and rakes are popular attachments, but you can also fit various types of plows to most garden tractors. If you’re cleaning up a farmette or other plot of land, then you can attach a trailer to the back of your garden tractor as well.

Most of them have at least some kind of cutting attachment too, which will enable you to use it to cut grass.

How Big Should Your Garden Be to Justify Using a Garden Tractor?

Chances are that you could get away with something lighter if you have less than a half-acre. Anything more than this could justify the use of a garden tractor.

Those who have several acres to maintain might want to look into full-sized commercial tractors like you might use if you worked on a grain farm.

Is it Better to Buy or Rent a Garden Tractor?

Rent a tractor if you’re only going to need to use it once or twice. Depending on the size of the plot of land that you’re cleaning up, you may even want to consider renting a bigger tractor.

Buy the garden tractor outright if you plan to use it more than a few times. This is going to be much less expensive in the long run because rental costs can really start to add up.

Where Can You Rent a Garden Tractor and How Much Does it Cost?

Some hardware stores offer garden tractor rentals that last a few days at a time for only around $200-500, but you’ll probably have to pay for the fuel yourself. The best services charge no more than this and will actually deliver the tractor to your lot for you.

How Do You Get the Rental to Your House?

A few higher-end services will deliver it to you at no extra cost, but they usually put it on a trailer and take it over. Some self-service plans allow you to simply cart it off on a trailer attached to your own truck, which can help you save a bundle.

How Much Do Garden Tractors Cost?

Small tractors that offer somewhere around 22-50 HP of tractive effort can cost you around $5,000-15,000, though the largest garden tractors have been priced at more than $120,000. At that price, you’re better off buying a full-sized machine, so it pays to shop around.

Large property garden tractors without any bells and whistles can normally be had for $2,400.

How Many Hours Should a Garden Tractor Last?

Well-maintained garden tractors that are periodically cleaned should hold up for 8,000 hours or longer. Making sure to change the spark plugs out periodically can help to improve these numbers somewhat.

This should usually translate into 15-30 years of service for most people.

What Should I Look for When Buying a Garden Tractor?

When buying a new one, make sure you’re not buying more equipment than you need. Keep these points in mind when buying used ones:

  1. Check for any sign of a leak
  2. Make sure that the wheels are straight
  3. If it has pneumatic tires, then ensure they don’t have holes
  4. Look at the wiring if you can and see if anything seems frayed
  5. Ask for a test drive if at all possible
  6. See how the steering feels; check if it’s biased toward one direction or the other
  7. Give the body a close inspection to see if any rust has been painted over
  8. Make sure that it’s easy to get replacement parts for the model you’re buying
  9. Ask if it’s been kept in a garage or shed
  10. Inspect the tachometer or hour-meter to see how much it’s been used

What is the Most Reliable Brand of Garden Tractor?

Usually, it’s a model rather than a brand that you’re going to want to consider. All of the main brands, including the infamously feuding John Deere and International Harvester, have good years and bad ones.

Don’t discount ones that have gone for the consumer market. Cub Cadet and other commercially-oriented brands have come out with some decent equipment over the years.

What is the Best Garden Tractor for the Money?

Though Craftsman’s and Cub Cadet’s inexpensive offerings are usually praised, you might get the best deal by buying used garden tractors. Any used machine could potentially have issues, but if you know what to look for you can save a lot of cash.

New machines that have 19-20 HP engines are also relatively affordable, and these may also be a little more reasonable when it comes to using fuel. Take a look at electric models, too, since they tend to be less expensive to maintain over their life.

What is the Best Craftsman Garden Tractor?

Craftsman’s ProSeries is well-liked among those who manage small farms, though nearly any of their garden tractors that come outfitted with a Briggs & Stratton engine are praised. The 19 HP models shouldn’t cost much more than $2,000, which has made them attractive for those looking for something on a tight budget.

The total cost of ownership of most of these models tends to be low since the engines are relatively reliable.