A garden tractor can tackle all of these chores that a full-sized farm tractor can, though it normally can’t pull as much weight. They can be used in the place of a riding lawn mower, and through the use of attachments they can also do all of this:
- Cut down hay and other plant growth
- Hoe fields with a tiller attachment
- Rotate soil with a rotor
- Tow trailers of debris
- Sow seeds with a casting attachment
- Throw snow by using an attached snowblower
- Mount a plow for plowing down fields
- Dump soil or sand from a swinging dump trailer
- Bag and collect lawn clippings
- Mulch preexisting plant growth
In many cases, you’ll need to invest in several different attachments to get a single job done. That being said, the expense is often worth it since this is far less costly than actually investing in independent lawn tools.
What’s the Difference Between a Lawn Tractor and a Garden Tractor?
Lawn tractors are essentially riding lawn mowers that provide a few additional benefits than traditional models. A garden tractor is a fully certified tractor that works the same way a tractor would on a farm.
Since lawn tractors usually have much smaller wheels, they offer a much tighter turn radius than a garden tractor might. They normally have smaller transmissions and engines as well, which can help to dramatically improve their fuel economy.
Garden tractors, however, offer greatly increased towing power and a sturdier build. They’re physically larger and generate more torque, which enables them to haul fairly heavy loads.
Some third-party manufacturers have brought sophisticated trailers on the market that can help users haul lumber and yard debris with an attached garden tractor. Smaller hobby farmers use this kind of equipment daily.
Low-end lawn tractors provide little more than a set of cutting blades, but this makes them perfect for those who just want a lawn mower that can tackle big areas.
Do I Need a Garden Tractor?
People who live on large lots with plenty of vegetation and big lawns will certainly benefit from investing in a garden tractor. This is especially true if you live in an area that receives significant snowfall and you want to have something that you can use to plow it.
Those who have smaller plots of land might be better off with a more traditional lawn tractor. Considering that it could be a challenge to get even a zero-turn tractor around some curves, you may even want to consider a pushed lawn mower in some circumstances.
If you’re working your own small hobby farm or a market garden, then a garden tractor might be a great investment. You can use it to replace a tiller and an automatic hoe, which in turn can help you save money in the long run.
Best of all, you’ll have less machines to maintain, which can help to further slash the amount of money that you have to put into your farm. Garden tractors are normally easy to maintain and they can be patched up with readily available parts.
Another reason you might need one is if you do any kind of landscaping work on a contract basis. Garden tractors should fit on medium-sized trailers that could be hauled with just about any kind of commercial-grade pickup truck, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting it to a job site.
Garden Tractor Attachments
Depending on the type of garden tractor you invest in, a large number of different attachments should be available. Trailers and dumps are probably the most popular, though you can also find everything from plows to snow-throwers.
Fitment for these attachments is usually seamless, so you can install them on your garden tractor in just a few moments with a minimum of tools. A representative from Howling Farms was able to install a fairly professional-grade universal hitch on a Husqvarna GT54LS fairly quickly:
Many brands use proprietary adapters that ensure you’re not able to use attachments from one tractor with another model. This is an unfortunate reality of the way that these vehicles are marketed.
You might want to do a little extra research before you purchase any specific attachment, because it may not work with your new tractor. A few unofficial third-party manufacturers have started to produce attachments for tractors that are no longer on the market, so you might not need to worry as much about the longevity of your machine.
There’s also a thriving second-hand market in many areas.
Best Garden Tractor Brands
Most of the best garden tractor brands are the same as the best brands associated with full-sized tractor manufacturing. Whether you’re shopping in a dealership or looking through catalog listings online, you’re more than likely to see these brands get highly rated:
- John Deere’s X5/7-series, which are diesel-powered tractors every bit as powerful as full-sized ones
- Cub Cadet, which is known for a large selection of garden tractors like the Enduro Series
- Poulan, which has a series of pedal control garden tractors
- Yard Machines, which is normally associated with lawn tractors but makes a number of cross-over vehicles with smaller wheels and a 420cc motor
- Husqvarna, makers of the YTH24V series of 24HP tractors as well as beefier options
- Troy-Bilt tractors, which come with 540cc motors from Briggs & Stratton
Note that some manufacturers make what are essentially garden tractors with smaller wheels that are normally associated with consumer-grade lawn tractors. These are always a good option if you have a small-to-medium sized lot that might not need a large piece of equipment.
If you don’t mind getting a used tractor, then you’ll also want to look into the International Harvester brand. Their modern equipment is mostly geared toward professional farmers, but the classic Farmall series has some real staying power.
Many people looking for a garden tractor today gravitate toward this series.