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I normally mow the 7 acres of my property that need mowing with a JD x758 garden tractor with 60" deck. It does an OK job but I've never been impressed with the cut (both general cut and unevenness). My dealer is letting me try their shop zero turn this weekend because I'm considering trading the tractor for one. I bought the tractor mainly for mowing and also snow blowing duty, but 1) we haven't had a lot of snow in MN for quite a few winters; and 2) I got a 2520 MCUT after the x758 so I can just use the 54" blower over on that instead. My goal with the switch to a zero turn is to speed up the mowing, get a better cut, and hopefully to reduce my investment a little. The x758 is a 2016 with 205 hours on it and is in very nice condition yet.

The zero turn I'm using is a Deere Z930M. It has the 60" 7-iron deck, mulch control and bagging system. I'll mostly mow without the bagger but in fall I need a bagger for lots of leaves. I can mow my 7 acres in about 4.5 hours with the tractor. Since this is my first time running a zero turn I'm sure I won't be able to mow as fast as it is really capable of, but hopefully I can tell whether it will be faster than the tractor. I have a lot of trees and other obstacles in the lawn so I'm thinking the zero turn will help.

Anything I should know about running the zero turn before I head out? My dealer showed me all the controls, I'm talking more about technique or general mowing differences.

Has anyone else made this type of switch? Was it worth it?

Here's the zero turn I'm using:


Also, they are asking just under $11K for this unit with 270 hours on it as it sits, bagger included. Decent price?

Thanks,
Rob
 

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I mowed 7ish acres for quite a few years with an X748. It was slow and painful. I got a 997 5 years ago, but I kept the x748.
I can’t mow 100% with the 997. There are areas near my creek,along fence lines, ditches, and other slopes that the 997’s powered shopping cart effect won’t cut it.
Most of it can be mowed fine with the 997 though, and it does a fantastic job compared to the x748. Me and my wife mow at the same time and we can be done in about 3 hours. We are mowing about 10 acres now!
The 997 can’t replace the x748 because of the mowing stability, snow blowing, tilling, blading, spraying, etc.

In your case, since you have another little tractor, go for it!
 

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There's a great sticky thread about operating Zs in this very forum. :good2:
 

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We got a Z920M early this spring. For mowing duties, it replaced a 1025r with a 54" deck and an older Cub Cadet lawn tractor with a 50" deck. My wife and I would use both at the same time on about 2.5 acres and it would take about an hour and 15 minutes. Now I cut it by myself in a little under an hour.

Advice wise, I'd say don't try to make any true 180 degree turns at the end of your path. You have to keep one drive wheel turning forward and one turning backwards at close to the same rate or it will scuff your turf. After mowing with it all season I can't do it reliably, so I make a quick 3 point turn.

The rear tires also get unloaded easily if you end up off camber going down slopes with a quick break over, so don't expect to be able to back out of this situation. Overall stability feels a lot better to me than than the 1025r or lawn tractor though. You have to "crab" it when going across slopes but that's easy to get the hang of.

Other than that, just find an open spot away from obstacles to get a feel for control sensitivity and go for it. No way would I go back to tractor mowing.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

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You don't mention the year model of the Z930M, but, I would guess it is a 2017 year due to the number of hours on the loaner. So, it may still have a year or so warranty left on it. A standard 2017 Z930M with 60" 7 iron deck and that many hours would go at $6,700.00 here in my neck of the woods. So, it seems the dealer is wanting a few thousand ( $4000) for the bagger system. Offer $8200 and start walking away when you say this.

On the.. www.tractorhouse.com where you can get a good idea what model John Deere Ztraks are selling, gives you some thought the price you should pay. Log on to the website I mention here, and see how many 2017 Z915E with 60" decks are selling for. Most of these are dealer leases models...One year programs.

I bought a 2012 Z710A with 28 hours in 2013 (one year old) that listed for $8.800.00 for $4.500.00. I still own it with 289 hours and I mow about 7 1/2 acres. It takes me less than three hours and about 6 gallons of fuel.
 

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My biggest advice is don't try to turn on a dime. I have found that if I pull up in the direction of my next pass and then back up and then go, I don't get turf rub. Turning on a dime looks like this.
L5.jpg
L4.jpg
 

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Advice wise, I'd say don't try to make any true 180 degree turns at the end of your path. You have to keep one drive wheel turning forward and one turning backwards at close to the same rate or it will scuff your turf. After mowing with it all season I can't do it reliably, so I make a quick 3 point turn.
As someone who has only mowed with conventional riding mowers for close to 50 years I must say I am learning a few things about ZTRs. I thought the whole advantage of a ZTR was Zero Turn Radius. But it sounds like you need to make the same 3-point turns that I do. The side hill traction issues sound like another fun feature. I think I'll stick to my 4-wheels for now. :)
 

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As someone who has only mowed with conventional riding mowers for close to 50 years I must say I am learning a few things about ZTRs. I thought the whole advantage of a ZTR was Zero Turn Radius. But it sounds like you need to make the same 3-point turns that I do. The side hill traction issues sound like another fun feature. I think I'll stick to my 4-wheels for now. :)
I'm sure there are people who can take advantage of the full turning ability, and I can if I take my time. That said, the 3 point turn is still way faster than turning a tractor, and mowing goes much faster overall. Actually made mowing fun for me. I understand it wouldn't be for everyone though.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

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One thing I would do before even starting your test mow is check the air pressure in the rear tires. All mowers and tractors seem to come from the dealer with the tires overinflated. Lowering the rears to around 10# will improve th ride big time.

These things ride hard enough as it is - don’t want you to be disappointed with a very harsh ride while testing it out.
 

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I switch to a zturn (z445)6 years ago and would never be without one. Mow just ove 2 acres and takes me half the time is used to with tractor. Plus does a nicer job. Problem also,with tractor is I have lots of trees and was tired of backing all the time. Good luck sure you will like it.
 
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I just moved from a 1026R with 60D MMM (pretty similar to the 700s) to a 61” Zero Turn so maybe my experience can help. I definitely cut my mowing time down to almost 50% of what it was before. My entire property is the top and side of a hill, and while slopes have some tricks involved it’s still a huge gain.

I still can’t do a perfect “zero turn”, but like others say, a 3pt turn on a ZT is MUCH faster than one on a tractor. So much faster that your main issue at first will be learning to be soft on the controls. If you go from med/fast forward straight to reverse you will slip the tire and leave a skid. You have way more power right to the wheels than you used to. =) You will find that stopping while going/pointing downhill is much harder, so plan ahead there.

On slopes you want to try to go side to side from the bottom up. Then each turn is a turn UP the slope and that’s pretty easy. You can usually do a diagonal down/sideways on a hill and then turn upward to go up/sideways back up the hill without issue too. Going up is never a problem. There is a section where when I get the last cleanup run around perimeter I just know that I’m going to mow down to the bottom (where it’s flat) and then turn there. All of this is made MUCH easier on dry grass/ground. But it still works fine with more care in damper conditions. I live in VA and there’s plenty of times that I can’t wait 3 weeks for a perfect 2nd dry day. =)

With all this in mind: half my lawn is between 10deg and 15deg (normally considered max zero turn slope) and with a little due caution I mow it anytime I want and in half the time it took before.

Enjoy!
 

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As someone who has only mowed with conventional riding mowers for close to 50 years I must say I am learning a few things about ZTRs. I thought the whole advantage of a ZTR was Zero Turn Radius. But it sounds like you need to make the same 3-point turns that I do. The side hill traction issues sound like another fun feature. I think I'll stick to my 4-wheels for now. :)
I was just about in the same boat but I bought my buddies Cub Cadet M54 Tank since he was moving to CO and didn't need one out there. It has very low hours for its age so I figured I could sell if I didn't like it. I was very anti-ZTR when I got but now after using it for a season I have to admit I mow faster than anything else I have used. It doesn't matter what pattern either whether it's going around in concentric circles following the perimeter of the grass like you do with a standard mower or just going up and back in straight lines like you see most ZTR operators do. You simply can't beat the speed of it on flat terrain and around obstacles. With all that said it will beat the crap out of you ride wise on a crappy yard like mine. I intend to continue my yard project this fall so hopefully I can fix that. If the OP is interested in ride quality with a ZTR then a Ferris might the one he wants.


I have some sloped areas on my road frontage but have never felt any kind of pucker factor. However, I am quite sure steep slopes would present a significant challenge to it. I was just going to flip the ZTR but it's a keeper now even though it's not green. :laugh:

As far as the skid marks/divots that is all true but only if you hammering the mower and making super quick turns (at least that has been my experience). If you make a rational turn then you can do a zero turn radius without any damage.
 

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Most of my “lawn” is actually (barely) recovered horse field and pretty rough. I understand the 900 series Z’s (esp with the tweels and/or easy-glide) are lovely on rougher ground, but I’ll say that I do love my is700z and hear that the is2100z is just stupid good on rough ground.
 

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My situation is a bit odd, but I used to mow with my 318 and 50" deck. I now have an Exmark Lazer Z HP w/52" deck.
I say odd because I used to my my Grandfathers property with it when he bought it in 87, and until 2006. I never tried my Exmark there, because he passed away long before I got it. I have used it several other places though, so I believe I can be accurate in the differences I see.
I still have the 318 for the snowblowing, single bottom plowing, tilling, etc, but the only time it mows at our current place is in the fall due to the collection system for the 318.
Its a slow reminder of just how fast the zero turn really is.
On flat ground, obstacles or not, there is no question as to the speed and quality of cut.
***side note here. I am NOT talking about the homeowner type zero turns. I dont think many of us are, but some will take these types of threads and try to apply them to the smaller, slower residential types and end up not as happy as they would like.
Anyway, on mild slopes, either works fine. On what I call hills, the zero turn cant really go across the face, but had to go down, or up.
Traction. Tractor wins this handily. Its not really an issue for me though, so I cant say it matters if you are mindful of where you are mowing. Most stuck zero turns I see are in narrow roadside drainage ditches, and generally because it was wet.
For some reason, I feel like I can better trim around bushes with the tractor. Not really sure why, and Ive never done a head to head, but just a feeling I have when I try to trim really close to large bushes.
I have trouble with turning a large radius turn at times. We have two flower beds trimmed with landscape stones on their perimeter. Mowing around these on the tractor is easy peasy. Doing it on the zero turn takes a bit more concentration on my part.
Mowing speed. My 318 goes just a hair over 7mph. In a nice thick lawn, regular mowing height (not unmaintained grass), I cant mow that fast and have a clean cut.
On the Exmark, top speed of just under 12mph, mowing at 7mph is a piece of cake. I have, in the past, mowed full speed. It wasnt what Id call clean, but looked as good as my 318 did when mowing fast. I was mowing a friends acre lawn, and it was getting dark. He was happy with it, but I wasnt. Id say 10mph or so is about top speed in good thick grass.
That last part depends heavily on the mower itself. Some can do this and some cant. Some can do better.

I did have a bit of a time getting used to the controls. My Exmark has 1200 hours, and the controls are a bit looser than new, so every once in a while, I get a bit jerky.
Backing up is a LOT different on a zero turn. I can do it, but backing for long stretches certainly isnt a zero turns forte. I have about 600' of road to mow next to, and its faster for me to run wide open the other way, then turn around and make a run to clean it off than it is to try to back all the way down that distance.

Ground pressure. They dont tear up the ground as much as a tractor. This depends on your normal conditions of course, but at my place, the soil is generally damp enough to leave tracks in most of the time. The 318 leaves impressions of its front tread and back, the Exmark neither unless its bare dirt. They generally distribute the weight better, and dont weigh as much (with the exception of the additions like the bagger pictured).

They arent meant to tow anything. Some places will sell a tow hitch kit with them, but unless its a VERY light load, all you will do is shorten the life of the hydro motors.

Given all that, and even having a small lot, I wouldnt go back to mowing on a tractor again.
When I bought my 2025, I considered (fairly heavily I might add) getting a deck for it and selling the Exmark. I didnt do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One thing I would do before even starting your test mow is check the air pressure in the rear tires. All mowers and tractors seem to come from the dealer with the tires overinflated. Lowering the rears to around 10# will improve th ride big time.

These things ride hard enough as it is - don’t want you to be disappointed with a very harsh ride while testing it out.
Great suggestion. Thanks! The tires were around 18# and manual calls for 12# so I reduced them a bit.

Rob
 
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Discussion Starter #16
So I completed mowing my 7 acres today with the Z930M zero turn. All in all it was a very good experience. It didn't take long for me to get comfortable with the controls. I found that it is not as easy to stay in a straight line but I did get decent at it after a bit. The zero turn's 60" 7-Iron deck did a nice job cutting the grass. The end result is nicer than what the x758 can do with the 60HC deck. Smoother cut and you can't see the wheel paths and faint lines between blades like the 60HC (not uncut grass lines but you can just see something different). I was able to mow the 7 acres that normally take me 4.5 hours in about 3.5 hours and that includes the fact that I was just starting out learning things at the beginning.

Some observations:

- The Z930M is a whole different animal with the bagger on than without it. It is a bumpier ride for sure. Even with the seven 42# weights on the front bracket for ballast (which seems to be 2 more than the manual calls for, but that's how the dealer had it) the front end seems bouncy/light even on flat ground (i.e. when going over bumps you can tell), especially as the bagger fills up.

- The bagger does a great job picking up clippings. Very good suction and the monster hose from the power head to the bagger really helps. But that damn thing fills FAST. Maybe 100-150 yards and it needs to be emptied. My lawn did have a ton of clippings on it from past mowings though. Nice system as far as installation and removal. I am able to take it off or put it on just as fast as the MC519. Maybe 3 minutes.

- I don't know the exact HP of the engine but I could tell it was working really hard to power the deck, power head and driveline. It does work and for the limited amount of time I need to bag it would probably not require me to go to a bigger unit, but I always like operating something that is 'overkill' instead of 'adequate'.

- There doesn't appear to be any way to tell how full the bagger is. I did get OK at guessing when it was time to dump, but I plugged it up twice and MAN does that power head pack the clippings in the tube!

- I think I was actually able to master the 180* turn. Seems that the trick is to shave off the speed/momentum and get to basically being stopped, then push the levers in opposite directions and 180 it. If I tried to turn sharp by keeping moving (slowly) and 'stopping' the inside wheel while giving the outer one more stick it tended to tear things up.

- I could definitely go faster in straight runs than with the tractor. And you have WAY less 'dead' travel (where you are driving over already-mowed areas, such as on corners of a section) with the zero turn. I often make 270* 'circles' at the corners of big square(ish) sections with the tractor. The zero turn allowed me to just end the side, come to a stop, and turn 90* to start the next side.

- Mowing with the zero turn is bumpy. But probably not really much different than with the tractor. This Z930M had the suspension seat and that, according to my dealer, makes a big difference. I was also mowing faster and the ride really wasn't any worse. I have to believe if I got myself a heavy lawn roller and smoothed things out it would be much more pleasant and faster to mow!

- I have about 450' of frontage on the county road and I mow my ditch there. The angle is mild enough that I was able to mow across it (with the roadway) without any significant issue. I also mow the sides along my driveway but those are steeper and about 50% of that was just too steep for comfort. The x758 does fine there. I did find out what people are talking about re: going down hill with the zero turn. Doesn't want to stop easily. And you certainly can't back up a hill very well.

- The grass discharge was much more evenly distributed with the zero turn than my x758's deck. With the X758 and the chute in normal position it leaves bad windrows. I have taken to holding it up with a bungie and then it sprays them out decently. The Z930M spreads them out nice via the chute.

- Mulch on Demand. What's that really do?? Grass clippings still come out the chute. Are they just chopped finer?

Because of the way I mowed I really couldn't check how much fuel I used for the base 7 acres. That's because I mowed it all except about 1/2 acre, then put the bagger back on and mowed that 1/2 acre with the bagger but since I now had the bagger on I went back over about 2/3 of the whole lawn to bag clippings. So I ended up with about 5+ hours on the unit and a large portion were with the bagger running so that fuel consumption will be really skewed.

So, ultimately this test drive showed me that I probably do want to switch to a zero turn. My property is well suited for one and there seems to be real time savings involved. I thinks this Z930M is probably a good sized unit for me. I can tell it is a commercial grade unit but it isn't some top of the line extreme machine. It seem solidly capable for mowing without the bagger. With the bagger it is just adequate. Whether I actually choose a Deere like this or another brand is still up in the air. Part of my desire to change was to reduce my investment and I don't think I really will, even trading my 205 hour x758 (with 60"HC, power flow, MC519 bagger, and prep stuff for snowblower use) for the demo Z930M with 276 hours. If I bought a new unit I'm sure I couldn't. I will check other brands to see if I can get a comparable quality/capability unit for less $$.

I also still have to price out the quick hitch mount and PTO driveshaft for the 2520 to allow my 54" blower to attach. I'm hoping that's in the $200-250 range, not $500+. I'll also have to come to grips with the fact that I will no longer have a garden tractor around. If I need to pull a trailer around for chores I'll have to use the 2520. Obviously pulling a typical 80 cart sized trailer will look stupid and my other option is my 6x10 aluminum trailer which would be too big for some tasks. Do it need it that much though? Probably not.

Thanks for all the tips. Lots of good things to think about.

Rob
 

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So I completed mowing my 7 acres today with the Z930M zero turn. All in all it was a very good experience. It didn't take long for me to get comfortable with the controls. I found that it is not as easy to stay in a straight line but I did get decent at it after a bit. The zero turn's 60" 7-Iron deck did a nice job cutting the grass. The end result is nicer than what the x758 can do with the 60HC deck. Smoother cut and you can't see the wheel paths and faint lines between blades like the 60HC (not uncut grass lines but you can just see something different). I was able to mow the 7 acres that normally take me 4.5 hours in about 3.5 hours and that includes the fact that I was just starting out learning things at the beginning.

Some observations:

- The Z930M is a whole different animal with the bagger on than without it. It is a bumpier ride for sure. Even with the seven 42# weights on the front bracket for ballast (which seems to be 2 more than the manual calls for, but that's how the dealer had it) the front end seems bouncy/light even on flat ground (i.e. when going over bumps you can tell), especially as the bagger fills up.

- The bagger does a great job picking up clippings. Very good suction and the monster hose from the power head to the bagger really helps. But that damn thing fills FAST. Maybe 100-150 yards and it needs to be emptied. My lawn did have a ton of clippings on it from past mowings though. Nice system as far as installation and removal. I am able to take it off or put it on just as fast as the MC519. Maybe 3 minutes.

- I don't know the exact HP of the engine but I could tell it was working really hard to power the deck, power head and driveline. It does work and for the limited amount of time I need to bag it would probably not require me to go to a bigger unit, but I always like operating something that is 'overkill' instead of 'adequate'.

- There doesn't appear to be any way to tell how full the bagger is. I did get OK at guessing when it was time to dump, but I plugged it up twice and MAN does that power head pack the clippings in the tube!

- I think I was actually able to master the 180* turn. Seems that the trick is to shave off the speed/momentum and get to basically being stopped, then push the levers in opposite directions and 180 it. If I tried to turn sharp by keeping moving (slowly) and 'stopping' the inside wheel while giving the outer one more stick it tended to tear things up.

- I could definitely go faster in straight runs than with the tractor. And you have WAY less 'dead' travel (where you are driving over already-mowed areas, such as on corners of a section) with the zero turn. I often make 270* 'circles' at the corners of big square(ish) sections with the tractor. The zero turn allowed me to just end the side, come to a stop, and turn 90* to start the next side.

- Mowing with the zero turn is bumpy. But probably not really much different than with the tractor. This Z930M had the suspension seat and that, according to my dealer, makes a big difference. I was also mowing faster and the ride really wasn't any worse. I have to believe if I got myself a heavy lawn roller and smoothed things out it would be much more pleasant and faster to mow!

- I have about 450' of frontage on the county road and I mow my ditch there. The angle is mild enough that I was able to mow across it (with the roadway) without any significant issue. I also mow the sides along my driveway but those are steeper and about 50% of that was just too steep for comfort. The x758 does fine there. I did find out what people are talking about re: going down hill with the zero turn. Doesn't want to stop easily. And you certainly can't back up a hill very well.

- The grass discharge was much more evenly distributed with the zero turn than my x758's deck. With the X758 and the chute in normal position it leaves bad windrows. I have taken to holding it up with a bungie and then it sprays them out decently. The Z930M spreads them out nice via the chute.

- Mulch on Demand. What's that really do?? Grass clippings still come out the chute. Are they just chopped finer?

Because of the way I mowed I really couldn't check how much fuel I used for the base 7 acres. That's because I mowed it all except about 1/2 acre, then put the bagger back on and mowed that 1/2 acre with the bagger but since I now had the bagger on I went back over about 2/3 of the whole lawn to bag clippings. So I ended up with about 5+ hours on the unit and a large portion were with the bagger running so that fuel consumption will be really skewed.

So, ultimately this test drive showed me that I probably do want to switch to a zero turn. My property is well suited for one and there seems to be real time savings involved. I thinks this Z930M is probably a good sized unit for me. I can tell it is a commercial grade unit but it isn't some top of the line extreme machine. It seem solidly capable for mowing without the bagger. With the bagger it is just adequate. Whether I actually choose a Deere like this or another brand is still up in the air. Part of my desire to change was to reduce my investment and I don't think I really will, even trading my 205 hour x758 (with 60"HC, power flow, MC519 bagger, and prep stuff for snowblower use) for the demo Z930M with 276 hours. If I bought a new unit I'm sure I couldn't. I will check other brands to see if I can get a comparable quality/capability unit for less $$.

I also still have to price out the quick hitch mount and PTO driveshaft for the 2520 to allow my 54" blower to attach. I'm hoping that's in the $200-250 range, not $500+. I'll also have to come to grips with the fact that I will no longer have a garden tractor around. If I need to pull a trailer around for chores I'll have to use the 2520. Obviously pulling a typical 80 cart sized trailer will look stupid and my other option is my 6x10 aluminum trailer which would be too big for some tasks. Do it need it that much though? Probably not.

Thanks for all the tips. Lots of good things to think about.

Rob



I price-shopped ZT's, and JD was the most expensive brand you could buy. Curiously enough, their standers were almost in line price-wise with everyone else's.
 

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I went from mowing with a 1023e 60"mmm to a Ferris is700z 61" ICD deck, the suspension makes a huge difference. It's been a great tax free mower. Mowing time was cut in half. As far as doing the 180s I find it easiest to go full speed, sharp turn and let the rear slide around. Less damage to the grass than a slow turn pivoting on one tire.

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Mowing 7 acers of grass I would look at a Ferris. You need a smoother riding mower. Zero turn are faster than lawn tractors. What you mowed with a lawn tractor and thought it was smooth will not be with a zero turn mower.

Spending 11k or more look around. Your back will love you for it.
 
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Mowing 7 acers of grass I would look at a Ferris. You need a smoother riding mower. Zero turn are faster than lawn tractors. What you mowed with a lawn tractor and thought it was smooth will not be with a zero turn mower.

Spending 11k or more look around. Your back will love you for it.
Second Ferris idea and consideration, they do ride nice and 7 acres see if they have a 72” deck.
 
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