A Comparison of John Deere Lawn Tractor Models for Spring Landscaping
Spring is finally here and for most across the country, this brings about the opportunity to tackle that yard work that has been piling up over the past few months. As with any task, though, home and landowners should kick off their spring lawn care regimen by going over the basics and deciding on the lawn tractor that will be best suited for their operation. While this may seem like a lot to consider, home and landowners can rest assured knowing that the work they put in at the beginning of the season will pay off for months, maybe even years, to come.
By taking steps early in the season, home and landowners will be able to enjoy a pristine, lush lawn rather than having to worry if the grass will ever get back to normal, even now that winter is over. Below are steps and considerations that will lead to the perfect lawn each year.
Getting Ready for Spring Lawn Care
As we get further into spring, most are finally starting to experience warm weather that is making the transition from winter easier each day. That said, sometimes your lawn needs a bit of help to move past the days of freezing temperatures and into the days where it is able to grow without issue. While everybody’s lawn is different and has different areas of FOCUS, there are certain considerations that everybody should take into account before hopping on their John Deere lawn tractor for the first time each spring.
- Test the pH Level of Your Soil: When it comes to maintaining a healthy lawn, chemistry might play a bigger role than one would think. As is the case for the growth of any crop or plant, homeowners should think about their geographical location before determining the conditions that are best for creating the ideal environment for their grass.
- Manage Your Thatch Level: Thatch is the layer of decomposed plant material that lies underneath the green vegetation of each lawn. While a small layer of thatch can offer benefits, too much of it can bring about insects and diseases that can impact the health of one’s lawn, inhibiting grass growth. For those lawns that need to be de-thatched, homeowners should use an aerator that gives the soil better access to oxygen and water.
- Don’t Forget to Fertilize: Once the aerator has created holes in the ground for oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the soil, it is time to serve up the fertilizer. Fertilization replenishes the reserves used by the soil during the winter, meaning it plays a critical role in spring lawn care. When choosing a fertilizer, homeowners should consider their soil’s pH levels and natural conditions before applying with a John Deere spreader.
- Take Care When Mowing: Prior to starting up their John Deere lawn tractor for the first time of the season, operators should check to make sure their grass is dry to the touch and at least 3-4 inches tall. Once the mowing begins, no more than ⅓-inch of the grass length should be cut. The horticulture experts at Kansas State University explain that while mowing lower than normal at the start of spring is okay, it is best if the deck is raised back to normal after the first couple of mowings to discourage crabgrass and encourage deep rooting. By taking this into consideration, homeowners can kick off their season right.
- Don’t Underestimate the Power of Grass-cycling: While it may be tempting, homeowners should not throw away the grass clipping that have been scattered about their yard after the lawn has been cut. Just leave them be! Grass clippings that are left behind break down in less than two weeks and act as a manure supplement or fertilizer. This is known as “grass-cycling” because it reduces the amount of yard waste in landfills while also providing immense benefits to your lawn.
What is the Best John Deere Lawn Tractor?
Now that we have gone over the basics of transitioning one’s lawn from winter to spring, we will run through another, if not the most important consideration – choosing a John Deere lawn tractor. There are several John Deere lawn tractors that have stood out throughout the years, including the LA105 and the F525. thanks to a range of features that are key to a great looking property. With so many options to choose from, though, it can be difficult to decide which model is right for you.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Riding Lawn Mower?
Before making any purchasing decisions, operations should first ask themselves the following questions :
How large is the area that I am mowing?
In order to make sure they can get the most out of their equipment, homeowners must take the size of their property into account – this will have an impact on the features they want and the level of horsepower they’ll need.
What size mower deck do I want?
Lawn mowers with larger cutting widths and more horsepower will typically help get the job done faster. On the other hand, smaller mowers allow operators to work in more constrained areas with limited access, such as backyards that are obstructed by narrow gates that larger mowers cannot fit through.
How many obstacles will I need to mow around?
The more obstacles within a space, the tighter turning radius an operator will need. John Deere mowers with All Wheel Steer (AWS) tend to have a smaller turning radius that helps homeowners cut their grass faster with fewer twists and turns.
What type of terrain will I be facing on a regular basis?
Having an understanding of one’s terrain will be critical in deciding how much horsepower they need. While homeowners that work on flat, less challenging terrain can choose a tractor with the least amount of horsepower, those that work with slopes and hills will require a tractor with more horsepower and added stability.
Will I need my lawn tractor for anything other than mowing?
With the right attachment, most John Deere lawn tractors can perform a wide variety of tasks. By deciding what the primary use of their equipment will be – whether it be cutting the lawn or transporting materials – operators can choose the best attachments for the job.
Considering the number of options and factors that operators must think about, we have put together a John Deere lawn tractor comparison chart, broken down by series and model, to help you on your way to a pristine yard.
The Best Garden Tractors Ever Made. Featuring the X738, X595 and more
Manufactured in Greeneville, Tennessee, the 100 Series takes the hassle out of yard work. These 2-wheel drive models feature an ergonomic operator station with an adjustable seat so you can always have a smooth ride on your turf. Designed for residential yards and light hauling, the John Deere 100 Series tractors help create an easy-to-use experience every time.
Below are specifications for current models within this series, including the E100. E110. E120. E130. E140. E150. E160. E170. and E180.
Want to learn more about the John Deere tractor models in the 100 Series? Check out this video gallery!
S240 Lawn Mower
The John Deere S240 is designed to make any lawn the envy of the entire neighborhood. With two-pedal forward/reverse foot controls for ease of use, Turf Trac tires that reduce lawn scuffing and steering effort, and deep mower-deck stamping for enhanced mower capacity, this piece of equipment will provide a precise cut every time.
Below are specifications for current S240 models.
X300 Select Series
Models in the X300 Select Series are designed to take any lawn to the next level. With exclusive One-touch MulchControl™ technology, three different Accel Deep™ Mower Deck sizes, and a range of attachments to choose from, these lawn tractors ensure that homeowners can get the most out of their lawn.
Below are specifications for current models within this series, including the X330. X350, X350R. X354. X370. X380. X384. X390. X394.
X500 Select Series
Models in the X500 Select Series are perfect for yards with complex landscaping features or challenging terrain. With two different Accel Deep™ Mower Deck sizes and a number of attachments to utilize, these John Deere lawn tractors are designed power through any condition.
Below are specifications for current models within this series, including the X570. X580. X584. and X590.
X700 Signature Series
The John Deere X700 Signature Series features several models that allow operators to complete a wide variety of tasks around the yard, including loader and landscaping work. With Accel Deep™ and High-capacity mower decks and the ability to connect heavy-duty attachments, homeowners can rest assured knowing that their lawn care efforts will pay off.
Below are specifications for current models within this series, including the X730. X734. X738. X739. X750. X754. X758.
Check out our fan media gallery to see these John Deere lawn tractors in action!
John Deere Lawn Tractor Attachments
Considering the variety of lawn tractors John Deere offers, it is no surprise that operators can also choose from a range of attachments to further enhance the cut quality of their equipment. While some John Deere lawn tractor attachments are specific to certain models, there are several options available that work for all of the series noted above.
Attachments for Improving Lawn Health
- Pull-Type Spin Spreader
- Rear Hitch
Attachments for Improving Lawn Appearance / Cleanup
- Striping Kit
- Material Collection System
- Mulch Kit
- Lawn Sweeper
- Deck Leveling Gauge
Get the Most Out of Your Lawn This Spring
As the weather warms up, people can finally get outside and spend some much-needed time in their yards. By taking the appropriate steps and finding the John Deere lawn tractor that is right for them, there is no doubt that homeowners will get their lawn looking good as new in no time.
If you have any questions about John Deere lawn care equipment, you can contact your local John Deere dealer.
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Riding Lawn Mowers Tractors (22 items found)
Make lawn care easier than ever with a riding lawn mower. At Ace, we offer a wide variety of sit-down lawn mowers and riding lawn tractors to meet even the largest yard’s trimming needs.
Benefits of Riding Mowers
A riding lawn mower can turn the most exhausting chore into a breeze. If your lawn is an acre or more, a riding mower can split your maintenance time in half. than that, this equipment makes it more physically comfortable to care for so much yard. Rather than walking back and forth across your entire property with a gas or electric model you have to push, imagine sitting upright and steering a reliable machine to the far reaches of your domain without ever even breaking a sweat.
Our selection features a range of cutting widths that are larger than most walk-behind models, letting you cover more ground in less time. Most riding mowers are designed to easily handle shifts in weight when driven at an incline and they usually have room to haul loads of materials so you can multi-task while you mow!
Zero-turn riding lawn mowers use castor wheels that allow you to essentially turn your mower around in place rather than needing to swing out and around to make a wide turn. With turn radius of zero, you can get cleaner mow lines, fit around edges and areas of all shapes, and complete large jobs easily and with more precision in less time.
Choosing a Riding Lawn Mower
Yard tractors are also typically more powerful than standard push mowers, and you can select different amounts of engine power based on your needs. Some things to consider when choosing the right type of mower for you include:
- The size of your lawn
- The terrain you’ll be covering
- The activities you’ll be using the riding mower for
- Attachments you might want for growing and off-seasons
Hydrostatic and Electric Riding Mowers
An electric riding lawn mower relies on a heavy-duty battery to power the mower. You just have to charge the battery between uses so your mower has enough juice for the next job. A lawn mower tractor with a hydrostatic transmission uses gas to fuel the mower. With this type, you don’t need to charge any battery but you’ll want to keep gas on hand to refuel whenever you’re running low.
Features and Attachments
Some ride-on mowers and garden lawn tractors offer attachment options like power tillers and snowplows that give you versatility so you can get the most use out of your equipment during any season. The latest models of large and small riding mowers at Ace often come equipped with mulching capabilities, advanced horsepower, multiple speeds, multi-blade systems, cruise control, automatic transmissions and improved fuel optimization.
Always keep your lawn looking its best while saving time and labor with the outdoor power equipment from Ace. Browse our selection of seated garden tractors and riding mowers from all your most trusted brands including Craftsman, Ariens and EGO in our Lawn and Garden department.
The slogan “Nothing runs like a Deere” isn’t just marketing lingo. If you’re looking to buy a John Deere lawn tractor, don’t miss our guide to getting the best one for your needs.
By Glenda Taylor | Updated Jun 9, 2023 1:35 PM
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Pushing a lawn mower can be great exercise, but not everyone wants to spend every Saturday morning mowing a large yard. To avoid a weekly time-consuming mow, riding mowers and lawn tractors can help. Both types of lawn-cutting machinery make quick work of mowing, but lawn tractors are typically the more heavy duty of the two, and they come with the ability to use attachments such as utility carts, aerators, and even snow blowers. John Deere lawn tractors are also available in various sizes to suit a range of lawn-care needs.
Deere Company, whose roots date back to 1836, has a well-earned reputation for making some of the highest-quality agricultural equipment. Its consumer-size lawn tractors resemble the highly recognizable John Deere tractor, sporting classic green bodies with bright yellow seats and trim. Ahead, learn more about the lawn tractors manufactured by this brand and find out why the following machines are among the best John Deere lawn tractor options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL:John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor
- BEST FOR MOST YARDS:John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor
- BEST EASE OF OPERATION:John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor
- BEST FOR MID-LARGE YARDS:John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor
- BEST 4-WHEEL STEERING:John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor
- BEST FOR LARGE YARDS:John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-inch Deck
What to Consider When Choosing the Best John Deere Lawn Tractor
Top-of-the-line John Deere mowers and lawn tractors are not inexpensive, but they can be a wise purchase for those looking to invest in high-quality yard-care equipment. Choosing the best John Deere tractor for lawn and landscaping involves considering yard size, engine power, and the type of attachments owners want to use.
Engine Source and Power
Lawn tractor engines are measured in horsepower (HP), and the larger the engine, the more powerful the machine. John Deere uses a variety of engine sizes in its lawn-tractor offerings. Engines produced specifically for John Deere may be made by Briggs Stratton or other manufacturers, but they are often listed as “John Deere–branded engines.”
They range from a 17.5-HP Briggs Stratton engine in their compact S100 lawn tractor up to a 24-HP Briggs Stratton engine in their S180 model. In their high-end specialty, the X500 Select Series, buyers can find a couple of higher-power options, including the X590, which is fitted with a 25.5-HP Kawasaki engine.
In addition to engine size and type, John Deere makes it easy to put all that power to use by implementing hydrostatic transmissions in most of its machines. This type of transmission converts the power generated by the engine into fluid power that drives the shaft. Hydrostatic transmissions are valued because they conserve energy, operate quietly, and reduce wear and tear on moving parts.
Deck Size and Cutting Options
On lawn tractors, deck size indicates how quickly the user can cut the grass. John Deere lawn tractors feature deck sizes ranging from 42 to 60 inches. Compared with some push mowers with deck sizes as small as 18 inches, it’s easy to see how the larger decks on lawn tractors will cut much wider swaths and significantly reduce the time it takes to mow a lawn.
In addition to deck size, mowing height is a consideration. Most lawn tractors can be adjusted to cut as low as 1 inch or as high as 4 to 5 inches. On some models, mowing height is adjusted with a hand lever. In contrast, some of the pricier models come with a hydrostatic dial that allows the user to adjust the height in inches, and then the deck automatically adjusts to suit.
Yard Size and Ground Type
In general, riding mowers and lawn tractors are well suited to cutting large lawns such as yards with 1 to 3 acres or more of grass. Depending on the speed at which the user operates the lawn tractor, the yard can be mowed in a fraction of the time it would take with a push mower.
Still, not all yards are suitable for mowing with riding mowers or lawn tractors. If the yard is small or there are many trees and other obstacles to navigate, a large riding machine may be too cumbersome. Plus, it may be too wide to fit through a yard gate.
Steeply sloped terrain can also be a hazard for a riding tractor, which tends to tip if the user is mowing along the side of a steep slope. However, the risk is reduced by mowing either going up or down the hill rather than sideways. When considering mowing on steep or rough terrain, always follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines.
Fuel Capacity or Battery Life
All John Deere lawn tractors are powered by gas or diesel engines, such as the 2.4-gallon gasoline engine in the S100 model. The company offers higher-capacity tanks on some of its larger models, such as the X570, which has a 4.4-gallon tank.
Larger fuel tanks provide longer runtimes and the extra power that is necessary for operating attachments. They’re most often found on bigger lawn tractors that use fuel more quickly as well. Larger tanks also translate into less-frequent fill-ups, but they also require storing more gasoline in a garage or shed.
Controls and Comfort
John Deere’s residential lawn tractors are designed to maximize user comfort and include such features as Twin Touch forward and reverse foot pedals that allow the user to change the machine’s direction. This is a user-friendly way to control the movement of the tractor compared with what was available on older models that required stopping the machine and then using a hand-shift gear to change directions.
All of John Deere’s basic lawn tractor models come with power steering, a feature that may be missing on some less-expensive brands. In addition, the standard John Deere seat is a two-part seat and backrest that allows air circulation between the two, won’t hold water, and may be less likely to rip as one-piece seats can be prone to do.
Some of the larger John Deere lawn tractors can be fitted with agricultural-type attachments that expand their versatility. Users can opt for a special-order backhoe attachment or a front-end loader that simplifies digging and moving dirt or compost. These attachments are installed at the factory before the tractor is delivered.
Standard attachments that will fit most John Deere lawn tractors include an adjustable chute that ejects grass clippings, a sun shade for protecting skin from sunrays, a rear bagger for collecting clippings, and more. Attachments are available for using the machines during any season of the year. If the goal is to find the right option that provides mowing capability only, John Deere also makes some of the best John Deere riding mower options.
Our Top Picks
Selecting the best lawn tractor from John Deere’s dozens of high-quality machines was no easy task. This respectable brand produces a wide range of mowers and tractors. We stuck with basic lawn tractors for our list and didn’t include riding mowers or zero-turn-radius (ZTR) mowers. Those looking for a quality lawn tractor are likely to find a model that suits their needs in our lineup.
John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor
Finish mowing chores in record time with the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor, which reaches maximum forward speeds of up to 5.5 mph so mowers can finish yard work and get on with more enjoyable activities. The S140 features side-by-side forward and reverse foot pedals for easy operation, and it comes with a comfortable 15-inch padded seat that’s open in the back for enhanced air circulation.
The S140 cuts an admirable 48-inch swath of grass in a single pass, and its 22-HP gas engine offers plenty of power for mowing and mulching (mulch kit sold separately). It comes with Deere’s patented Edge Cutting System that makes it possible to mow right up to obstacles such as trees or storage sheds. It features the company’s 30-Second Oil Change System for quick maintenance, and it comes with electric blade engagement and a rugged front bumper.
- Cuts lawns up to 2 acres quickly
- Comfortable seat for long mowing sessions
- Compatible with many John Deere accessories
Get the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor
John Deere lawn tractors are not budget mowers, but those looking to buy one of these high-quality machines can still get a good deal on a slightly less-expensive model. The John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor is designed to provide economically minded consumers with a high-end lawn tractor for a modest investment. This model offers some of the same features found on more expensive models, such as a hydrostatic transmission as well as forward and reverse foot pedals. The seat is a one-piece model, but it adjusts to 10 positions for the best fit and feel.
The E120 offers EZ 30-second oil change and provides plenty of mowing, mulching, and clipping-catching ability with its 20-HP engine. And to maintain an optimal speed when mowing those vast expanses, the E120 offers cruise control. Attachments are sold separately.
- Makes quick work of mowing large lawns
- Compatible with standard John Deere accessories
- Adjustable seat for comfort
Get the John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor
Those looking for a high-quality lawn tractor for mowing and other landscaping tasks may need to look no further than the John Deere S120. This model comes with a 22-HP gas engine and runs at forward speeds up to 5.5 mph. The S120 is one of John Deere’s midline machines, and it’s well suited for most large yards of a couple of acres or so.
With a 42-inch deck, the S120 can mow a large lawn quickly, and it comes with consumer-friendly features such as an easy-read fuel gauge on the dash and a deck that adjusts to 13 cut heights, ranging from 1 to 4 inches. It comes with edge-cut technology that allows users to mow right along the edge of fences and trees to reduce the need for weed-eating in those spots. Like other John Deere lawn tractors, the S120 can be used with many yard and landscape-related attachments.
- Wide 42-inch deck makes for quick mowing
- 2-piece seat won’t hold water
- User-friendly forward and reverse pedals
Get the John Deere S120 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor
The John Deere S130 22HP Lawn Tractor comes with a wealth of user-friendly features that were put through their paces during hands-on testing. It could haul more than 700 pounds of concrete bags in a garden trailer with ease. However, the tires did lose traction on steeper parts of the lawn, and John Deere recommends users not mow slopes greater than 13 degrees. Because most yards feature gentler slopes, that won’t be an issue for many.
The S130 comes with a two-piece padded seat, a powerful 22-HP engine, and an impressive 42-inch deck. It also features side-by-side forward and reverse pedals and will accept John Deere’s wide range of attachments. During testing, the S130’s quiet operation was appreciated, thanks to its hydrostatic transmission. Plus, its headlights were bright enough to navigate in near-dark situations.
- Capable of hauling more than 700 pounds (with trailer)
- 42-inch deck for quick mowing
- Side-by-side forward and reverse pedals
- Tires lost traction on sloped area
- No attachments included in purchase
Get the John Deere S130 at Lowe’s or your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor
The John Deere S160 is a step up in many directions. It features a sizable 24-HP engine that is designed for extended use, and its 48-inch mowing deck means it makes quick work of cutting lawns up to 4 acres in size. Its large 20-inch rear wheels make it better suited for use on hilly terrain, but it works just as well as flat parcels. It comes with John Deere’s hydrostatic transmission and a fully welded steel frame for strength and durability.
The S160 accepts a variety of John Deere yard and garden attachments, including the manufacturer’s snow blower, snow blade, and aerator. An easy-to-see fuel gauge on the dash lets users know when to fuel up, and the two-piece seat is designed for comfort and won’t hold water. Set the cruise control on those long lawn stretches and enjoy mowing.
- Powerful 24-HP engine for large yards
- Cruise control
- Wide 48-inch deck for quick mowing
Get the John Deere S160 Lawn Tractor at The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor
Make no mistake: The John Deere X739 is a costly lawn tractor. It comes with four-wheel steering, meaning the rear wheels turn on their axles in the same manner as the front wheels to navigate the lawn tractor in a tight 21-inch radius. This translates into the ability to cut the grass around many trees without the need to stop, back up, and then go forward again. This enhanced steering concept also helps smooth out the ride and allows the user to navigate on slopes.
Buyers can choose from decks up to 60 inches when ordering a custom X739 direct from the company or a certified John Deere dealer. For those who have difficulty getting the hang of operating a zero-turning mower, the X739 is a respectable option. Its user-friendly features include an in-dash fuel gauge, a robust 25.5-HP engine, hydrostatic transmission, and side-by-side forward and reverse pedals.
- Superior maneuverability
- Large mow deck option
- Smoother ride
- Can be custom-ordered
Get the John Deere X739 Signature Series Lawn Tractor from your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-in. Deck
Have a large lot to mow? Consider the John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor that comes with a 54-inch mowing deck and a 24-HP engine to make quick work of grass cutting and other landscaping chores. The X570 has a mulching capability that cuts and uniformly distributes the clippings on the lawn, eliminating the need for bagging. Users can switch between mulching mode and side-discharge mode.
The lawn tractor features oversize 24-inch rear wheels for added traction and maneuverability. Like most John Deere lawn tractors, the X570 comes with a hydrostatic transmission and side-by-side forward and reverse pedals. It also features an adjustable two-piece comfort seat and comes with an easy-to-see fuel gauge on the dash. The X570 accepts standard John Deere attachments, including a rear bagger, utility cart, snow blade, and sun shade. Users can even order a soft-side cab enclosure for operating the lawn tractor in inclement weather.
- Powerful 24-HP engine
- 54-inch deck for quick mowing
- Accepts wide range of attachments
Get the John Deere X570 Lawn Tractor with 54-in. Deck from your local John Deere dealer.
John Deere manufactures some of the best-selling lawn tractors, and any of the models we’ve chosen for this lineup are among the best options for a variety of mowing and landscaping needs. Still, the John Deere S140 Lawn Tractor, our best overall pick, tops the list for a quality lawn tractor for the typical sizable residential yard. It features a 42-inch cut and comes with a 22-HP engine.
Our budget model, the John Deere E120 Lawn Tractor, is still a pricey prospect for many, but it comes at a slightly lower cost while providing features found on some of the more-expensive models.
How We Chose the Best John Deere Lawn Tractors
In choosing the tractors for this lineup of John Deere-specific lawn tractors, we focused on what we felt were among the most common residential yard-care needs. We selected models from a range of because no two yards—or budgets—are identical.
We looked for models that offered standard John Deere features, such as hydrostatic transmissions and easy-to-see fuel gauges that make mowing more user-friendly. Then, we hunted down models best suited to specific needs such as the need to mow tight radiuses around multiple trees or to cut closely along the edge of a fence or structure.
The result is a lineup with an array of John Deere lawn tractors within a range of power levels and price tags. Still, each of the chosen models is suitable for use with multiple John Deere attachments to extend each one’s versatility.
Buying a lawn tractor is an investment in the landscape. Numerous manufacturers make lawn tractors, but the John Deere name has become synonymous with high-quality machinery and agricultural equipment. Those looking to buy their first John Deere lawn tractor will probably have a few questions.
Which John Deere S100 Riding Lawn Mower Should you Buy? | John Deere S100 Series Buying Guide
Q. Which series John Deere tractor is best?
The best tractor depends on an individual buyer’s needs. Models in the 100 Series, from which we’ve selected multiple picks for this lineup, are most likely to be sold at local home improvement stores. Still, models in other series are just as durable, although some may have to be special-ordered from the company or through a local John Deere dealer
Q. Which is the best John Deere tractor?
Choosing the best John Deere lawn tractor will depend on individual needs, but our best overall pick, the S140, offers a good combination of power, dependability, and price.
Q. What brand engine does John Deere use?
John Deere uses a variety of engines in its lawn tractors, including Briggs Stratton and Kawasaki. However, because some of these engines are manufactured explicitly for John Deere, they may be listed as “John Deere–branded” engines. Users can google the engine model number to find out its manufacturer.
The Best Zero-Turn Mowers of 2023
These achieve the rare feat of making lawn mowing fun.
By Roy Berendsohn Published: Mar 1, 2023
When it comes to yard work, zero turn mowers do the impossible. They make lawn mowing fun. They accomplish this by putting unprecedented speed, control and maneuverability at the disposal of the person mowing the lawn. The so-called “zero turn” feature of these mowers converts a grass cutting machine into something akin to an amusement park ride. You steer the machine with two levers—the left lever controls the left wheel, the right lever the right wheel. With that steering setup, you can zoom over the landscape cutting straight lines, curves, or pivot the mower into and out of a corner. What’s not to like?
Read on to understand how these agile grass cutters work, how we go about testing them, and see some candidates that we’ve recently tested as well as some that we haven’t but that we think look particularly promising.
How Zero-Turn Mowers Work
A zero-turn riding mower consists of an operator platform, a frame and wheels, an engine (or battery bank), transmissions (or motors), and a pair of control levers commonly known as lap bars. In gas mowers, the engine powers a pulley system. One group of pulleys drives the blades, another group powers a pair of transmissions–one at each rear wheel. When you move the lap bar forward or back, you are directing the transmission to go faster, slower, or even turn the opposite way. When one drive wheel turns clockwise and the other counter clockwise, the mower pivots. When the wheels rotate at different rates, the mower turns in an arc-shaped path. When the lap bars are in the neutral position, the mower stops. Aside from a parking brake, there’s no other braking mechanism. Battery-powered zero-turn mowers work the same way, but have separate motors to drive the rear wheels and one for each blade inside the mower deck.
When it comes to transmission, most mowers have a Hydrogear EZT—a well-known and cost-effective residential-grade transaxle with a reputation for durability.
Some mowers use a deck stamped from one piece of steel, others use a deck fabricated from multiple pieces and welded together. A fabricated deck can be built from thicker steel at a lower cost than it would be able to be built otherwise. Once you’re talking about stamping metal as thick as 10 gauge (about 1⁄8 inch thick), the cost of stamping such a deck would push up the mower’s price beyond what most people are willing to pay. The decks in the mowers below range from 42 to 52 inches, a typical size in this class of product. When powered by these engines and the Hydrogear, these mowers will deliver a decent cut quality at their rated top speed of 7 mph. Note, however, that cut quality declines steeply if you maintain that speed in very thick grass or on uneven terrain.
As to the electric mowers, they represent the leading edge of the technology in this category. These are remarkable and expensive mowers powered by large-voltage lithium-ion batteries. If you’re interested in reducing mowing noise and simplifying your maintenance routine by eliminating gas and oil, they’re worth a look.
Selecting a Zero-Turn Mower
Everyone would like to select the biggest possible zero-turn mower with the hope of whittling a big grass cutting job down to size as quickly as possible. Reality usually intercedes because these machines are expensive and the wide range of options available today quickly drive up the cost. Roughly speaking, you start somewhere in the range of a mower with a 42-inch deck costing in the vicinity of 3200 to 3500 and move up in increments of 1000 to 1500 until you reach entry-level commercial-grade equipment that costs 7000 to 8000.
Again, speaking in terms of approximation, a mower with a 42-inch deck will cut a two-acre lot (that takes into account that the house, driveway, outbuildings and various landscape features are taking up some of that space). Use a mower with a larger deck to cut anything over two acres. But here’s the caveat. That entry-level ZTR mower (3200, say) with a 42-inch deck will wear out faster and need more maintenance than a mower with a 50-inch deck, a heavier frame, larger engine and higher quality transmissions, and thicker deck with more robust blade spindles, costing 4500.
In the simplest possible terms, you can cut a smaller area with a larger mower and expect more longevity out of the machine (not to mention a nicer mowing experience) or you can cut a larger area with a smaller machine and encounter more maintenance and a mowing experience that will be, we might say, a bit more rugged.
But there are still other factors to consider, in selecting a mower other than deck size and your budget. Larger mowers take more space in a garage or outbuilding. And a mower with a 50-inch or even 60-inch deck, as useful as it might be in getting the job done more quickly, may not fit through a fence’s gate, and it might be more difficult to maneuver in tight spots without creating scalp marks on the lawn from a lot of close-quarter pivoting.
Carefully consider all these factors when shopping for a mower: your budget, maintenance and whether you will perform that work yourself, mowing speed and time, maneuverability and trimming in tight areas, the importance that you place on your comfort while mowing, cut quality, longevity, storage, and access to the landscape.
How We Select and Test
There’s only one way to test a mower, and that’s to cut grass with it. But we also do more than mow.
We raise and lower the deck and adjust the seat. We look at service point access (the air filter, the spark plug, and the oil filter) and how easy it is to remove the deck. We mow approximately an acre with each mower, considering cut and mulching quality while running uphill, downhill, across washboard, and along sidehills. (On sidehills, we’ll mow surfaces pitched up to approximately 20 degrees; manufacturers generally recommend not going steeper than 10 degrees, but we like to be thorough.) We evaluate power and speed relative to cut quality—we investigate whether the mower delivers a decent cut mowing at full speed. When mowing in damp conditions, we look at whether the mower’s tires accumulate grass and how effectively it discharges moist clippings. Finally, we test maneuverability (these machines are, generally, very nimble) and how readily they come to a stop when you back off the lap bar control levers.