Twelve years, five lawn mowers, five string trimmers, and two leaf blowers later, I think I can finally tell you what is matters when buying lawn care equipment. I didn’t set out to be an equipment expert, but when you garden six acres on top of a rocky hill in New England, it just happens.
What matters when buying lawn equipment:
- The equipment needs to work not just the day you take delivery of it, but it also needs to work after it sat in the garage (or in my case, the barn) for the winter. When spring comes, it tends to come hard and fast and no one has time for re-building carburetors. Equipment should be hard to break and easy to repair.
- I am sure the perfect lawn exists (somewhere). But mine is damaged from our lives (parties where it served as a parking lot, well-trodden dog paths, washout, furniture that stayed in one spot too long, etc, etc). It also heaves, percolates rocks, has patches of moss as well as crusty dirt and it occasionally gets infested with moles who create new ruts. Oh, and it isn’t flat. Lawn equipment needs to handle it all.
The Mustang Pivot Zero Turn Riding Mower
I’ll get to blowers and trimmers in another post – but first I’d like to talk about mowers. I have worked with Troy-bilt for the last year and a half to try out their products and give them and you feedback about what works and what doesn’t. This spring I’ve used Troybilt’s Mustang Pivot™ 46 Zero-Turn Rider. In short, I love it – but maybe not for the reasons you might think.
The reason you think…
The zero turn is cool, and fun. Compared to my old traditional tractor style mower it is like sitting in the front seat of a roller coaster. It has cut down the time it takes me to mow all my grass by about 20 minutes (normally 90+ minutes, now about 70 minutes). This is partly due to the mower’s ability to go faster (like in a totally fun, speeding kind of fast), but mostly it is because I no longer have to reverse back and forth to get in and out of tight spots or around sharp corners.
But is the zero-turn feature a reason to go buy a new mower?
Yes, absolutely, particularly if you are a “coasterhead” type who is short on time. But for me, there are other, even better reasons.
Mower Deck Height
Most people who have large enough lawns to need a ride-on, also have large enough lawns to have total inconsistency across the land. Some areas are easy; they are flat and the grass grows well, and I could happily use a lesser machine. But as I said before, some are dry, some are steeply inclined, some have rocks that just keep popping up or that are so big I couldn’t possibly dig them out, so instead I need to work over or around them. This is where this mower has an unexpected benefit. At the highest blade level, I can safely mow and clear all the hazards that have threatened the total demise of earlier mowers.
Deck height has always been important to me and I’ve had trouble getting information on it when shopping. In fact, the high deck height was an unexpected surprise with this mower. If you value a high deck option, this is the mower for you. Unlike other mowers, this has 8 blade levels and the highest is easily a couple of inches higher than any of my other past machines. The option to raise the deck high makes it safer to work in uneven terrain, and it helps protect the machine, and me, from obstacles.
Tip: Did you know that mowing grass very short can encourage weeds to take root in your grass, where cutting it longer will help to discourage less desirable plants.
Is it like the Sahara Desert at your house too?
This summer has been brutally dry. I was out-of-town for 3 weeks and worried about not hiring someone to mow while we were away. A needless concern, with the lack of rain the grass hardly grew. But I mowed anyway and I confirmed another feature I had previously sensed but lacked the conditions to confirm.
Some riding mowers kick up a lot of debris. When things are hydrated it is noticable, but when it is dry, it can be unbearable. Dry or not, my previous mower always required me to shower afterwards because it kicked up a thick layer of dust and unavoidable grime. This mower just doesn’t have this problem. If I were to start-up my old mower under the current dry conditions, the dust storm would probably block out the sun in the local area. This morning, I mowed the half-dead, dry, grass and hardly needed a shower at the end – a huge improvement.
I’m sure this has something to do with the blade placement and the general engineering of the machine ( I have no idea). Who knows if this was even a feature that was purposely designed into the machine, but it is such a profound improvement I’d be remiss to not point it out.
Do you use a riding mower?
If you have a yard that takes more than 45 minutes to mow with a push mower, you really ought to think about trading in for a ride-on style. Seriously, forty-five minutes is a good work-out. And who doesn’t love a sweat session that serves two purposes? But unless you are training for a marathon, forty-five minutes will get most people to 10K steps and healthy lifestyle – and I think it is a good upper limit for evaluating your mower needs.
If you have any questions about this mower I’d be happy to share more of my user experience with you – just leave a comment and we can chat!
This post is sponsored by Troybilt and the mower was given to me to evaluate. I am not an employee of Troybilt and all opinions are my own.