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Garden tractor vs Walk behind Snowthrower

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 15th, 2017 5:56 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 19, 2007
145 posts
18 upvotes
Guelph

Garden tractor vs Walk behind Snowthrower

Hi,

I am moving to a new property with 2.5 acres. So first off, I will definitely be getting a garden tractor to cut the grass, attach a small trailer to for moving materials around, etc (so, not a low-duty riding lawn mower).

However, I am torn between trying to purchase a garden tractor in the late fall alongside a snowthrower attachment (after I move) so that I have it for snow removal duties. The alternative is to hold off on the tractor (they are rather hard to find in store this late in the year) and instead purchase a walk-behind snowthrower. The driveway length is approximately 100 yard, and about double car width.

I am fairly aware of the pros and cons of each approach (tractor is faster for clearing snow, but more wear and tear on the machine as it is arguably not built for snow removal; walk behind is more exercise :)), but am more interested on any insights people on the forum might have who have gone through this before.

When is the best time to get a deal on garden tractors and their related accessories? I would have thought there would be some heavy clearance deals about now, but haven't had much luck finding anything other than the Lowes 15% off generic sale a week ago (but it was too early to purchase as I have nowhere to store it right now).
Thanks
27 replies
Member
Nov 16, 2011
269 posts
89 upvotes
HAMILTON
Granted it depends on where you are going to move to and the snow conditions ( at least where I live ) have moderated over the last few years but...

My driveway is 165' double, gravel and the last thing I would do would be to try and clear it with a snowblower unless you have all day and nothing to do. I have 2.25 acres.

For 300' driveway and 2.5 acres, I would buy a smaller real tractor, used, with a front end loader and rear blade to handle snow and grass or better yet the small tractor and zero turn mower. All depends on your budget.

Or, even better yet, see if you can find a service to come in and plow for you but this option is becoming less available due to most snow guys want commercial and not residential. Saying that, rural neighbors with tractors are quite often willing to help out the friends.

Keep in mind that with 2.5 acres, you will have lots of grass to cut, dirt/gravel/mulch/etc to move about that a tractor with a loader becomes invaluable. Plus you can add a rear blade/snowblower
to enable multitasking.

The more the acreage the more the work so sit, think about the property and all the things that you will want/need to do and then look at the most cost effective options but be prepared to spend time on your property and maintain it.
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
1252 posts
330 upvotes
London
Based on what you've stated:

Availability of tractor/blower this time of year isn't good.
You'd also be rushed into making a hasty decision, at a higher cost than another time.

Walk behinds are available now, and there will be sales.

I'd get a walk behind now and take my time getting the combo.
Chances are, you would save more money shopping for the best combo deal (plus making a good choice), than the loss on selling the walk behind later.

If you get a $1000 walk behind now, and sell it in a year at a $500 loss, but saved $1000 on a combo later, you are still ahead.
By then too, you'll also have a better understanding of your long term needs.

Another option might be to pay for snow removal this year.
Deal Addict
Jan 25, 2007
2865 posts
768 upvotes
Paris
Tractors are available in quantity anywhere you want if you go to a dealer vs a box store. If you are buying a tractor without a 3 point hitch you are better off with a lawn mowing tractor and a LARGE walk behind snowblower. If you are getting a compact utility tractor (which is what I would do in your shoes) then get a 4' 3 point hitch model that reverses into the snow.

Your best financing will be in feb-April for a full kit from a dealer. Returns from places like UoG on lightly used CUTs are a good place to start with your local Deere dealer if you want something used.

Source: lived on a large rural property growing up (13 acres, 250' of 3 car wide driveway) worked for John Deere corporate in consumer and commercial equipment marketing.
Gbill2004: Thanks but I'll just smell the couch before/if I buy it.

jonnyb: I go in there like PICASSO and toss the glue everywhere, I don't care what house I'm on.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 19, 2007
145 posts
18 upvotes
Guelph
Thanks everyone for your replies.
Jerico wrote:
Oct 30th, 2017 9:32 pm
Tractors are available in quantity anywhere you want if you go to a dealer vs a box store. If you are buying a tractor without a 3 point hitch you are better off with a lawn mowing tractor and a LARGE walk behind snowblower. If you are getting a compact utility tractor (which is what I would do in your shoes) then get a 4' 3 point hitch model that reverses into the snow.
A compact utility tractor would be great, but after a quick search for used models--WOW, that is more expensive than I thought. I am budgeting around 6-8K for lawn and snow removal duties, so looks like my only realistic option is to buy a walk-behind snowthrower for the upcoming season (or hire a removal service), and then look for a lawn mowing tractor in the late winter/early spring.
Deal Fanatic
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Oct 19, 2008
5041 posts
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Whitby
Is that too big a driveway for an ATV with a blade? There are a lot of large ATV's available 2-3 years old with low hours, be a lot more fun than a tractor when you aren't plowing snow. I know there are good grass cutting attachments, not sure how well a 700-800 ATV plows snow but see enough people doing it in the Kawartha's.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jul 20, 2004
643 posts
23 upvotes
I will add my 2 cents.

We live on a 2.2 acre property and our house is placed almost in the centre of the property. The house is higher than the roadway and we have a long paved drive with a large area up near the house that can hold at least 10 large vehicles. The house came with a riding mower and 10 attachments, one of those attachments being a snow blower for the John Deere lawn tractor and also chains for the drive wheels.

I found that the tractor wheels slipped whenever I tried to come back up the driveway, because of light snow, not just ice and if the snow was heavy and I was on level driveway it would also slip at times if the snow was over 8 inches deep (drifting). The JD tractor is not 4 wheel drive and is not one of the real small series that you get at HD or Lowes, it is a 300 series. I was frustrated and went out and bought a new Honda single stage 21 inch snow thrower which I love. It takes a while to do the drive now but it is a lot less frustrating and I can also now do all my walkways as they were too narrow and curvy for to use the tractor on.

If I was starting from scratch with this information I would go one of two ways
  • Investigate buying a 4 wheel drive lawn tractor and snow attachment and find out if people thought the 4 wheel drive would stop my slipping
  • buy an ATV with blade, one larger than a 500 probably and 800 or larger
I would still have my smaller Honda snow thrower
Deal Addict
Jan 25, 2007
2865 posts
768 upvotes
Paris
Ben311 wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 8:14 am
Thanks everyone for your replies.



A compact utility tractor would be great, but after a quick search for used models--WOW, that is more expensive than I thought. I am budgeting around 6-8K for lawn and snow removal duties, so looks like my only realistic option is to buy a walk-behind snowthrower for the upcoming season (or hire a removal service), and then look for a lawn mowing tractor in the late winter/early spring.
If you are mowing 2.5 acres then you need a zero turn lawn mower the cheapest of which that are worth a crap are around $10k new plus a serious walk behind which are $2400 or so. For 2.5 acres I would not personally go with a smaller zero turn but more into the 15k range (new).

Zero turn mowers will mow SIGNIFICANTLY faster than an "all purpose" mower like @wanna_be's 300 series. Roughly a difference of around 4-6 MPH vs 12-15 MPH. Larger zero turn mowers also have a small hitch that you could pull a trailer or the like for maintenance but cannot be used for snow or attach other stuff. Those mowers are the ones you see parks departments flying over the grass with at top speed.
Gbill2004: Thanks but I'll just smell the couch before/if I buy it.

jonnyb: I go in there like PICASSO and toss the glue everywhere, I don't care what house I'm on.
Jr. Member
Jun 28, 2015
192 posts
59 upvotes
Toronto, ON
For what it's worth, I bought a Nordic plow last year and it's awesome.

It's just a blade and not a thrower but it works incredibly well.

Id recommend it to anyone.
Jr. Member
Jun 28, 2015
192 posts
59 upvotes
Toronto, ON
Jerico wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 3:00 pm
If you are mowing 2.5 acres then you need a zero turn lawn mower the cheapest of which that are worth a crap are around $10k new plus a serious walk behind which are $2400 or so. For 2.5 acres I would not personally go with a smaller zero turn but more into the 15k range (new).

Zero turn mowers will mow SIGNIFICANTLY faster than an "all purpose" mower like @wanna_be's 300 series. Roughly a difference of around 4-6 MPH vs 12-15 MPH. Larger zero turn mowers also have a small hitch that you could pull a trailer or the like for maintenance but cannot be used for snow or attach other stuff. Those mowers are the ones you see parks departments flying over the grass with at top speed.
Im not sure 'need' is accurate.

I have 3 acres. I have a 42" cut 17HP lawn tractor. Takes me about 2.5 hours to do the lawn. It's not completely unreasonable. It's time for me to catch up on some podcasts that I listen to it relax with some music. When it gets too hot, I jump in the pool.

It works for me and I have no issue with it. It's certainly not for everyone but it can work.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 19, 2007
145 posts
18 upvotes
Guelph
Jerico wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 3:00 pm
If you are mowing 2.5 acres then you need a zero turn lawn mower the cheapest of which that are worth a crap are around $10k new plus a serious walk behind which are $2400 or so. For 2.5 acres I would not personally go with a smaller zero turn but more into the 15k range (new).

Zero turn mowers will mow SIGNIFICANTLY faster than an "all purpose" mower like @wanna_be's 300 series. Roughly a difference of around 4-6 MPH vs 12-15 MPH. Larger zero turn mowers also have a small hitch that you could pull a trailer or the like for maintenance but cannot be used for snow or attach other stuff. Those mowers are the ones you see parks departments flying over the grass with at top speed.
LucifersGhost wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 9:49 pm
Im not sure 'need' is accurate.

I have 3 acres. I have a 42" cut 17HP lawn tractor. Takes me about 2.5 hours to do the lawn. It's not completely unreasonable. It's time for me to catch up on some podcasts that I listen to it relax with some music. When it gets too hot, I jump in the pool.

It works for me and I have no issue with it. It's certainly not for everyone but it can work.
Thanks some more for the insights. I agree that I would love to zip through my lawn with a zero turn in no time.... but realistically, given the cost I will have to settle for a typical ride on. I grew up in the country where it took many hours to cut the grass, and at least now I am old enough to have a beer while I do it :)

Plus, who wouldn't trust a guy named LucifersGhost anyway ;) ?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 5, 2003
2087 posts
141 upvotes
North York
Ben311 wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 8:14 am
A compact utility tractor would be great, but after a quick search for used models--WOW, that is more expensive than I thought. I am budgeting around 6-8K for lawn and snow removal duties
No love for an old 4x4 truck? I'd think it would be pretty cheap to grab one that runs but isn't worth putting on the road and use that for plowing duties.
Sr. Member
Jun 8, 2007
677 posts
119 upvotes
Oshawa
Went through the same thing last August.. Moved to 3/4 acre with a decent sloped gravel drive. I had a walk behind thrower.... I bought a used ride on for the lawn and saved $1000 compared to new. For the drive I bought a used ATV and blade. $3500 for the setup. I can plow the drive in no time at all. I did end up with lots of gravel in the grass though. I will try setting the blade a little higher this year.

And I got an ATV to play with :-) I have done a couple group rides with it now.. Pile of fun. Super handy around the yard to, Use it to move big stuff around. Dragged a 23' beam into place last weekend for a deck I am building. Used it for moving top soil and gravel around the yard for some drainage issues.

If I had more money I would buy a small utility tractor to do it all. Something I can run a blade on for driveway, furrow for my gardens, and maybe a few other power takeoff devices (Auger for post holes for the deck, fence etc, backhoe for some drainage).
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 19, 2008
5041 posts
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Whitby
Ben311 wrote:
Oct 31st, 2017 8:14 am
A compact utility tractor would be great, but after a quick search for used models--WOW, that is more expensive than I thought. I am budgeting around 6-8K for lawn and snow removal duties, so looks like my only realistic option is to buy a walk-behind snowthrower for the upcoming season (or hire a removal service), and then look for a lawn mowing tractor in the late winter/early spring.
Check your PM's, saw a deal on an ATV blade.

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