What is the smallest tractor or largest lawn mower…..

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Bassmantweed

Bassmantweed

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That would be useful for clearing a smaller (4 acre) lot.
I am looking for a small tractor that would do a few things

1. Had to cut grass. I dont need something to make my yard look like a golf course but it does need to cut as I don’t have room to store two “tractors”.
2. Needs to be able to have enough oomph to haul trees out of the woods and up a slight grade.
3. 4wd would be a bonus.
4. If I’m going to get one I’d like to be able to plow my driveway - hoping I could use the existing bucket to do so.
5 as a bonus ability to attach a backhoe would be appreciated.

now I know they say buy your last the first time. That being said I don’t even know where to start.
 
Parkerpusher

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I have larger equipment, but have used a Deere 1026 for exactly what you mentioned needing to do since I bought it new in 2012. Kubota BX is about the same size. I think anything bigger would be impractical to mow with and any smaller wouldn’t do the work you wanted very well.
 

ArtB

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My house is on 3.5 acres, and have riding lawn mower, 4500 Ford loader/backhoe, JD 440 track loader, and bobcat 853 with backhoe attachment and bolt on tracks.

If I had to pick just one, would keep the bobcat. Easy to switch front end from bucket to backhoe attachment, rubber tires only for street use, bolt on the tracks if muddy or steep terrain. For mowing, separate machine depending on how much is grass, I have only 1/2acre of grass, left the rest 'natural'. I got the bobcat for only $10000 9 years ago off craigslist, only needed minor DIY type work.
Bucket works great for snow.

I used a small rental 5000# Kabota loader/backhoe last year at church parsonage to repair septic/system, IMO 5000# too small, need something at least 7000#.
 

ksks

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That would be useful for clearing a smaller (4 acre) lot.
I am looking for a small tractor that would do a few things

1. Had to cut grass. I dont need something to make my yard look like a golf course but it does need to cut as I don’t have room to store two “tractors”.
2. Needs to be able to have enough oomph to haul trees out of the woods and up a slight grade.
3. 4wd would be a bonus.
4. If I’m going to get one I’d like to be able to plow my driveway - hoping I could use the existing bucket to do so.
5 as a bonus ability to attach a backhoe would be appreciated.

now I know they say buy your last the first time. That being said I don’t even know where to start.
Check out Tractor Time with Tim on YouTube. A lot of good info. Deere/Kubota comparison. Many samples if capabilities and limitations of compact tractors.
 
pdqdl

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With only 4 acres to cut, get a decent commercial zero-turn mower for doing all the mowing. By comparison, small tractors suck at mowing. They go slower, cost more to maintain, and they don't do as good a job cutting the grass. When you cut your mowing time in half, you will be more inclined to do other stuff anyway. Besides, the commercial zero-turns are so efficient, you will actually enjoy mowing, rather than skipping it until the grass is too tall to cut easily. Get something that is 6' wide, but skip the fancy machines that are overpowered. Just get a well built machine. Ignore all the advertising about which machine cuts the fastest. Look for one that lasts the longest, 'cause you generally cannot mow as fast as the machines will travel.

Once you cross that hurdle, then it is easy to pick out a machine that can manage all your other projects with aplomb. I mostly agree that a small skid steer loader is an excellent utility machine to have around, but you need to understand that they are very handicapped as to handling steep terrain, they don't have nearly as much traction for pulling logs or stuck vehicles out of the woods. They are far more productive at some kinds of digging and snow removal, but they get stuck real easy and they also tear up the ground everywhere they go. You will NEVER have decent turfgrass where you take these machines regularly. They cost much more per hour to operate, and they don't last nearly as long as a good tractor. And they tear hell out of the tires all the time too. Every turn, every motion equals torn ground and worn out tires.

4 acres would be well served by a 4 wheel drive tractor with about 45-50 PTO horsepower. That's a big enough machine to actually do real work, yet small enough to justify purchasing, especially if you get a decent used one. They routinely can be found with small loaders on the front, too. DO avoid buying some 25 year old tractor that is too big but priced so that you can afford it. If you lack experience with this kind of equipment, get something that the dealer doesn't have built into his retirement plan, 'cause you certainly won't be ready to fix all the stuff that is going to break.

If you really need a backhoe, just consider renting one when you need it. Then you can get a really nice big machine to finish the job quickly, and you won't have a ton of money tied up in a device that will rust to death before you wear it out. You will almost never need to dig as many holes on 4 acres as you would need for the contraption to pay for itself. The dinky little machines are generally more annoying to use than they are effective.
 
J_Ashley

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Lots of conflicting interests there, from what I can see. 4 acres is not a ton of land. How much clearing exactly? And how much mowing exactly?

To be honest, I just don't see one machine doing a good job with all of that. Maybe a Kubota or similar, with all of the attachments. But that certainly won't be cheap...

My advice, and this is almost always my advice, is to buy a used commercial mower for $4-5000, and it will most likely last your lifetime. It will mow better & faster than any machine, excepting a new mower of course.

They'll also pull a trailer quite well. If you can fell, buck & split your trees in the woods, a zero-turn will easily pull your splitter to the tree, and will still pull a modest amount of split wood back to the barn. I'd invest in some aggressive rear tires, which actually won't damage your turf grass if you learn 3-point turns properly.

If you're wanting to skid logs out of the woods, I don't know that even a small 4wd tractor is going to suffice. You'd definitely need something larger for that.
 
pdqdl

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In my area, good used commercial mowers don't exist. By the time the commercial guys are done with them, a homeowner would be well advised to stay away. By the time I am done with a machine, it's only good for going to the metal scrapper. But then, we fix our own machines. Most homeowners are not equipped for that much maintenance.
 
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ATH

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I agree with @pdqdl about a 40-50HP tractor...but not necessarily the mower. How often do you want to mow and how nice do you want the grass to look? My shop is on 5 acres of an old golf course. I was conflicted about what to do with the grass. I just bought the land and was paying for a building. I don't really care about the grass, so I while I was looking a lot at 6' ZTRs, I couldn't pull the trigger on a $5-6K mower. I rented a tractor a 7' bush hog once. Worked great, but too costly to be a long-term solution.

My answer came when a neighbor asked if he could store his 35HP tractor with a 6' bush hog in exchange for letting me use it. DEAL! No, it is not as fast as a ZTR. No, it doesn't give a good "finish" cut, but it knocks the grass down.

Another neighbor has a Grasshopper ZTR that he is going to get rid of and put a finish mower on his tractor (don't know the model, but it is decent size - probably in the 50HP range). Says the ZTR is too bumpy (again, this is an old golf course, not a recently cleared woods).

I also have the old 12' reel mowers that got left when the golf course closed. They do OK now, but I have high expectations for those once I get them cleaned up and sharpened (in my spare time...did I mention I don't care that much about grass - so there isn't a lot of interest in making time to work on those LOL). I'd recommend seeing if you can find a set to pull if your property is conducive to those. Pretty sure at 2x the width of a ZTR, this will give me less mowing time even using a slower/less maneuverable (compared to ZTR) tractor.

OK...back to you getting a 40-50HP tractor. Your needs:


1. Had to cut grass. I dont need something to make my yard look like a golf course but it does need to cut as I don’t have room to store two “tractors”. Check...you can choose: bush hog, finish mower, reel mower...
2. Needs to be able to have enough oomph to haul trees out of the woods and up a slight grade. How big are the trees? I'd rather a tractor on a slope than a skid loader all day, every day...but I'm not an expert skid loader operator. Maybe get modest sized trees on pallet forks. With a log arch, you can pull pretty decent sized trees. If you have several big trees, is it worth having a commercial logger take them? 4 acres isn't much, but if you have 50-60 trees that are 18" diameter and bigger somebody would buy them around here...
3. 4wd would be a bonus. A bonus they'll gladly let you pay for :D
4. If I’m going to get one I’d like to be able to plow my driveway - hoping I could use the existing bucket to do so. Front end loader bucket would be one option...blade on the back would be better for $600-$800
5 as a bonus ability to attach a backhoe would be appreciated. Many can put on on the back powered by PTO. But I agree that if you are only going to use it a couple times per year, renting a mini-ex may be a better answer.
 
pdqdl

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Some notes.

Rear blades on a tractor for snow removal don't work very good. The snow piles up behind the rear wheels and then keeps you from backing up. You cannot push the snow into a corner with them, either. Their moldboard generally isn't designed for plowing snow, so it doesn't roll off to the side. Unless you spend a fortune for a really fancy one, you cannot changed the angles without doing it manually. My first experiments with snow removal was with an old 640 Ford 2WD tractor and a box blade. It was pretty much horrible, taking me hours to do a single driveway.

Two wheel drive tractors are almost useless with a front-loader attachment. Once you put a heavy load in the bucket, your rear wheels don't have enough traction to move the machine around. They are particularly helpless in the snow, unless you add chains.

ATH makes a great point. I had assumed that the site would be mowed regularly. If you wish to mow less often than monthly, a 3-point mower is great on the back of a small tractor. Belly mowers on the small mower/tractors are pretty dependable, too. I used to have a 955 John Deere with 4WD and a belly mower. It was awesome for mowing steeper & rougher terrain, and it handled deep grass pretty well. It was just about the minumum sized machine for anything considered a tractor, but it would probably be a great little estate maintainer. Kinda light for towing logs or running full sized attachments, though. It would have been real cute with a tiny loader on it, but not very effective.
 
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Chris1044

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955 is an awesome tractor but parts are getting scarce from deere and pricey.

Ultimate solution is a ventrac. That said, 1025r or similar would be what I would get. Big tractors are awesome until you realize you can't get into tight spots nor can you drive over septic tanks and drain fields.

And my experience with backhoes of this size is they work...but not quick and your often better off paying someone 1k or whatever to dig that hole. They're a pain to pull off the tractor when not in use and block the rear PTO which means way less versatility when they're on.

One more thing - 4x4 on a tractor really should be for pulling and loading. If you have wet areas, 4x4 isn't going to save you. As the farmers I know say, if you think you need 4x4 to get out of the area with a tractor, you shouldn't have been there to begin with
 
pdqdl

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I have never used a backhoe "add-on".

See, I am a real live backhoe operator. And I know how much hydraulic fluid they need to do all that work, and I know how much hydro-fluid a typical tractor pumps. I suppose if it came with it's own PTO driven hydro pump it could be powerful and effective.

Still, I'm pretty sure I'd be pulling my hair out in frustration at how slow and weak it would be. I don't even know how an operator would turn around and run one from a tractor seat. Perched on your knees, I guess.
 
ehenry

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I have 7.5 acres mostly wooded. Of that I mow probably 2 acres of grass with a JD Z910a 54" deck I bought new in 2007 its a great machine it mows as fast as my back will allow because it finds every root and bump in the yard. If you want a good riding ZTR mower look at a Ferris. The only reason I went with John Deere was we have a big dealer in town and they keep lots of parts.

I lucked out and acquired a 2001 Kubota BX22 in 2013 with 1250 hrs showing on the clock from an estate sale. It came with a loader and backhoe. I've only used the backhoe twice in the time I've owned it and that was to bury a neighbors dog in August when ground was like concrete and another neighbors cross back donkey. I'd like to have a little bigger machine but I'm happy with what I have. The little BX22 does everything I ask of it since I've owned it. I have forks I attach to the loader and work well for moving logs from the woods to the road to be hauled off or the the wood pile for fire wood.

The back hoe is very easily removed to mount a bush hog, pto tiller or any other 3ph implement. When I have lots of loader work I mount the backhoe for rear ballast. The BX also has a mid pto for a belly mower or to run a front mount snow blower.

Like pdqdl said, If you need a backhoe rent a mini excavator. Much more power and will dig circles around the little BX.
 
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torch

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I have an older 4wd Kubota B-series that I bought used from an uncle when he retired and sold his hobby farm. It came with a belly mower, snowblower and rototiller. I added a FEL (front end loader), small 6' backhoe and landplane (for levelling land -- great for gravel driveway maintenance).

I quickly gave up on the belly mower and reverted to a lawn tractor. The belly mower is fine if you have large, flat, open areas. Not so much on my hilly "lawn" dotted with obstructions -- it was too wide and tended to either scalp or skip over the hillocks and divots. That said, if you are trying to keep fields of weeds and scrub under control rather than mowing an actual lawn, then a tractor with brush hog might be the best choice. So it all depends on what you mean by "cut".

I have, in the past, used a small JD lawn/garden tractor to haul small tree trunks out of the bush. But I put a winch on the back to pull them out of the bush to the trail and hold the end of the log up off the ground when dragging it. The Kubota is much better suited for this sort of work.

A FEL is one of the most useful tools you can have for property maintenance on a lot that size. Often it's nothing more than a motorized wheelbarrow, but boy, what a wheelbarrow. Add a toothbar for some digging or a grapple for grabbing or even just a set of chain hooks for pulling and it becomes an almost essential tool you won't know how you ever survived without.

The backhoe -- not so much for most people. I mostly use mine for digging out stumps on a building lot I'm clearing. The odd trench to bury water or power lines. I got a great deal on a used one from a farmer that never used it, but new ones are very expensive options (especially subframe mounted units) so consider the ongoing need carefully first. On the other hand, great deals like the one I got are rare, used ones are still generally pricey, so if you bought a used one you could likely get your money back out of it again in the future.

There are two general classes of BH -- subframe mounted units are rigidly attached to the tractor. They are more rigid and less likely to damage the tractor if abused. But the subframes are specific to a particular model tractor, so harder to source and more expensive. There are also three point hitch mounted units that hang off the tractor's existing 3PH. While they are more universal, limited primarily by the class of 3PH, it is very easy to mis-match and install a BH that is bigger than the tractor can handle, leading to a reputation for 3PH backhoes breaking tractors in half. Even if the BH is an appropriate size, many of the Kubota models require a heavy-duty top link bracket be installed on the tractor to handle the added strain. Other make sub-compact tractors may be similar. Tread carefully with lots of research first.

One feature to consider adding to your wish-list is hydrostatic transmission. FEL work is soooo much easier with HST compared to the clutch of a gear drive, as are many other tasks. HST does add a bit of maintenance and loss of power to the wheels, but is a worthwhile compromise, IMHO.
 
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Sportfury70

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I have a bobcat ct1021 I use to maintain about 2 acres, and tbh it’s probably too much. Should be fine for 4 acres. The belly mower and bucket on the bobcat is HEAVY DUTY, much more so than a comparable Kubota. These are designed by kioti, but all attachments are made by bobcat. mine has done everything I’ve asked it to, and more I probably shouldn’t have attempted. The bucket is pre drilled for teeth too, and you can pick them up right from bobcat.

I chose bobcat since the dealer network is robust, it has a 5year warranty, and the price point was much lower than Deere or kubota.

Other than this, I would have bought a Deere 755-955. Glad I have the bobcat though.

Oh, if you end up going for a newer subcompact, get the base model. Most sub 30hp scuts have the same engine, they are just defueled to thier rated model. As soon as mine is out of warranty, the injection pump is getting tuned to the 30hp specs.
 
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fields_mj

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As others have said, tractors are HORIBLE lawn mowers unless you have a pretty decent size tractor, a great big wide open area, and a bat wing. Tractors are for grunt work. Lifting, pulling, pushing, moving, and providing power to some type of PTO implement.

If you're dragging trees, or even logs, you mainly need weight. More HP will gain you ground speed, but you need ag lugs with enough weight in/on them to get the traction you need. I skid logs a lot with my old Ford 1710, but honestly, its a lot faster using my truck. If I can't get to it with a truck, or its' too heavy, I'll use the tractor. Otherwise, I use forks on the loader to stack the logs on a trailer, or into a pile. Horse power and weight will get you more lift capacity both on the FEL and on the 3 point hitch, but even a 16hp tractor will have enough capacity on the 3pt to skid most logs. It's really easy to tell when the log is too big.... just make sure you start out in low 1 until you figure out where your tractors limit is, and then DON"T push that limit.

I use my old ford to clear our road from snow, but its' rare for us to have more than a couple of inches. I've done 8" and it's a 2wd. I have AG tires that are filled, and 150 lbs in wheel weights, but it would have been MUCH better with chains. For moving snow, 2wd with chains will out work 4wd and no chains every time. I bought an old 7' plow off of a truck, removed the hydraulics, and fabricated a Quick Attach mount for it. A co-worker has a newer Kubota, and he uses a rear blade mounted to the quick attach on his loader. We welded a pair of brackets to it that allowed him to mount normal plow shoes on it which keeps the cutter bar out of the gravel (for the most part).

As someone else has already said, 3 point backhoes are not as useful as they seem. They have to have a subframe to transfer the torque to the front of the machine. The backhoe can generate a LOT of force. Tractors are basically built as a front half and a back half that join at the transmission. A backhoe without a subframe can generate enough torque to snap the mounting bolts for the transmission, breaking the tractor in half. Easy to do if you're trying to dig out stumps. If you have the room to store one, and it has a sub frame, feel free to spend the money. When you need a backhoe, there's really no other tool that will work (except an excavator). MUCH cheaper to rent either of those when you need it.
 
Big_Eddy

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I have a JD855 with loader, backhoe, belly mower, plus bush hog, chipper, snowblower, rear blade.

For our 2 acres grass and 75 acre wood lot, it is perfect.

Small enough to cut the lawn and also to get into almost any spot in our hilly wood lot. I do not pull logs, but do pull trailers of rounds and 100gal tanks of sap.
Loader and 4wd is mandatory.

I use the backhoe a couple of time annually. For most jobs I do, it is more than sufficient. I would not want to dig a foundation with it, but have installed many a drain line and dug up a few leaky basements to replace tile. I have rented bigger machines when appropriate. But having the backhoe available when I want it more then makes up for the performance limitations when compared to a mini-ex or bigger machine.

Everything is a compromise. Understand what is more important and choose the machine size that best fits your most common tasks.

I also have a large lawn tractor and gator, so have options when needed


11e527d8a847a67b9d344bdfc3168bde.jpg



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Bassmantweed

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Often it's nothing more than a motorized wheelbarrow, but boy, what a wheelbarrow.
Lots of great info in your thread. This particularly caught my attention.

Man if they made a motorized wheelbarrow that was stout enough and geared low enough to pull trees (motorized skid steer) I’d be all over that.

Load it up with a some log length for some weight and have a hitch point.

they make snow dogs for ice fisherman that pull sleds full of gear. Not strong enough for what I am looking to do but directionally it would be cool.

 
torch

torch

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I should mention that I built my FEL to meet the SSQA (Skid Steer Quick Attach) standard, so the bucket can be swapped for any compatible attachment in seconds. Nearly as useful as the bucket are the forks:

06_forks.jpg


Of less use was the home-made root bucket I attempted before I bought the BH -- until I realized it's true calling was pouring concrete!

04_fill.jpg

Fill

05_carry.jpg

Carry

06_pour.jpg

Pour. Works great for filling sonotubes too, but I don't know if I would attempt this without HST. It requires a delicate balance of raising the arms, gently tipping the bucket and creeping forward all at the same time. Definitely an acquired skill!

And as long as I'm posting pictures, here is what a land plane does. Kind of a poor-man's grader:
08_results.jpg

Gravel drive

09_dirt.jpg

Dirt

Mention was made above about tires. Basically there are 3 types: the traditional R1 or Agricultural with deep widely spaced diagonal lugs (a variation is rice paddy tires with really deep lugs!), R4 or Industrial with moderately deep horizontal or Z shaped lugs and Turf, which tend to be wider with shallow treads forming blocks rather than lugs. Ag tires dig down into soft soil for maximum traction and tend to dig up lawns. Industrial tires are a compromise that give some traction in dirt, less damage to lawns and longer life on hard surfaces.

Turf tires are all about minimizing soil pressure to avoid lawn damage, but a side-effect is superior performance on ice and shallow or hard-packed snow, especially with 4wd. The finer tread pattern acts like snipes and the broader width makes them act like snow tires. I have turfs, a 700' long driveway with a steep bit that gets icy in spring and have never had a problem blowing the snow up the hill where neighbours with R1s and R4s have problems. Chains or especially studs will help R1 or R4 on ice, and chains will help turfs on dirt -- maybe to the traction level of R4s. R1s remain supreme in dirt, deep snow and mud.

One thing to know is that turfs also require wider rims. You can't just swap tires, you need rims too. So choose wisely. Also, the extra width of turf tires may preclude the use of chains -- there may not be sufficient clearance between tire and tractor.
 

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