Well, we finally made up our mind on the issue of whether or not we should buy a lawn tractor or hire a lawn service… Over the weekend we pulled the trigger on a John Deere 125 lawn tractor. We ended up spending a bit more than we had planned, but we are very happy with out purchase. The 125, which was rated as a best buy in the latest (June ‘06) issue of Consumer Reports, is available from independent John Deere dealers as well as from the likes of Home Depot and Lowes. We ended up buying it from Lowes for $1799 minus a 10% off coupon.
Part of the reason that we ended up going with a lawn tractor over a lawn service is that we were kidding ourselves when we thought we could get away with having a lawn service come every two weeks… We have a bermuda lawn, and bermuda likes to be kept short. Thus, if we want to have a healthy lawn (and we do), we’ll need to mow it more frequently, and that means a substantially higher lawn service bill. Higher bills = less time to break even by buying a lawn tractor and mowing it ourselves. In this case, we expect to break even in under two years. And besides, I don’t trust people that don’t cut their own grass.
Anyway, back to mower… The other make/model that we seriously considered was the Toro LX420. The best thing about the Toro was that it cost $500 less than the John Deere. However, Toro lawn tractors (like many others, including Bolens, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yard Machines, and more) are built by MTD. The problem here is that MTD-built lawn tractors are considerably less reliable than those built by John Deere — according to Consumer Reports, the repair rate of MTD-built lawn tractors is around 60% higher than for John Deere lawn tractors. The other major drawback of the Toro is that the seat, steering wheel, and pedal placement aren’t terribly comfortable if you’re as tall as I am.
Okay, now for the nitty-gritty… The John Deere 125 sports a 20 hp, two-cylinder Briggs & Stratton engine that’s built exclusively for John Deere. It also has a 42 inch cutting deck, which is twice as wide as a standard walk-behind mower. You can actually get considerably wider mowers but, for our purposes, that would be overkill. Beyond the 10% discount, I also got a deal on a tow-behind dump cart that I want for a variety of lawn and garden tasks, including cleaning up and thinning the woods behind our house. Lowes was offering a $100, 10 cubic foot dump cart for free with the purchase of certain Troy-Bilt and Husqvarna (but not John Deere) lawn tractors.
So what’s a guy to do? Simple. I asked if they’d throw in the cart with my purchase, and they agreed. I then pushed a bit further — would they instead knock $100 off the price of the better John Deere dump cart that I really wanted? Sure enough, they agreed, so I ended up getting the $179 cart for $79.
I mowed the lawn for the first time today, and it was a breeze. What would have taken hours with a walk-behind mower took half an hour (or less, I wasn’t really watching the clock).
For more information on moving, check out my Roadmap for a Successful Relocation.