Home gardening has been enjoying a real boom in recent years, with more people every year becoming interested in growing their own food. And there are plenty of versatile compact tractors to help you garden and do a lot more around your property: mow, grade, clear snow out of your driveway, you name it. These amazing little vehicles do it all.
When you’re considering a garden tractor, there’s a lot to think about. “Garden tractor” is another name for a compact tractor, but not the same as a zero-turn mower. You need them to do specific tasks that can’t be done by a zero-turn mower or a large tractor. To be useful in the garden, you need a compact tractor that’s the right size and has the right implements available to get the job done.
What is a Garden Tractor?
Specifically, a garden tractor is a compact tractor with a better cutting deck than a riding mower – typically 54 – 60 inches wide, with three blades instead of two – and a 20 -30 horsepower diesel engine, Which is necessary for heavy duty attachments like plows and aerators. In addition, the most useful garden tractors have a PTO (power take-off) hitch to increase the number of attachments it’s possible to use with the tractor…and increase the tractor’s usefulness at the same time.
In the garden, a compact tractor is far more versatile than a zero-turn, capable of performing a wide variety of tasks on more challenging terrain. With the right attachments, you’ll be able to plow, till, and aerate the soil, and tow a spreader for fertilizing.
Here’s what you need to consider when picking out a compact tractor for your garden.
When picking out a tractor for any use, your most important consideration is power. Too little power, and your tractor won’t get the job done and might put you in danger. Too much, and it’s simply a waste of money. However, too much is much better than too little, and if you need to perform other tasks in the future that require more HP, you already have a machine capable of doing it.
My advice is to buy the most horsepower you can afford, not the minimum to get the job done.
With higher horsepower, you can tow or lift heavier loads, work faster, and do more.
The width of your compact tractor comes into play when you have to go through gates, between trees, and drive into a shed, garage, or barn for storage. Measure any tight space your tractor needs to go and make sure the widest part of the tractor (usually the cutting deck) will pass through.
The type of tires you choose help determine stability and traction. Bigger tires are more stable on steep terrain and more able to handle rough or rocky ground, and deep tread provides better traction in the mud…but will also tear up your lawn. The same tires aren’t always suited for lawn mowing and gardening in a muddy or sandy area.
Garden Tractor Attachments
Today’s garden tractors come with an astonishing number of attachments. You have a PTO and 3 point hitch while allows you to extend the possibilities to include many more.
Let’s take a look at attachments for compact tractors with and without a PTO hitch.
- Pull-behind carts and trailers, with or without a dumping feature.
- Pull-behind tanks, spreaders, and sprayers. You can use these for things like watering, fertilizing, and spraying pesticides and herbicides.
- Leaf vacuums, mulching, and bagging attachments and other handy mowing accessories.
- Tillers, harrows, plows, and other tools to work in your garden.
- Snow blowers and scrapers
- Front end loaders, including digging buckets, scraping blades, forklifts, augers, and other equipment designed to lift, move, dig, and clear.
The price of garden tractors generally start at around $8,000 and go up to $15000 or more. As you add those terrific attachments and rugged tires, the cost naturally goes up. The best approach is to decide on a budget, determine how much horsepower you need, and add the attachments you need most.
Brand is really an important choice. While there are some differences in tractors, you want to pick one that’s going to be around for a long time and has a good reputation. Can’t go wrong with a John Deere garden tractor or a Kubota garden tractor. Which brand do you like best?