Picking a Tractor for Lawn Care

Dixon Lawn TractorsAre you looking for something that can mow your lawn, and help out with a few other lawn care duties? Tractors come in all shapes and sizes, and the terms used for them can be confusing. Can you use a regular tractor for mowing? Is a garden tractor better for gardening than a lawn tractor? How do you know which hitch you need? Here’s what you need to know about picking the right size and type of tractor for your needs.

Tractor Types: Lawn, Garden, Compact and Two Wheel

A lawn tractor is built for mowing lawns and little else. They can be used to tow small trailers for seeding and moving materials.

A garden tractor is built for mowing, but it has a heavier frame and better attachment points for towing and front-mounted equipment. This is usually limited to unpowered attachments like gravel and snowplows. Attachment power comes from the deck’s pulley drive. For example, Cub Cadet makes a three-stage snowblower attachment for their Enduro lawn tractor. This uses bolt-on supports that run under the frame and guide a belt between the engine pulley and the snowblower pulley. This takes some work and a few tools to get on and off. However, flexibility isn’t a big deal since you won’t need to switch between mowing and snow removal during winter. While trailer pin hitches are standard, other attachment points are brand specific. This limits your equipment choices to a few options, mostly from the tractor manufacturer.

If a garden tractor is a beefed-up lawn tractor, two-wheel tractors like those from BCS America are beefed up tillers. These are a great option for home gardeners, or as a complement to a lawn tractor. BCS offers a wide range of soil attachments for gardening, as well as snow removal and cleaning tools. As with garden tractors, your options are limited to BCS’s own attachments. However, they offer a wide range of options. One two-wheel tractor can replace a shed full of walk-behind equipment.

Compact tractors are designed to let you add attachments to fit your needs. Unlike lawn and garden tractors, a compact tractor comes with a Power Take-Off (PTO). This sends power to attachments via a splined shaft at the end of the transmission. Rear-mounted attachments connect with a three-point hitch. Since hitch and PTO sizes are standard, you have a wide range of attachment options from a variety of manufacturers. Finish mower attachments let you use a compact tractor for mowing wide-open land, but you’ll want a regular mower for working in tight spaces.

Three-Point Hitch Types

A three-point hitch uses two lower hitches and one upper hitch point to connect attachments. These links connect to hydraulic cylinders that can lift and lower the attachment. There are 5 three-point hitch sizes. Compact tractors use a Cat 0 or 1 hitch.

Cat 0
Up to 20 HP
20-inch space between lower hitches
5/8 inch upper and lower link hitch pins

Cat 1
20-45 HP
28 inches between lower hitches
¾ inch upper and 7/8 inch lower hitch pins

Most attachments that don’t need pitch adjustment are quick hitch compatible. A quick hitch attaches to a three-point hitch and has three hooks in place of pinholes. This lets the operator back up to the attachment and uses the hydraulics to lift the hitch and connect to the attachment’s mounting points. Woods and Yanmar both offer quick hitches for Cat 1 tractors. Quick hitch attachments can still mount to a standard hitch.

PTO Types

Like hitches, PTOs are available in different types designed to handle varying amounts of power. There are three types used on compact tractors.

Type 1
1 3/8 inch diameter shaft
6 splines
540 RPM operating speed

Type 2
1 3/8 inch diameter shaft
21 splines
1,000 RPM operating speed

Type 3
1 ¾ inch diameter shaft
20 splines
1,000 RPM operating speed

Some attachments are designed for multiple hitches, so they come with a transmission that works with both 540 and 1,000 RPM PTOs.

We Have the Equipment to Fit Your Needs, No Matter How Big or Small

Shank’s Lawn Equipment carries several brands of mowers and tractors, including BCS America, Cub Cadet, and Yanmar, as well as attachments from Woods. If you’re looking for a tractor, attachments, or parts and service for your current equipment, come see us. Our shop is at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. We’re just one mile off of I-81.

Need parts for your tractor or attachments? We ship OEM replacements for every brand we carry. To order, visit us at www.shankslawn.com. We can have your order delivered to any address in the United States or Canada.

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