Recommend Search for a mower fit for acreage work


Valued Member
Premium Member
Mar 26, 2015
Preston, QLD
Temperate (all seasons)
Hey all, I thought I might share some thoughts and experiences in my quest to get a good deal on an appropriate mower for a property that will soon become the family home. On a long trapezius shaped area of 7 acres of mostly gentle undulating land with a few surface rocks I will hope to make a family home with some renovation work. Initially there will be no animals on it, so I anticipate I will have to mow the entire area for a short time. There is a fenced off back paddock of about 3 acres, not including about 1-1.5 acres set aside for an orchard that I hope to have some chickens and ducks get into to clean up. Later on, a couple of sheep might just be all I need to keep the back paddock taken care of, but the remaining 3 or so acres will need to be mowed. With the rain we've had, I wouldn't be surprised if I have to mow every fortnight or so.

So, a decision had to be made about how I would go about managing this. My current suburban push mower is laughable for such a task. After doing some searching with my fingers (online, no longer with the yellow pages), I narrowed down the options to a 48 or 50 inch deck, preferably fabricated, with a 20+ horsepower engine depending on quality and what was available. So far, John Deere, Toro and Kubota seemed to fit the bill but the prices were making me look for a second hand deal. Then I got talking with a mate of mine who has about 3 acres to mow and he got a good trade-in on a second hand mower from a local repair shop. I got the contacts and gave him a call to find he'd just got in a commercial grade zero turn mower by Toro that had its motor replaced a couple of years ago almost ready for sale.

I cannot find much info on it, but it's called a Z-Master Z255 mower with 62" deck. The manual doesn't give it any specs but the motor is a Kohler CH-25, which is a 25 horsepower engine that is of reasonable quality. The mower itself looks like it has had a tough life, even with its rugged design there are some hefty marks and dents on the deck and chassis but the service guy has alleviated my structural concerns of this tough mower and deck.

I will follow up with some photos I took of it at the shop in the next post.
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This mower was apparently used and abused by the previous owner (University of Southern Queensland) so much so that the motor had to be replaced from being run without sufficient oil. One of the blade shafts also needs replacing.

It's a 2003 model that shows obvious signs of wear and tear:

But I'm not buying a mower for its looks, just reliability and effectiveness.

Indeed, it is not appealing to look at from anyone's point of view:

It should do the job, though, and is a decent ride.

It just has a few things to sort out before I can take it home, like the broken spindle shaft on the blade mechanism.

There's nothing fancy about its features:

Just switch on, engage and speed:

The Toro Z-Master z-255 zero turn mower:

This mower isn't one that will be seen in mower shops but brand new these things cost in the order of $14,000. Buying new to manage 7 acres would cost me around $9,000-$10,000 to get the job done in good time (zero turn mower), or $5,000-$7,000 if I spend more than half a day per week mowing (tractor mower). So I compromised with a second hand commercial grade mower that will be sold and serviced by the same local guy to be more assured of long term use of the mower.
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Mowers are designed to last for years - especially the more expensive brands - so I agree with you about not worrying so much on the cosmetics as long as the motor and deck are good you should only have to get it serviced and the blades changed/sharpened yearly. The previous owners must have gave it a flogging and left it out in the weather by the looks of it.

62 inch is a big mower so it should eat through your 7 acres nicely! It's probably an appropriate size actually...

You'll find even with the best intentions you're going to get hits in the deck from unseen rocks etc but being commercial grade and I assume fabricated deck it won't bash up enough to affect the mowing - hopefully, you'll get many years out of it.
That's the plan Mark, and the guy who is selling it to me will know its history enough to give it a decent service each time and keep it running. I'm more concerned about getting the job done in one day than I am about its looks, so I trust it is an appropriate size mower to have. There are surface rocks but I will do a scout job before I run the mower over it to clear the rocks I can see and hope there aren't too many left over for the blades to get ruined by.
I'll not fuss because otherwise the guy who is selling it to me will jack up the price. I'm new to all this but this my reading found the Kohler 25hp engine to be unpopular and the SFS deck having mixed reviews. I'm of the mind that it'll either stand the test of time or fall apart in a heap and I can only go back to the seller for a repair. I'll get a 6 month warranty on it so I'll try to give it a good work in to see if there are any faults that surface from normal usage.
You'd think if it didn't break within 6 months it probably won't have anything major wrong with it then. It allows you all summer to give the mower a good flogging!
Nice write up Ash. It looks like it has the number 1 accessory a mower needs.......drink/beer holder!

Keep it serviced and it will look after you I'm sure. (That's my mechanic lecture out the way :noproblem:)
Drink holder will indeed be a necessity, particularly if I'll be at it for hours on end. What it's missing is a bluetooth mp3 player with noise cancelling headphones to drown out the monotonous mower sound.
Hearing protection earmuffs with am/fm and mp3 play tuneswhilst you mow!

I have a set of these and they've done me good for about 3-4 years now. Mowing an acreage without music is a real drag plus when I plug my phone into the ear muffs (to use the music player) I don't miss any important calls either. ;)
Yes, I'm prepared for that too. Actually looking forward to it as it'll be like driving on open roads, soothing and relaxing.

Talking to the fellas here, does anyone's wives have any interest in doing the mowing on a ride-on? Have they found the zero turn easy to use?
I see things going the same way for me. Perhaps the kids might like to try once they're old enough.
Maybe a robotic mower, remote controlled with wifi realtime visuals like camera drones, or even one that is smart like those robotic vacuum cleaners that sense boundary edges and can mow the lawn by that fuzzy logic. I'd like to see the mowing pattern afterwards from such a mower. :noevil:
Automated lawn mowing will probably happen one day - just don't be the first one to try them... Let the bugs get ironed out first. That's why I've held off getting an automated vacuum cleaner because in a few more models time they should be really good. But a vacuum cleaner can't get out of control and mow over the flower bed (or the pets) like a 100 kg automated ride on mower could :)
It'd work with a GPS track. The iPilot electric boat motor uses this system. You can record your course and it keeps the track, then you can set it to go and it just follows the recorded course.

Along with object sensors to make it stop before running over the cat, ... or maybe no sensors :popcorn:
It sure would save time.

I was chatting with my mate at the cricket - the one who owns the Mower Place in Brisbane (it was his corporate box) anyway he reckons Sthil has 500 engineers working solely on their next generation battery operated power tools.

Apparently, battery power is going to go nuts on small and large motors real soon and the company that wins the battery race wins the war.
Making tools less fossil fuel dependant is good for sure, I just wonder how much horsepower can be packed into an electric motor. 5hp sure, 10hp maybe, 25hp and above would be a challenge. Then there is how long you can get such a motor to run for on batteries. As it is, drones are lasting only minutes on Li-ion batteries so those used for commercial purposes are run on fuel. Anyway, I'd love to be surprised by the technology to come. For now I'll just stick to petrol powered mowers and just put up with the added running costs.
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