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86 year old and riding lawnmower
Old 03-04-2016, 05:21 PM   #1
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86 year old and riding lawnmower

My 86 year old DM just told me she is going to buy a new riding lawnmower. She is healthy and in good shape for her age but I'm certainly concerned about this. My useless nephew who lives next door (I'm 2 hours away) will wind up mowing her lawn most of the time but he is totally irresponsible when it comes to taking care of anything and I envision the mower sitting out in the rain to rust or him forgetting to put oil in the crankcase. I gave her a riding mower about 10 years ago and he loaned it to one of his worthless buddies who returned it in bad mechanical shape. Nephew parked it in his yard until the tires rotted.

She really wants to enjoy taking care of her yard on nice, cool days and realizes her limits. I would at least like to guide her on the purchase and help however I can... any tips on type, brand? Budget is less than $1,500.
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Old 03-04-2016, 05:30 PM   #2
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My 85 year old neighbor woman mowed her lawn up until last year. Mowed a 1 acre yard, with a 20" walk behind self-propelled mower.

She mowed a couple of hours a day, and it took about 4 days.

For $1500, you will not get much. An MTD brand will work for her needs. Briggs and Stratton engine.
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Old 03-04-2016, 05:38 PM   #3
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Budget is less than $1,500.
That's the low end of the price range for lawn tractors. Consumer Reports lists the Craftsman model 20374 at $1,400 as a decent buy. One step up would be Husqvarna model YTH22V46 at $1,700. Personally, I was a big fan of John Deer, but you would have to add another $1K to get one of those.

Also, at that age you want to be sure there are no slopes that could lead to turning it over. I read of at least a few local deaths from that every year.
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Old 03-04-2016, 05:42 PM   #4
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No hills, I hope.
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Old 03-04-2016, 05:50 PM   #5
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No hills, thank God...


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Old 03-04-2016, 06:35 PM   #6
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My suggestion would be to bite the bullet and plan on going over there every once and a while to check on things and do things like put the mower where it belongs if it gets left out, check the oil, and plan to change the oil once a year, etc.
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:56 PM   #7
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It may not be a popular choice, but I have have good luck with Sears Craftsman riding mowers. My current one lasted more than 10 years before the engine started to give me problems last year (I didn't get it fixed as I was using a push mower as exercise, but will get it checked out this month). I had one before that that went 13 years (could have repaired it but traded it in against the current one). Over that time I kept it in a shed, changed the oil and filter twice a year, kept the tires properly inflated, etc. I don't know how they would keep up without regular maintenance. they have about a half dozen or so models between 1100 and 1400 on their website.

For a "nominal" fee they will also come onsite and perform these activities on an annual basis. Of course, the company is struggling, and some predict they may go bankrupt within a year or two, so you are taking a chance... other stores with low end riding mowers are Home Depot or Lowes.
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Old 03-04-2016, 07:55 PM   #8
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Home Depot has John Deere riding mowers starting at 1499. 42 in cut. 17.5 hp Deere branded Briggs engine. These are assembled by a regional JD dealer. I just bought one mainly due to 24 mo @ 0 %. Price includes delivery.
Actually I would recommend a rear engine rider over a lawn tractor but they are not very popular and choices are limited to very cheap or very expensive.


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Old 03-04-2016, 08:40 PM   #9
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It may not be a popular choice, but I have have good luck with Sears Craftsman riding mowers. My current one lasted more than 10 years ...

Me too. And I 'upgraded' with my current one - 46" 19HP, and it was ~ $1600, so you should be able to find a smaller one for < $1400. I've been pretty happy with both of 'em.

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For $1500, you will not get much. An MTD brand will work for her needs. Briggs and Stratton engine.
My $1600 Craftsman ( 46" 19HP - bigger than she needs) )has a '540cc Single Kohler Courage' engine. The B&S in my previous one lasted for 10~11 years of hard use.

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Old 03-04-2016, 10:56 PM   #10
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My 85 yo Mom has hired this out since Dad died about 10 years ago, even though I live just down the road. I am the only child nearby and do a lot for her already and I was just not willing to commit another hour + a week to mowing her lawn, particularly when i know she can afford it. Besides, this way my siblings who live away pay for 80% of the cost and my share is only 20% (coming out of our inheritance that is).

Try convincing her that she is better off hiring it out and spending her time on other things... besides, it is a bit dangerous and at age 86 it is not an outside possibility that something might happen to her and she then needs to hire it out anyway.

My Mom actually enjoys the weekly visit from her lawn guy and chats him up a bit each time he is there. As far as cost, after considering the investment in a mower, maintenance, gas, oil etc the additional cost of having someone do it is not a big deal.

Funny story.... her first lawn guy got out of the business so we had to get another one so I called a young guy who does the lawn for a neighbor and is known to be a hard worker. So the guy shows up and I show him what needs to be done and ask how much it would cost each week (she has ~3/4 acre of mowing but it is flat and pretty straight forward). He quotes me a price that is $5 less than what his predecessor charged.... I hemmed and hawed for about 30 seconds and then told him that he had the job but that for that price I expected that he would do a very good job. He charges her $30 each time as I recall.
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:29 PM   #11
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Seems like a good time to hire out this service. Although my 80 year old mom and 90 year old stepdad have matching riding mowers and still cut 5+ acres on their own every few weeks.
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:44 PM   #12
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I also agree that at age 86 she would be better off hiring it out. If she is stubborn though, consider a used higher end riding mower of whatever make the pros use locally so you can get parts/service easily. Or even a cheaper lightly used one - people move all the time and don't usually take something that big with them.

My former next door neighbor used a powered 20" walk-behind until he was 83, then memory and physical frailty issues forced them to move.
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Old 03-05-2016, 02:54 PM   #13
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Our neighbor across the street is 88 and still mowing his lawn with a riding mower. I think Walt's suggestion for a used mower is a good one.
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Old 03-05-2016, 03:43 PM   #14
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Didn't mention how big the "yard" is.
My frugal thinking is to buy from a local mower repair shop. Not just for the initial price, but for any repairs that might be needed.

Can't speak to "new", but we're in a semi rural area, and there are 5 shops that I'm aware of. All of them sell new and take trades, so there are always deals, many well under $500. The nice thing about this is that the shops live on their reputation, and follow through is assured.
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:16 PM   #15
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I'm with those who favor contracting it out. Safer, and I am sure when all is considered it is also cheaper.
Mom can go bowling with the time she saves.


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Old 03-05-2016, 07:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Tailgate View Post
My 86 year old DM just told me she is going to buy a new riding lawnmower. She is healthy and in good shape for her age but I'm certainly concerned about this. My useless nephew who lives next door (I'm 2 hours away) will wind up mowing her lawn most of the time but he is totally irresponsible when it comes to taking care of anything and I envision the mower sitting out in the rain to rust or him forgetting to put oil in the crankcase. I gave her a riding mower about 10 years ago and he loaned it to one of his worthless buddies who returned it in bad mechanical shape. Nephew parked it in his yard until the tires rotted.

She really wants to enjoy taking care of her yard on nice, cool days and realizes her limits. I would at least like to guide her on the purchase and help however I can... any tips on type, brand? Budget is less than $1,500.
My rather frail 85 year old (almost 86) father with poor mobility handles his zero turn riding lawn mower just fine. I think it's now his main form of "exercise".
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:33 PM   #17
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I'm with those who favor contracting it out. Safer, and I am sure when all is considered it is also cheaper.
Mom can go bowling with the time she saves.
+1

That's what I do. I'm not sure it's cheaper (OK, at $35/mow I think it costs more), but my life is so much nicer without that chore. The older I get, the more valuable my time is to me. My lawn guy does a wonderful job, much better than I would do when exhausted by the heat.

So, I pay my lawn guy and then pay for my gym membership since I don't knock myself out mowing every week. To *me* (not necessarily to everyone), that makes perfect sense.
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Old 03-05-2016, 07:41 PM   #18
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We'd love to have someone mow the acres around Dad's place, but apparently finding someone reliable in a very small town is nigh impossible.
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:27 AM   #19
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If she lives in an area where there are folks who provide grass cutting services, then that's the way to go. If not and you must get a lawn tractor and you are limited to $1500, then in my experience they are all about the same in that price range. I have a full sized diesel Kubota for the majority of my property but I've had several small gas powered lawn tractors for close in work around the house, barn etc. The last one I bought about two years ago was a new John Deere (a D125 I think) and I only paid about $1500 for it on sale. It's only been two years but so far I've liked it the best.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:10 AM   #20
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Slight tangent, but reminds of a story I read some years ago. A guy gets a call at work about his 80 some year old father up in a tree. The panicked caller caller said, do you know what your father is doing? He say he is trimming his tree!

The guy answeres back, well if that is what he said, then that is what he is doing.

BTW a neighbor of mine at 80 re-shingled his roof with 50 year shingles, hauling every bundle by himself up there via a ladder. Refused all help.

He died last year at 92. He was also an Auschwitz survivor. Tough but very pleasant guy.
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