Want to use a lawn tractor to clear snow? It’s a great way for homeowners with longer driveways to get snow cleared away with ease. Here are some of the most common questions and considerations before turning your tractor into a snow clearing machine.
- Storage. Keep in mind the total length of the tractor and snowblower will be considerably larger. Make sure you have room to store AND maneuver in and out when needed! When changing over to snow clearing mode, you will need to remove and store the cutting deck – and in the summer, store the snow plow/blower. Plan storage accordingly! Any convenience or time saving the tractor may provide is negated when you have to battle to use it!
Simplicity tractors are an example of equipment designed with storage in mind. Attachments fold up easily and will stand on their own. Once detached, the hitch and snow blower will roll easily across the ground.
- Change over. We mentioned removing the cutting deck and installing the snow blower. While not overly complex, this is a task that requires a bit of planning. Attempting to complete during the season’s first snow fall is just asking for trouble!
If your tractor has a complex pulley system (common on MTD and Sears tractors), the change over will be more involved. Keep in mind that some tractor snow blower attachments are designed after the fact. Some Cub Cadet and Simplicity tractors will have a quick attach mount that allow for an easy, one or two pin installation. The attachments are very heavy so a “drive-on” connection can be worth the extra money!
- Weight kit and chains. Adding tire chains to your garden tractor may be helpful if you are clearing snow from hilly or uneven areas. Adding a counter weight to the back of the tractor may help the tires dig in, but be cautious of adding undue weight and stress to the machine.
Buying the right tractor is an important factor. A rugged lawn tractor with the K57 transmission for example is better suited for attachments. More often than not, once a wheel weight is installed, it will stay on the machine all year.
- Stay dry! Adding a protective snow cab to a lawn tractor is a way to avoid wind and snow. Snow cabs are available in two versions: expensive and cheap. If you can afford to spend a little extra, an upgraded cab will have doors that seal and keep heat in – some even have a wiper to see where you are going. The cheaper cabs will keep you dry but the effort involved with constant adjustment, clearing off, and lack of protection make a strong case for the upgraded version.
Is there a down side to using a lawn tractor as a snow blower? You’ll be clearing huge paths of snow with minimal effort, but clearing narrow walkways, around cars, and other elements that cause frequent turning, can restrict the snowblower. So, don’t throw away the snow shovel, there will still be shoveling involved.
Keep in mind that the lawn tractor was designed to cut grass on a warm sunny day! Adding another season of use means increase wear and tear. Water and salt can take a toll on the front end, wearing away at the clutch and wheel bearings. Running the machine in heavy, deep snow is possible but will require preventative maintenance to ensure you get the most of the lawn tractor.
Adding a snow blower to a lawn tractor is a great way to put the mower to good use and tackle an otherwise unpleasant task. In short, the tractor snow blower is a tool that requires a bit of planning and diligent preventative maintenance. You will look forward to seeing a rough weather forecast when you have a 20HP engine throwing snow!