A tractor is a capable machine in the summer, but how well does it do in the winter? Attaching a snowplow to your tractor can help you clear away snow faster than a motorized snow blower alone. Many companies even manufacture snow tires and chains specifically for tractors.
Even if you don’t own a tractor, a riding lawn mower or zero-turn with a snowblower attachment can also work. However, Consumer Reports says that lawn tractors should be used sparingly in the winter. Is it really that bad to use your lawnmower as a snow removal machine?
Getting your tractor or zero-turn ready for winter
According to Sisters Grimm, attaching a snowblower to your zero-turn mower is actually very simple. You just attach the blower to the zero-turn’s deck belt using a universal mounting bar for many models. This accessory can be purchased for as low as $30.
Snowthrowers can’t hurl snow as far as a snowblower, but they’re usually much cheaper. Snowthrowers are also lighter, so you can maneuver your zero-turn faster without the added weight. It’s more labor-intensive to attach a plow to a full-size tractor, but it’s the fastest way to get rid of snow.
Why you should reconsider using your tractor to plow snow
According to Consumer Reports, obtaining an attachment for your tractor or lawn mower is an expensive task. While snowthrowers might only cost a few hundred dollars, a reliable snowblower can be over $1,000. Snowplows don’t usually cost more than $800, but you also might need to purchase a heavy-duty mounting attachment.
Consumer Reports also argues that actually installing the plow or snowblower isn’t so easy for first-timers. You must remove the tractor deck and install the attachment, which can take at least an hour. If you can’t reattach the deck properly when spring rolls around, you risk making your tractor unsafe or unusable.
Obviously, most residential zero-turns weren’t built to clear dense snow off your driveway. Trying to push the machine’s abilities to unrealistic lengths will shorten its lifespan. Some companies have snowblowing attachments specifically built for mowers, but only specific models can be used with these accessories.
It would be best if you also matched the snow blower that you buy with your tractor’s engine and transmission. Most tractors can only handle a two-stage snow blower, which can’t always eliminate ice and tightly-packed snow. Even a small blower adds at least a couple of feet of length or width to your tractor, hindering its maneuverability.
You might also run into problems when it’s time to stop plowing for the day. Even without an extra attachment, tractors are already very bulky. You could be forced to remove the attachment after each plowing session just to fit it inside your shed or garage. You can leave it outside in a pinch, but exposing any expensive machine to the elements is always a gamble.
When does it make sense to plow snow with a tractor or mower?
If you have a high-end tractor with available snow attachments, you can use it in winter without worrying about excess damage. Sometimes shoveling yourself out is the only solution if you live in a rural area. Salt trucks and plows prioritize city roads, leaving country roads untouched for hours.
It also makes more sense to have your own snowplow when you have a large driveway. You can get rid of the snow in less time without having to pay someone to do the work for you. You’re also in a better position to help elderly friends or neighbors who can’t shovel out as easily.
Lawn tractors can be great snow removal tools, but only if built for that purpose. Otherwise, you’re probably better off just using a snowblower by itself, without the headache of installing it on your tractor.