Experts’ Tips: Compact tractor choices

October 15, 2020 -  By
Compact tractors (Photo: Scott's Lawn Care)

Workhorses Compact tractors can be used in a variety of applications, including material handling. (Photo: Scott’s Lawn Care)

For Scott’s Lawn Care near Minneapolis, Minn., incorporating compact tractors into its fleet was a no-brainer.

“We got our first one in 2005, and we’ve upgraded since then,” says Scott Hartmann, president of the company, which provides enhancements, landscape maintenance, lawn care, pest control and snow services for a 50 percent residential, 50 percent commercial clientele in the summer and 80 percent commercial clientele in the winter.

“It’s a machine that I wish I would’ve gotten earlier because we do so much with it,” Hartmann says. “We have an attachment for every part of the season.”

The company’s six Ventrac machines feature articulating four-wheel drive.

The company uses them year-round by incorporating a variety of attachments, such as snowplows, rough cut mowers, Harley rakes, stump grinders, seeders, aerators, buckets to haul around rock and mulch, leaf cleanup equipment and trenchers.

The company also incorporates dually wheel adaptors on the tractor.

“(Adding those) helps us get into wet and soggy areas and helps us perform services in places that no other tractor can go,” Hartmann says.

He adds that the company chose the tractors because their smaller size means they can go into areas other machines can’t; their versatility; and the efficiency they provide because employees only have to use one machine for a variety of applications.

Headshot: Angie Ryan

Headshot: Angie Ryan

Bobcat Co.

Angie Ryan
Marketing manager, compact tractors

“A compact tractor is a do-it-all workhorse for landscapers. With many sizes and configurations on the market, there’s a compact tractor to match any work style. Plus, the learning curve is easy. Compact tractors are accessible to all operator levels, whether they are new to tractors or seasoned veterans. Here are seven features to consider when selecting a tractor: tractor size; transmission options; implements and attachments; cab comfort options; power takeoff (PTO) types; hitch categories; and tire options. For instance, an open-cab design makes it easy to get on and off the tractor when frequently changing implements or loading materials. Four-wheel drive, a Category 1 three-point hitch and rear PTO for a variety of powerful attachments are also all options to look for in a compact tractor.”

John Deere

Ray Gherardini
Product marketing manager

“Landscape professionals should consider their customer mix and the types of jobs they regularly work on to determine the right model for their business. Compact utility tractors are designed to tackle a wide variety of jobs, including transporting materials and earth-moving applications and large mowing work. When determining the best model for you, there are several key things to consider. First, what types of property do you typically work on? The size and terrain of the properties will help determine the appropriate model needed. Second, determine what type of work you expect to be doing. This will help to identify the right engine horsepower, as well as the correct implements for the tasks you are tackling on a regular basis. More likely than not, the property size, type and expected usage will determine a specific type of compact utility tractor.”

Headshot: Joel Fritts

Headshot: Joel Fritts


Joel Fritts
Marketing professional

“There are several things that need to be considered when selecting a tractor for the landscape business. First, you need to determine the size of the area that will be worked on and the ground conditions. Next, maneuverability is very important in tight working areas, so the steering system is important. Ground conditions are important in determining the type of traction system, whether it is a rubber-tire wheel machine or a track machine. Since they have a larger footprint, track machines work better in soft underfoot conditions and have less ground disturbance. Wheel machines have a smaller footprint and cause greater ground disturbance. Weight is also important in determining how much of a load is expected to be moved with the machine. The weight of the machine is what determines how much load the machine can push or carry. Horsepower determines the rate at which the work can be completed. Generally speaking, for average ground conditions and small loads, a rubber-tire machine is best suited for the work. In poor underfoot conditions, where there is a requirement to push heavy loads, a track-type machine is best suited. Bottom line: it is best to evaluate your overall expectation for working conditions and consult your local dealer for the best solutions.”

Headshot: Jeremy Brown

Headshot: Jeremy Brown

Commercial Landscape Service, Huntsville, Ala.

Jeremy Brown

“We have John Deere 4320, 4420, 4720 compact tractors. It’s all the same series, just different horsepower. We use them for every facet of our business. We built our business on those little tractors in the year 2000. We use them for material handling and grading. We primarily use the compact tractor with a Harley rake on the back of it for grading purposes. The weight and the size of the tractor as it pertains to (not) disturbing the grades on existing use sites is why we chose it. It makes us more efficient because traditional landscape projects nowadays will require a compact track loader or rubber-tire skid-steers, but with a compact tractor, we can have a front-end loader on the front and our attachment on the rear, so we can grade or Harley rake a section and use the same machine with that attachment on the front and pick that material up. If you’re using other methods, you’ve got to switch attachments. It’s been a reliable piece of equipment and regardless of the model, the small compact tractor has changed the way we do business.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's former managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor.

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