When Tom Corso's wife, Colleen Van Pelt, left for a two-week business trip to Japan, her last words to her husband were: "Why don't you get something to mow the yard?" Tom and Colleen had just moved into a new house, in Groton, New York, with 15 acres of land. The five acres surrounding the house were lawn (or would be—as soon as Tom and Colleen got the area sodded or seeded). The other 10 acres were a low, brushy wilderness.
It didn't take long for them to realize that they would have to spend some serious time mowing. Colleen had assumed that Tom would buy something small—perhaps a push mower. But Tom saw things differently. When Colleen arrived home, she found her parking spot in the garage had been usurped by a huge, sparkling new garden tractor (with bucket raised in a "welcome home" salute).
Tom, like many homeowners with a large lot, decided to go beyond the expected riding mower to something with more teeth. Initially, he justified the purchase of a garden tractor when he found out that the installation of five acres of lawn around his new home would cost upwards of $6,000. "I thought, 'I can do the lawn myself,'" he says. And so he went tractor shopping. His garden tractor of choice is a ground-engaging machine that came with a bucket that could lift 200 pounds and a plow blade. Not forgetting his (and Colleen's) original needs, he also bought a mower attachment—with a whopping 72-inch deck.
Tom and his new garden tractor did some light grading with the blade, then sowed the lawn with grass seed. With a brush hog attachment, he tamed the 10 acres of wilderness. He later graveled the driveway, using the tractor bucket to move and level 23 tons of stone. Although owning a piece of equipment powerful enough to do light farming chores wasn't in his plans, Tom admits he's done more landscaping and gardening projects with his garden tractor than he would have with a less powerful machine. "Although I never