John Deere X300 Mulching Mower Works Great

By Todd Fratzel on Lawn Care, Product Reviews

John Deere X300 Review

House and green lawnMy John Deere X300 Mulching Mower works great! The other day someone left a comment on my previous post that I didn’t publish because it was full of profanity. However, I wanted to respond to his comment with this post.

He said something along the lines of this “The John Deere Mulching Mower is a piece of *&%#@@!” He went on to say that the mower leaves clumps of grass all over the place and it won’t cut tall grass at all.

First of all I highly doubt he was talking about a John Deere X300 mulching mower. Secondly I totally disagree with he assessment. I took this photo today shortly after I finished mowing the front lawn. The last month has been very rainy around here and perfect conditions for grass to grow like crazy! Today I cut off between 2 and 3 inches of grass. Does it look bad to you? My lawn looks like a PGA golf course! Not only does this mower cut great you can hardly see the grass clippings. I didn’t rake, I didn’t bag, thats exactly how the lawn looks after I cut it.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that when I have to cut grass that tall you have to drive slower. You can’t drive like Dale Earnhardt at the Daytona 500. This is true with any riding mower so it shouldn’t come as any surprise to someone with experience mowing grass.

In my opinion this is probably a case of mistaken identity! I have a sneaky suspicion that this person bought a John Deere mower at one of the big box stores and didn’t realize that there is a HUGE difference in what you buy at a John Deere dealer vs what you can buy at the orange or blue box stores. Most likely this person bought one of these mowers that’s built exclusively for that store. Those mowers typically have much less horsepower (this is probably the issue), plastic parts instead of steel parts, and an overall watered down version of the real deal!

Anyway, I’m sticking to all my previous posts about this mower. The John Deere X300 mulching mower is great! I wouldn’t trade it for anything else (except maybe another NEW John Deere).

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. thefencepost says:

    Love the lawn, I’ll bring my clubs over!

    What you say about the orange and blue box stores is totally correct. If you buy Moen or Kohler plumbing fixtures from those places you are buying a product made specifically for those stores. (I used to own a plumbing contracting business) And this is probably true with most of their products.

    Nice post!

  2. Paul says:

    Most people don’t seem to realize that you get what you pay for. You want plastic parts and light weight steel, then the Orange/Blue team is fine. There is a reason why there “John Deere” unit costs less. If you want the real deal, you have to go to a John Deere dealer.

  3. Jack Spaulding says:

    About to return my LA135 to L—‘s. Purchased in March 2009, very unhappy with evenness of cut. Have talked to L—‘s on my options and they said they would take it back. Have talked to two other Deere owns, and neither is happy with cutting, one a two year owner and one a five year owner, both big box purchases. Don’t think this is an engine size issue, have had 10hp tractors that cut fine and level. Lawn tractor manufactures like to sell engines, size and other wonderful things about engines, while I think most buyers are interested in cutting performance. My Deere cutting performance stinks and yes I have checked everything from tire pressure to deck level. I could have bought a lower priced unit from others, thought I would pay a preimun and get a Deere, “nothing cuts as poor as a Deere” is what the add should say. Would like to see pitures of lawns Consumers Report cut in which they thought cutting performance was wonderful on the LA series.

    • Todd says:

      @ Jack – My X300 mulching mower from John Deere cuts amazing. I can show you pictures if you’d like. I’ve heard nothing good about the LA series, it’s really a watered down marking scam.

      • Joe Stuller says:

        I had a John Deere LX172 for 12 years with a 44″ Piranha mulching deck. It was incredible, I never had a problem with the mower of the deck. It cut everything including leaves and small tigs into particles that could not be seen. I gave the mower to my son who uses has been using it for three years without any issues.

        I replace the LX172 with a new Johnn Deere X300 with the 44″ mulching deck. This purchase was a terrible mistake. The mulching deck left a trail of clipping behind it as well as a ridge of high grass in the center of the deck. I called the dealer who told me that I was letting the grass grow too high, I immediately responded to him that that even when I recut the spot a a lower level, I got the same results. He then told me that I was traveling too fast. I told him that he needed to come out and try it himself which he did. The results – what do you think – they were exactly the same, a trail of clippings and a center ridge of uncut grass. The dealer completed numerous adjustments to the deck none of which worked. He even offered to take back the entire mower and the deck. That said, the dealer was great (Steensma in Kalamazoo MI). I needed a mower so I worked out an exchange for a regular mower deck with a bagger system. The best I can say about that deck the bagger system is that is is marginally adequate. The discharge chute is always in the way and the bags fill so fast it has doubled my time in cutting my 2 acres of lawn. I called John Deere and politely explained this situation to them. While they listened their was never any follow up by any one from the quality control or engineering areas. I hope they have corrected the problem for the future unsuspecting buyers who feel that by paying a price premium they will be acquiring a top-of-the-line piece of equipment. From my perspective, I continue to be aggrevated by my X300 each time I use it and will probably end of selling it or trading it in. My replacement mower???? I don’t know what it will be but it will not a John Deere as that “ship has sailed”.

        So if you are thinking about buying an X300 or any other John Deere product, do compatative shopping and as the dealer to allow you to use it for a day or two. If they do and you are satisfied, great. If they don’t, based on this information, they you be the judge of what you expect the results of your purchase will be.

        • Todd says:

          Joe – Really surprised at your results. I’ve been using my X300 for several years now and it continues to do a fantastic job with the mulching. Did they ever offer to swap that deck with another one? I’m curious if there was a defect in that particular deck.

  4. Dave says:

    I found your review on the X300. I have been researching riding mowers for about a month. I have decided on the X300! I went to the dealer this past week. Asked if I could test drive it and if they had some grass to cut. They let me cut as much grass as I wanted. I’m in love and will be purchasing X300 within the next month. I asked him about the box stores. He told me they were the same mowers, only that the box stores are limited to the 100 series mowers up to LA175. He said only difference was you by from the box you take it home. From the dealer they bring it to you. Also either place you buy it, you still have to take it to the dealer for service. So who really knows right?


    • Dave says:

      This is not true. The L-Series is made in a totally different plant that runs by a different set of standards. JD started this so they could put out a cheaper lawn mower to compete with MTD and the others.

  5. steve says:

    I just bought a x300; waiting to pick it up. I just wanted to clear something up. The L series are the same product at the big box stores as they are at the John Deere dealers, and you can get up to 26 hp, much more than the 17 hp on the x300. If they are set up properly, they will produce a very nice cut. I just don’t know if most box stores have the expertise to do the set-up. But yes the x series is built much better than the L series.

  6. Doug says:

    One issue that I am facing with my JD X300 mulcher. There has been so much rain lately. My grass is growing really fast and is really thick. The mower does not mulch as well as I would like in the thickest parts, unless I slow down a lot or go over a second time. I also try to keep the underside of the deck clean and the blades sharp. Otherwise, I am very happy with the machine. Another note, the horsepower issue is a little misleading. What one really needs to look for in a mower engine is torque. You really need a high-torque engine to power through thick grass and inclines. The X300 and its ilk have this. Mowers from the big-box do not.

    • Todd says:

      @ Doug – The wet grass is certainly an issue and you’re very right about horsepower. The bottom line is you get what you pay for.

  7. Tom says:

    Todd – I am just a couple days away from purchasing my X300. Do you recommend the Mulching deck or the regular deck with the Mulch kit? I do not bag, so I do not need that as an option, but would live with the deflector in my way if that deck provided a better cut than the dedicated mulching deck. Any experience and opinion is appreciated.

    • Todd says:

      @ Tom – I can’t really tell you because I only have experience with the Mulching Kit. I have no complaints about mine at all. In fact, I took the deflector off this year so I could mow closer to things. After doing that I have a hard time seeing any problem with the kit version. I think you’ll be happy either way. At least with the kit if you let your grass get too long you can open the deflector up and blow the grass out the shoot.

  8. Craig Bail says:

    I cannot wait till Tax time! My wife and I are going to buy an X300 with the 38″ deck. My main concern is the power of the 17Hp Kawasaki engine. Will it be powerful enough to power the two stage snowthrower? Is traction an issue if you use the wheel weights and the two 42 lb. kwick-tatch weights on the back? I may get the power shovel first. Can you plow with the shovel raised? I was interested in the LA165 until we went to look at the X300. What a difference!!! My wife also liked it! The X300 will replace a 22 year old rear engine snapper. My Snapper dealer tried selling me a
    $3000 zero turn mower with an 18hp single cylinder Briggs. She tried telling me “tractors are passe'”!! Maybe thats why John Deere sells so many tractors!!

  9. Joel Brayman says:

    I have been reading about lawn tractors for the past few weeks and there are as many opinions out there as there are tractors. Having said that, the common themes seem to be:

    1. John Deere make a good lawn tractor, and unless I am misreading probably the best on the market, although I see no comparisons to Kubota;
    2. The L series primarily sold at big box stores are not built to the same quality standards as the X-series.

    Based on these two assumptions, I have narrowed my choice to the X320, and only because I am worried the X300 will not have the gusto required to drive the 44″ snowblower in heavy snow. I am Canadian and we have a tendency to get quite a bit of snow, although many of my American friends will argue who gets more after this past winter…lol

    If anyone has experience driving the snowblowers I would really appreciate hearing about it. Will a 2 wheel drive JD clean a driveway without slipping? Is the X320 powerful enough to remove heavy snowfalls?

    Have a great day!

    • Rob says:

      Joel –
      I have the X300 with the 44″ blower and have found that it will occassionally clog the chute with heavy wet snow. Regardless of how deep, the blower works fine as long as the snow is not the heavy wet kind. We just had 3″ of heavy, wet snow and the chute kept getting plugged. If I could choose again, I would’ve gone with the X320.

  10. Bruce Stewart says:

    I have just purchased a 2008 X300 with the 42″ mulching deck and a reart discharge [no bagger] – – I have two questions. First, the blades do not seem to have enough “lift” or “suction” to pull the grass up as there are some blades not cut with every pass and we seem to have a lot of clippings? More clumping and longer than expected even when mowing only 4 days apart. Blades are sharp – deck is clean. ANY blade suggestions/tips would be appreciated. Second, this is the 42″ mulching deck can anyone tell me if the standard side discharge deck would give a cleaner cut? We had an LX-266 and loved it … only problem was high hours and getting older. Had an opportunity to sell it for a good price and bought the X300. Absolutely love the tractor, but not impressed with the mower deck so far. Any suggestions???? Unfortunately our dealer hasn’t been much help so far helping me troubleshoot this. Thanks from Northern NY!

    • Todd says:

      Bruce – Sorry to hear that you’re having issues. My X300 has a regular deck with a mulching kit (basically the side discharge is blocked off and the normal blades are replaced with mulching blades). Mine does a wonderful job cutting the grass, very even and nice small pieces (with the exception if the lawn gets really tall and i’m trying to cut more than 2 inches off).

      Have you tried slowing the mower to see if that helps?

  11. ronald says:

    the john deere x300 is awsome i bought it yes tur day and i love it my gras was like 8 in and it loks awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. ronald says:

    i loved it

  13. Karen says:

    Hi Gang,
    I’m looking at the x300 and x320, with the deck wheels weighing on my mind, because there are several uneven surfaces in my 2-acre yard. x300 has 2; x320 has 4. Does this matter as much as it seems to?
    Thanks much!

    • Todd says:

      Karen – Not sure I can help out much on that subject. I’ve got the X300 and there are times when I am on a side slope where the deck “bites” into the side more than I would like, but that’s mostly when I have the deck set higher in late summer so the wheel doesn’t always hit the slope. Not sure if 4 wheels would improve that or not.

      • Frank says:

        Do not buy a X300 if you are going to cut a yard that slopes there is simply not way to stop the down slope side the deck not to “bite in”. I have a 2010 x300 and i and the dealer have tried everything to fix it. They off the record say all the J.D. floating decks have this problem. Going to sell my x300 with only 80 hrs and get a zero turn.

        • Ian Culley says:

          Used a JD LTR 180 (UK model) on my very steep slope and would agree with issue of deck digging into the grass, answer, mow up and down the slope not across it. After eight years of faultless performance I have now traded it in for the X305R (UK version of X300 series)-absolutely brilliant! From experience I would say don’t expect the impossible. I came back off holiday to 5 weeks growth in wet weather and the first cut was with the deck raised to max. Dropped the deck a bit each time and cut three more times until it was reasonable. Drive slowly not top speed and don’t expect easy and excellent results cutting long, wet grass, no mower will do it!

  14. JTT says:

    The X300 is in a whole different league then the 100 seriess tractors. If you do nothing other then mulch and want the best result you need to upgrade the deck to the 48 inch mulching deck that was designed only to mulch. It is not a add on kit or plug. I mow several acres twice a week in the northwest and it always looks beautiful. I learned the hard way about buying a price point mower it lasted 1 year then I did my homework and bought the X300 the dealer was the one who sold me on upgrading the deck not because the 42 inch deck was bad but it is designed to side discharge so you can use the bagging attachment or place a plug on it. The 48 inch mulching deck isdesigned with one purpose and that is to mulch.

  15. Tgzzzz says:

    This is a good read. What I’d like to add is while I wish I had bought an X300 or better, as I’ve turned from a guy mowing 3 lawns to a part-time commercial lawn artiste (that’s French), with my LA105. I’ve had big problems with the brakes and steering. These are very poorly designed systems that I’ve rebuilt 3 times each (not that big of a deal) and spent many hours and beers mulling over. And the paint job … hahaha. That said, I’m at 400 hours without an engine hiccup and have netted almost 20k with my $1399 mower.

    Here’s the key: maintenance. The first season, I tore up 3 belts. I’ve now run about 200 hours on the current belt. The adj mech is crude and finicky but you can dial it in. Uneven cuts don’t happen if the blade tips are level. The adjs are simple if you are willing to do them. Tire pressures have to be right to get a good cut. Bashing the deck on stumps will warp the LA105 deck: goodbye even cuts. Hitting the blades on hard things not only nicks/bends the blade but puts a hurt on the spindles leading quickly to uneven cuts. I had to learn the hard way that it’s much easier to use the string trimmer a little more and fix the mower a little less. Moreover, I run the engine at full throttle (just like it says to in the manual). Lot of folks just can’t seem to do that.

    I’d say the best advice I’ve had is to toss the mulching “kit”. It’s easily clogged and steals horse power. I now use Oregon mulchers with the chute wide open, and cut to the inside, effectively cutting the clippings twice. I have a couple of customers who aren’t particular. Those I cut to the outside, leaving some clippings but still looks ok on those lawns.

    My next mower? Dunno. Has to be a zeroturn doesn’t it?

  16. Dennis says:

    I have a John Deere X300 bought from a dealer with a mulching kit and it is the worst when it comes to a clean cut …… long grass or not…..I’m thinking the blades must be going in reverse and trying to cut with the dull side. Ha Ha! I’m a slow cut driver as well. This is my second season after 28 years on a John Deere 175. The kit is coming off on my next cut to see if it’s the kit or the blades. Very Disappointing.

  17. Dale wagstaff says:

    I have a x300 with the 42″ mulching deck. I am extremely unhappy. I don’t think it is the deck as much as the way the deck is mounted. It is a fixed deck, not a floating one. Therefore on inclines it tilts the mower to the downhill side therefore raising it high on the uphill side. If it were a floating deck it would follow the terrain of the ground and adjust to unevenness. I also have the issue of standing grass after I have mowed that particular path. I’m not happy with it because I have to remow areas previously mowed. And, it is not because the grass is too high.

  18. Greg says:

    Back in the day I sold Snapper at an authorized retailer. In those days neither Snapper nor John Deere were sold any other way. Then Snapper went to retailers, but with a lesser model. The claim to authorized dealers it would be a lower end model and dealers would make up lost sales on more servicing (I kid you not, that was a promise from the distributor).

    A few years later after I graduated college and had my own yard. I took a “genuine” Snapper blade from a dealer, and compared to a replacement blade at the retailer. Instantly you could feel the weight difference. Then I researched and found the deck on the retailer was 14 gauge .vs the 12 gauge we sold (see which deck was good after a few years of rocks).

    I haven’t compared the 2 in years, but as you said, “you get what you pay for”.

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