John Deere X300 Mulching Mower

By Todd Fratzel on Landscaping, Product Reviews

Last Fall I bought this John Deere X300 mower with the mulching deck. Now that I’ve mowed the lawn for 5 or 6 weeks I’m pleased to say this thing is amazing! I’m one of those guys that really does believe you get what you pay for and this machine is certainly a good example of it. I actually bought a new snow blower this winter and went with a Craftsmen from Sears and I’m not impressed with it at all (I saved myself $500 bucks and now I’m wishing I had bought something different).

Anyway, the mulching deck on this riding mower has blown me away. I mow the lawn weekly and you can’t even see the clippings. The lawn looks as if I bagged it or raked it. The beauty here is I don’t have to mess with clippings and the mulch is good for the lawn.

One of the features I like best is the Twin Touch™ automatic transmission. It provides comfortable two-pedal foot control for effortless speed and direction changes. The other great feature is the tight turning radius of 16″ which I find amazing for such a large mower.

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. Doug says:

    I’m thinking of buying a year-old X300 with the 42″ dedicated mulching deck, and I’m encouraged by this post. But I’m also worried that it might not perform as well when the grass is a little higher than normal. I’m afraid I’ll regret not having the ability to convert to side-discharge or bagging in those situations. Are my fears warranted? How does it perform when rain or a busy schedule doesn’t let you mow right on time?

    • Wayword says:

      I have the x300 with about 17 hours on it now. I had the LX178 prior to this – and the engine was going strong after 850 hours.

      The 42″ mulching deck is not as good as the 38″ on my old unit.
      It does not mow taller (fine) grass well. The old mower would leave clumps, this one just pushes the grass over. I would rather have cut grass than have to mow twice to get an even cut.

      It also does not do well on turns – leaves a strip of long grass in the middle.

      This one is going back for a transmission issue – it drifts and just runs away on a hill. The brakes also grab.

  2. Todd says:

    This is an amazing mower. I’ve even mowed through some pretty tall stuff. But you do have the ability to take off a side shoot cover to let it bypass. I haven’t had to do that yet but I know it’s fairly easy to do. Best of luck and in my opinion the mower is top notch!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m thinking of getting this mower, but I’m not too sure if it’s suitable for a yard that’s about 0.25 acres with some slopes. What do you think?

  4. Todd says:

    It’s more than enough mower…maybe a bit large for a small yard. I mow about 1.25 acres with mine.

  5. Christopher says:

    Addendum to my last post: My yard is a really big yard. When we bought the house it had an above ground pool, but we eventually removed it, which has left us with more space. My wife and tried to measure it using a tape measure, and I don’t think that it’s anywhere close to 0.25 acres which is what we roughly came up with. Perhaps it’s more like 0.35 acres or possibly a little more. I didn’t want to go with the ‘L’ series as I’ve heard that it’s somewhat of an inferior machine. I wanted to go with the ‘X’ series, not only because of the rating that Consumer Reports gave it, but also because of the many positive comments that people have said about it on the web. At present, I have a walk-behind mower, and it takes me roughly 3-4 hours to mow the entire yard – front and back, and a little longer, if I bag the clippings. Someone said that if it takes me that long to mow the yard, then I should definitely get this riding mower. What do you think? I’m also afraid that, with my yard being fenced, I would have trouble mowing around the corners with the X300. I don’t have any obstacles in the back or front of the yard. I only have a shed in the back corner of the yard, and a tree on either side of the front of the yard/house. How is the mower when it comes to that cutting the corners of the fence? Also, someone told me that I can use this mower to aid with picking up leaves which I have lots of come fall with the medium sized white oak I have in the front. Is it good at sucking up leaves if I were to get the bagging kit? Also, if I get this mower, should I also invest in the John Deere maintenance plan? Your thoughts, advice, and information is, of course, very appreciated. Thanks.

  6. Todd says:

    Wow…lots of questions. If you want a really good mower the X series is definitely going to give you that. One of the great features of this mower is it’s really tight turning radius (16″ I believe). I have no experience using a bagger so I can’t help you with the leaf questions. I still think this mower might be a tad large for your yard, but if you want quality than this is the mower for you. I’d really go to a John Deere place and have them help you pick the right mower. I did that and I’ve been pleased with their recommendation. I didn’t get the service plan as I plan on changing the oil myself.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Todd, I took your advice and bought an X300 w/mulch deck PLUS the 44in. snow blower. It wasn’t cheap. I’m counting on it doing the job on my long driveways during our long Ohio winters and hoping it will last a long time. From the reports I’ve read, it will.

  8. Todd says:

    Let me know how the snow blower works…..I’d love to have one for my mower as well.

  9. Ben says:

    I recently purchased a John Deere X300 and have been nothing short of amazed. It does get kind of hot in Ga so I may get the sunshade and am considering the mulch option.
    This is a very nice smooth cutting machine. My John Deere dealer (not Lowes or Home Depot) set my mower to accomplish the needs I had for the appearance of my lawn and wa right on the money. Spend the extra money and avoid the 100 series all together. Yoy will not be dissapointed.

  10. Tom says:

    I had a John Deere mulcher mower about 10 years ago but was very disapointed with it because I kept breaking the timing belt for the blades. I ran over a tennis ball once and broke the belt! Do the present mulcher mowers still have this problem?

    • Todd says:

      @ Tom – I’ve owned my mulching mower now for 3 seasons and it runs like a champ! I’d buy another one in a heart beat!

  11. Hal says:

    I bought my JD LT155 new in 2000 with the dedicated 42″ mulching deck, and have been very happy with it. If the grass is tall, I usually still go full speed but overlap my path more. Like almost any mower, if the grass is very thick and/or wet it will give you feedback (you will hear the engine bog down a bit) and common sense will tell you to slow down. No biggie. I even mulch all the leaves in Fall. Haven’t raked leaves for 9 years now. About once a year – when that times comes that most of the leaves want to fall at the same time, and they are DEEP – I have to go over it several times, but it does the job. Beats raking ;-)

  12. Bill Harnden says:

    I recently purchased a John Deere X300-42M lawn tractor with the dedicated mulching deck. The second time I used it I realized there was something wrong with the (it seemed to be binding). I checked underneath it and in the process inadvertently touched one of the pulleys and burned my hand. Enough evidence for me to call the local JD dealer for service. They determined one of the bushings was installed improperly resulting in the corresponding pulley being installed upside-down. After correcting that problem they noticed the belt was rubbing on the belt guide and fixed that as well. Once again, the second attempt to mow with the repaired mower failed, this time the deck wouldn’t engage. I checked underneath and found the mower belt had come off the pulleys. Back to JD it went and there it’s going to stay. Thanks to JD’s 30 day money back policy I was able to upgrade to the X304 (4 wheel steer) mower. I purchased and JD installed the mulching kit. It was just delivered today and haven’t used it yet and will try to post an update when more information is available. FYI, now that I’ve spent some time talking with the JD service techs I’ve found out that this is the first year of the 42M deck and several other people in my area have had problems as well. Did I mention it seems to cut unevenly? It’s been a very tough mowing season with lots and lots of rain and, even though I wait for the lawn to dry, it has gotten much longer than usual between mowings. Kudos to JD for standing behind their product. The 300 Series is by far the most comfortable and smooth-running tractor I have ever used. I’m sure they’ll get the bugs worked out before long but for now I would stay away from the 42M.

  13. Doug Roberson says:

    I have owned a JD X300 for two years. In that time I’ve logged about 350 hours. The engine and frame on the mower are fantastic. I’ve had no problems with the transmission. The 42-inch deck eats belts. I had it in the JD shop three times, and it still ate belts. I’d average about 15 hours before the belt broke or rolled over. I investigated myself to see why the belt wore out so fast. It looked like the tension pulley was out of alignment. I shimmed it up with a couple of washer and the belts last much longer now – about 30 hours. I have owned numerous John Deere mowers and this one is the best by far. The ease of steering, the smooth cut, the foot-operated lift – all are easy to use. I’ve talked to other X300 owners and they haven’t had the belt-wear issue. I probably contribute to the wear by letting the grass get way too tall before I mow it. The mower never stops, even in 6-inch tall grass.

  14. Tom says:

    I am a little confused here – one post above says the 42M is in its first year, but I see another post from 2007 commenting about how great the dedicated mulch deck is?

    • Todd says:

      @ Tom – For the longest time I thought I owned the dedicated deck. Didn’t realize that I actually had the kit. I didn’t realize it until i purchased blades. I’ll need to correct those older posts. Sorry for the confusion.

  15. Betsy says:

    I have been looking at the Z300 and Z304. Is the dedicated mulching deck different from the mulching kit that the dealer would install. I just sold my husqvarner yth1542xp, and now I’m wondering if I made a mistake. Yesterday, I could have gotten $300. off, but now it’s only $200. I don’t really need a riding mower except for this time of year to help me(a 66yr old woman) with all the leaves. I was thinking of getting the bagger, but if it would mulch good, maybe I wouldn’t need to spend money on the bagger. What are your thoughts?

    • Todd says:

      @ Betsy – I’m not sure there’s much of a performance difference but I haven’t tested that theory. The blades rotate in opposite directions on the dedicated deck so that may make some difference. Depending on how many leaves you have mulching may not be the answer. I have a small to moderate amount of leaves and they get mulched very well. If you have a significant amount of them you may not want to mulch them.

  16. Schlegelmulcher Pfahlbohrer Messerkupplung says:

    we have the same machine . i love this machine very much …

  17. Kevin says:

    Purchased the x300 42″ JD and love it. Rides smooth, cuts great…very nice turning radius as well. I purchased the 7.0 bushel rear bagger. It ended up costing about $500 after all the taxes, but it is worth it. I have about an acre yard with lots of leaves and the bagger ate them up my first ride through the yard. The bushel bags dont look very big from the outside, but the grass compacts in and they end up holding alot. I think I emptied them twice when cutting and sucking up grass/leaves on my 2 acre yard. Well worth the purchase for not only the grass clippings, but leaves and pine brushings as well.

  18. Victoria says:

    Any chance anyone knows how to get the belt back on when it comes off? My teen was mowing some pretty high, wet grass and the belt slipped off. Ive looked online, but can’t find anything specific to that problem. its only off the pulley in the front, but there is no way its going to stretch.

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