If so-called smart-home products for property upkeep really were useful, they and your smart phone would together handle the tasks at hand and leave you to do what you feel like doing. But then again, ordering you around instead is what makes them smart. Craftsman’s new Smart Lawn app for your lawn tractor or riding mower, like John Deere’s and Cub Cadet’s apps before it, won’t maintain your tractor for you. Its valuable role, however, is in taking the guesswork out of keeping your machine running.
Smart Lawn app runs on your iPhone or Android phone and connects via Bluetooth to 2016 Craftsman riding mowers, the 42-inch Craftsman Z6500 ($2,500), Model 20400, or the 50-inch Craftsman Z6700 ($3,000), Model 20410. The two have v-twin Kohler engines, hydrostatic transmissions and steering wheels instead of lap bars for easier, safer control.
Once you’ve set up your free account and entered your machine’s model and serial numbers, the app will advise when to charge your battery, sharpen the mower blades and change the oil and air filter based on hours mowed. Besides stats, the app offers how-to information and parts ordering. Should you need it, a connection to weather data will let the app suggest the best time to mow—which might help if you’re at liberty to vary your own schedule.
John Deere Mower Plus
Just in time for spring, John Deere announced its free MowerPlus app, which takes a broader approach. As with Craftsman’s app, you can enter the model and serial number of the Deere equipment you own and get maintenance recommendations based on hours mowed. There’s also how-to advice, plus links to your local dealer. But the app isn’t limited to Deere products—you can use it with any brand and model gear.
The iOS version of MowerPlus (there’s also one for Android) gives you data on your current mowing session with average speed, area covered and other real-time statistics. You can pull up an aerial view of your mowing path to help you vary your mowing pattern. And a region-specific seasonal timeline gives you climate-relevant tips and reminders all year long, including tips on when to fertilize, seed and aerate the soil.
MTD Products’ Cub Connect
Cub Cadet was first with its app, Cub Connect, which pairs to specific Cub Cadet tractors and riders and also advises when to change oil and filters, sharpen blades and charge the battery. It offers step-by-step video instructions—with access to your operator’s manual—and lets you browse and order parts, schedule work with your local dealer and even call customer service. As with the other two, the iOS and Android version are free.
Having easy access to tutorials, your user manual and parts listings is very helpful with all three of these apps. Keep in mind, though, that tracking maintenance with a tractor or rider’s standard hour meter doesn’t require an app on your phone. The app works off this basic reading of hours mowed, and by cracking open your tractor or rider’s user manual, you can learn yourself how frequently to change oil, sharpen blades and carry out other tasks based on hours mowed.
Of course, if you’ve had that opportunity but have never managed to track these tasks, such apps were developed with you in mind. Their plentiful extra features add to that basic convenience.