Anyone with a lawn tractor or ZTR riding mower—and who lives in a snowy region—has probably pondered the notion of attaching a plow or snow blower to it, especially when the snow falls heavy and deep. The thinking goes that you've already laid out the cash for the tractor, so you'll save money by buying an attachment rather than another piece of pricey power equipment.

If only it were that simple. "It's more complicated than snapping on an attachment and clearing your driveway," says Dave Trezza, who oversees testing of snow blowers for Consumer Reports. "In addition to installing the plow or blower attachment each winter, a lot of tractor models also require you to install wheel weights and tire chains so that they have sufficient traction."

Even if you're willing to do that extra work to transform your tractor into a tool for four-season use, our experts say you're still better off buying a separate snow blower and saving your riding mower for warmer weather. Below, five reasons why.

Why to Skip the Plow

1. You'll Shorten Your Tractor's Life
The transmissions of most residential lawn tractors and zero-turn-radius riders are best suited for one use: cutting grass. Pushing or blowing heavy snow is another story. A number of companies, such as Husqvarna, sell sturdy plowing attachments designed for specific models. But unless you have a high-end lawn or garden tractor, you could shorten the life of your tractor by pushing a plow or snow-blower attachment against significant snow.

More on Snow Blowers

2. It Might Cost More Than You Think
At about $300 to $800, a plow attachment can cost as much as a decent snow blower. For a snow-blower attachment, it’s closer to $1,300 to $1,400. Some of the best snow blowers in our ratings can be had for under $1,000.

3. Clearing Is Cumbersome
One plus to a snow blower? You can maneuver it around vehicles and other obstacles in your driveway. But a snow-blower attachment adds at least 2 feet to the front of your tractor, making for clumsier movement. If it’s a plow, passage is restricted by the width. A bigger consideration, though, is that the engine and transmission themselves will limit you to snow accumulations better-suited for a compact two-stage snow blower, such as the 24-inch Craftsman 88173, $680. As for the plow pile at the end of your driveway, forget about it.

4. It's Not Hassle-Free
Before you install a plow or snow-blower attachment, you have to remove the tractor deck. Each spring, you’ll have to remove the attachment and reinstall and level the deck. Each of these tasks is a major headache, requiring at least an hour’s work every time.

5. Storage Is Tricky
Any attachment, with the mechanism to connect it to the tractor, will need garage or shed space. And as long as the plow or blower is attached, you’ll need space for the tractor’s deck. Each of these will take up more space than the average snow blower.

Need a Snow Blower?

If you want a reliable machine for dealing with the snow, two-stage snow blowers, such as the high-performing Troy-Bilt Arctic Storm 30, $1,500, and Craftsman 88976, $1,600, both 30-inch models, are a good bet if you can find them in stores this late in the season. Check our ratings of more than 100 snow blowers and our snow blower buying guide before making your selection.