PDA

View Full Version : Adding first mower to existing biz advice


Scapegoat
06-01-2005, 11:02 PM
A little background:

I have a small landscape design / installation biz. It's small time, just a solo biz with occasional part time help as needed. Not making a fortune by any means, but I do ok for what I need.

I have never cut lawns. Outside of design and install, I also maintain landscape beds, do hedge trimming and pruning, put down mulch, etc, but have never touched the lawn (other than my own of course).

I have decided to add mowing to my biz (I already do alot of edging and trimming work during my installs.) Reason being is that I've had so many request from my existing customers that at this point, it's nuts not too, and I like the idea of maintaining the entire landscape for a customer, so the whole thing is done my way. I will have around 15 - 20 weekly accounts already lined up and that's about all I'm interesting in mowing, at least at this point.

Finally the question: What is the best type of mower for a guy looking to mow around 20 lawns a week max figuring the vast majority of lawns being these .25 acre cookie cutter lawns that are close enough together to spit. A few more at 1/2 acre maybe. Alot of these lawns have small areas. Would I be served best to have a say, 44" W/B and a 21 trim mower? or maybe a 36" W/B mower for these small lots? I'm quite sure a riding ztr would be overkill. Keep in mind I'm in Florida and most these lawns are flat as flat gets, but some are kinda soft and mushy during the rainy season.

I expect to ask alot of ignorant mowing questions in the future, so bear with me. Thanks.

gunner27
06-01-2005, 11:06 PM
For what you described, I would go with a Wright stander 32 inch.

J Hisch
06-01-2005, 11:12 PM
A Toro 20038 would be the best model for you. 21" can mow even when it is mushy and you can purchase it for under 600.00 bucks, it leaves a nice cut and then if you wanted a 36" later that would best serve you.

Good luck

Fantasy Lawns
06-01-2005, 11:16 PM
I'd look at a 36" Hydro .... with a mulching deck & one that has an easy adjustable deck height which can cut up to 4.5-5" in height

Get one with a T bar or such ... avoid the pistol grips .... Snapper or Toro is a good start

Good Luck

Scapegoat
06-01-2005, 11:31 PM
I'd look at a 36" Hydro .... with a mulching deck & one that has an easy adjustable deck height which can cut up to 4.5-5" in height

Get one with a T bar or such ... avoid the pistol grips .... Snapper or Toro is a good start

Good Luck

Thank you everyone.

Steve made a great point. A true mulching deck is a must!

Itsgottobegreen
06-01-2005, 11:34 PM
For what you described, I would go with a Wright stander 32 inch.
I would say a Wright stander 32", 36" or 42" would be great choices. Won't break the bank or your back.

Scapegoat
06-02-2005, 05:35 PM
I like what I've seen of the Wright Stander series. I plan to swing by the dealer this weekend.

As far as other W/B units go, one concern I had about the W/B with the sulky is that it might leave ruts when the ground was soft.

However, as I look thru the Toro website, I see they have their TRU TRAK sulky and it's quite wide and looks as though it would spread the riders weight out well and perhaps rutting would be less of a concern.

Anyone ever used the TRU TRAK sulky?

Also, is fixed deck or floating the way to go? The ground is pretty darn flat around here.

kc2006
06-02-2005, 06:11 PM
floating is nice, but if your lawns are pretty flat no need then.

I prefer exmark, bob cat, and gravely walkbehinds. Go hydro if you can it will be alot easier on you and if your worried about ruts look into proslides. Dealers around here are dropping wright like crazy. I'm friends with 6 people that are techs at 2 wright dealers and they all adviced me not to go with them (I know theirs tons of people that love them), they all said they see too many things go wrong with them so I'll stay away.

A+ Lawncare
06-02-2005, 06:54 PM
with the above description you gave use of cutting .25 acre lawns to .50 acre lawns and havin 15-20 of these customers i'de say your making about $650 a week...

fla. has 1 of the longest grass cutting seasons, so i'm sure you cut at least 28 cuts a season, thats only 7 months..... so 28 weeks X $650= $18,200.... what i'm getting by all of this is you should be able to afford a 48'' tthp or at least 48'' metro.... the tthp sells for about $4,500-$5,200 while the metro is priced at about $3,200...

btw, both models are made by Emark and the tthp is a floatin/hydro mower, while the metro is fixed deck & gear drived.. i recomend at least the exmark viking mower (sells for about $3,800), hydro drive & fixed deck....

hydro drive will allow you to go in reverse, while the belt won't allow you to go in reverse.... plus the hydro is alot more user friendly, perfect for newbies...

A+ Lawncare
06-02-2005, 07:09 PM
why limit urself to a small w/b like the 36'' mower? sure u can pick up a decent basic 36'' mower for about $2,800 and save about $500 or more... but think of it like this

from above you are mowing 8 acres a week. Average productivity per hour with a 36in. is 0.87 acres/hr (3.0 mph at 80% efficency). With a 48in. you are stepping up to 1.16 acres/hr (3.0 mph at 80% efficency). You would save 2.30 hrs a week with the larger deck. With the 36'' deck its gonna take you about 9.20 hrs a week to cut 8 acres while it will only take 6.89 hrs to cut w/the 48'' deck

So over the course of a month you will save 9.2 hrs. Over a mowing season (7 month) 64.4 hrs. It's up to you. I would base it on convenience and cost.

Del9175
06-02-2005, 07:25 PM
I would also go with a stander. I use a 52" on some lawns that are similiar to what you will be mowing. I don't think I would put a mulch kit on you're mower either. St. Augustine is thick and grows fast. It can at times be to thick to mulch, but it generally discharges pretty well. I put an advance chute system from megmow on mine and couldn't be happier.

In FL we have 40-42 weeks of mowing St Augstine grass. This is if they are properly fertilized and irrigated. Which most are.

A+ Lawncare
06-02-2005, 07:30 PM
with 64.4 hrs a season u saved w/the 48'' you could turn that into $2,900.... all legal LCO aim for at least $45 an hr, w/some LCO @ $60 an hr.... so 64.4hrs X $45= $2,898-$3,864...

yes w/the 36'' mower you were able to save about $500-$800... but in the long run you'll be losin $ like i said above.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
put an $300 sulkey on the back of the 48'' tthp and you can cut @ 5-6 mph, which will allow you to cut about 2.5-3 acre an hr. thats more half of the time your goin to be able to save when compared to the 36'' mower.... why spend all day cuttin w/an 36'' mower when u can cut w/an 48'' mower for half of the day.

Scapegoat
06-02-2005, 07:34 PM
Great info. Thanks.

Really the money isn't a concern (although I don't want to spend more than necessary.) I guess what I'm trying to figure out is what would be the best sized deck for my needs. What would be the most versatile mower. So many sizes to choose from! :D I think I could narrow it down pretty quickly after that.

Sounds like a 48" may be the way then.

Scapegoat
06-02-2005, 07:41 PM
I would also go with a stander. I use a 52" on some lawns that are similiar to what you will be mowing. I don't think I would put a mulch kit on you're mower either. St. Augustine is thick and grows fast. It can at times be to thick to mulch, but it generally discharges pretty well. I put an advance chute system from megmow on mine and couldn't be happier.

In FL we have 40-42 weeks of mowing St Augstine grass. This is if they are properly fertilized and irrigated. Which most are.

Do most guys stop mowing for about 10 weeks in the winter? Seems like in my neighborhood they just scale back to like bi-weekly but cut all winter?

A+ Lawncare
06-02-2005, 07:52 PM
here in Va. u'll be lucky to get more than 9 months of cuttin done a season.

I start in mid March and go all the way up to late October, some seasons its up to november.... but i usually average no more than 36 cuts a year out of 52 weeks of the year... so i guess i stop for about 4 months (early nov-mid march)/ 16 weeks...

Del9175
06-02-2005, 08:25 PM
Do most guys stop mowing for about 10 weeks in the winter? Seems like in my neighborhood they just scale back to like bi-weekly but cut all winter?

No I don't stop, I go to every other week. Bahia lawns I usually stop around the end of Oct. and don't go back till maybe mid march or so depending on the need. These are pay by the cut though.

Precision
06-02-2005, 08:26 PM
Do most guys stop mowing for about 10 weeks in the winter? Seems like in my neighborhood they just scale back to like bi-weekly but cut all winter?

I run April 1 to Nov 1 weekly the other time EOW.

I run my 60" on many .25 acre lots.

My current stable of mowers is 1 @ 60" ZTR, 1 @ 36" ZTR, 1@ 36" WB, 1 @ 21" push.
The 36" ZTR is for backyards and heavily bedded yards. The 36" WB is for a few drainage ditches and retention ponds. The 60" is for everything else.

If gates are a concern then 36" is your limit. If not then get a 48 or 52.

Careful with the Wright stander. Fixed deck and changing height is a dirty mess and not too quick. And if you live near Cocoa the dealer is not so pleasant.
Perfect world would probably be a 52" floating deck stander. Only one I know of is the John Deere (& Grate Dane) They are ok but over priced and easily damaged in my experience.

Itsgottobegreen
06-03-2005, 01:00 PM
IAnyone ever used the TRU TRAK sulky?
.
Yes, I didn't like it because when the grounds uneven. The left and right foot platforms go up and down indepently. So your not standing evenly. Which kills the back.

I still think the 42" stander is your best choice. You can still get in the small areas and still bang out the large areas with out taking to long.
I had very few problems with mine and we run them hard. And I mean hard. I got a few jobs where we spend more time in the air then on the ground.

lawnrangeralaska
06-03-2005, 01:48 PM
You should buy two 36" walkbehinds hydro's get two sulkys and then buy 1 21" mower .