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View Full Version : Cut Quality on Bermuda vs. Other Grasses


mjlepak
04-01-2008, 12:03 PM
I will be purchasing a new 48 - 52 ZTR here in the very new future. Most of the lawns in my neck of the woods are pretty much plain old Bermuda.

My question is will I (and my customers) really be able to tell a difference in the cut quality among the mowers listed below on Bermuda. I understand that on different grasses it would be an issue but I want to know specifically about manicured bermuda. These are nice lawns not pastures either.

These are the dealers that I have locally and would feel comfortable in dealing with (they have been around a while) and am looking at.

Hustler Fastrak 48
Ferris 1500
Simplicity Champion
Toro ??
Scag Freedom Z (may be able to step up to Tiger Cub)
Exmark ??

tacoma200
04-01-2008, 12:32 PM
Bermuda has always been easy compared to a lot of the grasses around here. The XR7 would leave a good cut on it but had trouble in the mixed grasses. In the South East its a little harder to control. Home owners hate Bermuda here because it turns brown in the Winter while the fescues stays green. It is a Southern grass and has some rigidity to it so it shouldn't present much of a problem for most ZTR's in OK where it probably doesn't grow as aggressively as say the Carolina's.

DFW Area Landscaper
04-01-2008, 12:41 PM
My experience has been this: Clients brag and love me if they let me do the chemicals. Otherwise, even though I'm one of the few in the area that actually installs a sharp blade on each mower each day, the cut quality doesn't matter. If the lawn doesn't look good, they eventually fire you and hire someone else. If you aren't doing the chemicals, the lawn won't look good, especially a bermuda lawn.

Cut quality doesn't matter much for the overall satisfaction of a client, imo. Either it's mowed or it's not. Occasionally, we'll get a st aug client complaining about blade sharpness, but most of the complaints are related to areas not mowed that should be included, blowers, line trimming, etc.

If I were you, I'd be focusing on which brand has the most dealers near you. If you buy a brand and there's only one dealer in the entire area that carries it, that would be a red flag for me. If there are several dealers in the area carrying the same brand, each dealer is more likely to stock more parts for it. They know that if they don't have the part when you need it, you're on to the next dealer. If they know the next nearest dealer is 70 miles away, they have little incentive to stock parts for it.

Another thing I'd be looking at is whether or not the manufacturer's customer service department will verify MSRP for part numbers to non-dealers.

brucec32
04-01-2008, 07:53 PM
My experience has been this: Clients brag and love me if they let me do the chemicals. Otherwise, even though I'm one of the few in the area that actually installs a sharp blade on each mower each day, the cut quality doesn't matter. If the lawn doesn't look good, they eventually fire you and hire someone else. If you aren't doing the chemicals, the lawn won't look good, especially a bermuda lawn.

Cut quality doesn't matter much for the overall satisfaction of a client, imo. Either it's mowed or it's not. Occasionally, we'll get a st aug client complaining about blade sharpness, but most of the complaints are related to areas not mowed that should be included, blowers, line trimming, etc.

If I were you, I'd be focusing on which brand has the most dealers near you. If you buy a brand and there's only one dealer in the entire area that carries it, that would be a red flag for me. If there are several dealers in the area carrying the same brand, each dealer is more likely to stock more parts for it. They know that if they don't have the part when you need it, you're on to the next dealer. If they know the next nearest dealer is 70 miles away, they have little incentive to stock parts for it.

Another thing I'd be looking at is whether or not the manufacturer's customer service department will verify MSRP for part numbers to non-dealers.

My experience has been just the opposite. You can get blamed for things out of your control as an applicator (lack of irrigation, disease they refuse to pay to treat, bad installs, poor soil structure underneath sod, chemical damage from construction, color less spectacular than the neighbor who overfertilizes and overwaters and cuts twice a week because of that, etc) but if the cut is clean and neat you're blameless. I haven't lost a customer over a quality issue since the early 90's, and that was a guy who was a late payer. Usually it's my unwillingness to do apps and full service that loses an account, but that's fine with me.

As far as cut goes, most of my new customers are those who have canned an unreliable service or someone who just doesn't know how to get a nice cut with commercial equipment. Maybe if you're mowing with 21" mowers you could claim that the cut doesn't matter, but I get told periodically that I'm better than the other guy.

But I agree that as long as it's workmanlike a lot of people don't notice the difference, and reliability is much more important. I see a lot of butcher jobs done out there too, and just plain bad practices, and I can't imagine they stay employed long. (shrubs and beds hosed down with clippings, windrows left on lawn, gouges in low cut bermuda, etc) At least on residentials.

PTP
04-01-2008, 08:29 PM
I have not had issues cutting bermuda with any of my mowers. What I have had issues with is depressing the growth of the grass. With the heavier mowers, even if it is dry and you are not rutting, the growth of the bermuda will be stunted in the areas that contact the wheels. It will appear to be rutting even if it is not.

Weight should be a major consideration when purchasing a mower to cut bermuda.