View Full Version : mowing times

Jason

01-01-2000, 01:17 PM

Was curious if anybody had a simple formula to figure mowing times? It would be nice to be able to plug in some numbers to come up with a rough estimate of time to mow.<br> For example a formula that takes into account deck size(52"), speed traveled (5mph), and area (43,560 sq/ft).<br>I'd want the formula to be simple, I know there are lot's of variables that affect your actual mowing times, like obstacles, grass condition, type of grass, lenght of grass etc...<br> Basically I want to figure out a obstacle free, square 1 acre plot, with no trimming times added. Also no loading and unloading equimpent times, no time for slowing down and turning around. Just a straight time for mowing 1 acre at 5 mph with a 52" deck. <br> If anybody has a simple formula I'd appreciate it. Thanks. Happy New Year !

Eric ELM

01-01-2000, 03:15 PM

Jason, I just put a program in Excel to come up with the numbers. If you want the Excel file, email me and I'll send it to you. Here is the forumula if you want to put it in your self. (deck size divided by 12) times (MPH times 5280)divided by 43560 gives you the amount of acres you will mow in an hour. If you have a 52 inch deck and overlap 2 inches, just put in 50 inches for deck size. I could also put this in the Works spreadsheet if some wanted that file. For speed, just put in an average speed too. If you are mowing at 10 MPH, you probably average 7 or 8 MPH, taking in to consideration that you are making turns and objects in the way. It's been many years since I took math, but this should be right. If I'm wrong guys, let me know.<p>----------<br>Eric@ELM<br>http://pages.prodigy.net/eric.erickson/index.html

green1thumb

01-01-2000, 11:21 PM

Jason, production times and formulars are nessary tools for an estimating system. After you chose a system be sure to customize it for your company. Just because you have a mower that should cut twenty five thousand square feet per hour does not mean it will. Your rate may be more or less<p>----------<br>Walter Lewis<br>

Nilsson Associates

01-02-2000, 06:13 AM

Mowing times, almost any work time you could think of is found in the Labor Time Data Handbook at nilsson associates link at www.turfquip.com <br>Nilsson.Assoc@Snet.Net

Roger

01-02-2000, 12:13 PM

I have written a program for developing mowing rates (sq ft/hr; acre/hr). Variables are mower width, overlap, speed, and efficiency. For efficiency, I mean the percent of time mowing grass, and NOT moving around obstacles, turning, emptying bags, etc.<p>I have graphs I generated I keep in my notebook, available when making an estimate. 100% means ALWAYS cutting! Several months ago, somebody on this Forum asked a similar question, so I created charts for him, and e-mailed them to him. <p>E-mail me if interested, and I'll be happy to send them along. Give me a range of mow widths, range of overlaps, range of speed.<p>However, in the past year or two, I've been able to use my experience to estimate the time required to mow a lawn. Yes, I can get sq ft, but there are too many other factors that are important in the residential yards I see here. The most difficult issue for a new lawn is the extra time required for bagging, when one does not know the growth rate of the grass and fertilization pattern. The estimate usually have to be made before the season starts, so the grass is dormant at that time.<p>I find that after I settle on a pattern for a lawn, the time required (for those of 1:00 to 2:00 hrs) never varies more than 2-3 minutes per mowing. I keep a stop watch running for every job. If the time varies more than that, I have to ask "why?"

HOMER

01-02-2000, 02:29 PM

WHEN YOU DO THE ESTIMATES FOR MOWING TIME, HOW DO YOU FACTOR IN THE TIME FOR EDGEING, TRIMMING, BLOWING, PULLING A WEED OR TWO, AND TALKING TO THE CUSTOMER WHEN HE COMES OUT, BORED TO DEATH WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN KEEP YOU FROM HEADING TO YOUR NEXT YARD. THE FORMULA IDEA WOULD, IN MY OPINION, WORK FOR A GOLF COURSE OR BALL FIELD, BUT FOR A RESIDENTIAL LAWN I THINK A MORE PRACTICAL APPROACH WOULD BE TO FIND OUT WHAT LAWNS ARE GOING FOR IN YOUR AREA AND GUESSTIMATE THE LENGTH OF TIME IT WILL TAKE YOU TO DO ALLLLLLLLLLLL OF THE WORK FROM START TO FINISH. IF YOU HAVE DONE A FEW LAWNS YOU SHOULD HAVE A GOOD IDEA OF THE LENGTH OF TIME IT WILL TAKE. AS FOR ME, RESIDENTIAL MOWING TIME IS THE FASTEST OF ALL THE OPERATIONS (THANKS TO MY FLATLANDER AND CITY SLICKER)CLEAN UP TIME TAKES ALMOST AS LONG IF DONE PROPERLY. I REALIZE YOU SHOULD DO THE MATH BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS IF YOU GET HUNG UP ON MOWING TIME ONLY TO FIGURE A JOB, YOU MIGHT COME OUT A LOSER. THE CUSTOMER YOU ARE TRYING TO GET MAY HAVE ALREADY HAD A SERVICE BEFORE AND WILL PROBABLY GO $5.00 MORE A CUT BECAUSE YOU ASSURE THEM YOU WILL DO A BETTER JOB, BUT THEY ARE NOT STUPID AND COULD CARE LESS HOW MANY SQ.FT YOU ARE MOWING. THEY DO KNOW WHAT THE ARE WILLING TO PAY AND IF YOU CAN DO IT FOR THAT THEN YOU MAY GET THE JOB, IF YOU CAN'T UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY THAT WILL DO IT CHEAPER. GET AN IDEA OF HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO MAKE AN HOUR AND BID BASED ON THIS INFO. YOU WILL LOSE SOME AND WIN ON THE OTHERS, DEPENDING ON CONDITIONS. AN AVERAGE RESIDENTIAL SHOULD TAKE 25 TO 30 MINUTES, NO LONGER THAN 45. THIS IS AN AVERAGE SIZED LOT NOT A LARGE ONE. WITH THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT EVEN A LARGE FLAT LOT WILL GET YOU MORE PER CUT BUT THEY DON'T KNOW YOU HAVE A MOWER THAT WILL MOW IT IN 15 MINUTES..........TILL YOU GET THERE! THIS ISN'T INTENDED TO DISCOUNT THE FORMULA METHOD, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO CONSIDER THAN JUST THE MOWING TIME.

Roger

01-02-2000, 04:53 PM

Homer,<br>You are right - mowing time is only a portion of the total time required to do a job. That is why I rely on my experience for time estimates, and not primarily on mowing rates. Other activities vary so much from job to job, as you point out. However, when starting out in the business, using some mowing rate for estimates is the best place to start. Soon, one learns which jobs are profitable, and which ones are loosers. Experience will help to discern those loosers in the future.<p>In our area, my average residential lawn takes at least one hour, most 1:30. But, I'm more interested in being sure I get paid on my time basis, not how many I can get mowed per day. If I'm not competative because I'm having to charge too much for each job, then I have a problem. However, this has not been a problem. I have more customers who have offered to pay me more per mow than I expect, than customers who I have asked more to do the job. <br>

HOMER

01-02-2000, 05:24 PM

HI ROGER, I GUESS THE PROBLEM I HAD WITH THE FORMULA METHOD WOULD BE IF YOU CALCULATED EVERYTHING USING A MURRAY MOWER TRAVELING 3.5 MPH CUTTING A 38" SWATH ETC. ETC. ETC. YOU MIGHT COME UP WITH A TIME THAT IS EXTREMELY HIGH AND BASED ON YOUR PRICE PER SQ.FT, YOUR QUOTE MAY BE $20.00 HIGHER THAN THE CUSTOMERS HAVE BEEN USED TO PAYING. IF YOU TOOK A ZTR WITH A TRAVEL SPEED MUCH HIGHER USING THE SAME $ FIGURE YOU COULD DO IT MUCH CHEAPER. BUT..............YOU HAVE A HIGHER PRICED MOWER TO PAY FOR AS WELL. IN OTHER WORDS YOU WOULD PENALIZE THE CUSTOMER BECAUSE YOU HAD SLOW EQUIPMENT. I HOPE I WORDED THIS CORRECTLY. I WOULDN'T WANT ANYBODY LOSING JOBS BECAUSE THEY HAD A FALSE SENSE OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE REALLY GETTING PAID FOR SOME OF THESE YARDS. WHEN I STARTED WITH MY 40" TRACTOR IT WOULD TAKE ME 2.0 HRS TO MOW SOME OF MY YARDS. I STILL HAVE THE YARDS I STARTED WITH 5 YEARS AGO, HAVEN'T RAISED THE PRICE ON THEM, BUT CAN NOW MOW THEM IN 20 MINUTES. I HAD TO TAKE WHAT THE GOING RATE WAS AT THE TIME( IT AIN'T CHANGED MUCH EITHER) KNOWING I WANTED TO MAKE MORE AND THINKING I WAS GETTING WAXED, BUT IT WAS ONLY ME AND THE ONE MOWER I WAS HAVING TO PAY FOR. IT WAS A SIDE BUSINESS TOO AND IF I MADE ENOUGH TO PAY THE PAYMENT AND THE GAS I WAS ACTUALLY HAPPY. THE LONGER YOUR IN IT THE MORE YOU WILL PICK UP AND THE FASTER YOU WILL HAVE TO GET TO KEEP UP. YOU GOTTA CHANGE WITH THE TIMES OR STAY SMALL. CHANGE MEANS SPENDING $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ TO BE COMPETITIVE. I KNOW YOU HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE AND IT MIGHT WORK FINE, THESE ARE ONLY MY OPINIONS BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE. THANKS<br>

Eric ELM

01-02-2000, 05:30 PM

It seems like what Jason wanted was a way to figure out how much a mower could cut in an hour on an open lot. The program I made in Excel could also be used to compare if you have two guys mowing with 48 inch decks and walking behind them at 3 MPH or having one guy mowing with a 60 inch deck at 10 MPH, to find out the 1 mower a foot wider will do twice as much. Anyway, this program you just put in your cutting width (deck width minus overlap) and what you think your average speed is and it calculates how many acres. Very simple, fill in the blanks and it works.<p>----------<br>Eric@ELM<br>http://pages.prodigy.net/eric.erickson/index.html

JimLewis

01-03-2000, 01:18 AM

Wow. A lot of good ideas here. But let me throw my 2 cents in here because I think my view of this is a whole lot different than the ones above. <p>I agree with Homer, trying to estimate precise mowing time is a waste of time. At least for me. If you've been doing this for a while you can just tell. I can go up to pretty much any house in this area and within a minute tell you how long it will take my crew at that house every week. 'Course I've been doing this for a while now and I've had a lot of experience. But even when I was new I never wasted time trying to figure out exactly how long it would take me to take care of a lawn. <p>Sure, I made a little less money on some jobs because I didn't figure I'd take as long as I ended up taking, but I really didn't care. When I started this business 6 years ago, my goal was $20 per hour. I'd eyeball how much time I'd spend at the house (per month) and give them a monthly figure based on my total expected hours x $20. Most of the time it worked out just like I figured. Sometiimes it worked out better. On the tiny lawns I was making up to $50 an hour in reality. Other lawns, where I underbid, I was making maybe as low as $10 an hour some times. I didn't really care. <p>There are a lot of reasons that I didn't worry about it that much. <br>1) I was only making $8 at my last job. So even at $10, that was progress. <br>2) On average, I still made over $20 per hour.<br>3) Typically, after a month or two, once I got to know a customer and they saw that I was honest and hard working, I could fix the situation. I'd go up to the customer and say "Mr. Walters, I have been meaning to talk to you about the rates I charged. Being a little new, I think maybe I underestimated the time I'd be spending here on your lawn each week." To that I'd usually get a response like, "Well, Jim. I agree. I thought you'd underbid yourself a little. What do you think is fair now that you've been doing it a while?" And we'd work our an arrangement that was better for me. <p>Now, in my area, I have the luxury of working on generally pretty small lots. A crew of two can typically mow, edge, blow, and fertilize most of the lawns we maintain in about 15-30 minutes. Most lawns here are 2000-4000 sq ft. I can see where, if you were in an area where most lawns were an acre or more, it would be wise to have a system. I understand that. But for those of us who work on medium to small lots, I think trying to figure out precise estimates is a waste of time. <p>One more thing to consider. I have done this from time to time when I land a new customer. I will say "You know, Mr Jones, even as long as I've been in this business, it's a little difficult for me to tell how much time we'd spend on this lawn every week. That makes it hard for me to give you an accurate estimate. Tell you what let's do. Why don't we come over and mow the lawn next week for free? That will give you an idea of how good our work is. And it will give me a better basis for an estimate." <p>Trust me, no one will turn that down. And your competition won't even think of it. If he's looking at you and 3 others, after you come by in a week and do it for free, he will pick you. Even if your cost is a little more. It's a win-win. <p>----------<br>Jim Lewis - Lewis Landscape Services<br>http://www.lewislandscape.com

thelawnguy

01-03-2000, 05:02 AM

This may sound like a shameless plug, and it probably is, but Phil Nilssons Time Labor Handbook is by far one of the most useful tools a person could have for figuring a job. And not just mowing but planting plowing you name it. It is well worth the cost and what the heck if for some reason you dont like it and prefer to beat yourself over the head with dented beer kegs then he will take it back so no risk.<p>EVERYBODY here should have a copy. My regret is I didnt get mine sooner(bought it last year).<p>Bill

gorrell

01-03-2000, 06:11 AM

Jason, probably the easiest formula for figuring acres is width of cut times miles per hour divided by ten. Thus 52" equal 4.3 feet times 5 mph divided by ten equals 2.15 acres per hour. This formula includes turns, but does not figure in for obstacles. Hope this helps, Lynn Gorrell

Nilsson Associates

01-03-2000, 08:01 AM

To Bill - thelawnguy<br>Thanks for the mention of Labor Time Data Handbook, glad you found it usefull. I didn't put you up to that "plug" but appreciate it of course. Bill, please visit the bookstore at my site, select any three books or tapes you'd like, I'll send them to you free. Click on Nilsson profile for link to the web site. Thanks again.<br>Nilsson Associates, Consultants

Eric ELM

01-03-2000, 11:17 AM

Lynn Gorrell, I checked the formula you posted compared to my formula and yours was 15/100ths of an acre more than mine. They are very close, but your formula is a lot easier to remember and easier to use. Jason, now you have two different ones to play with. I don't use a formula for figuring how long it will take to mow a lawn. I was just trying to help Jason out. It will be good to figure out how much more a mower 1 or 2 feet wider and a little faster will mow than the mower guys are currently using. For example a 3' mower will cut 1.5 acres an hour going 5 MPH and a 4' mower going 5 MPH will cut 2 acres an hour. If you step up to a 5' 10 MPH ZTR, you can cut 5 acres an hour according to the formula, but it takes me 1 hour and 40 minutes to mow 3 lawns in a row that add up to 7.5 acres. This means the formula is off by 10 minutes on 7.5 acres. Still it's fairly close. :)<br> <p>----------<br>Eric@ELM<br>http://pages.prodigy.net/eric.erickson/index.html

mlgtrainer

06-01-2002, 03:15 PM

Jason,

If you need a simple formula for determining the amount of acres you can mow with your equipment. You may want to try this one out.

In fact in Exmark's catalog, the have a handy chart. but here's one I use.

mulitiply the size of the deck by the mph and divide by 120

this will give a product, then mulitiply by 43, 560 (acre) this will give you the amount of square footage you will cover with your mower.

example: 48" mowers times 3 mph = 144

divide 144 by 120 = 1.2 x 43,560 =52,272 sq ft/

this is based on 80%, it takes into consideration turning and

overlap of the mower.

Try it out. it works for every mower.

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