View Full Version : Help a growing Church?

Church Man
09-06-2000, 06:37 PM
Hello all!

I've been perusing the forum archives for the past couple of days as a guest. The information has been both helpful and, at times, entertaining. I need some more specific answers, however.
I don't know if I really qualify to be a part of this particular forum. I am not in the professional lawn care business. Given how much help you could be to me, I've decided to risk the wrath of the listmaster (Administrator).
I am the facilities manager of a church in Colorado. I am in the process of deciding what equipment should be bought to replace current equipment.
The area that I presently care for is about two acres of rich, thick lawn. Over the next three to five years, additional construction will increase that to around seven acres. I also have, at present, about 12 acres of field mowing.
The lawn has both open (1/2 acre) and landscaped areas with trees, shrubs, etc., and I have plenty of man power available to keep the areas cut. Unlike you guys, my concern is not profit. I do want equipment that is cost effective, but other major concerns are speed, ease of use, durability, and maneuverability.
I have looked at residential, estate, and commercial equipment. I really am not sure what will best take care of my needs. I want something that will last the church long term (10 years or so), and it really does need to be some kind of riding setup, considering some of the volunteers that would do the work. I also have a 1000 foot berm to keep cut, so something that can handle slopes would be nice. Some of the attachments for the professional equipment are interesting. Do they work well?
I don't suppose you could give me an unbiased opinion as to a cost comparison between in-house versus lawn service over the long haul?
I would very much appreciate your help and, not to be a name dropper, but I'm sure God would look favorably upon any help you might proffer.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. Did I use up my entire question quota on my very first post?!

09-06-2000, 06:59 PM
I'd concider a 48" belt drive walk behind with a riding attachment that can be removed or folded out of the way when mowing slopes or otherwise treacherous areas.

Exmark is a good brand. Suggest a jungle wheels or a Velke stand-on riding attachment.

This set up is economical, durable, relatively easy to learn and somewhat safer on slopes. A 48" belt drive has productivity around 1.5 acres/hour. In three to five years, if you need to move up to a more productive unit, your machine will have decent resale due to it being a low hour unit for it's age.

Just a thought! Take Care.

Eric ELM
09-06-2000, 07:02 PM
Welcome aboard Church Man. That was one of the biggest first posts I've seen. :) If you want speed and ease of opperation, you would want a ZTR of some sort. I would say you should get at least a 60" cut, the wider the wheel base the better off your are for that 1000 ft. burm you mentioned. A 72" cut would even be better for getting all of that lawn done fast since it all adds up to almost 20 acres. If the ground is fairly smooth, you could mow it in about 5 hours with a 60" and even less with a 72". If the turf is uneven a 60" would be better.

It depends on what dealers you have in your area which brand to get. There are hundreds of posts on mowers in this forum which could help you decide too. Everyone on this forum knows which one I would get in your situation since you said it needs to last for years. You will be putting on about 150 hours a year on this machine once you start mowing all 19 acres and in 10 years as you mentioned, it would be 1500 which isn't that many hours for a commercial mower. My oldest Dixie Chopper has over 3,000 hours on it which would be enough for 20 years of mowing at your location. If you let us know which dealers are around you, it would help us to figure out which would be best for your situation.

09-06-2000, 08:26 PM
If you are a non profit organazation, you have a slight advantage in buying equipment then everyone else on this site. I lost an account do to the fact that they saw what they could get a brand new ZTR for and do the same job. They got such a discount that they did not see the point on paying me thousands a year when they could buy a brand new one. So what I would recomend is to call a dealer tell them your situation, test drive a few different models and buy something brand new. It will pay for itself in a year or two.

09-06-2000, 08:27 PM
I think your best bet would be to buy 2 large riding mowers about 42" or 48", buy a good name..john deere, toro,
snapper, just to name a few. you could buy both of these for the price of a so-so ZTR. and there upper quality models will last a while..
also maybe go with the 48" walk behind for the slopes.
shindawa makes great trimmers, and end with a redmax blower,this should give you all you will need for several years. cost=$9000.00 +-
hope I have been of some help

09-06-2000, 09:24 PM
Eric said it all, get a ztr atleast a 60 and you will be fine. I mow a church and I have a john deere f60 and a great dane 60 and it still takes me 3 hours to mow.


Long live the great dane :p

09-06-2000, 10:11 PM
Face the music and don't buy junk. Do not buy any non-commercial riding mowers with underbelly decks. Do buy Exmark, Scag, Toro, Great Dane, John Deere or Kubota.
The last 2 make great out-front style machines, those are great. Any mid-mount ZTR from the listed manufacturers will be great as well. DO NOT BUY any thing less than a 60" deck. Why would you when mowing the kind of acreage you are describing? A 72" would be better. You are going to spend anywhere from 6,500-$13,000 to purchase the in the range I have described.
I don't see you getting much more of a deal than a lawn pro who buys 2-3 machines per year. The dealer has to eat and the mark-up is not what people think.
God's house has a lawn and it needs to be maintained by the good stewards so if it's not in the budget then be a good Baptist and PASS THE PLATE. If not a Baptist, pass it anyway.
Or, you could mow weekly up close to the church with smaller equipment and pay to have the rest bushhogged 2-3 times per year.

09-06-2000, 10:34 PM
Equipment for use by occasional operators is what I think you need. That tends to leave out the commercial riders and walk behinds, just because they can be intimidating to novice users. My personal preference for something that could be learned quickly by your volunteer crew would be a tractor based machine. Steering and directional control like a car. John Deere, Cub Cadet or New Holland are a good palce to start. Stay away from the low end, residential machines. A good, heavy duty garden tractor with a mower deck will last many years in your service. As an example, we have a JD 318 (the model was discontinued in 1991) that currently has 2000 hours on it and is still going strong. Production is less than a dedicated mower, but almsot anyone can operate it. Mowing capacity is a bit over an acre an hour, more on wide open terrain, less if you are going around lots of obstacles. Additionally, you can use the tractor based chassis for more than just mowing.

John DiMartino
09-06-2000, 10:51 PM
I think a tractor based machine is the hot setup if you are having volenteers run them.Heres is why,I have a dixiechopper and there is no way that a novice can get on that thing and mow safely,the levers throw people off,even if they can operate it,they will tear that nice lawn up in no time,My best operator at the golf course has tried my DC and he darts all over the place and scuffs every turn,even after 5 hrs on it.I would never let an inexperienced person on any ZTR,especially since you have a side hill,a ZTR will not hold any serious hill safely with a an inexperienced operator.A tractor is simple,get a hydro,itll be even easier,with a mid or rear mount deck.Another option is a 2wd steiner or 3 wheeler,the steiner will hold that hill like a pro,is simple to run and will outperform any tractor,but its $$$at around 10-12K for a 60" with Gas motor,2wd.Scag and ferris make 3 wheelers still,they would run about as fast as a steiner but not give the quailty of cut or hold a hill as well,the are a lot cheaper though.No matter what stay away from a ZTR ,its an accident waiting to happen with new,inexperienced operators.

Eric ELM
09-06-2000, 10:56 PM
For the price of an equivalant to a 318, they could get a ZTR and mow it in half the time. I had a 332, which is like a 318, but a diesel. I still have a 430 with a 60" deck, but I wouldn't advise it for mowing. Anything with a steering wheel mowing that much grass would be a big head ache. The only thing I can think of that you can do with a 318 or 430 JD equivalant type machine is use 3 point hitch items and more than likely, a Church wouldn't need those items anyway. With a 60" ZTR, they could pull a sprayer, an aerator, dethatch, and even plow or blow snow. I think all they need this machine for is mowing. Just about anyone can get on a ZTR and learn to operate it in just a short time. Back in 1993 my 430 was in the shop and I had to mow 4 lawns with a 36" Dixon ZTR. It was 2 feet narrower, but I mowed the 4 lawns in the same time it took with the 60" JD tractor. I sold the 36" Dixon the next spring and bought my first 60" Dixie Chopper and I bought another one in the fall. Best decission I've made in this business.
Church Man, how much do you plan to spend on this new mower?

John DiMartino
09-06-2000, 11:08 PM
Eric,I respect your opinion,but I disagree with you.Most people who are skilled and have grown up like you and I on equipment have no problem on a ZTR,but I have found that more than 1/2 of the people cant tie their shoes right, or drive a car safely,how are they going to run that ZTR?theyll be spinning the inside tire all over,darting around,sliding down hills,tearing turf etc..I cant even get someone to mow my back yard on my DC,everyone is scared of if,now when I used to bring home the steiner,I had volenteers lined up because it is so easy to operate,even though it is slower.this is just my view,since im still new to ZTR's myself I feel differently than you.

little green guy
09-06-2000, 11:20 PM
I agree with John DiMartino, I think a scag 3 wheeler would be the mower of chioce here. The other company I work for has one and that things got alot of use on it and still going. John right about the ZTR's, an amuture will kill a lawn with one of those. I took me almost two days to learn how to turn the right way with one. The 3 wheeler is pretty easy to learn how to use. Plus the 3 wheeler will hold hills pretty good to. Yup thats definitly what I would go with for you situation CHURCH MAN. BTW- with all that thick grass the scag advantage deck would be good on that machine to, the regular scag decks are garbage, believe me>
Good Luck

09-07-2000, 01:03 AM
Church Man
Going a little off subject from the post, but will tell you to make sure your church's insurance will cover you for any accidents that may happen to your parish members using all these machines.

A church that I use to do started to take care of the grounds themselves. One of the parish members was hit in the eye while edging the property. This member is now suing the church for the lost of his vision. The national church had to step in, as the local parish didn't have the proper insurance.

Check out what other professionals are using. See what local dealers sell and service. Most of all, KEEP IT SIMPLE. The reason the above happened was non-pro's using machines improperly.

Good luck

Church Man
09-07-2000, 03:43 PM
You guys are responsive! I really appreciate it.

Just for clarification, The future lawn area will take over some of the present fields, as well as future buildings. I will never have 20 acres to mow, but probably no less than seven.

I'm glad to read some of the discussion on the learning curve of a ZTR. Having never run one, that is very pertinent information. I have some understanding. I ran heavy equipment off and on for about five years (loaders, backhoes, small cranes, dozers). I had never run a skid steer until last year. After about an hour of frusteration, I gave up. Never thought it could be so difficult. ZTR curve similar?

I think from what I have read, that the general concensus is that outside of a hydro tractor setup, a lot of professional equipment is made for professionals (go figure), not the inexperienced. The small tractor setup makes sense for operability and attachments.
Maneuverability is not a tractor's strong point. Do you think a tractor for the open areas and a low end commercial or high end residential walk behind for those pesky trees and shrubs would be best? How would a belly deck do on field mowing? Would it handle both lawn and field? I suppose I could spend $400 and get a bush hog attachment.

I'll check out the Scag 3 wheeler. I'll look for the better decks. Hopefully they have a good website. That makes it easy. Little Green Guy and John seem to be sold on that notion. What do some of the rest of you think?

How about the professional walk-behinds? What's the learning curve? Are these also best left to the experienced too (Alan seems to think so)? Some mention was made of a sulky set-up for these. Would a large walk-behind take care of most everything outside of trim work? The pro walk-behinds advertise a lot of attachments. What do you think of these?

This is one of the best and most responsive forums I have used. You all deserve a slap on the back (I know . . . money would be better). May the grass always grow fast for you and the customers be generous, if not desperate.

09-07-2000, 04:32 PM
I agree with what some of these guys are saying about novices getting on a ZTR to mow. I would suggest the John Deere F900 or F1100 series mowers. They are expensive but I know a school corp that bought a F1145 for $1500 more than a 72" Dixie Chopper. John Deere gives great discounts to Not For Profit organizations. Additionally, you can't beat the resale value of John Deere equipment, the reliability and the service of a GOOD dealer. I'm sure you have a JD dealer in your area. Look into it. The F935 would also mow the slope as it has a weight transfer mechanism for traction. The F1145 is 4WD and they both have front decks with steering wheels so a novice would be better acquainted if running the machine.

Good Luck.
Matt Kelley

09-07-2000, 05:33 PM
One machine that I have that fill many of your need is a JD 4100.It can be used for rough mowing,finish mowing,snow removal etc.The one I have has been great.Also a loader and rear blade,and broom are available so that it becomes an all around site machine.Its not as fast as a ZTR but its dependable and more what I was looking for managing the aparments that I have.

09-07-2000, 06:11 PM
Eric, I agree with you that the cost of a quality tractor based mower will be as much or more than a ZTR. But, the wild card in this is the experience level of the operators. Joe mows for a while,, then Bob, then Sue tries it. Nobody does it often enough to get good with a ZTR. And they can be squirrely and dangerous until you know them a bit. If I was going to have a rotating crew of volunteers and wanted to make it easy and safe for them I'd get a good, commercial duty tractor, hang a deck on it and turn them loose.

Churchman, I've got a hydro drive walk behind with a castering wheel sulky, VERY manueverable. Also quite a bit harder to learn to operate than anything with a steering wheel and kinda dangerous to boot. To give you an idea of that, I have a part time helper, I do NOT let him use the sulky, if we need both mowers and the job is too big to walk I use the sulky and put him on the ZTR. The other factor with any walk behind is the fatigue level from the constant squeezing of the hand controls. If you do it every day your wrists and hands strenghten to accomodate it. Occasional users will be sore after every session.

09-07-2000, 06:33 PM
I think you guys are missing something. If you assume that nobody has enough common sense to mow with anything but a tractor, what are they going to do about edging the property or even trimming close to trees, buildings, CARS, etc.

Suggestion 1. Maybe it would be better with everyone involved if you hired a professional crew to take care of it.

Suggestion 2. Why not a ZRT and maybe churchman can be the one to use it on a regular basis, and use volunteers to do the trimming and edging. It will not take long to learn the ZRT. You would have a good handle on it before you finished the property the first time.

I believe you did say it was a nice piece of property. To keep it looking the best possible you need the ZRT. Tractor will not look as well. And come on guys, we don't hire the most brilliant people in the world either, so the volunteers can't be much worse. We all have stories.


Eric ELM
09-07-2000, 09:23 PM
Anyone that can operate a walk behind can opperate a ZTR. Women seem to catch on to a ZTR very fast, because they have a gentle touch with the controls. A ZTR is just like using a wheel chair and even very old people can use a wheel chair. I owned a wheel chair long before I owned a ZTR, so I know. Church Man, you said you have run bull dozers. It's the same principle, two sticks to steer it. I drove tanks in the Army, so the bulldozer was easy for me to learn to run when I dug basements with one. As someone said, maybe you should put all this money in the bank and draw interest and just hire it done. You won't have any upkeep on equipment, law suits if someone gets hurt, and it's just plain easier to hire it done. If your going to still buy a mower, I still say the ZTR is the easiest thing to mow with and it is very easy to operate. As the other Eric said, not everyone that runs a ZTR is a smart. I know a guy that is a dumb as a box of rocks and he can run his ZTR with out any problems.

09-07-2000, 09:52 PM

little green guy
09-07-2000, 10:09 PM
Eric- you gotta remember you have been running equip. for along time. Some people sit behind a desk all day and look at a mower and and say "ok how do you start this thing". I've seen what those type off people can do and it's not pretty. ZTR's can do alot off damage when in the wrong hands.(sorry if i sound like i'm lecturing you or something, i know ur the smartest guy here(next to Kirby))

Church Man- I still say the 3wheeler, i don't know how many guys here have used one but thats what i thgink is best. It will hold the hill(i think but don't know how steep ur hill is) and you can trimm under trees and stuff. For the fields just crank the deck up higher. I thnk the 3 wheeler is definitly better than a tracktor(and cheeper). It's even simpler than a tracktor. You can strip with it too because it turns on the inside wheel. thats what I would do, I've used all the machines, walkbehinds, ZTR's, tracktors, standers,and thats what I would get for that situation. ZTR's are good, but for pros. just my opinion. good luck

PS- please excuse my gramer

09-08-2000, 12:24 AM
Come on little green guy, you make it sound as though it takes 6 months to learn to use a walkbehind.

Hey wait...

Church man, it really is a very hard job and its way to difficult to be handled by your people. You should really hire it out to someone.

Can I get a commission on the contract from the company that gets the job?


John DiMartino
09-08-2000, 12:24 AM
I am still for a 3 wheeler or steiner,I forgot to mention the exmark Turf ranger is also a great 3wheeler.I have a steiner,so im partial to since its still going after 11 years and 4200+hrs,about 1/4 of which were put on loading and dozing,which is a lot harder on it than mowing.Steiners are built like tanks,much heavier duty than anything I ve ever owned or run..They are multi talented too,I have a blower,loader,rake,dozer blade and an edger for ours.Any good equipment is going to be expensive.The best things about the steiners is its ability to hold a hill and excellent antiscapling rollers.The full width rear roller gives the best looking lawn possible too.

01-04-2001, 11:53 PM
ztr's (midmounts) are the fastest. the front mounts are the easiest to learn on and accept more attachments, for sure buy over 60" and dont even consider the smaller toro groundsmaster, johndeere or kabota front mounts. however all three of these manufacturers and some others also make excellent larger models. pray about it !

01-05-2001, 12:28 AM
Personally I believe any grown man with a little common sense can learn to handle a ZTR. My 8 year old son can drive mine all over the place, no he isn't cutting but driving it just the same. Your asking for a machine that will last you 10 years then you better buy a machine that is commercial grade, they can take some abuse that the lesser models cannot. Buy one with a good filtration system and oil coolers. Once a couple of people get trained on a ZTR you won't have problems finding folks to help out.

I know this has been brought up already but you did come to this forum to ask a question!!!!!!!
Have you checked into contracting this out? This would save all of you a lot of headache especially when you consider the maintenance and upkeep of all the necessary equipment that is needed to maintain a property of that size. Ask for some estimates from your local commercial guys and then compare the cost of buying the equipment, maintaining it, and finding help on a weekly basis to keep the grounds looking great all the time. I have just submitted a bid to my Church and currently mow another. The one I already have would never consider doing it themselves again, the people just wore out the equipment and it was always a problem getting willing bodies out there to do the work. My Church asked because they are not going to purchase another mower for the people to tear up! Thats good for me if I get it. I can cut it for over 2 years for what a new mower will cost.............and everybody will be happy.

Something to ponder!

01-05-2001, 12:44 AM
Some of you guys are kidding right??? Driving a ZTR is not that hard is it? Boy I hope not, my 15 & 12 year old sons along with my wife find no difficulty mowing our lawn with either of my mowers. Heck, my dad at 63 learned in one day how to operate my Chariot, give anyone an open field and 1 hour and they should have it figured out. If not maybe they need help http://www.unionturf.com/freak.gif http://www.unionturf.com/drool.gif

I agree with Eric.

01-05-2001, 04:45 AM

I have watched my own families church go through thousands of dollars on equipment for mowing. Volunteers are very hard equipment without knowing it. If you had one or two consistant volunteers that you knew 100% were going to mow for you for the next umpteen years and they were good with eguipment, then spend the bucks and get a ZTR. I agree with some of the comments about volunteers using a ZTR though. ZTR's are not a overly complicated machine, but you want something that everyone could get on and mow. Someone mentioned not wanting a steering wheel on that much lawn, I think just the opposite, for casual volunteer workers, a steering wheel type equipment would be, in my opinion, much easier for your workers to handle and if you were looking to strip the lawn for that rich pro look, it would be so much easier for volunteers with a steering wheel to keep a straight line when mowing.

It is so hard to make recomendations without seeing the property. We all try to use equipment that is versitile enough to handle most conditions from property to property, that is why I carry a full trailer of mowers to each job, but here goes mine.

I think you most likely could best use a small compact size tractor with the amount of grounds you mentiond. This is of course a ideal setup with no money limitations, I might have missed reading in your post any budget. There would be little limitations with this as your main piece of equipment with a John Deere style compact, like a 700 or 800 series size. You could have a loader, 72" belly mower and a 3 point hitch attachment like say a flail mower or bush hog for your field mowing, all on and usable at the same time. You can get a cab for those winter snow removals along with a blower, blade or pusher. The 3 point attachments are endless by buying or renting as needed. ZTR attachments are not universal like 3 point attachments, and as trends and models change so do the availability of ZTR attachments as do the parts. A compact tractor you could still be using and buying new attachments for thirty years from now, cannot do that with a Exmark, Dixie Chopper, etc as well as most small lawn or garden tractors except maybe John Deere or maybe Wheel Horse, I know, I have a 26 year old Bolens.

You mentioned a slope, How is it done now? I mow some steep slopes of about 45% with a 42" walkbehind, not a volunteer situation at all. This is a dangerous situation by any means, but with a huge 600 pound walkbehind with a ocassional user at the helm, it would be a accident waiting to happen. If it is too steep for riding up or down with a tractor, then I would try to eliminate it with some ground cover or organic cover like rock or stone. But, a midsize walkbehind with a velkie is a very good versitile setup for manicured smooth lawns. You could buy one gear drive that mows 3 acres an hour for 1/2 what one entry level ZTR costs. They would not handle your rough feild work though, but along with the tractor, you would be covered very well. If you went with a commercial walkbehind, my personal choice would be a Toro walkbehind with t-bar steering setup, it is the closet thing to a steering wheel on a walkbehind. I do believe though that this would still be a stretch for ocassional users.

Our church has always had a compact tractor as a center piece and regular inexpensive lawn tractors as the actual main workers, usually two on hand at all times, but we have no hills or close tight work. We found that most felt most comfortable using the small lawn tractors. In fact, we had more volunteers with this type setup, then when we had two compacts, most were afraid of the BIG tractor, but not the little lawn jobies, even though it would take longer to do the work.

Just my two cents. Hope it all works out for you!

01-05-2001, 09:45 AM
Having worked in a situation where the public
does the work.I can guarantee you will have
to have several designated drivers with ztr.
Thats the fastest mower,but if every bodies
going to use it and take a turn every couple
1ST choice ztr with three designated operators.
Also a good walk behind for slopes.That also
will take a able bodied person.
2nd choice if all members will be mowing
two lawn tractors w hydrostat and a wallk behind.
Their are also some liability issues that im
sure the board has addressed.If not somebody
better because it will probably become an issue
at some time.just mine TM

01-05-2001, 10:29 AM
Here is my humble opinion. Go to whatever commercial dealer in your area and tell him what you have to do. I would personally recommend a 60" ZTR and a 48" Walkbehind w/ sulky. This way you can mow the wide open areas with the ZTR and the tight areas with the Walkbehind.

As for learning curve. My fiance learned to run the w/b in about 15 minutes and the ZTR was about a whopping 15-20 minutes. If you can move your arms and see you can run one. It's not that hard. You said that you got frustrated with the Skid loader was that because of the foot controls or because you couldn't go forward and back and turn.

No matter what equipment you buy make sure it's commercial. We run exmark and we love them , others run Dixie's , Toro, Scag, Ferris, Great Dane, Bunton, Lesco just make sure it's commercial and you won't be sorry for your purchase.

Also being a church you're non profit which means that you don't have to pay tax on all of your equipment and you usually get a deal.

Hope this helps.

01-05-2001, 06:00 PM
I need to chime in here. I am not a commercial cutter but I do mow 4 acres, I own a commercial machine, and I am very active in my church.

First, regarding do it your self or hire. People want to give to there church. Those who have more time then money will be grateful for a chance to give mowing time. Also those who donít do the mowing might be put off by a church that hires out work while asking for money. Our church pastors spend one day a week doing manual labor around the property. It is good for them, good for the church and good for perception.

Next, the mower. I cant speak to the ZTR but a three wheel rider is very easy to learn. I would have people start in the center so they spend a few minutes getting to know it but that is all they will need. A 3 wheel rider is almost as quick as a ZTR (It has about a 4 in turning radius.) You can get them in 60 or 72 inch. They are simple machines, easy to use and work on. I mowed with a tractor for years and I would never go back for any reason. A mid mount tractor mower is not the answer to any mowing question.

01-05-2001, 06:22 PM
Man, this came back from ages past. We haven't heard from churchman in several months.

01-05-2001, 09:57 PM
preacherman, ztr's are not that hard to handle a bit slow when learning but that improves. I had used walk behinds before buying my first ztr and had no problem learning. As far as contracting it out I would figure out cost of equip. compared to contract. Also concerning volunters, at my church, we had plenty of volunteers at first but that seemed to change so I just started doing it myself with my equip at no charge to the church. this save the problem and some come to help when they have a chance. Take these into consideration, because I have seen the same prob. at other churches that I do. Good luck with you decision and remember pray about it.

01-06-2001, 10:35 PM
Hey Hoss...........your right! That was an ancient post, never even looked at the date..........just jumped right in! Oh well, that explains why Church man hasn't responded.

Church Man
01-09-2001, 11:28 PM
Well, I feel sheepish! :o Yes, this thread did start many moons ago. It was coming near the end of our mowing season. I got a little sidetracked on the lawn equipment issue. A thousand pardons! Please forgive me my bad manners. Your advice has been extremely helpful.

I am leaning towards a small tractor with a belly mounted mower for the "pretty" grass, and purchasing a bush hog attachment for the field mowing. Much like the last few seasons, my volunteer lawn keepers will have to finish up with a residential walk behind.

The ZTR or pro walk behind would be really great to have, and yes, I would have no problem lining up help. I am in agreement with those who feel that the number of ZTR operators should be limited. There is a lot of unintentional abuse to worry about otherwise.

What the decision comes down to is a combination of the amount of money spent, and what the equipment can do for me. Since I can buy a good tractor for around the same cost of a decent ZTR, and the three point on the tractor allows me to buy or rent all kinds of implements, it wins in the value for money department. It also has better resale potential (I'm assuming).

I won't get the decrease in mowing time that I was looking for, and I doubt that I can acheive as nice a cut without a ZTR or pro walker. Luckily, I'm not in the lawn game to produce a profit.

I have looked into contracting the lawn work. It would be easier on the cash flow, but a bit of a hard sell on the political front. It wouldn't matter much that the cost is about even over three or four years. It just doesn't look like we are using the money wisely. If we have very little trouble with a tractor over say, six years, we have saved a fair bit of money. There is, however, the risk of it costing a lot more.

Thanks for sharing your years of experience.

Vandora Lawn & Landscape
01-09-2001, 11:41 PM
I'll have to recommend again contracting the work out. Ask the contractor to make a proposal to the other people you need to convince. If he really wants the account he might be willing to do so.