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billc
03-06-2004, 10:24 AM
I'm about to buy my first mower (my funding arrives next week). I called a local dealer and told him I was interested in an eXmark 52" ZTR (the recommendation of a landscaper I respect greatly).

When I told him where I would be working, a somewhat higher class residential area, he said he was hearing that folks living in that area were asking LCOs to use walk-behinds, not ZTRs because the ZTRs were tearing up their lawns when the operator turned.

I asked if this was a machine issue or an operator issue, and he said an operator issue.

Now, since I'm the operator, I figure I'll do it right, but I have some questions:

Is it difficult to NOT do damage on a turn with a ZTR? Or can a novice like me handle it if I'm careful?

Have you run into customers who objected to your using a certain mower and, if so, how did you respond?

I'm thinking of going with a Stander so I can say I don't use the kind of mower the homeowner objects to. Is this devious?

Thanks for your responses!

DLCS
03-06-2004, 10:35 AM
Buy the Exmark ztr. Yes they take time to learn how to operate efficiently without making divots when turning. But you can always do 3 point turns to eliminate the divot problem until you can properly do zero turns. The problems people have with LCO's with ztrs is usually do to the problems turning and lack of proper training.

craigs lawncare
03-06-2004, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by DLCS
Buy the Exmark ztr. Yes they take time to learn how to operate efficiently without making divots when turning. But you can always do 3 point turns to eliminate the divot problem until you can properly do zero turns. The problems people have with LCO's with ztrs is usually do to the problems turning and lack of proper training.

I have had more complaints about how fast I finish a property with my ZTR than anything else.
It seems many of the previous lawn services mowed my customers with walk-behinds and lawn tractors. Years ago, I had one customer swear I could not have possibly mowed the entire lawn and trimmed in the amount of time I was there. She said it usually took them about fifty minutes to finish. Let me tell you, she was upset! I was done in thirty five. :D
After walking the grounds with her, she was satisfied that it was an adequate job. The funny thing was, I was taking my time because I was not used to my rider yet.
You have to take your time and NEVER mow in the same tracks on consecutive mowing's!
If you are looking to get good stripes... purchase a lawn stripper. They are a great investment.

Craig :)

DLCS
03-06-2004, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by craigs lawncare
I have had more complaints about how fast I finish a property with my ZTR than anything else.
It seems many of the previous lawn services mowed my customers with walk-behinds and lawn tractors. Years ago, I had one customer swear I could not have possibly mowed the entire lawn and trimmed in the amount of time I was there. She said it usually took them about fifty minutes to finish. Let me tell you, she was upset! I was done in thirty five. :D
After walking the grounds with her, she was satisfied that it was an adequate job. The funny thing was, I was taking my time because I was not used to my rider yet.
You have to take your time and NEVER mow in the same tracks on consecutive mowing's!
If you are looking to get good stripes... purchase a lawn stripper. They are a great investment.

Craig :)


No one has ever complained to me that I mowed their lawn too quickly. Why take your time? I bought a ztr to increase my production.

CNE
03-06-2004, 11:10 AM
The main problem with the bigger ZTR's is the weight. Especially on centipede. It will bruise easily and leave burgundy stripes where your tires went. If the yards are small you intend to do, get a walk behind. I have an Exmark 60" and I still have problems with turning and not messing up the ground on it. You have to finesse it.

billc
03-06-2004, 11:29 AM
Originally posted by CNE
The main problem with the bigger ZTR's is the weight. Especially on centipede. It will bruise easily and leave burgundy stripes where your tires went. If the yards are small you intend to do, get a walk behind. I have an Exmark 60" and I still have problems with turning and not messing up the ground on it. You have to finesse it.
The guy at the dealership suggested a walk-behind.... but I'm fifty and would prefer to ride/stand. I thought the Stander was a compromise of sorts.

sildoc
03-06-2004, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by billc
The guy at the dealership suggested a walk-behind.... but I'm fifty and would prefer to ride/stand. I thought the Stander was a compromise of sorts.
You can stand on any of the walk behinds. That is why they made proslides, velkes and sulkys.

GrassBustersLawn
03-06-2004, 03:22 PM
I've had old ladies complain that we were done too quickly! They think for their $35 you should be there for a couple of hours.

Mike

DUSTYCEDAR
03-06-2004, 03:42 PM
if u r doing lawns under 10,000 sq ft a hydro walkbehind might be better if u r doing big lawns go rider
i have found that u can mess up a lawn with anykind of mower if u go to fast but i also need to cut so many in a day to make money so it is up to u what to get
i put the biggest mower i can on the lawn to get done quick

green acres lawns
03-06-2004, 04:16 PM
I have some high end residentials, half to three quarter acres, that I have mowed with a 48" walker ghs for the past 6 years. when I tried to save time by using my 60" exmark, they all complained that the yards did not look as good and wanted to know where the little yellow mower is at. These little old ladies get spoiled to the walker cut and don't want you to change.
Last October I bought a 52" tiger cub and installed the mulch kit to do leaves. I am going to try this on the smaller properties once we get past the spring flush. Meanwhile I'm upgrading the walker with the 9.5 bushel catcher and low pro all-terrain tires. It already has the speed up kit and the rpm's are turned up to 3900, so it will mow in the 6 to 7 mph range. Thats more than fast enough on landscaped residentials, and I really enjoy this mower. I just get tired of hauling off clippings.

Pecker
03-06-2004, 04:21 PM
A ZTR can be as gentle as a push mower if the operator is any good. Ya just have to know how to turn. A lot of guys try to hold one yoke still and push the other forward. That is what causes twist marks. It helps to make sure the inside tire is moving backwards a little as you are turning.

Some people just get upset that you can mow a yard so fast because, as mentioned earlier, some think you should work as long or longer as they do to do their own yard. But that is why ou are in business and part of what distinguishes you from the homeowner.

Go for the ZTR and just take a few minutes to learn how to operate it. Trust me, it's not that hard if you are conscientious of what is going on around you.

greenback
03-06-2004, 04:36 PM
my friend uses a ride on on a house next to one of my accounts, the lawn looks like **** most of the time, you can see where he turns because some grass does not get cut. it might be because he has so many lawns so he is out for speed. but you can tell the lawn was cut with a ride on thats for sure...

specialtylc
03-06-2004, 05:33 PM
A lot of it is learning to operate the zero turn machines. But also if the ground is wet and or the turf is a little thin you will do more damage with a Z rider. Also some of the tires are really agressive, more so than others. My Kubota Z is worse than the MTD ( Cub Tank) I use to use . The MTD had a smoother wave bar tread tire. But the MTD didnt do side hills near as well. Its a trade off.

Jackman
03-06-2004, 09:04 PM
My Exmark Lazer Z 60 will scuff the ground if your not careful if posible I turn on the paved areas or do a 3 point turn, my 48 Bobcat walk behind will also scuff the ground but it is easier to aviod than the Z. I have actualy had more complaints about how long its taken me to mow,trim and blow the lawn than I have had about scuffs...

gene gls
03-06-2004, 09:20 PM
billc,

Every machine will "scuff" the turf,even on 3 point turns. The problem is the width of the tire and if it moves or not. Go with the Stander, it should be a good unit for a starter.

Gene

lawnboyblake
03-06-2004, 09:43 PM
I am plannin on buyin a new ztr in the next month. I think that all of the turf that gets torn up is in the operator. Its not like a skid steer where it always gets torn up. I belive once you get the hang of it, there will be no damage done.

Jackman
03-06-2004, 10:16 PM
Lawnboyblake wake up your dreaming ("its in the operator"). When you get your ztr you will understand the problem Zero turn big heavy mower tire pivoting on nice soft grass and soil = scuff at times with out reflection on the operator....

Turf Technologies
03-06-2004, 10:59 PM
Do you have enough lawns to justify a ZTR? You could buy a WB and some other items for the price of a ZTR.

lawn8646
03-06-2004, 11:01 PM
In my area there are two types of yards, people who maintain a beautiful yard and the cut of a ztr looks as good as anything else, and the people that have trashy yards. The ztr does not look as well on a trashy yard. I have had a few complaints with my ztr but is on the trashy yards where every track is noticeable. (even the dogs track.) I am very pleased with my ztr and will stay with it.

craigs lawncare
03-06-2004, 11:13 PM
When you guys are mowing with your ztr's how do you approach a lawn when you prepare to mow it so you don't dig it up?
I usually make one or two passes around the perimeter of the lawn. Of course it depends on the lawn, some-times I do this last. Then I start mowing in the direction I intend to cut. (Never repeating the same direction for at least five or six mowing's of- course.) As I get to the end of my first pass, I start turning. (we'll say to the right this time.) I turn, (not real sharp and not a full 90 degree turn) till I am looking down over my right shoulder, (a llittle bit behind me) till my seat is about even to where my left front wheel should travel on my next pass. I then back up swinging my front wheels to the right. (Always keep the mower moving when turning.) As I am backing up I continue to swing the front wheels to the right. Once I have backed up so that my right front wheel is about where the center of my deck will be on my next pass, I go forward turning to the right and line up for my next pass.
Its hard to explain but thats pretty much how I do it. The key in my opinion and as others have already stated, is never turn while sitting in one place. Otherwise you are going to be leaving dead spots in the lawn. Also try not to turn in the same location repeatedly as well.

How do you guys do it??
Craig :)

pcnservices
03-06-2004, 11:22 PM
Originally posted by billc
Is it difficult to NOT do damage on a turn with a ZTR? Or can a novice like me handle it if I'm careful?

Have you run into customers who objected to your using a certain mower and, if so, how did you respond?
1) Yes it is difficult to not damage the grass on turns and it takes a while and a lot of getting used to your machine to get it to turn without tearing up the grass. All I can tell you is to always pay attention when you turn. Stop and turn slowly. Make sure BOTH wheels are turning at all times when you turn.

2) Old csutomers don't complain as they see the result of good quality work and a caring operator.
Some new customers are usually concerned. Like today I visited with a new prospect and when she told me she'd prefer me to push mow the lawn rather than using my Z, I told her in that case my fee will be more as I will be spending more time on her lawn mowing it and it is more labor intensive.
After convincing her that we always take care not to scalp and tear up the sod, do directional mowing, and we mow at a slightly higher cut due to various reasons, she agreed to have us mow the lawn with the Z.

Many ways to kill a cat - just give them the facts, features and benefits of your service and DONT BS them.

Good Luck
PC

billc
03-07-2004, 03:52 AM
Originally posted by Turf Technologies
Do you have enough lawns to justify a ZTR? You could buy a WB and some other items for the price of a ZTR.
Since I'm just starting, I don't have any lawns yet. But I can afford the ztr or a Stander without debt so I figure I'll start with what I'll need (and what this old bod' wants). Of course, if I bomb out this year, I hear the z retains it's resale value better than a WB. :o

Aaron Marshall
03-07-2004, 04:09 AM
along with green acres, I also have a walker, i haven't had any complaints with it, I did own a 60 ztr mower, and I didn't mow for anyone comercialy, but I was not satisfied with it for my own use. I would have felt very nervous with a ZTR on most of the small lawns I have set up now. They are very efficent and very fast, but just be careful and watch the bumps for scalping. My walker is an excellent machine and I would recomend one for anyone.

Sam-Ohio
03-07-2004, 04:58 AM
Part of the problem with tearing turf is caused by the BIG diameter tires that are used today.

The 24 inch dia. by 12 inch wide tires that are now used on most big Z's lay down a big , long. wide footprint under these tires. If you zero turn on a tire , it grabs a bunch of grass and twists it up. The smaller diameter tires used on walk behinds, Walker brand riders, most of the older Z's [pre 1996] are turning about on a much smaller patch of rubber and don't leave as large or noticable spot on the lawn.

Eveything is tradeoffs though, because the smaller tires will track or rut deeper in a super soft , wet lawn. They can also break loose when climbing a bank and rip off two big brown skid marks in the lawn. This is a constant problem with Grasshoppers, Walkers, the old Scags, and Gravelys that had smaller tires.


In addition to doing a 3 point type turn [especially in Spring] , I think it is best to always mow the perimeter strip LAST !

If you mow a yard , and save the trip around the outside edge for last, most all the marks that are there from turning simply are erased, so I would never mow the perimeter first on any lawn.

bastalker
03-07-2004, 05:07 AM
If you are tearing yards up with a ztr, you dont know what your doing...Look at eric elms yards......He used a Dixe Chopper, an had no problems. I use an Exmark Lazer, an have no problems. If you are tearing up the lawn doing 3 point turns, your 3 point turns are not wide enough.

The way I approach a property, is I cut the horizontals, diagnals, or verticals first...Making very wide 3 point turns..It doesn't matter how wide. If you have to drive halfway across the yard to keep from tearing it up, so what......The last thing you do is cut the borders. So the wide 3 point turns you are making dont show...I usually cut 2 paths for the borders, to cover up the 3 point turns....first pass in one direction, the second pass in the opposite direction.

If you picture yourself in a car doing a k turn to turn around, this is what you need to do on a zt. If you are still making divots, just widen, or expand your 3 point turns.

When you get the hang of it, you can tighten them up.....

Envy Lawn Service
03-07-2004, 06:56 AM
OK, I just gotta say it....because this debate goes on and on....over and over....it's like having my hair plucked out....one strand at a time!!!

Dis is Da Rulz:

All....ALL, not some....zero turn mowers are pre-disposed to scuffing, skidding, tearing, marking and taking divots out of turf.

All zero turns....ALL...riders, standers, walk behinds, any and all. There is always the risk of this happening with all of them. Why? Well because of the very nature of how they drive and turn. It's trapped within the design.

The amount of risk depends on many variables. But if you own any type of zero turn, if it ain't gotcha yet....sooner or later it will....then it will getcha again....

Old conventional steering mowers (lawn tractors) are much kinder to the turf. But they mow slower. Rarely do they tear up the turf at all. But given the right conditions you'll make a spin mark and once in a blue moon you'll push a front tire when trying to turn sharp an make a tiny mark.

Personally I have a love/hate relationship with my all my mowers. But I keep them around because each has it's +/- and they do help me earn my living. However, I do not keep around the type of customers who want to tell me what type of mower to use. I'm perfectly capable of making my own decisions there. Also i am perfectly capable of making an operator error once in a while and scuffing up some turf. It comes with the territory and it's something that LCO's and customers alike have to learn to live with on occasion.

Jackman
03-07-2004, 11:16 AM
Envy Lawn Service well said could not agree more, ZTRs and scuffs kinda go together with expreince we do learn to avoid some scuffing but it is still the nature of the ZTR and will happen. Someday the engineers may find a good soultion to the problem but I have no clue what that could be, because like you said its +/-- you gain in one way and lose in another...

swim
03-07-2004, 11:41 AM
I did a estimate for a lady one year and she said as soon as I introduced myself that she had a problem with the size mower I was using. I inquired as to what might the problem be, She says that the last service used a push mower at 1 st but then went to a larger Z that was to heavy. As they cut across the drive it was crushing the stone pavement as they went into the back yard. I told her if she would move her car out I could go straight down the drive with my mower and not do any damage to the drive. She didn't seem to interested in this so I offered to cut the back lawn with my push mower for a small extra fee. Needless to say I did not get the job, but as others have said its a give and take. I could spend a few extra hours at a property if they want to pay the extra $$$. Most say it is OK though.

Roger
03-07-2004, 05:19 PM
I've had a customer for the past two years that insisted I use hand mowers. I tend to use hand mowers on anything 10K or less, but in this case my 36" Exmark w/b hydro should be fine. I will not offer to return this season -- the time is simply too long to do the work.

However, as I posted in a similar thread several weeks ago, I work in an area where ZTRs and stand-on mowers just began to appear last season. There were a couple of GD Super Surfers the year before, and perhaps one ZTR rider. But, last season several showed up.

In nearly all cases, the results were horrible! The common thread is that the new machines (both ZTRs and GD SS -- no Wright Standers here at all) were being used by new LCOs, often "kids" 20-30 years old. Their intent was to get out, run that machine across the lawn as quick as possible, maybe hit a couple of places with a trimmer, load up, and be gone. I suppose when they decided to get into the business, they were told that ZTRs and GD SSs were the most productive -- good advice, but not in the hands of a novice.

The poor results were clumps of grass, rows of clippings, no mowing pattern, divots torn up all over, spraying clippings all over the street, beds, and driveways.

Soon, some of my customers were not unaware of what was happening. They commented about "those funny looking mowers" and the poor job they saw next door, across the street, etc. Their comment, "...don't you bring one of those thing on my property." I could stand there for hours explaining operator problem, but they "know" that anybody can drive a lawn mower, and therefore the problem is that "funny looking lawn mower."

I am considering adding a new mower, a 48" machine. Of most interest is a Wright Stander, but am concerned that I would be asked to leave it on the trailer when some of my customers see it.

I believe the issue is operator error, not the machine. And, the pattern is new LCOs who never knew how to mow grass to start. The new owners are NOT existing LCOs adding a new mower to their fleet, those who have experience and know what needs to be done to do a good job. The "kids" have ruined the reputation of ZTRs and stand-on mowers!

craigs lawncare
03-07-2004, 07:23 PM
Roger, I don't think quality of work has anything to do with age. It has everything to do with the person that is doing the job.
People don't just turn 40 and wake up the next morning and say "Hey, I think I will start taking pride in my work!" The fact that someone is doing a terrible job, like not trimming around trees, blowing off the sidewalk and driveway or not mowing in a nice strait line is just from poor work ethics.:)

Craig

Turf Technologies
03-07-2004, 07:42 PM
Since I'm just starting, I don't have any lawns yet. But I can afford the ztr or a Stander without debt so I figure I'll start with what I'll need (and what this old bod' wants). Of course, if I bomb out this year, I hear the z retains it's resale value better than a WB.

If you dont have any lawns yet why spend that kind of money?If you have no payments and debts then why would you bomb out?Personally I have 2 of each, and I use my WBs on our nice lawns and the Z on our crap holes.

MacLawnCo
03-07-2004, 08:17 PM
what you need to remember is that customer perception is reality. as its been said, if they dont want a z on their prop, then no matter what you say they are not going to let you maintain it.

MOturkey
03-07-2004, 08:25 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only one who occasionally scuffs the turf. I was wondering if it was only me, now the truth is known! Seriously, though I'm going to ask a dumb question. Does anyone, on larger areas, particularly if the grass is high, mow around the rectangle, so that the discharge is always to the outside? I understand this doesn't stripe, but I'm sure not all of you intentionally stripe. For example, I mow the vacant lot between my neighbor and I, for nothing. Owner lives in California or somewhere, and never has it mowed, so to avoid our place looking like crap, I mow it. I generally just mow it counterclockwise. Seems to be the most efficient, and doesn't look bad, I don't think. Just curious.

Also, on larger areas, I sometimes just make a large loop at the end of each pass rather than the three point turn. Wastes a bit of fuel, possibly, but avoids having to come to a complete stop, and avoids divots altogether, if you make the loop large enough. Does anyone else use this method?

advantagelawn
03-08-2004, 01:52 AM
use three different striping patterns, alternating every week. this will work excellent with the cool season grasses you are mowing in NY. cool seasons stripe excellent, even without a striping kit. use a 3 point turn to prevent tearing spots, NEVER zero turn, will rip the grass straight up. follow these instructions and your lawns will look like golf courses.

Redline
05-17-2004, 10:47 PM
Hauling clippings from a Walker gets old in hurry.

hubby-wife
05-17-2004, 11:06 PM
I read some of the ztr comments and have this for consideration-
my customer has a bermuda lawn that is gorgous, thick and green and we started mowing it with a wb. I put the ztr on it last week and made no divots with the turns, circles at the trees, etc, She looked at it and asked "do you expect me to pay for this?". All she saw was the different "tire tracks" made with the two mowers. I must admit, the lawn looked better pushed that rode. This week in pushed it. Its a cornor lot with sidewalk and "LOTS" of edging. Usually I edge and trim and my wife mows. This week I did it all as she could not mow with a back injury from a fall. She is better now and will try mowing.
Comments about the tire tracks..

Shuter
05-18-2004, 12:02 AM
I also work in a high -enfd neighborhood. I use wbs as many of the customers have said in the past the "ride on " mowers did damage and they did not want them on their property.

TROTTMAN
05-18-2004, 12:32 AM
http://www.convertiblemower.com/

It can be a zero turn rider or walkbehind. If they are worried about the weight, then jump off and walk behind it (or for hills or low hanging branches/decks/etc).

I don't know if the quality is up with eXmark, Toro, Scag, and the like, but it does look like a legitimate commercial mower with good quality. Hope this helps...

TROTTMAN
05-18-2004, 12:36 AM
I mow in a rectangle shape all the time. None of my mowers can stripe anyway and it looks fine when I am done. It also reduces the stress on the grass and you can make turns faster without worrying about tearing up the turf.

As far as the turns go, I ususally just reverse the inside wheel a little bit to keep the grass from messing up. The main thing (as you and everyone else on here knows) is just to keep the inside wheel from being totally stopped while the outer wheel turns.

brucec32
05-18-2004, 02:11 AM
wb's have always seemed more forgiving that ZTR's to me. Especially on slopes, wet or soft turf, and areas where it's turn turn turn. I can even get away with a skid sometimes with a belt drive wb where the ZTR would really cause problems. But the ZTR is so much faster and easier to use in its element you really have to have one. Some turf is tougher than others. I found Bermuda and Zoysia to tolerate the weight of the ZTR very well, St. Augustine moderately, and Tall Fescue least of all. But in the right conditions it still does pretty good.

I keep around one of each to handle all situations. I specify the mower type in the bid, then if they want the wb they pay for the wb.

RedWingsDet
05-18-2004, 09:31 AM
Originally posted by Roger

I believe the issue is operator error, not the machine. And, the pattern is new LCOs who never knew how to mow grass to start. The new owners are NOT existing LCOs adding a new mower to their fleet, those who have experience and know what needs to be done to do a good job. The "kids" have ruined the reputation of ZTRs and stand-on mowers!

i have a stander, and if i do a lawn, and it does a horrid job, i do it until it looks perfect. i am very uptight about lawns that look bad that i do, and i dont leave until its perfect. i am very uptight about my companys image. but i only have to redo something once in a great while (the first time i tried a stander it scalped and left big clumps) but i think ive got the hang of it sofar.... anyone have tips on cutting with a stander, also, how not to get clippings in beds? thanks.