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View Full Version : Life under a mower deck........Contamination!


Fescue Farmer
07-21-2004, 10:26 PM
Fella's,

Help me out on this one - How concerned should I be about spreading weed seeds, brown patch, or any other unwanted thing from yard to yard via my mower deck and/or tires?

Usually, on each job, before the mowers get loaded back on the truck, I will blow any debris off of the front and/or top of the deck before going to the next job. How effective can this be though?

I mowed a weed infested yard that was sadly fescue free (horror of horrors!!!!:eek: ) and then proceeded to a lovely 3 3/4" thick fescue lawn (aaahhhhhh :) ). Halfway through the job, it hit me like a ton of mulch - I may be contaminating this yard! Visions of guys in gas masks and full body suits hosing my Hustler down with Clorox ran through my head!

Even if the surface of the deck is clean, life under a mower deck is nasty! I am already thinking about changing my weekly route according to weed grass lawns first; thoroughly clean mowers; then mow weed free lawns. Am I going overboard, or should I be legitimately concerned?

Envy Lawn Service
07-21-2004, 10:35 PM
Yes, foremost you should be concerned about spreading disease. But yeah you will cross contaminate your good yards.

tiedeman
07-21-2004, 10:37 PM
I am always worried about when I clean the decks out. What am I breathing in and absorbing through my skin.

Likestomow
07-21-2004, 10:46 PM
When I get build up on the underside of my decks, they are packed pretty solid. I don't worry about dropping build up from the last yard onto the current yard.

Actually, I wish there was some way to accomplish this, then I wouldn't have to clean out the decks as much. And it could be done at a point where contamination wouldn't be a problem any way.

dvmcmrhp52
07-21-2004, 10:57 PM
Fungal movement is a concern,however weed seeds are little concern to me. How many lawns are not treated for weeds?
And the number of weed seeds that you will actually transfer from one lawn to another??
And then you have germination rates...........

precisioncut
07-21-2004, 11:02 PM
It's not good to spread weeds, but it partly keeps you in business. When the weeds do show, they pay you to spray. But I wouldn't purposely do it. It is a thought though.

Jason Pallas
07-21-2004, 11:25 PM
Yes - we always wash our mowers thoroughly after every lawn.

precisioncut
07-21-2004, 11:36 PM
Jason Pallas-How the hell do you get anything done? Washing them, with water and soap, or blowing them off? What do you mean?

Fescue Farmer
07-21-2004, 11:38 PM
Jason Pallas,

HOW do you wash each mower thoroughly after each lawn?

Do you have some high-end clientel that would pay for something like that? If I thoroughly washed each mower inbetween jobs, I would have to wash it alot - so much that I would have to let 30-40% of my accounts go because I wouldn't have time to mow! :)

Now mind you, If I had some clients who would pay double/triple/quadruple or whatever, to thoroughly wash my mowers before they rolled onto their turf, I would probably let the others go or start a new crew up. Might as well wash boots and trimmers too!

dvmcmrhp52
07-21-2004, 11:39 PM
Originally posted by Jason Pallas
Yes - we always wash our mowers thoroughly after every lawn.




Uhuh,and you only have 2 lawns,right???????????

CuttingCrew
07-22-2004, 12:22 AM
That thought crossed my mind, but I figure more weed seeds blow in from the neighbors weed fields than my mower could carry.

Neal Wolbert
07-22-2004, 12:54 AM
Jason, I would hire your company because I care about the quality of my lawn. Way to go...keep it up! You will find the folks who will pay you a little more for your careful approach. There is always a market for the best. Neal

PMLAWN
07-22-2004, 03:05 AM
One mower per job, just drive a 53' semi. Triple deck-that should carry them all. J/K

This is a problem that is shared by all LCOs so unless everybody does like Jason I would not worry to much about it. I believe blowing does the best because most seeds get knocked off the top of the grass and will fall on the deck and sit there. Those are the ones to remove. The ones under the deck will stay there till you clean the deck.
In fall part of my ad for aeration states "cleaning plugs out from last job so not to plug their weeds in your lawn" That has caught the eye of a few people and helped sell a few jobs. Time wise for me that is OK because I have a Pluger and it only has 8 tines which are very easy to clean out. Less than 10 sec.

Richard Martin
07-22-2004, 03:34 AM
My own lawn is the last one cut every week. I cut thorugh some of the nastiest, weed infested lawns you have ever seen. I scrape my deck once a week when I sharpen the blades, usually on Sunday. My lawn is virtually weed free.

Judging from my personal experience I would have to say the risk of cross contamination is slim to none.

LwnmwrMan22
07-22-2004, 05:58 AM
C'mon people, you're not bringing weeds in from other people's yards, at least not any more than what's blowing in from the neighbor's yard or being carried around in the dog's hair when they run down to the park and roll around. Sheesh. I am NOT worried about that.

If some customer were to lecture me that I was bringing in weeds from another's yard, they would instantly be put on the PITA list and dropped the next year.

Littleriver1
07-22-2004, 06:58 AM
I ran into this problem this year with one customer. I do clean my mowers before I cut his grass. Bleach and water mix. I have never seen so much brown patch as I have this year. It rains almost every day at around 5 PM. So you know what is going on all night long, every night. I don't really believe I am causing any of the problems weather I clean my decks or not. However cleaning for seeds is a stupid idea, and if you advertise that you do it, then your makeing your customers more stupid than they already are. If when you go past your trailer with the blower to put it away and you blast the decks to clean them off then you did a good job and you get an ataboy. All those seeds you blow off will go somewhere, but if your cutting the grass weekly there shouldn't be any seeds. With all that blade sharping and changing, deck cleaning and all the stuff you all clam you do, I find it hard to believe you really make all that money you clam you make.

PMLAWN
07-22-2004, 07:25 AM
Littleriver--I do a lot of commerical and 2 HOAs with very large lots of weekly cut but otherwise uncared for "grass". In the weeks time there is a field of 15" tall stems with seed all over the top. The stuff comes up almost overnight. When the mower comes off the lot you can see the seeds laying on the deck so yes I do blow them off before the mower goes in the trailer. Over the span of a week it might add 10 min to my work week but if it keeps just 1 homeowner happy than it is an investment I will make.
As far as the plugs---Plant, roots, and dirt will fall on to the next job and that has a good chance of rooting and growing,plus I normally add fert. as well. I feel that most of my customers are smart enough to know that can happen and are happy that I take the step to avoid that. And because I do advertize that, I know that I got a few jobs because of it. My customers and I may both be stupid but at least we are happy with our lawns and I am still making money

Up North
07-22-2004, 10:04 AM
Geez guys...I'm only starting in this business but common sense tells me that this isn't a big problem.

Fescue Farmer, your profile says you've been in business for 4 years, wouldn't you have lost a lawn or two by now if you were spreading diseases or wouldn't you be mowing ALL weedy lawns by now if you're spreading tons of weed seeds?

IMO, yeah it could possibly happen. But not to the point to where it is going to cause a major issue. Otherwise I think you'd see warnings all over about it from other LCO's on Lawnsite.com.

Like I said, I'm new to the business and could be way off base but I just don't see how it could be a BIG problem.

Buck

bayoulawn
07-22-2004, 12:02 PM
So do you tell your clients....."Huh huh after i mow each yard i wash my mower so i wont give anyone's weeds to someone else?" And they beleive you.

LwnmwrMan22
07-22-2004, 12:22 PM
All you guys with open trailers, doesn't the wind pretty much blow the stuff off when you're going from yard to yard anyways?

If you're just going down the street, wouldn't a nice 30 mph wind coming from someone's dandelion yard bring seeds into your yard just as much?

RedRock
07-22-2004, 01:02 PM
are we talking about lawn 'AIDS' ? :p

Mr. Magpie
07-22-2004, 01:49 PM
I feel the problem is real in theory, and does happen, but it's not widespread. Common sense tells me to blow the deck off after leaving an exceptionally nasty lawn, otherwise there is no cause for concern, IMO.

Mico Landscaping design
07-22-2004, 01:51 PM
Ok come on now the most u should have to do is at least blow the mower off and thats all... i been in the landscaping bussiness long enough to know that if u go on a true true green lawn right after u did dandilion yard it wont have no effect in it... come on now wash with bleah? thats why u got the brown spots in the yard common sense there :)!!!good luck

NC Big Daddy
07-22-2004, 05:17 PM
It's not an issue with anything other than fungi. Clemson's turf grass website has a study on this very issue.

ProMo
07-22-2004, 05:59 PM
If working in a citrus canker quaranteened area around here you have to decontaminate equipment before and after entering property.

qualitylandscaping
07-22-2004, 06:26 PM
I wash my mower maybe every 10-15 days... Weed seeds are always in the air. It's pointless to try to clean the mower just for that reason, because they are going to end up there anyway in some form. Even if you keep yours clean, the guy mowing the weedy lawn next to yours will be blowing his clippings over and spreading the weeds...

flyboy03
07-22-2004, 09:29 PM
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood a beautiful day for a neighbor. could you, would you, be my neighbor.....can you say....;) dallis grass:o ....i knew you could.

JBird
07-22-2004, 10:12 PM
You know, I do blow the grass off my mowers before I leave a job but....it's to benefit me not them. I don't like it all in a big ball on my trailer gate and I do it to keep it from building up around the spindles and pumps and retaining heat. It's kinda like throwing a grass blanket on things you are trying to keep cool. And, spreading seeds???? Well, just maybe it could happen but if you have any windshield time at all his neighbor at the end of the block probably gets them when you hit about thirty miles an hour

Precision
07-22-2004, 11:21 PM
weeds are not what you might transmitt from one lawn to another.

The critters are what you may give a ride to. Chinch Bugs and the like. But you can't really get rid of the possiblity. Blow off and hope is about it.

Anything else will reduce you to mowing 3-4 yards per day. I don't Know about you, but I cant live on that kind of income.

Jpocket
07-24-2004, 04:53 PM
Originally posted by Fescue Farmer
Fella's,

Help me out on this one - How concerned should I be about spreading weed seeds, brown patch, or any other unwanted thing from yard to yard via my mower deck and/or tires?

Usually, on each job, before the mowers get loaded back on the truck, I will blow any debris off of the front and/or top of the deck before going to the next job. How effective can this be though?

I mowed a weed infested yard that was sadly fescue free (horror of horrors!!!!:eek: ) and then proceeded to a lovely 3 3/4" thick fescue lawn (aaahhhhhh :) ). Halfway through the job, it hit me like a ton of mulch - I may be contaminating this yard! Visions of guys in gas masks and full body suits hosing my Hustler down with Clorox ran through my head!

Even if the surface of the deck is clean, life under a mower deck is nasty! I am already thinking about changing my weekly route according to weed grass lawns first; thoroughly clean mowers; then mow weed free lawns. Am I going overboard, or should I be legitimately concerned?

Del9175
07-24-2004, 05:49 PM
There is an area in the county I live in and do a bit of work in that is considered quarentined. They found some citrus canker in several orange trees. Last I heard they are uncertain how it spreads. While out mowing one day, someone from the Dept. of Agr. followed me to my next job and informed me that I needed to start spraying down my mower with a bleach and water solution between each lawn. I said will do, no problem. This was about four years ago, and I don't remember if I ever did, but I do remember carrying a sprayer filled with it just in case they checked me out.