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View Full Version : To Bag or Not To Bag? Equipment Questions


MSmith
02-02-2005, 12:05 PM
I am brand new to lawn care industry; 17 years Old. I have a couple of question to draw on wisdom of the forum. It looks like I am in great shape on getting some good contracts; apartment complexes, residential, duplexes; I have lined up several jobs through rental management company contacts.

I have my blower, trimmer and edger. I have also bought a Toro Proline beltdrive WB 42" used, 3 yrs old. I am considering buying a Toro Zero Turn, because it will greatly increase my efficiency; going with Toro so I can keep my service needs with one place.

My main questions follow:

1. Should I get a mower with a bagger? I have one commercial customer that thinks that makes sense. We are in NC with lots of pine trees, and he thinks going over with a bagger with pine straw and small debris is more efficient than blowing or raking.

2. Should I even get a zero turn rider yet? the walk behind will do alot, but it really does look like I am getting all the business I can handle, even with hiring an employee full time?

Any input or wisdom greatly appreciated from a rookie

FrankenScagMachines
02-02-2005, 12:56 PM
Welcome to LawnSite MSmith! If you milk it right, this site will give a lot of good info. Don't forget about the Search feature, located near the top of the page. If there is something specific you are looking for info on, be sure and try a search before asking, as there is gobs of great info in the archives. Don't be afraid to post a new subject either!

Now, on to your question:
You will get a lot of varied responses on this. Not everyone will agree on how to do business or what to use, or bagging or not. That is the beauty of it all, everyone and their business is different, and things vary from area to area. I'm one of those people who don't mind bagging, but you have to be setup properly to do it profitably and not make yourself miserable in the process.
I have a 10 bushel triple bag collection system on my Ferris zero turn. I love it. On a large property, sure I'd rather just discharge, but bagging is a lot neater and cleaner, and that bagger sure makes things quick and easy. It does make the mower a bit larger, but still very maneuverable. It holds a lot, so you don't have to dump frequently like with dinky little side baggers. It works great, only clogs if you do not empty when full. Still holds hills well with bagger. Its not real fast to switch from baggin to discharging, but unless you are baggin tiny yards, its worth it in time saved by not having to dump often.
Then, to haul the clippings, I have a Ford F350 with a 7.5x12' flatbed (with sides of course). This holds a ton of clippings. I can bag all day before having to dump. Its great. Of course, I use it for much more than just hauling grass but that is one thing that it is used for on a regular basis. If you have a pickup truck, thats fine too, you can fit a good bit of grass in one, particularly if you make some simple sides 1-2' high to slide into your stake pockets, then you will hold as much grass as you need in one day.
Another thing I needed the bagger for (besides picky customers and thick fast growing lawns with tight quarters), was for leaf cleanups. You can't do leaf cleanups without a nice large powerful bagger. I'm very glad to have this one, but I could make some improvements for leaf cleanups (no complaints for grass bagging, and does work great in leaves but I would increase capacity and get a dump from seat type).

To me, having a rider mower is great but one of the several reasons I like them so much, is that you have capability to run a nice big bagger on them... So I say go for it if you can afford it. Get one made by the mower manufacturer. They're more expensive than aftermarket ones, but are made to fit specifically to your mower, and look a lot cleaner and "factory". Plus, they run off of the mower deck, not a seperate engine. To decide if you need one with bags or a dump-from seat type (referred to as a "clamshell" hopper), think about do you need to haul the debris off in your truck or dump it onsite most of the time? If you need to haul it differently than usual at times, how will you handle that? For me, the bagger type was better than a clamshell, as dumping the grass on the ground would not make sense since I have to haul it. This type allows me to dump into the truck without handling the grass twice. A clamshell would be better for me in the fall leaf cleanups, as I either leave it at the curb for city to pickup, or else I suck it into my truck with a leaf vacuum. But, with the bags I can dump on the ground. With a clamshell, I cannot dump into the truck. A clamshell type is more expensive usually, but if you're mainly using it for leaves, it would be worth the cost as they can hold a little more, and much faster to dump.

Sorry that was long, but I hope to help you out some. I am 17 as well and will graduate this spring. To me, it only makes sense to get a nice bagger for a rider but that is ultimately up to you and only your needs will dictate that.

Eric

STAN1366
02-02-2005, 12:56 PM
Sounds like you've thought this out well for a beginner. Since we don't have pine straw up here I can really say what to get, but here's what I've got. My Bobcat w/b has a Grass gobbler bagger which I use with double blades(hi-lifts & gators). There's been lots of talk about the Megmo blades being superior to doubles and in your case it might eliminate bagging, but I don't know. I'm thinking of getting a set this year when I get the $$. I've got an Exmark Lazer Hp 52" with the Ultra-Vac which can vacuum up quite a bit of debris. I've never compared the Toro Zero turn mowers to the Exmark, but a lot of guys on this forum say they are similar and Toro's got their own vac so it's got to be on par to the Ultra-Vac. I made my own bracket to mount the Grass gobbler from the w/b to the Lazer for those times of the year when I don't take the Ultra-vac with me. Both mowers have an OCDC so that they can both keep the debris out of beds, off of cars, houses, & do a poor mans version of mulching without having to resort to adding the mulching kit. Having to add & remove it costs time and limits the machine to only mulching when it's installed.I've got one for the Lazer and wasn't happy with the results. Having the GG, vac & the OCDC enables me to have more flexibility with one machine and I can change over to anything I want in the field without using any tools. I'd recommend getting the Grass gobbler(with the leaf extension) for the w/b or the Accelerator aluminum bagger which is lighter, but more expensive. Then, if you get the zero turn, get the toro vac system. Good luck!

marko
02-02-2005, 01:23 PM
Can you dispose of waste easily? Example: In Amarillo, Tx 4 houses share a dumpster in an alley. We bagged everything because it was easy to dump. In Burlington, IA the land fill offered free disposal but it was a magor pain to haul and empty a full size pickup bed of grass clipping every week. Now in Chicago, you pay to dump so mulching makes sense here. Type in Megmow in the search and see what people have to say about them. Bobby has some pictures of a leaf cleanup that looked great using these blades. Good luck

MSmith
02-02-2005, 01:37 PM
Do many of you Bag your debris and leave it at the curb?

lwcmattlifter
02-02-2005, 01:51 PM
I don't bag often unless its leaf season. I never leave bags at a customers property. Look at it this way. Say you do the property at the end of the week and trash pick up is at the beginning. Then the sun bakes it and now you have a rotten grass smell. Now the customer has stinky grass and has to look at ugly bags of grass on their curb for a few days. Thats why I don't leave them. Try to sell your customers on mulching. There are lots of reasons why mulching is better than bagging. Do a search... you will have lots of reading.

scaglawnsnj
02-02-2005, 02:19 PM
I am brand new to lawn care industry; 17 years Old. I have a couple of question to draw on wisdom of the forum. It looks like I am in great shape on getting some good contracts; apartment complexes, residential, duplexes; I have lined up several jobs through rental management company contacts.

I have my blower, trimmer and edger. I have also bought a Toro Proline beltdrive WB 42" used, 3 yrs old. I am considering buying a Toro Zero Turn, because it will greatly increase my efficiency; going with Toro so I can keep my service needs with one place.

My main questions follow:

1. Should I get a mower with a bagger? I have one commercial customer that thinks that makes sense. We are in NC with lots of pine trees, and he thinks going over with a bagger with pine straw and small debris is more efficient than blowing or raking.

2. Should I even get a zero turn rider yet? the walk behind will do alot, but it really does look like I am getting all the business I can handle, even with hiring an employee full time?

Any input or wisdom greatly appreciated from a rookie
I bag all high end lawns..The crappy lawns I do not bag
The people with crappy lawns don't seem to mind. The non-bagging part.
Not bagging good lawns, the lawn will go to hell.

marko
02-02-2005, 02:57 PM
If you properly mulch a lawn, it is more benificial for the turf to not collect the clippings. You are adding (some say) up to a pound of nitrogen per year by not collecting. If you treat with a systemic pesticide they also recommend not to collect the clippings. If at all possible you are much more productive mulching than messing with bags of grass.

MSmith
02-02-2005, 04:21 PM
Do you mulch every lawn that you do not bag?

ScCo
02-02-2005, 05:03 PM
Ideally speaking none of us would have to bag a whole lot. However, reality is that in many cases customers dictate what method of collection of clippings, mulching, or side discharge that we have to use on their lawns.

If I had my way I'd have a machine with me that mulched, and one that side discharged. However if I had such a setup i'd lose 30% of my current customer base because they insist on seeing the clippings being taken off of their property.

so, we use 60" super z's, one of which has the collection system which can be installed or removed in it's entirety in about 1 minute. So far it is the fastest system I have seen to put on and take off of a machine. The main complaint I have against the system is that I would like it better if it held more clippings than the 9 bushels or so that it holds.