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View Full Version : Your #1 Choice in Reducing Clippings


tiedeman
02-04-2005, 09:20 PM
Ok, so this year I am hoping of cutting down on the amount of grass clippings that I bag. What do you guys suggest as the best way to reduce clippings that you have found based on a 7 day mowing schedule of lawns?

I am talking about techniques, blades, etc.

I have before in the past experimented with blades (gators, high lifts, running doubles), double cutting, slower speeds, faster speeds, mowing in dry conditions, and wet conditions.

I have never personally used a mulching kit on my larger mowers, just the smaller ones and I was never happy with it, always left clumps I felt and was more of a mess.

Would a OCDC shute perhaps help at all or a waste of money?

I just want to hear what has worked for people????

DennisF
02-04-2005, 09:29 PM
I mulch exclusively with standard lift blades. Gators for leaf clean-ups. I cut St.Augustine wet or dry and it leaves very few clumps. I just run back over the few clumps that are left and that cleans them up. No bagging ever.

1grnlwn
02-04-2005, 09:47 PM
Why do you bag?

dishboy
02-04-2005, 10:43 PM
Ok, so this year I am hoping of cutting down on the amount of grass clippings that I bag. What do you guys suggest as the best way to reduce clippings that you have found based on a 7 day mowing schedule of lawns?

I am talking about techniques, blades, etc.

I have before in the past experimented with blades (gators, high lifts, running doubles), double cutting, slower speeds, faster speeds, mowing in dry conditions, and wet conditions.

I have never personally used a mulching kit on my larger mowers, just the smaller ones and I was never happy with it, always left clumps I felt and was more of a mess.

Would a OCDC shute perhaps help at all or a waste of money?

I just want to hear what has worked for people????


Do you have control of the fertilizer program? Win goes a long way to making mulching possible. What equipment are you running?

Norm Al
02-04-2005, 10:55 PM
quit mowing and start landscaping!

brucec32
02-04-2005, 11:06 PM
Ok, so this year I am hoping of cutting down on the amount of grass clippings that I bag. What do you guys suggest as the best way to reduce clippings that you have found based on a 7 day mowing schedule of lawns?

I am talking about techniques, blades, etc.

I have before in the past experimented with blades (gators, high lifts, running doubles), double cutting, slower speeds, faster speeds, mowing in dry conditions, and wet conditions.

I have never personally used a mulching kit on my larger mowers, just the smaller ones and I was never happy with it, always left clumps I felt and was more of a mess.

Would a OCDC shute perhaps help at all or a waste of money?

I just want to hear what has worked for people????

Zero experience with bluegrass, which I assume doesn't mulch as well as some of the southern grasses. Spring is the worst time of the year for lush growth, I assume. If it's like Tall Fescue in the South double cutting is what I've had to do. Certain mowers seem to handle it better than others and disperse clippings better.

Once summer arrives and things are drier and grass has "hardened off" more, the Fescue mulches pretty good too. I discharge on it till about mid June, then switch to mulching. You might be able to mulch there by mid summer there too.

An ocdc really doesn't help mulch anything, just keeps clippings from hosing down walks and shrubs.

Some mower decks are better dischargers than others. I know a cheap toro 44" wb I have does great on tall moist grass. No idea why.

tiedeman
02-04-2005, 11:23 PM
Why do you bag?

because of how thick the grass is. If I don't, the lawn looks horrible. That is why I was hoping of trying to mulch more. Maybe try some different techinques that I haven't tried or heard of yet.

RedWingsDet
02-04-2005, 11:27 PM
tiedeman... Sorry I cant help. However im curious. Did you buy your new mower?

gogetter
02-04-2005, 11:51 PM
How about PGR's?? :)

But more to your question, as much as I hate double cutting, I would choose that over bagging and hauling grass away. I just HATE bagging & hauling grass!
I know there are guys here that do that as a regular part of there service, everyday, but I just can't imagine doing it all the time.

Could you get away with just side discharging and then double cutting the worst parts rather then the whole lawn?

Unless someone is REALLY set up efficiently for bagging and hauling, I think it takes the same or more time then to just double cut where and when needed.

Either way, I will be following this thread, as I would like to cut down on the double cutting on some lawns myself.

Jeff@SGLC.ca
02-05-2005, 12:21 AM
I find I can double cut the areas that need it when clumped and it helps the situation fine. I agree bagging sucks and I only do it in the fall when doing the leaves as well.

1grnlwn
02-05-2005, 12:34 PM
The reason I asked that basic question was in some areas bagging is just standard procedure. I think it is a waste of time, energy and nutrients. But I also realize I am not at their location, so I may not have all the facts. Out turf is the same as yours. What I have done is switched to double blades. The clipping length reduction is amazingly different between singles and doubles. I am assuming you are on a seven day schedule. Even with doubles we ocasionally have to double cut the thick areas. Here are some tips. Blades need to be very sharp. Deck needs to be clean. Dicharge chute needs to be in metal scrap pile. When mowing back and forth, start in the thickest section and work towards the thinner turf. Slow down. KBG in the spring is the reason I have such a laugh at 13 mph mowers. If you need to double cut an area raise the deck 1/4 to 1/2" . If you need to double cut the whole thing go 90 deg to first pass. Do not mow the agerssive yards wet. I don't know what cut height you use, but consider raising the height a little. Tall grass will acept more clippings faster than short. A lot of people around here put their fertilized yards on a 5 day schedule, and some are still tough. With as many epa fights our industry has I don't know why we bag grass. True there are some compost sites, but pure grass doesn't compost well and unless we deposit it at a site ourselves, better just figure it's going to the dump. I really never understood mulching, other than a gimic to sell homeowners expensive mowers with extra HP engines. I have had customers say bag it or mulch it and I say why don't you let me cut it and if you don't like the cut I will leave quietly. PS I run doubles all year long. I have removed because of dust in drought , but then I go to irrigated yard and start cussing.


Mark

truenorthlandscaping
02-05-2005, 01:12 PM
Hey 1grnwln,
I like what you have to say. Can you talk a little more about running double blades?

tiedeman
02-05-2005, 01:18 PM
I have tried doubles before in the past, but never really liked them. I really didn't see the difference. What was the setup of doubles that you used 1grnlwn?

Like you mentioned I don't more the thick wet lawns until they have dried off, yup deck is clean all the time, and blades are always sharp. And yes, usually when I double cut is I go through the until lawn first, then come back to beginning because the chances of the grass being dryer is greater and thus reallly no clumps at all.

The problem is really from people that have irrigation systems. Some I have talked into coming every 5 days, but others only want 7 days.

Lux Lawn
02-05-2005, 01:26 PM
Tideman
To cut down on the bagging a lot of times we will double cut the lawn then take the backpack and blow off anything that maybe on the top,or if need be put the catcher on for the second pass and catch whats left you are still bagging but its a little less.

P.S. Nice new signature line. :)

tiedeman
02-05-2005, 01:32 PM
ya, I have tried that before in the past too, both things. I am just trying to emlinate that extra time bagging, or double cutting, etc. That extra time can be a killer.

Thanks, I thought that people would like that signature line. Probably few people understand what it is about though :)

mtdman
02-05-2005, 01:40 PM
My biggest bagging time is usually in the spring, when the grass is growing like crazy and is wet as hell. Usually after June the need goes away. My problem is this season the city won't be taking clippings any more, so I will have to start hauling them with me, which I have little capacity to do so.

tiedeman
02-05-2005, 01:45 PM
I know what you mean. I have to haul everything away. I only have 3 customers where I can dump on their property all the others I have to throw into the back of the truck. Sure it's not a lot, I probably have to bag lawns about 3 days out of the week, but just the hassle of bagging it (spending the extra time on the lawn, when I could be somewhere else completing a job), and then dumping it after I done for the day is nerve racking. Yes for those that are going to ask this next, I do charge customers extra for bagging too.

Markf
02-05-2005, 02:08 PM
Jeff,
Sorry about the post in this thread. However, I tried to PM you and I was unable to send it through.
I see that you may own a laundromat. How is that going? Is it worth the trouble? I have a store front that may make a suitable location for one if the town allows it. Where did you get your information and start up cost info?
Thx.
Mark

gogetter
02-05-2005, 04:18 PM
KBG in the spring is the reason I have such a laugh at 13 mph mowers.

I wouldn't want to be limited to traveling at 7mph just because I can only mow at 7mph.
I'll bet that 13mph is nice when transporting from trailer to lawn, or lawn to lawn, or lawn to trailer, etc.

rodfather
02-05-2005, 04:34 PM
Troy, maybe try what we did last year. Aggressive lawns are mowed on a 5 day rotation...no if's, ands, or buts...period

1grnlwn
02-05-2005, 04:39 PM
For doubles I run gators over standard lifts. Ferris mower. I guess it depends on the deck configuration. I have in the past bagged one property. It is a car dealership, with millions of business cards and cigs. I mow it once then put the WB bag on the rider and raise deck and bag the trash and some clippings. PIA. When you don't have a bagging mower the decision is not a hard one. Then all I have to do is make sure I never purchase a bagger and the decision stays simple.

Mark

Critical Care
02-05-2005, 05:40 PM
Tiedeman, I think that people have different standards. Some canít accept collecting grass at all simply because itís too much work for them, others only collect grass because the finished product looks better. Different strokes for different folks, and surely if you starve a lawn, never water it, you can then run over it with your mower and collect very little grass. It will be less work for you, but it will also look like crappola. So the real question is are we after convenience or a quality looking finished product? Probably most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Personally, I collect everything, but there are reasons why I do this. For me, collecting is not a PIA, simply because I have to equipment to do it, and I also compost everything right on my property instead of having to make runs to the landfill. So for me, I donít see a big plus in shifting over to the convenience of shredding grass versus what I believe is currently a more quality-finished product.

tiedeman
02-05-2005, 08:36 PM
that is a good point critical

JohnGr
02-05-2005, 09:33 PM
We have used the Exmark turf tracer with the mulching deck and mulching blades and have been very satisfied. When it is wet you may have to pick up a few clumps here and there leaves the tuef looking great. If you are going to be mulching I would suggest get the most horsepower you can it really helps.

bryand28
02-05-2005, 10:21 PM
our city street department picks up the clippings if u put them in a bag... my problem is... finding a bag big enough to fit over the hopper of my walker... our local dealer SOMETIMES carries them, and they are like 65 bucks for 50 bags... anybody know where i can get the big bags cheaper?

bryand28
02-06-2005, 06:59 PM
anybody????????

KathysLGC
02-07-2005, 10:47 AM
Have you tried MegMos? I only hear good things about them. They are in my line up of things to get this year.

mmacsek
02-07-2005, 12:06 PM
I bag about half of my accounts. I don't understand a 5 day mowing schedule. I cut Monday thru Friday and it is a FULL schedule. How do you do a 5 day cut?? I agree with a bagged lawn looks great. We charge accordingly and haul everything off. I compost on my own property. If the grass is thick( springtime) I will raise the deck a half inch and discharge where possible and cut fast. Then drop the deck and cut at 45 degrees from the "first" cut. It doesn't take that much more time and gives a polished look. These are some big dollar properties. There are no clumps and walking the yard with a backpack is not time saving over my method. I've tried both methods. The finished product sells itself. With all that being said, It works for me. Matt

soonernation
02-07-2005, 12:26 PM
For all of you guys that discharge or mulch only, do you ever run in to thatch issues? When I first joined this sight I noticed, right off the bat, that a good majority of you do this and have always wondered. I usually bag 1-2 times a month during the heavier months and mulch the rest.

JKOOPERS
02-07-2005, 01:12 PM
double cut it

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 01:22 PM
mmacsek,
what do you not understand?

marko
02-07-2005, 01:52 PM
sooner nation. If you follow the 1/3 rule (never cut more than a third of the blade) grass clipping add 0 to a thatch problem. You actually benefit the turf more by letting them lie on the ground and compost. I always bagged in the past, but starting this year, never will again

Lux Lawn
02-07-2005, 01:55 PM
Tideman--Are your snowplowing odds getting better for next year?

mmacsek
02-07-2005, 01:58 PM
mmacsek,
what do you not understand?
I know I'm missing something obvious but here's my question. If I cut all my Monday's on Monday, 5 days later is Saturday. Do you cut Tuesday's five days later on Sunday? What do you do when it rains? I cut from 7:30 A.M. until about 6:00 P.M. Monday thru Friday. A five day cut seems like a scheduling nightmare. I'm not being sarcastic, What am I missing? Matt

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 02:01 PM
I know I'm missing something obvious but here's my question. If I cut all my Monday's on Monday, 5 days later is Saturday. Do you cut Tuesday's five days later on Sunday? What do you do when it rains? I cut from 7:30 A.M. until about 6:00 P.M. Monday thru Friday. A five day cut seems like a scheduling nightmare. I'm not being sarcastic, What am I missing? Matt

oh, I see what you mean now. Usually what I do is it's not always 5 days, sometimes 4, sometimes 6. For example, mow on Monday next on Friday, mow on Friday next one on Tuesday, mow on Tuesday next one on Friday.

Sometimes is happens where you mow on Tuesday and the next mow will be on Monday, and also sometimes it is where you mow on Monday and the next mow will be on Thursday.

Basically it's anywhere between 4 to 6 day schedule, mostly 5 day though.

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 02:02 PM
Tideman--Are your snowplowing odds getting better for next year?


just keep on checking up with my signature line every now and then :)

rodfather
02-07-2005, 02:07 PM
Basically it's anywhere between 4 to 6 day schedule, mostly 5 day though.

Since I brought this up, that's the main idea...

Critical Care
02-07-2005, 02:38 PM
I don't know about all of you but I like a simple weekly schedule where I have a specific route on each day of the week. North of town on Mondays, downtown on Tuesdays, and so forth. Gosh, that makes it too easy.

And Marko, I hate to disagree with you and a lot of other people, but you can "over mulch" and dump too much grass down. Of course we've heard not to take more than a third off, but how much is a third? It could be an inch, or it could be a couple of inches. We can figure that grass will decompose at different rates, given different conditions, right? I bet it takes longer to break down an inch of grass than it does to grow it, and if you cut off that much per week you have to figure that it's building up.

In one case, I took over an account where the owner had been mulching, and only mulching, his tall fescue lawn for several years. There was so much un-decomposed mulch down in spots it had actually smothered the grass. For a month straight I kept collecting this dried old stuff, and then finally the grass began to fill back into these areas. Adding nutrients back into the soil is good, but too much grass mulch doesn't create the best environment. Many turf diseases also love to get into that thatch layer.

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 02:46 PM
yup, I read an research article last year about mulching lawns I think through Michigan St and Purdue, and how in fact it still does increase thatch

dishboy
02-07-2005, 02:58 PM
yup, I read an research article last year about mulching lawns I think through Michigan St and Purdue, and how in fact it still does increase thatch

Can you find the research article and give us a link?

dishboy
02-07-2005, 03:07 PM
I don't know about all of you but I like a simple weekly schedule where I have a specific route on each day of the week. North of town on Mondays, downtown on Tuesdays, and so forth. Gosh, that makes it too easy.

And Marko, I hate to disagree with you and a lot of other people, but you can "over mulch" and dump too much grass down. Of course we've heard not to take more than a third off, but how much is a third? It could be an inch, or it could be a couple of inches. We can figure that grass will decompose at different rates, given different conditions, right? I bet it takes longer to break down an inch of grass than it does to grow it, and if you cut off that much per week you have to figure that it's building up.

In one case, I took over an account where the owner had been mulching, and only mulching, his tall fescue lawn for several years. There was so much un-decomposed mulch down in spots it had actually smothered the grass. For a month straight I kept collecting this dried old stuff, and then finally the grass began to fill back into these areas. Adding nutrients back into the soil is good, but too much grass mulch doesn't create the best environment. Many turf diseases also love to get into that thatch layer.



This example is without merit unless you are sure of all the other cultural practices in place are not contributing to the problem . High salt fertilzers, high N fertilization with quickly available N or frequent or other bad watering practices can and will cause the problems or hinder decomposing of organic material.

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 03:09 PM
Can you find the research article and give us a link?

I read it in a trade magazine last year. I will look around for it though

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 03:16 PM
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=69642&highlight=thatch

If you scroll down you can see my post about it.
I posted it here last year...I guess that it was in Grounds Maintenance magazine

Lux Lawn
02-07-2005, 04:59 PM
just keep on checking up with my signature line every now and then :)

Now its 48% :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:

marko
02-07-2005, 05:10 PM
Critical care,

Good point on the mulching. If taking over from an improperly mowed yard, then yes I would probably catch the first round (if the 1/3 rule was 2 or more inches). If there is a thatch problem, that is coming from the ground up. The primary cause of thatch is roots, stems, rhizomes, crowns and stolons. These plant components decompose slowly within lawns. There might be grass debris from the cutting and landing on top of the thatch layer, but it is not causing the problem in the first place. I agree that I used to believe in catching grass for the manicured look, but to be efficient and responsible (sending to a landfill), mulching has many strong benifits for the customer and operator.

rodfather
02-07-2005, 05:14 PM
Now its 48% :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:

Don't believe him Larry...Troy will be back plowing again LOL :D

Lux Lawn
02-07-2005, 05:22 PM
Don't believe him Larry...Troy will be back plowing again LOL :D

Now you guys are really confusing the sh!t out of me.... :dizzy:

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 06:11 PM
Now you guys are really confusing the sh!t out of me.... :dizzy:

Don't believe Rod just yet. I keep on chaning my mind, but I know for sure that I will make up my mind come July.

rodfather
02-07-2005, 06:13 PM
Don't believe Rod just yet. I keep on chaning my mind, but I know for sure that I will make up my mind come July.

...until you're bored off your azz and got cabin fever big time in December...LOL, I KNOW the feeling Troy.

tiedeman
02-07-2005, 06:19 PM
check out my new signature

dvmcmrhp52
02-07-2005, 07:54 PM
tiedeman,
We've done the mulching routine.............
More mess and slower cutting than double cutting.(for a quality finished product)
Bagging..............
Forget it. Soon no one will accept the "toxic" waste of grass clippings, not to mention the hassle of dumping, etc.
Double cutting is simply priced into the job for the spring growth.
Those customers who cannot seem to regulate the trugreens and scotts fert programs don't continue as customers for very long. To my way of thinking those who insist on using a fert service and are unwilling to use common sense when it comes to "over fertilization" are not much in tune with basic lawn maintenance and the negatives of over ferting, therfore they find another service for their lawncare needs.
Double cutting with double blades for better dispersal and finer clippings is what works best for us.

LB Landscaping
02-07-2005, 08:13 PM
I'm with Critical Care, we bag all of our lawns. We have a set up that makes it very easy. We run Walkers and have a ramp on the front of the trailer that goes right into the back of the dump truck. The landfill is 2 mins from my shop so I run over first thing in the morning to get rid of the clippings from the day before. Got a couple of places I can dump on site which is really sweet. I just (and so do my customers) like the look of a bagged lawn. Double cutting would take way too much time for me. How much longer does it take to double cut a larger property, say 3 acres??? How do you price it??

cantoo
02-07-2005, 08:45 PM
This year we are planning on more applications using less fertilizer. We have the Steiner set up for the front mount spreader and have cut our application times so the money should be the same or close enough. I have the trailer and ramp set up to make loading and unloading quicker and am getting a winch setup so we can also load it in the truck for an even quicker load and unload. Hopefully we can time them right with the weather to cut the overall rates and slow the growth down. Around here people don't really want a perfect lawn they just want it greenish and cut as few times as possible. We do have customers who want perfect lawns but we are slowly weeding them out. Too fussy for the few extra dollars and usually either slow payers or other crap. It is quicker for us to run over the lawns twice with the Bobcat than to use the Walker and collect. We are also considering pricing some lawns to allow for partial cuts when needed instead of full cuts.