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Old 03-09-2012, 02:10 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 6,818
Originally Posted by 4 seasons lawn&land View Post
Care to elaborate on that whole concept with the 21's? I would be interested to hear the reasoning behind that. Would your customers be resentful if you finished their lawns in 5 minutes? Or do they percieve larger mowers as being damaging to turf? Are operating costs less for your labor than for $6000-7000 mowers? Are you trying to keep employees busy so they are there and at your disposal for large landscape jobs?
Oh....Deep Breath....I've answered this so many times over the years. I was hoping not to have to explain it again. But I understand. It's done differently here than it is in other parts of the country and so it seems odd....

So We maintain about 280 lawns a week, and growing. About 250 of them are fairly small. Like in these photos;



In the area of town we live in, that's your standard property. 95% of the homes in this area have lawns like that.

Now, with a 21" mower it takes us all of 4 minutes to mow a front yard like that and maybe 7-10 minutes to mow a back yard like in that last photo.

Every once in a while we have a back lawn that is a little larger and takes us maybe 10-12 minutes to mow, like this one;

Now, sure. We could shave off a couple minutes if we used larger mowers. But the time we spend on each property using the mower isn't really that much to begin with. With most of our accounts we're doing full service. Weeding beds, pruning shrubs, applying fertilizer, selective herbicide for broadleaf weeds in lawn, raking leaves, trimming perennials, raking beds, hedging, etc. Only part of what we do is mowing. This is a fairly affluent area. So most people don't want just the mow-blow-go. So over half of our time at each property is NOT spent mowing. Still, even with all that we do, we're typically in and out of a property in 30 minutes. And for that we're getting about $50 a week, typically, or $200 a month. And that's year-round. 12 months of the year, even though our visits decrease to every-other-week in the winter months. So it's still fairly profitable, as long as you can keep the drive time between homes really tight. Which we've done.

So long story short, the bigger mowers don't really save us much time on most properties we do.

The other problem is that it is very hilly here. And the people with the money (our clients) are usually up in the hills in these parts. So their back yard is 40' lower in elevation than their front yard is. So you have to go down a series of 36" wide concrete steps just to get down into their back yard. You cannot take a larger mower on that venture. Only a 21" will do it. Probably a good 40-50% of the homes we maintain are like that.

Now that we've become more well known around town and also because we've installed a lot of larger landscapes for larger properties, we've been starting to pick up a few more accounts that are a little larger properties than most in the area. Now that we have 20-30 of these larger yards to do, it is finally getting to the point where the cost of a larger mower would be less than the labor we are spending doing them with 21" mowers. So that's why we can finally justify a little larger mower. But I cannot see us ever being able to use anything larger than a 36", because anything larger just wouldn't fit into most properties here.
Jim Lewis
Lewis Landscape Services - Oregon - Portland Oregon Landscaping Company

landscape design Portland Oregon
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