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  #31  
Old 05-20-2013, 06:39 AM
Skipster Skipster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCW View Post
We are the only company in our area that utilizes reel mowers to mow hybrid Bermuda, and our 2 John Deere triplex reel mowers (purchased from the local Country Club where they were used to mow tees and fairways) are bench set at 1/2". As the temps climb to the upper 90s and into the 100s, I'll raise the height to 9/16" or even 5/8", depending on how much rain we get. All of the turf is thriving right now at this height, and we really aren't seeing many weeds with the combination of height and pre-emergent we put on in February.
Do you ever have a problem with scalping or tall grass from low spots b/c the customer's lawn isn't perfectly flat or even?

That's one of the reasons I haven't used or recommended that my customers cut with reels. I like reels, but I haven't seen many home lawns that are smooth enough to use one without scalping or high spots.
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  #32  
Old 05-20-2013, 06:57 AM
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Runner777 Runner777 is offline
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Now that the temps are getting into the 90's you will see Bermuda kick in. I've been cutting and bagging it about 1.75-2". Reason is most clients are on a twice a month schedule. My first app of fert I used 24-2-11 with 6% iron @ 1lb N per 1000sf2. They are green and looking good. Once the temps kick it in I'll adjust my navigator to mulch mode by closing the chute. I'm not able to maintain them much shorter due to frequency of visits.

For those that missed the timing of pre-m I went with 3 way ester II @ 1oz per 1,000. Seems to have kicked back weed pressure. Now I'll back off the 3 way and go with Celsius or momentum
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  #33  
Old 05-20-2013, 07:51 AM
TCW TCW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skipster View Post
Do you ever have a problem with scalping or tall grass from low spots b/c the customer's lawn isn't perfectly flat or even?

That's one of the reasons I haven't used or recommended that my customers cut with reels. I like reels, but I haven't seen many home lawns that are smooth enough to use one without scalping or high spots.
The best thing about the John Deere reel mowers is the roller system on each reel- one grooved on the front and a smooth roller on the back, which navigates any high spots really well. We won't reel mow a client's lawn until we've at least put down some sand to take care of the large bumps and holes. We try to level all new customers in the spring, and usually it takes 3 years of scalping and sanding to get it golf course smooth.

If you are using a walk behind reel mower, look into the aftermarket rollers that you put on to replace the front reels. It's amazing what a difference you see when the individual casters don't drop into any imperfections in the surface.
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  #34  
Old 05-20-2013, 08:48 AM
macgyver_GA macgyver_GA is offline
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Originally Posted by TCW View Post
Here in Texas, sod choices are either 419 or St. Augustine for new home construction. Some retailers around her offer Zoysia or Celebration, but charge way too much- upwards of $300 per pallet picked up at their store. I've got 419 in my lawn and I reel mow every other day with a 10 blade Mcclane, but I know that we have the luxury to care for our own lawns much more than our clients'! I just put out an app of Scotts GreenMax (22-2-2 with 5.75% Iron) that has my lawn growing like crazy, and as green as I've ever seen.

All of the residential properties we service have Tif419, and we mow them weekly. We chose to tailor our residential client list to only hybrid Bermuda, mainly because only the newer, larger homes are sodded with it. We differentiate ourselves from the competition by offering full service "golf course look" packages, and we aren't cheap- we don't bother with customers who want the cheapest price. All of our properties are set up at a monthly, 12 month price, which includes spring scalping, leveling, fertilization, and all mowing.

We are the only company in our area that utilizes reel mowers to mow hybrid Bermuda, and our 2 John Deere triplex reel mowers (purchased from the local Country Club where they were used to mow tees and fairways) are bench set at 1/2". As the temps climb to the upper 90s and into the 100s, I'll raise the height to 9/16" or even 5/8", depending on how much rain we get. All of the turf is thriving right now at this height, and we really aren't seeing many weeds with the combination of height and pre-emergent we put on in February.

Our program includes A-Vert pre-emergent twice yearly (February and October), and up to 4 fertilizations (13-0-13 in Feb, May, August, October) depending on temps and rainfall. We offer other services on a client-by-client basis like soil samples, iron applications, and spot weed control. We've been hit really hard with a drought lately so watering restrictions are pretty tight and we can only water once per week inside the city limits. We recommend a deep infrequent watering to establish a strong root system that can withstand drought better, and so far we are seeing great results. Changing out a sprinkler head the other day, I measured 7" deep roots on the turf I dug out at a property we've had on our program for 4 years.

Our next growth area may be into smaller new construction with hybrid Bermuda. I really believe that, in the cookie cutter neighborhoods, if one lawn looks immaculate then the neighbors will start to want theirs to look the same, and we can build a large clientele within a very small area to maximize our time. A 3 man crew with a 25" Tru-Cut, weedeater, and edger can knock out 4 properties in an hour if they are all on the same block. Gone are the days of common Bermuda and mowing at 3", we all know 419 and other hybrids look terrible when they get that tall. Once homeowners start to realize the stark difference in aesthetics and overall turf health, reel mowing might see a huge increase, whether that be homeowner's purchasing their own, or hiring a professional.
Good stuff man. Were you always reel mowing since you started? If not, how did you transition into it? That's the direction I'd like to take my business eventually. There's only a handful of companies around here that offer reel mowing. For every 100 landscape trucks you see riding around here, you'll only see one or two with a reel mower on it.
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  #35  
Old 05-20-2013, 02:00 PM
greendoctor greendoctor is online now
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What a difference in regions. Almost anyone that mows for hire in Hawaii has at least a McLane reel mower. It is understood that only bumpy weed lawns are to be cut with a rotary. Otherwise, the pasture look is not tolerated in a residential lawn unless the home owner is poor or really does not care. TCW, you would fit in really well here. I mean it.
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  #36  
Old 05-21-2013, 08:47 AM
macgyver_GA macgyver_GA is offline
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Is anyone else having a problem with fireweed around here...AHHHH it's driving me nuts. With all the rain we've had in the last few weeks, It pops up overnight. I know that pre-emergent doesn't control it since it grows in the thatch layer. For the lawns with a few here and there, I'll just pull them which obviously takes time. For those with it more widespread, what are you doing? Spot spraying or doing another blanket app?
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  #37  
Old 05-21-2013, 09:04 AM
TCW TCW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macgyver_GA View Post
Good stuff man. Were you always reel mowing since you started? If not, how did you transition into it? That's the direction I'd like to take my business eventually. There's only a handful of companies around here that offer reel mowing. For every 100 landscape trucks you see riding around here, you'll only see one or two with a reel mower on it.
We actually started in 2004 and our first large client was a gated community with 35 patio homes, all Tif419. We got the job because the HOA president had driven by my Dad's lawn a few blocks over and wanted to know how he got it looking so good. This was right when 419 was becoming more widely available, and our house was one of the few to use a reel mower. We moved away from that contract 2 years later when I went off to college, and focused on large commercial. We didnt use a reel mower on a client's lawn until 2011. Once I graduated and joined back up full time in 2010 we sat down and looked at where we could grow, and high end residential was at the top of the list.

I'll take reel mowing 35 lawns a day in 100 degree heat as opposed to mowing 2 WalMarts that don't have irrigation and are mostly weeds and dirt!
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  #38  
Old 05-21-2013, 09:29 AM
macgyver_GA macgyver_GA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCW View Post
We actually started in 2004 and our first large client was a gated community with 35 patio homes, all Tif419. We got the job because the HOA president had driven by my Dad's lawn a few blocks over and wanted to know how he got it looking so good. This was right when 419 was becoming more widely available, and our house was one of the few to use a reel mower. We moved away from that contract 2 years later when I went off to college, and focused on large commercial. We didnt use a reel mower on a client's lawn until 2011. Once I graduated and joined back up full time in 2010 we sat down and looked at where we could grow, and high end residential was at the top of the list.

I'll take reel mowing 35 lawns a day in 100 degree heat as opposed to mowing 2 WalMarts that don't have irrigation and are mostly weeds and dirt!
Do you guys just use the triplex mowers or do you also use tru-cuts? Do you guys sharpen them in house or take them to a mechanic?
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  #39  
Old 05-21-2013, 09:55 AM
TCW TCW is offline
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We use the triplex mower and a 25" TruCut. 75% of the lawns are large enough to use the triplex, and we will finish the outline with the TruCut. We do a veterinary clinic and a regional bank that have islands and obstacles as well, and the triplex is more hassle than its worth in those areas.

We backlap in house, once before we scalp, after we finish scalping for the spring, then every other month depending on how it cuts. We haven't had a need for actual sharpening of the reel blades, backlapping has kept them cutting great.


Greendoctor, thanks for the compliment! I wish more professionals around here would use reels.
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  #40  
Old 05-21-2013, 01:56 PM
greendoctor greendoctor is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCW View Post
We use the triplex mower and a 25" TruCut. 75% of the lawns are large enough to use the triplex, and we will finish the outline with the TruCut. We do a veterinary clinic and a regional bank that have islands and obstacles as well, and the triplex is more hassle than its worth in those areas.

We backlap in house, once before we scalp, after we finish scalping for the spring, then every other month depending on how it cuts. We haven't had a need for actual sharpening of the reel blades, backlapping has kept them cutting great.


Greendoctor, thanks for the compliment! I wish more professionals around here would use reels.
That is how reel should be maintained. Cutting off all the relief angle via a spin grind only sharpening creates a maintenance problem. When dealing with lawn height grass rather than green height grass you need relief in the reel blades beyond the concaving created by a round grind stone traveling across the face of the reel. Do not buy what the super high tech automated spin grind machines want to sell. Even a less than perfect Tru Cut works well if relief ground and then the blades backlapped in. I know most mowers will not line up perfectly. The entire frame would have to be CNC machined out of one block of steel and and the mower would then cost over $100,000 instead of $1,000. Everyone I know that does a spin grind only at a mower shop has problems with cut quality.
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