1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community in the Franchising forum .

    Dismiss Notice

After 16 Years, Finally Got Something Bigger Than a 21"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JimLewis, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. dhardin53

    dhardin53 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 711

    How many crews you got?
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    Oh that's my helicopter landing pad. LOL.

    Just something I came up with to stand out from the crowd a little. I get a lot of compliments on it wherever I go. So I guess I'll keep it.


  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    Mulching isn't very popular these parts. Commercial mowing crews do it, but most residential mowing crews do not. Partly because it's so wet for so much of the year that it just isn't very practical. But the second part is that customers pretty much demand that we bag it. It's just how everyone (homeowners) does it around here and so they don't understand that it actually is possible to mulch sometimes, if you have a nice commercial mower that can do it properly.

    We mulch in the late spring and summer, on dry weeks. The newer commercial hondas have a pretty sweet cross blade mulch kit on them. We just stick the plug in and keep the bag on. So that way it still looks like we're bagging. Then we never get any complaints. On dry days, you cannot tell we'll mulching. It looks totally clean.

    I plan to do the same thing with this mower. Get a really good mulch kid, block off the chute, but keep the bag on.
  4. instyle

    instyle LawnSite Senior Member
    from Canada
    Posts: 380

    And you wouldn`t last in my area without a 21 lol
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    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.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    We have 12 crews. But only 4 of them are out doing routine weekly maintenance every day. The other crews are install crews, irrigation crews, and enhancement crews. We expect to add a 5th weekly maintenance crew later this summer.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    LOL. I almost posted that too. I think that's always the biggest problem with lawnsite - Lack of Perspective. A lot of people cannot fathom that others in different parts of the country do it differently.
  8. BBC.lawn.services

    BBC.lawn.services LawnSite Member
    Posts: 170


    For example - Here in OK a lot of my lawns are 1/4 acre + so it would take me hour(s) to mow them with a push mower. Also, the grass here is typically on the verge of being wiped out by the heat and usually weed infested so striping and rutting etc. are not major concerns. I use a 48" small frame ZTR (JD 717a to be exact) on most my properties. I use a 21" (a true push mower) on anything I can't get to. So far it has worked!
  9. 4 seasons lawn&land

    4 seasons lawn&land LawnSite Gold Member
    from NY
    Posts: 3,597

    makes sense now. You need to copy and paste all that into a word doc so every time you need to answer the same question you have the answer ready to go! I dont think I've ever seen that topic before but then again, I probably wont remember this in a year...
  10. TriCountyLawn

    TriCountyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,517

    Nice, Hell I wish all I had to mow with was a 21". A friend of mine has a highly productive solo route with a 21" mower. Sometimes if its mulchable I will leave my catcher on my 48" and let it fill up and mulch the rest..ya know really go the extra mile...lol I have had a hard time convincing customers that a larger walk behind CAN bag as well as a 21". Things can get pretty wet here depending on the season and people associate bagging with a small mower and want nothing but that. I also think alot of ppl on Lawn Site highly under estimate the ground you can cover with a 21" I maintained a property the we had to carry two mowers up stairs and thru a gate and back out with the clippings that was big. Two ppl getting it a fast pace would knock it out it fast enough that we just did it like that. I considered taking apart a 36" or 48" reassembling it and storing it up there then the estate changed hands..lol

Share This Page