Let's see just how much time striping wastes

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, May 6, 2006.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    OK, I love stripes, and I DO stripe almost all of my lawns...

    But a funny thing happened to me last week. I have this older lady I have had a couple of years. The lawn really started looking good towards the end of last year. Now after a month into the season, it's really looking sharp again.

    The lady came out to pay her May payment last week... and occasionally she will find something to complain about. Not all the time, but one in a while she is just in that mood I guess....

    So she says to me... gosh, I've never seen a mower streak like that... as the stripes were lined up in the sun just perfect from our viewpoint, and just as I am about to swell with pride... I realize she really does see it as streaks and she doesn't like it.

    As the turf quality improves, so do the stripes and she doesn't care for the 'streaking'. I'm surprised she has never said anything before now... and while I am going to miss taking in a good look at this lawn after I finish it... and while I think it will be a shame not to stripe it... I sure won't be doing it anymore.

    I will be saving mowing time and effort to make more money an hour.

    So let's just see later this week how much extra time I spent striping it....
     
  2. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    I've said it a million times (well, maybe 40-50 times :laugh: ) 99% of ALL clients, both residential and commercial couldn't care less about stripes. Just like your client, most of them don't even know what they are and many see it as just less than superior work by the LCO.

    Stripes are something the LCO WANTS (and that other 1% of clients) WAY MORE THAN THE CLIENT DOES, and the LCO's need to recognize that. We do some stripes but with over 500 acres total to cut each week it is only by "client request" from that small 1%.
     
  3. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,164

    I love striping, i take extreme pride in putting as nice of a stripe as i can on all the lawns i do, just because it looks professional and if someone else sees it, they will recoginze it looks professional as well, just my opinion
     
  4. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    Yep, I agree with Mr. MM. Stripes are what we like to see, the customer doesn't even know what they are, especially the elderly clients.
     
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I agree 100% and it is a big waste of time. It doesn't even spread clippings properly, first it shoots them into the uncut side, then as you cut that uncut part it shoots out double the debris onto your cut side. And it does this half-half then double thing the entire time, almost always requires double cut for the whole yard.

    Still, I like to do it for the right lawn and for kicks, thou the only stripes look REAL good is when they're criss-crossed, straight stripes just ain't all that unless they're curved, thou diagonal ditch-stripes are baddies too for the main reason you know someone out there is like HOW did he DO it?

    For efficiency, the best method is this:
    Using the racetrack method, do 2-3 perimeter runs with the chute facing IN. After your initial 2-3 circular runs all the way around, turn the mower around and do the rest of the lawn with the chute facing OUT.
    Now THAT spreads clippings right: First, the initial perimeter runs assure pavement and walkways free of clippings because you started out shooting them INTO the lawn. Then, you turn around and shoot everything back out as you circle inwards, it shoots everything out now to spread it good but also not far enough to hit the walkways and the pavement (it depends on the mower, if it shoots far you have to do 3 initial perimeters with the chute facing IN)... Then, you turn around and you literally shoot it all back out to spread it even, real even. Maybe you get a few spots with clippings, but no more than a few.
    Make sense? - You really can get'm done once over and fast, I've done this method time and again when I'm ultra-busy, once over BLAM you're done! It may not give you the greatest look but when I'm busy, quality takes a back seat.
    Once you're done, ride the mower around the yard once and look for piles of clippings just in case, ride over those few parts again but you will almost never do the whole yard twice, guaranteed!

    Last but not least, with the above method there is no time wasted in the turns. While striping, every single time you turn the mower around for that next stripe you are wasting time because no grass is being cut. With the racetrack, the mower is always cutting, the entire time you turn and run, the mower cuts - On that note, the T-bar lends itself to this method extremely well, true Z-turns are made for pistol grips which by the way, can't do racetracks as well - Perhaps the reason stripes are so common is most folks don't have T-bars?

    On that note, perhaps stripes are a sign I'm not busy enough lol.
     
  6. 6'7 330

    6'7 330 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,823

    Cool season KB around here, a good mower with the deck pitched properly, can't but help stripe our turf. It takes no special mowing procedure,or requires extra mowing time. The operator mows the turf east and west, or north and south, then straight back in the opposite direction.
     
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Yep... it was sort of comical after I thought about it. To me it was the BEST the lawn had ever looked. I caught the best angle ever, plus I had nice arc stripes overlaid over the straight ones. To her it looked the worst.

    Now, most of my customers really like and complement the stripes. But it's also nice to get a few that don't like them or don't care one way or the other. I just wish she had told me this a long time ago because I could have been saving time and effort all along.
     
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Oh, but that mowing straight back and forth like that takes more time and effort. Plus, unless you just leave it any old way, it takes even more time unless it's pure wide open blocks of turf that are not out of square in the corners...
     
  9. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,927

    I agree with 6'7 330 ... Mowing forward/reverse takes no more time, and if stripes are part of the result, so be it. I always try to mow in patterns of three cycles, perhaps one parallel to an edge, one a bias cut, the next one a bias cut in another direction. This eliminates turf rutting and gives a smoother cut.

    Using a racetrack approach is more time consuming because of more turns. But, more importantly, all the clippings will be passing through the deck only one time. With a forward/reverse pattern, half of the clippings will be passsing through the deck at least two times. The clipping burden is less in the final result.
     
  10. bill w

    bill w LawnSite Member
    from Va.
    Posts: 198

    I agree with the alternating cycles not rutting. I also have noticed, on long yards, that circular cutting leaves one side of the yard looking a lighter shade than the other side...almost like the left side was cut at a different height than the right side.
     

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