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mulching versus side discharge

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by pomcguir, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. pomcguir

    pomcguir LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    We cut a yard yesterday that apparently had been sodded not long ago. It felt like walking on thick carpet, my shoe would sink down about 1 to 2 inches with each step. We cut it with a snapper walk behind, 21" with mulch kit. The customer called and said that the cut did not look that good, even though we thought it did. We have a murray 21" side discharge that cuts much better than the snapper, but side discharge leaves clippings and is a liability as far as possibly throwing an object into someone or something. This is a premium neighborhood, and we said we would come back monday and do the job over for free. What do we need, a bagger, use the side discharge and run over the clippings? Are some customers impossible to please, I realize the importance of doing a good job, and that is what we strive to do, however, we are not barbers and under a microscope I am sure that any job done by anyone would have its flaws. Do any of yall guarantee your work?
  2. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    Unfortuantely, If you are going to do this as a main income source, you are going to need a bigger mower. There is no cut comparison b/w a 21" and a WB. If you are worried about losing the account, by all means do what you feel is necessary to satisfy the customer, even if that means cutting again for free. Just watch how many free cuts you are doing for this client. Like you said, some people can't be pleased, and may take advantage of you offering to make it right every time, when it probably is all right in the first place. Good luck
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  3. chevy1tondualyjd

    chevy1tondualyjd LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 26

    i wouldn't go back and do it for free. if you feel you did a good job they you did. I know the customer is always right but there has to be a line drawn.

    i ll tell you one women we worked for, everytime we went there she would add a new section of trimming until i told the boss either i wouldn't do it or he should charge more for the acount.

    you give a mouse a cookie he'll want anouther the next day
  4. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    A 21" gives a better cut in some cases than a large deck wb mower. Read here long enough and you'll hear guys complaining that their customers INSIST on having their lawns cut by 21" mowers because they give a better look. Do you even know what kind of grass this guy was cutting down in La? Not everybody is mowing lush bluegrass fields. Go try mowing Bermuda at 1" with your big wb and see if you don't get complaint calls. You get a BEAUTIFUL cut with a 21" mower on Bermuda and even Tall Fescue in most situations. I quit using 21" a few years back but not because of the cut. They simply are too inefficient except on small areas.

    The fact is, if it was Bermuda, it often looks bad until it's smoothed out, since it scalps in high spots because it is mowed at a lower height. But the mower has nothing to do with it. A big frustration when mowing newly sodded lawns is getting the customer to understand that the poor install job is the culprit.
  5. Nitroman

    Nitroman LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 217

    with out a doubt get a more beefy mower, keep blades sharp(with out putting a razor edge on it, keep the same angel all the way down the surface they stay sharper longer that way). When you go back open your shoot and stripe the opposite way you did last time. To make the customer happy mow it as many times needed (ones or twice). Never close your shoot to mulch when doing a simple cut, only when your mulching leaves.

    good luck:D
  6. Nitroman

    Nitroman LawnSite Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 217

    I don't agree with that so much, the size of your deck really has nothing to do with it at all. For instance,

    I started with a 36" ferris w/b 13hr
    and am now mowing with my screen name. There is no comparison. I have mowed pretty much ever type of grass you can think of with both(tall or short, thick or thin, fields) .
    the chopper could literally mow a full growen corn field with out bogging down at full speed. its all about the size of the motor and having the front of your deck 3/4" lower in the front to make a nice cut. If a customer asks for a smaller mower I say no. They are not the pro, you are. Plus their not the one trying to make living by trying to be productive and get to your next yard.:)
  7. specialtylc

    specialtylc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    So you could mow a corn field with that Dixie?. Well maybe you just found something that the dixie is good for. 3/4 inch lower in front??????? Thats not the secret to a good cut.
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    I really can't say without seeing the lawn. But personally, if i was paying to have my lawn done and you showed up with 21" mower I'd send you on your way. It's nothing personal nor is it anything to to with well he just has a 21" mower.

    The fact is I think a lawn cut with a 21" mower looks like chit! On fresh sod and this early in the year it's only intensified. First of all there is the tire tracks. Little 1-2" lines of mashed down grass everywhere. Early in the season and on spongy sod, the grass does just pop back up as quick. Also every little indulation in the yard shows more too due to the narrow cut. See what I'm getting at?

    If a 21" is al you have and you can't just run out for something else to please one customer, then just run back out with the lightest one you have. Then cut across the old pattern, not with it.

    I'm just betting the tracks are the issue. But you should know exactly what the issue is because it's your job to find that out when you get a customer complaint.
  9. LynyrdSkynyrd

    LynyrdSkynyrd LawnSite Member
    Posts: 179

    I agree with Envy 100%. The first step at rosolving the problem would be to find out what the complaint is.

    A lighter weight 21" mower helps at reducing the trie tracks. But as someone stated. Some people likes them and only wants them used to cut their lawn. A 21" push mower will follow the terrain better and give an over all more even cut if the lawn has a lot of high and low spots.

    You did not state what model of Snapper or Murray that you have. I had a Murray 3N1 (bag, mulch and side discharge) mower once that I picked up at a yard sale. It would not side discharge or mulch worth a dime. It would leave what we call here "yard turds" large clumps of grass when using the side discharge and a wind row of grass on the left side of the mower when mulching. The only good thing that it would do is bag. Which it did a great job.

    I have used LawnBoys for years and love the way that they cut. The are so fine that the clippings vanish. I bought two self propelled 10356 Silver Series models last year that have steele decks and a 6.5 hp Tecumseh engines. They weight less than 75 lbs full of fuel. They totally surpised me at how well they mow. They are low end LawnBoys and just cost $288.00+ tax locally. I plan to buy two more of them this year for I like the way that they preform.

    If clumping, wind rowing, or tire tracks are the main complaints. Try one out if possible You may find that they will do a good job for you.

    I can not comment on how well they will hold up as far as long term durabilty goes. But I did not have the first problem out of either last year, nor so far this year.
  10. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    I agree with most everything here. However, it is a MAIN point that you have to do away with the "mulching" altogether. This is system is basically worthless. It makes more of a mess than anything. conditions have to be just right for a mulching mower to work. You have to be cutting very little off, and it has to be completely dry. The slightest bit of moisture (and this can come froom withIN the grass, especially in springtime conditions) and you have grass clumoing, sticking to the wheels, and forming tracks of globbed grass that kills the grass in lines, due to the blocking of light. Side discharge is not going to hurt. If maintained properly, the clippings just fall into the grass, dry, and decompose, anyway. Also, with it scattering, you will have much better results. Look at it this way, they didn't use a mulching mower on it at the sod farm, did they? You can bet not. When you go back, walk through with a leaf rake, and walk the rows, looking for these "stripes" of dead grass that have been matted by the wheels. They may not have been visible to you then, but now that it's dried, perhaps they are. Anyway, quickly walk the lengths, and flick any of these clumpings up to the top before you cut. They will disperse easily.

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