New Guy

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mak2, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. mak2

    mak2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    I have so many questions for you vets I really dont know where to start. I kinda backed into this field because my son volenterred "us" to mow the church yard this year. I currently have a 42" John Deere L100. The lawn takes me and my son about 4 hours to do. Funny thing is my 12 year old son works his butt off at this wants to mow all the time. Come to find out I enjoy it too. Sooo I have been looking at Z turn mowers. My church was telling me they paid about 150+ a week. I figure that JD mows about 2 acres an hour and bet we could mow it twice as fast with a zero turn. Doing the math that is about $75.00 per hour. Is that realistic or were the other operators ripping off the church? I have about 15,000 cash I can spend to start up, but cannot work more than 2 days a week. I have a full time job and teach one day a week at a local college, so I can only put about 20 hours a week into it. What is the realisitic going rate for mowing yards. I have looked at many makes of mowers and am getting a good idea of cost and what they do, at 20 hours a week can I make the 15k back in a year or two. How do you guys come up with lawns?
  2. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,454

    A good goal is $1 per minute, which I feel would be more realistic (assuming a solo op, with a 60" ztr and 32" wb); more as the equipment and crew expand - but a reference none the less. But, if you can get $75/hour, do it; that's just better for the green industry.

    Only you know your financial situation, so only you know if you can make your money back if you drop $4000-8500 on a ztr. I say go for it, especially since it is something you and your son both enjoy. I wouldn't worry about the risk of investment since ztr's tend to hold their value very well. Once the machine is paid for, all you have to do is maintain it and you'll have it forever, especially since you won't be using it everyday. Plus, in a few years your son will be of age to drive and can take on the business himself if you decide hang back. He'll have an income to put himself through school with the mower. Just food for thought.

    PS If he's working that hard at 12 y/o, thats great, just be careful to not let him burn himself out. . .
  3. mak2

    mak2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    Thanks, I had thought of that college thing, sometimes I get whacky ideas, just making sure I wasnt whacky again. Well at least this idea does not prove it.
  4. C&KLawnCare

    C&KLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 246

    Sound's Like my step son On these hot humid days i been giving him 1/2 tank of gas in the trimmer and hiding the fuel can so at least i know the boy will take a break , Man never seen a 15 year old just go at it and hard at that not to mention he has a touch of autisim , Tell ya one thing once he gets it down pat in his mind of what to do. God help the weeds cause down they go lol
  5. Shane7258

    Shane7258 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    I have done all of the math in my head Ztr doesn't always mean 1/2 the time. A Ztr with a floating deck is no good on rolling terrain for residentials the bigger the deck the less ability of cutting all yards for example scalping. As you will notice a previous post said a ztr and a Walk behind. The reason for that 36 is so you can go on messed up grass and not mess the yard up as a ztr will. Oh yeah keep that trusty 21" on the ready line. Not to poke at your plan but to make you awear that math in our heads is not always reality math. Reasonably 40 an hour is great I will settel for 30 on some places and 40 on others. Hope this helps
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Yes I agree with Ray, I myself use ONLY 48" wb's because exactly the problem is a LOT of residential lots are either too small or just not cut out for the ztr. Now a 36" is a nifty toy to get through the 3-foot gates but I really like the swath of grass the 48" takes out in comparison, the 48" makes 33% less passes over the same area. Of course, the 48" only fits through MOST 4-foot gates and NO 3-footers.

    It's not saying the ZTR couldn't cut a lot of my residentials but the only time the ZTR really runs circles around my wb is on lots an acre and larger and most my lots are way under an acre, where the nimble agility and maneuverability of the Wb truly out-performs the big, heavy beast.

    I am not so sure about the JD's cutting 2 acres/hour BUT it is your machine and you would know this better than I, all I know is Commercial Wb's like mine cut MY acre lot in 45 mins, I guess you could do 2 acres/hour with it but I also know it IS a lot faster than any home-owner's rider, thou again I am not sure if your JD is home-owner or commercial.
    So with a brand-new Wb (especially if you can handle the lighter fixed decks) you can mow at 6+ mph, and that's so fast the manual tells you not to do it.

    Last but not least, the Wb is only half the money of a ZTR and I love my 2 Toro 30197's. Here's the post with pics of my 30197's:

    Whatever you decide, BEST of luck, I think 20 hrs/week is GREAT !
  7. mak2

    mak2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    Yea, I really dont know how many acres it mows, it was just a wild guess. I have seriously thought about the walk behinds. So many things to think about. So the going rate varies by location? Is there a lot of work out there or do we compete for the same lawns? Thanks fot the tips everybody.
  8. High Humidity

    High Humidity LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    If your son will eventually be doing the business(all the mowing) then get the walk-behind. On the other hand, if you plan on staying with it, it sounds like you already have a full plate with your other job, sooo your legs, backetc. will thank you while riding that ZTR.

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