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This is for the seasoned pros...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by rebldr, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. rebldr

    rebldr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    This will be my first full-year in lawncare and I plan on purchasing several new pieces of equipment. I need a new walk-behind lawn mower - which brand/model would you suggest? I would like to get a commercial gas-powered edger - which one would you recommend? I need a gas-powered blower - is there one better than the rest? And I need a gas-powered commercial hedge-trimmer - but I don't know which one would be the best investment. You have helped me in the past, let me thank you in advance for your input now.
  2. Hack

    Hack LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    I am also just getting started in lawncare and have bought some cool equip. so far. I bought a Exmark 36" Viking Hydro w/sulky, a Craftsman 34cc 4-stroke weedeater that you can change out the shaft for a edger, hedge trimmer, etc....., and a Husky 45cc back pack blower. I don't know how durable for sure these items are, but I can tell you they are built tough. I bought all of them new and have about $5000 invested.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I bought used mowers, I didn't get a new one until my 4th year because I wanted to make sure I knew which make and model I wanted before I spent 3 grand. This is my favorite model, it is the only machine I will use but everybody is different:

    Toro 30165 Fixed Deck Gear Drive 15hp Kohler T-Bar
    The industry's most economical value in mid-size mowers. A simple yet rugged design that delivers excellent quality of cut. No better combination of cut, quality and price can be found in a wide-area walk-behind mower.


    Other notes: You'll need a Velke ride-on attachment, you can not walk the 30165 at top speed, it will do 6-7 mph in 5th gear.
    Don't buy pistol-grips and never buy anything with a deck smaller than 44"
    30-36" mowers with pistol-grips can be found left and right, they get handed down from one broke business owner to the next year after year.
    The 48" gets done cutting 25 percent faster than the 36" and sorry, I don't cut yards with 3-foot gates because it takes longer and people are not willing to pay the extra it costs when it does.
  4. scagchevy4life

    scagchevy4life LawnSite Member
    Posts: 46

    i dont think i cannot call myself not seasoned b.c i have done now for 4 years.. even though i am only 17.. i have learned lots..
    I would have to say the combo i have is Very Effiecient... Extremely Reliable and not too expesensive..
    2004 Scag WB 48"
    2004 Sthil fs 110-R
    2004 Shindowa EB630... - way to overkill.. Thing is a beast.. engien can probably run my mower.. i think that setup is key.. But you dont have to listen to a 17 year old...
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I will give you some good advice, DO NOT go hog wild the first year buying equipment left and right. It is a bad thing to do. I did that when I was 17, and bought two 48" mowers, and I was the only one working. Later that summer I had to sell off one of the mowers. Ended up taking a $1,500 loss
  6. Greenstar Services

    Greenstar Services LawnSite Member
    Posts: 71

    If you plan on staying in the industry a long time than invest your money wisely.
    Stay away from dept. store specials, all your asking for is shop time. Invest in commercial grade tools. It may cost more at the start but will last longer. In our fleet of mowers all we use are exmarks 21 , exmark turf tracers and ZTRs. We do also have Honda commercial mowers as well. Our blowers , hedge trimmers and trimmers are all echos. Remember to start off small and work your way up. This biz can be good to you one year than the next have you shaking your head. I start cutting grass in my early teens , now I'm 41 and still going strong. Good luck.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Stay commercial,
    Mowers- 44" or 48" is about the best all around size to start with but it really depends on YOUR customer and the lots you will be servicing.
    I also would start with a W/B. And if you want to do this to make money and not for hobby the only option is a hydro unit. Up front price is a little more for a hydro but from that day on it is a lot cheaper to run a hydro for the added time it will save you and the added money it will make you.
    As far as trimmers and edgers the best thing to do is DEMO and get what feels good to you. You will be holding on to these things a lot each day so be sure it "fits you.
    Blowers- many will disagree with me but for the smaller jobs we just use the handheld. Again it is all about speed. We can grab the handheld and be starting it as we walk, blow the light grass off the drive and be done almost before the backpac will be on the back. Larger lots and of course in fall the backpac is the only way to go. If you are only buying 1 than go backpac but if you get back-up units try a handheld

    Your hands will be wrapped around these things almost 6 hours a day so it is up to YOU to demo, demo, demo and get what feels best to you and what is the easiest for YOU to operate.
    Keep in mind that the price of equipment is almost meaningless. The dollars it will produce are 100's times the price you pay so never buy based on price over utility.
    A great example is the hydro mower. Some will say buy belt because it is cheaper and yet they will lose 1/2 to 1 hour of production each day because they are using it, at 60 dollars an hour X's 2.5 hours a week=150 a week ,X's 35 weeks= $5250 a year X's 4 years of ownership= $21000.00 of lost income.
    (and yet people will still fight that a belt is cheaper)
    Find a few good dealers and demo. Stay out of Lowes, HD, Sears and stay commercial and you will do fine.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    You asked advice from "seasoned pros", gardengod just proved he is one:p :p
  9. lawn_pro

    lawn_pro LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    Great advice from everyone, this site has alot to offer anyone at any level. I would say to buy some used equipment, check out the local paper....I started out mowing with a used toro 21 and and Encore 36 gear drive, that equipment lasted 2 years with no problems and I only had like 1000.00 invested..whatever you do-dont finance your equipment if you dont have to.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    ditto on the 44-48"...

    The only reason I always used the backpack(s) is because I had no handheld. In my case, money was tight and if choice is one or the other, get the backpack as it's more of a universal unit. But I did buy a handheld this last year because the backpacks frustrate in the nooks and crannies (like around AC units), the handheld is far more maneuverable and can get in places where the backpack used to drive me NUTS !
    Would I / will I be using the handheld this summer? That depends, I will try it out but the backpack(s) both ALWAYS start on the first pull and keep running... It has been my experience the smaller units (like the weedeater) always take 3-4 sometimes 5 pulls before they're finally running... However, I do like the compactness of the handheld.
    Far as speed out of the truck... I dunno, I pull the backpack and set it down, put my knee on it and pull once, all in the same motion I am getting back up and grab it by one strap as I start moving, the backpack is slung over, the engine just starts to rev by the time I got it on <- Practice and method is key.

    Far as two mowers, both the ones I bought were VERY used... I would still rather spend 3 grand on 2 used machines than 3g on 1 new one, thou I only paid 2 grand for both of mine at the time. However, I can side with the fellow said he had to sell one and was out 1,500 - don't over-spend yourself, if all u got is 1 wb, then that is good.

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