Why do you pros have so much trouble with leaves?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tkalafut, Nov 3, 2003.

  1. tkalafut

    tkalafut LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 5

    OK, I just read the site cause I like mowing. I envy you guys that get to work outside all day, and then at the end of the day you can always see what you accomplished.

    But why is there such a discussion about leaves? I've been raking my leaves and pine needles into a big pile for my three year old to play in the last couple weeks. Yesterday I decided enough was enough, and it was time to get rid of them.

    The pile was about 2 feet tall, and at least 10 feet in diameter. I ran it over three times with a 21" Black and Decker electric mower, and there was absolutely nothing left. I just stuck the mulcher baffle in and went at it.

    Now, I realize that you guys work with more leaves at times, but no way do you deal with a whole yard that is 2 feet deep. Why not just run 'um over with a mulching mower and be done with it?

    The above was semi-serious. What follows is an attempt to rile you guys up.

    Why do so few pros use reel mowers? My usual mower (except to mulch up leaves and pine needles) is a Tru-Cut 20" reel mower. I scalp my Bermuda down to 1/2" in March, and gradually raise it as the summer goes on. I think it got to about 1 1/8" this summer.

    I know I am biased, but even most of my neighbors that pay for a "real" LCO admit that my lawn is the best one in the neighborhood. I think most of it is due to cutting the Bermuda short, and using a reel mower.

    I do pay a service for fertilizer, and I've found a great one that has a very high % of water insoluble nitrogen with a high carbon content. The microbiologist in me really sees the benefits of that.

    Now if I can only gather the energy to top-dress the whole thing next year.....
  2. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,071

    Can't comment o the leaves as I am in Florida with minimal leaf cleanup. As far a reel mowers, I am sure if your neighbors are willing to pay for the expense they can find a LCO that will be more than happy to help them out. Don't forget to add in for the fert. and weed control. Big difference between you having all day to putter in your yard with a couple hundred dollar mower and a company that has meet the added overhead of reel mowers, sharpening equipment and the added maintenance that goes along with it. Then again maybe you have found your niche and should try the waters with your 20 inch Tru Cut mower and see how long before your yard yo are maintaining is in front of a travel trailer down by the bridge. Oh that was just to rile you up:D
  3. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Well, as a former GC superintendent, I can say the main reason most LCO's don't use reel mowers is the associated maintenance with them. A reel mower needs to be adjusted and backlapped to keep it cutting true. This will come into play more often when mowing 12-14 hrs a day compared to a homeowner mowing once or twice a week. Also, the process of sharpening the reel blades is quite involved and requires an expensive, specialized machine. Then there is the bedknife. Add one stone or a unseen piece of steel in the grass and you have costly problems on your hand.
  4. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Damn Rhett, you beat me to it.....
  5. qualitylandscaping

    qualitylandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,581

    Mr. tkalafut,

    I'm assuming you are a homeowner and have nothing to do with this business other than the fact that you like to mow your own lawn.

    First of all, letting a three year old child play in a pile of leaves and pine NEEDLES, is not very safe.

    Do you really think we have enough time to drag around an electric cord on our 2-5 acre properties with a 21" mower??? Get real.. It may work for you, but not for those of us who live by the motto "time is money"..

    Next, you need to realize that mulching all of those leaves into one area on your property is adding WAY to much Nitrogen to the soil which may create a problem with disease and fungus in your lawn in the future, which is very costly and time consuming to re-stabilize the soil and make the grass healthy again. Mulching a few leaves is fine, but a 2' high pile is just stupid.

    And yes, I have several properties with 2' deep piles of leaves by the time they call us. Mulching all of those leaves is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You are literally killing your lawn by doing that.

    Like I said above, we don't have time to play with little 21" cheapo homeowner mowers. We need the best quality in the shortest amount of time. Some people can do it if all they mow is small (under 5k sqft lawns) but for the rest of us, the idea is not realistic.

    And as an ending statement, you know nothing about fertilizer.

    P.S. If your only goal is to "rile" us up, like you said in your post, get the hell out of here and find some other forum to post your BS on because we don't need to waste our time reading it...
  6. Cheesedawg1

    Cheesedawg1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 283

    hahahah GET EM qualitylandscaping
  7. crawdad

    crawdad LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,939

    I would be glad to bring my Gravely with the reel mower attachment on it, twice a week, if people were willing to pay for it. Until then, I'll stick with the Scag, or keep the rotary mower on the Gravely.

    MY mother has a B & D electric mower. Is that you, Mom? Trolling the message boards, again? I thought you were gonna quit that.
  8. tkalafut

    tkalafut LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 5

    Sheez. I guess it takes all kinds. The comments about increased maintenance and expense on commercial reel mowers is something I haven't thought about. Makes sense.

    But to the guy that takes himself too seriously... If the most dangerous thing my three year old finds to play with is pine needles, I'll be thrilled. I think the biggest danger to most kids these days is spraining a thumb from playing Nintendo all day. At least my kid is outside.

    I don't expect you guys to use 21" electric mowers. That's not the point. As a regular homeowner, I was surprised at all the discussion you guys have about deck design, baffles, doubles, high-lifts, mulchers, baggers, leaf-blowers, crazy leaf contraptions that go on a truck etc. Here I am out of ignorance just using a cheap little mower, and it seems to work perfectly.

    As far as too much nitrogen, I guess I'll find out sooner or later based on how that section of the lawn behaves next year.

    As far as not knowing anything about fertilizers, I'd like to know why you think that. Maybe you aren't aware of the function of WIN and a carbon source?

    I had no "only goal" to rile you up. It's a simple question of why there's almost no discussion of using the reel mowers on grass that responds best to it. As I said, I hadn't considered the extra maintenance. I see all these Bermuda lawns cut at 3"-4", and when you poke around, they're very thin at ground level. When my lawn was 3/4" long, you couldn't find the dirt even by using your fingers.
  9. chimmygew

    chimmygew LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 576

    I can drive a car with my feet, but that doesn't make it a good idea.
  10. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 88


    I don't know how to describe how hard I have laughed today after reading about Cindy Lauper and this ^ quote. When you retire, I think you should take Andy Rooney's place on 60 minutes. You are truly a genious. Thanks for making my day!

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