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Zero radius mowers breaking sprinkler heads

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by walterwilde, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. walterwilde

    walterwilde LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    My landscape company uses large ride on commercial zero radius mowers to mow my small residential less than 1/4 acre lawn. There are many sprinkler heads that are breaking and they never take responsibility. Is there any information or documentation I can present to them about this situation. Your response would be greatly apppreciated.
  2. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    Tell them to get their lazy @&&es off the ZTRs, and stand their pathetic, sorry legs up and get behind some ( much lighter) 36" - 54" walk-behind mowers, that any respectible mowing company is ethically supposed to be using for 'postage-stamp' lawns of your size!!:wall
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  3. billslawn89

    billslawn89 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,364

    i'm sure you are telling them that they are breaking the sprinkler heads. ya? if they continue...get rid of them!
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    This is hogwash. there is no problem with using Z's on smaller areas...as long as they are using care in not scuffing turf on turns (most common cause of damage with Z's). These irrigation heads are the same heads that are used on smaller AND/OR wider areas. If any mower damage is occurring, it is because these heads are either improperly installed, or are cheap heads that don't retract all the way because of weak springs. Take this advice from someone who has been in the maintenance AND irrigation business since 1983. I've seen this LITERALLY dozens of times with cheaper lower line heads that do one or more of these things previously mentioned. Some heads in fact, are even constructed of cheaper, thinner, brittle plastic. Are these of yours heads mister, impact, or gear drive heads? Do they retract ALL THE WAY down into the ground when they shut down? Are they mounted on flex pipe? I see great amounts of "sub-standard" work done by other irrigation companies all the time. In all irrigation heads that are properly installed, the chances of any breakage are an EXTREME minimal. The only ones I really see break - are the ones that aren't buried all the way (sometimes they heave up out of the ground from frosts and thaws), and the ones that do not retract all the way. Even the pressure of a ztr TURNING on a head shouldn't hurt it. Bottom line is, you almost have to purposely try to destroy these heads if they are properly placed in the ground and working properly to break them.
    as far as the comment of getting their lazy rears off their ztr's, in business, it usually just doesn't work that way. You take our company for instance, and many on here (this site) will concur with this, because we have had this conversation here many times before,... If I have an island of grass big enough for a z to go on and turn around, then that's what is being used. There are services on here that do literally up to hundreds of accounts a week to fill their route, and if they have an 8 or $9000 machine sitting on the trailer they are paying for, they are going to use it.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  5. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    You may be one of the "exceptions the rule", Runner!

    I'm not saying that every company that runs ZTRs on postage-stamp quarter acre (or less) lawns breaks sprinkler heads, are incompetent, or otherwise does shoddy work.

    What I am saying...is that since the INTRODUCTION and proliferation of the ZTR in this industry (especially the last couple of decades) smaller lawns like walterwilde's have been cut in increasing #'s by companies of various sizes, many of which are scratching and scraping to stay ahead of their competition, to stay "in the black", and in business.

    And as MORE of them do it...the quality of (many of them) suffers dramatically these days, as compared to when these yards were maintained with cutting decks of only 48" (or so), with walk behind mowers that were maybe 1/2 to 2/3 the weight of what the average ZTR weighs these days.

    For smaller lawns, especially, it often comes down to higher incidences of "uneven soil problems" as compared to typical larger lawns.
    This happens, I expect, because these people (and builders) try to "miniaturize" these yards...over TIME... to suit their individual needs better.
    i.e....developer puts in "smaller" privacy levee along one side of property line, that has an extreme slope as compared to normal, to compensate for space.

    The larger the deck size is, the worse the 'forgiveness' is in scalping the turf, & having the often unpredictable "high grass-low grass" disparities that can often happen regardless of using fixed-deck vs. float deck mowers.

    You can certainly find plenty of ZTRs with smaller decks in the market.
    But many contractors won't consider buying them for their employees, because of their (obvious) inefficiency in terms of acres cut per hour, as compared to the larger 60" and 72" deck ZTRs. That's why the lion's share of ZTRs with smaller decks are sold to property owners.

    Walk-behind commercial mowers can typically be found between 32" to 54" decks, some even as large as 60" (but they're rare.)
    The same thing is true for them.
    The bigger the deck, the worse quality of cut you'll generally get ( with half-@&& quality of personel driving them, especially!)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  6. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,121

    I just want to chime in and backup runner, I don't have the quite the experience that he has, but I have mowed quite a few lawns, and have only damaged one head, that was stuck in the up position. I run over them all the time without issue.

    I use a Z everywhere I can, because its the most efficient way to mow lawns. In any business, efficiency is important, as long as its not causing damage. I would check with your sprinkler company about any warranty you may have.

    BTW, I do have 4 customers who insist on a push mower, and I am happy be flexible and do it for them, but their rate reflects the extra time it take to mow with the push mower. They all know this and think its fair.

    If you ask your contractor to use a smaller, less efficient machine, expect to pay quite a premium for it.
  7. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    There is NO WAY to break sprinkler heads unless the heads were not installed properly or are malfunctioning!!!! The lco has a duty to be carefull but its not their fault for your low end irrigation system. Get an irrigation company there and tell them to fix the problems so they dont sustain damage by mowers. I only mow with a Z. My WB is a backup machine only.
  8. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    And in all fairness, on Marcos' end of it...I absolutely agree with what he is saying that in most cases, a smaller mower WILL do a finer job as far as CUT quality, and in many cases - are even more EFFICIENT in many smaller areas. And yes,...they do have a lighter footprint than most Z's. I was, however, just emphasizing on the damage to irrigation aspect of the conversation.
    Not to get off the main subject here, but some large factors in this production issue is the ability of the wb's to turn around faster - especially in tight confines and keep moving over uncut grass, and secondly, a wb's ability to trim in a bit closer to many things, which makes a larger amount of difference on the real smaller islands.
  9. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    hhmm i can manouzer my z easier than my WB. I have more control and and my z decks only 4" larger than my 48 WB. I do agree a smaller deck does less scalping but in my opinion, unless there is a circumstance that a WB is needed, such as a steep hill then the z is always more productive even on small lots.
  10. CkLandscapingOrlando

    CkLandscapingOrlando LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 652

    It comes down to the contractor.The guy putting in the water probly has every thing on hard pipe so theres no give.Then the heads are probly orbit so they stick.Then the guy on the mower does zero turns instead of 3 points.He probly lets the front tires just whip around as well.He hits the heads with the edger.Small mowers less stress less production.Take your pick.I like my z but in cases where I see to much stress I use my walk behind.I would fire the guy for not telling me he hit the heads not for hitting them.Then get a good irragation man to fix the system.Not repair it but fix it.

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