ZTR Tire-Marks

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Catcher, Jul 23, 2001.

  1. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Hello again to everyone.
    I have a question regarding tire-marks.
    This is my first year with a ZTR, GH 618 w. low-pressure Ag tires. Love the machine, gotta improve my technique. It took me a few mowings to get used to the steering, that is - to steer without ripping grass out of the ground. At first I was turning on the spot, causing the roots to be ripped out of the ground, then I made too big of a turn, causing lost time, after a few weeks I thought I found what works best - tight turns, just enough to allow both tires to spin and leave the grass unharmed while making efficient time.
    I didn't see any damage all year. Now that we've had blistering heat with a total lack of rain for an extended time (no, I'm not watering 3 acres), the lawn is showing many 'dead' areas. The grass has gone dead in some areas; upon further inspection I realized that it was only affecting the 'turn-around' areas, i.e. along the road, around trees, mailbox, etc.
    What can I do to avoid this in the future?
    Once again, the grass is not visualy damaged - ripped or stressed turf, it just seems to die faster where the mower turns or makes more passes.
    Thanks for any ideas.
  2. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 876

    I would think that there could be 2 things contributing to the dead patches----if they are from your tires and not from bugs or disease.

    1.The areas that you are turning week after week are becoming compacted and the water is not penetrating the soil, which can be fixed by aerating these areas. When I aerate in the fall I go ver the spots that I will turn or drive over repeatedly an extra couple of passes to aid the extra soil compaction.


    2. Where you are turning you may not be tearing the turf on the surface, but tearing the roots from this patch underground which is preventing the grass plants from reaching deep for water.

    Either way I think that those areas are being deprived of water. If you tug on the areas and they pull up and there are no grubs present, then I would say it is #2. If it is soild to a tug test, then try aerating these areas and water (try watering them to see if they repel more water than surrounding areas).

    Hope it helps.

  3. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Thanks Jeffyr,
    I'm sure there's no grubs doing their dirty-work bebeath. The areas are high travel and turning areas; the road has a lot of gravel on it so I keep the mower in the yard when I turn - deadspots along the roadside. I have some larger spruces (~12' - 16' diameter) that I make a circle around every mowing, no turning there-just going in circles around the tree, these areas are showing the same signs. I did try to pull up some grass, roots stay in the ground, all you get is dead hay swirling in the air.....
    I do have a plug-style aerator, do you think it'll be beneficial to aerate these areas throughout the year (once or twice) or will this do more damage? I heard that aerating is quite a trauma for the lawn as well, initially......

    Thanks again.
  4. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 876

    Most aerate in the fall around me. Couple it with overseeding and fertilizer and it will fill in nicely. You can do it anytime the soil is soft enough (usually water prior to aerating to soften), but in the spring and summer there is a great chance of crabgrass reseeding and spreading as well as competition from weeds. The summer heat will also keep the grass from becoming as healthy as it would in the fall. So I aerate the first week in September.

    As far as the grass by the road burning, keep in mind that along concrete and especially near a paved (or black) road the heat that is transferred from the dark surface to the grass and will dry out and burn the grass a foot ot two in from the edge. Additional water in these areas may help.

    Good luck.

  5. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,048

    Do you switch directions you mow each time? Due to high traffic, as in mowing only one way and constantly beating down the grass, it might be stressing the grass. Just a thought. Try cutting the width way of the house, then the length, then diagonal and then opposite diagonal. This might help the problem and allow the grass to have a different pattern over 4 cuttings.
  6. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Yes, I do. I'm going both diagonals and lengthwise; widthwise is too short to make it worth the while.
    However, you still end up in much of the same spots. I think I'll try aerating it heavier next time and see if compaction was the cause, as suggested earlier.
  7. rdh

    rdh LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 394

    dont go around trees that have no mulch .
    go to one side or the other and if you go on a pass you just done do that area over with a quick dbl cut then go to the tree and do the oppisite side .thats how to do it with out tearing turf and keeping define stripes that look like you went right through the tree ,
    if you have a director or operator controled discharge chute you can do mulched areas the same way.with out blowing it all over.

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