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21" vs 36"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by instyle, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. instyle

    instyle LawnSite Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 380

    i am thinking...because we run 21" mowers all the time...i am just nore if a 36" wou;d save us any time. The 21's are so light, and easy to load and unload. Even though I am gaining width....I will be slowed down by the extra weight.

    Most of our properties are 50 x100'

    Any comments?
  2. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    Unless you are picking them up and loading them in and out of the back of a truck, why would the weight difference be a factor between a 21" and a 36". Look how much more time a 36" will cut off of your mow time. Each pass is almost 75% more mowed.
  3. Mean Green Lawns

    Mean Green Lawns Banned
    Messages: 58

    why do people use such small mowers? I could ever get away with it for quality purposes alone. oh now I see.. dugh.. 50 X 100.. Use anything you want to on something that small lol JK. Thats the size of my lawn. lol I basically have nothing. I'd charge 10$ for a lawn my size and cut with a rider in 5 minutes total job should't take no more than 7-8 minutes and YES use the 36 at LEAST.
  4. Frosty03

    Frosty03 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I am running a 36" Exmark tthp on my properties. The difference between a 21" is night and day on all but the smallest postage stamp yards. It is self propelled, you can get a Sulky and ride on the larger stuff, plus it will mow a LOT faster than you can walk. If I didn't use the sulky, I would be running behind the mower.

    In a word for the small yards, even the medium stuff and for obstacles, It is my primary mower. The time difference would amaze you.

    As my business is growing, I will be adding on a rider this summer, but the 36" will still see its share of the workload. It will mow up under stuff like low bushes, easy to operate with the ECS controls, the Kawasaki engine starts on the first pull everytime, large gas tank, and leaves about the best cut I have ever seen from any mower. What's not to like?

    My 21" mower sees maybe 1 hour of use a month...I mean maybe if that. I only use it on 1 or 2 yards where the 36" just won't fit either due to landscaping or a very small gate.

    If you are a heavy person, I recommend the weight kit on the front to help keep it down when using the Sulky. I added 20 pounds and it really helps keep the front end down when I am riding on the back.

    See if you can demo one, I promise you will not regret it as it has power to spare and will make you look good with your cuts. Plus it will save you time over the 21"...So much so that I will bet that you will use the 36" on every yard that you can once you get one.

    Cons: Yeah, its too heavy to lift, you will need a trailer. I know quite a few guys down here that mow small and medium properties and use nothing but the Exmark 36". Plus when the grass is slow growing to dormant, you can walk the property and it leaves almost no trace other than a super looking cut.
  5. wowmowwow

    wowmowwow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    go with the 36" with the velkie! i used 12' ramps to load and unload it in an 84 dodge d50, a very small truck. the first 36" i had was bought of the side of the road for $300, a jocobson. mowed for about 18 monthes then invested in the velkie. was a move i wished i had made earlier on
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I know we all have different ideas on this topic, a topic that has been discussed often, and sometimes heatedly, over the years.

    I have a 21" hand mower (LawnBoy), 36" Exmark Viking w/b, with BullRider (and Velke, one-wheel), and 48" JohnDeere Z-trak.

    For properties 10K sq ft of turf (smallest on the list), I only use the 21" machine. The 21" mower is used for front yards, side yards, and some trim work in the rear for the 0.50-0.75 acre properties. The w/b 36", or the ZTR 48" mows the rear areas of those properties. For the ones over 1 acre, the ZTR is used almost exclusively.

    The 21" hand mower is used selectively because of the terrain, the small necks and pennisulas, and the quality of job. The w/b does a nice job, but not nearly like the 21" hand mower. Nearly all of the 21" work is bagging work.

    The one-wheeled Velke for the Exmark w/b is not used any more because of the line down the middle of the pass. The wheels of the two-wheeled BullRider follow the mower wheels. But, on the better properties where the w/b is used, the BullRider is not used because of heavier tracking (much greater ground pressures on the small tires than from the mower).

    The 21" mower will mow nearly all sloping terrain, the w/b will mow most. The ZTR is the least useful for sloping terrain. For some properties, the 48" ZTR takes longer to complete the mowing task than the 36" w/b. The terrain and smaller areas must be mowed with the hand mower, whereas the w/b will mow it all.

    The w/b will tear up turf more easily than the hand mower, but can be avoided with care. The ZTR will tear up more turf in one week than a w/b will tear in a season. My point is that progressively larger machines can cause more damage to the turf.

    All of this is to say that there is no good answer to your question, without knowing the details of the properties to be mowed. Further, what is an acceptable result for some contractors is not acceptable to another one. I would be ashamed to leave the mowing result left by other contractors working the same neighborhoods. I thank them for their sloppy work as their failures always provides a constant stream of potential customers for me.
  7. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,986

    We run 36" T-bars for our 1/4 properties, they fly. They all have sulkies, and we always mow in fifth gear 6+mph. I am trying to phase out the few props where we cannot access part of the lawn with the 36s. We are literally 3x faster with a 36" T-bar than a 21" Proline, we've timed it. Wider pass, faster speed, no operator fatigue. 2 guys can mow, trim, edge and blow an average 5-6k lawn in 10-12 minutes, that from when we pull up to when we are driving away.
  8. toac

    toac LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 349

    I run a 40" Toro with a T-bar. The extra width makes a huge difference, but the speed that the mower can move is amazing. You can literally cut your time in half with a 36" (or 40").
  9. Groh's Mows

    Groh's Mows LawnSite Member
    Messages: 155

    I mow several lots in the size you mentioned (50 X 100) and used a snapper 21" commercial for several years. Gates or landscapping made trying to use a rider impractical. I started using a 36" Scag belt drive wb with gator blades 2 seasons ago and would not go back to the 21". I demo'd or borrowed 36" wb by dixon, lesco and snapper before going with the scag but it just came down to personal preference. If I had it to do over I would buy a hydro from the start because that is what I will probably end up with.
  10. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I use walkbehinds for larger residential properties and 21" Toro Proline mowers for small properties. There is nothing on the market that can beat the look that using a 21" will give you. Their weight compared to larger walkbehinds and ztr's or tractors will be more benificial in the long run and your customers will be happier with you. Everyone here seems to think bigger is faster and faster is better and thats not all you need to consider. Weight is a huge factor on smaller properties a heavy mower over time will leave rib rows in the yard that become over time very noticeable. A 21" mower will give a better all around cut and its weight won't harm the yard. Smaller mowers like the 21" have been around longer than almost anything else. Time is money and I agree that a bigger mower will get you done faster but that shouldn't be your decision to make, its your customers! Let them know the advantages of both and charge accordingly.

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