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Best 36" Walk Behind For Wet Grass

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JimLewis, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    To date we've always mowed all of our lawns with 21" Hondas. Mostly all fairly small lawns here in the urban areas we work in. But now with about 250 accounts, there are a handfull where we could actually use a larger mower. So we're going to invest in a 36" this year.

    I don't care so much whether it has a ZTR capability or not. Don't care if it has a skid plate to ride on behind.

    My main concerns are;

    • Which brand have you had the best experience with?
    • Which brand cuts wet grass the best?

    Thanks in advance for your replies....
  2. Bogielski

    Bogielski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 72

    I have a 36'' Exmark Turf Tracer HP w/ a sand-on. Works great, alot of horse power and never boggs down, even in 8 inch grass when we are cutting at 3 inches. Btw, you shouldn't cut in wet grass, One its bad for the plant, Two its bad on the machine extra stress on the motor and you will replace the blades non stop.
  3. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,711

    i go tru wheel belts fast if i cut wet grass on my toro. consider a hydro
  4. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    no harm comes to the plant by cutting it wet... more harm come by cutting 5" off a healthy lawn... If you are going to cut wet grass a lot then get as much power as you can afford. the clumping grass will make your mower work harder...as the grass will build up under the deck. Don't even think of bagging or mulching...Plan on spending more time to rake/blow clumps and more time to blow or sweep hard surfaces

    if the ground is really saturated then you may rut the yard and you run the risk of tire marks when you turn in the soft soil.

    I would not consider using a velke, or a slide on a W/B thats being used on really wet yard. more potential for ruts.

    We have a fixed deck scag 36" hydro. works great. never used it in a full on down pour...but in damp spring heavy growth times...it does the job.

    also don't plan on getting as nice of a cut when the grass is wet. the mower won't cut as even as it not able to get the grass to "stand up" as well with vaccum effect of the blades..
  5. ShooterK2

    ShooterK2 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 815

    I'm pretty sure that, where Jim lives, it rains a LOT. So his equipment has to be able to do a good job in the wet stuff. Always mowing when it's dry would probably not be an option.

    I have limited experience with this, but I'll tell you what I know. As I'm sure you know, you have two major options with walk-behinds: Belt driven or hydro driven. I own one of each. I got the belt drive (Scag 36") first and used it for most of last year. It cuts great wet or dry, so that was never an issue. What was an issue for me was the lack of reverse, and the controls. I had the pistol grip model, which works great and is optimal at keeping a straight line. It does, however, make my hands, wrists, and forearms hurt. Usually the next morning. I'm not talking fatigue, as in muscle soreness. I'm talking pain, and the inability to close a fist for the first hour after I wake up. I'm sure not everyone is affected this way, but I never was before I used this mower, and haven't been since. Other types of controls are available and may be better.

    I bought my hydro unit (Bob-cat 36") near the end of last season, so I have less than 20 hours behind it. It too cuts great wet or dry. Both machines have plenty of power for cutting thick, wet Bermuda (or anything else we have here) without bogging. The hydro I got has "Z Controls", which are just like a ZTR has, and are very easy on the hands. Took some getting used to, but in time I learned to hold a straight line, and had no more pain from mowing all day. Since you are not interested in a machine that will "zero turn", then I wouldn't let that be a factor. The hydro, however, will do this without tearing turf, whereas the belt drive will leave a divot where one wheel was not spinning as the machine pivots around on that wheel. But, as I said, if you do not need zero turn capabilities, then this shouldn't be an issue.

    Belt drives are available considerably cheaper than hydro units, and are very reliable.

    One more thing to consider is belt slippage you go the belt drive route. Some folks say the belts slip, making the machine unusable in wet grass or rain. I, however, have mowed several times in rain, and regularly in wet grass with my Scag, and never had this problem.

    Also, reverse on a belt driven machine is almost non-existant on anything other than a hard surface. Sure, there's a gear labeled "reverse", but try using it to back up in thick grass or on a slight incline.........better be feeling strong. You'll be much more tired by the end of the day with a belt-drive.

    I hope this helps.
  6. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,743

    Though I run a BOP Quickie 32, I've found Oregon's single-notch blades to pack my deck less when conditions are moist/wet. I theorize that the clippings are re-cut by the notch(es) and discharged sooner......rather than being mashed/juiced by a hi-lift blade with a solid wing/sail where the clippings seemingly get stickier, and remain longer in the turbulence, as well as remaining longer in length.

    There's really only a few variables that one can control, right? Blade choice has proven to be the most versatile variable (for me). When conditions are more moist than the usual morning dew, I've found that decreasing engine/blade rpm's (by 1/4-1/3??) which also reduces forward speed will sometimes have a positive influence as well. Of course, all this depends on the type of & how much grass is being cut. I've also found some leaves/leaf piles mulch more effectively at slower blade speeds.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    LOL. Tell that to God and Mother Nature. If we couldn't cut when grass everyone would have to wait until just the middle of summer to mow their lawns around here. Not an option. Mowing wet grass is just part of regular business around here.
  8. mslawn

    mslawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from LA
    Messages: 483

    As long as you do not run a mulch kit a 36" turf tracer should do quite well in those conditions. With a mulch kit ours leaves stringers and you have to double cut. The 34 phazer we have cuts the same way as the turf tracer,but I would NOT recommend the Phazer to anyone, I can't stand that machine. A walkbehind is a much better fit when working with the narrow machines. I just bought a new hydro Viking today and hopefully it will do better with a mulch kit on it and not leave all the stringers that the other 2 do.
  9. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    I have a 36" fixed deck, dual hydro machine ... Gravely / Lesco / Everride ... you might consider that for virtual cutting in almost constant wet conditions !!
  10. Knight511

    Knight511 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 207


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