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Best mower for southern grass??

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing Equipment' started by Chvysb350, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. Chvysb350

    Chvysb350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    I have been reading lawnsite threads for weeks now. Thank you to everyone here who contribute to the volumes of information.
    I am entering year 2 of my lawn business and need to buy a mower that fits through most gates. My first mistake in this business was buying a Hustler mower, that would not work on the weeds/buffalo/bluestem that grows in so many lawns in my service area. I sold it and replaced it with a Scag. What a HUGE difference! Anyway, back to the problem. Many of the lots here are 1/2 to 1 acre, so I think a 30-36 inch walk behind would be best. Anyone have any suggestions? I really don't want to spend 7,000 on a mower right now. There is used Gravely belt drve 36" for $ 2,400 -200hrs. Clean but 3 years old. A new one is 3,800, either way, I dont know if it will cut the weedy lawns without 4 passes.
    Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank you!
  2. Gump_Runner

    Gump_Runner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Your on the right track. Scag or Ferris/Snapper Pro. Velocity + & ICD are King
    ShaneL. likes this.
  3. Chvysb350

    Chvysb350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    Unfortunately, I can't afford another new Scag just yet and the used market is tough here. I haven' seen anyone here running a Ferris. I have a friend from Washington stae that swears by Exmark, but I have heard that Exmark doesnt as well in the southern "native" lawns
  4. cvcook

    cvcook LawnSite Member
    Messages: 230

    Are you mulching or discharging?
  5. Justin Rumbley

    Justin Rumbley LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    We run Scag tiger cats and have a 30" Toro Timemaster that we use for small spaces and any parts we can't get the zero turn in. It's about $1k.
  6. Chvysb350

    Chvysb350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    I would say that discharge is fine with most of my customers. I am currently running a 2017 Scag 52" Tiger with the high lift blades/side discharge. My small mower is a Honda 21". The 21" is great for tight spots or small yards, but most of my customers have at least a 1/4 acre back yard. The 21" is too slow for the big areas. Even though it seems like every gate that I have encountered yet was about 43-44" privacy fence. I feel like I should aim for a 34 or 36" walk behind mower??? This would also be backup mower for the Scag.
  7. Chvysb350

    Chvysb350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    How often do you have to adjust the belts on that 30?? I am looking at the Exmark commercial 30, but I hesitate to pull the trigger on it. I have read too many reviews saying that it is a bit underpowered and can be a bit high maintenance. What do you thing about yours and how much use does yours get?
    Another thing that I should have mentioned in the original post is that everyone here wants a bi weekly cut. Often the grass is what most would consider overgrown. I dream of the world I see on Lawnsite, where grass is 4-5" at time of cut. Our market is saturated with fly by nighters, that mow anything for cheap.
  8. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 4,571

    1st off anyone who has a fence with 10k+ of grass inside AND no way to get a decent size mower in it is an IDIOT. Here's what I have done and what I would do if I were you. If I feel the customer will stick with me and become loyal I'll offer to install a wider gate if they cover the cost of materials. If you feel your only option is a walk mower and can't spend much $$ I've had a Toro Timemaster 30 for the past 3 or so years for areas that must be walk mowed. I know you will read bad things about them but it has served me well. Keep in mind I'm the only one using it and I'm more mechanically minded than most. Also I'm not using it on overgrown POS lawns either. It's way faster than a 21. Like you I used a Honda 21 which was a good mower but I'd say the 30 cuts time by 1/3. I'd hate going back to a 21. Eventually if I were you and had several of these back yard small gate yards I'd invest in a stand on that would fit these areas. Maybe you could even find a happy medium and use this one mower for all areas?
    13Razorbackfan likes this.
  9. Chvysb350

    Chvysb350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 53

    Thanks for the input on the Timemaster. It is for sure in my list. I can afford about $3000 for a mower. There are a couple used 36" belt drives in the area for 2000-2400. While a new Exmark or Gravely is around 3800....which isn't bad. Then you add the tax in and you are above 4k for a sometimes/backup mower. Ouch.
    I agree with you on the gates. It drives me mad that I can mow 75% of my properties with the Tiger and then need an expensive mower for the back gates. The biggest issue isn't the money spent on a mower, it is finding a mower that will do the job right, with the fewest passes. I love my Scag, I should probably bite the bullet and get a Scag walk behind, but I want to see what other options are out there.
    I am still green in business, so I am taking almost everything I can get. I guess the real point here is that I am a newbie and I am stumbling around trying to find the best way. This years goal is to get some smaller properties and see if I can make a little more money with less work. I have a couple large properties that eat my lunch. Hopefully, this year, I can get some new customers and start weeding out or raising the price on the nonprofitable properties. There is a lot of competition here, lots of guys who throw a weed eater and residential mower in their truck and underbid everyone. When I was 12, 31 years ago, I lived in a big subdivision in Arlington Tx. I charged $45 to mow an average city lot. That is still the going rate...and now I have thousands in equipment plus insurance. Good grief!
    It is also interesting to note, that I was using cheap residential equipment back then, and it didn't ever break down. To be fair, I was only mowing 10 or 15 lawns a week, but still.
  10. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 4,571

    Yes larger properties can be less profitable if you don't price them right. I (solo) lean toward taking only smaller simpler lawns these days since they "fit" my situation.

    Def understand the "fly by nite" thing, likely they don't pay taxes & etc. like you do but it's prob that way most places. But stick to your guns and be more professional than the "rest" and it will pay off in the long run. There's always different properties that need a different mower so at some point you may need to decide what are the majority of the props you want to service and tailor your equipment to them. I think for the sole guy (I'm guessing you are), 2 mowers would be realistic, 1 rider and 1 walk.

    Not sure the Timemaster 30 would work well for you on overgrown weedy lawns your describing. I'm guessing these lawns are not treated for weed control. Maybe these are lower income people, if you know what I mean. Good luck in your business

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