Commercial Mowing in the 60's and 70's?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOW ED, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I am 44 years old and I guess I never really thought about this too much until now. Were there many lawn care companies in the 60's and 70's? If so, how do they compare to todays business. We have become so spoiled with the advent of zero turn mowers and high powered equipment that we have pretty much forgotten where it all started. I cannot even imagine what was done in the 50's and earlier. I am not really concerned with smalll postage stamp mowing of the past, anyone with a Craftsman reel mower was able to mow their lawn on Saturday morning. What did the real rich folks do for hiring the job out and who did that work that is still around?
    I grew up in the city so all lawns were small at no more than 3000 sq ft but the suburban rich folks had to have someone mow. The only thing I remember is that lawn tractors were made but they were relatively expensive and sort of cumbersome. I never used a 60's vintage LT.
    So what would a lawn care companies trailer look like in 1965? I know what I had as a kid in the late 60's and early 70's and I cannot imagine mowing a 15K lawn with a genuine PUSH mower with a 3.5 briggs that had a top mounted hand crank starter and weighed 175#. I also remember the old string trimmers, they were called hand clippers. Oh yes, technology advanced when they actually put those clippers on an extension handle so you didn't have to get on your hands and knees to trim. Remember the power edger? You powered it with your arms and shoulders. I stilll have one. And who could forget the power blower called a broom or the rake. How about the thatching rake? Do that all day. So remember that we do complain that our job is tough and it is at times but nowhere near as tough as it would be in the 60's. Mayby thats why they had so much experimentation with drugs back then. Anyone around here that has better recollection about the good old days? Someone give us a history lesson.
  2. noseha

    noseha LawnSite Senior Member
    from MI
    Messages: 554

    I Use Alot Of Handtools! But Rely On My Power Tools For The Money! Imagine Working For One Or Two People A Day Or On A Crew Of Three Working All Year On The Same Place! I Wonder What The Number Of People Today (percentage To The Population) Are Making Money In Lawn Services Compared To The 60's
  3. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,697

    Yazoo was the premier commercial lawn mower in the 60's. Also, Jacobsen reel mowers with a 4 hp Briggs, complete with an oil bath air cleaner was quite common. Bigger properties were mowed with tractors pulling either 3, 5, or 7 gang, ground driven reels. Lawn care wasn't nearly as big then as it is today. Most of the highest manicured lawns were found on golf courses or properties owned by the wealthy. Heck, I remember when Merion was considered the top of the line KBG.
  4. HenryB

    HenryB LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    In my are (NY, NJ) there was no landscape industry until the hispanic work force arrived late 80's. At that point the industry exploded due to a viable workforce. A lot of people don't like to admit it but without them there is not much of a landscape industry.
  5. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,681

    AHHHH, the good ole days! I can remember bagging EVERYONE with 21 inch snappers, and hauling it off in an old pickup. Running an old mower called a lock(?), that had side reel cutters, that thing was a bear! Technology in the green industry has come a long way. I remember when a gear drive bunton was a cadillac...
  6. 6'7 330

    6'7 330 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,821

    A lot of the evolutionary technological developments weren't wide spread until the 80ties. Big walkbehinds Z-turn's etc.When I was a kid, I worked for a man who ran a landscaping company, and worked with my dad at GM.The business back then as far as lawn maintenance goes was not huge,only the well off in well off area's paid for lawn maintenance that resembled anything near what we think of in 2006 as being professional maintainenance. This man I worked for utilized paying a lot of guys he worked with at the GM plant, paying them cash. A lot of the tools we take for granted didn't even exist back then. A lot of hand tools were used, hedge snippers, brooms, etc. Mowing larger areas was as another poster pointed out, done with tractor's. The industry at that time depended a lot on manpower in those pre-historic times lol.
  7. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    I remember those days well as I started in the mid 70s [Business]
    The thing I remember the most about the customers were that we wee like personal gardeners to them, often spending 2-3 days at 1 home. [You were not so quick in dropping a customer back then for what ever reason] We mowed with lawn tractors on the bigger estates or bought Jacobsen reel mowers for the smaller ones. It took us 2-3 days because of all the manual labor, and there was not a lot of customers. On the plus side there were even fewer LCO :clapping: Profits were quite good surprisingly, so I'm surprised it took 8-10 yrs for the market to start to get saturated. The invention of the Internet is when the prices started to drop. The average home owner started making a decent wage and wanted some fun time. The local guys figured out that they could make some fast cash with a mower and low balled there way in, now its a continuous cycle.
  8. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,716

    i have been doing this since the early 70,s. worked for a very large co. we used locke real mowers for most lawns but had LT tractors too and pulled gang reels at the schools. all hedge trimming was done by hand or large jobs we used generators and little wonder elect trimmers(still the best )worst by far was the use of hand shears to trimm with. back breaking work and all clean up was by hand using brooms and rakes. jacobson reel mowers were popular too . this is one case of not missing the "good old days"!
  9. heather lawn sp

    heather lawn sp LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    I'm glad somebody else remembers hand clippers with long handles. (mine are currently nailed to the wall as a grim reminder). Two 21" Lawnboy commercials ($200) and a 1963 GMC 910 also $200 (another story). A 3/4 acre church took half of a Saturday for $20. Dream then was to get a 30" National mower to increase efficiency. Does anyone remember National's?
  10. dfor

    dfor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 829

    Does anybody remember Goodall mowers? I remember cutting our own lawn with one back in the 70's when I was just a kid. We had about a 15,000 sq. ft. lawn. It was about a 30-36 inch mower with 2 blades. It was a pretty solid mower for the time.

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