Cutting Height

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Pastaboy62, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Pastaboy62

    Pastaboy62 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 362

    My lawnmower is set at 2-1/2 Inches. Most of my people are using sprikler system. I know that you want a high cut druing the drought monts but is th 2-1/2 alright, i read some were it should be 3-1/2.

  2. Slcareco

    Slcareco LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    Lemme tell you something, never cut that low unless your mowing personal greens for golfing home owners. 3" the least its better to cut higher for several reasons:

    - It incourages a deeper root system
    - Shades out the soil keeping it cool as well as preventing weeds from germination
    - Cutting any less promotes weed growth, disease, stress to the plant leading to its overall death
    - More importantly to the homeowner its not to appealing a scalped lawn
  3. Ric3077

    Ric3077 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,113

    Exactly in the spring the LOWEST is 3" and right now when it's dry and hot lowest is 3.5". The other day I cut my best looking lawn I have at 4.5". Each lawn will vary. Try not to pick one height for every lawn. Another thing to remember is if you cut at 2.5" the customer might call and say "skip doesn't need it" Always cut as long as you can not as short as you can.
  4. GardnerLandscaping

    GardnerLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 310

    I have a situation where if I cut higher, the lawn looks terrible because the grass is too high for the thickness and height of the weeds but not cutting it higher is threatening the health of the grass.

    I'm paranoid because in some areas the weeds seem to have died, especially under trees and where stumps were grounded. It probably needs some sand and dirt put out to fill in and level out the stump areas. Doubt my uncle would want that. He'd rather buy a share of Lowes stock than improve his lawn.

    The grass looks ok when cut the length, but after 2 weeks, it looks terrible before I mow, trim, and blow again. I'm going to try to convince both to put down some fertilizer and overseed when it cools off. I don't think it has been fertilized and overseeded in 20 years except one small area where he had to build a burm to stop flooding.

    I'm tempted to go up again another 1/4" above the recommended cut with another day of squinting to find the cut line.

    I guess what I'm asking, is what do you do if your customer's lawn is in such poor health and they're not willing to spend to improve it that it threatens the quality of your work.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Ohhhh yessss, I've been facing this dilemma more so because it wears the crap out of my mower as the dust gets into everything, but same basic problem, they never want to spend any money and it looks worse every year... Actually there's more to it: The lawn is in such poor health that it hardly needs cutting 3 times in the spring, twice in summer and twice in fall... What is the use of keeping something like that on the schedule for a lousy 7 cuts / year, it irks me to think they just hired me so they can pretend their lawn doesn't even exist as they never have to deal with it...

    But before you drop one in-season, they are customers, too... And most of them pay, lol...

    Here's my solution:
    - When estimating such a lot, I now charge about 1.5 times the usual rate (so a 30-dollar lot becomes 45) and here is why: The extra money they pay will get credited to their account so come fall I can throw down some fertilizer or do whatever to help improve things.
    That or they say no, either way is fine by me.
    - Over time, raise the rates or drop those whom you have right now... I am sorry but a few will get a letter at the end of the season saying I can not provide services next year (and this I won't say, but their lawn can't be raised in price to where they would accept anyway)... Not sure exactly how to phrase it yet, but I will find something short and sweet online before that time...
  6. GardnerLandscaping

    GardnerLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 310

    His neighbor needs cutting every two weeks. I skipped a month and three weeks during the drought on his because there was nothing to cut.

    Since it is my uncle, I think putting down fertilizer and seed for free would be a good idea, especially now since I've increased my efficiency. He'll get mad if I refuse payment, but I'm going to have to do it for family. I'll tell him I still have more neighbors to win over on his street and to consider it advertising.

    If it wasn't family, he would have fired me for charging too much and doing too much when in reality I should have been doing less and charging more. Fortunately, my cousin and her husband are going to put down mulch for him since I've formed the landscape beds and buy some landscaping plants for me to put in for his help with baby sitting and such.

    Thanks topsites.

    As far as your situation for the customers you don't want to keep, I'd just raise the rates next year and let them choose to end service. Tell them insurance, gasoline prices, and cost of the equipment for your range of services are forcing you to raise rates. Maybe offer a referal to a [more desperate] LCO who is more structured and geared for the type of services he requires, especially one that you think might want to sub jobs back to you. Blow smoke (don't be harsh), appear to care (because you do care about your professionalism), and make it seem like a normal business decision, which it is.

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