First Post a (maybe dumb?) question; realistic acres per hour for ZTR

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by tlwmsu, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. tlwmsu

    tlwmsu LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Not only was I a "lowballer" or "scrub" last year, now I'm thinking about diving in the deep end. I read this board last year and got very good info and advice just by lurking. Now not only am I toying with continuing the part time work, I'm also considering going full time in the next few years. I'm going to do things right, insurance, license, etc if I continue to do it. Now for my question.

    Long story short...we are looking to move, and found a very nice developing sub-division (one house built, 4 more being built) with about 89 lots ranging from just under 2 acres to around 7 acres (of grass). AND 2 private grass airstrips totaling 30.75 acres. We will be finding out in the next 2 days whether or not our house appraises for enough to justify us moving/buying a lot, building a new house, etc. OK...the developer tells me when I told him I did computer stuff for a living, but also did lawn care on the side, "why don't you send me a quote for the airstrips?" Immediately (not knowing the surface area), I see $$$ and begin research on what size mower I would need...have a 38" rider, 21" push, so at least I knew that wouldn't cut it...pardon the pun. Then (duh) I realize I've got to know how big, how often they want it cut, etc. So I call the guy back...he gives me surface area, doesn't know how often to cut; if I lived there, they would tell me how tall they wanted it kept, and I would cut "as needed". Strips have not been prepped, and (I assume) the grass they want to grow on it has not even been planted yet. Tells me it would be late summer (Sept) or next year before it would even need cutting. Good grief this post is long. So, after talking to a couple of dealers (Grasshopper and Exmark), the local Exmark guy tells me realistic numbers for a 60" is 3 acres per hour. Exmark's 80% productivity says more than that (booking it around 10mph). So, in y'all's opinion, what can I expect realistically with a 60 or 66" deck? Also, per hour or per acre charge. I already know what I think my time is worth and will figure in expenses (fuel, equipment operation, etc.) When I know realistic numbers on that, I plan to go back this weekend and eyeball these strips, then hopefully talk to the guy some more. Whew...sorry my 1st is such a long one....
  2. instyle

    instyle LawnSite Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 380

    very good question. Aslo, what kind of acres per hour could a 48" ZTR do, realisticly?
  3. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,246

    I would say go with a 72" we can mow, trim 4 1/2 acres in a little over a hour. That's using one 72" and 1 60".
  4. CP Estates

    CP Estates LawnSite Member
    from North
    Messages: 45

    I am in the process of buying a Gravely 60" ZTR. The guy that I'm buying it from is a neighbour who owns the dealership and he claims that he cuts 12 acres in just over 2 hours. :confused: There are no trees and it is basically field.
  5. 24ON48OFF

    24ON48OFF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    My concern would be how tall the grass will be in late summer. How did it look when you were there? If it is knee high in late summer dont expect to do 10mph on any mower!

    This info that ECS posted looks like it may help you.

    This is his average time over a year I believe.
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    And if he's telling you this, then he is giving you the typical dealer/salesman line of BS.
  7. CP Estates

    CP Estates LawnSite Member
    from North
    Messages: 45

    I know his place and while I'm sure he's pushing the truth, he goes full tilt and I'm blown away by how fast this thing cuts.
  8. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,246

    YA, 12 acres in 2 hrs with a 60".:hammerhead:
  9. Full throttle lawn care

    Full throttle lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 151

    I have a 60in JD and it takes me 80min to cut 5 acres at a cutting speed of 6.5 mph GPS on average with flat ground. My mower has a top speed of 9.6 mph but feel thats a little fast to cut grass.
  10. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    Ok, this is a damn lie..just as it raised flags with others, it should you too.

    Now, onto the original Q. The thing about the airstrip grass site is that it is very likely similar to reclamation areas and other such seeded , unirrigated projects meant simply to keep down dust and erosion. What this means is some serious rough riding. What THAT means is that no one will be going full speed on a machine that lacks a suspension and not expect to lose a few teeth before the day is over. Next comes the aspect of buying a machine that you may be able to only use a couple of times per year on a site that the manufacturer/designer of the machine may consider to be "extreme use". Where's the payback? I think if you had a machine that was inching toward retirement, ready to be replaced by a new mower because you had the daily accounts to support it, that would be a scenario that I would consider an infrequent, rough job like that, using the now-destined-"back up machine" that you have gotten a useful service life out of already. I wouldn't buy a machine specifically for that kind of job and you should probably focus your attention on jobs that can deliver regular and frequent service as you look to grow.

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