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How not to Scalp

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Madstriper, May 10, 2006.

  1. Madstriper

    Madstriper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 130

    OK, first year, part timer. I have a 21" Honda, Echo trimmer and blower.
    After my ad in the paper I have 9 accounts, and my schedule at my full time job over the past
    three weeks made it very hard to get to all my accounts.
    So I wimp out and buy a John Deere 125 from Home Depot(didnt want to go into debt for part time, for now, venture) to help with 3 bigger back yards. I tried to mow the front of one lady's yard, its deep, thick St Augustine, very nice yard, but very unlevel. Just about every time I hit a small dip or make a turn, I would scalp the yard. Looked horrible with the lines all in the yard.
    This yard was looking great on previous mowings, and is again now, that I started back mowing the front with the 21", but can anyone tell me how to use the JD without the lines. Oh, slowing down to a crawl seemed to help just a little.
    The deck is level, pitched about 1/4" lower in the front, tires even pressure left to right, sharp blades.
    Can this be corrected, or is this just what you have to deal with with deep St Augustine. Do commercial WB's and ZTR's not streak in this situation?

    Help!!!!! I take alot of pride in the look of my jobs, but would like to use the rider and the bigger yards.
  2. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 2,412

    Don't mow in circles. Go back in forth, creating stripes. That should eliminate the scalping on the turns. How low are you cutting?
  3. paul3251

    paul3251 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    the way i was tought from day 1 years ago was.make 2 laps around the edge of the yard blowing it in not out into the street.then stripe it.sometimes you will have to lift on the mower when you see a dip then go back and wed whip it.might take you longer but better then losing an account
  4. Madstriper

    Madstriper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 130

    I was mowing at 3", but I plan on actually measuring it if the tornadoes are gone tomorrow. Its hard to mow back and forth without turning, I have a garden tractor, not a ZTR.
    I have thought about lifting the deck, but with the number of times I would have to do that, I felt it was just easier to just use the 21".
    I have pushed the front the last two times, and when I mowed it Monday she told me that she had 3 compliments on it. I just want to keep it looking good and making her feel good.

    Anyone else have any ideas on why its doing it and will the better commercial mowers do it? I see how going back and forth would help some, and I do make a lap or two first. Thanks for the comments, looking for more.
  5. ATVracer

    ATVracer LawnSite Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 346

    I have a snapper mulching rider tractor type and it is easy to mow back and forth in straight lines. You just do a 3 point turn on the ends or whatever.

    ALarsh gave you the same advice as I would so re-read his post.
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,460

    With 3 inch height this lawn must have a large holes to scalp St Augustine? I have cut thousands of St. Augustine grass in racetrack circles and never had a problem...but have not had a John Deere. Are you mulching? Sometimes new blades are not real sharp, but that won't affect scalping. Could the unit have low time pressure on one side?
  7. racerxgtpro2002

    racerxgtpro2002 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    it has been my experince since i was a child mowing my grandfathers lawn on his cadet,professionals dont mow with riding lawn mowers,and they allways scalp. if possible trade the jd for a 48" or 32" hydro walk behind.and the the lines that you want to see when finished is what i call silver,green stripping.we mow them great looking fairways on golf courses,cutomers love it if you can lay it down right.professional grade equipment period.
  8. Frosty03

    Frosty03 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I live in St. Augustine. Where do you think St. Augustine grass came from?

    Anyhow, I was told over and over by the local guys never to mow lower than 3 1/2 inches on St. Augustine grass. I set the deck at 3 1/2 inches and never lower it. That is about the only grass down here unless you get Bahia and I don't cut that stuff. New properties with new sod, I set the deck at 4 inches for the first few cuts until the sod takes root.

    BTW, the home repot John Deer is a POS. I own one. The coil and the spindles went out at 60 hours.

    I am keeping it because it's paid for. However, as soon as my Exmark WB is paid off, I will get another Exmark and give John Deere a Dear John.

    The John Deere will scalp in a heartbeat. Set the scalp rollers lower, it should help a lot.
  9. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 2,412

    Thats funny. I started out with a JD L130. Had 300 hours on it when I sold and only one issue with it due to lack of proper maintenance. Not saying it is a heavy duty machine, but I give credit because it is a home owners model.
  10. paul3251

    paul3251 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    anytime i mow a yard they have waves or holes.i push down on the mower to lift the deck thne when im done go back with a weed whip,yes it might take a few extra minutes but it look better then having dirt spots everywhere

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