How o avoid he same old RUTS?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BostonBull, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. BostonBull

    BostonBull LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 520

    I am finding that I am compacting the soil,and creating ruts in which the grass will not grow. This is happening on the edges where I do my 3 "border" mows before I mow the actual lawn. It is not so severe on the third swipe but the first one, especially near my neighbors fence is horrible. How do you guys avoid this, or cure this?
    Should I walk around with a pitch fork and manually aerate these areas every so often?
  2. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,570

    Offset your tires a little bit. You might have to make an extra outside pass for turn at the end. I also change the pattern that I mow too.
  3. fergman

    fergman LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 286

    ive been wondering about this also. we mow at 3 1/2 or higher and the tire track thats closest to the sidewalk or house. the grass lays down and starts to get several inches longer than what we cut at. ive even mowed and then went around blowing the grass back straight up and its very tall. then go around the house counter-clockwise with the chute blocker down. then the next week it does the same thing and before you know it its long again. i watched a guy that just mows a few yards with an exmark . he mows once around the house then goes the opposite direction really slow over the same path around the house blowing whatever he cuts toward the house. i could see doing it if you raised the deck a quarter of an inch but then youd have more soil compaction too. the only thing i would know to do about the soil compaction in that area is aerification of some type. some are better than others. ive never seen or heard of anybody doing what this guy is doing when he makes his first pass around a house. could he be doing the right thing:confused: i dont hardly think so. but on the really nice yards i dont like it when the grass along the inside tire is mashed down flat all the time and is alot longer than the rest of the grass. the only thing i can figure to do is make 1 pass with a push mower to take that edge off or just weedeat it as im trimming around the house and maybe walk backwards or just cut the yard lower. the push mower is definately not gonna be done cause it takes too much time.
  4. BostonBull

    BostonBull LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 520

    I guess I should have added that I was looking for a solution WITHOUT moving the tracks and creating extra weedwhacking. I like to mow as much as I can with minimal weedwhacking. My neighbor has an absolut SHITE lawn so I only have to trim under the fence very week or so.

    Thanks for the input though guys much appreciated! :hammerhead:
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    We always have to do a reverse border - it is the inevitable. Turfgrass plants develop a "memory". It is the natural growth of cell structure and fibers that when matted in a direction consistently, will grow that way. By staying on top of it from the beginning of the season, the grass will be less prone to it. The uplifting by reverse borders has to be done less frequent later if it is helped early in the season. The method we use is to do two borders before doing our directional cut. It s also after the second border that the outside border is reversed. This puts a minimum to the amount of grass being blown into beds and/or outside areas. The second border isn't as important to do reverse borders on, as it doesn't get packed down as much, because it is mowed in so many different directions. One thing is for sure, this is where mulching units shine.
    Now, if you are getting actual grooves, then as was mentioned above, the tracks need to be staggered a little it every other cut or so. The actual rows can be staggered both to the direction of migration, and to the opposite side of the direction of migration. *Migration is the actual overall direction the mower is moving across the area to. For instance, if you are cutting in a north-south direction, and you started at the east side of the area and are moving to the west, then THAT is your direction of migration. Now, the reason we use a solid term of staggering TOWARD the direction - in other words toward the uncut grass, is so it is always consistent. We obviously can't say stagger to the right, or stagger to the left, because that is different with the end of every row.
    Now, other thing...when staggering th rows, on the border, this WILL cause a little bit of extra trimming, as you will be leaving approx. 6" of uncut grass. One other option is to use a trim mower around your structures and such...labor intensive, though.
  6. screensnot

    screensnot LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 86

    I have the same trouble with the grass laying over from driving over it in the same direction every time (perimeter pass). I tried doing the reverse perimeter pass after doing a normal one (don't want to discharge all that grass on the first pass into beds ad such), but it doesn't help all that much, and you still end up with grass in the beds.

    I came up with an idea to brush the grass after the front wheel goes over it, to stand it up. The brush would be attached to the front caster and chain driven to about double the speed of the front wheel. The brush would then push the grass backward and lift it up before the deck gets there.

    The trouble is there is not enough room between the casters and the deck, you'd have to extend the forks a bit.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh what you gotta remember is make your turns INside that perimeter area, do overlap that section when you cut the rest of the lawn, that's what the perimeter area is for it's a 'play' border means you want and need to play around in it some, then it's not so bad.

    Unfortunately it will spray some grass over the paved stuff but once the perimeter is clear it's really not a big deal.

    This is kinda how I double cut, it's not always double cut the entire thing exact, it just means don't be afraid to let your mower wander off a bit, let that baby run over some of those areas, take the tire tracked sections right dead center with some high lifts and just keep on and on until that finish is smooth...

    Might seem like a hard thing to do at first but it's a minor modification in the routine.
  8. avnorm

    avnorm LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Each time I mow on my heavy ZTR, I vary the distance from the edges (of vulnerable areas) by up to what I am willing to string mow. This is really important around trees, cause ruts and dead grass look bad and are hard to repair (shaded, less rain, etc).
  9. DuraCutter

    DuraCutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 806

    Another solution is to utilize a lighter mower!! Imagine how many lcos aren't as meticulous as you and don't even care. Ruts galore.

  10. Galashiels

    Galashiels LawnSite Member
    Messages: 26

    Put dual wheels on your ZTR no more ruts lol:laugh:

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