Lawn clippings piling up?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Entropy, Aug 26, 2002.

  1. Entropy

    Entropy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Hey guys.

    I purchased a Bobcat 48" WB from my local lawn service company, in the hopes that I could cut my lawn myself. It's three years old and in great condition.

    Over the past few months, I have noticed that when I cut, my lawn looks worse and worse after each time. Old, brown lawn clippings seem to be drudged up from each cutting, in addition to the new ones being clipped. It has now got to the point where after I cut, certain parts of my lawn are literally covered with a thatch of brown, dead grass. In the end, my lawn looks horrible.

    A few things about my yard: my house gets sun on the front literally all day, so there tends to be some broadleaf grass (not crabgrass or weeds) interspersed throughout the finer grass. I've kept my grass longer this summer to help it deal with the heat and sun, and once I let it go ten days, and I wound up cutting quite a bit off, so there were tons of clippings. It seems I *still* see these long clippings sitting atop the lawn, some six weeks later.

    Why are these clippings piling up like this? I would imagine they would eventually decompose (like they do with other lawns), but I have no idea what's going on here.

    Any advice? Thanks in advance.
  2. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    They may move this thread to homeowner assistance but since I'm here I'll give you my opinion.
    You sort of answered your own question. If you cut more than a third of the blade at a time and just let it lay you are asking for problems. Eventually it will decompose but you will have the remains of the blade until that process finishes. If you do this consistently you open the lawn to disease and thatch buildup.

    I do not know what your watering or fertilizing practices are but if you arent doing these things correctly, you will also have a troubled lawn.
    Are your blades sharp? Tearing of the turf from dull blades also will injure the tips of the grass and make it easier to transmit diseases to the lawn.

    I'd try and bag the lawn once to get the loose stuff up and reduce the load on the lawn. After that if the lawn gets out of hand and you have to cut lots off, you either have to bag or cut it down incrimentally so you dont have large clippings and windrows of grass. Good Luck.
  3. Entropy

    Entropy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks for the input. Actually, I know about the 1/3 rule, but I see other lawns getting cut by commercial machines (using side discharge), and they never have the problems I do. Maybe I should cut more often, and not let it get "too" long.

    My previous mower was a Simplicity riding tractor, and it bagged quite well. However, its cut was very average, and the machine was old.

    As far as bagging with the Bobcat, do you know if I can get a bagging system for that machine?

    BTW, blades are sharp -- they're standard high-lift blades. Would Gator blades help with side discharge at all? I've heard mixed reviews.

    Also BTW, the reason I posted this here instead of the homeowner's forum is because I might pick up a few (~8-10) neighborhood lawns as a side thing. I've had a few come up and ask me if I would, so I'm considering it. However, if I suck at this, or there's an issue with the machine, I don't want to screw other lawns in the process.

    Thx again.
  4. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    Cutting more often is the key as long as it is growing. I only advocate bagging in certain situations, the extra long growth is one of them. I am not sure if Bobcat has a bagging attatchment, mayby someone else here knows.

    My opinion on Gator blades is that they are good if you have a mulch plate installed. Better yet is a high lift and gator combination to mulch. That being said, I wouldn't recommend buying gators if you side discharge. The gators work best when the grass is thrown up and recirculated arount the top of the deck which helps chop the grass a little finer. That is my opinion on them. I use them with my Toro for fall leaves with high lifts and a mulch plate and the results are awesome but it is slow for grass and terrible for wet stuff.

    You should be able to cut lawn well with the Bobcat. Its a commercial mower. The key is to keep it at the right height for the grass you are cutting and don't let the grass get away from you. If you end up with clumps or windrows when you are done, you have to go back and double cut or triple cut it to disperse it. If that still doesn't work you have to go back and use the backpack blower to break up the clumps.
  5. Entropy

    Entropy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks a ton for your input.

    I will try bagging the grass next time around, and I will do what I can to stay on top of the growth. Part of me wonders if I should invest in a mulch plate and stay away from side discharge -- is this a good idea?

    Last question: on the whole, is side discharge better for the lawn than bagging?
  6. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    On the whole, it really depends on the particular person you are talking to. Many peoples conviction is to bag everything .... cleaner look, no worry of reinfection of other areas of lawn from disease being spread about, to name a few. Others, (and I fall into this catagory) feel that the benefits from mulching (or re-distributing) the clippings is better for the lawn by returning the nutrients that the lawn needed to grow in the first place, back down into the lawn. You can reduce you fertilizer needs by up about 30% by doing this as well as reduce the labor and dumping cost associated with the whole bagging thing. I will say this ... if you choose to mulch, there are a few instances when you really should and need to pick up - 1) if you have a fungus or other disease, all clippings should be removed till there is no evidence of infection, 2) if the grass has been let to grow too long that mulching will not cut the grass fine enough to decompose quickly (2-3 weeks).
    I used to own a 36" Bobcat and used Gators on it .... they did pretty well cutting things up fine and letting it fly, occasionally a clump here and there if it was a little wet, but overall they did well with no mulching plate. But I honestly have found that by using double blades, you get a better air flow and discharge as well as having the grass cut up even finer than Gators alone. I use a straight blade on the bottom and a Gator on top.
    As to bagging, if that is what you wish to do, you should be able to get a GrassGobbler with the appropriate mounting braket from a local dealer for about $200, it is all steel and will last you for a good while if taken care of. If you stay on top of any scratches and dents by giving them a quick scuff with sandpaper and a shot of black mate or satin finish Rustoleum, probably the life of the machine.
  7. Entropy

    Entropy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Does the GrassGobbler come on and off fairly easily? I am going to stick to discharging, but I need to bag the lawn right now. It's a mess.

    The local Bobcat dealer told me to use Gators on the machine, and that will help finely chop the clippings. On the other hand, I've heard some say Gators give a fairly lousy cut. Any advice here?

    BTW, thanks for the replies so far. Very helpful.
  8. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    Using a GrassGobbler is pretty easy actually, it takes all of about 20 seconds to take it off, dump it and hang it back on.
    If you would like to see exactly what it looks like, either go to your dealer and see one in person or go to Wright's hompage and you can look at them there ...
    Gators come in medium lift and high lift, you will get a better cut from the high lift, but don't be mislead, just because they say that these are high lift ... doesn't mean the are the same as conventional high lift blades, they are high lift as opposed to regular Gators, but they do not give the same lift and vacumn that conventional high lift do. This is because of the serated teeth on the lift edge, their main purpose is to recut and shred the gress, but by cuttng the lift edge in order to do that , you loose lift. Another thing that might be causing you not to get as clean a cut and build up could be that due to the blade length of all 48" mowers, the blade tip speed is not as fast, thus affecting the overall lift and cut of the machine.
  9. Ax Man

    Ax Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 446

    Hey, before you dump 200 on the bagger, consider a blower. Bagging any thing over 5000sq.ft. is a real drag. If you are thinking about getting in to the business you can use a blower anyway.
    Blow the grass into windrows or piles and pick them up.
    And rather than use the leaf blades, go for the double blade set up.

    I have had the same trouble with similar grass when it is dry. It seems that moisture is necessary for decomposition.
    (those clippings are mumified)
    best of luck!
  10. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    Mow The Lawn Then Lift your deck Up One half inch And mow it again The same way. You should be done.:cool:

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