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Ruts with Ferris 32" Hydro

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Meier, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    Well, I've got a serious problem and I'm hoping to get some good advice from the folks here at Lawnsite.com.

    I just started 9 months ago in the business and I bought a 32" Ferris Hydro. I run a two man crew which consists of myself and a hired hand. I operate the Ferris 32 and the hired hand operates the stick blade, line trimmer and we usually both grab a back pack blower at the end of the job.

    Most crews doing residential run 3 man crews around here with 21" mowers. Because I can cover so much more ground with a 32" mower, I think I've successfully eliminated one man's pay from the crew.

    The problem is, I'm starting to see small ruts on some lawns from the tires of the Ferris 32. This photo is one of the first customers I have had. I've mowed her lawn 24 times this year. Her lawn is rutted the worst by far. Only in the front, but no ruts in the back.

    I talked to my dealer today and he says I need to be very careful not to run the exact same pattern every time.

    Anyway, here's the photo of her lawn. The photo doesn't really do this scene justice. The ruts are really starting to look bad in my opinion. And they're just gradually getting deeper and deeper.

    I hate the thought of using 21" mowers. They're so much slower and they have so much less horse power.

    Anyone else use 32" mowers on smaller residential properties?

    Again, most of the lawns I've been mowing all year don't have this problem at all. But a few are starting to show signs of small ruts developing. Most show absolutely no signs of rutting at all. In fact, in this customer's back yard, there are no ruts at all.

    Any advice?

    DFW, TX

    ferris ruts.jpg
  2. cklands

    cklands LawnSite Senior Member
    from MA
    Messages: 360

    It is probably from running the same lines like your dealer said. Try crossing the lines. It will feel like you are running over a RR track. This will happen a lot of times on lawns where there is a lot of thatch.
  3. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    And if there has been alot of rain or irrigation. Roll the lawn flat then CORE AERATE the lawn.
  4. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    I wonder if different soil types are worse about this than others.

    This customer has an irrigation system. Some mornings, the grass is still real wet when I get there. But then, in the afternoons, I have a stop that I do after lunch with an irrigation system. It's starting to rut also. But because it's a much larger property, the ruts don't look half as bad as these on the smaller property.

    Again, I simply don't have this problem on 60%+ of the properties I do.

    Anyway, I don't think it's because I'm running the machine on soggy soil. I think this is caused from running the machine over the same path each time.

    I'll try different mowing patterns. Sure hope it works. I think I'm gonna have to rent a sod roller to fix this one.

    DFW, TX
  5. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    John Gamba,

    ++++Roll the lawn flat then CORE AERATE the lawn.++++

    That's what I was thinking. Perhaps if I roll the lawn, all the soil will be compacted. After that, is it still likely that I'll have this problem again if I run the same pattern over and over?

    I run this pattern everytime because it's the most efficient way to do it. I just don't have to turn the mower as often. I mean, if it's 12' in one direction and 30' in the other, it makes more sense to run the mower in the 30' direction. At least it's quicker and easier. Just fewer turns and it stripes a lot better too.

    DFW, TX
  6. kerrazy

    kerrazy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I try to mow in at least 2 different patterns, ie; cross yard and diagonal. Change it up every few mowings, some yards dont offer much alternative but try it if you can.
  7. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    Would you guys expect an upset customer over these ruts?

    She hasn't complained about it. In an effort to head off the problem I left her a voice mail today asking her to call me to discus the problem. I just don't want her to cancel service over this.

    I'm thinking I'll have to rent a sod roller and do some free work on this one. But if this happens over and over the money I save by not having that third crew member won't be realized.

    Again, on the larger properties, this doesn't look bad. But her front lawn is pretty small. Sitting in between two non-rutted lawns, hers looks pretty bad to me. I can't imagine she's happy about it. Maybe she hasn't noticed it yet as it's been a gradually developing problem.

    DFW, TX
  8. Good news is that you’ve figured out the fastest, most efficient way to mow that customer’s lawn, and you’ve been very consistent about executing that pattern each and every time you’ve mowed.

    Bad news is that’s just about the worst thing you can do. You’ve compacted the soil where you’re tires run; and every mower (including 21” push mowers) will do that. Obviously some worse than others, like heavy mowers with narrow tires. But this condition is pretty much entirely on your shoulders.

    Good news is that you can work those ruts out of her lawn if you pay strict attention and offset your tire tracks each time you mow. It depends on the width of your tires and how well you can hold a line, but you should alternate your tracks by at least a 1/3 of the mower’s cut width. ¼ of the width would be even better. But until those existing tracks come out, AVOID those ruts at all costs.

    Bad news is that to fix this condition, it could take an entire mowing season, or more. You could speed it up with core-aeration. It would also help to mow her lawn when the grass is dry, but the soil is as damp as possible without being mushy. Not just lightly watered where just the top inch or so is moist.

    Good news is you’ve got an opportunity to show your customer your dedication to service. That everyone makes mistakes, but what sets the good guys apart is what they do about it.

    Bad news is these ruts show that you’re new to the business. Although some low-class veterans and careless illegal immigrants seem to make a habit of doing this as well. Before long, the grass will thin in those ruts and weeds will take hold, making those ruts even more obvious.

    One last bit of good news; I saved a bundle on my car insurance with Geico.
  9. As far as what your customer thinks; I’ve picked up several accounts like this. Your competition is probably lurking around the corner as well.

    Lawn rolling is more for smoothing out freshly laid sod. These ruts require DEEP moisture and a lot of pressure to roll out when they’re that deep. And that could mean a GIANT mess if you try to roll it out when the soil is that soft. If you catch it just right, you can do a little good with rolling, but it’s pretty much a waist of time. As you realize, this was a gradual problem and it will not get fixed quickly.

    Changing direction helps to maintain a smooth lawn, but it will not fix these ruts. In fact, it could easily make the lawn look worse. Mowing across those ruts will make your mower bounce and cause the mower to cut the grass very short when you fall down in the bottoms. That will effectively accentuate those ruts.

    On long narrow strips of grass, mowing on the diagonal or across the strip is just plain goofy. You’ll waste a ton of time. And each time you turn around you’ll leave a mark, making things look terrible. That’s not the reason for the season.

    If you aereate, you’re customer will ask why. And you resonse would be, “Well, to help get rid of those ruts I’ve made.” ??? Best to pick some days just after heavy rains, offset your tracks, and avoid those ruts.
  10. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    Hay Blue :waving:

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