Teaching Trimming

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by grassyfras, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,475

    Are there any tricks to teaching new guys how to trim? I got a new guy goes real slow but does decent. He seems to let the line get really short before tapping the head even after I told him. He also has trouble starting the Redmax. Should I write this stuff down or what. He seems decent.
  2. phototropic1

    phototropic1 LawnSite Member
    from MS
    Messages: 118

    I'd say give him a little room to make mistakes. This usually pays off big time in the long run. If he's doing well, praise him for it. Later, when he's been doing it for a little longer and is getting more skilled, you can stress the importance of speed. And show him how keeping a full length of line out will work to HIS advantage, not just the company's. Like the saying goes......work smart, not hard. I'm sure he'll understand that!!!
  3. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    See, i see a lot of people on here saying that they start the new guys on the trimmers, i would think it would be the opposite. The trimming is one of the hardest skills of the mowing, trimming, edging and blowing operation and can really make the property look great with a finished look, or look like crap with either scalped edges or too tall edges and grass growing over the curbing. Trimming requires the most skill and practice and a good eye for doing it. I personally would start a guy on a mower first, just my .02, mowing is simple to teach ive found, start mower, and go, follow a pattern and watch the inside wheel when turning as not to scalp! Simple! Trimming, there is just so much more involved, just my two cents
  4. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,386

    I wouldn't say one takes any less skill than the other. Anyone can mow but it takes time to learn to be efficient and to do a quality job. Also, mowing hilling or sloping terrain is much different than flat open areas. Learning to do the job right takes time and practice.
  5. jtkplc

    jtkplc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,656

    I think trimming and mowing are equally important and takes a lot of practice and skill to do both well. I, however, would want a new guy operating my $300 trimming versus my $4000 walk-behind or $9,000 Z.

    It will just take time in order for the new guy to get some experience and master the skill. After he gets a couple weeks under him and you still see some things he's doing wrong or could be doing a better/faster way, then correct him. Patience and practice...
  6. ODwyerPW

    ODwyerPW LawnSite Member
    Messages: 72

    I teach my new guys to string trim walking backwards. Seriously. It accomplishes four things:

    1. Doesn't throw the clippings into the mulch beds.
    2. They won't scalp, as the tendancy is to tip the head forward or to the right...as they move backward, the head is moving backward and to the left...they won't scalp.
    3. They see clearly where they will trim before the line gets there.
    4. Builds confidence..they are being productive without destroying objects or turf. They aren't afraid to keep a little string on the head either (ie. they won't let it run down so far.)

    Disadvantage: everything is kicked at their legs...they need to wear pants.

    I tell them to make up for their lack of productivity by walking quickly when not actually engaged in trimming. If they walk quickly from point to point, they can take their time a little with the actual trimming and be very productive.

    After a couple of weeks, they are trimming in both directions, whatever the obstacles or terrain calls for, or where they want the clippings thrown.

    Another thing I do, is have them keep a spare spool of string right on them. That way they aren't making an unnecessary trips back to the trucks/trailers on large apartment complexes where they are doing a ton of trimming out of curblines, sidewalks and stairs (ie. concrete eats the string).

    Lastly, lots of positive reinforcement. String trimming is the toughest skill to master.

    This has worked for my guys.
  7. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,475

    Thanks OD and everyone else. Good advice. The reason I'm starting him on the trimmer is becuase I just feel its the least responsibilty and you have to earn your way up. Only employee.
  8. ODwyerPW

    ODwyerPW LawnSite Member
    Messages: 72

    Just watch him around vinyl siding that is run too close to the ground. Tell him to just stay clear of it and get those parts yourself until he's skilled.

    We replaced a bit of it (on 4 or 5 homes) at a large home owners association last year...all the work of one employee in one day (he didn't last long).

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Have fun doing all the mowing, then going back and re-trimming the three-quarters of the yard he missed. :) Or dealing with complaints about scalping everything. The trimmer's the hardest thing to do right, I stick new guys on the mower then I can make sure all the detail work is done right and since I'm walking the whole lawn I can easily see any mowing problems and fix them quickly.
  10. old dog 80

    old dog 80 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 204

    I put em on the trimmer first since I want to see how they treat our equipment.
    A 5k or 8k mower can do a lot more damage to a house or car than a trimmer ,.
    Trimmers are cheaper too.People that don't get trimming won't get mowing

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