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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i've had a question that's been bugging me, so i'm just going to pose it to those more experienced and knowledgeable here on lawnsite.

i have two customers who really like to have their bermuda cut short. only problem is, when it was laid as sod, the ground wasn't prepped well. so even though i'm not scalping in any areas, i'm leaving blade marks in spots. it drives me nuts, though they seem to be quite happy with the cut.

my question is, is there some trick of the trade to avoid making these marks? aside, obviously, from raising the height? i'm using my 36" toror with floating deck. i've tried fiddling with the anti-scalp wheels, but that doesn't seem to do much. i've also made sure my wheels are properly inflated (thanks for the reminder, barack). but i wasn't sure if there was anything else i could do?

even though they're happy enough, it's driving me nuts. any insight would be much appreciated.
 

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i run into the same issue, i use a 48"tthp and the best i can do is properly inflate the tires, and adjust the anti-scalp wheels to the correct height for the deck.

my customer loves it, but it drives me crazy. i think the issue is the grass itself, not the prep. it seems to me that bermuda shows green at the top of the stalk, while the lower portion is brown. so the real fix is cutting as little as possible off the top. i seem to have this problem primarily on bi-weekly lawns, not the weekly bermuda lawns.
 

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Take a rough estimate of how much sand (Fine/smooth, preferably) and start leveling the ground to eliminate the irregularities causing the scalpage. Oh, and don't forget to charge handsomely for it. Bermuda is one of the few things on Earth which counter the old adage "You can't buff a turd".
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Take a rough estimate of how much sand (Fine/smooth, preferably) and start leveling the ground to eliminate the irregularities causing the scalpage. Oh, and don't forget to charge handsomely for it. Bermuda is one of the few things on Earth which counter the old adage "You can't buff a turd".
that's hilarious. :) point well taken though. and thanks dura to the max--i feel better knowing i'm not the only one gritting my teeth when i mow certain yards. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sanding is hilarious, or the turd part? I'm serious about sanding in the holes. This time of year, the Bermuda will grow right over it, and after 2-3 rounds, you can have it as flat as a pool table.
just laughing at the turd part. bermuda seems to love sand, and that sounds like the ticket to getting the yard level. i hear you about mowing more often. the bi-weekly bermudas are the worst.
 

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You are not alone. Bermuda is probably one of the hardest grasses to keep looking good. It requires a very short cut height and shows all imperfections. Walkers are about the best mower for Bermuda unless you want to get into reel mowing. 21 inchers work well also because of the smaller deck.

Prep work is the major factor in laying Bermuda. Most of the time, this step gets the least attention. Also there is some "soil settling" and erosion that goes on to create irregularities.

Check out Levellawns.com. They will explain the process of topdressing. It is in high demand around here. I am considering offering this service due to the fact that all my lawns are Bermuda and need to be topdressed.
 

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i've had a question that's been bugging me, so i'm just going to pose it to those more experienced and knowledgeable here on lawnsite.

i have two customers who really like to have their bermuda cut short. only problem is, when it was laid as sod, the ground wasn't prepped well. so even though i'm not scalping in any areas, i'm leaving blade marks in spots. it drives me nuts, though they seem to be quite happy with the cut.

my question is, is there some trick of the trade to avoid making these marks? aside, obviously, from raising the height? i'm using my 36" toror with floating deck. i've tried fiddling with the anti-scalp wheels, but that doesn't seem to do much. i've also made sure my wheels are properly inflated (thanks for the reminder, barack). but i wasn't sure if there was anything else i could do?

even though they're happy enough, it's driving me nuts. any insight would be much appreciated.
You're not alone. I also get no complaints but wince sometimes when I see the imperfections in the cut. I'm constantly trying to find a better way. A 21" will usually cut with less cupping and gouging, but even then can do it on some really poor installs.

Let me run down what I've learned in 16 years.

1. A 36" walk behind is good for it laterally (side to side) since the deck matches the wheels nicely (little overhang). But longitudally the wheelbase on most 36" wb's is too long and it will scalp over bumps and crests.

2. The small tires on a 36" also fail to "float" over small holes in the sod so the deck lowers and brrttt...a cupping mark is left.

3. The lawns do need to be topdressed/sanded to smooth them out. But few will be willing to pay the price. I would just give them the names/numbers of the specialty companies like sandman and levellawns, etc. They'll get a $1900 quote, be shocked, and be happy with the job you're doing.

4. Antiscalps work better on some brands than others. Exmarks seem to do a nicer job. Just remember antiscalps don't adjust in 1/4" increments like the deck, so they will always be off.

5. I suspect that 3 blade mowers handle some conditions better. This is due to the shorter wheelbase of the mower and wheels tucked up tight against the deck, vs a longer wheelbase 36" with a long gap on one side from the front wheel to the actual cutting blade.

6. ZTRs or beefy wb's with fat tires may help. Some wbs have especially small front casters that drop in holes bigger ones might float over.

7. The quick 36 wb has many of the attributes you'd want in a Bermuda mower, but lacks true mulching ability and the fixed deck and overhang are not optimal. But the blades are short and the wheels tight up against the deck, which helps.

8. Be sure to mow the stems down as far as possible the first cut of the year. That way more of the plant showing is green rather than stems, and the stems showing is what is looking bad. Unfortunately, over time the stem layer rises and by this time of year they all look worse. I "scalped" at 1" this year, started mowing at 1.25", and am currently up to 1.5" on some lawns and as high as 2" on others. And this is with low rainfall.

9. I think as long as you just make it clear that low cutting will show more flaws in the lawn, the customers should remain happy. I would say 90% of the lawns I see really need topdressing.

10. Some lawns really do require a 21" due to the undulations and layout. Be sure to factor that in at quote time.

11. My Exmark 48" lazer hp gives the best ztr cut I've ever seen on a Bermuda lawn. Minimal overhang and a great antiscalp just where you need it. Their turf tracer HP is popular here for that reason, too. Same deck, but with a narrower frame that is offset by more antiscalps.

12. Avoid trying to mow accross steep hills. You'll get the check-shaped ridge as the deck sags to the downhill side and into the stem layer. Even 1/8" will show. Vary the pattern but go up/down if possible.

13. ZTR's have a huge advantage on some Bermuda lawns vs the wb due to the ability to "feather" the deck up and down as needed with the foot pedal. You can control the deck more and experienced users can use it to shape difficult spots that would scalp if you couldn't lift the deck. Walkers have some advantages on this turf but I find the inability to raise-lower the deck instantly a disadvantage, plus I mulch instead of bag and don't want to pay for capability I can't use or buy an unpopular B model I can't get top dollar for at resale time.

In the end, it sounds like these lawns really needs a good leveling done. But even that cannot solve all the problems. Even leveled lawns with lots of humps and berms can be a real pain. I see a lot of butchered ones, so I know it's a problem that most have not solved yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You're not alone. I also get no complaints but wince sometimes when I see the imperfections in the cut. I'm constantly trying to find a better way. A 21" will usually cut with less cupping and gouging, but even then can do it on some really poor installs.

Let me run down what I've learned in 16 years.

1. A 36" walk behind is good for it laterally (side to side) since the deck matches the wheels nicely (little overhang). But longitudally the wheelbase on most 36" wb's is too long and it will scalp over bumps and crests.

2. The small tires on a 36" also fail to "float" over small holes in the sod so the deck lowers and brrttt...a cupping mark is left.

3. The lawns do need to be topdressed/sanded to smooth them out. But few will be willing to pay the price. I would just give them the names/numbers of the specialty companies like sandman and levellawns, etc. They'll get a $1900 quote, be shocked, and be happy with the job you're doing.

4. Antiscalps work better on some brands than others. Exmarks seem to do a nicer job. Just remember antiscalps don't adjust in 1/4" increments like the deck, so they will always be off.

5. I suspect that 3 blade mowers handle some conditions better. This is due to the shorter wheelbase of the mower and wheels tucked up tight against the deck, vs a longer wheelbase 36" with a long gap on one side from the front wheel to the actual cutting blade.

6. ZTRs or beefy wb's with fat tires may help. Some wbs have especially small front casters that drop in holes bigger ones might float over.

7. The quick 36 wb has many of the attributes you'd want in a Bermuda mower, but lacks true mulching ability and the fixed deck and overhang are not optimal. But the blades are short and the wheels tight up against the deck, which helps.

8. Be sure to mow the stems down as far as possible the first cut of the year. That way more of the plant showing is green rather than stems, and the stems showing is what is looking bad. Unfortunately, over time the stem layer rises and by this time of year they all look worse. I "scalped" at 1" this year, started mowing at 1.25", and am currently up to 1.5" on some lawns and as high as 2" on others. And this is with low rainfall.

9. I think as long as you just make it clear that low cutting will show more flaws in the lawn, the customers should remain happy. I would say 90% of the lawns I see really need topdressing.

10. Some lawns really do require a 21" due to the undulations and layout. Be sure to factor that in at quote time.

11. My Exmark 48" lazer hp gives the best ztr cut I've ever seen on a Bermuda lawn. Minimal overhang and a great antiscalp just where you need it. Their turf tracer HP is popular here for that reason, too. Same deck, but with a narrower frame that is offset by more antiscalps.

12. Avoid trying to mow accross steep hills. You'll get the check-shaped ridge as the deck sags to the downhill side and into the stem layer. Even 1/8" will show. Vary the pattern but go up/down if possible.

13. ZTR's have a huge advantage on some Bermuda lawns vs the wb due to the ability to "feather" the deck up and down as needed with the foot pedal. You can control the deck more and experienced users can use it to shape difficult spots that would scalp if you couldn't lift the deck. Walkers have some advantages on this turf but I find the inability to raise-lower the deck instantly a disadvantage, plus I mulch instead of bag and don't want to pay for capability I can't use or buy an unpopular B model I can't get top dollar for at resale time.

In the end, it sounds like these lawns really needs a good leveling done. But even that cannot solve all the problems. Even leveled lawns with lots of humps and berms can be a real pain. I see a lot of butchered ones, so I know it's a problem that most have not solved yet.
that has to be one of the best answers i've gotten. i'm taking notes. :) thank you!
 

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Check out Levellawns.com. They will explain the process of topdressing. It is in high demand around here. I am considering offering this service due to the fact that all my lawns are Bermuda and need to be topdressed.
Great inforamtion on that site. Thanks!!!
 
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