Walk behind or push???

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by chefcam864, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. chefcam864

    chefcam864 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    I'm a college student studying economics and finance at USC, and run a 1 man lawn service during the warm months to keep me afloat. I service about 20 properties (some weekly, most bi-weekly). The problem I keep running into is yards with 36" gates.

    My question is this: would I be well advised to pick up a used 32"-34" walk behind & velke over the winter? I have never operated a walk behind, but it seems like it would save me a good bit of time. Being a 1 man show, I try to work as efficiently as possible, so I really hate spending the time to push a yard... I have seen older WB's for $800-$1,200 on craigslist etc. I would only need to get 2-3 more seasons out of it before I graduate. WHat do you pros think? What would be your course of action? would you continue to push or step up to a walk behind? I do all my work in between class and studying, so I only mow 3-4 days a week.

    Thanks, Casey
  2. dllawson

    dllawson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 172

    Casey, I think a good commercial 32" to 36" walk behind is one of the best mowers a start up business can have. It is small enough to fit into most areas, but still large enough that you can handle larger jobs. I also think a small walk behind leaves most areas with a nicer cut.

    My former business began with a focus on custom landscape installations, and we started out with a 36" Exmark walk behind to handle the maintenance customers we wanted to keep. As the maintenance side of our business grew to 2 and 3 crews, we still chose walk behinds because of the quality of cut. Yard size dictated that we purchase 52" and 60" mowers, but my personal favorite mower was still the 10 year old 36" Exmark.

    I am sure you will hear other valid opinions, but if I was in your shoes I would start with a 32" to 36" walk behind.
  3. chefcam864

    chefcam864 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    dllawson, thanks for the input! I seem to see John Deeres, Lesco, and toro prolines for sale in the $800-$1,500 range. Obviously they're all well used, but for my needs I think I could get my money's worth out of something like that. Is there a weight limit on the velke? I'm 6'6" 260, so I'm a little worried I may be a bit much for the velke.
    Can anyone give me suggestions of what I should check out on a used walk behind? Any usual suspects that are prone to breakage?
  4. ncpete

    ncpete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 288

    related to this, is there an "equipment trader" specific to this sort of work? I have been finding more and more equipment on CL lately, but the pickings are rough, at best. I think an equipment trader may have better quality of machinery. Not many dealers around here have much in stock for used equipment, either.
  5. Triton2286

    Triton2286 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    Yea that's not "related"
  6. ncpete

    ncpete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 288

    sorry, the OP is looking for used equipment, and if there is an equipment trader or something like that, it would be easier to surf through a consolidated listing of turf equipment for commercial use than through the mess that is CL.
  7. 911 Home Care

    911 Home Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I'm 6'04" 350 and I run a velke behind my 36" Exmark WB. All I did was adjust the handles up so I didn't have to lean down and it's toted me fine. Just have to step off the sulky when you are trying to maneuver through tight areas and the grass is wet.

    Get a WB and sulky, you will be pleased with it's performance.


  8. Utah Lawn Care

    Utah Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,555

    If you're not doing bi-weekly cuts I recommend the Exmark Commercial 30. It has been my main mower this year and has been wonderful. When I need to bag it's there. It mulches really well. The only down side I see is super tall or thick stuff can bog it down a bit.
  9. ArtLikeLandscapes

    ArtLikeLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 115

    A Velke on a belt drive walk behind is a pain since there is no real reverse only reverse assist. I have a 36 lesco belt drive walk behind which does a great job and leaves a nice finish on yards. I always walk my 36 because I feel I have total control. Another thing to look for is the height of the cut and the amount of times that you will be adjusting it. A lot of the walk behinds are fix deck so you have to add and remove spacers which can be a real pain. I would recommend a adjustable deck for that reason. I would also recommend a nice mower that you can grow into vice on you will outgrow.
  10. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,358

    Listen to these guys and go with a walk-behind.... Especially since you have what? 20 accounts!!!! Yes, get a walk behind yesterday my friend... Take a look in your area for used Scag walk behinds.... Lots of companies make great walk behinds for sure but from my experience, Scag walk behinds are just indestructible... You will honestly be able to cut more properties with a commercial mower... Maybe even enough properties to make you think twice about taking your degree to Wall St...... Maybe you will be so impressed with how much $$$ you can make that you will take that degree and put it to use running your own business. Maybe you will invent some sort of cost analysis spreadsheet that takes the green industry by storm..... Anyway, no matter what you do, you would benefit from a commercial walk behind mower.... 36 sounds about right for you....

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