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Walk Behind vs Small ZTR?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I'm asking advice from those of you who use, or have used, WB's in their business.

    Here is my situation. I'm a solo operator, working this business part-time in addition to my regular job, hoping to retire from route sales in 1 to 2 years, and mow more or less full time, to supplement retirement income (translation: Pay for the @X### health insurance!), probably in the 30-40 hours a week range, as long as I'm physically able.

    I use a Gravely 260Z and a 21 inch Honda homeowner's model, which, until recently, was used one only one small area a week, which takes about 8 minutes. I have, however, picked up one new account with a gated back yard, and have mowed another which I will likely have next year, so the 21 is seeing some use now.

    My wife has taken to helping me some this year, running the ZTR, or mowing with the 21 in the back yard while I do the front on the gated places. If we can overcome some issues such as turns and straight stripes, :) , then she will probably continue to help me in the future.

    Right now, our usual system is to arrive at a property, I jump on the Z and do the more difficult areas, such as ditches, and run a trim strip around any structures and the perimeter of the property, since she doesn't feel comfortable doing slopes (and I'm kind of glad), and doesn't like mowing in tight areas, although she is getting better at that.

    Then, I dismount, turning the Z over to her. We have several larger properties, up to 2 1/2 acres, with varying amounts of trimming from almost none to the one I did by myself yesterday, bordering on the PITA range. I'm much faster with the trimming, plus she has had knee replacements, and can't handle walking in ditches and such very well.

    When I get done trimming, if there is much mowing left, I generally get back on the Z and finish up, while my wife grabs the blower and cleans off the hard surfaces.

    Now, I'm considering buying a new WB next year, primarily to be able to use on gated properties, and some small yards where the Z is almost too big. I've noted that mosf of the gates in this area seem to be 42 inches or larger. Haven't run into a 36 yet, so I'm contemplating a 36 WB. If I run into a gate too small, then I have the option of going with the 21, or passing on the job.

    My wife has suggested that we buy a smaller Z instead, one that will fit through most gates, and we could use it on smaller properties as well, and mow portions of larger places, both of us mowing at the same time.

    Now, I like to sit down much better than walk, but I'm thinking, in the long run, that a WB would be more practical and efficient. With a WB, I'm thinking we could arrive at the average larger property, and I could take the WB to the ditches, and any tight areas, while my wife starts on the wide open spaces with the Z. Then, when I finish up the ditches, around the house, gated back yard if there is one, then I can grab the trimmer and do the weed whacking while she is finishing up the mowing.

    I've read that WB's are much better on slopes, ie, ditches, some of which I have that I probably shouldn't really be using the Z on. Also, they appear to be better on the turf on extremely small properties and under wet conditions. Also, I suspect that the smaller the Z, the worse they perform on slopes, so if I purchased a 40 inch or smaller Z, they would be about worthless doing ditches and other slopes.

    Is my thinking correct? Do any of you with a 2 person crew utilize a WB and Z in this manner, and if so, does it work out well? Any suggestions as to something I haven't thought about?

    Thanks. Neill
  2. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    They arent the best for slopes, and if I got another I would get a dixie or an exmark, but they can do so much more than a walk behind. We were hitting some old stumps and pulling them out this day with it.

    Attached Files:

  3. MJS

    MJS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,316

    I would say go with a walk - behind, especially if you're doing alot of ditches; safer is the key word. It's pretty hard to flip over a wb on top of yourself, anyway.
  4. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Lawnman Scott, remind me to never buy any used equipment from you. :)
  5. GravelyGuy

    GravelyGuy LawnSite Silver Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 2,548

    What the hell???
  6. weeble67

    weeble67 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 286

    I think either one would work for you. I would look into your age and your condition. If you are planning on mowing for awhile are you able to comfortably run a walk behind. You've stated that you use your ZTR now on all the ditches, so you are fine with that? Why not continue that same process and go with a smaller ZTR? I have a 46"Exmark HP that I run, and I have no problem with gated lawns.
  7. Zwing48

    Zwing48 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    50 yr old solo guy here . Had similar situation about 20 yards and a 5 acre lake I mow . Was running a wb machine due to about 1/2 my yards had gates between 36 and 42 wide . The narrow zero turns are usless in swales and slopes forget it . However did find Cub Cadet Commercial has a 48 machine called a zwing the deck folds up and goes from about 52 wide to 35.5 inches . Fold deck up go through gates fold it down and go back mowing all with a push of a button . You may want to check it out instead of running 2 mowers . If your not mowing a lot of acreage as only a 48 in machine it may serve you well .
  8. ExclusiveLawnCare

    ExclusiveLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 304

    This is true, lol.
  9. captbob

    captbob LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    I am a 51 year old solo operator and use 2 Ztr's and have a 21 toro for back up's but seldom use it in fact I havent even started it in 60 days . I manage
    to get all my back yards done with my 34 Ex Mark Phazer with the 19hp Kawa
    I only have one questionable slope yard and I m very very careful in fact if I had good sense I would use the Toro 21 on it but I make sure it's dry from morning dew and go slo I kinda figured the safest way and have to run back to the starting end for the next pass the lawn drops to a seawall that ends on Clearwater Harbor. I sold my 36 Scag walker when I bought my 34 and I will not own another I walk enough with my Line trimmer and stick edger
    I judge my new accounts on my existing equipment not on buying new equipment If it's not feasable I bid it really high or pass if I get it I will adapt
    to the lawn .
  10. GreenT

    GreenT LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,962

    Since nobody has mentioned it, I will.

    Consider the Quick 36 with a sulky. Very efficient, well built, and gives a great cut. They are having a sale on 07 models right now.

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