Where do you start the 1st cut with the ZTR ?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tportela, May 29, 2008.

  1. tportela

    tportela LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    I used my NEW Toro Z453 ZTR for the first time yesterday. Boy what an experience that was especially since Ive been using a ride on JD lawn tractor for 9 years. I started cutting at the perimiter first, but I am used to starting the 1st pass by going down the middle of the yard as a center point first then cut my way toward one side heading toward the perimiter. Once finished with that 1/2 I'll go back to the center line & cut towards the other 1/2 of the yard to finish.

    Whats the best way typically to start cutting once the perimiter has been done. I have mulch beds to go around & lots a curves due to tree beds. 2 acres total lawn front & back.

    Tips are appreciated.
  2. A-Land

    A-Land LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 856

    That's how I use to cut greens because it keeps the lines fairly strait. You can definitely still do that with a ZTR or a WB if you are just starting. Once you have stripes down (Using a Toro in NJ you should have some) then you don't have to worry about where to start and you can just follow the lines you already made.

    I typically mow the perimeter, then start at one side. However, I am generally already following lines that are there. If it the first time on the yard or I am cutting in a new direction I will mow a line down the middle first. Either way works!! (Just make sure that if you mow down the middle first, your first pass on the second side has to be going the right way!! Otherwise the stripes will be allll messed up)
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    How I do it, first the entire perimeter, to include the house and driveway and
    not every yard has these but also mulch beds and stuff like that.

    Then, start anywhere and back-and-forth towards either end, like yourself I like starting somewhere in the middle but not always... Sometimes I start at one end or the other so I can follow a straight line already left by the perimeter cut (if such is straight, of course).

    Either way...
    1. The center-start method:
    I work towards either end, then once I reach that end I work myself back towards the center by cutting again every pass what I just cut. Once I reach center I keep going towards the other end then come back to center.

    2. The start-at-one-end method:
    Basically the same thing I work myself all the way to the other end, then once I reach that I again repeat the process by working myself back towards the beginning.

    Thus, I ALWAYS double-cut my lawns when the temperatures allow it (UP to 85-90 degrees or so).
    And yes, as I double back over I pay attention and cut in the same grooves AND in the same direction as the first pass.
    This tends to leave intoxicatingly good-looking stripes, especially after 2-3 consecutive mows over the same way.

    After about 2-3 same-direction mows I pick a different pattern, usually at a diagonal or X to the current.
    This has to be done to prevent the mower from rutting the turf with the tires, as too many cuts always in the same direction is not that good over time. Also as most lawns have uneven terrain, a different direction alleviates stress on those spots that inevitably tend to get scalped. Last but not least, doing this leaves a nifty X-striped criss-cross pattern.

    After that, sometimes one way, other times the other, some times both ways (one cut this way then come back the other for example). Many interesting patterns can be developed with the various horizontal / vertical / diagonal possibilities, however the lay of the land may physically impose limitations on such creativity lol.

    Other things:
    I have a 5-foot deck, and for this reason I start the season at 3.25"
    Then as the season progresses I raise my blade height as the outside temperatures increase, the hotter it gets the higher the blades go. I'm currently at 4.25+" for most lawns, and I go up to around 4.5 maybe 4.75 but much past 4.5" it doesn't do a good job. This also delays the cuts some, the lawns get taller in this time and allow for the extra growth to reach the blades. The taller grass helps keep the lawn healthy through some of the worst summer heat, but don't forget to let it go longer between cuts, too.

    Once the temps hit 90 degrees I NEVER double cut, because the turf will not withstand the stress.
    It might do all right in June but definitely single cut in July-August.

    Then in late September once the temperatures have left 90+ for good or at least appear to have, I bring it back down to 3.25" in what is usually 3 righteously consecutive cuts, they're usually only 8 or so days apart is what I mean but the grass has to be brought back down in time for Core Aeration.

    And they say mowing isn't a science, but that's just how I do things.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh, I've even done the first cut with the Z in one direction.
    Park that, grab the other smaller mower and do the alternate pattern second cut with a Walk behind.

    Now that leaves a very interesting pattern, two different mowers (same or similar blade heights)... Usually the larger the deck the higher the cut needs to be to compensate, smaller decks scalp less even with lower heights... My 60" deck leaves about the same cut as my 48" so long the 60" sits 1/4" higher, funny but true.

    The two pictures below, the first is a Ztr double cut criss-cross.
    The second is Walk-behind criss-cross...
    Couldn't find the two mower combo, maybe later...


  5. MileHigh

    MileHigh LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,466

    I don't use a ztr...yet. But what I do Is as follows.

    1st: Mow your straight lines first, making 3 point turns, using reverse, I find that you can tear a lawn up way to easy making zero turns, that why I will mow on to the sidewalk, driveway, or sometimes even rocks to make quick zero turns.
    2nd: I like to mow the perimeter last. This way I can I can make a clear cut picture style perimeter covering up those areas where you turn around a bit. I only consider the perimeter as areas where there is no sidewalk, driveway, or sometimes rocks. My perimeter consists of areas where I cannot drive off the lawn while mowing, like flower beds, not sidewalks. I will almost always mow onto the sidewalk or driveway...unless it damages the edge.
  6. freshprince94

    freshprince94 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,449

    Topsites, what Z do you use for those stripes?
  7. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,123

    Topsite, that looks like a big green kilt.... its so cool.
  8. KS_Grasscutter

    KS_Grasscutter LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,335

    One perimeter pass (two if fences/vehicles/houses to worry about, going opposite directions so the stripes are opposite), then if back and forth, follow whichever side I want, depending on direction and stuff. If angle cutting, sometimes I will start in a corner and work my way across, or make a first pass through the middle then come back and work out both sections. Once you have stripes going in all 4 directions (side-side both ways, and corner-corner both ways), you can follow the old ones, if they are still there after 3-4 weeks.

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