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Big properties demand bigger mowers

October 4, 2021 -  By
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Crew member mowing with Scag mower (Photo: Scag)

Pros say zero-turn mowers are perfect for large properties, especially with deck sizes that reduce
the amount of time spent mowing. (Photo: Scag)

Customers may judge landscape companies by how neatly they edge and trim properties, but operators tend to make their money by the acre — mowing as much space as quickly as possible to give crews time to perform all of that pretty finishing work.

That’s why Wally Parrish sticks to Scag zero-turn mowers with 61-inch decks for most of his projects. His crews can mow lots of territory quickly, giving them more time for everything else.

“With the larger properties, you need to cover a lot of ground, or you’ll spend too much time on the site,” says Parrish, owner of Parrish Lawns near Lexington, Ky. “The zero-turns cut down on manpower, and they’re pretty simple to operate when you get to running them. They’re very operator friendly.”

Parrish’s business is all commercial and municipal work with some contracts for highway mowing and a 15-acre park. He used to mow residential lawns, and he said upgrading his equipment was critical to getting bigger jobs and being able to perform that work profitably.

Brummel Lawn and Landscape owner Nick Brummel says his Kansas City-area company still has a few walk-behind units, but the majority of his fleet is Wright zero-turn models.

“The productivity of the zero-turns is critical,” Brummel says. “They’re three to four times more efficient than the walk-behinds. And, our people are more productive when they’re out in the field because they’re not as tired.”

When asked why they stick with zero-turn mowers for their high-acreage projects, Brummel and Parish don’t hesitate to call out productivity and speed, saying no other class of machines can chew through grass as efficiently.

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Parrish says there are big differences between zero-turn mowers, including the sizes of their decks and their reliability.

“I run all liquid-cooled engines,” Parrish says. “They last a lot longer. My oldest one is 20 years old, and it still runs great.”

Brummel says his fleet is all Wright because he likes the products but also because standardizing on one model keeps crews in the field.

“The biggest reason we stick with one manufacturer is to be able to have parts,” Brummel says. “We run 11 crews, so having the same equipment makes it easier to have parts that are interchangeable.”

Running the proper deck size is also important. The bigger the deck, the more grass you mow per pass, but the less flexibility operators have. So, Brummel says he reserves his biggest decks for wide-open spaces, not properties covered with trees or other things a mower could hit.

“As our properties have gotten larger and we’ve gotten more industrial work, we’ve had to change our deck sizes,” Brummel says. “We used to always run a 52-inch deck unless we were in a backyard and it was just tiny. Now, we’ve gone up to the 72-inch deck on some of our bigger properties that are more open.”

Expanding the deck 20 inches has cut mow times as much as one-third, he adds, meaning he can take on jobs with one fewer crew member or add another job per day.

“With our industry, the biggest challenge that we all face is labor,” Brummel explains. “So, anything we can do to be more efficient and capture more acres per hour is important.”

Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s. Robert can be reached at rschoenberger@northcoastmedia.net.

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