Experts’ Tips: Determining mower deck size

Strip of mowed grass (Photo: iStock.com/undefined undefined)
Photo: iStock.com/undefined undefined

What are a few do’s and don’ts for determining mower deck size needs?

Allen Baird (Photo: Cub Cadet)
Allen Baird

Cub Cadet

Allen Baird
Product marketing manager, professional products

DO consider clients’ needs and the terrain. DO choose deck sizes that will optimize efficiency by keeping everyone busy. A larger deck size can help overlap mower needs by reduced trimming and cut time on larger projects. DO consider the mower footprint and choose a size that matches the capacity of your storage or hauling equipment. DON’T expect to cut faster or save money with larger mower decks. Less mobility can slow productivity, and bigger engines may have higher cost of ownership.

Lenny Mangnall (Photo: Exmark)
Lenny Mangnall


Lenny Mangnall
Product manager

DO consider acreage. The acreage you have to cut helps narrow the range of appropriate deck sizes. DO consider landscaping — larger mowers may be harder to maneuver in tight corners or around landscaping. DO factor in terrain. Wide decks typically work best on flat, open ground. DON’T simply choose the largest deck. DON’T forget about gates. If the properties you maintain require your mowers to pass through 36-inch gates, look at a 32-inch stand-on or 30-inch walk-behind mower to maximize productivity.

Dan Roche (Photo: Ferris)
Dan Roche


Dan Roche
Director of marketing, commercial products

DON’T buy the biggest deck size without thinking about the job site needs. DO consider obstacles such as pools, archways, gates and slopes. Recognize the primary uses of the mower; are you working in neighborhoods where more trimming is needed, or will you be mowing wide, unrestricted areas? DO examine the trailer size and think about necessary options such as a mulch kit — if you change deck sizes, you may need to repurchase those accessories. Finally, a mowing productivity chart can guide you to the right mower.

Trae Humphreys (Photo: Gravely)
Trae Humphreys


Trae Humphreys
Gravely senior product manager at AriensCo

Contractors have some things to consider when deciding on mower deck sizes. Obviously, mowers with larger deck sizes are attractive because they’re more efficient, but DON’T let speed, acreage and budget be your only considerations. DO think about the narrowest points on the properties you maintain and the capacity for your trailer to haul multiple pieces of equipment. Additionally, DO ask yourself if the deck size you want can accommodate installations of mulch kits, baggers or other accessories and attachments you may need.

George Reister (Photo: Husqvarna)
George Reister


George Reister
Regional product manager, US wheeled

DO consider total acreage, the layout of your yard, available storage and time. If your yard is less than half an acre but your deck is wider than 50 inches, you can do more harm than good. This is especially true if you have flower beds, trees, hills, gates and narrow passages. DO be sure to consider how much storage space you have available as well. While we all want to be as efficient as possible and larger decks can get the job done faster, DON’T sacrifice cut quality to save time.

Nick Minas (Photo: John Deere)
Nick Minas

John Deere

Nick Minas
Product manager, John Deere commercial mowing

DO keep in mind the properties you manage, considering the number of obstacles and the space between them. DON’T forget the transit process. The larger the deck, the more space it’ll take up in the truck or trailer. Depending on how many units you are transporting, you may need to select a smaller deck size. DO keep durability in mind. Not all decks are made the same, and it’s important to select a brand that has durable design and that’s made with high-quality materials, reducing damage and repairs.

Tom Vachal (Photo: Kubota)
Tom Vachal


Tom Vachal
Kubota senior turf product manager

DO determine how long you want your mowing to take. If you want to minimize your time on the mower, DO increase the deck size of your mower. Most companies have calculators that will get you close from an estimating purpose to help you select the proper mower for your needs. If you have a lot of areas to trim around, you may want to consider a zero-turn mower, which will reduce the time to get the job done.

Ed Wright (Photo: Wright Manufacturing)
Ed Wright

Wright Manufacturing

Ed Wright

DO choose a powerful engine. This increases production more than deck size. DON’T use a large deck on a small property. You’ll throw more grass into mulch beds and other properties, and you won’t be able to cut close in corners and narrow areas. When cutting one- to 10-acre properties, DO choose 60- to 72-inch decks with 30-plus hp. DON’T use decks larger than 72 inches unless you are working with 20-plus-acre properties. These large decks present trailer maintenance issues, which often cost more than the production gains.

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