View Full Version : New Toy...Need Some Advise

08-29-2009, 10:17 AM
Just rec'd my first zero turn. ran it around the yard a couple times. this thing is cool, fast and definatley touchy. Any tips to make my learning curve go a little faster? I plan on doing my own lawn with it the rest of the year to get used to it, then customers next spring.

08-29-2009, 01:59 PM
My best advice:

#1 Learn to make the straightest possible lines when you mow. Anyone can run a mower, but not everyone can make a lawn look professional, nice and neat.

#2 Practice your turns at the end of your rows. Keep in mind that if you just "spin" around, you will risk damaging the turf. If you keep mowing in the same direction everytime, you will have dead spots where you turn around. Next time it rains, go out the next day and get the feel of turning on wet turf. It's a whole nother world!

#3 Keep your blades as sharp as possible. Your speed will be affected by how sharp your blades are.

#4 REMEMBER! It's not how fast you mow, it's how nice you mow! Too many people get these zero turns and think they have to do it "FAST". The customer doesn't hire you because you're the "fastest" lawn service. They hire you because they want a nice and neat job! Don't get caught up in the hype of "I have to get it done fast because I have a zero turn mower" The only thing you'll get accomplished is a crappy job...just done faster!


08-29-2009, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the advise Kendrick. What is the best when to turn at the end of a run? Manuel says to make a "Y" at the end. Lawn is wet today, mike give it a shot. A few say 4-5 mph is about as fast as you need to go on a straight away. Ill send some pics from my first run to see how i did.. If they are too bad you wont see them LOL. but you'll know how i did. Again, thanks for your input

08-29-2009, 08:36 PM
Hey Seann
Your turning will depend upon how wet the turf is. Sometimes in a drought the turf can be just as slick as when it's wet. If conditions are normal, and the turf is thick, you can usually get away with doing a 180 degree turn. However, if the turf is wet or even moist, what I do is when I come to the end of a row, I will make half of my turn while moving forward, and then finish the turn in reverse. (turn while backing up) I've found that this keeps from leaving those perfect little circular "mud doughnuts" in the turf, and still leaves you in perfect position for your next row. I must admit though, that there are going to be times and situations where you won't have a choice but to spin a 180 due to obstacles. Your best bet is to just practice with your mower. Each one is different and what works for one, may not always work for another. I have a 60" deck on my Exmark which makes things considerably tighter for me opposed to someone with a much smaller deck. What size is your deck by the way? Oh, and don't be ashamed of your first few lines! The lines you see on this forum are from people who are used to their machines. You aren't, and by showing us your "true" first lines, we might be able to better help you out with any issues or questions.


08-30-2009, 07:38 AM
Didnt take any photos, but believe me when i saya I think i did a ok job. Lines came out fairly straight. I went at a snails pace which helped. The mower is a 48". After i got done with the front i went into the back and got a little ****y...didnt take me long before i turfed it. about a 1' diameter mud hole' not pretty. My biggest adjustment seems to be where my back tires are on turns. I want to get the deck as close as possible to obstacles then i find my wheels riding up on mulch and corners of the patio and such. I may need to weed wack out a little more and take wider turns going into corners? I would love to go out again today but we just got an 1" of rain over night. Thanks again for your help Kendrick.

08-30-2009, 07:53 AM
One other thing to consider before you start your lines is to mow a couple of passes around the perimeter that way when you turn at the end of a line you have some room and your turn will not be as apparent in the lawn. :)

08-30-2009, 09:08 AM
I made 1 pass around the outside when i started. When i finished I went over the outside again to see if i could clean up the line a little and it worked pretty well. My striping kit will arrive next week which should really help with that perimeter cut. May also expose my inexperience with the straight line as well. At least i have a couple of months to experiment

08-30-2009, 06:51 PM
#3 Keep your blades as sharp as possible. Your speed will be affected by how sharp your blades are.

I think this is something that is often misunderstood, could you explain to us how your speed is effected by the sharpness of your blades?

08-30-2009, 09:49 PM
Hey Steve

I would be happy to explain this to the newbies. First of all, the difference between a regular riding mower and a zero turn is the fact that on a zero turn, the blades are set to spin much, much faster. That's why we're able to mow at speeds much greater than a normal rider. When your blades are dull, they can't keep a nice groomed cut at a higher speed, thus your ability to go fast AND maintain a nice cut is cut down considerably. Your mower is still able to mow fast, but your cut looks like crap. I run into this frequently with my gator blades. They are getting quite a bit of wear and tear on them and they won't hold an edge very long at all. And anyone that owns a zero turn can tell you that getting to your blades can be a challenge..especially if you are like me and don't own a fancy mower jack. I have to use a come along from my roll bar on the mower to the tow hitch on my truck to tilt the mower up on it's rear.
I am a freak when it comes to my customer's lawns and I maintain a high standard of keeping the grass cut at an even level. If my blades get dull, they get sharpened immediately. I usually sharpen them every other week. I'd like to do them once a week, but just don't have the time. If you want to succeed at this business, you have to set your standards higher than the other guy.

08-31-2009, 12:01 AM
I think this is something that is often misunderstood, could you explain to us how your speed is effected by the sharpness of your blades?

Quite simply put, as a blade gets dull, the quality of cut is reduced dramatically. When a blade is sharp, it cuts the grass. When a blade is dull, it literally "tears" or rips the grass off.

This does several things:

1- The finish appearance is much less professional. The lawn will have a shaggy and unkempt appearance. The ends of the grass will tend to be frazzled and torn. The grass will not necessarily be cut even either.

2- It is unhealthy for the grass due to bruised and damaged ends that are a result of the dull blade ripping the grass off. I suppose in its own way, this is very similar to damaged and frayed hair ends though this is not due to bad shampoo quality. lol

3- It is harder on the entire mower system. The blades, bearing assemblies, bearing housings, belts, and engine.

4- Because of #3, it reduces your mower life. Extra wear on your blades. extra stress on your belt will cause your belt to break prematurely. Extra pull on the blades places undue pressure on your bearings and bearing housings. All of this places undue stress and pull on the engine. This causes the engine to wear out prematurely and require premature servicing.

Here (http://hcs.osu.edu/sportsturf/notes/detail.lasso?id=200) is a website with an explanation about damaged grass due to dull blades and has photos of damaged grass and what grass is supposed to look like when cut by a sharp blade.

I will have to try to find or make a pic of a overly dull blade and why it actually takes more to sharpen it in the long run than if you sharpened it regularly.

Steve I hope this answered your question.

08-31-2009, 06:09 PM
Let me say that I may be a little disappointed with the scag dealer. When i ordered this mower, I asked him to set it up to mulch. He talked me out of the add on baffles that go under the deck. He said "you dont really need them, we'll just put the mulching blades on and the mulch plate" Well after have a whole bag of grass blow on me during the cut im not so sure I dont need the baffles. Lots of grass was blowing out in front a the deck and kept blowing in my face....arggggg!!!! This machine would not draw in any leaves from the front, it would just blow them out. Anything from the left side of the deck would get sucked in with no problem. I guess im going to call the dealer, or better yet SCAG and get their opinion.

Does anyone have similar tales like this? Or am i completely out in left field and have know idea what im talking about?

Any way... these are the pics from the first cut

08-31-2009, 07:09 PM
What can I do about grass blowing out from under the front of the deck while I mow (especially when mulching or bagging)? back to top
Try adjusting the Custom Cut Baffle on your Velocity Plus or Advantage cutter deck. This baffle features three or seven different positions to allow you to customize mowing performance based upon specific mowing conditions. Adjusting the Custom Cut Baffle to its lowest position will minimize the amount of clippings and debris that escape the front of the deck while mowing. Refer to your owner's manual and consult your Scag dealer for more information on making this adjustment.

From SCAG website...my dealer is on the **** list:mad::confused::eek::(

Would be nice if I had baffles to adjust!!!

08-31-2009, 11:45 PM
Seann your first cut looks GREAT! You already have the touch and you've just started out. You keep that up and you will go far! As far as your mulching problems, I hate to hear that. If I were you, and I'm serious, I would take the information you have gathered about what the Scag Company has given you to the dealer you bought it from. I'd tell him your problems and let him know you have decided that you need the baffles. If he gives you any slack, I would remind him that you trusted him when you bought this machine from him, and that it's because of his "opinion" that your machine isn't mowing correctly. You told him exactly what you were wanting to do with this machine and he recommended against what the factory has suggested. If you aren't satisfied with him and he doesn't offer to make this right, I would take it a step further and contact a factory representative and get this right for you. These machines are too expensive to not operate correctly. Be sure to remind him that you are using this machine for your business and that you are losing money when your machine isn't working properly...especially because of his goofy advice. You don't have to be rude, just stick to your guns. You were honest when you paid with good money, and he should be honest when he makes this right for a customer who spent this kind of money. Definately keep us informed about how this goes and your progress!

10-16-2009, 09:22 AM
He talked me out of the add on baffles that go under the deck.

Don't the baffles help with suction? Can anyone further explain this and if they use them or not?